Original post made
on Aug 28, 2013
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Development here will have wider traffic impacts than just El Camino Real and neighboring streets.
This needs to be seen in a broader context with Stanford's development along Sand Hill Road.
Stanford's development impacts need to be evaluated together with Stanford's project in Palo Alto at the train station that is also large. In addition, there is a large development north of Ravenswood at the Cadillac and Derry sites. Talk about drivers looking for a way to get around El Camino Real!
The accumulated impacts of these three developments plus Stanford's new hospital development and Stanford's regional shopping center will change the mid peninsula.
We live at ground zero, the world of Stanford University.
One would think that our council could have understood this and inserted protections into the specific plan.
What a shame that the subcommittee decided to end its work before the traffic impact study was completed. Their role was to facilitate conversations between Stanford and designated neighborhood representatives, as per their own written groundrules. Not only did that not happen, they have declared mission accomplished when the core issue, traffic, hasn't been addressed. Pity
What a shame that some posters do not take the time to read and understand the subcommittee's report and to appreciate what a good job Keith and Carlton did:
I encourage everyone to read the Subcommittee's final report. It is eminently reasonable and addresses all of the critical issues regarding this project.
The 500 El Camino Real Subcommittee recommends that the City Council accept its
final report which establishes the following requirements for a revised proposed project
submittal from Stanford:
1. Stanford will eliminate all medical office. All office will be general office (this
follows Stanford's previous reduction for all office to199,500 square feet).
2. Stanford will make a substantial contribution to the cost of design and
construction of a pedestrian-bike undercrossing at Middle Avenue. The amount
will be negotiated/determined through the project approval process with the goal
of ensuring there will be sufficient funding to construct the undercrossing in timely
3. Stanford will participate in a City working group regarding the design of the
Middle Avenue plaza, undercrossing and vehicular access to the site.
4. Stanford will fund a neighborhood cut through traffic study as scoped by the City. "*****************
". Their role was to facilitate conversations between Stanford and designated neighborhood representatives, as per their own written groundrules."
No, the subcommittee charge was:
" Facilitating the productive communication of information between neighborhood
representatives and the applicant, regarding project refinement that balanced the
needs of the applicant and those of the greater Menlo Park community prior to
the submittal of a revised project proposal.".
Facilitating the productive communication of information between neighborhood
representatives and the applicant does NOT mean or require face-to-face meetings between an ill defined group of dissenters and the applicant but rather gathering information from the various dissenters and sharing that with the applicant SO THAT the proposal might be improved. And improved it was greatly improved as noted in the subcommittee's report and the excerpt above.
Well done subcommittee!
The ball now, quite properly goes to the Planning Commission and then to the Council.
Except that the dissents have vowed to put this project on a long delaying ballot measure, and sue and fight it to the death. We may all be looking at abandoned car lots for a very long time. I suspect that Stanford has better places to makes its investments - note that it has already moved the planned MP medical offices to its Redwood City MTP site.
There were 3 well-defined representatives of neighborhoods who were supposed to work with the subcommittee. They and the subcommittee agreed to written rules for the effort. The subcommittee didn't provide information to the neighborhood representatives and didn't facilitate conversations, either. Something is really wrong in a process when those who were to be part of it hear first about its conclusion from a reporter asking for comment.
A very important point is that the primary concern all along has been traffic impacts. The study of those was just authorized at the same meeting as the "final report" of the subcommittee that now won't be around for "facilitating conversations" between the designated representatives and Stanford.
The myth goes on - "facilitating conversations" between the designated representatives and Stanford.-
The subcommittee's charter was to " Facilitating the productive communication of information between neighborhood representatives and the applicant, regarding project refinement that balanced the needs of the applicant and those of the greater Menlo Park community prior to the submittal of a revised project proposal." The charge never called for direct conversation between an ill defined group of dissenters and the applicant but rather gathering information from the various dissenters and sharing that with the applicant SO THAT the proposal might be improved. And improved it was greatly improved as noted in the subcommittee's report and the excerpt above.
" the subcommittee that now won't be around" - Carlton and Keith aren't going away and this matter now goes to the committee of the whole, the city council, on which they both continue to serve - having already achieved a great deal in improving this project.
The FACT is that the subcommittee developed rules of engagement with the neighborhood representatives.
Not all that work has happened yet. The defined purpose is included at the end of a letter sent to the Council by one of those representatives. See page 8 + at Web Link
Specifically the mutually adopted language reads (with CAPS added: "The purpose of this Subcommittee is to provide a framework for discussing the issues related to the 500 ElCamino Project (Stanford) and TO FACILITATE CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN NEIGHBORHOOD REPRESENTATIVES AND THE APPLICANT prior to project submittal for consideration by the Planning Commission and City Council to ensure that the final project balances the needs of Stanford and the greater Menlo Park community."
"to facilitate conversations between neighborhood representatives and the applicant PRIOR TO PROJECT SUBMITTAL for consideration by the PlanningCommission and City Council to ensure that the final project balances the needs of Stanford and the greater Menlo Park community."
Given that the Council directed the Planning Commission to proceed with a review of the Specific Plan--with fairly broad parameters--and Stanford acknowledged that their project would be bound by any changes/revisions to the Specific Plan approved by the City Council it seems like things are on track.
Now the dissidents have to get their act together and finally put some specific recommendations on the table for improving the project rather than continuing to simply saying NO.
The referenced letter lists four objections -1. THE PROJECT IS UNECONOMIC TO MENLO PARK, 2. THE PROJECT IS A WINDFALL TO STANFORD., and 3. THE PROJECT IS TOO BIG. and 4. THE RECOMMENDATION, WITHOUT FAIR CONSIDERATION OF
REPRESENTATIVE'S CONCERNS IS INVALID, AND, IN ANY EVENT, FALLS
SHORT AND IS EXTREMELY VAGUE SUPPORTING ILLUSORY PROMISES. but makes NO positive recommendations.
And rather than acknowledging the progress that has been made to improve the project the letter states "Stanford's removal of medical offices should have been in their original application." How in the world could any applicant have a reasonable negotiation with people whose only answer is NO and who are incapable of saying THANK YOU.
How can anyone improve a project they haven't seen? The neighborhood representatives have been clear about principles that need to be incorporated into the design, but it's impossible to make specific suggestions without seeing something.
Last week, the Stanford speaker went all over the map on what the project now. He showed a few illustrations that no one else has seen except maybe the subcommittee and then gave a variety of descriptions about what heights the buildings are.
"The neighborhood representatives have been clear about principles that need to be incorporated into the design"
Really, what exactly are they AND do all the neighbors agree? Seems to me some want housing and others do not, some want a connection to Alma and others do not. Do you see the problem with trying to negotiate with people have have no authority to represent others as opposed to elected representatives?
" it's impossible to make specific suggestions without seeing something." That speaks to a real lack of imagination. It seems that your strategy is to wait until the final drawings are in place and then launch your objections.
I challenge those that are opposed to the Stanford project to come forth with SPECIFIC recommendations as to how that project might be improved for the benefit of the ENTIRE community.
Do you want more housing or less?
Do you want a pedestrian and bicycle connection to Alma or not?
Do you want the garage connected to both ECR and Alma to share the traffic load or not?
Exactly how large in terms of square footage do you want the project to be?
How much of the Specific Plan mandated open space at Alma do you want devoted to non-vehicular use?
Do you want the project built at all or would you prefer the status quo?
And most important, do all of you agree on the above answers?
"Do you want the project built at all or would you prefer the status quo?"
Bingo!! Give the man a prize. They want NOTHING unless of course its a soccer field for their self serving selves.
Enjoy the view.