A number of questions arise from the City Council's decision late last month to hire a consultant and spend an estimated $90,000 to develop a "community engagement" process for the Belle Haven community in Menlo Park. The first question was implicit in Councilman Peter Ohtaki's explanation of why he voted against the plan: Why spend tens of thousands of scarce dollars primarily on what a staff report identifies as "community outreach activities," rather than on an "action plan"? Through surveys, community meetings and other means, Belle Haven residents have for years expressed their concerns, frustrations and ideas about their neighborhood. "I'd rather spend $90,000 of taxpayers' money to identify solutions to these issues and alternate funding sources," Mr. Ohtaki said.
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