Town Square

Post a New Topic

Menlo commission votes that turning over city property to neighbors follows general plan

Original post made on May 7, 2013

The Menlo Park Planning Commission voted 4-2 on May 6 that the proposal to have the city turn over a piece of land in the public right-of-way on Louise Street to adjacent homeowners follows the general plan.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 12:05 PM

Comments (12)

Posted by Michael, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm

It is curious indeed that it takes six full paragraphs of the Almanac's coverage before a reader learns that last night's 4-2 vote actually went in favor of abandonment. The commission decided that abandonment is indeed consistent with the Menlo Park General Plan, which was the only question on its agenda. The headline of this article is therefore inaccurate. A 3-3 vote could fairly and accurately be described as a split vote, but a 4-2 vote is a win--for the applicants, for the rest of the homeowners on Louise Street who unanimously support abandonment, and for the hundreds of other Menlo Park residents who opposed the Sinnott driveway and support the efforts to protect the green space.


Posted by Michael, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm

My thanks to the Almanac for quickly correcting the inaccurate headline and confusion about who won the vote last night.


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm

For clarification: The Planning Commission did not vote to approve abandonment last night or whether it should or should not occur. It voted on whether abandonment would follow the general plan, which is a criteria considered as part of the abandonment process. The commission also discussed whether a driveway would have followed the general plan, although that was not up for a vote. The 4-2 split vote reflected a lack of consensus by the commissioners as to whether abandonment followed the general plan, with two members dissenting.


Posted by grammar, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2013 at 10:00 am

Consensus means majority of opinion. That is what the 4-2 split vote is. On the other hand, if all agreed, then there would have been full consensus.


Posted by grammarian, a resident of Atherton: other
on May 8, 2013 at 10:56 am

Curious indeed that unanimous is synonymous with consensus. Full consensus thereby being redundant.


Posted by Michael, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Sandy Brundage's comments reflect a very peculiar understanding of the meaning of consensus. A 4-2 vote reflects a consensus that abandonment is consistent with the General Plan. Consensus does not mean unanimity. I am not sure why she continues to insist there there was not consensus about whether abandonment followed the General Plan when the commission voted 4-2 that it DID in fact do so. She is betraying a bias that is especially inappropriate considering that she is the reporter of this story.

In a democracy, if one candidate wins 66% of the votes and the other wins 33%, isn't that normally taken as some kind of consensus about who should hold the office? Exactly what is unclear about this concept? And by the way, the driveway was not only not up for a vote, it was not even on the agenda, so I am not sure why it was discussed at all as part of the commission's deliberations.


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Michael:

Until now I have seen (and used) the word consensus to mean a plan of action that everyone has agreed to. Obviously, other people use it differently and I've discussed that with my editors, who agree with you and the other commenter that it means a majority. To see this as evidence of bias is really a stretch.

They voted 4-2 that abandonment followed the general plan, they discussed the driveway, the commission indicated there was dissent. That's all part of the public record whether individuals think it's all relevant or not.


Posted by Michael, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Sandy:

This is not just a matter of opinion: The dictionary definition of "consensus" is "majority of opinion," not "unanimity of opinion," so you have been using it incorrectly. It is certainly true that two commissioners cast dissenting votes. But that does not diminish the fact that the commissioners reached a consensus that abandonment is consistent with the General Plan, which was the only issue on the agenda.


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Michael:

When I go to Web Link, it lists two meanings:

"Definition of CONSENSUS
1
a : general agreement : unanimity <the consensus of their opinion, based on reports from the border — John Hersey>
b : the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned <the consensus was to go ahead>"


Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Sorry, chopped off the second definition. From Merriam-Webster (Web Link):

Definition of CONSENSUS
1
a : general agreement : unanimity <the consensus of their opinion, based on reports from the border — John Hersey>
b : the judgment arrived at by most of those concerned <the consensus was to go ahead>
2
: group solidarity in sentiment and belief

...
Synonyms
accord, concurrence, concurrency, agreement, unanimity, unison

Antonyms
conflict, disagreement, dissensus

That would seem to support both uses of the word. I've already said that my editors agree with your usage and have explained the sense in which I meant it.


Posted by bystander, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 9, 2013 at 10:44 am

No comment in the article on whether there had been a legal opinion from either the city attorney or others. It would seem(without clarification) that the planning commission is not qualified to properly reach a conclusion given the "intricate legal issues" present.


Posted by grammar, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm

It's important to be clear when conveying votes. I've noticed that "unanimous" is fairly frequently used when there is a vote to move something WITH COMMENTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS from the Planning Commission to the City Council, yet reported both by the press and city staff as if the support for the original content was unanimous. Not at all the same.
Please take care in reporting. Thank you.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Veggie Grill coming soon to Mountain View's San Antonio Center
By Elena Kadvany | 19 comments | 3,232 views

Finding mentors in would-be bosses
By Jessica T | 0 comments | 1,817 views

Menlo Park's Youthful Future
By Paul Bendix | 6 comments | 1,688 views

The Dude Abides
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 1,144 views

Marathons
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 986 views