News

Bohannon gives $325,000 more for Measure T

Measure would allow him to build office-hotel complex

Thanks to developer David Bohannon, financial support has skyrocketed for Measure T, the ballot proposal that would allow him to build a nearly million-square-foot office-hotel complex near Bayfront Expressway and Marsh Road in Menlo Park.

He contributed $325,000 during the past two weeks, and remains the sole contributor, giving almost half a million dollars total in support of Measure T. The developer stands to make millions annually if the hotel-office complex becomes a reality.

The donated money has not sat idle. $14,864 has been spent targeting one City Council candidate -- Chuck Bernstein, who the developer accused of trying to "sabotage" Menlo Gateway in a series of attack ads. That amount is nearly as much as Mr. Bernstein's entire campaign fund.

The rest of the $280,027 in expenses went toward public relations, office expenses, surveys, design consultants, and friendlier mailers touting the virtues of Menlo Gateway.

No on Measure T

The opposition, "Measured Growth for Menlo Park" (also known as "No on Measure T"), has more donors, but fewer dollars.

It's collected $9,400 to spend fighting the developer, with $5,350 in new donations reported on Oct. 21. Repeat donor Morris Brown contributed another $2,500, and Councilman Andy Cohen, $250, as did David Speer, Robert Ekedahl, and Susan Ringler.

"No on Measure T" leader Patti Fry donated $100; so did Menlo Park Downtown Alliance founder Nancy Couperus. Attorney Michael Brady and Transportation Commissioner Charlie Bourne made the largest donations -- $500 each.

Campaign literature and yard signs have cost the coalition a total of $7,361 so far, with 11 days to go before the Nov. 2 election.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Boohannon
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 21, 2010 at 8:54 pm

He contributed $325,000 during the past two weeks, and remains the sole contributor, giving almost half a million dollars total in support of Measure T. The developer stands to make millions annually if the hotel-office complex becomes a reality.

...but he's doing it for the good of "the people," right? ;-)


Like this comment
Posted by Bohannon Basher
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:12 am

He IS giving us an opportunity for jobs, and tax dollars. Who said, besides you Boohannon, that a developer has to make sure YOU make good on one of their developments. HE is taking the risk, this is HIS job, HIS career. You either base the project on it's elements and decide whether it's good or bad for MP, then move on. Why should YOU care how much he makes? This type of rhetoric is ridiculous. Does someone come to your job and tell you, YOU can't make that much? Decide on the project's worthiness, and stop the envy! You made your choice to not be a developer, that was your choice, it's what he does, and he just happens to make a bunch of money doing it.


Like this comment
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:14 am

Booohanon, who said he is or should be doing this for the "good of the people". He owns the property and has a right to utilize it anyway he chooses as long as he follows the rules. That is exactly what he is doing.


Like this comment
Posted by not so
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Get Real - You are totally mistaken.
Yes, Bohannon has owned the properties for some time (tell me again why they are dilapidated?). But he is NOT following the rules. This project requires major changes to the city's zoning rules and the General Plan - exclusively for his parcels related to this project.


Like this comment
Posted by Skeptical
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 22, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Let's talk about the JOBS related to the Bohannon Project:

Construction jobs (short term) , hotel workers ($15 per hour like Rosewood now pays) and property management jobs (Mostly maintenance workers and a couple of suits).

However, the actual buildings will be filled with people who either already have jobs elsewhere or somebody better get going and start new businesses that CREATE jobs. An empty office building and hotel aren't going to create jobs. They are just buildings. The construction, hotel jobs are not the kind of jobs that pay housing prices around here. Construction jobs are filled by people who live far away, like Sonoma, Livermore and Manteca. These workers drive many miles every day to and from their homes to build these high rises.

Last thought: This project won't be built until the economy rebounds. How many years will that take? Answer: Too many to make a dent in the unemployment we are experiencing now.

If Measure T fails, not to worry, Mr. Bohannon will come back with a more modest proposal. Developers never go away. They have another plan in the second drawer.


Like this comment
Posted by serial voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 22, 2010 at 1:01 pm

If the merits of the project were so obvious and overwhelming, the council would have voted for it! And Bohannon wouldn't be spending a half million dollars now to perfume the pig.

Apart from the hotel, the project generates no revenue for the city. And the claim about jobs is specious. Yes, there will be temporary construction jobs, but only when the economy is booming again. Remember when contractors were importing workers from out of state because all the contruction workers here were too busy? Not that importing workers is a bad thing, just that the project isn't going to do much for local construction workers.

The other jobs are office jobs, and those are not new jobs, just jobs in offices that will be moving from one place to another. Probably many of Bohannon's current office park tenants will be moving into this complex. And the new complex will cannibalize tenants from all the smaller office buildings in Menlo Park, like the ones on Middlefield and El Camino. But jobs per se will not be created.

I don't mind Bohannon making money. That's what rich people do. But he has asked for tremendous concessions -- major changes to the general plan and zoning -- and in return he provides only what is legally required. The project will have significant negative impacts on our city, as documented by neutral consultants. It will, over the long-term, gradually and irrevocably impair our quality of life.

By paying for enough slick brochures and going on the attack against a council contender, Bohannon hopes that you, the average Menlo Park voter, will not ask too many questions.

Let's show him that we're not as stupid as he'd like to believe. Voting against T is the only way to get Bohannon to downsize this project to a size that won't be a burden on our city.


Like this comment
Posted by serial voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Skeptical, GMTA


Like this comment
Posted by Boohanon
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 1:52 pm

In and of itself, it would not trouble me in the slightest that a developer might make tons of cash on some project. What does trouble me is that he would be accomplishing this "on the backs"/to the detriment of the residents of Our (Soon to be Not So) Fair City.

And you really have to wonder where all of that $5 mil. is going; certainly not all on yard signs and libelous leafletting.


Like this comment
Posted by Boohannon
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 1:53 pm

Correction: Half a mil...


Like this comment
Posted by They did support it
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2010 at 8:43 pm

To Serial Voter:
The City Council DID vote and it passed 4-1, but to prevent the possibility of a referendum, Mr. Bohannon asked to bring it to a vote.

This is called economic development and it's sad he has to spend a fortune to get it done here.


Like this comment
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 22, 2010 at 9:36 pm

To the Bohannon group, the $450K is pretty much pocket change. They previously have spent much more than this in PR, just getting it approved by council.

You call it economic development, I call it a grossly over sized project, with huge impacts.


Like this comment
Posted by serial voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 22, 2010 at 10:32 pm

You are right, They Did -- I should have said "the council would have simply approved the project and not sent it to the voters." It is also interesting that three council members who had indicated opposition to the project changed their minds after meeting privately with Bohannon. Knowing his fondness for making threats, we can only speculate what transpired during those meetings.

Given the amount of empty office space that exists already in this area, I'm not clear that adding 1,000,000 square foot project constitutes "economic development." As noted in Bloomberg earlier this year, "Silicon Valley is beset by the biggest office property glut since the dot-com bust, leaving the U.S. technology hub with empty high-rises and office parks that make it impossible for landlords to sustain average rents." (Web Link) I invite you to visit downtown Sunnyvale and see how well their "economic development" has worked for them.

Most MP residents don't realize that the parcels east of 101 at Marsh have traditionally generated substantial amounts of sales tax for the city. By demanding a zoning change and refusing to develop his property to attract businesses that generate sales tax, Bohannon has inflicted a huge opportunity cost on our city. In addition, of course, to all the negative impacts that are detailed in the reports posted on the city's website.


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Posted by clairvoyance
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 22, 2010 at 11:05 pm

To Mr Bohannon and Mr McGovern:

Mr. Bernstein may be your opponent...but he's not your enemy. The expenditures that you have made to slander Mr Bernstein's character and integrity are uncalled for and unseemly.

You may win the Measure T ballot measure, but you've lost your ethics.

A deeply concerned citizen


Like this comment
Posted by Get Real
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Not so,

My point is that Bohannon is following the rules to change the zoning. The amount of money he spends on consultants, marketing, PR, etc. and the amount of money he might profit should not be considered when deciding whether to approve the zoning change. Only the impacts (both positive and negative) should be considered.


Like this comment
Posted by not so
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 23, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Yes, it is the voters' responsibility to determine whether the benefits to the city are adequate, particularly because of the significant negative impacts that can't be mitigated.
The hotel revenue would be nice. But it is important to the city to reap financial benefit, not just traffic, from the three massive office buildings. According to city consultants, these will provide tens of millions of cash flow to the developer. If filled with businesses that could generate sales tax revenue, instead of law firms that don't, Menlo Park would benefit. Bohannon refused to consider even current limits on offices. Our town can't afford to lose all hope of business-to-business sales tax revenue. The Planning Commission recommended an in lieu fee to provide such an incentive. This also was rejected. Menlo Park deserves more benefit.


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Posted by Boohannon
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 23, 2010 at 3:45 pm

1. Measure T, which is primarily office space, will provide no sales taxes to Menlo Park (contrary to the current zoning which would produce sales tax revenue).
2. Measure T will provide no money for Menlo Park schools (K-8).
3. The Fire Department will lose money.
4. When completed Measure T will result in a six-fold increase in traffic east of El Camino, and contribute heavily to El Camino and Menlo Parks gridlock
(with traffic trips increasing from 2,019 to 12,121 trips per day).
5. Per the agreement with Mr. Bohannon, construction will not begin for at least eight years and construction can be delayed for as much as 20 years.
6. The air pollution resulting from Measure T will push citywide carbon emission beyond Menlo Park and the state's (AB32) goals and it grandfathers "pollution rights" even if construction begins 20 years from now.
7. Measure T bypasses Menlo Park's zoning and its long-term planning process.
8. The density bonus negotiated by Bohannon will increase the developer's cash flow by 40-60 million dollars per year, with only a trickle reaching Menlo Park.


Like this comment
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Get Real writes "My point is that Bohannon is following the rules to change the zoning."

Now Get Real, please explain to me, how else is Bohannon going to get the zoning changed. The City controls the zoning; a developer must go through the process, following the rules to get the zoning changed.

How, he goes about this process is a completely different matter. How does he get the City to agree to changing the zoning. Behind the scenes, private meetings with planning commissioners and council members have obviously been part of the game.

Most obvious in this vein, at the very end of this process, was the announcement by Kelly Fergusson, that she had met privately with Bohannon and had secured a new extraction; she had gotten the developer to agree to spend an extra $500,000 on landscaping, landscaping that was to be on land he doesn't own, but is owned by the City.

This caused her to change her opposition to the project, which she had so many times stated. She really got none of her objections corrected, but she got this new landscaping. What a deal!

This is bad deal for the City. Just say no when you vote.

Vote No on Measure T.

see

www.FactsNotHype.org

morris brown
Menlo Park


Like this comment
Posted by YES on Measure T
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 23, 2010 at 6:38 pm


Regardless of the negative campaigning, I am weighing the pros and cons and see that the positives outweigh the negatives.

Of course there are impacts, how can there not be? But with thousands of jobs, quality green construction, and a lot more financial gain for the city, its clear to me this should go forward.

Measure T has been endorsed by Mercury News and the Almanac. The development agreement made with the city and the developer was analyzed by a third party at the request of the opposition and the third party found that it is a good deal for the city.
All three of these sources have nothing to gain from endorsing this project.

I'm sick of fear mongering by a few very loud individuals.

YES on Measure T!


Like this comment
Posted by Donnasue
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 24, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Kelly should be ashamed of herself for supporting this boondoggle landscaping that will not bring in jobs for MP residents, and give Bohannon power to do with the City council what he wants because he's buying them up -- shame on all of you -- this is bad for MP especially the Willows because the next plan will be an expressway down Willow Road to El Camino Real, over or under the RR to meet the demands of incredible traffic increases. NO on T, it's not good for us as eloquently explained by Andy Cohen.

So Kelly do you represent the citizen of MP or just Bohannon and his greedy efforts?


Like this comment
Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Oct 25, 2010 at 8:54 am

Donnasue. Your angry anti-council rhetoric is getting old. Sure, you are free to express yourself. Have some factual basis instead of the same old name calling.

What more do you bring to this debate? Have you taken time to meet with folks and learn about the project? Have you talked with council members about their choices? Anything?

Or have you just another axe to grind? Scared of traffic and change so off with their heads?

[Portion removed; stick to the issue and don't attack other posters.]


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

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