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About this blog: Growing up in Brooklyn, NY I lived in high-density housing and experienced transit-oriented services first hand. During high school and college summers I worked in Manhattan drafting tenant floor plans for high-rise office buildi...  (More)

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Split the Ticket for Menlo Park

Uploaded: Oct 6, 2014
But first, for a couple of months I've been noticing (and using) the new green bicycle demarcations in Menlo Park and Palo Alto. These are a vast improvement of visibility both when I'm driving or cycling. Congrats to both cities.

The three incumbents running for Menlo Park City Council appear tired. Reflecting on the incumbents collectively, they haven't done anything remarkable to warrant collective re-election. Indeed, Measure M serves as a fig leaf for the incumbents, a smokescreen obscuring the quality of their individual merits and contributions the past four years. Personnel foibles like the termination of Teacher Michelle, the Naked Police Officer on Duty, the addition of an assistant to the City Manager (who already has two Assistant City Managers). System breakdowns like being blindsided by the recent departure of a key sales tax contributor causing a loss of $1Million a year. Housing element update; General Plan update. None of this is under discussion.

But the candidate alternatives aren't collectively compelling either. So it's the poker hand of Menlo Park - we need to pass some cards and hold some.

The easy decision for me is to dispense with the candidates from Oak Court - the Bermuda Triangle of Menlo Park where credibility is lost below the waves of the O'Connor Tract Water District. These are diversions that aren't helping the city or the council.

My first choice is Planning Commissioner Drew Combs. I've known Drew since March when we both participated in the MP Citizens' Police Academy. Sitting next to each other one night, we introduced each other, and I immediate silently earmarked him for council. Undergrad Columbia University, Harvard Law School - arguably the best academic credentials on council. He will bring new life to a tired council, be a bridge to communities and a healer post-Measure M, wherever that goes.

Reelect Rich Cline and Peter Ohtaki. Usually when one desires to punish council members you remove them from office. In Rich's case the punishment is to serve a third term. You asked for it, big guy.

If you want some more fresh ideas, consider Kristen Duresiti in lieu of Cline or Ohtaki.

There you have it: Combs, Cline and Ohtaki. New ideas and skills bracketed by stability.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 6, 2014 at 10:29 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stu - I think you fail to give the current council members due credit for their incredible hard work on the Specific Plan (a truly open, transparent and city wide effort) and for their continued insistence that projects submitted under that plan meet the needs and expectations of the citizens of Menlo Park before they will even be considered for approval.

Keith and Carlton's subcommittee was very successful in getting Stanford to remove all of its proposed medical offices (the highest per sq ft traffic generator of any use) and to increase the amount of housing. The council is now insisting on a full EIR for this project.

Posted by Henry Riggs, a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle,
on Oct 6, 2014 at 11:13 am

Henry Riggs is a registered user.

Stu - seriously.
I know you've long argued against development, but choosing council members takes deeper thought than "fresh ideas". One of your candidates is running on a platform she won't defend, the other has lived in Menlo for what, 24 months? and has hopscotched across commissions for barely a year like stepping stones. City leadership isn't like hosting the Emmy's.

Posted by Vote 4 Combs, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Oct 6, 2014 at 3:26 pm

Has Riggs forgotten that Ms. Keith cares so little about Menlo Park that after being on the council for 13 months, she decided it was time to make a move for County Supervisor. Yes, February, March, April, May and into June 2012, Ms. Keith was our mayor and she was campaigning for Supervisor. Had she won, she would have left the Council and never looked back. These months were the crucial months during which the specific plan was finalized and adopted. Keith had a lot of balls in the air and specific plan was neglected. She is 100% responsible for the up zoning of land on El Camino Real which increased the value of Stanford's parcels by $300 million. She neglected to get anything back for the city. She gave away the ranch!

Combs is smart, clear about his beliefs and committed to representing residents of Menlo Park. We will never see his picture on a campaign mailer paid for by a developer. Check out all the slick mailers you receive from developer, Greenheart. Our council is in the pocket of developers. They will sell our town to the highest bidder and in return, we who live here will bear the negative impacts.

Vote for Drew Combs. He will make the well being of residents his top priority.

Posted by fresh start , a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Oct 6, 2014 at 5:08 pm

Vote out the incumbents who hired and continue to support the City Manager. He has been nothing but bad news for the residents, and like the council who hired him see all to cozy with the developers at the expense of the community.

Posted by key endorsement, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

Stu, your endodsement of Drew won't help him if he refuses to disclose his supporters. We had high hopes for Drew until he decided to run for city council three months after joining the planning commission. When he describes these few months as "the right experience", we realize that our hopes were misplaced.

Posted by old timer, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Oct 7, 2014 at 3:02 pm

key endorsement:

Your post makes no sense. You can now look at Drew Comb's financial disclosure form and see who has contributed. He has been very public saying he is not taking any funds from developers. He fully supports

Yes on M...

Isn't that enough for you" Your post sounds to be like someone who never was going to vote for him, and you want to convince others to follow your lead.

Posted by wind up toy, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 8, 2014 at 1:31 am

Old Timer, the Almanac reported, "Mr. Combs said he is inclined to support the measure but plans to keep an open mind." Web Link

Posted by does not compute, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks,
on Oct 8, 2014 at 6:54 pm

So Drew Combs is a fresh voice and "a bridge o communities" [sic], but his donations (Web Link are weighted to voices of division like Elizabeth Houck, Patti Fry, Morris Brown, Charlie Bourne, Jack Morris, etc. Nancy Couperus even makes an appearance! Remember when she was telling everyone that taking parking places out to make sidewalks wider was going to kill downtown? If not, you can sit in the lovely new Left Bank seating area and google to your heart's content. Some "new ideas"!

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood,
on Oct 8, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I have met Drew and I am impressed with his intellect but not with his understanding of the issues.

Posted by Computes!, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables,
on Oct 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Let's see...to be a fresh voice, you also need to have a fresh source of funds? Can't take money from people who've lived here for over five years? Or been involved in politics before?

Of course, the incumbents are being funded by Greenheart and other big developers. That knowledge should reassure all voters! We know the incumbents will try to forget whose money got them elected and will do what's best for residents,

Posted by Right On!, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 10, 2014 at 9:24 am

Excellent article and great endorsements!

Vote for Combs, Ohtaki, and Cline!

Posted by Don't split the ticket, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Oct 12, 2014 at 12:10 am

The author fails to mention many many accomplishments of the current city council, including:

- a balanced budget (pretty important!)
- successful negotiation with Facebook to locate here, expand here, and provide community benefit;
- successful negotiation with Stanford on 500 ECR to fund a pedestrian/bike under-crossing of CalTrain between Middle Ave and Burgess Park, an open plaza that is bigger than the one at Cafe Barrone, increased residential designed so that it will not overload our schools, and ELIMINATION of medical office;

- I am sure there are many more accomplishments big and small that the candidates would point to that I have neglected to mention.

But even more importantly, this council is productive, intelligent, open to input, and concise! I have observed 20+ years of Menlo Park city councils, and I can tell you for sure this group works together better than any other I have seen. The meetings do not run as long, the work gets done, and progress is made.

I would recommend that everyone read the excellent voter guide of all six candidates published by the Almanac, and then draw their own conclusions.
Web Link

I also recommend that everyone votes NO on Measure M, because at the very least it reduces our city council's ability to act, and limits the leverage they have to negotiate with developers as they have done in the past. Whoever you vote for in this City Council election, do not limit their ability to govern even before they take office. That is not how our representative democracy should work.

Posted by remarkable, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Dec 23, 2014 at 6:36 pm

"Reflecting on the incumbents collectively, they haven't done anything remarkable to warrant collective re-election."

The voters appreciate that this is the first full council (we can remember) to be elected without distributing hit pieces on opposing candidates. In Menlo Park, that is remarkable.

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