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Publication Date: Wednesday, August 27, 2003

LETTERS LETTERS (August 27, 2003)

Disappointed in council's lack of action


I attended the August 19 City Council meeting to support the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District's resolution to annex lands on the Coastside. I spoke in favor of the council passing this resolution.

I must say that I am horribly disappointed in this council. Many things that the council said were discouraging to me -- a resident of Menlo Park.

One council member stated that they could not represent their constituents in passing the resolution. What does that mean? I heard the other residents of Menlo Park who spoke up that night, including a former council member, all stating their support for this resolution.

If the actual constituents you are "representing" are in favor of supporting this issue, how can the council members say that they won't represent them? I just don't understand.

Also, a council member stated that she could not "wrap her head" around the issue. What does that mean? The issue just is not that complicated -- even I have worked out what the district is attempting to achieve by annexing the San Mateo County coastal area. Do you want to see more Ritz-Carlton-type structures built right along the ocean?

Perhaps, this council is in favor of off-shore oil drilling to add to the ambiance of the coast line as in Southern California. The information on the district's Web page gives ample information about this project and its intentions.

This item took almost two hours to discuss, and the best this council could do was table the item. What a shame. I heard a long list of other city and county councils and boards that supported the district with resolutions of their own.

How embarrassing that my city is not among those listed.

A year or two ago I had the opportunity to hear Jane Goodall speak in Mountain View. At the beginning of her talk she stated that each and every time she flies into the San Francisco Bay Area she marvels at the forethought of the residents on the Peninsula who worked hard to create the open space district. The district and other non-profit organizations are there now to protect the Skyline area and out to the coast, preventing development and over-development.

I'm sure Jane Goodall would be very disappointed in this council's decision to table the resolution before it August 27.

Lisa Zadek
Kent Place, Menlo Park

Time to take parking off El Camino Real


Since 1988, when a short section of El Camino in Menlo Park was reduced from three-lanes to two-lanes of through-traffic in each direction, we have all suffered from routine traffic congestion on this major thoroughfare.

One regrettable result is that many cars currently cut through our residential neighborhoods to avoid the mess. Another consequence is that many potential customers for our local businesses avoid the area whenever possible because of the delay and inconvenience to reach their destinations.

Completed in May of this year, a $1.22 million, 10-signal synchronization project extends from Encinal Avenue to Quarry Road. Unfortunately, the new signal synchronization is of no help during the all-too-frequent peak traffic periods when intersections are saturated with cars.

Saturated intersections result primarily from funneling three lanes of traffic from our neighboring cities down to two lanes in Menlo Park. The lane-changing by merging cars that takes place northbound approaching Ravenswood is particularly onerous.

Fortunately, the solution is simple and inexpensive: Restore the pre-1988 arrangement of three-lanes of through-traffic in each direction. By simply removing the on-street parking, painting the curbs red, and re-marking the present right-turn lanes to allow straight-through travel, the restoration can be accomplished. The total cost would be "petty cash."

The benefits to be gained by such a reconfiguration to three-lanes are: Smoother flow of traffic, reduction of neighborhood cut-through traffic, improved access to city businesses by potential customers, and optimum performance from the new $1.22-million signal synchronizer.

Three lanes will be good for business, good for residents, and it will also improve the quality of life here in Menlo Park.

Jim Harvey
Cotton Street, Menlo Park

Rezoning supporter blasts hyperbole


How lamentable that supporters of the Portola Valley Town Council's action to rezone land at the Nathhorst Triangle must continually correct the misstatements and hyperbole put forward by opponents of this astute land use decision. Recently, resident Ed Wells brought up some of these same claims in the August 13 Almanac.

To begin, Mr. Wells asserts that "nobody was proposing to build more offices anyway" on these three lots. This is incorrect. Two landowners have filed plans to build offices, and a representative of the third landowner has written openly in the Almanac that he envisions a large medical complex.

To highlight another misleading comment, Mr. Wells states alarmingly that "half of these 20 houses are two-story," referring to a highly unlikely development scenario. Under the rezoning, the council mandated that all structures on this site be typically no more than 18 feet high, lower than anywhere else in town. In contrast, under the old zoning office buildings on the site would be regulated by a 28-foot height limit. If we are concerned about tall two-story buildings, obviously we would be far better off with the new zoning.

To preserve the beauty of this quiet town, we should support the Town Council's rezoning. Anyone can wistfully believe that landowners will never develop their property and that we'll enjoy the open space in perpetuity. However, these lands most likely would, without the council's action, develop as large office structures surrounded by substantial parking lots and heavier, out-of-town traffic. In other words, without the council's action, these properties will develop as "high density" office complexes, surrounded by seas of "high density" pavement, generating "high density" traffic, perhaps with "high density" second stories.

The new zoning is a step forward, governing a small area, bringing significant reductions in potential traffic, allowed paving and building mass when compared to the old zoning. Portola Valley voters should support the council's action and vote "yes" on Measure H.

V. Gentzsch
Possum Lane, Portola Valley

Folger Stable another relic worth saving


Thank you to Sharon Driscoll and the Almanac for the August 13 article on the Jelich Ranch. It was a welcome tribute to the positive efforts of Cindie and Phillip White to restore and maintain, rather than demolish, old ranch buildings and farmland that represent our rural community.

The Whites have become, as stated in the article, "defenders not only of landmark buildings but of a way of life." Perhaps highlighting their efforts will help us realize the value that historic structures and memoirs of "days gone by" can have in shaping the future of our communities.

It is in this spirit that we are involved in the effort to preserve and restore the Folger Estate Stable in Wunderlich Park. The Whites started out looking to buy a second home and ended up with an intimate understanding of the plight of the farmer and the challenges of orchard farming, but also a passion for the land and a way of life.

We started out thinking we might help continue a century old tradition of horse boarding at the Folger Stable. We now also have an understanding of the architecture and historic legacy that the stable represents and the importance of preserving this community treasure for generations to come.

Both of these community efforts show how we can enrich our future by preserving our past. Thanks for keeping the community informed about important efforts like this.

Jill Daly and Susan Lang, co-chairs
Folger Estate Stable Committee


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