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Stanford Arrillaga project grows by adding housing

Original post made on Jan 22, 2013

Is this a case of "be careful what you wish for"? The latest revision of the proposed Stanford-Arrillaga development in Menlo Park added some housing. But there's a catch: The addition comes without sacrificing office and retail space.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 9:01 AM

Comments (26)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford DID listen. Menlo Park is under legal scrutiny to add more housing and Stanford us doing more with this project to provide new housing than any development in the last decade.

The project remains totally consistent with the current zoning for this property.


Posted by West Menlo Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:45 pm

This whole project meets all of the zoning requirements that were studied to the max over a 7 year period with lots of public input?!! Mr. Carpenter above is right. I also think that the addition of the housing component is brilliant and is a very positive solution to the much discussed requirement for more housing located near public transit systems.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I agree with Peter. Stanford did listen, and applied what they heard. The fact that they have added more housing should be applauded, not chastised as "adding more housing on top of it". You may not like it, but rules were clearly set down, and Stanford has followed those rules; and now has added some housing to help MP out with their problem. At least they (Stanford) is actually proposing to build a new project in MP. And to those who would support a path forward of saying-"OH, we made a mistake, we take it back, lets start over and change the rules", you can do that if you want, but tumble weeds will be blowing thru your town 10 years from now if you do because no developer would be willing to consider to invest in a project in town again.


Posted by Florence, a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2013 at 1:54 pm

It is already a nightmare taking El Camino South through Menlo Park to Palo Alto, as the stop lights are not in sequence. The only quick way is to take Alameda and cut down. How much worse can traffic in MPark get? Going North on El Camino the lights seem a bit more in sequence, but it's still interminably slow.

Please could the City Council get things together and fix the light sequences?


Posted by Steve Taffee, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm

The addition of vehicle traffic resulting from further retail and/or housing development along the El Camino corridor in Menlo Park is, of course, of concern. This is why the City along with CalTran need to work together to solve the overall problem, including making the area safe for additional pedestrians and cyclists.

The kind of development represented by the Arrillaga project is, in my view, quite fitting for the space in question. Mixed use in proximity to transit hubs is sensible and more sustainable.


Posted by Cherie, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm

On the contrary, Menlo Park was led to believe Stanford was planning to place a 300-room hotel, plus senior housing, in those lots. In fact, the entire Downtown Specific Plan was virtually based on that hotel for revenue. Interestingly, Menlo Park hired Stanford's longtime consultants, Perkins and Will, to create the Downtown Plan; they may well have known of Stanford's real intentions. In any case, in one way or another, Stanford must have dangled the hotel and senior housing idea in front of Menlo Park's Planning Commission and City Council, as these people were shocked and dismayed when Stanford revealed its plan for medical offices. Many of us residents, and at least one person on the Planning Commission, pointed out to the Council at the time, that the El Camino properties should not be included in the Downtown Plan; instead, the city's original zoning for those properties could have been used as leverage in negotiating with Stanford. As it turned out, the city gave Stanford all the upzoning it ever could have wished for, most likely believing it was paving the way for the new hotel. Whatever the city can do to revisit this issue and lighten the high-density burden on our community, it should pursue.


Posted by Stan, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Jan 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm

For the past decade or so, the east side of El Camino Real in MP has been doing a fair imitation of the "No GO ZONE" in downtown Detroit. Along comes someone willing to invest in creating an attractive solution and all the Menlo Park whiner set can do is look at the downside.
Why not take the opportunity to improve Menlo Park and AT THE SAME TIME fix the traffic problem on El Camino. This will probably mean eliminating the on street parking and investing in some multistory off street parking but if Palo Alto can do it maybe Menlo Park could follow suit and make travel into and shopping in Menlo Park less of a trail.


Posted by hoodwinked, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 5:39 pm

Transit-oriented housing is a joke. No one who can afford a car takes the bus, other than schoolchildren. Nope, the whole TOD argument is sugarcoating the garbage that Stanford doesn't want to accommodate on its own land. The pictures tell the story: ugly, boxy buildings that seem out of place in our small city.

So much for the much-vaunted "village character" that residents were promised. So much for process. Stanford had its way with Menlo Park, and we will all suffer the consequences forever, including massive gridlock and overcrowded schools. Heads should roll, but don't count on it.


Posted by Nick Baldo, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Looks great! I can't wait to see this built. It's long past time for Menlo Park to grow up a bit and start to make a vibrant, transit-friendly core.

John Arrillaga is, with only minor hyperbole, probably the best thing to happen to the Peninsula in 60 years.


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 22, 2013 at 8:36 pm

"Transit-friendly core" - that kind of talk is just garbage. You cannot force the people who move into the high-density housing that is being thrust upon us any more than you can force them to never leave the house, never enroll a child in Menlo Park schools, never use any of the town's resources, and never occupy a spot on the asphalt of our city streets. So-called "vibrancy" is the wolf dressed in overcrowded sheep clothing.
As for John Arrillaga, his self-built legacy thus far has been nice - buildings on Stanford campus, gyms in Burgess Park, etc. But Mr. Arrillaga needs to redirect his money and efforts, else he will soon build a legacy for himself where all the people stuck in gridlock on El Camino will curse his name for years after he is gone. John, is that really how you want to be remembered?


Posted by time to course correct, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 23, 2013 at 9:03 am

If the Council and Planning Commission are shocked and disappointed, they need to fix the Plan. They have the power to do that.
When they accepted consultant's recommendations about the triggers for public benefit negotiation, they relied on information from consultants that is not valid in today's market. They relied on Stanford's comments and expected senior housing and financial support for an undercrossing of the RR tracks.
They didn't even study medical office in the EIR. They didn't address the potential academic use of the Stanford property, allowing Stanford to export its needs for offices and housing and to export its traffic problems from Santa Clara County into Menlo Park. Offices, housing and academic use can mean that Menlo Park gets almost zero revenue from the project to pay for city services that support it and for public improvements anticipated in the vision process.
What can the Council do? Review public benefit concept and triggers, review definitions, review traffic and financial impacts from the surprises. Then, course correct. There's time if they act now.


Posted by Stefan P., a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 23, 2013 at 9:15 am

Thank you for the article. I'd like to suggest one correction regarding the expansion of the project. Stanford's original plan submission from November 2012 showed a total project size of 357,000 sq.ft. The revised submission from last week shows 443,200 sq.ft. of built-out area. That is an expansion of over 80,000 sq.ft. For reference, the average Walmart is 102,000 sq.ft. (Web Link). We are looking at the equivalent of 4+ Walmarts in one location on El Camino right at the border between PA and MP. Who thinks that is smart?


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 23, 2013 at 10:05 am

Stefan:

The plans posted on the city's website, as well as the plans I reviewed in November, show a total project size of 443,200 square feet. The city hasn't posted the latest revision yet, but the plans were already at 443,200 sq. ft. before this additional housing came in.

Sandy


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 23, 2013 at 10:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

With a little creative management and perhaps some incentives Stanford should be able to attract housing residents who wok in this complex - thereby generating zero automobile trips for those residents to go to work. Of course that assumes that the city will not preclude such sensible arrangements.


Posted by Boardermom, a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 23, 2013 at 12:36 pm

Every time I read about more housing along El Camino Real, I think about how that really means more cars, and hence more stop and go traffic on ECR. Fine with more housing in our area, but not more cars. I am also wondering when someone will finally put a safe dedicated bike line both north and south along ECR at least from RWC to San Antonio.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Sorry, Bordermom, no bike lane on ECR thru Menlo Park; they're already planning on planting trees along the edges instead.


Posted by source data?, a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Cherie or others, can anybody cite the source for "On the contrary, Menlo Park was led to believe Stanford was planning to place a 300-room hotel, plus senior housing, in those lots. In fact, the entire Downtown Specific Plan was virtually based on that hotel for revenue. " I'm not necessarily doubting, but clearly there are major disagreements over whether Stanford and JA are complying with the spirit of the plan, and whether there was a bait-and-switch.


Posted by Ohlone shaman, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 23, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Hey, what about the possible casino licensed by our native tribe?

That would be big wampum for city coffers. Hotel and casino sound like "Everybody Wins!"

On a historical note, since US govt gave Stanford and the Big 4 a square mile on each side of the TransCon railroad from Omaha to Sacto, plus most of the San Joaquin Valley, all expropriated Indian Territory, plus Palo Alto Farm stolen from Spanish land grant settlers under the guise of the Fremont California Statehood, wouldn't that be fitting for "Uncle Leland" to give some back what "Uncle Sam" and him took from us?

Kids, look it up in Wiki!


Posted by Jealous of other communities, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Amazing how people in atherton, portola valley and elsewhere think Stanford should be allowed to run traffic through our communities, and we should provide space that Santa Clara County and palo alto refused Stanford. I haven't seen too many commercial developments in either Atherton or Portola Valley, so what give them the right to comment on this site?


Posted by hoodwinked, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 23, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Traveling north down 101 tonight, I noticed the @home buildings now occupied by Stanford in Redwood City. I realized the design is similar to that of the proposed project. Except ours will be about three times the size, and it will be right in the middle of town.

Everything Arrillaga has done is self-serving. He's not Bill Gates. The buildings at Burgess that now bear his name? Most of the cost was borne by taxpayers -- we're still paying for those Measure T improvements on our prop tax bills.


Posted by jealous of other communities, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 23, 2013 at 11:27 pm

on point by hoodwinked, I didn't know that. what was the financing of two
gyms. I also thought Stanford, as part of its development, was obligated to pay for passage to Alma for bikes and pedestrians, I have now heard the city has to pay for that alma connection. Does anybody know who is paying for what. Or is Stanford just able to build without any help to Menlo Park?


Posted by Perla Ni, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 23, 2013 at 11:41 pm

The development is the size of 4 Home Depots.

Who in Menlo Park would have approved having 4 Home Depots right next to each other, on this very congested stretch of El Camino?

The City was deceived and has witnesses to this - that Stanford said it would build senior housing. The City would never have allowed an 84% increase in building sizes with the Specific Plan AND allowed medical and general offices. It would have been insanity had they known.


Posted by time to course correct, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 24, 2013 at 8:32 am

@ source data The specific plan's charts show a hotel and some mixed use structures on stanford's land During the vision workshops there was discussion of hotel and conference center. The financial analysis for the plan assumed a hotel, and that is where it is shown. Is Cheri right that the plan will cost the city (us residents) if a hotel isn't built? Fact check?
Where Stanford is proposing a large twoway driveway at Middle, the specific plan's illustrations show a nice large plaza where people are sitting at cafe tables and people are walking or biking by, presumably to the bike/ped tunnel that Menlo Park has discussed with Stanford's support for many years.
If what is happening isn't what the community or council was led to believe would, then it's time to course correct.


Posted by Cherie, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm

For those of you asking for my source, here is a quote from the Fiscal Impact Report for the Downtown Specific Plan which you can look up yourselves on the City's website:
"Draft Specific Plan revenue is heavily dependent upon transient-occupancy tax; the Draft Specific Plan could result in negative impacts to the General Fund without inclusion of a hotel. The Draft Specific Plan allows that two hotels with a total of 380 rooms could be built as part of the overall development program. Strategic Economic's analysis shows that over 60% of plan revenues would be generated by transient-occupancy taxes levied on these hotels. The plan therefore could result in a negative impact to the General Fund without inclusion of approximately 80 hotel rooms (varying based on quality level and nightly rates). Upon build-out, proposed development under the Draft Specific Plan without any hotels could result in General Fund losses of approximately $250,000 annually (in 2009 dollars)."
In other words, without the planned for hotel(s), the city stands to be a quarter of a million dollars in the red EVERY YEAR. A recipe for bankruptcy. And yes, brought about by bait-and-switch tactics.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If what is happening isn't what the community or council was led to believe would, then it's time to course correct."

That horse has let the barn. Every property owner has the vested right to develop their property in accordance with the existing zoning of that property. To refuse them this right is called 'down-zoning' and the courts have consistently held that that is an illegal 'taking' of property. Down zoning a property owner with very deep pockets and a lot of very smart lawyers is simply STUPID and would be very expensive.

The architectural review can request changes in the external visual appearance of the project but they cannot require that the size of the project be reduced.

An EIR 'requires' nothing; it is simply a statement regarding the impacts of any proposed project. If any of those impacts are deemed as significant then the city and the property owner will negotiate appropriate mitigation - which cannot, by law, require that the scope of the project be reduced below that which is permitted by the zoning ordinance.

Stomping your feet trying to stop this project will only hurt your feet - start focussing on developing win-win improvements and mitigations.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"without the planned for hotel(s)"

Classic what have you done for me NOW thinking. Let's remember that the only two real hotels in Menlo Park are on Stanford land. I suspects that Stanford tenants are one of the largest contributors to the city's revenues.


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