By Barbara Wood
Special to the Almanac
Menlo Park's City Council this week approved a brutal schedule of meetings for itself in the four-week period from May 22 to June 12 to discuss and take final action on a number of issues that could affect the city for decades to come, including Facebook, the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, and the city budget for the next fiscal year.
The council unanimously approved the schedule at a special meeting on April 9.
The schedule was proposed by new City Manager Alex McIntyre, who warned the council that hearings on Facebook and the specific plan could each last five hours. In an acknowledgement of how difficult the schedule might be, the council also reserved on additional meeting, on June 19, in case the items can't be completed on time.
The scheduled meeting dates are:
■ Tuesday, May 22, for a public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2012-13 budget and capital improvement program.
■ Tuesday, May 29, for a public hearing on the Facebook land-use entitlements, development agreement, and final environmental impact report.
■ Tuesday, June 5, for a public hearing on the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan and its final environmental impact report.
■ Tuesday, June 12, to adopt the ordinances finalizing the council's actions concerning the Facebook project, finalizing the council's actions concerning the specific plan, and adopting the budget and capital improvement program.
■ Tuesday, June 19, any items that can't be completed under the proposed schedule.
Council members also responded to public comments at the meeting by asking that all staff reports for Planning Commission meetings on Facebook and the specific plan for downtown/El Camino Real be released at least a week before any meetings on those items to give the public time to review them.
Nancy Couperus of the Downtown Alliance had protested the proposed schedule before the meeting, calling it in an email "alarming" because "it provides little time for the public, the Planning Commission and other commissions to review and provide input on the documents."
It is not only the City Council that will be kept busy considering all these items. In a move he calls in his report "unprecedented," Mr. McIntyre also has advised the council to tell the Planning Commission "that it has a limited timeframe" to consider and make recommendations on each of these items before the council hears them.
"No matter what the council decides to do with its own calendar for hearings, the Planning Commission still will need to expeditiously, yet still thoughtfully, work through its own hearings on these," he said in his report.