But first, lets review some of the major issues facing Menlo Park, and the next council. Off the top of my head I recall these open and continuous issues: Growing traffic congestion. Projects along El Camino under the Downtown Specific plan remain mostly as blueprints and pretty pictures. Unresolved Caltrain near-term direction and long-term High Speed Rail debut; consideration and funding of east-west intersection underpasses; a reconfiguration of the Willow-101 interchange imminent; building office space while not meeting the full local housing demand engendered by those projects; unresolved low-income housing, infrastructure impacts of water and sewer of current and future development; balancing the budget with unpredictable revenues – but predictable expenses, parking, red light cams, zoning, city staffing levels. Whew.
I recommend Ray Mueller and Cecilia Taylor for Menlo Park City Council.
Regarding Ray Mueller: We’ve had frequent dialogues of the past 4 years. I once told him that he, being a responsive local representative: “Ray, you’re the real McCoy.” I’ve long suspected that he has higher public service ambitions – as do other Council
Members historically. But unlike the others before him, he’s truly polished. (I’m jealous). Like a good progressive, he’s always trying to find things to fix -- even if they’re not quite broken, or if it‘s not a Menlo Park problem. He recently glommed onto an interesting and worthy mission: repairing the Ravenswood School District building infrastructure by organizing a new Agency with taxing authority. We’ll see ... to me it sounds like another Redevelopment Agency such as those dissolved a couple of years ago by the state. The City of Menlo Park is still on the hook for about $64 Million in RDA bonds for which the state now picks up the tab (I recall). I also suggested to him, long ago, moving up the ladder at the first opportunity before getting associated with something bad: don’t get stuck in Menlo Park. We’ll see.
Nonetheless, vote for Ray.
Regarding Cat (Catherine) Carlton:
In response to questions Monday night Cat referred to prepared notes on issues and responses (I recognize this approach as I also maintain an issue book). In response to questions, Cat tended to read from these notes instead of looking at the audience. As a result – the answers to questions didn’t exactly align from the parsed questions. I would expect her to be able to answer extemporaneously and I don’t think she broadened her footprint with residents in these four years.
Regarding Cecilia Taylor:
When Cecilia began her campaign, I met with her and was pleasantly surprised, and then co-signed her nomination papers. While she has long-term family connection to Menlo Park, she only recently moved back. I like that she’s a teacher. Cecilia has a risk of perceived as being overly associated with an underprivileged area. That area is currently subject to a massive rezoning amount of office and housing development. Consequently, it’s important that ‘Belle Haven’ (or ‘Bay Front’ as ink dries on its new moniker), has a representative vote on the council. I sympathize, as our neighborhood, Linfield Oaks, is in the middle of East-West traffic, never having a council member in my recollection.
At the candidate forum on Monday, I was impressed that Cecilia remarked and understood that effects of development can be felt in other neighborhoods of Menlo Park. She assuredly answered the questions. I would agree that it would be better to spend time on a commission, and I don’t know if she realizes the amount of time it takes to do a righteous job on the city council – and all the regional committee assignments.
That said, at this juncture, if for no other reason, I consider it more important that ‘Cecilia’s’ voice and vote be on the council than a west-side voice. The opportunity to affect that is now.
But wait, there’s more!
While researching this post I realized an illuminating problem: four of our five council members live west of San Mateo Drive, as illustrated by this figure. The bubbles in red show residences for councilmembers Carlton, Cline, Mueller and Ohtaki, all living west (left) of the red line denoting San Mateo Drive.
Think of the implication: 80% of our council decides land use, impacts and approval of environmental impact reports, and traffic tolerance. In a sense these four council members need not cross El Camino but for visiting Café Borrone and City Hall, leaving the impacts to those of who use east of San Mateo Drive. Could it be that when we have disagreement concerning major zoning that it stems from a ‘west side’ bias imposed on the rest of us? This supports my instinct that we are better served to have a member of the Belle Haven community as a voting council member considering the major developments envisioned.
Good luck to all.
I will hold off submitting my mail-in ballot knowing that more information can become available as we et closer to election day. This is a prudent approach especially in this awkward election cycle.