A group of downtown property owners that opposes the city of Menlo Park's long-term plans for its downtown area now has a public relations firm working for them, as well as a handle: the Menlo Park Downtown Alliance.
The group, which has been active for months in opposing the plan, outlined its concerns in a press release Tuesday morning. While the group supports several aspects of the plan, it's not in favor of losing surface parking in the downtown parking plazas to large parking garages, mixed-use developments, and a covered marketplace, among other things.
The property owners have apparently hired a public relations firm, Public Good PR, to convey their message -- and perhaps to attempt to shift discussion around the plan to their terms, rather than the city's.
Rather than list areas of the plan the property owners disagree with, the release outlines their vision of the downtown area, with a "modest" parking structure, taller buildings if they provide dedicated on-site parking, and facade improvements. Property owners who oppose the plan have bristled in the past at being characterized as naysayers.
The release serves to further emphasize how far apart the city and this group of property owners is. While the city's draft plan would allow 48-foot parking garages of up to five stories, the property owners say they would support a "split-level" parking structure of two stories, with a six-foot maximum height (most of the structure would be underground).
And while the city plans to eliminate some street parking to allow for wider sidewalks, the "alliance" says it would only favor widening sidewalks on a parcel-by-parcel basis, with each property owner able to decide whether to allow widened sidewalks in front of his or her building.
The press release does not list the names of other property owners.
The group is not to be confused with other groups that use Menlo Park in their names, such as Concerned Citizens of Menlo Park (suing the city over a development project), Sustainable Menlo Park (a speakers' series), and the Menlo Park Green Ribbon Citizens' Committee (an environmental group).
The group's Web site is www.preservempdowntown.org.