News

Menlo council split on Bohannon project

 

Menlo Park Councilman Heyward Robinson supplied a cliffhanger at the City Council meeting Tuesday, May 25, for people who are closely following the city's negotiations over the Menlo Gateway office/hotel complex.

Mr. Robinson said at the meeting that, while he's inclined to support the prodigious development project near Marsh Road and Bayfront Expressway, he feels uncomfortable with the fact that two of his council colleagues, Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen, appear to be leaning toward rejecting the project under the current terms of negotiations.

In a vote taken for the council's internal purposes, Ms. Fergusson and Mr. Cohen signaled that they wouldn't support the project unless the Bohannon Development Co. agrees to allow the city to share in some of the profit, if that profit far exceeds expectations.

John Boyle and Rich Cline signaled that a profit-sharing deal would not be a make-or-break item for them. Mr. Robinson abstained in the vote.

"I want to support this project, I want to vote for it on (June) 15th," Mr. Robinson said. "It's gonna be a lot easier for me to vote for it on the 15th if it's a 4-1 or 5-0 vote."

The council is expected to vote on whether to approve the project at its June 15 meeting.

Mr. Cohen and Ms. Fergusson constitute the council's subcommittee on the project, and have been more closely involved in the city's negotiations with the developer than the rest of the council. Mr. Cohen said at the meeting that he was "at least a little uncomfortable with the way the negotiations have gone," adding that he is "working my hardest to find something I can live with."

Ms. Fergusson said there are "pieces of the project that don't sit well with me," especially with regard to the site layout.

The council debated a host of other issues related to the project at the meeting, including whether the city should place it on the November ballot. Developer David Bohannon asked the city to consider doing so at the beginning of the meeting.

Sending the project to voters would pre-empt a voter referendum on the project, allowing the Bohannon company to have a final answer on whether they could proceed by the end of this year. If voters launch one, a referendum might not appear on the ballot until late 2011, according to City Attorney Bill McClure.

The results of two polls on the project commissioned by the Bohannon company indicated that the project would pass by a wide margin, if it went to the ballot.

See related stories:

Bohannon doesn't agree to share profit with city

Commission votes in favor of Bohannon project

Bohannon project will proceed to final vote

Bohannon agrees to public benefits, emission reductions

Results are in, but what to make of Bohannon poll?

Bohannon office/hotel project too big? Not necessarily, Menlo Park City Council says

Touchy debate over polarizing Bohannon project

Dreams of revitalization in Belle Haven

Perceived benefits a fantasy, critics say

Getting a handle on the Bohannon project

6 years. 70 consultants. $7.5 million. Inside David Bohannon's big development proposal.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2010 at 12:12 pm

It would be so nice if the council members had the guts to make decisions w/o worrying about what the other council members are doing. That's why they were voted in, to make decisions and represent the citizens of Menlo Park. Come on Robinson make a darn decision! It's gotta hurt like heck always sitting on that fence.

If this is how you base your voting decisions -
"I want to support this project, I want to vote for it on (June) 15th," Mr. Robinson said. "It's gonna be a lot easier for me to vote for it on the 15th if it's a 4-1 or 5-0 vote."
- then you should resign from the council!


Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

What do you expect from our city council. It's one of the most dysfunctional groups around. It's no wonder we get competent people to make important decisions that can affect our way of life. Sometimes it's a wonder anything gets done at all.

On another side -- given its outstanding track record and history, why would anyone want to be a councilmember.

Maybe someone should do an opinion poll of what residents think of the effectiveness of our city council. It would probably be on par with Sacramento and Washington.


Like this comment
Posted by long term resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2010 at 2:34 pm

We should not be governing by mandate (an initiative) unless we absolutely have to. This project should not have to go to the voters. The mayor needs to be a leader, but he isn't.

Our current council majority - Cohen, Fergussen, Robinson and Cline have been voting in a no growth block for the past 4 years. Under intense pressure from the community Cline and Robinson are starting to moderate their stance a tiny bit. Because this project is against evrtything they have historically stood for, our council majority will waffle and send it off to the voters. What a waste of time and money.


Like this comment
Posted by been there
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Government by mandate is a symptom of a non-functional council. They simply can't make a decision. The employee's penion is another exammple. It is unfortunate to have to poll the will of the people to direct the city what is right and best, but in absence of the council showing any backbone at all, is the only alternative.


Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 26, 2010 at 4:14 pm

There is nothing more despicable in a politician than watching them put their wet finger up to the wind.

Show some integrity and take a stand, Mr. Robinson. I don't care if you are the lone vote for or against. Voting because others did so is the WORST possible reason.

This lack of integrity is the reason voters are so fed up with our elected officials.


Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 26, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Election Day is November 2..........


Like this comment
Posted by IRemember
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on May 26, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Fence sitting was Nicholas Jellins' realm.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 26, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Allow me readers, to prove the idiocy of these comments.

First, our city council imposed 2@60 before the pension tea baggers. And if you think because you get 2000 signatures you should make it law when another 16,000 voters have not weighed in, you need to get out of America. Free people get a voice. By putting this to the voters, council has taken the right step. Any other logic is just tea bagger nonsense.

POGO from Woodside, I don't care. You are from a city that leaches its services from others. Parasitical at best.

When did council push this to a ballot? Has it happened? Lies and more lies from the tea baggers.

The developer prefers a vote. The developer prefers a vote. THE DEVELOPER PREFERS A VOTE! Watch the meeting and stop acting like ignorant children.

Now let's get into this no growth garbage because this is why I voted for this council.

1. Downtown plan opposed by old landowners and property holders from out of town (like POGO) who squat on this stuff until it is just old and long time business owners who want to control the plan. This plan is from this council and it is just what we need. And it is not anti-growth. It is a little more growth than we need frankly.

2. I see a gymnasium going up, bigger and better than anything Woodside has ever seen. POGO, don't leach off it and stay in your gym.

3. They take on high speed rail when the rest of you sat on your hands and did nothing. Nothing. You are all talk, but you did nothing.

4. New office building on El Camino Real.

5. Approved a project on El Camino Real that just has not been built yet, where the redwood trees are near the old Cadillac site.

6. New sports field going up Belle Haven with lights.

Lame political monkeys in this forum.

Can't wait to see your candidates.



Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 26, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Truth -

A word of advice: Paxil.

Seriously.

PS - Don't need your gym, thank you. The castle has a very nice gymnasium just behind the gatehouse.


Like this comment
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 26, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Hey half Truth
This city council has done pretty much squat about HSR. They've sat on behinds while the other city gov'ts took action and at the last minute decided to sign on to a letter and a lawsuit. They still refuse to put together an HSR committee. Two council members make up the city's sole efforts at "watching the situation" with no reporting nor open meetings. HSR is the biggest thing to come along which will divide our city with a huge physical wall, cause years of massive noise, pollution and gridlock and they do nothing as usual.

By the way there's only one redwood tree and the project is for the whole caddy property not just the bldg at the tree. Geez, you sure good with the BS and not talking college degree.


Like this comment
Posted by No Truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 27, 2010 at 12:10 am

Sorry Truth - Wrong again: Mattison Property - vacant, shot down by council, Theater - run down, shot down by Ferguson and council, Derry Project - NOTHING, shot down by Ferguson, Robinson and other no growth buddies, car dealerships - NOTHING, no ideas, NOTHING, Bohannon Project - NOTHING, it will be gone because Ferguson et al will delay, survey, delay, survey.......it's an old tactic that does eventually make the developer move on, it will work for you, and the other no growthers, congratulations. Oh, I forgot, at least 9 vacant store fronts on Santa Cruz, at least 9, congratulations again. Keep it up, we will be but a shell of our former self.........thanks.


Like this comment
Posted by I also Remember
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 27, 2010 at 6:44 am

Jellins, Duboc and Winkler were able to get the Rosewood Hotel. This project has generated more revenue for the City than any other project approved by Menlo Park City Councils in the past 20 years, including the Cafe Barrone Building.

So I will take Jellins kind of fence sitting any day.


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 27, 2010 at 8:04 am

Tea baggers, you cannot live in your fantasy world forever. You need to put down the signs and the weird outfits and actually see what is really happening.

I won't even comment on the HSR stuff because it is just ridiculous. Revisionist garbage from the old tired right wing on Menlo Park. I can put in a dozen links proving you wrong.

I don't know what the Mattison project is and I doubt your version of that story is even close.

The Park Theater? What is the point here? Help me understand the point on this debacle of a property that dates back to two previous councils. And then, once you get there, wake up and realize that you just tried to rewrite history again. Did you work that out on your Glen Beck chalk board?

Rosewood was again two different councils moving that along (at least). Facts please guys.

Anyone new to these forums, take a look at the tea bagger parade all over these pages. They post on every piece of news, they care less to help people get information and rather take the Glen Beck strategy of making up their own version of truth.

When they finally get a candidate to run, at least we will all get to see them debate face to face and we can start making some progress.

Until then, good luck call this forum anything but a tea bagger menage.


Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on May 27, 2010 at 8:17 am

I'm reminded of the old saying that we could run a helluva hotel if it weren't for those "pesky guests." Those "pesky guests" pay all the bills.

Who do you think pays taxes?

It's those evil employers that buy products - everything from office supplies, computers, desks, heavy equipment, catering services, janitorial services, landscaping, etc. - and their taxes.

It's those evil employees that frequent our restaurants and stores, buy gasoline and groceries that pay taxes and keep our local businesses alive.

It's those evil landowners who pay property taxes (and yes, I understand they could be paying more if we adjusted Prop 13) that are a huge source of revenues for our community and schools.

So the next time, you think about the inconvenience of cars driving on our roads, just consider the alternative. We could have a nice quiet, ghost town here, too.


Like this comment
Posted by No Truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 27, 2010 at 8:57 am

Truth my boy/girl, what is it with you and your "teabagger" comments? Get a grip. Most of us are only suggesting that we IMPROVE our city, we're not asking for 4+ story office buildings, made to look like concrete bunkers, we just want something done, we want to be proud of the look of our town. What the heck do teabaggers have to do with the look and feel of our town, and that most of us are tired of your strategy to delay, delay, delay, delay? One only has to drive thru Palo Alto, or Mountain View, or Redwood City, and see improvements. No we don't wish to be like those towns, but they are becoming much more pleasing to the eye, than those vacant lots we have allowed to exist for many, many years. We are becoming a joke. You guys tried to pull this with all your union loving buddies on the pool a few years ago, and thank GOD we had some people on council that could make a quick decision. Now we sit here $500K+ richer annually, because of that decision. Just make some decisions, stop sitting around surveying and delaying and get to work!! Maybe a shop that serves tea would be a nice alternative to those 9+ vacant store fronts!


Like this comment
Posted by Or Consequences
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2010 at 11:38 am

Just as Lewis Carroll had the Mad Hatter, Menlo Park has the Mad Chatter under the sobriquet of Truth.

"If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?
— The Mad Hatter"


Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeopl;e
a resident of another community
on May 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

Truth--if you're going to keep using your new favorite buzz phrase - tea bagger - at least do some reading and understand what that movement is all about. BTW, Oh Consequences, a great quote aptly applied!! My favorite post of the year.


Like this comment
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Dear Truth
-------------- ignore post ----------------
Posted by truth, a resident of the Menlo Park: Belle Haven neighborhood
sadkfj aslkdj aldkjf adhfjs f
aklsdjhjb npw&(8r
sadk 9923e0wadj
-------------- ignore post ----------------

My translation/comments on your posts are summarized above. From now on snip, snip and we are moving on. Name calling is juvenile and feudal. Grow up.

Roy


Like this comment
Posted by relative newcomer to Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 27, 2010 at 2:02 pm

A small group of antidevelopment residents have been holding this City hostage for the
past four years. They insist upon extracting a "pound of flesh" from each developer. Yet,
their demands can never be satisfied. Hence, projects vaporize. It seems they influence
some council members decisions. Let's hope that the November election yields some
new leadership.


Like this comment
Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Some more no growth history - Fergussen and Cohen both voted against the Rosewood Hotel. Cline and Robinson are their allies and they vote in a block. Cline and Robinson must be removed in the fall.


Like this comment
Posted by Polly
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 27, 2010 at 5:43 pm

"Fergussen and Cohen both voted against the Rosewood Hotel. Cline and Robinson are their allies and they vote in a block. Cline and Robinson must be removed in the fall."

Gotta love the logic here. You just have to look at Tuesday's votes to see that the four do not vote in a "block" <sic>.

The advocates of let's-give-the-developers-whatever-they-want-no-strings-attached decisions have never gotten much traction in this town. Menlo Park is not Milpitas. If you would rather live in a community where anything goes, why not move rather than trying to transform Menlo Park into an over-urbanized ghetto with 24x7 gridlock?

As for the upcoming elections, I can't wait to see what candidates the Mickie, Nicky & Lee crowd produces. I hear Christina Angell-Atchison is back in town. Got big wads of money you want to throw away? I predict Heyward and Rich will win re-election in a landslide, just as they did in 2006.


Like this comment
Posted by No Truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 27, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Polly.....c'mon now, let's stop the exaggerations, untruths and lies......

* "anything goes"? Like for instance, actual progress, at least a decision being made, at least not continued stalling and delays because someone is afraid to make a decision because they may lose a few votes, or their union support? NO ONE is asking for "anything goes".
* "over-urbanized ghetto" - What??? The only ghetto I know around here is in Oakland, the Tenderloin, and perhaps a small version in East Palo Alto, again, please stop the exaggerations........oh, that's right there are other versions of ghettos like abandon car lots, abandon car washes, abandon theaters.....all created by your crew! Ridiculous.
* "24X7 gridlock" - Yes, Polly there will be traffic during rush hour, there always will be, there has always been, some people go to work, they have to get there by car. Again, if you can show us ANY intersection, with this issue, outside of rush hour, perhaps you may have a point, but I doubt it.
* "landslide"? - Hmmmmmm, I wouldn't define a single digit percentage advantage "a landslide" give it a rest. I'm VERY curious on what this council will be able to point to as "progress", and be reelected. And "progress" that THEY implemented. Please let me know if there was any progress, you may convince me, but I can't find any? Yes, we know Kelly Ferguson started the Green Ribbon Committee, that has been trumped up since day 1, and that committee has done SO much. Again, ridiculous. Good Luck!


Like this comment
Posted by inconvenient truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 28, 2010 at 9:45 am

There is a lot of revisionist history in this thread. The current Council is blamed for way too much when the truth is that other factors are involved. Must be an election year, when truth is inconvenient!
Approval of the Derry project was successfully referended by a large number of residents. A redesigned project was then submitted and approved by the Planning Commission. The applicant did not take the next step, to the Council for its approval. Hasn't anyone noticed that the economy took a dive, credit dried up?
There are other approved projects that haven't started construction, such as the Beltramo project and the one where the Cadillac dealership has been. Hasn't anyone noticed that the economy took a dive, credit dried up?
Developers that ask for major changes to zoning rules and to the general plan should be asked to provide benefits that outweigh the negative impacts. The inconvenient truth is that this project's massive office buildings (far bigger than in nearby cities) won't contribute ongoing revenue to the city (other than property taxes that are capped by Prop 13)but contribute incredible traffic congestion and don't help the city decrease its greenhouse gas levels. They aren't really needed for the hotel; otherwise there would be a willingness to commit sooner than 2025 and 2030 when construction is supposed to start!


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2010 at 10:05 am

One way to avoid giving the property new commercial zoning without commitment to a specific plan would be to rezone the property as a PD zone. With such a PD zone the specific development and development schedule is codified and cannot be changed without the City's approval.

Under such an approach the City would have control over what was done and Bohannon could not sell the PD zoned land for any other use or development except as provided in the established PC zone.

Here is Menlo Park's Planned Development or PD zone ordinance:

"16.57.010 Establishment of a P-D zone. Applications for the establishment of or reclassification to the P-D zone classifications must include a development plan as described in this chapter. The zone reclassification shall not be approved until a permit approving the development plan has been issued by the planning commission and the city council.

The planning commission and city council, after public hearings, may approve, disapprove, modify or attach conditions to a development plan."

"A development plan shall be accompanied by a development schedule indicating the approximate date when construction of the project can be expected to begin (which date shall be no later than one year from the effective date of the rezoning of the property) the anticipated rate of development, and completion date. The development schedule, if approved by the city council, shall be adhered to by the owner of the property in the P-D zone AND HIS SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST (emphasis added)"

So now the question is - why isn't Menlo Park using this tool for the Bohannon project?????


Like this comment
Posted by inconvenient truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 28, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I believe the city thinks the proposal, using "x" zoning, accomplishes a similar thing. There is a development schedule, very elongated, and proposed design. What is missing?


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Inconvenient truth asks:"There is a development schedule, very elongated, and proposed design. What is missing?"

The existing PD zoning requires "A development plan shall be accompanied by a development schedule indicating the approximate date when construction of the project can be expected to begin (which date shall be no later than one year from the effective date of the rezoning of the property) the anticipated rate of development, and completion date. The development schedule, if approved by the city council, shall be adhered to by the owner of the property in the P-D zone AND HIS SUCCESSORS IN INTEREST (emphasis added)".

So what is missing from the current ad hoc approach is a TIMELY development plan and the fact that the property can only be sold WITH the PD encumberance.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What is missing? - there is also something reassuring when the game is played by pre-established rules like the existing PD ordinance rather than making the rules up as you go along to suit the current players.

Why NOT use the existing PD ordinance??


Like this comment
Posted by feuilletoniste
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Peter: PD zoning applies only along El Camino Real.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm

PD zoning can apply ANYWHERE the Council wants to apply it. It currently is only used for one area along El Camino but, like any other type of zone, it could be use anywhere else in the city that the Council wanted to use it - just as there are many different places that have an R zoning.


Like this comment
Posted by get your facts right
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 28, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Polly --- your worte"
"Fergussen and Cohen both voted against the Rosewood Hotel"

Fergussen did not vote against the Rosewood Hotel. She was conflicted since her husband works for Stanford, and therefore she could not vote, but both she and Cohen were in favor of the hotel. Cohen ending up voting against because of the inclusion of more office space, which really was not needed. the hotel, BTW is under performing by a wide margin.

In point of fact, I don't know of a single project that Fergussen has voted against. She does a lot of talking, but always seems to approve in the final votes. She is talking again against this lousy Bohannon project, but I wouldn't trust her to actually vote against it.

I'm in favor of all three incumbents being removed this fall. We need need new blood.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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