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Our Planning Department and the Stanford Project

Original post made by Observer on Apr 19, 2013

We've all learned many unpleasant lessons from the Stanford/Arrillaga project, including how the City was apparently misled about Stanford's intentions regarding major plan elements like senior housing and a hotel.

But we've also learned that we apparently cannot rely on the Menlo Park Planning Department to carry out what we would have thought was their responsibility. For example, how does a busy driveway get defined in the Stanford project as a public plaza for pedestrians? How do private balconies get defined as open space?

Shouldn't it be the responsibility of our paid professionals in the Planning Department to raise red flags over such absurdities? Or is it left to citizen-volunteers-- City Council members, Planning Commission members, or members of the community--to conduct the monitoring that is obviously essential?

Who, exactly, does the Planning Department work for?

Comments (68)

Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 19, 2013 at 7:26 pm

"Or is it left to citizen-volunteers-- City Council members, Planning Commission members, or members of the community--to conduct the monitoring that is obviously essential?"

Yes


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 8:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Responsible citizenship is hard work. Paying your taxes is just the price of entry - then you have to work if you want your community to reflect, in some small way, your values and meet your needs. Responsible citizenship means reading things like Draft EIR's and commenting on them, attending Planning Commission Meetings, reading proposed new ordinances and draft Specific Plans and then participating in Council Meetings. And responsible citizenship means accepting the results of the democratic process that comes from this hard work even if it is not exactly what you want every time.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 20, 2013 at 11:47 am

I find Peter Carpenter's perspective unpersuasive in the extreme. There's a reason we have elected and appointed officials and a paid City staff. We don't have direct democracy where every citizen votes on every issue. We don't expect citizens to read every page of every document produced by all levels of government, nor to attend every meeting conducted by local, County, let alone State, governments. We expect elected officials to respond to the electorate, and we expect the City staff to respond to direction from elected officials.

Or at least I thought that was the general idea.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Observer:

there is a large difference between your "general idea" and reality. First of all the elected officials are not mind readers. While they may generally reflect your point of view, they may not in all things. This is why it is important and necessary for voters to stay involved in the entire process. If there is something out there you don't like the politicians and staff aren't going to know that unless you say something and you're not going to know you don't like something BEFORE it happens unless you bother to do as Peter said.

We may not have a direct democracy, but we have a participative one and it requires the electorate to participate for things to be done the way they would like them to be done.


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I hate to give them the satisfaction of saying this, but Peter and MV should really just get their own forum instead of dominating so many threads on TownSquare. I guess they get some pleasure from repeating the same supercilious taunts, but the main result of this kind of trolling is that actual residents stay way and no real interaction can occur.

I see that SaveMenlo is asking for volunteers to scour the voluminous Specific Plan, given that the council has already uncovered a few giveaways that it (and the public) never knew about. That is the kind of effort that seems to be required in this situation, and Peter and MV seem to think that's ok! No, it's not. Most MP residents have busy lives filled with work, family, household chores, volunteer jobs, plus the exogenous timewasters that are beyond our control, like traffic. Whether we rent or buy, we pay top dollar to live here. Our city employees get terrific salaries. Keeping track of city employees and reading every word of every document is a fulltime job, and we shouldn't have to do it.

We should not have to constantly be looking over our shoulders to see what tricks the staff and consultants are going to pull next. That is just wrong, and the best thing our council could do for this city would be to demand accountability.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Enough - No one is keeping you off this forum which is "a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion"; the only limits are your ideas and facts.

", given that the council has already uncovered a few giveaways that it (and the public) never knew about. "

Wrong - the Specific Plan was approved in its entirety by the council after lengthy public comments and reviews by the Planning Commission and the Council.


Posted by Frustrated, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Enough, Peter Carpenter and Menlo Voter add a lot of good comments and knowledge to this forum, so I think you're being a little harsh. That said, I don't agree with their positions on this topic. What I do very strongly agree with is your comment that the council must hold the staff accountable for getting the city into this terrible, possibly irreversible situation.

Yes, the public's got to make an effort to stay informed, but come on, who's got the time to pore over every EIR, traffic study and other documents for every project that comes through the pipeline? Staff is being paid to work in the best interests of the public. And council members were elected to do the same. If our elected officials can't trust the staff to give them good information and recommendations, and to adequately explain the fine points, the council needs to make it clear to the city manager that change is needed.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Enough - If you signed a contract would you then claim that the contract was not binding because you had not read it?

Do you have any evidence the each of the council members did not read the final version of the Downtown Specific Plan before they unanimously voted to approve it?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Frustrated:

I agree with you in part. The staff should know better and the council should be paying attention. But, that's not reality. The staff doesn't know better and the council is not always paying attention.

Peter:

one would hope the council read the entire Specific Plan as well as all supporting documentation, but I'm beginning to think it may have been a case of "we have to pass it so we know what's in it." Very unfortunate. But, that doesn't change my position. The procedures and zoning that were decided upon should be adhered to.


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Exactly what does this thread have to do with binding contracts? Nothing! It's about whether we can trust our paid staff, and that is what some of us are trying to discuss. We get that Peter Carpenter thinks we're collectively stupid. That's why we live in the slums of Menlo and he looks down at us from his $$$$ Atherton perch!

I'm not sure any "evidence" would satisfy Peter Carpenter. But it really doesn't matter. The fact is that the Stanford consultant did an end-run around the council and the residents. And our council should look very closely at key personnel and determine whether they are indeed serving the best interests of the people. They are supposed to be doing the heavy lifting, not our volunteer council members and planning commissioners, who have their own paid jobs.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Exactly what does this thread have to do with binding contracts?"

Enough - a binding personal contract is the individual equivalent of an approved ordinance - but I guess that you simply don't want to answer my question:

Enough - If you signed a contract would you then claim that the contract was not binding because you had not read it?

As for evidence -"any' is certainly better than none.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Enough writes: "given that the council has already uncovered a few giveaways that it (and the public) never knew about."

If the council didn't know about it they weren't doing their jobs. There's a remedy for that, it's called an election. Some of the folks that approved the plan have already been fired. The electorate can fire the rest if it chooses in the next election.

If the public didn't know about it, they weren't paying attention. This process went on for years. It didn't go on in secret. The public was given plenty of access to the process. If they were "too busy" or too lazy to pay attention to the process, then shame on them. We live in a participative democracy. If you don't participate your voice is not heard.

Sorry if you don't like what I have to say, but that's what these boards are about. I'm sure you can find a board where everyone agrees with every thing you think. SaveMenlo perhaps?


Posted by Working Class Wage Slave, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:06 pm

Dear Peter and Menlo Voter,
Are you retired? Someday I will be retired too. Right now I am busy with my work, which is full time, and my husband too. We have 3 children, a dog, and a very large mortgage. We drive carpools, buy groceries, volunteer for the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation and my husband coaches Little League. In our spare time we make every attempt to eat, and sometimes sleep.

Viewed from this perspective -- which we don't think is atypical -- lectures on the responsibilities of citizenship are both naive and vaguely insulting. We take our responsibilities seriously, and participate -as vigorously as possible, in the political process. Unfortunately, reading draft EIR's, proposed new ordinances, and draft Specific Plans is a level of participation we can't afford at this time. I don't think that means we deserve to be hoodwinked.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Unfortunately, reading draft EIR's, proposed new ordinances, and draft Specific Plans is a level of participation we can't afford at this time."

That is your choice but then don't complain that you were not given the opportunity to make a difference in the outcome.

If being reminded of our duties as citizens is insulting then I wonder what you DO consider those responsibilities?

As for me my entire bio has been posted on this Forum many times - including over 40 years of public service and almost all of that public service was pro bono (except when I was getting shot at.)


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm

Mr. Carpenter
Thank you for responding to so many irrational writers on this thread with equanimity and with documented facts.

ALSO, thanks for having the patience of Job to do it all over again each time The Almanac re-packages the same stories to whip up the simmering frenzy among a few overheated citizens.


Posted by Frustrated, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Peter, I'd like you to respond to Working Class Wage Slave's comment. She and her husband are the parents of three kids, are actively involved in their kids' education and upbringing, and barely have time to sleep. Do YOU think they deserve to be hoodwinked by paid city staff? Do you, as a taxpayer, think that YOU deserve to be hoodwinked by the people whose salary you pay to look out for the public's interest just because you haven't followed a particularly issue every step of the way?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Frustrated and Wage Slave:

like you, I too work full time. Usually six very long days a week. I don't always have time to read everything or go to all council meetings. As Peter points out, that is a choice. If I chose to, I'm sure I could make time. For things like this, I have found ways to make time and participate. I'm sorry you feel insulted because I tell it like it is, but that's just who I am. In the case of situations where I haven't made the time to be fully informed or fully participative, you won't find me whining about the outcome I chose not to have input in. As I've said, this process was years long and didn't go on in secret. People had plenty of time to be involved and provide input and review. If they chose to. I'm sorry you didn't.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Do YOU think they deserve to be hoodwinked by paid city staff"

You begin with an unproven premise and state it as if it were a fact.

Can you please document the the so-called hoodwinking?


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 20, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Enough, Frustrated, Working Class, et al.,

The democratic process did, indeed, lead to the flawed Downtown Specific Plan and to the turd that is the Stanford project, but with some effort the democratic process will help to expurgate 500 ECR East from that Plan, and Menlo Park and Stanford University may then collaborate on a project more in keeping our our town character.

This idea -- removing 500 ECR East from the Specific Plan -- is anathema to the Insane Carpenter Posse, who view the Menlo Park proletariat engaging their elected officials legally and democratically to effect such a change as a descent straight into socialism and an umbrageous usurpation of the sacred rights of property.

Peter Carpenter and Manic Voter would like you to believe you were lazy and irresponsible for not having participated fully in the years-long process to develop the Visioning and Specific Plans -- never mind that Peter admitted elsewhere in this forum that he had no hand and presumably no interest in the Visioning Plan -- but I have a little secret for you: no one read every document and attended every meeting related to the DSP over the past five years, and no one save Stanford (and perhaps Kelly Fergusson, a couple Planning Commission members, and some number of two-timing consultants) saw the 500 ECR East debacle coming. We're all culpable for the outcome, but fortunately there appear to be sufficient numbers of Menlo Park residents who acknowledge this failing and wish to do something about it, legally and democratically.

Gern


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Gern, you are correct, and I agree 100% with everything you say.

However, I am also concerned that the plan was modified without the knowledge of the planning commissioners and council members. That may reflect deep-seated problems that need to be addressed now.

We residents don't have to accept the quasi-religious cant that declares that we should be punished for not having read the entire plan. Not only is this kind of punishment nonsensical, it reflects a potentially lethal mindset that has no place in our society.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2013 at 7:22 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

You can't fix something unless 1) you know exactly what is wrong with it and 2) you can't know exactly what is wrong with something unless you have read and understood it and 3) you have something better to put in its place and 4) you are prepared to pay the costs of fixing it including any damages which your fixes causes.


It is very difficult for a blindfolded person to repair a watch that they have never seen and which they do not know how it works.

And cursing the people who point out the obvious does not solve the problem either.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2013 at 9:03 am

Gern once again weighs in with hyperbole and ad hominem attacks. Do you have anything else to add to the conversation Gern?


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

"I am also concerned that the plan was modified without the knowledge of the planning commissioners and council members. "

Enough: how do you know the plan was modified without the knowledge of the planning commission and council members? If you didn't read the plan before it went to them you have no basis for such an accusation. I'm sorry, but that's just more grasping at straws to try and overturn a years long process you didn't pay attention to and now don't like the outcome.


Posted by Enough, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2013 at 9:23 am

Menlo Voter, I need proof! I went to those meetings! I paid attention! So did the council members and the planning commissioners. And the ones with whom I have spoken did not scour the plan word for word because they TRUSTED THE STAFF.

Which is the point of this thread. Can we trust the staff? The answer is we cannot trust them all. And therein the problem.

There are gems hidden in the plan that were NEVER DISCUSSED at any public meeting. That planning commissioners and council members were not aware of.

That kind of renegade behavior by staff needs to be stopped. Obviously, the city should never have hired Stanford's consultants, but they did.

Fortunately, it is not too late to amend the plan. It is, in fact, never too late. It can be changed at any time. The plan must serve the interests of the residents of Menlo Park. Not the other way around. We are not beholden to the plan! If it does not work for us, it must be changed, and the years invested so far constitute sunk costs. We are not going to stick with a flawed plan; those years are gone in any case.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2013 at 9:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Enough states " I need proof!"

Where is the proof for these statements:

""I am also concerned that the plan was modified without the knowledge of the planning commissioners and council members. "

"given that the council has already uncovered a few giveaways that it (and the public) never knew about."


"The plan does not incorporate the resident input. It was a bait & switch choreographed by Stanford's consultants."

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process"

Does any body have anything to prove that the above statements are true?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2013 at 9:29 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What are the specific terms in the Specific Plan that the 514 Special Interest Group object to?

And exactly how would they modify each of those terms?

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 21, 2013 at 3:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"There are gems hidden in the plan that were NEVER DISCUSSED at any public meeting. That planning commissioners and council members were not aware of."

Please provide evidence to support this claim - both identify the hidden gems and verify that those hidden gems were NOT in the final Specific Plan as reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission and the Council.


Posted by WhoRUpeople, a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2013 at 9:23 am

Back to the two issues that Observer raised in the original post that started this forum. O's post basically raised two questions; What is the Planning Division responsible for, and (2) who does it work for?
These two questions are easily answered on the City's website. First, from the Planning Division page-first statement, "The Planning Division is responsible for coordinating the enforcement of the CIty's Zoning Ordinance and related policies concerning applications for residential, commercial and industrial development projects." The who do they work for depends on the meaning of the question. The division reports to the City Manager, who reports to the City Council; but I doubt O meant the question that way. Interestingly, the answer O was seeking can be found in the statement of the division's responsibilities and by the fact that anyone utilizing their services is required to pay fees to cover the cost of those services. They work for the residents, commercial business owners and developers who make application to the City for a project. Interestingly, many in this thread seem to think they should work only for SaveMenlo or maybe just all residential property owners. Also, and this I really find interesting, people here are advocating that the Planning Division is wrong to be fullfilling its stated responsibility--to enforce the Zoning Ordinance!


Posted by S Tyler, a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2013 at 10:23 am

Amazing. I guess it is much easiler for the community, including those who actually voted for the plan, to subscribe to the theory that a vast conspiracy was conceived and executed than admit that they weren't paying attention.

Every Planning Commission and City Counicl meeting was and is televised, and available to review online. The City staff has a web site set up where every document, including all correspondence, is still available to review. If it was a conspiracy, then "they" were hiding in plain sight the whole time.

As a planner who works in a nearby community, I have watched this whole thing unfold. A year ago, I was amazed that a community like Menlo Park could step up and adopt such a well developed, forward thinking planning tool. Now, I am equally amazed by the lack of ownership and "it wasn't me" attitude.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 10:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Now, I am equally amazed by the lack of ownership and "it wasn't me" attitude."

Take heart, the opponents are only a small number whose special personal interests are being impacted by the wise and appropriate implementation of the Downtown Specific Plan.Their strategy of mendacious obfuscation is exemplified by their refusal to answer simple questions such as:

Where is the proof for these statements:

""I am also concerned that the plan was modified without the knowledge of the planning commissioners and council members. "

"given that the council has already uncovered a few giveaways that it (and the public) never knew about."

"The plan does not incorporate the resident input. It was a bait & switch choreographed by Stanford's consultants."

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process"

Does any body have anything to prove that the above statements are true?

"There are gems hidden in the plan that were NEVER DISCUSSED at any public meeting. That planning commissioners and council members were not aware of."

Please provide evidence to support this claim - both identify the hidden gems and verify that those hidden gems were NOT in the final Specific Plan as reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission and the Council.


What are the specific terms in the Specific Plan that the 514 Special Interest Group object to?

And exactly how would they modify each of those terms?

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein


Their only answer is to attack those who challenge them and to attack the professional staff.




Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2013 at 10:58 am

The Planning Department paid employees that work for the city, the city council has the power to approval or not approval a project. Then you have the planning commission and all their little boards, committee and other commission that are resident controlled should be able to study, plan and and send back projects to the drawing board.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 11:09 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the city council has the power to approval or not approval a project."

Wrong. Projects which conform with the approved zoning do NOT require council approval.

"Then you have the planning commission and all their little boards, committee and other commission that are resident controlled should be able to study, plan and and send back projects to the drawing board."

Wrong. Projects which conform with the approved zoning are only subject to the architectural controls detailed in the Downtown Specific Plan.

Please stop the obfuscation.


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2013 at 1:46 pm

With the exception of Peter Carpenter everyone else posts anonymously in this forum. If you are going to personally attack Peter for any reason and tell him his posts are unwelcome - again for any reason - why not reveal who you are?

It's fine to disagree with Peter's opinions but he does provide more factual information than anyone else. I doubt others would say such negative things ABOUT HIM If they were talking to Peter directly in the company of others. But perhaps I am naive. Why hide behind pseudonyms????


Posted by Easy Does It, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Peter Carpenter keeps harping on his claim that it is only a small vocal minority of Menlo residents who oppose the Stanford project. He objects to a supposed minority inflicting its opinion on the rest. Shall we call his bluff? If it could be proven that a majority of the residents, say two-thirds, opposed the project, would Mr. Carpenter change his tune? Does anyone imagine, under these circumstances, that Peter would abandon his pro-Stanford/anti-Menlo Park position? How about it, Peter?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If it could be proven that a majority of the residents, say two-thirds, opposed the project, would Mr. Carpenter change his tune"


Absolutely I would change my tune - but the chances of getting two thirds of the residents to overturn the Specific plan and/or oppose the project are zero. I doubt that the opponents could even get enough votes to put it on the ballot.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Let me be very clear - I am much more a proponent of the rule of law and of respecting established zoning than I am a proponent of any single project.

The Downtown Specific Plan was unanimously adopted by the elected city council after a lengthy process which included numerous opportunities for citizen input. If a majority of the citizens now wish to change the zoning by a ballot initiative then that is their choice - and I would, properly, not get a vote. I would, however, advise them that to change the zoning would be unwise since the current project is very beneficial to Menlo Park and changing the rules would send a very bad message to other potential investors in the city.


Posted by Easy Does It, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

What you're saying Peter, is even if a majority of residents oppose Stanford's plan, you'd still be advocating for it. How else can one interpret your statement that you'd be "advising" them not to change the zoning, and trying to convince them, against their own judgment, that the Stanford project is "very beneficial" to Menlo Park, and would send a "very bad message" to developers contemplating projects in the city. In short, these have been your messages all along, and now you're admitting that even if a majority of Menlo residents were proven to be opposed to Stanford's project, you're essential position would not change. Therefore, the fact that you keep harping on opposition to Stanford's project coming from a "small minority" seems rather disingenuous.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

easy does it - You are NOT paying attention

"If it could be proven that a majority of the residents, say two-thirds, opposed the project, would Mr. Carpenter change his tune"

Absolutely I would change my tune - but the chances of getting two thirds of the residents to overturn the Specific plan and/or oppose the project are zero. I doubt that the opponents could even get enough votes to put it on the ballot.

****
My opinion and the results of a democratic vote are two different issues. You are simplistic in your misunderstanding of the difference.


Posted by Stan, a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Apr 22, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Perhaps the solipsistic naysayers who contribute to this discussion of the use of land owned by Stanford need to come out from under their individual rocks and recognize that someone is actually trying to help your community by taking over and improving these former business locations - sites that were abandoned by businesses that were all but frog marched from your community by a prior generation of anti-business hot air beings.
We live in a country where making a reasonable return on one's assets, creative endeavor, and self determination is respected by most. If you dislike these values perhaps Cuba,Venezuela, or Myanmar would be places more to your liking.
As for Stanford, in light of the desire of each of MP's special interest groups to rewrite the rules every time a new proposal surfaces, the University would be quite justified in bulldozing into Mt. Nimby the current abandoned trash heap that welcomes visitors to your parochial enclave and step back for a generation or two until a more sensical community leadership comes to the University to ask for development of the site in a manner that both returns a profit for the University and business tax, sales tax, property tax, and commerce to the community.


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Then I think the whole process should be changed, I don't see how this can just zip right though from start to finish. Yes I understand the Downtown Plan, but that doesn't mean allow developers to build anything they want. I am pro growth but I just don't want to hand over the city to a developer without approval or any kind of process.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Yes I understand the Downtown Plan, but that doesn't mean allow developers to build anything they want."

The Stanford project conforms with the Specific Plan and IF you had read the Specific Plan then you would understand that fact.

As I have asked many times, what specific aspects of the Stanford project are prohibited by which specific items in the Specific Plan.? Sorry for all of the 'specifics' but it is far past time for the opponents of this project to be precise in their answers.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 22, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the staff report:

"The proposal would adhere to the Specific Plan's "Base" level standards, which were
established to achieve inherent public benefits, such as the redevelopment of
underutilized properties, the creation of more vitality and activity, and the promotion of
healthy living and sustainability"


Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Apr 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

I have read the Downtown Plan which I don't see a problem with. Seems pretty well laid out and planned. I don't see anything wrong with the project, in fact I think getting rid of crummy eyesores, ugly buildings and strip mall mistakes are good.


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2013 at 5:32 pm

"Sorry for all of the 'specifics' but it is far past time for the opponents of this project to be precise in their answers." - Peter Carpenter

Peter, If they had specific facts they would have submitted them and repeated them over and over again long ago. So do not hold your breath and stay the course!

I appreciate your engagement, thoroughness, intellectual rigor and objectivity.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 22, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Easy does it:

YES! Let's call Peter's bluff. go out and collect sufficient signatures to get it on the next ballot for all Menlo Park Citizens to vote on.

Good luck with that. I'd love to see if, first, you could collect sufficient signatures to get it on the ballot and two, actually get a majority to vote for your referendum. If you have any doubt, ask those that had to get Measure L on the ballot. It was difficult, even given a large majority of citizens that were in favor.

Remember, both sides are going to be arguing this issue. Both people that are tired of the blight on ECR and those that oppose because it effects their neighborhoods. Just remember, the majority doesn't live in those neighborhoods.

Frankly, I would welcome a referendum on the specific plan and if the majority are ok with the approved zoning. It would put an end no the never ending argument with the people that weren't paying attention or simply are unhappy with the outcome of a transparent and democratic process. And if, the majority said, NO, we don't want this zoning, then it is the clear will of the majority. Still a mistake in my mind, but a statement by the majority and not a loud minority with a special self interest.


Posted by Menlo Park, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm

S Tyler:

"As a planner who works in a nearby community, I have watched this whole thing unfold. A year ago, I was amazed that a community like Menlo Park could step up and adopt such a well developed, forward thinking planning tool. Now, I am equally amazed by the lack of ownership and "it wasn't me" attitude."

This is exactly how it gets done in Menlo Park. No one pays attention until they actually figure out it's going to actually effect "THEM," and then they're all over it. Even though they paid no attention to the process or, if they did, are simply unhappy with the outcome. Because, after all, it's all about THEM, and what they want, isn't it?


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 22, 2013 at 10:07 pm

"Perhaps the solipsistic naysayers who contribute to this discussion of the use of land owned by Stanford need to fffreeeeeeep ..."

Dear Stan,

Welcome to the [portion removed - please try to avoid attacks] Carpenter Posse and congratulations on your new role as Communications Director of the Portola Valley Chapter. In this position you will be tasked with anonymously dropping outlandish phrases such as "solipsistic naysayers" in online forums while lambasting Menlo Park NIMBYs who don't yet realize they should welcome an additional 9,000 daily car trips to their town, especially when weighed against the clear public benefits of a wider sidewalk on a short stretch of El Camino Real, a driveway-cum-plaza of sorts, and the additional open space afforded to those with access to private medical office balconies.

In addition, you will draw upon the vast experience your own community has in judiciously welcoming high density housing, BMR housing, five-story office complexes, and other traffic-generating sources into the nascent urban center that is Portola Valley. Should you ever find yourself backed into a seemingly intractable corner online or at, say, a Menlo Park City Council meeting (you needn't actually attend one), please do not hesitate to reach for your dog-eared copy of L. Ron Carpenter's "Inananetics," which includes a lengthy chapter titled, "Subduing the Unwashed Proletariat with Irrelevant Ordinance and Other Lorem Ipsum."

...

Honestly, has this forum witnessed anything more sadly hypocritical than the pro-growth, pro-urban position of these few Atherton, Portola Valley, and Woodside residents!?

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 6:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As posted above regarding the opponents:

Their only answer is to attack those who challenge them and to attack the professional staff.

No facts and no answers to the often stated questions.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:53 am

Gern:

do you have anything of a factual nature to add to the conversation or just more hyperbole and ad hominem attacks? Didn't think so.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

Fact: The Downtown Specific Plan, considered flawed by many Menlo Park residents, awarded Stanford a 200+% up-zone of its 500 ECR East properties in exchange for negligible public benefit. This mistake has been acknowledged as such by members of the Menlo Park City Council and Planning Commission.

Fact: The proposed Stanford project for 500 ECR East -- pick your favorite version -- would only increase the jobs/housing imbalance in Menlo Park, thus saddling the city with more infill housing debt.

Fact: The traffic impacts of the proposed Stanford development are little understood, given the traffic study remains outstanding, but the only mitigations proposed thus far for the additional ~9,000 daily car trips in and out of Menlo Park are a) adding a northbound double left turn lane from El Camino to Middle Avenue, b) removing 20 parking spaces on El Camino, c) widening El Camino to three through lanes for two blocks and d) better marketing of Stanford's Marguerite shuttle and the joys of cycling.

Fact: There is no credible evidence of any kind to suggest that removing 500 ECR East from the Downtown Specific Plan will lead to decades of blight and developer disinterest in Menlo Park, yet this is exactly the claim made by the odd cabal of project supporters in this forum.

Fact: Peter Carpenter has stated repeatedly in this forum, "Menlo Park does NOT want a village" and "I HAVE read the Visioning Plan!" Stated goal of that Visioning Plan? "Goal: Maintain a village character unique to Menlo Park." (See page 10 at Web Link)

Those few project proponents who discount concerns related to traffic impacts or housing imbalances or school overcrowding typically do so from the relative isolation and immunity of their Atherton, Portola Valley, or Woodside acreage.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 11:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The Downtown Specific Plan, considered flawed by many Menlo Park residents, awarded Stanford a 200+% up-zone of its 500 ECR East properties in exchange for negligible public benefit" Please document how many consider it flawed and what are the specific flaws - other than it affects your own narrow self interests.

"This mistake has been acknowledged as such by members of the Menlo Park City Council and Planning Commission." Please document this assertion.


Gern - Here are your STILL unanswered questions:

""I am also concerned that the plan was modified without the knowledge of the planning commissioners and council members. "

"given that the council has already uncovered a few giveaways that it (and the public) never knew about."

"The plan does not incorporate the resident input. It was a bait & switch choreographed by Stanford's consultants."

"the plan Stanford fronted during the visioning process"

Does any body have anything to prove that the above statements are true?

"There are gems hidden in the plan that were NEVER DISCUSSED at any public meeting. That planning commissioners and council members were not aware of."

Please provide evidence to support this claim - both identify the hidden gems and verify that those hidden gems were NOT in the final Specific Plan as reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission and the Council.

What are the specific terms in the Specific Plan that the 514 Special Interest Group object to?

And exactly how would they modify each of those terms?



Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Peter Carpenter, in a rare moment of self-reflection, offered: "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

Number of Peter's Town Square posts in response to Stanford project articles and editorials: 1,317
Number of Peter's posts containing substantively unique information: 11
Number of Menlo Park residents swayed by Peter's posts: 3
[Portion removed. Please avoid personal attacks.]

Gern


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Gern
It seems like Peter is just asking for facts -- and every single time you respond in attack mode. This does not argue well for your case or garner support. It has the opposite effect.

Editors: why continue this nonsense. It's never going to be an actual discussion.


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 23, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I, for one, find Gern's constant stream of "troll-like" attacks particularly valuable (but not enlightening) in this forum as his posts (1) provide Peter (and others) many opportunities to expose their ignorance of facts and flaws in logic, AND (2) his uncivil behavior undermines his apparent efforts. Is it possible Gern is anti-SaveMenlo and is trying to weaken their standing. Now that's a conspiracy theory that's fun to consider! :)


Posted by watch this space, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm

There are some surprising elements of the final Specific Plan that don't seem to have been discussed or directed by the Council. Some citizens are compiling that information but want to be sure of the facts before stating them in a forum like this. Please watch this space. It will take a while to compile.

One example that already has been discussed publicly, during the last Council meeting, is the insertion of a vehicular access requirement into the public plaza/park space at Middle and El Camino. There are other examples that will be coming soon.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Garn - You have a real problem with the truth.
Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Apr 19, 2013 at 1:11 pm
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

Here is is a perfect example of blatant lie posted by Gern - "the negative impacts of 500 ECR on the entire community should outweigh the benefits to the few," as you've said, Peter.'

I NEVER said that - those are Your words which you attempt to put in my mouth. What I said was '- the issue is wether the negative impacts of 500 ECR on a few people should outweigh the benefits to the entire community"

And now again:
"Number of Peter's Town Square posts in response to Stanford project articles and editorials: 1,317

Number of Peter's posts containing substantively unique information: 11"

Over 90% of my postings are nothing but factual information.

Gern - posting lies, particularly ones that are so easily disproved, on this Forum does not do either you or your cause any good since now everything you post is suspect.


Why do you have so much trouble with the truth? Why are you so foolish as to make statements that are so easily refuted by the above records?


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Peter's tired refrain: "Please document how many consider it flawed and what are the specific flaws."

What about the fact that the DSP "awarded Stanford a 200+% up-zone of its 500 ECR East properties in exchange for negligible public benefit" is unclear, Peter? And there are now 564 signatures on the petition -- still too small a number to merit consideration in Atherton?

"Please document this assertion."

Rich Cline, Kirsten Keith, and Vince Bressler spoke at the Council meeting you attended, Peter, as did former Councilmember Heyward Robinson, and Ohtaki and Carlton intimated as much in voting to form a subcommittee to investigate how best to deal with 500 ECR East.

I take it you had no quibbles with the four additional facts I included in my list, Peter?

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - Sadly you have proven yourself to be an unreliable source (a liar) and I will no longer respond to or challenge your postings.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:48 pm

"I will no longer respond to or challenge your postings."

Checkmate, Peter, and not with a bang but a whimper. Fret not -- there will be other windmills against which you may tilt (and break) your Libertarian Lance of Righteousness.

Gern


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Gern:

564 signatures would not get a referendum on this project to the ballot. Frankly I'd love to see it go to ballot as I believe the larger population of Menlo Park understands the ramifications of pulling the Stanford property out of the specific plan and rezoning it after previously having granted the current zoning.

Let's ask the council to put it on the ballot even if savemenlo can't get the necessary signaures to do so? What do you say Gern?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - Sadly you have proven yourself to be an unreliable source (a liar) and I will no longer respond to or challenge your postings.


For anyone interested in the actual source documents here are the links:

1 - Menlo park engaged in a multi-year effort to produce a Specific Plan for the Downtown area. This effort included substantial input by citizens as noted in the Specific Plan:

"…And the thousands of community members who did

the real work of the Specifi c Plan by providing direction

for their community for the next 20 to 30 years. Their

dedication to working in a constructive, collaborative way

to create a plan that will make our community the best it

can be is an admirable testament to our ability to achieve

the vision set forth in the Specific Plan."

Here is the Vison Plan:
Web Link

2– A Draft EIR was produced regarding that proposed Specific Plan and public comments were solicited,

3 – A Final EIR was prepared which incorporated responses to the comments received on the Draft EIR,

Web Link

4 – The Final EIR and the Specific Plan were unanimously approved by the City Council,

Web Link

5 - Stanford submitted a proposal that fully conforms to the Specific Plan:

Web Link

continued below due to limit on urls in a single posting


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

continued from above.

6 -The Stanford proposal was reviewed by the Planning Commission in January:

Web Link

7 - The council reviewed the process at it 16 April meeting - here is the staff report:
Web Link

The facts speak for themselves.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 23, 2013 at 4:25 pm

"I believe the larger population of Menlo Park understands the ramifications of pulling the Stanford property out of the specific plan ..."

And those ramifications would be the fire, brimstone, blight, and locusts mentioned elsewhere in jest? Seriously, lay out these ramifications for us and cite your sources, because I am certain your position is baseless.

"564 signatures would not get a referendum on this project to the ballot."

As has been pointed out numerous times, one-tenth of Menlo Park voters would need to sign a referendum petition to trigger a vote on the matter, which translates to about 1,800 signatures. Given the ad-hoc online petition secured 564 signatures I've little doubt a concerted signature drive could more than double the required number, just as that for the Derry referendum did. But only a fool wants 500 ECR East to end up in referendum.

Oh, Peter, your next windmill has reared its ugly head:

Web Link

Gern


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Gern:

as usual you don't answer the question. If savemenlo can't put a referendum on the ballot do you support the council doing so? 564 signatures on an ad hoc petition are meaningless. Multiple people could have signed, non-residents could have signed, etc. etc. You think they can get a referendum on the ballot; if they don't how about the council putting it on? Put your money where you [portion deleted] mouth is for a change.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:07 am

Editor:

hyberbolic is not allowed to be said here?

Hyperbolic refers to something related to or in shape of hyperbola (a type of curve), or to something employing the literary device of hyperbole (overstatement or plausible exaggeration).


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 24, 2013 at 10:20 am

CORRECTION (I need to be more careful with my usage of pronouns!). I find Gern's constant stream of "troll-like" attacks particularly valuable (but not enlightening) in this forum as his posts (1) provide Peter (and others) many opportunities to expose Gern's ignorance of facts and flaws in logic, AND (2) Gern's uncivil behavior - vitrol, sarcasm, misrepresentations and personal attacks - discredits his own arguments and the SaveMenlo cause. Is it possible Gern is anti-SaveMenlo and is actually trying to weaken its standing? Now that's a conspiracy theory that's fun to consider! That said, I agree with Peter's decision to ignore Gern and simply answer any civil questions posted by anyone who is clearly trying to understand the issues and facts surrounding the Stanford plan.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 24, 2013 at 11:09 am

"If savemenlo can't put a referendum on the ballot do you support the council doing so? ... if they (savemenlo) don't how about the council putting it on?"

Lord A'Mighty, do you truly believe the Menlo Park City Council "puts on" referendums, or that it even could were it so inclined?! A Saturday bake sale and referendum, as it were? To quote your friend Peter, "you need to do your homework" with respect to the referendum process.

"Multiple people could have signed [the savemenlo petition], non-residents could have signed, etc. etc."

They are no more or less legitimate than you and I are in these forums, my friend (but likely more so given the number of full names I recognize). In any case, I and others have consistently maintained that a referendum is not the desired outcome for 500 ECR East.

"CORRECTION ..."

It was stilted the first time through, Dana, and your amendments have only made it more so. I represent no one other than myself in this forum -- certainly not Save Menlo or any other organization you care to imagine. But it's high time I showed the good sense to move on, something Peter has already done, it would seem.

Gern


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 1:07 pm

"They are no more or less legitimate than you and I are in these forums,"

Exactly. Yet you consistently trot out the 564 signatures as some how more valid than what is being said here.


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