News

Residents lose patience with incomplete project

 

First Tuesday, then Wednesday (Aug. 11) came and went at 1906 El Camino Real without any apparent sign of the tile installers the developer last week told Menlo Park city officials were scheduled to arrive.

Residents in the area are losing patience with the construction project, whose fencing has blocked off most of the sidewalk bordering the site and forced pedestrians into the busy thoroughfare for months.

The city's community liaison for the project, Cherise Brandell, is out of the office until Aug. 19. City Manager Glen Rojas replied to The Almanac's request for an update, saying he continues to press the developer to finish work and open the sidewalk, but that the city's options are limited because it can't take action on the project until the developer violates the building permit.

"The only real violation related to the sidewalk would be if the developer stopped working for 180 consecutive days," Mr. Rojas said. "Once they conduct work on the site, the clock stops on the 180 days and starts again if they stop work." He acknowledged the frustration of both residents and city.

The site's building permit expires on the last day of September, according to the planning department, but could be extended another six months if the city inspects the site before the deadline. The last inspection took place on March 30.

Nearly a month ago, work began on the sidewalk, but remains unfinished. Project manager Phil Giurlani suggested last week that the focus was on opening the sidewalk sooner rather than later. In July he told The Almanac that city code required the fencing and there was no way to push it back from the walkway. Installing a temporary sidewalk would only impede construction, he said.

Construction seems hindered even without the impediment of a temporary sidewalk. The developer hopes to fill the new two-story, 9,852-square-foot building with medical and dental offices. Residents wonder whether the repeated construction delays are due to financial problems; as of Aug. 12, the amount of late taxes owed on the parcel had risen to $12,732.88, according to the San Mateo County Tax Collector's Office.

Comments

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2010 at 6:09 pm

When is the city of Menlo Park going to take action on the fence along El Camino at 1906 El Camino? Is the city content kowtowing to the excuses from Phil Giurlani? Yeah Phil you promised the fence gone in six weeks over two months ago and next you promised that workers would start working again this past Tuesday. Guess what - no workers - no truth.

Do we have to wait until someone is injured or killed while walking in the street?

For those of you tired of waiting on the inaction of the city, try calling the numbers on the signs on the property for the construction loan bank and the realtor who's trying sell the medical units. Ask them what happens to their reputations and business if there's an injury or death attributable to the fence. I bet they can do a far better job of resolving this problem for us than city hall. Private Bank of the Peninsula, Mark Schoenstein 650-843-2240 and Cornish & Carey, Mark Daschbach 650-688-8540.

By the way, know why the old Gaylord's property has been kept up recently - the bank owns it now, not the developer.

And Almanac - do your job, do some digging and let us know what's really going on instead of relying on memos from the city's Community Services Director who's job has nothing to do with the problem - she's in charge of culture and recreation in the city - talk to Planning and the City Attorney.


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Posted by Angry
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2010 at 9:04 am

Once again, the city is inept, especially the city manager ! he and his large salary needs to be replaced. I will guarentee you, if there is severe injury or death, the city will also be named in the law suit, more unneccessary money we don't have out the door. the citizens need to replace all of the council members this election.
BTW, if Peter O leaves the fire board before his term is up, does this mean he has caused a special /expensive election to replace him, think again Peter. If you win, what will this election REALLY
cost, front end & back end ! think again, finish your responsibility to the board, residents and fire fighters. we didn't vote you in to quit half way through.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 13, 2010 at 10:46 am

Angry asks:"BTW, if Peter O leaves the fire board before his term is up, does this mean he has caused a special /expensive election to replace him"

No, the remaining four Fire Board Directors will appoint someone to fill out the remaining 11 months of his Fire Board term - no cost involved.


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Posted by Angry
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Mr. Carpenter states that the remaining 4 board members will appoint
someone to fill his vacancy and if there is a deadlock on candidates ? Can the board fully function wilth 4 board members as opposed to the fifth ? I would suspect the fifth is for tie breaking voting.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Angry asks:"Mr. Carpenter states that the remaining 4 board members will appoint someone to fill his vacancy and if there is a deadlock on candidates ?"

Not a problem. I know the four other Board members well and I am confident that they could easily agree on a short term replacement for Ohtaki.


Like this comment
Posted by Another Perspective
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:54 pm

BACK TO THE SUBJECT OF THIS ARTICLE
Who is to blame for this sidewalk problem?
The Menlo Park Council is to blame. Mike Brady is to blame. Our city council has a way to torture developers so that the permit process gets dragged out for years with one delay tactic after another. The goal of the negative anti-development crowd is to delay a project long enough that the developer misses the market, their legal bills mount, endless traffic studies are required, appeals from mean neighbors are granted and when that plan moves along, at the 11th hour (after 2 years of jumping through hoops) Fergusson can whine that she doesn't like the design. These negative people were delighted that this developer is having financial problems. That was the plan. Welcome to Menlo Park. Now go away and leave us with blight on El Camino Real. It's the Menlo Park way.

No wonder Bohannon is throwing his lot in with the voters. With Chuck Bernstein lurking around, clip board in hand, a referendum was ready to be filed. Wake up Menlo Park, we need people on the council who are not answering to these old crabby boys.

Just remember, the beautiful Rosewood hotel which pays the city a hefty hotel tax was passed without Andy Cohen. He voted against it. The Bohannon Gateway project which also has a hotel would have gotten a no vote from Bernstein had he been on the council.

Behind every development company are people with families, some of whom live in Menlo Park. Such is the case with 1906 El Camino Real. Give this guy a break.


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Posted by a concerned taxpayer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 13, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Wait a minute, you say that the anti-development city council is to blame? I think it is the other way around. Too bad they didn't put even more restrictions on the developer requiring that the site not be left unattended, that there were certain requirements for finishing the job, etc.


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Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2010 at 1:35 pm

When the project is finally complete and the developer is anxious to have tenants move in, wouldn't it be nice if the City found reasons to delay issuing a use permit?

As to whose responsible for his fiasco, an objective (a.k.a not pro-development) council and staff would have inserted language in the building permit that would have prevented the problem in the first place.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 13, 2010 at 2:59 pm

Concerned taxpayer said "Too bad they didn't put even more restrictions on the developer requiring that the site not be left unattended, that there were certain requirements for finishing the job..."

In addition to not impairing public safety, every single building permit contains these very restrictions and requirements.

The City of Menlo Park is CHOOSING not enforce them. They could correct this situation before the sun sets if they wished.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I'm curious if they have an encroachment permit. One is required any time construction activities will encroach on the public right of way. If they have no encroachment permit, then the city can require them to immediately remove the encroachment. If they do have the requisite permit the city has agreed to the encroachment and there is not much they can do to force the removal. When and if the encroachment permit expires the city can force the removal.


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Posted by envious
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 13, 2010 at 6:10 pm

Cherise Brandel, who makes $111,315 per year is out the office until August 19. Didn't she leave a backup? At $176,934 Kent Steffens may be overqualified to be a backup, but maybe Transprtation Manager Chip Taylor at $137,831 could do the job. An assistant transportation engineer, Randy Craig who only gets $91,446 including overtime, could probably handle a sidewalk. Someone should be able to step in and fix this problem before we get to September or any of these highly qualified City employees retire.
Or is this one of those Fridays when they don't work?


Like this comment
Posted by Common Sense?
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 13, 2010 at 10:04 pm

I love the title of this article "Residents losing patience....." I wish residents were this mad about an abandon movie theater with gang grafetti gracing it's sides, I wish residents were this mad about a couple of car dealerships being vacant for 3-4 years, the Mattison property for being vacant for 5+ years, the Derry Project never being built, etc., etc.

When will Menlo Park wake-up and use some common sense!? No one is asking to build huge concrete bunker type projects, we just want some common sense and get our elected officials to do SOMETHING. The taxes we pay, the houses we own, the location we live in, we deserve better. Either vote these clowns out of office, or put some pressure to get some changes made NOW. As a municipality, we are bordering on the absurd, with these ugly eyesores and excuses being given for every reason not to do something!


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Posted by Tristan
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 14, 2010 at 12:15 am

Cherise Brandell is the director of the city's dept of Community Services. From the city's own web site "The Community Services Department is responsible for providing recreational and cultural programs for children, adults, and seniors."
Which idiot in the city admin decided the person in charge of recreational and cultural programs should be handling a planning/building/health & safety issue?
No wonder Menlo Park's city council and administration is the laughing-stock of all the Bay Area communities.


Like this comment
Posted by R.GORDON
a resident of another community
on Aug 14, 2010 at 6:59 am

R.GORDON is a registered user.

You people from Menlo Park are not happy unless you are complaining daily about something new.
The answers are above for you to read. Now take your medication and do not blame everyone from ALMANAC to Peter C. .......Personally, I blame it all on Bush.
W. and the mother who bore him.


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Posted by get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 14, 2010 at 7:46 am

The problem at the corner of Watkins is due to the developer not taking precautions to protect pedestrians, and the city not taking those concerns seriously - either establishing requirements in advance or using common sense now to improve the situation.
This problem has nothing to do with other projects or the dismal appearance of El Camino. The theater remains closed and ugly because the owner defaced it. He bought it speculatively hoping the city would change its zoning to allow him to do whatever he wants. Rather than spot zone, the city is undergoing a planning process for the El Camino corridor.
The city has approved a project for a major car dealer site, at 1300 El Camino, which has been delayed because some private party sued.
The property next to Beltramo's liquor store has an approved project that Beltramo has not proceeded to build. Perhaps the ECONOMY has something to do with that?
The rest of the El Camino blight should be put squarely on Stanford, which owns the properties from Big 5 to the creek. They are getting rent from long-departed tenants.


Like this comment
Posted by member
a resident of Atherton: other
on Aug 15, 2010 at 9:24 am

We in Atherton have no city council problems such as you in MP have. Clearly the problem is Obama's.


Like this comment
Posted by Ranch Gal
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 15, 2010 at 11:50 am

Speaking of having to step into the street because of a lack of a safe sidewalk, this happens to me regularly on Santa Cruz Avenue, because of Left Bank sidewalk cafe seating. There IS NO sidewalk there so when I park my car, and head to Walgreens, I must walk ON THE DANGEROUS STREET due to the outrageous misuse of a sidewalk as a profit making outdoor cafe for one business. Approved my Menlo Park of course.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Intersting Ranch Gal. I've never had a problem navigating between the tables at the Left Bank or Avida. I just walk between the tables.


Like this comment
Posted by PLUMP
a resident of another community
on Aug 15, 2010 at 7:23 pm

I, agree with Ranch Girl......it ain't Paris where the sidewalks are wider........


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

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