Menlo Park property owners organize to oppose plan for downtown area


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

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 12, 2010 at 4:11 pm

How many of the "Alliance" downtown property owners live in Menlo Park?????

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Posted by been there
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 13, 2010 at 12:01 pm

These business and property owners have missed the the mark if they don't think this will be good for business, property values and vitality. Who would not want a parking garage behind thier business? Instant access to more customers. Low level parking structures will be a death sentence to vitality.
Developers already shy away from Menlo Park because it is so difficult to get anything approved and when there is approval, the conditions make is unfeasable. Talk about hurting property values.
Where were these people two years ago when these plans were formulating?
Is spite of their 'bristle' at being called naysayers, they are just that. Old stoggy propery and business owners who resist change.
A sad time for Menlo Park when in the final streach, this opposition rears its ugly head.
When will there ever be rational, well thought out change instead of spot projects here and there with no consistancy or order?

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Posted by what's the big deal?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 16, 2010 at 10:06 pm

what's the big deal?

Plenty of downtowns have parking structures. you get used to them. I might prefer surface parking RIGHT IN FRONT of where I'm going but that's rarely available. So I have to hoof a few extra steps or a staircase. I'd rather have slightly less than ideal parking rather than none at all. What a bunch of crybabies !

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Posted by Amazing!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 17, 2010 at 1:43 pm

It is so irritating to view posts of people against change, good change, without really diving into details. The first cry from the logical consideration of parking garages is from people imagining 4+ concrete, ugly, gray mammoth structures that ARE ugly. No one, at least from what I experienced, recommended anything like this. Most of the ideas were, one story underneath, or at grade, and one story on top. Everyone wanted to make sure they were beautified in some fashion with trees or shrubs or vines etc. You can really make parking garages functional, nice looking edifices that would help our downtown become more vibrant, functional and profitable for the small businesses, and for the community in form of tax dollars.

Like this comment
Posted by roxie
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 19, 2010 at 12:32 am

The business owners are objecting to just part of the plan, in particular the parking garage replacing plazas. They aren't complaining about the El Camino Real ideas, or the ideas about improving the area near the train station. Plenty of residents (I am one) do not want the first (and maybe only) improvement to our downtown to be a useless parking garage. It isn't even near the train station -- it's at the far end of town, why?

Putting up a big parking structure, that will not be used by shoppers any way, since it is too far from Trader Joes to be useful, and ruining an already successful farmers market on Sundays will not create a vibrant downtown. I don't always agree with the downtown landowners, but in this case they are right on.

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