The 6-1 vote in favor of recommending the Menlo Park downtown/El Camino Real specific plan to the City Council didn't quite reflect the heated debate voiced by the Planning Commission at its Aug. 22 meeting.
While most of the commission appeared to support the plan, the recommendation came with some proposed modifications that inspired argument. Other suggestions, including a request that the council lower allowed building heights by one full story, found consensus. Click here to review the commission's recommendations.
After casting his dissenting vote, Commissioner John Kadvany, participating by phone, expressed his frustration as the meeting ended close to midnight.
"I just want to say I told people yes, I would just try to bring this stuff up for you, stuff I didn't even agree with, and now I can't. I just have to say 'Sorry, we ran out of time," he said. "This whole thing has been hurry up, then wait, since this whole project started. It's not right."
The vote allowed the commission to forward the plan to the council, subject to suggested revisions, with the caveat that "not everything was discussed."
Chair Vincent Bressler later said the commission had considered every geographical region covered in the plan, and that the point of the five-meeting series was to provide lots of opportunity to receive and respond to public comment before recommending changes to the plan.
"Our goal was to make the City Council's job easier. I expect that it will be difficult for the City Council to come to consensus on this plan, however, without our efforts it would have been much, much more difficult," he said.
The project's fiscal impact analysis (FIA) also caused a stir at Monday night's meeting. Released last week, the report has come under fire for potential errors.
Educator Chuck Bernstein told the commission he'd documented multiple calculation mistakes. City staff said they would work on double-checking the FIA, which analyzes the impact of the specific plan on the city's revenues, before the council meets on Aug. 30 to begin its own review.
The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that the council ask the finance and audit committee to review the FIA.
All documents related to the specific plan, including the FIA, are available here.