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Kudos to Facebook; Shame on Menlo Park

Original post made by Peter Carpenter on Apr 14, 2012

Kudos are due to Facebook for simultaneously negotiating with Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District (which predates and serves Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto) on the impact of its planned expansion on each of these entities. Facebook has shown remarkable patience and understanding in this process.

Shame on the City of Menlo Park for its totally selfish behavior in this process. Under the law the City of Menlo Park was the designated lead agency for these negotiations. Unfortunately the City of Menlo Park so completely ignored the impacts of this project on other local jurisdictions that those jurisdictions were forced to negotiate directly with Facebook. One jurisdiction, Atherton, did not loose faith in the City of Menlo Park properly performing its legally obligated lead agency and, as a result, has ended up with nothing. I suspect that Atherton may well now attempt to block this project in court - a sad, but totally preventable outcome.

With the Facebook project the City of menlo Park totally disgraced itself as being a selfish and irresponsible lead agency. And this is not the first such failure - the City of Menlo Park did exactly the same thing on the Gateway project.

Comments (16)

Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on Apr 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Two members of the Menlo Park Council are candidates for Supervisor of San Mateo County in the next election.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Yes, and the vote of the Menlo Park City Council on 'their' agreement with Facebook will be the perfect opportunity for voters to see if either of them has the courage and the wisdom to see beyond the narrow boundaries of Menlo Park and hence vote against this totally selfish agreement.

County Supervisors must be individuals who have both a broader perspective of the community and a greater commitment to upholding the law.


Posted by Qs, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 15, 2012 at 7:49 am

Food for thought there, Peter. For comparison, can you provide the contributions that East Palo Alto voluntarily negotiated for the Fire District and other jurisdictions for the IKEA and other projects? Also what they've got tentatively proposed for the Ravenswood 4 Corners plan, and what San Mateo County has done for the North Fair Oaks redevelopment. I looked for that info, but couldn't find it. Other statewide examples of what you're talking about would help.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 15, 2012 at 8:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"For comparison, can you provide the contributions that East Palo Alto voluntarily negotiated for the Fire District and other jurisdictions for the IKEA and other projects? "

I do not have that information.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2012 at 9:34 am

Peter, I disagree with your criticism of Menlo Park's team for two reasons. First, as noted in the article (last bullet on the list of terms), Menlo Park has made their agreement contingent upon Facebook reaching agreement with East Palo Alto--hard to accuse them of ignoring their neighbor. Second, if i were a member of the leadership of East Palo ALto, I would much prefer that MP left the negotiations between FB and EPA to EPA rather than negotiating on their behalf-just seems much more respectful to me.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2012 at 10:33 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Lead agencies are supposed to LEAD not just tell other agencies to 'get what you can after we have emptied the bank'. It isn't a very strong negotiating position to be sitting across from someone after the lead agencies has taken all the goodies. And he one local jurisdiction that trusted Menlo Park to lead was Atherton and they were totally ignored in the MP negotiations.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Having the leverage of being able to file a law suit to , if not block the project, at least significantly delay it (time is money) does provide EPA what I would consider at least adequate leverage. I think this is borne out by FB's willingness to negotiate with them--(no, I don't for a minute believe it was out of the goodness of their hearts). As for Atherton, I'm unclear on how it could be affected by this project any more than Palo Alto or Woodside, or Portola Valley. It shares a common border with Menlo Park just like these other cities do, so what? Where is the line reasonably drawn that says, you have no iisue, therefore no say. Again, I still think if I were a member of EPA's leadership, I would rather negotiate on my own behalf rather than look to MP to do it for me; and that is what is happening. I like it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 16, 2012 at 4:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

WhoRUpeople - I absolutely agree that I would not want the City of Menlo Park negotiating on my behalf - they do not have either the wisdom or the integrity for that role. However, as I proposed before these negotiations began, I believe that the lead agency should have invited the other impacted agencies to sit with them AT the negotiating table.

Menlo Park has once again shown its narrow minded isolationism - not a good omen for regional cooperation and certainly those council members who endorse this approach are not fit to serve at the county level.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2012 at 8:00 am

Peter, Setting aside the issue of whom is or is not a good candidate for the B of S (I have no opinion on that as yet), I do agree with your statement about EPA being invited to the table. I am, however, willing to give the MP team the benefit of the doubt that indeed that took place. In reading the staff report for tonight's CC meeting, it clearly states that the MP team met with the EPA team multiple times prior to the negotiating process and coordinated their approaches. THus far Iilg have not seen any indication from EPA team that they are displeased with this part of the process.


Posted by Qs, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 17, 2012 at 8:22 am

So, Peter, just to be clear- you present it as a CALLOUS UNPRECEDENTED MORAL FAILING of Menlo Park to negotiate benefits for other districts; I ask you for examples of other cities doing the same (ideally other ones in the same fire district); and you can't provide a single one?

Huh.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 17, 2012 at 9:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"For comparison, can you provide the contributions that East Palo Alto voluntarily negotiated for the Fire District and other jurisdictions for the IKEA and other projects? "

I do not have that information.

You are certainly free to do your own research.


Posted by Curious Atherton Resident, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 17, 2012 at 1:41 pm

Peter,

Can you clarify the various ways in which you think Atherton will be impacted by Facebook and the mitigations you would seek if you were negotiating for Atherton?

Thanks for your input.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 17, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the draft EIR:

The proposed mitigation measures for the intersection of Marsh
Road and Middlefield Road include an additional southbound left
turn lane and restriping an additional eastbound receiving lane.
The improvements would require potential additional right of way,
widening the edge of pavement for the southbound direction of
traffic into the existing landscape buffer, signing and striping
improvements, and relocation of utility poles and traffic signal
poles along the west side of Middlefield Road.


Posted by Curious Atherton Resident, a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Apr 18, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Thank you, Peter. Do you know if the Atherton Town Council asked Menlo Park to negotiate for this mitigation? Menlo Park certainly could have taken it upon themselves, as lead agency, to ask for the funds for Atherton. On the other hand, if Atherton didn't clearly make it known that this was a priority, I understand it not rising above the noise.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2012 at 2:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Do you know if the Atherton Town Council asked Menlo Park to negotiate for this mitigation"

Yes. The Town raised this issue repeatedly during the EIR process and the Mayor personally approached the MP Mayor twice without even a reply.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

I would like to point out that the modifications to the Marsh/Middlefield intersection represent a mitigation of environmental impact and, if substantiated through the analysis would be part of the final EIR to be released on 04/23. THis is different from the "public benefits" negotiated between the parties to justify the development agreement. In other words, if the final EIR still contains this as a mitigation requirement, FB would have to do it lalong with any other mitigations identified.


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