Tonight: Beltramo townhomes before council

How many below-market-rate units should project include?

Ten years ago, the Beltramos started dreaming of building townhomes at 1460 El Camino Real. On Tuesday, Jan. 11, the Menlo Park City Council will decide whether that dream takes a step closer to reality.

The city and developer haggled for months over the number of below-market-rate (BMR) townhomes to be included. The original plan followed city policy by setting aside three BMR units, but the Beltramos have now asked to include only one in light of declining real estate values.

In October, the Planning Commission voted to accept a deal that allows the Beltramos to include only one BMR townhome, in exchange for 10 to 20 percent of sales revenue on each remaining unit if the unit's sales price exceeds $1 million, according to the staff report.

The commissioners also agreed to accept in-lieu fees on five market-rate townhomes and up to $382,704 in commercial linkage fees for a two-story office building the developer plans to build on the same site.

The deal was not wholeheartedly approved by the Planning Commission, despite a 5-0 vote. Katie Ferrick abstained after saying she was troubled by the BMR issue but didn't want the project to fail.

Before reaching the planning commissioners, the project first passed the Housing Commission. However, Commissioner Anne Mozer said she wished she could retract her vote.

"I finally decided I needed to stand up and say I made a mistake," Ms. Mozer told the Planning Commission in October.

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

Tonight's meeting starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the civic center (701 Laurel St.).

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Like this comment
Posted by Here we go again
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 10, 2011 at 12:24 pm

As usual, when Beltramo's says 'frog', we're all supposed to jump. Apparently they are special and get what they want in this town.

Like this comment
Posted by downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm

What's with the favoritism expected by the Beltramos? Other developers had to comply with the regs & making an exception here is wrong!

Planning commission, take note: your resonsibility is to apply the BMR regulations, as written, to all proposed developments. If you don't like the regs, change them, but you set a very dangerous precedent by granting an exception to Mr Beltramo. Could Menlo leave itself open to litigation from developers of past projects who complied?

Like this comment
Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm

If the council agrees to this request, in my opinion it is wrong on two important counts. First, I don't happen to agree with BMR in lieu fees
under any circumstances. If your going to have a program intended to provide BMR units, then actually build them and sell them at BMR prices. Second, and in this case more importantly, we just witnessed this developer trying to block the BEVMO project based on insisting that council should "go by the book" with regard to evaluating the need for the project(which to council's credit they did). OK, go by the book, if it says 3, 4 or 5 BMR units, then make them build and sell 3,4 or 5 units.

Like this comment
Posted by looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2011 at 9:26 pm

They have already had two 2 year extensions to build the project, and now they want a better deal. Gutless council will no doubt give it to them. I believe the commissions have already said ok.

Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 11, 2011 at 7:44 am

People people, it has only taken 10YRS for the council to do something, WOW they are on a fast track ! Give Beltramo an incentive
to do something in Menlo, not discourage him ! Better in Menlo than in another community ! Wake up council, stubberness will get you nowhere, be happy someone wants to build something in Menlo for a change ! Get a life and start being positive in this new year !!
Go Beltramo.......

Like this comment
Posted by LongMemory
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 11, 2011 at 1:48 pm

Once again, special rules for the Beltramo's.

The city and the Beltramo's already have an agreement. It is folly for the city to let them off the hook for their community obligation in development which everybogy else follows.

The council needs some backbone. Hopfully Peter and Kirsten won't be duped.

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

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