The council's recommendation to cap medical office space for an individual project within the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan area at 33,333 square feet will make its way back to the Menlo Park Planning Commission tonight (Oct. 6). It's one of the last steps remaining before the cap becomes official.
In November 2013 during a review of the specific plan, the council voted 4-0, with Ray Mueller recused at the time from specific plan discussions, to limit the amount of medical office for projects with at least 100,000 square feet of buildings along the El Camino Real corridor. Smaller projects may include up to one-third medical office space, as originally allowed by the specific plan.
Councilman Rich Cline said that Stanford University's original mixed-use proposal, which included 96,000 square feet of medical offices, indicated the need for a cap. The university later agreed to eliminate medical offices from the project after negotiations with a council subcommittee and neighborhood representatives.
According to the staff report for Monday night's meeting, the attorney contracted to represent Menlo Park on specific plan issues has concluded that if the cap is not implemented before the Nov. 4 election and if Measure M -- the specific plan initiative -- passes, the cap would have to go for a city-wide vote for approval.
Measure M supporters challenged that interpretation of the measure's language and have asked for evidence to support that conclusion.
In a letter sent to the city today, contract attorney Greg Stepanicich said that while Measure M wouldn't require voter approval for all changes to the specific plan, it would in this case because the measure doesn't distinguish between different types of office space; and, Section 3.3.5 of the initiative sets the maximum amount of office space of any individual project at 100,000 square feet.
"Further, Section 4.1 of Measure M states that any amendments to the voter adopted development standards and definitions require voter approval, not just amendments that impose less stringent development standards," Mr. Stepanicich wrote.
The full text of Measure M is available on the city's election website.
The council is expected to take a final vote on the medical office cap on Oct. 28.