Putting a childcare center in the middle of an industrial park is a bad idea and unnecessarily endangers our children. Heavy truck traffic, hazardous materials, and lack of safe evacuation routes were all cited as reasons the planning commission originally denied the application. The council’s 4-1 vote (Boyle opposing) to override the planning commission is irresponsible.
The Almanac’s suggestion that this is a victory for parents is absurd. There is plenty of other vacant space in town that would be far safer for locating a childcare center. It is only a victory for the childcare operator, who will save money by locating their center in a run-down industrial building rather than more appropriate facility.
And speaking of money, this is likely to cost the city money as sales tax producing businesses once again flee Menlo Park for more business friendly towns. Eight resident business owners, a Silicon Valley business association and the landlord of the neighboring industrial park all told the city council that putting a childcare center in the heart of our industrial zone would make them less likely to stay in Menlo Park. Responsible employers like drug company Alza said that they have corporate policies against locating hazardous operations near childcare.
The Mayor’s statement that we all “just have to live together” is ridiculous. No one would think about allowing a chemical plant to move into a residential neighborhood. That is why we have zoning laws.
Lastly, council members Cline and Robinson stated that they would vote to allow the project to go forward because “there were already other childcare facilities within a quarter mile of the industrial park.” So how does knowledge that other children may already be within the hazard zone make it OK to put more children right in the center of it.
The council majority’s action to over-ride the planning commission in favor of a Palo Alto business owner is the worst kind of political favor -the kind that endangers the lives of children and encourages our most responsible businesses to relocate to other towns.