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Guest opinion: A call for civility at council meetings

Original post made on May 2, 2013

The April 24 Almanac gave a balanced report on the Menlo Park City Council meeting on April 16, but neglected to report on the tone of the meeting. A number of the speakers who were opposed to Stanford's development proposal acted irresponsibly. I was surprised by their lack of respect for their city leaders and their fellow citizens.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 1, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (62)

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Posted by Stefan P.
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 2, 2013 at 6:39 am

The author suggests Menlo Park residents should trust the planning process regarding the Stanford project. Unfortunately, under the new Specific Plan the project-level planning process has been severely curtailed to an "architectural review" by the Planning Commission. That is what has a lot of residents worried. Kudos to the Planning Commission for still giving this project their full scrutiny.

Also, the Stanford project will conceivably bring more traffic through the Willows than University Circle which is right off 101.


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Posted by S Tyler
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Stefan P. says that "Menlo Park residents should trust the planning process". After watching Menlo Park spend five years on a planning process and then reject it within a year after approval, I suggest that "trust" isn't the correct word. I think the word should be "participate" in the planning process.

I would have thought the residents of Menlo Park would have been embarrassed that they chose to ignore and/or not participate in a major five year public planning process in their community. Instead, they embrace their lack of community involvement and strike out at everyone but themselves, citing false conspiracies and "flawed" environmental reviews. From my perspective, the Stanford project has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion without due process.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" From my perspective, the Stanford project has been tried and convicted in the court of public opinion without due process."

Fortunately this particular court of public opinion has only included a very small number of residents who are blatantly trying to serve their own narrow self interests.

Wisdom, the facts and due process will prevail.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm

If you agree with the outcome, then the process is always fair and reasonable and took everyone's opinions and concerns into account. Those speakers who so conveniently reflected YOUR position were thoughtful and reasonable. Those who disagreed, reminded us "Fox News" and they just rudely yelled at officials.

How thoughtful. How convenient.

We live in an era when our politicians - on BOTH sides - unabashedly accuse their opponents of the most horrible things. Remember what Republicans said about President Obama and Vice President Biden? Remember what Democrats said about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan?

We shouldn't be surprised that this rudeness and blatant partisanship has trickled down to City Hall. What does surprise me, is how people, including the author of the original opinion piece, still look at opponents thorough the same prism.

For those of us who do not affiliate with either political party, this game of Fox versus MSNBC has gotten very tired... and predictable.


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Posted by The facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 2, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Many of us participated in the public process. I attended a number of meetings and provided my input. I would say that most of us who were involved were very pleased with the initial results, because it seemed as though the consultants understood what was important to most residents. (Residents of Atherton may deride our emphasis on "village character," but I don't see a lot of high density offices in that town.)

Near the end of the process, Stanford's consultant created a detailed specific plan. As council members and planning commissioners have stated, in public, a number of pro-Stanford elements somehow slipped into that plan without having been discussed or vetted in any way. As a result, Stanford was given carte blanche to design a project that is inappropriate for Menlo Park and will have a deleterious impact on the quality of life of residents.

This is the wrong that our commissioners and council members are now trying to correct, and kudos to them.

You simply cannot compare this project to University Circle. My observation is that almost everyone accesses the complex from 101, with a minority -- some Palo Alto and Menlo Park residents -- using University to get to it. Cutting through the Willows is a circuitous route -- it's longer and messier, so few people try it. Conversely, the Stanford project is smack in the middle of town. People must take local streets to get to it, and the traffic it creates will have a ripple effect through the city.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Calling yourself The facts and presenting THE FACTS are two entirely different things.

You claim, without any documentation, that "a number of pro-Stanford elements somehow slipped into that plan without having been discussed or vetted in any way."

However the 23 page staff report prepared for the 5 June 2012 council meeting included 5 pages of a section titled "Changes from Draft Specific Plan".

It states "This section highlights key changes made to the Draft Specific Plan in response to the City Council's consolidated direction."

Can you please provide specific examples of pro-Stanford elements that were neither in the Draft plan nor included in the Staff Report #: 12-084.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the Staff Report #: 12-084.

"The City Council concluded its review on October 4, 2011 with clear direction for substantive improvements to the Draft Specific Plan. The City Council direction is included as Attachment I, and key aspects of it are discussed in more detail in the Changes from Draft Specific Plan section of this report. Concurrent with the revisions to the Specific Plan, staff and the consultant team have prepared responses to comments on the Draft EIR and associated changes to the EIR and the Specific Plan, which are discussed in the Environmental Review section. Both the Final Specific Plan and Final EIR were released for public review on April 19, 2012."

Therefore EVERYBODY had from 19 April until 5 June to review the Final Specific Plan - what exactly was 'slipped into that plan' and then not discussed? The public hearing on 5 June 2012 opened at 8:04 PM and the Council finished its deliberations about 12:30 AM the next morning - over 4 hours later.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 2, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Peter:

they want to claim it was "slipped in" because they didn't bother to actually read the Final Specific Plan before it was approved. They want to claim this very transparent process was somehow a back room deal without a shred of evidence to back it up. Nothing in writing anywhere supports their claims. Think Occam's Razor. The most likely reason is the simplest - people too lazy to participate in the process ALL THE WAY TO THE BITTER END now claim they were hoodwinked. No mystery or conspiracy here.


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Posted by Fingerpointing
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 2, 2013 at 7:18 pm

I was at the meeting and I do not remember anyone being rude to the council. For the most part, speakers thanked the council for addressing this issue that concerns so many of us.

I also remember the speech made by the author of the editorial. His tone toward other residents was patronizing, essentially "don't bother your silly little heads about this issue. You're just imagining things." So I expect that his real reason for writing this piece was because he's still fuming that his words evoked such a negative reaction. Too bad he can't look in the mirror and ask himself if perhaps he failed to show respect for his neighbors, all of whom had waited hours to speak because they did not consider this a trivial fantasy.

I haven't seen any evidence that the council members felt disrespected by the public. And why should they? They weren't! But the author was disrespectful to most of us.


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Posted by Fingerpointing PS
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 2, 2013 at 7:22 pm

So, in the view of Peter Carpenter and Menlo Voter, because residents did not read every single word of a lengthy plan, we now deserve a project that will have a terribly negative impact on our city? We need to be punished for our "laziness?" What an odd perspective.

Fortunately, that's not the way our government works. Mistakes were made. They are being fixed. The end result will be better for our city and for all of us.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" because residents did not read every single word of a lengthy plan, we now deserve a project that will have a terribly negative impact on our city? We need to be punished for our "laziness?" "

Citizenship has RESPONSIBILITIES - if you failed to perform your responsibilities then you forfeited your benefits. The Specific Plan process was TOTALLY open and the outcome was based on citizen input. If you slept through the process then you have forfeited your right to complain.

TOUGH.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 2, 2013 at 8:51 pm

"Fortunately, that's not the way our government works. "

Actually that IS the way our government works. It may not be the way you WANT it to work. You don't get a do over. As Peter noted CITIZENSHIP HAS RESPONSIBILITIES. Among those are paying attention to the ENTIRE processes. If you don't like the outcome of a very transparent process you have only yourself to blame. Had you been paying attention, you would have seen what was supposedly "slipped" into the Final Specific Plan.

There's no "punishment" here, simply logical consequences of not doing your job as a concerned citizen. Look, I'm guilty too. I took my eye off the ball. I'm not happy with this project, but I'm looking big picture. If no one can count on decisions made by our city no one will risk their capital to build anything here. Perhaps that is what you folks would like, but I don't. I'm tired of looking at ECR and its blight. Of course, I'm not a savemenlo nimby either.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Can you please provide specific examples of pro-Stanford elements that were neither in the Draft plan nor included in the Staff Report #: 12-084.

So where are the answers?

There aren't any answers because the opponents have no facts to support their narrow self interest positions.


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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 2, 2013 at 9:42 pm

I ran the Specific Plan meetings. They were dominated by downtown merchants.

We had HALF AN HOUR to discuss public benefit, 11:30 to midnight of the last meeting. I urged my fellow commissioners to take Stanford out of the plan at that time. NOTE: This was at midnight during the last meeting!

This is your public process. It is absurd to say that we can't go back now and remedy mistakes. Was public benefit discussed during the workshops? Not that I recall. People had no idea what the they were up against with the Stanford project until they saw the actual drawings. That is your public process!

Anyone who stands behind this process and claims that we have no right to amend the result has an agenda which is clearly hostile to the public interest and hostile to any REAL public process.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Anyone who stands behind this process and claims that we have no right to amend the result has an agenda which is clearly hostile to the public interest and hostile to any REAL public process."

Fine - go ahead and try to change the Specific Plan. It IS the will of the people and you will not be able to change it just because it impacts negatively your narrow self interests.

"I urged my fellow commissioners to take Stanford out of the plan at that time." And what exactly was your colleagues response to that proposal?

You do not like the outcome so you attempt to trash the process - that is NOT how democracy works.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on May 2, 2013 at 10:12 pm

Is it possible to distrust the city leadership & still be civil?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 3, 2013 at 7:23 am

Mr. Bressler:

If the specific plan was so terribly flawed why did the planning commission (that included you too didn't it?) approve it and pass it on to the council for approval? Why did planning recomend it be approved? Why did the council approve it?

I have no agenda other than to have the city abide by its agreements and decisions, as flawed as they may be. The consequences for not doing so are going to be bad and long term.

And another thing. If the specific plan and the process used to get there were so terribly flawed, yet it resulted in the commision's approval of this terribly flawed plan, it tells me we have an incompetent planning commision. We should fire them all and start over. The planning commision above anyone else ought to know what 200,000 square feet is going to look like if that is the zoning they're granting. If they truly don't they are incompetent.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2013 at 7:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I urged my fellow commissioners to take Stanford out of the plan at that time." And what exactly was your colleagues response to that proposal?

Well it turns out that the minutes of the April 30 2012 planning commission meeting show that not a single other planning commissioner shared this view and that the idea died for the lack of a second - so why should a small minority now get a redo?????


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2013 at 7:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

the minutes of the April 30 2012 planning commission meeting show that Bressler voted FOR what he now calls a 'flawed' plan.

"Commission Action: M/S Riggs/Yu to recommend to the City Council to adopt a
Resolution of the City of Menlo Park, approving and adopting the El Camino
Real/Downtown Specific Plan (Attachment J).
Motion carried 6-0 with Commissioner Eiref absent. "


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Posted by democracy works
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 3, 2013 at 8:14 am

Democracy does allow re-do's. Decisions are modified all the time by decisionmaking bodies, sometimes after voters change the roster of decisionmakers, sometimes when there are a lot of petitions, and sometimes when voters create an initiative.

The Specific Plan allows review and potential re-do. It's a good and very democratic thing to do. The Specific Plan was the first Menlo Park has ever created, and it involved massive changes to zoning and zoning rules. It should be no surprise that some things need to be modified once there are some real-life examples of what can result from it.

btw - a point of fact about the Planning Commission's vote: the "approval" included a number of recommendations not all of which were accepted by the Council.


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Posted by Fingerpointing
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 3, 2013 at 8:35 am

It's now become exceedingly clear that the PC/MV campaign of personal attacks and nitpickery has no substance. Time to move on and let the process do its thing!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2013 at 8:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Democracy does involve constant change but democracy does not allow for a small noisy group to invalidate a democratically made decision simply by calling the decision flawed and because of their own narrow special interests.

Go ahead and try, via the democratic process, to change the Specific Plan. It will be a long and arduous process and there will be real costs in terms of both the manpower required and the message that would be sent that such plans, once adopted, have no real planning value due to their lack of certainty.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 3, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Excuse me fingerpointing, but please provide where I have made a personal attack. In fact, if anything, both Peter and I have been at the receiving end of attacks, slurs and ad hominem attacks. Of course those are the refuge of those without facts to back their opinions. Try again.


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Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Let us look at the big picture. For the most part El Camino in Menlo Park looks like garbage. We keep allowing these little, unconnected buildings to be put up which makes our community look like a hodge podge. Most of the currente store fronts are from the 1940's. El Camino is an eyesore. Not only should developers be welcomed they should be patronized. Let's class up El Camino.


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Posted by Old MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

While I disagree with those who are attempting a full-out block of the Stanford project, I do agree with their right to utilize "the process" and all legal means to further their POV.

And while it may gum up the works, dissuade future developers to want to work in MP, delay any development in MP for years, etc. - that is their prerogative to use the process or system.

Of course, the better answer is compromise. But that doesn't seem to be a word in anyone's dictionary these days...


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Of course, the better answer is compromise."

Compromise means both parties compromise. Stanford HAS already compromised; the 'save the villagers' consider compromise to be move half way towards our position and then move half way towards our position again and again - but we are NOT moving. For example, the villagers wanted Stanford to increase the amount of housing and when Stanford did exactly that they NOW have a new demand to remove ECR-SE from the Specific Plan.


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Posted by democracy works
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Except for a few sections of El Camino, most of the properties ARE very small. There is little the city can do to force property owners to develop at all. There is little the city can do to force smaller properties to be developed as one larger project.

It seems to me that compromise about the Stanford site must address the residents' concerns about safety and traffic and take into account Stanford's desire to achieve certain development objectives that aren't entirely out in the open. A traffic study of current project proposal and impacts is in order before compromise should be expected.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"certain development objectives that aren't entirely out in the open."

Do you have any evidence that there are any hidden objectives and do you have any idea what these might be?

In my opinion Stanford has been very clear about their development objectives - square footage, FARs, heights, uses etc. - what is missing?????


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2013 at 6:25 pm

democracy:

I'm pretty sure a traffic study was done. As was a draft EIR and a final EIR which incorporated all of these things. You know, those things the savemenlo folks never bothered to read or pay attention to until AFTER the specific plan was adopted.

That's the problem here. The folks objecting to this project weren't paying attention and now want a "do over." Do you wonder why no one wants to build in our town given they can't count on planning decisions? Would you risk your capital in our town given the circumstances? I certainly wouldn't.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Staff believes the current process is functioning as intended by the Specific Plan, with
the revisions being pursued by the applicant as evidence that key issues are being
identified from public input and Planning Commission direction, and are being
subsequently addressed. Although details on the environmental review (in particular,
regarding traffic) have not been provided to date, they are being worked on and are
required to be addressed in full prior to any potential project actions. As noted
throughout this report, the proposal is required to meet an extensive set of regulations
and guidelines contained in the Specific Plan, which were established through a
transparent and community-oriented process that looked at opportunities and
challenges on a comprehensive basis for El Camino Real and Downtown. The review
process for this individual development proposal is generally proceeding carefully and
deliberately, and is being informed by applicable analysis."

What exactly is missing????


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 6, 2013 at 9:52 pm

It makes no sense to be dogmatic about process-process-process if the outcome is unacceptable. I applaud the council for setting up the subcommittee to make this project more palatable.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm

"I'm pretty sure a traffic study was done."

And you would be wrong, [portion removed] Voter, almost as wrong as when you boldly challenged the City Council to "put on" a referendum elsewhere in this forum. From PC's message immediately following your own:

"Although details on the environmental review (in particular, regarding traffic) have not been provided to date, they are being worked on and are required to be addressed in full prior to any potential project actions."

Truly, truly hypocritical that you deride Menlo Park residents for "not paying attention" during the five-year DSP ordeal when you are clearly not in possession of the most basic facts regarding a project and a process about which you purport to feel so strongly. It's also odd that Peter has not chastised you for your egregious factual errors, [portion removed].

Gern


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Peter asks the rhetorical question, "What exactly is missing????"

After having answered it earlier in the same post, "Although details on the environmental review (in particular, regarding traffic) have not been provided to date...."

I, personally, cannot wait for the traffic study and accompanying swirl round "mitigation." (Portion removed.)
Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 2:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - it is being intentionally deceptive (PWT) to quote just part of a sentence:

"Although details on the environmental review (in particular,

regarding traffic) have not been provided to date, they are being worked on and are

required to be addressed in full prior to any potential project actions. "


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 7, 2013 at 7:01 am

"Gern - it is being intentionally deceptive (PWT) to quote just part of a sentence."

Partial quotes from others' posts are your bread and butter, Peter, but we'll ignore the dodge this time round:

Peter Carpenter: "What exactly is missing????"
Answer: "The traffic study remains missing."

The fact that you and one or two others in this forum wholeheartedly support -- no, advocate for -- the Stanford project with no clear idea of its traffic impacts belies any claim to objectivity in the matter.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 7:37 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The fact that you and one or two others in this forum wholeheartedly support -- no, advocate for -- the Stanford project with no clear idea of its traffic impacts belies any claim to objectivity in the matter."

Chapter 4.13 of the Final EIR already provides 82 pages of extensive traffic analysis of the projected traffic and its impact and mitigation. The remaining supplemental traffic study is a small effort in comparison.

Gern - Had you read Chapter 4.13 of the Final EIR?

And Gern, I am very glad that you now believe that the ONLY thing missing is the supplemental traffic study - we are making progress.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2013 at 7:55 am

Gern:

As I understood it and as Peter has provided, traffic study was done as a part of the EIR. So, nothing hypocritical here. Also, I'm not asking for a do over, like you. I'm asking the city to follow its own process.


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Posted by democracy works
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2013 at 11:02 am

The Specific Plan's EIR did not study explicitly the potential impacts of the Stanford project. Fortunately, the Specific Plan explicitly allows for project-specific environmental studies, including a project-level EIR.
Neighborhood cut-through traffic was not analyzed by the SP EIR and the SP EIR did not analyze driveway intersections, very key to examining impacts from the Stanford site that has El Camino ingress/egress only.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 11:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The Specific Plan's EIR did not study explicitly the potential impacts of the Stanford project"

WRONG. The EIR studied the impacts of a full build out as permitted by the Specific Plan - that IS what an EIR is required to do.

"Neighborhood cut-through traffic was not analyzed by the SP EIR and the SP EIR did not analyze driveway intersections, very key to examining impacts from the Stanford site that has El Camino ingress/egress only."

That is the purpose of the ongoing supplemental traffic study. And hopefully one of the alternatives it will look at is creating a tunnel connection to Alma for cars going to and from the project thereby reducing the impact on ECR and sharing the traffic load with a broader area.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 11:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From the Final EIR:

"4.13 Transportation, Circulation and Parking
This section describes the transportation, circulation, and parking conditions, including transit services and pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the project area and its vicinity, and provides an analysis of the Specific Plan's potential impacts. This section summarizes the findings of the Revised Draft Menlo Park El Camino Real / Downtown Specific Plan Transportation Impact Analysis (Fehr and Peers, 2010). Appendix E contains the full traffic impact study, with technical background information relating to transportation, circulation and parking. The analysis evaluates the traffic-related impacts of the Specific Plan during both the weekday morning and evening peak hours. Traffic conditions are assessed for study intersections and roadways segments for the following four scenarios:
 Existing – Represents existing conditions with volumes obtained from recent traffic counts
and the existing roadway system.
 Existing With Project Buildout – Existing conditions plus project-related traffic UNDER FULL BUILDOUT CONDITIONS
 2035 No Project –This scenario represents long range conditions and includes existing
peak-hour volumes multiplied by a twenty-year growth factor to represent regional growth
plus traffic generated by approved and pending development projects in Menlo Park.
 2035 With Project Buildout – Future forecasted conditions for the year 2035, as determined
in the 2035 No Project scenario, plus project-related traffic under full buildout conditions."


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 7, 2013 at 11:38 am

Peter, you are either completely unfamiliar with the material you cite or you are intentionally misleading your wayward acolyte, [portion removed - don't use labels to attack other posters]. From page 4.13-1 of the referenced document (Web Link):

"This section summarizes the findings of the Revised Draft Menlo Park El Camino Real / Downtown Specific Plan Transportation Impact Analysis (Fehr and Peers, 2010)."

2010, Peter. How much did Fehr and Peers know about the proposed Stanford project now before us while reworking their boilerplate analysis in 2010? And this *analysis* is not the same thing as the supplemental traffic study now being conducted, as you well know. Neither you nor [portion removed - don't use labels to attack other posters]. can pretend to understand the potential traffic impacts of the Stanford project yet you wholeheartedly favor moving forward all the same. [Portion removed - focus on the topic, not on attacking posters.]

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 11:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note:
" Existing With Project Buildout – Existing conditions plus project-related traffic UNDER FULL BUILDOUT CONDITIONS"

The Specific Plan determined the full buildout conditions and the Stanford proposal conforms to the Specific Plan and is therefore less than or equal to full buildout ergo the traffic analysis assumed full build out and therefore covers the traffic impacts of the Stanford project.

"Neighborhood cut-through traffic was not analyzed by the SP EIR and the SP EIR did not analyze driveway intersections, very key to examining impacts from the Stanford site that has El Camino ingress/egress only."

That is the purpose of the ongoing supplemental traffic study. And hopefully one of the alternatives it will look at is creating a tunnel connection to Alma for cars going to and from the project thereby reducing the impact on ECR and sharing the traffic load with a broader area.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Serious citizens are encouraged to read the traffic analysis, Appendix E, in the Final EIR. Here are some excerpts:

"This report presents the results of the transportation impact analysis (TIA) for the proposed El Camino Real/ Downtown Specific Plan for Menlo Park, California. The overall goal of the Specific Plan is to "establish a framework for private and public improvements on El Camino Real and in Downtown Menlo Park for the next several decades." Its intent is "to enhance community life, character and vitality through public space improvements, mixed use infill projects sensitive to the small-town character of Menlo Park, and improved connections across El Camino Real."

"The TIA identifies potentially significant adverse impacts of the proposed Specific Plan on the surrounding transportation system and recommends mitigation measures in compliance with the California EnvironmentalQuality Act (CEQA) and assesses the Specific Plan's consistency with transportation-related General Plan goals and polices. The Specific Plan is a planning document. Therefore, the analysis in this document is a program level analysis and may be supplemented with project-specific analyses." - exactly what is now on-going.

"SCOPE OF THE ANALYSIS
The operations of 34 study intersections, 32 roadway segments, and 4 freeway segments were evaluated for the following scenarios:
Scenario 1: Existing Conditions – Existing traffic conditions using volumes obtained from counts.
Scenario 2: Existing Plus Project Conditions – Existing volumes plus net new traffic generated by the anticipated development levels envisioned in the Specific Plan and presented in Table 1. This scenario is the basis from which project impacts are identified for California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) purposes.
Scenario 3: Cumulative (2035) No Project Conditions – Cumulative conditions represent long range conditions and include existing peak-hour volumes multiplied by a twenty-year growth
factor to represent regional growth plus traffic generated by approved and pending
development projects in Menlo Park.
Scenario 4: Cumulative (2035) Project Conditions – Traffic volumes from Scenario 3 plus traffic generated by anticipated development levels envisioned in the Specific Plan. This
scenario is the basis from which cumulative project impacts are identified for California
Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) purposes."

Study Intersections
The study intersections are listed below. The jurisdictions controlling the intersections are listed in parentheses
after each intersection2.
1. El Camino Real & Atherton Avenue/Fair Oaks Lane (Ct/At)
2. El Camino Real & Encinal Avenue (Ct/At/MP)
3. El Camino Real & Glenwood Avenue/Valparaiso Avenue (Ct/At/MP)
4. El Camino Real & Oak Grove Avenue (Ct/MP)
5. El Camino Real & Santa Cruz Avenue (Ct/MP)
6. El Camino Real & Menlo Avenue/Ravenswood Avenues (Ct/MP)
7. El Camino Real & Roble Avenue (Ct/MP)
8. El Camino Real & Middle Avenue (Ct/MP)
9. El Camino Real & Cambridge Avenue (Ct/MP)
10. El Camino Real & Sand Hill Road (Ct/PA)
11. Laurel Street & Oak Grove Avenue (MP)
12. Laurel Street & Ravenswood Avenue (MP)
13. University Drive & Valparaiso Avenue (MP/At)
14. University Drive & Oak Grove Avenue (MP)
15. University Drive & Santa Cruz Avenue (MP)
16. University Drive & Santa Cruz Avenue (MP)
17. University Drive & Menlo Avenue (MP)
18. Middlefield Road & Marsh Road (At)
19. Middlefield Road & Encinal Avenue (At)
20. Middlefield Road & Glenwood Avenue/Linden Avenue (At)
21. Middlefield Road & Oak Grove Avenue (At)
22. Middlefield Road & Ravenswood Avenue (MP/At)
23. Middlefield Road & Ringwood Avenue (MP/At)
24. Middlefield Road & Linfield Drive (MP)
25. Middlefield Road & Willow Road (MP)
26. Gilbert Avenue & Willow Road (MP)
27. Coleman Avenue & Willow Road (MP)
28. Durham Street & Willow Road (MP)
29. Bay Road & Willow Road (Ct/MP)
30. Bay Road & Marsh Road (MP)
31. Florence Street/Bohannon Drive & Marsh Road (MP)
32. Scott Drive & Marsh Road (MP)
33. Orange Avenue/Santa Cruz Avenue & Avy Avenue/Santa Cruz Avenue (MP)
34. Santa Cruz Avenue/Alpine Avenue & Sand Hill Road (MP)
Study Roadway Segments
The study roadway segments are listed below:
1. Encinal Avenue from El Camino Real to Laurel Street
2. Encinal Avenue from Laurel Street to Middlefield Road
3. Valparaiso Avenue from Delfino Way to San Mateo Drive
4. Valparaiso Avenue from San Mateo Drive to University Drive (North)
5. Valparaiso Avenue from University Drive (North) to El Camino Real
6. Glenwood Avenue from El Camino Real to Laurel Street
7. Oak Grove Avenue from University Drive (North) to El Camino Real
8. Oak Grove Avenue from El Camino Real to Laurel Street
9. Oak Grove Avenue from Laurel Street to Middlefield Road
10. Santa Cruz Avenue from Alameda de las Pulgas to Orange Avenue
11. Santa Cruz Avenue from Orange Avenue to Olive Street
12. Santa Cruz Avenue from Olive Street to San Mateo Drive
13. Santa Cruz Avenue from San Mateo Drive to University Drive (South)
14. Santa Cruz Avenue from University Drive (South) to El Camino Real
15. Santa Cruz Avenue from El Camino Real to Merrill Way
16. Menlo Avenue from University Drive (South) to El Camino Real
17. Ravenswood Avenue from El Camino Real to Laurel Street
18. Ravenswood Avenue from Laurel Street to Middlefield Road
19. Middle Avenue from Olive Street to San Mateo Drive
20. Middle Avenue from San Mateo Drive to University Drive (South)
21. Middle Avenue from University Drive (South) to El Camino Real
22. Oak Avenue from Sand Hill Road to Olive Street
23. Willow Road from Laurel Street to Middlefield Road
24. Olive Street from Oak Avenue to Middle Avenue
25. University Drive (South) from Middle Avenue to Santa Cruz Avenue
26. University Drive (North) from Santa Cruz Avenue to Oak Grove Avenue
27. Laurel Street from Willow Road to Waverley Street
28. Laurel Street from Waverley Street to Ravenswood Avenue
29. Middlefield Road from Willow Road to Linfield Drive
30. Middlefield Road from Linfield Drive to Ringwood Avenue
31. Waverley Street from Laurel Street to Linfield Drive
32. Linfield Drive from Waverley Street to Middlefield Road


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fingerpointing
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 7, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Someone isn't happy unless he's dominating every thread on this forum!

Doesn't matter what part of the plan you quote, or how much of it. Fact is, all the analysis ASSUMED that development would be equally distributed throughout the area. Not that it would be concentrated on one end of El Camino.

Moreover, no EIR of THIS SPECIFIC PROJECT has occurred. And it should. The plan should be revised to ensure that any large project receives a complete review. I expect that is one of the actions the council will take to fix the flaws in the plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

". Fact is, all the analysis ASSUMED that development would be equally distributed throughout the area. Not that it would be concentrated on one end of El Camino."

WRONG - See TABLE 3-3 DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS
and TABLE ES-1: PROPOSED LAND USE CHANGES BY SUB AREA

Why don't you do your homework instead of [portion removed - avoid attacks] about others who do provide the facts.

I would be VERY PLEASED not to post anything on this Forum IF others would provide documented facts and [portion removed - avoid attacks]. The opponents do not know, understand or like the facts and the deliberate process which led to the Downtown Specific Plan. The opponents are simply trying to protect their own narrow self interests and since the facts are against them they simply [portion removed - avoid attacks] and attack those who post the facts.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)


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Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Over the years the neighborhood activists have been rewarded for their lack of civility.

Our leadership has responded to mobs yelling, clapping and booing in the council chamber by giving them what they want. The decisions are often counter to regulation, due process, the general plan, and even state law.

The ends justify the means.

The councils willingness to step into the Stanford review before the planning commission has rewarded this lack of civility.

It's also clear that Bressler, Cline and Keith are really anti development and are looking for reasons to stop it or make projects unprofitable. Neighbors complaints are an excuse.


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Posted by S Tyler
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2013 at 3:01 pm

To Fingerpointing: I watched the video of the meeting. By in large, the majority of speakers were rude to and mocked Stanford. Is your point that it is OK to disparage an applicant only as long as you are not rude to the City Council? I think the writer of the editorial was correct. The video does not lie.

Stanford was only asked to provide an update on their project, which they did. Stanford had only announced their project revisions the previous week. The City staff has not reviewed the project in detail yet, and has not even found the application complete. It is the City's responsibility to prepare the appropriate analysis of the project, not the applicant's, so that fact that there is not a traffic report for the submitted project is both rational and appropriate at this stage of the project. Those calling for an "EIR" for this project simply do not understand the California Environmental Quality Act, which is the law of the state, even in Menlo Park.

This whole thing reminds of the old saying "If you have the facts on your side, hammer the facts. If you have the law on your side, hammer the law. If you have neither the facts nor the law, hammer the table." All I hear is the hammering of the table.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2013 at 5:49 pm

There has to be "a call for civility" in your educated and well-to-do community? Does anyone else think it's odd that some individuals in MP think that it is ok to throw tantrums and totally disregard facts?

It seems like some late-comers to the process -- who didn't speak up during the public vetting of the El Camino project -- are now acting like spoiled children "acting out" over this issue. Clearly, they never grew out of the "terrible 2's" and think if they behave badly and make a lot of noise then they'll wear everyone down and get their way.

Peter Carpenter (who I don't always agree with) and a few others have had the patience of Job...but those "kids" keep coming back and screaming. Incredible.

I am a resident of a nearby community that is also experiencing extreme growing pains, but we don't behave like this.

Gern et al...We are all in this "growth thing" together and are benefitting from, and being challenged by, the surge of area growth. What happened to compromise?


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Posted by Fingerpointing
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 7, 2013 at 6:10 pm

I didn't know that universities could have their feelings hurt. I'll apologize to my alma mater the next time I visit.

No need to characterize the opponents as stupid. All the table hammering is coming from the Stanford sycophants, who can't think of a single reason to support this project other than (1) people in Menlo Park are stupid and lazy and deserve to be steamrollered and (2) the plan cannot, in any shape or form, be modified (unless a sycophant thinks it should be, and proposes the modification!)

Most of the people opposed to this project were very involved in the public input phases. Nor is anyone demanding an EIR of a non-existent plan.

Can the proponents get past the name-calling and puerile attempts to malign the opposition? It doesn't really matter whether you win this forum "war" by posting more inches of text than anyone else anyway. What matters is what happens in the council chambers, and residents of other communities have no standing there.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Those of us who have a deep respect for the process by which the citizens and the elected officials of Menlo Park produced a superb Downtown Specific plan have simply defended that process and plan with facts from public meeting minutes, staff reports, the Draft EIR, the Final EIR and the Specific Plan itself. We have engaged in no 'name-calling or puerile attempts to malign the opposition". In fact, the name calling has come entirely in the opposite direction.

It is a shame that those who oppose this development, for their own narrow self interests, continue to be unable to present any facts to support their opposition. The lengthy factual postings are all presented to disprove the erroneous claims and outright lies that have been made by the opponents. It would be irresponsible to stand quiet and allow those erroneous claims and lies to be perceived by anyone as correct.

Wisdom will prevail and the proposed development will be approved.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 7, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Fingerpointing:

excuse me? "Can the proponents get past the name-calling and puerile attempts to malign the opposition?" You've got that completely backward. Go read the comments above and in other threads and see who is name-calling and trying to malign the opposition. Gern is a perfect example. Constant ad hominem attacks, hyperbole and no facts. The people you call "proponents" of the plan aren't necessarily for the Stanford plan. I'm certainly not. I've said so before. What I am for is following the process and abiding by the zoning decisions that have been made as to not do so will lead to pretty bad consequences. I'm also for looking at the facts which the opponents of the plan refuse to do.

The process should be followed not hijacked as it has been now by a group of people that don't like the outcome of a transparent and democratic process. By the way, I live here.

Try again fingerpointing.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

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 Specific 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 Vision 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

The historical record is continued below due to limit on the number of web links/urls in a single posting.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

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

And here is the link to the audio and video of the 16 April Council Meeting
Web Link

The facts speak for themselves.



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Posted by joe
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2013 at 4:41 am

MP citizens must validate their specific plan achieves what was intended.

When engineers design build they verify they followed the plan correctly and they VALIDATE what was specified is the desired outcome. If not they reject and fix the product.

The El Camino development fails the validation test. The citizens of MP should reject the project as proposed and correct the Specific Plan.

That's exactly how the world works and don't let a retired executive bully you into thinking it is "TOUGH". It's your town.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2013 at 6:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The El Camino development fails the validation test. "

An assertion without any evidence - REJECTED. Good engineers require evidence before making judgements.


Wisdom will prevail.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fingerpointing
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 8, 2013 at 8:21 am

There's an incredible amount of arrogance being displayed by people who are about to have their world collapse!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by joe
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Peter Carpenter argues on online with people opposed to the project that there's no evidence the project fails the VALIDATION test.

The project will contribute to traffic congestion.
Medical office business generates low tax revenue.
Medical office trips are less likely to be via bus or alternative transportation.

The facts are the nature of the development, the type off traffic medical offices generate and the low tax income this kind of development generates.

The ratio of income for MP to traffic impact is just not favorable.

Aside from these facts, there's NO evidence.

I really hope this project gets stopped and city fix the Specific Plan to encourage tax producing and interesting development. I really have no interest in going to MP to see a dermatologist.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The project will contribute to traffic congestion.

Medical office business generates low tax revenue.

Medical office trips are less likely to be via bus or alternative transportation.

The facts are the nature of the development, the type off traffic medical offices generate and the low tax income this kind of development generates.

The ratio of income for MP to traffic impact is just not favorable."

ALL of these things were carefully considered in the EIR and in the development of the Specific Plan.

There is no such concept as a 'validation test' in the process of adopting new zoning - the adoption of the zoning by your elected officials made this the established zoning.
If you want to redo the Specific plan then get the council to put that on its agenda for consideration and be prepared to spend months if not years and big bucks. But first figure out what you DO want in the new specific plan and if the majority of the council will support your desires.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by joe
a resident of another community
on May 8, 2013 at 7:58 pm

"ALL of these things were carefully considered in the EIR and in the development of the Specific Plan.

There is no such concept as a 'validation test' in the process of adopting new zoning - the adoption of the zoning by your elected officials made this the established zoning.

If you want to redo the Specific plan then get the council to put that on its agenda for consideration and be prepared to spend months if not years and big bucks. But first figure out what you DO want in the new specific plan and if the majority of the council will support your desires."

Of course VALIDATION of a development project is very important and the comments here show the development fails some very specific metrics.

A project can meet all zoning requirements and comply with the specific plan and yet fail to help MP grow much needed revenue.

That's failing the VALIDATION test. Customers (citizens) are entitled to validate the results of the specific plan.

So I see you can cite chapter and verse from the specific plan but just don't admit that the end result is objectionable, low revenue, high auto-mobile traffic development.

I encourage MP residents to grow wisely which may mean modifying the Specific Plan. So yes re-do parts if necessary.

Safeway development was improved when citizens got involved.

The risk to the land owner is the city will green light other projects and thus future congestion limit what can be done with the land.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" show the development fails some very specific metrics."

What exactly are those specific metrics and exactly when and where did the City Council adopt those specific metrics?

Just because you don't like something or because it affects your narrow self interest that does not mean that it is unacceptable to the community at large.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 11, 2013 at 6:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" show the development fails some very specific metrics."

What exactly are those specific metrics and exactly when and where did the City Council adopt those specific metrics?

Why do the opponents refuse to provide facts or answer questions?


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