Menlo Park Measure T passes by big margin

Bohannon eager to resume life as 'real estate guy'

Measure T, which allows developer David Bohannon to build a nearly 1-million-square-foot office-hotel complex, passed with a 65.5-percent "yes" vote Tuesday night. Click here for the vote count with all precincts reporting.

Hosting an election night party at the Oak City Bar and Grill, developer David Bohannon stood apart from the crowd and appeared as calm as someone without millions of dollars hanging in the balance would be. Granted, at 10 p.m. there seemed little doubt that Measure T would pass.

As midnight approached Mr. Bohannon said, "Right now I'm so tired I can't think of what to say. It does look like we're pretty clearly going to win."

Asked what he would do now with his spare time, he laughed, thought for a moment, and answered,"Well, I'll be happy not to be involved in a political campaign, believe me, and go back to my life as a real estate guy."

Measure T amends Menlo Park's general plan to add a "business park" land-use category, and apply that category to 16 acres on the east side of U.S. 101 that span Independence Drive and Constitution Drive. This change allows the Bohannon Development Company to build Menlo Gateway, an office-hotel complex.

At nearly 1 million square feet, the total floor area of the planned office buildings, seven-floor hotel, restaurant, parking garages, and fitness club would be roughly equivalent to that of the Sun Microsystems campus at the east end of Willow Road, according to city planning staff.

Under Mr. Bohannon's agreement with the city, Menlo Gateway would provide an estimated $1.4 million in annual hotel revenue. He also agreed to contribute $1.25 million for improvements to the Belle Haven neighborhood and Bedwell Bayfront Park on Marsh Road, which borders the site, as well as design the complex to meet LEED gold-level and silver-level environmental certifications.

Which schools would benefit from the project's property taxes remains contentious. A "Yes on Measure T" postcard mailed to Menlo Park residents stated Gateway "also provides $1.8 million in revenue for local elementary, high school and junior college districts."

Bohannon spokesman Patrick Corman broke the numbers down like this: One-time impact fees to the Redwood City Elementary School and Sequoia Union School districts of $343,000; then annual revenue of $925,000 for the Redwood City schools, $611,000 for Sequoia, and $266,000 for the San Mateo Community College District.

However, because the state funds Redwood City schools on a revenue-limited, per-student basis, funding from Menlo Gateway property taxes will be offset by a reduction in state money. And "local" doesn't equal "in Menlo Park," although high school students attending out-of-town campuses could benefit.

Opponents argued that the project's environmental impacts, such as carbon emissions, traffic, and noise, outweigh the city's financial benefits. They also state that the city's revenue is a fraction of the $40 million to $60 million Mr. Bohannon would earn.

Mr. Bohannon had thrown $475,000 at last report into funding the campaign to support Measure T, with at least $14,864 dedicated to a series of mailers attacking the one City Council candidate who vocally opposes Menlo Gateway, Chuck Bernstein.

He also contributed an as-yet-undisclosed amount of assistance, in the form of precinct walkers handing out campaign fliers, to four council candidates who support Measure T: Incumbents Rich Cline and Heyward Robinson; Planning Commissioner Kirsten Keith; and Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board President Peter Ohtaki.

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Posted by Mr. T
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on Nov 4, 2010 at 3:54 pm

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