Commission green-lights Beltramo townhomes

One BMR unit to be set aside

A housing project first envisioned a decade ago evaded an equally drawn-out death as the Menlo Park Planning Commission voted 5-0 Monday, Oct. 4, to accept a revised deal with Beltramo's for construction of 16 townhomes at 1460 El Camino Real.

The city and developer had been haggling for months over the number of below-market-rate (BMR) apartments to be included. The original approved plan set aside three BMR units, but the Beltramos asked to include only one, in light of declining real estate values.

Ten to 20 percent of sales revenue on each remaining unit goes back to the city if the sales price exceeds $1 million to compensate for not including two more under the revised plan, according to the staff report.

Five planning commissioners also agreed to accept in-lieu fees on five market-rate townhomes and $207,348 in commercial linkage fees.

Commissioner Katie Ferrick abstained from the vote after stating she "was troubled by the BMR piece," but didn't want to see the project fail. Colleague Ben Eiref was absent.

One city official appeared to express regret. The Housing Commission unanimously recommended the revised proposal on Sept. 1. However, Commissioner Anne Mozer wished she could retract her vote.

"In retrospect I regret my vote that approved it," she told the planning commissioners. "I finally decided I needed to stand up and say I made a mistake."

Too many people are waiting for BMR housing, she said, and there aren't enough units in Menlo Park.

"I'm almost at the point of throwing a coin in the air," Chairman John O'Malley said after acknowledging that in-lieu fees are never large enough to buy a BMR unit elsewhere in the city. However, the revenue sharing and commercial linkage fees let the Beltramos win his coin toss.

The deal will now go to the City Council for final approval.

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Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2010 at 8:07 am

The last thing Menlo Park needs is more housing - and thus, more people. And there has got to be a better way than BMRs to subsidize those in true financial need.

Like this comment
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 5, 2010 at 12:52 pm

So, the Beltramos get to build their townhouses, and begin developing their property, but they do not want others, who are trying to bring revenue to the city, to have a use permit for BevMo, and be able to use their property.

Nice job of having your cake and eating it as well. And I naively thought the job of government was to help consumers, not competitors.

Like this comment
Posted by Perplexed
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 5, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I agree with Neighbor's comments above. It is amazing when property rights are involved that the Beltramo's and Draeger's desire protection from others who should have the right to serve our community. If Bev Mo wants to take a risk and spend considerable amounts to outfit a site in Menlo Park, who are the Beltramo's and Draeger's to tell all of us who should and shouldn't be a part of our community. To now know too that Beltramo's is out paying local voter's to write letters to the city council is even more disturbing. I will no longer shop at Beltramo's now that I know this approach. This is the ultimate in anti competitive. They must have learned this behavior from Microsoft!!!

Maybe we should tell them we have enough townhouses in Menlo Park and don't need more. Or, that they should be held to the same standard as everyone else in providing BMR housing for the community.

Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Oct 5, 2010 at 2:20 pm

Neighbor and Perplexed--ditto from me. Well said!

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Posted by Check the facts
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2010 at 10:44 pm

The original plan Beltramo's put forward for this development over 10 years ago contained no housing but the council at that time demanded housing be part of the project. They have tried to comply. They even tried to comply with the BMR requirements but it made the whole project un-financable. Additionally, they have been through horrible expenses-- over $350,000-- to clean up a toxic spill from a neighboring dry cleaning business that is no longer there.
They have endured a lot and yet continue to try to improve the property. I'm just happy they are still planning to build it.

Don't we all want El Camino improved?

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2010 at 3:20 pm

[Post removed. Please stay on topic. As a county supervisor, Rich Gordon had nothing to do with this project.]

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2010 at 9:48 am

If Gordon is not involved with this, it may be a soldidly built project which no one seems to want anyway.

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2010 at 9:49 am

If Gordon is not involved with this, it may be a soldidly built project which no one seems to want anyway.

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

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