News

Menlo Park: Consultant's proposal was rejected

A consultant's proposal that Menlo Park take a proactive role in swaying public opinion with regard to the specific plan before the Measure M initiative qualified for the ballot was rejected, according to City Manager Alex McIntyre.

Malcolm Smith, now retired from 12 years as Redwood City's communications manager, pitched senior Menlo Park officials in March. The proposal included drafting letters to the editor to be signed by "supportive community members," writing talking points for use by the council and other officials and preparing content for distribution via social media.

"We said no; we're looking for educational material, not advocacy," Mr. McIntyre told the Almanac on Monday (Nov. 3).

News of the proposal broke over the weekend after former councilman and Measure M supporter Heyward Robinson found a copy of the pitch among documents released by the city on Friday, Oct. 31, in response to his Public Records Act request.

Mr. McIntyre said the only piece of work the city hired the consultant to do was write content for the city's website about the specific plan and the initiative. The content was then reviewed for impartiality before going live by the attorney contracted to represent the city on specific plan issues.

Mayor Ray Mueller, currently in China on a business trip, said he was not aware of the consultant's activities on behalf of Menlo Park. According to the city manager, the $5,000 contract was not presented to the council "because it was so low profile. It was about getting the website done right."

Why hire out for the website content? According to Mr. McIntyre, the city wanted someone familiar with government who could write about the specific plan and initiative in a straightforward way without resorting to confusing jargon.

Initiative advocates have challenged whether the city's website, as well as information presented in its Menlo Focus newsletter, is truly impartial. State law allows a city to spend public funds to provide balanced information on a measure as long as the materials do not take a partisan position.

The state attorney general "declined to get involved" after Mr. Robinson filed a complaint over the newsletter, Mr. Robinson said, but he has also made complaints to the Fair Political Practices Commission, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office and the grand jury.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Gern is a registered user.

Something doesn't add up here. Why the clear anti-M bias in Mr. Smith's proposal if he wasn't given specific leading instruction for such a slant? And assuming the city did reject his proposal, as claimed, who or what guided Mr. Smith's work on this project? Was a statement of work or contract included in the documents belatedly turned over to Mr. Robinson as part of his public records request? What did Mr. Smith deliver to the city before collecting his $5,000 remuneration from Menlo Park tax payers?

Gern


3 people like this
Posted by fact checker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Why was the consultant emailing with Cherise Brendell and Thomas Rogers of city staff about a posting made on Town Square? Here is what the consultant says to Brendell (page 13 of the 27 page public records act response to Robinson) "However if this person's post prompts some new or revised message that we want to add to our arsenal, we could do so through our other channels (letters, talking points, website), thus "correcting" any misunderstanding or misstatement without directly responding in kind, to the original poster."

It seems to me that this means the consultant was doing a lot more than just advising on a website. It looks as if the consultant was working on a similar scope as his proposal. More facts need to come out.

Let me ask why the public records act request didn't produce the contract with the consultant? Is the city hiding something?

How about some investigative reporting?


1 person likes this
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Different reporters can write completely different views on a subject, which is certainly crystal clear here with the article by Sandy Brundage in contrast to the article in today's Daily Post, authored by Bill Silverfarb, which I copy below.

----------------

Daily Post Nov 3 2014

City Paid PR man for M messaging

By Bill Silverfarb
Daily Post Staff Writer

[Portion removed; it's OK to link to an article in another publication, but printing the entire article without the publication's permission is copyright infringement.]


2 people like this
Posted by George C Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Here is my email just posted to City Council:
Please do not hide from the Malcolm Smith issues re the City Measure M web site on basis you had no knowledge of his activities. My communications to you of August 10, October 8, and October 27 plus the following oral plea that you investigate and control staff with respect to the Measure M website gave you more than adequate cause to investigate the website, its accuracy and background. I told you that Staff knew all non residential impacts were not treated the same. It appears they may not even have been involved.

you apparently ignored my plea and doubled down both on the Specific Plan and the Web site. City council has exercised very little supervision or due diligence with respect to either the Specific plan or misleading opposition to measure M on city website. No due diligence appears to have been done with respect to Stanford's intentions re development of its site, before relying on the Specific Plan illustrative site for both the EIR and the Fiscal Impact Analysis. Council member Keith noted during the Stanford discussions that staff had not alerted Council to the provision accompanying a car driveway adjacent to the Bike route and Plaza. Time to step up to your job and make necessary corrections and start supervising.

Mr Stepanicich's one paragraph rejection of demand for retraction because some things were said about problems of too much office space and therefor impartial is not acceptable and you should not do so.

Here is my October 21 plea to you to get control of staff re Measure M website.
Web Link

Please arrange for immediate production of all Smith's bills, content and interactions with Staff. What was the basis for paying him? Was their a contract?


Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Sandy you said the documents were released Oct 31 and the Daily says Oct 30. Which was it, because if it was Oct 30 it implies that the Almanac purposely delayed release of the info until today, one day before the election.


1 person likes this
Posted by more fact checking
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm

fact checker makes an excellent point.
City communications with the consultant do give the impression that he was being paid for more than just the web site.
How about some follow up questions to the City manager about those communications, Sandy? Of course the City manager can deny he was aware of the email exchange between Ms Brandell and Mr Smith, same as the Mayor denied that he was unaware that Mr Smith was even hired as a consultant. A little less finger pointing and more accountability is in order.


1 person likes this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 1:47 pm

As Mr. McIntyre indicated, this is definitely a piece of work...


1 person likes this
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 1:55 pm

I would appreciate hearing from Peter Carpenter.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

1 - Did Smith have a contract with the City - Yes

2 - Did that contract call for Smith to perform a legally appropriate activity - Yes

3 - Did the City allow Smith to do anything illegal - No

I have seen no evidence of illegal activity by either Smith or the City and challenge anyone to present such evidence. The City's Measure M web site is as bland and as balanced as I can imagine and only people who fear that they are about to lose the election could possible suggest otherwise.


Like this comment
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Thanks Peter,

You say: "Did the City allow Smith to do anything illegal - No"

I would let a Court would decide that. Or at the very worst, an Ethics Committee.

It would be good to hear from the Almanac as to their conduct on this too.


1 person likes this
Posted by Hardly a real investigation
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Just as Atherton Resident, Peter Carpenter acts, so did Sandy Brundage in her ridiculous article. She might just as well had Carpenter write the article for her.


Her conclusions seem to be based solely on what McIntyre tells her; did she read any of the written evidence that was retrieved in the public records act?

Brundage should read the article from Silverfarb and learn what an investigation is all about; she certainly didn't do one here. One should wonder -- did the Almanac editor cleared this?

Finally, this material has been submitted to the civil grand jury. Eventually there will be a report and we shall see what that body concludes about all of this.






2 people like this
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Gern is a registered user.

"2 - Did that contract call for Smith to perform a legally appropriate activity - Yes"

Have you seen the contract, Peter? To make such a definitive statement you must surely have read the contract in its entirety -- in the company of a lawyer, no less -- so I would ask that you please share the contents of that document or a link to same at your earliest convenience.

Gern


1 person likes this
Posted by George C Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

I just emailed city counsel the following: "The Almanac web site states: "Mr. McIntyre said the only piece of work the city hired the consultant to do was write content for the city's website about the specific plan and the initiative. The content was then reviewed for impartiality before going live by the attorney contracted to represent the city on specific plan issues."

If indeed the City is relying on advice of counsel to support a claim the website is impartial and contains no false or misleading statements, then any attorney client privilege is waived. In addition to the immediate production of Smith related documents, including basis for payment and content furnished, in my last email, please produce all documentation referred to independent Counsel for review, any communications related to that documentation, and any response given by independent counsel. Per my previous letters there is no basis in fact or law for the misstatements and misleading characterizations included in the city Web site. Please Stand up and be counted. Thank You. George

In addition here is a copy of the email forwarded the following to City Council on October 27, 2014 regarding the misleading characterizations and false statements in the city Web site:

"Your refusal to acknowledge the facts stated in the City of Menlo Park documents enclosed with my October 6, 2014 letter to you, attached with documents referenced herein, and page 2-12 of the 1300 ECR Infill Environmental Checklist is not only incredulous, but unfair Menlo Park use of misleading statements and material concealments to improperly influence the Measure M election. Please remediate ASAP.

I. The City documents prove without any possible doubt the following, dispelling false statements and concealments in your Measure M Web site that the Illustrative Plan is a mere example and not significant in the Specific Plan EIR analysis and no bearing upon Measure M:

1. The Specific Plan Environmental Impact Analysis (EIR) only analyzed the development envisioned in the Illustrative Plan (Exh. B-1)

2. The EIR found the Illustrative Plan development “the most reasonably foreseeable, . . .,based upon studies of market demand, the location of opportunity sites, and assessment of the development potential of each property given the Guiding Principles, Urban design Framework, land uses, development regulations and design guidelines. (Exh. B-1).

3. The EIR Transportation Impact Analysis found the potential maximum amount of land use changes within the Specific Plan Area are presented in table 1 by sub area and summarized below: . . . 240,820 square feet of commercial (office space) (Exhs. B-2, B-3).

4. The reasons stated in the Notice of Intent to circulate Petition filed with the City for what became Measure M included in its statement of reasons: “ Defining and limiting uses constituting “Office space” in the Specific Plan area to no more than 240,820 square feet. . . . the maximum amount conceptually disclosed and analyzed in the Specific Plan EIR, to ensure that such uses are not approved to the exclusion of a healthy balance of neighborhood-serving retail, restaurants, hotels, business, and housing near transit”.



II. The City documents prove without any possible doubt the following, dispelling
false statements and concealments in the your Measure M Website that potential impacts do not vary between non residential uses of office, retail or hotel:

1. Impacts studied in the Specific Plan EIR varied by the specific non-residential use, such as office, residential, or hotel (Exhibit A-1, B-3, C, D-1 AND D-2)

2. Only 8% of office space trips have origin/destination in Menlo Park, leaving 92% to travel in/out of Menlo Park to reach office space ( Exh. A-2)

3. 76% of office space trips travel east or west to reach 280, 101 or 84, and 14% travel n/s in and out of town on El Camino Real, while only 20% of retail trips leave Menlo Park E/W and 21% use El Camino Real (Exh. A-1,A-2)



III. The City documents prove without any possible doubt the following, dispelling the your Measure M website stating that only 291,614 square feet of Stanford and Greenheart are applied against the 474,000 square feet maximum allowable development “in keeping with standard practices of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)” to examine only net new impacts. However, the actual new net impact under CEQA standards is 429,611 square feet, which when added to the 75,418 square feet of other projects means the entire maximum net new development 0f 474,000 square feet under the Specific plan is exhausted by the Stanford and Greenheart projects, unless Measure M is adopted:

1. Only 81,481 square feet were included in background for the prior 1300 El Camino Real Sand Hill project, which had been approved by the city (Exh. C) and that 81,481 square feet was studied as retail (commercial) not Office space (Exh. C, Exh. D-1 and D-2).

2. The 1300 ECR Greenheart Environmental checklist states “ the proposed [Greenheart] project is substantially different from the [previous 1300 ECR Sand Hill] project, this CEQA document considers the whole of the current [Greenheart] project and does not rely upon previous approvals [of the 1300 ECR Sand Hill project] for purposes of this [CEQA EIR] analysis. (P. 2-12, attached)"


If the prior project cannot be considered in the EIR for CEQA impact purposes, the prior project can’t be considered in any reduction of “net impact” maximum for CEQA purposes. Staff is talking out of both sides of its mouth to maximize office space development.


CONCLUSION: THE STANFORD AND GREENHEART PROJECTS USE UP ALL REMAINING NEW NON RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AVAILABLE IN THE SPECIFIC PLAN, AND YOUR MISLEADING WEBSITE UNFAIRLY AND FALSLY MISREPRESENTS AND CONCEALS POTENTIAL OFFICE SPACE IMPACTS AND THAT EXHAUSTION OF AVAILABLE NON RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AS WELL AS THE BENEFICIAL RESULT OF MEASURE M LIMITING OFFICE SPACE TO THE 240,820 SQUARE FEET TOTAL ANALYZED IN THE SPECIFIC PLAN EIR..


2 people like this
Posted by 27 Year Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

We pay the city manager almost a quarter of a million dollars per year why doesn't he write simple "position" statements? For this kind of money we should expect him to produce this type thing, not hire a consultant!


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"2 - Did that contract call for Smith to perform a legally appropriate activity - Yes"


'Have you seen the contract, Peter? "

No but I am willing to rely on the City Manager's truthfulness.

I realize that some of you are not - that is your problem, not mine.


3 people like this
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Gern is a registered user.

"No but I am willing to rely on the City Manager's truthfulness. I realize that some of you are not - that is your problem, not mine."

With one breath he is the self-proclaimed champion of open and transparent government and with the next we are told to trust and shut up -- such is the prickly paradox that is Peter Carpenter in this forum.

Gern


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - You simply cannot read - I said "..I am willing to rely on the City Manager's truthfulness."

I said nothing about "shut up" - although at times that would be advice that you would be wise to heed.


1 person likes this
Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:15 pm

This is all nitpicking, IMO. Anyone with the slightest degree of familiarity with the Measure M struggle knows who's on which side. Consultants, city staff, developers, pro-development councilmembers, local newspapers whose ad revenue derives mainly from real estate ads, realtors like my neighbor down the block, and (to be fair) residents who appreciate the good things the current council has done and trust them to fix the now-obvious flaws in the Downtown Specific Plan, all oppose M. Residents like myself who feel excluded and neglected because we can't come to City Hall meetings on a regular basis, who don't trust the people who spent years developing and studying the DSP to suddenly backtrack on what it was clearly intended to do (and is doing), and who don't see "traffic mitigation payments" to the city as compensation for the effects of the forthcoming gridlock on our daily lives, support M.

So finding out that a consultant was biased against Prop. M is like finding out that the Pope says mass. Not worth anyone's time. Sorry, Heywood. I'm with you in backing M, but it's no surprise that a consultant was chosen because he shares the views of "the people who run Menlo Park".


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Here we go again.

The Almanac reports that the city government virtuously declined to have the consultant act to influence the outcome of the election. The details of the transaction, of course, convey a different impression because the "website designer" was obviously trying to achieve a specific outcome favored by the city council.

But even if the city council was not doing something improper, the elephant in the room is OUTSIDE ACTORS. We have Peter Carpenter, our patronizing neighbor in Atherton, telling us that we should develop Menlo Park in a way that he refuses to advocate for his own neighborhood. And we have Greenheart, the development company that would make millions if Measure M is defeated, putting $200,0000 into an effort to throw the election. That sum dwarfs anything any locals have contributed to the Measure M debate, pro or con.

When Atherton residents and big corporations are doing their best to influence our Menlo Park election, focusing on possible improprieties regarding a $5,000 web contract seems far too narrow.


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Gern,

Carpenter is not a paradox. He's a politician on close terms with the people who brought us the Specific Plan, and he's an Atherton resident whose residential real estate will appreciate in value if more office buildings are built in Menlo Park. Like Greenheart, he stands to gain monetarily if Measure M is rejected.

Does he think that the Greenheart and Stanford projects are good enough to build in his own town of Atherton? Of course not. That would increase traffic and bring unpleasant people into the sacred groves of Lindenwood.

Carpenter is simply pursuing his own interests, personally, politically and financially. That is why he is grows so petulant when we question his views.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

So calle MP resident - Please feel free to present facts that support your opinions.


4 people like this
Posted by Tom B.
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Wow, the tensions are high on election eve!
As a resident of Menlo Park for over 50 years, and a property owner, I am disgusted to see that the weeds on ECR are growing taller and the beautiful cyclone fences are gracefully rusting!
Let's start making some things happen and end the petty bickering...tomorrow will show that the residents of Menlo Park want to see our City grow with intelligent balance!


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Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Mr. Moderator:

Peter Carpenter write: "So calle MP resident"

I would "Report Objectionable Material" if I could figure out how to do it.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I would "Report Objectionable Material" if I could figure out how to do it."

You press the little button at the right bottom of every posting.


1 person likes this
Posted by more fact checking
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:01 pm

What is with all these irreverent citizens demanding accountability?! Obviously the City Manager is being honest and we should take him at his word, no need to fact check anything or view the contract. Of course the emails between Ms Brandell and Mr Smith are taken out of context and the consultant was not hired to sway public opinion. Now please can we just allow the developers to build whatever they damn please with no more interference. *Waves to City Staff*


1 person likes this
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:03 pm

Tom B.

We're all tired of the weeds on El Camino and wish the owners would clean them up. And we'd very much like to see a 200,000 sq ft project on the Greenheart site.

But Tom B. you didn't address the topic at hand.

Resident and property owner for only 47 years.

Peter:

Ta Ta, Personal attacks are no becoming of a Board Member of the Fire District.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"You press the little button at the right bottom of every posting." is not a personal attack.

It is sort of like telling people to actually read Measure M before they vote Yes or No.


Like this comment
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Thanks Peter. I pushed the button and was hoping to be able to add the reason for my objection.

Now I know better.


2 people like this
Posted by Scott Lohmann
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm

MP Resident, I'm not sure that I really follow your logic concerning Mr. Carpenter? Atherton doesn't have the square footage of abandon eye-sore ECR blight that we have in our town. How can he support or condone the building of such, if it's not there? In addition, in my opinion as an MP resident, we ALL stand to prosper a bit more when these sites are improved. We should see more retail, tax revenue, and we most definitely will be getting rid of the decade long blight. The whole traffic discussion has become a bit ridiculous. We will see an increase of traffic regardless of what is built there, and there most definitely will be something built there. I realize the phrase "more traffic" garners more votes, but no one knows how much, or when, or where these "unpleasant people" will commute from each morning. BTW, was there a report or survey done on the "unpleasantness" of "these people"? Odd comment, again in my opinion.


Like this comment
Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:14 pm

(Editor-- I have permission to reprint Silverfarb's article, so there is no copyright infringement as you removed my posting above. ---I have forward Dave Price's written permission to R. Hine --- please don't again remove)

Morris Brown

------------------

Different reporters can write completely different views on a subject, which is certainly crystal clear here with the article by Sandy Brundage in contrast to the article in today's Daily Post, authored by Bill Silverfarb, which I copy below.

----------------

Daily Post Nov 3 2014

City Paid PR man for M messaging

By Bill Silverfarb
Daily Post Staff Writer

Menlo Park paid a public relations consultant more than $5,000 to draft language for its website about Measure M — language that the initiatives supporters say is biased.

The consultant, Malcolm Smith, also proposed that the city draft talking
points for City Council members, opinion pieces and letters to the editor. But those ideas were rejected because they went “too far,” City Manager Alex McIntyre told the Post yesterday.

“His work was mostly for the website. I’m not sure he did anything else. To my knowledge, he didn’t,” McIntyre said about Smith, who sent a proposal for communication services in March.

Supporters of Measure M. which proposes to limit the construction of new offices in the city’s El Camino Real-Downtown Specific Plan area, have said for months that the city’s overview of the initiative on the city’s website is biased and is meant to sway voters from approving it on tomorrow’s ballot.

The consultant’s work is proof that the city has not taken a neutral stance on the controversial ballot measure, said former Mayor Heyward Robinson, a leader of the Yes-on-M campaign.

“The city has bent over backward to appear neutral while at the same time messaging against Measure M,” Robinson said.

Smith sent a proposal for communications services to the city in early March and was cut his first check for $2,325 on April 28, according to city documents.

In his proposal, Smith said he could help the city inform the public about the “value and importance of continuing with the existing plan” adopted by council in 2012.

Proposal revealed through records request

The city released the consultant’s proposal and a series of emails between Smith and the city’s Senior Planner Thomas Rogers and Community Services Director Cherise Brandell on Oct. 30 to Robinson, who made a public records request for the information Aug. 29, Robinson told the Post yesterday.

Smith was the communications director for Redwood City for 12 years until 2013 but now contracts with that city for communications services.

Smith wrote in his proposal that talking points for council and staff, opinion pieces and letters to the editor should all be part of the city’s communication goals related to Measure M.

Smith said messages could be developed to refute the arguments the initiative’s backers are using to revise the Specific Plan.

Measure M is opposed by all five members of the current council.

Smith wrote in his proposal that a key message would be to highlight how Measure M “would set an economically chilling precedent for requiring a vote on future projects, dramatically slowing the pace of potential development and improvements.”

As far as the language on the city’s website, Robinson said much of it is skewed in favor of the Specific Plan and against the proposals of Measure M.

The initiative simply defines that private balconies cannot be counted as open space as the Specific Plan allows and caps a limit on the total amount of office space that can be built.

Unintendend ripple effects

“Open space that is calculated only at ground-level would likely affect the feasibility of some, if not all, developments, and could result in unintended ripple effects (e.g., if more ground-level area is required to be dedicated to landscaping, it may effectively encourage/require taller buildings),” Smith writes on the website.

Robinson said Smith, however, fails to recognize in his overview the potential benefits of ground-level open space such as less massing of buildings and larger public gathering areas.

Early last month, Menlo Park resident George Fisher asked that the city retract the Measure M language on the website.

Fisher previously served as a neighborhood representative to sit down with Stanford officials about their plans to build offices, housing and stores on El Camino before the council formed a subcommittee to negotiate with Stanford on the project.

Fisher says that Smith’s assertion on the website about how “all non-residential” uses have the same impact on the city is false.

“It’s a complete misstatement,” Fisher said.

Retail, office and hotels have different impacts, especially related to traffic, he said.

A city can make fair statements and educate the voter about the initiative but it hasn’t done so in the case of Measure M, said Fisher, a 40-year resident of the city.

Smith is no longer contracting with the city, McIntyre said.


2 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Play nice guys.


1 person likes this
Posted by more fact checking
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

"Smith is no longer contracting with the city, McIntyre said"

Then Mr McIntyre should have no problem sharing Mr Smiths contract with the public.


Like this comment
Posted by more fact checking
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

"Smith wrote in his proposal that talking points for council and staff, opinion pieces and letters to the editor should all be part of the city's communication goals related to Measure M."

And the emails between Brandell and Smith reflect that. Very odd.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Thanks Peter. I pushed the button and was hoping to be able to add the reason for my objection.

Now I know better."

Use the little button on the left.


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Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Peter writes: "Use the little button on the left" to explain why one feels a posting is objectionable.

I started to do that but I learned I have give my name and my developer clients would not be happy with "Frugal".

Thanks though for trying to help.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.


" I started to do that but I learned I have give my name"

Heaven forbid that you would ever to identify yourself.


Like this comment
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Peter, I try to play nice by thanking you for your help and look what I get.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

My apologies.


2 people like this
Posted by formerly undecided on M
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:13 pm

It seems that the nub of the argument is the "biased" nature of the website Malcom Smith developed for the city of Menlo Park.

I have done a cursory read of the website and didn't find what was objectionable. Would someone point out the "juicy bits" for me? Here's the link I've been reading.

Web Link

Thanks.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

formerly:

here's a link to what Heyward thins is "objectionable."

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by formerly undecided on M
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:02 pm

@Menlo Voter

Thanks. This is interesting. I'm looking forward to Nov. 5.


Like this comment
Posted by George C. Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm

""I have done a cursory read of the website and didn't find what was objectionable. Would someone point out the "juicy bits" for me?"

Here is part of what I posted earlier from my letters to council prior to learning about Malcolm smith's role.

Essentially the web site made the illustrative plan see a mere example, ignoring the fact that it was used as the sole basis for the EIR Analysis, and the Fiscal Impact Analysis. In other words only 240,820 square feet of office was studied.

The website speculates that measure m's cap on office space was based on only one example, the illustrative plan, of many, which is untrue, the petition for measure m states expressly measure M is based on quantities studied in the EIR, which was the illustrative plan

Again the web site says looking at impacts of the EIR is a misinterpretation of of the illustrative plan. That is not true, it was based upon the specific plan EIR analysis.

It then says the EIR accurately analyzes impacts, "which do not typically differ by the specific type" of non residential development whether office retail or hotel. Absolutely false and belied by every document the city and EIR's use, all of which are cited in my letter to the city. Office space traffic is toxic because only 10% has Menlo Park destination or originations, while retail has 50%. The difference in traffic cutting though our neighborhoods to reach freeways is substantial.

The impact of the above misrepresentations is that the EiR studded 474,000 square feet of office space and all well, and how the space was split up are onlyonly arbitrary examples and irrelevant because not difference in types of uses. Absolutely false, Only 274,000 square feet of office space studied, and proved by documents, but more importantly the present need for EIR's on both Stanford projects and Greenheart projects. How non residential space is split up is essential for accurate Environmental Impact Determination and the significance and amoutn of impacts upon the city.

Next the web site says the true impact of greenheart and Stanford is the measure of net new development against the 474,000 sf maximum. It purports to deduct prior unbuilt projects if approved and an EIR done, and therefor subtracts 110,000 square feet for the prior sandhill 1300 ecr project. However if impact is the test, then no deduction, because the greenheart EIR infill study found that the prior impact could not be included in present EIR study, because prior project substantially different (it was all retail and no office). If it is not an impact for EIR, it is not an impact for deducting from maximum cap. adding the total of 420,000 sf of office to previously approved 74,000 under specific plan exceeds the cap leaving no more room in a proposed 30 year plan. Measure M by cutting 400,000 sf of office to 200,000 would leave lots of room for the anticipated vibrant growth without tying up traffic forever.

That is just a few of the examples. What is interesting is smith's plan to support the specific Plan by referring to city process and almost infallibility of the process. That process has been tainted by use of Stanford's consultant to design plan and lack of due diligence to ask about Stanford intentions. No city council knowledge per keith of staff and Stanford slipping in driveway on middle extension next to bike park and route, and Stanford’s changing specific plan to delete bike lanes and easements on its property, without any due diligence.

The web site statement on Fiscal Impacts is false. The specific Plan fiscal analysis was based upon hotel taxes and sales taxes, not generated by office space (see Bernstein explanation on Almanac blog.) The planned office space implementation will cost taxpayers money.

The note of impacts in prior EIR does not disclose that 14 roadways and 15 intersection are impacted by excessive delays and over crowding, but offers a weak excuse that all this office space is worth it. pure BS.

All of this is due to a blind analysis by an outsider with no knowledge of EIR or process. It is similar to the city's waste of 165,000$ for wise report hypothetical analysis of specific plan as modified by Measure M, but ignoring planning commissioners request for a comparison of specific Plan and EIr with the Stanford and greenheart developments. Those developments, which are horse on table, and the only real question were ignore, to try to find hypothetical non real issues with Measure M, not applied to the two main projects eating up all space.

More interesting is Smith's plan to attack what he saw as the initiatives strong points, incidentally all of which are real: Additional traffic on ECR and overflowing into residential streets, offices crowding out housing and retail, offices generating little tax revenue, office worsening the housing deficit, loss of open space and increase in air an noise pollution. You will not all the no on m people ignore all of these that were specifically mentioned by smith True, in favor of process, scare tactics of blight and more traffic, and even worse attacking measure M proponents viciously and personally.

This mess all might have been avoided if the Keith Subcommittee had honored the ground rules it required of neighborhood representative then in the process of having meetings with Stanford and productive discussion of mutual interest, by barring separate conversations, but subcommittee charter of facilitating those discussions to reach a meaningful compromise. Keith jettisoned neighborhood participation, ignored the representatives, and did a terrible deal with Stanford agreeing to 200,000 sf of office space and giving Stanford control over a contribution to an under crossing to be decided by Stanford at time of construction of under crossing, after approvals of Stanford project, giving Stanford effective control over city in its project. Records just produced showed city did not consider ground rules binding on it and anticipated revision, kept no minutes, and did not allow neighborhood representative participation, effectively ending productive open discussions in favor of a control grab by Keith, in specific derogation of neighborhoods and their council appointed representatives, as well as residents.

In short the web site misled everyone into thinking that the specific Plan EIR covered 474,000 square feet of unspecified non commercial uses, only a portion of the 474,000 feet would be used up by Stanford and Greenheart, and measure M an unjustified interference, rather than Measure M complying with and being based upon the specific Plan EIR and best interests of city, not just developers exploiting office space.

With all of the website misleading and false statements, , the Almanac conclusion that since the city manager said not a big deal so its not, is a Journalistic disappointment of the highest order.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:18 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

George:

anyone ever tell you word count doesn't equal substance. It may work in legal circles, but not so much elsewhere.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Essentially the web site made the illustrative plan see a mere example,"

Here is exactly what the Specific Plan states:

"It is important to emphasize that the illustrative plan indicates only one potential
development concept and that the actual build-out will likely vary from the initial projection."

What is not clear about that? Or did you not read the Specific Plan?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Posted by S. Simonson, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
1 hour ago
"Elizabeth H. Agree with you 100%. The City Council and the City of Menlo Park have acted unwisely and with massive conflicts of interest. This will make attorneys drool, especially if measure M does not win. It's in all citizens best interests to vote YES on measure M."


Here they go again - there is no endpoint for the Save Menlo/Stop Menlo folks.


1 person likes this
Posted by more fact checking
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:43 pm

based on the emails that were released, it makes one wonder how many posters on this forum are City staff - or paid consultants - trying to sway opinions. Not that there's anything wrong with that..well, except that there is.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"it makes one wonder how many posters on this forum are City staff - or paid consultants -"

That one more reason why only verified registered users should be allowed on this Forum.


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Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Scott Lohman,

Thanks for a reasonable reply to my comments. I'll try to answer your points.

I definitely write sardonically when I speak of Carpenter. He clearly thinks that we have no right to question his and his friends' work. On October 23 in another comment thread, he wrote that we supporters of Measure M are like customers in a restaurant who are offended that the food is bad and decide to go into the kitchen and tell the cooks how to do their jobs. Carpenter apparently did not understand that as the taxpayers and voters of Menlo Park we are, unlike him, the owners of the restaurant. His neglect of that fact shows remarkable arrogance.

In answer to your question about traffic, yes, any development would increase traffic in MP. But five-story office buildings, as envisioned by the developers, would increase congestion a lot more than would a mix of low-rise offices, restaurants, parks, and other small projects. It is also important that the Specific Plan allows the developers to count balconies and some rooftop space as "open space" like parks.

We all want to develop MP to eliminate the empty lots. The question is whether we want to replace those empty spots with high-rise office buildings, apartment buildings, and big retailers that will drive more of the local shops and restaurants out of business. Measure M represents a block on the Greenheart and Stanford mega-structures and a demand that the city council rethink the concessions it made to those developers.

Measure M should never have been necessary. When it became clear that the Stanford and Greenheart projects were deeply resented by a large minority, or even a majority, of MP residents, the council should have reopened the question and accommodated the city's needs for more reasonable development. The failure to do that, plus the intervention of outsiders like Greenheart and (much less significantly) Carpenter, has rendered this something of a referendum on public accountability.

But as for Measure M itself, this is a question of what sort of development we want and how much traffic we are willing to tolerate. It is not a vote against development per se.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Carpenter writes: "That [sic] one more reason why only verified registered users should be allowed on this Forum [sic]."

There again is the arrogance, the implication that Carpenter speaks for the community and that dissenters are somehow illegitimate--from a person, no less, who does not live or vote in Menlo Park.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 7:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"the implication that Carpenter speaks for the community "

Hardly, I offer my opinions in my own real name.

And hereby proclaim that I do not and will never speak for Save Menlo/Stop Menlo.


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Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Trouble reading much?

I never said you claimed to speak for any lobbying group. I said that your posts about who may and who may not legitimately tell the city council what to do, and about who should be able to post on this public forum, are arrogant. I said that you "implied" that you spoke for "the community" of Menlo Park when you suggested that those who disagree with you are not fully credible. As an outsider who vets the qualifications of Menlo Park residents who have opinions on the Specific Plan and Measure M, you have a remarkable sense of entitlement.

I also said that whatever you think your motivations may be, your actions serve your own pecuniary, social, and political interests. Your interests coincide with those of Greenheart, Stanford, and the Menlo Park city council, and you are advocating precisely the same position as they. People often think they are behaving altruistically when in fact they are talking their own pocketbook.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 7:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I said that you "implied" that you spoke for "the community" of Menlo Park when you suggested that those who disagree with you are not fully credible."

I never said that - please speak for yourself, whomever you are.

I welcome open debate with facts that support an individual's opinions.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:13 pm

You want facts? Fact. On October 23, you described us as customers in a restaurant who dared to criticize the food and wanted to barge into the kitchen and tell the cooks how to cook the food. In other words, the opinions of us restaurant clients--us voters and taxpayers--are inappropriate. According to you and your simile, we citizens should let the cooks, the city council, make the decisions.

Fact. You say you welcome "debate with facts" but you disparage those who do not register under their own names. In your words, "only verified registered users should be allowed on this Forum." Once again you set yourself up as the arbiter of who is qualified to comment on the Specific Plan and Measure M.

Fact. In an earlier comment, four hours ago, you told another writer that he would "be wise" to shut up.

Clearly you are not interested in discussing facts. Time and again you suggest that people's views are only fully valid if they meet the standards for participation that you propose. These "facts" about your communication style show that you are not engaging in an evidence-based discussion but asserting your superior authority.

It is a lesser version of this same arrogance that has jeopardized the careers of the three incumbents on the Menlo Park City Council.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"On October 23, you described us as customers in a restaurant "

Please be so kind as to quote my words and not the words that you attempt to put in my mouth.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"In an earlier comment, four hours ago, you told another writer that he would "be wise" to shut up."

Again you work hard and fail to put your words in my mouth:
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
5 hours ago
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
Gern - You simply cannot read - I said "..I am willing to rely on the City Manager's truthfulness."

I said nothing about "shut up" - although at times that would be advice that you would be wise to heed.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

How sad and telling that the night before Election Day all the Measure M supporters can do is attack me rather than explain and defend their own initiative.


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Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Carpenter,

You presumably have your own words of October 23. Why don't you reproduce them? Then everyone can tell whether I have misrepresented your statements or not.

As for telling people to "shut up," besides advising Gern that s/he "would be wise" to "shut up," you have on at least one other occasion told me personally to "put up or shut up." Do you deny that?

Do you deny, furthermore, writing above that "only verified registered users should be allowed on this Forum?"

I'm having difficulty understanding how vetting participants in a public debate falls within the ambit of your authority as a Fire District board member.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

mpr - you lack the ability or willingness to actually use my words when you pretend to speak for me.

For example you use quote to state "Do you deny, furthermore, writing above that "only verified registered users should be allowed on this Forum?"

No, I DID make that statement and thank for once quoting me accurately.

Please try to do so in the future.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Carpenter,

What I am attacking is an arrogant bureaucrat who has told us citizens of Menlo Park that we should shut up and let elected bureaucrats, like you, make the important decisions for us. I am attacking someone who belittles the opinions of others and says we should not be allowed to participate in discussion in this public forum.

You have engaged in personal attacks almost constantly over the last two weeks and now turn around and say that we are attacking you. I'll accept that characterization. You stand with Greenheart and with a politically insensate city council. You defend these entities.

I'd say that your allies discredit you, which is true. But it is equally accurate to say that you discredit your own cause. It is both unwise and unseemly for an elected official to treat voters with such disdain.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"who has told us citizens of Menlo Park that we should shut up and let elected bureaucrats, like you, make the important decisions for us."

Please use my words, not your poor imitation of them.

"It is both unwise and unseemly for an elected official to treat voters with such disdain."

I don't. That you feel disdain is a reflection of your own self esteem, not of my statements.

How sad and telling that the night before Election Day all the Measure M supporters can do is attack me rather than explain and defend their own initiative.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:08 pm

You've been in office too long, Carpenter.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"You've been in office too long, Carpenter.

I serve at the voter's pleasure and they have overwhelmingly elected me three times to serve them.

And what is your record of public service and standing the test of the ballot?


2 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Pro-M folks: Please make your case based on the merits of what M actually says, rather than attacking Mr. Carpenter... or anyone else who presents a fact-based argument against your position.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:27 pm

I'm glad you've discovered that you serve at the voter's [sic] pleasure. Your newfound sense of public responsibility is of course not what you expressed when you used your restaurant simile, saying that we voters were like customers who should shut up and stay out of the kitchen.

Your friends on the Menlo Park City Council will see what happens when elected officials treat voters like customers in the Carpenter Cafeteria. You may one day soon, too.

My record of community service, of which you have no concept, is not relevant to this debate. All that matters is that I, unlike you, am a resident of Menlo Park. I will prosper or suffer as my city does. I will vote as I believe best for Menlo Park.

You lack my qualifications. You do not live here and you will benefit financially from the development projects even if they harm us residents of Menlo Park. That is why you do not deserve, and do not have, a vote. Tomorrow, when it counts, you are just a noisy outsider urging us to do what is in your interests.




1 person likes this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Resident: You sound very angry.

Measure M would have long term implications for all of us. Not just the citizens of MP who can actually vote on this measure.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Your newfound sense of public responsibility"

Nothing "newfound" about my commitment to public service - I have spent more than 25 years of my life in public service including being shot at by real people with real bullets to, among other things, defend your right to spout anonymous garbage.

"You lack my qualifications" - for which I am very grateful.

How sad and telling that the night before Election Day all the Measure M supporters can do is attack me rather than explain and defend their own initiative.

So let's get back to the real issues at hand.

Perhaps mpr can explain:

What is the wisdom of Measure M's section 3.3.5 imposition of a 100,000 sq ft cap per project on two property owners that have multiple parcels whereby they can easily avoid that cap?

Does section 4.1 of Measure M allow anyone to challenge any project in the Specific Plan area if they feel that the project "frustrates" the implementation of Measure M?


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Observer,

So you live in Portola Valley? You are another outsider telling us to do something that would drive up the value of your personal real estate? No wonder you side with Carpenter, the Atherton resident.

It's kind of you outsiders to tell us to do what is in your interests. Reject Measure M, say residents of rich neighboring towns, who would like to see the likes of Target and Walmart open in downtown Menlo Park.

Remember, voters: a vote against Measure M is a vote for the poor folks of Atherton and Portola Valley.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

So let's get back to the real issues at hand.

Perhaps mpr can explain:

What is the wisdom of Measure M's section 3.3.5 imposition of a 100,000 sq ft cap per project on two property owners that have multiple parcels whereby they can easily avoid that cap?

Does section 4.1 of Measure M allow anyone to challenge any project in the Specific Plan area if they feel that the project "frustrates" the implementation of Measure M?

Have you actually read Measure M?


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm

You people actually think you're helping your cause?

Everyone sees what you are. Your interests contradict ours and you want us to vote to promote your financial well-being.

And Carpenter again demonstrates his disdain for his opponents by describing my views as "garbage." Then he says that he is "very grateful" that he does not have my qualifications--that he is not a voter in Menlo Park. Yes, Peter Carpenter, is "grateful" that he does not live in Menlo Park.

That's really all we voters need to know.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 9:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

So let's get back to the real issues at hand.

Let's get back to the real issues at hand:

What is the wisdom of Measure M's section 3.3.5 imposition of a 100,000 sq ft cap per project on two property owners that have multiple parcels whereby they can easily avoid that cap?

Does section 4.1 of Measure M allow anyone to challenge any project in the Specific Plan area if they feel that the project "frustrates" the implementation of Measure M?


3 people like this
Posted by John Realty
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 10:46 pm

We need to put the four El Camino Real projects next to Peter Carpenter's home. Carpenter would be squealing loud like a stuck pig.


1 person likes this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 3, 2014 at 11:07 pm

"Resident"

Actually, blighted vacant lots on ECR may actually drive up real estate prices elsewhere. But not in MP.

Would you also prefer that all "outsiders" stay out of MP? Not shop, eat, or otherwise spend money there?

And again, you attack the messengers, but do not address the real issues.


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Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 4, 2014 at 4:13 am

Palo Daily has a front page story on the City's hiring of Malcolm Smith and his activities involving Measure M.

See:

Web Link

MENLO PARK

Ex-mayor: City hired consultant biased against Measure M


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 4, 2014 at 7:18 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Menlo Park Resident:

I too am a resident and I am strongly opposed to Measure M. It is a simplistic, poorly written response to a problem that will do far more long term damage than it will ever stop.

Rather than attack Peter for being an outsider perhaps you can respond to his question regarding the measure. Or will you only respond to an MP resident?

If that's the case please answer my question.

What is the wisdom of Measure M's section 3.3.5 imposition of a 100,000 sq ft cap per project on two property owners that have multiple parcels whereby they can easily avoid that cap?

Does section 4.1 of Measure M allow anyone to challenge any project in the Specific Plan area if they feel that the project "frustrates" the implementation of Measure M?

Can you do so without attacking me?


1 person likes this
Posted by formerly undecided on M
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 4, 2014 at 10:13 am

@Menlo Voter

Thanks for clearly stating the two basic questions that people should be asking about M. I will add two additional questions.

First since the total non-residential build outs stay the same with or without M (474,000 sq ft) - how would M reduce traffic?

Second, M supporters don't want offices but a mix of retail, Hitels etc. What legal authority allows the city to control what types of commercial enterprises exist on public land? Who accepts the risk for the success/failure of these businesses?

While the M supporters seem to be well intentioned - there are some basic questions I have yet to see answered.


3 people like this
Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 4, 2014 at 12:57 pm

This is in reply to "Menlo Voter". First of all, I agree that the best response to Peter Carpenter is to ignore him. He, and those who insist on exchanging flames with him, take up way too much space on this forum.

As to Measure M, the flaws you point out are probably real, and probably not the only ones. However, I've voted for M because it is our only hope of preventing the Stanford/Arrillaga and Greenheart projects from going full speed ahead. The traffic concerns are very real to me here in the Willows. Every day except weekends and holidays I see the logjam on Willow Road. This will be made much worse by any office developments along ECR.

My hope is that we can get residential or hotel developments instead of offices, so that the flow of traffic is the opposite of what it would be for offices. It's ideal to have lots of housing, even high-density housing, near Caltrain. It's idiotic to put offices near Caltrain, because the ratio of jobs to affordable housing within walking or short biking distance of Caltrain stations **ANYWHERE** along the Peninsula from San Jose to San Francisco is already enormously high. Common sense!


3 people like this
Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Lost in all of this debate is the very basic matter of what Menlo Park is or is not.

Whether M succeeds or not, ultimately, this town's image and character lies in the hands of the council. If your chosen candidate for council has not articulated a vision for all of Menlo Park (West, Central, Willows, Belle Haven), then you know nothing about your chosen candidates. They are empty vessels.

The Save Menlo crowd committed a grave error in not focusing their efforts on finding a council that will work towards sustainable growth while preserving the residential character of Menlo Park.

The NO-on-M crowd has done every Menlo Park resident a grave disservice by not acknowledging that, fundamentally, Menlo Park is a residential neighborhood and most of the things that residents value about Menlo Park have nothing to do with large scale development.

Change is inevitable -- call it "progress" if you want. Guiding that change in an effective manner is critical. Efficacy in this regard is defined by a fairly complex and quasi-quantitative calculus balancing economic interests against residential interests to preserve what we all truly value about Menlo Park.

If you don't actually know your chosen candidate's vision and values and all you know is their position on M, you are not an informed voter. The sad thing is, that it's probably not even your fault because very little about candidate vision has been discussed in this ridiculous election.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Mr Syrett:

I'm sorry you voted for M. Measure M will not garner the things you wish. It won't make Stanford or Greenheart build hotels. Residential is capped and M doesn't change it much. If M passes it will do nothing that those who wrote claim it will do. What it will likely do is stop just about all development in MP as it just won't be worth the trouble. Ultimately I think that's what the authors of M really want.


2 people like this
Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Mr. Syrett is correct, but so is Menlo Voter.

If the folks negotiating the DSP were actually thinking correctly, they would have done the following:

1) Acknowledge that Stanford has a housing problem

2) More Stanford employees living close to their place of work/study means less gridlock with alternative residential friendly commutes and, frankly, healthier and happier Stanford employees. Stanford aggressively promotes "alternative commutes" for this reason.

2) Create a zoning environment that would promote dense housing at the expense of almost anything else on the Stanford lots and treat the Greenheart lot separately from the Stanford lot.

Current DSP: FAIL
Quality of Negotiation: FAIL
Stanford's Role as Partner/Neighbor: FAIL
Current Council: FAIL (not personal -- it's just silly to give something away and then call asking for it back effective negotiating)
Measure M: D+

This is all just a microcosm of what happens in state and national policy and politics ...


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford already provides more housing for its employees than any other Bay Area corporation, organization or local government.

Stanford already provides far more housing for its customers ( generally called students) than any other Bay Area business or local government.

So what exactly is Stanford's "housing problem"?





'


2 people like this
Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm

@Peter,

Do you really not know this or are you just being argumentative about something that is accepted as fact by anyone who works for Stanford or is in Stanford management? I will assume the former ... for now. However, I find it hard to believe you do not know this.

Providing "a lot" is not tantamount to providing "enough" or "sufficient to meet needs for recruitment and retention". But let's not dwell on the logical flaw.

Given housing costs in the Bay Area, one of the largest impediments to recruitment for the medical center, athletic department, and junior faculty in almost every division/department is housing. Even with the homes on campus, in the new developments off of ECR and Stanford Ave, and with the new leased land arrangement around Oak Knoll and the Stanford Hills, Stanford does not have enough housing both in type and quantity to promote levels of retention and recruitment that it wants to achieve. Period.

Any comments by you to the contrary would be complete and total falsehoods and no University official would support them so please don't try.

BTW, there are a lot more folks involved with Stanford than its "customers". There are only about 8K-10K true customers -- *at best*. The rest are funded graduate students, other beneficiaries, employees, post-docs, staff, etc. that keep the wheels on the machine rolling.

Just as an FYI, it's a major research university with major professional schools. You should look into it. It's a pretty big place. They even have a big website: www.stanford.edu




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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Please read my comments - I stated that "Stanford already provides MORE housing ....." because that is an objective statement.

I did not use your words "a lot" because that is a subjective statement.

So now what is your point about Stanford compared to any other local company, organization or government?


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 2:37 pm

@Peter, your objective statement implied that more meant a lot or at least that more was sufficient. The use of "more" is objective. The use of the phrase in the context was as subjective as saying "a lot". That is the logical flaw. Capisci?

What Stanford should or shouldn't do/want relative to any other "local company, organization or government" is *completely irrelevant*.

What Stanford wants based on its perceived needs is all that matters.

When negotiating, you don't get to decide what your counterpart should value. You educate yourself on what they do value and why. That is your metric for valuation in the course of negotiations. They want housing and, apparently, office space. Give them the housing (and some retail if it's viable) because it's better for us.

One of your guys on the Council is a self-proclaimed "numbers guy". I even think he has a background in economics of some sort. This is basic game theory and game playing that any economics major from a university worth mentioning would have learned and, hopefully, implemented in their daily dealings. This is one place where theory has value.

I think Will Farrell called it "strategery".


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Posted by Calm yourself
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 2:38 pm

Peter, maybe _land_use's point was the one the rest of us got because the rest of us are interested in a discussion, not warfare. _land-use_ was not casting his/her statement that Stanford has a housing problem in a way to compare Stanford with "any other local company, organization or government."

Honestly, Peter, you need to chill. This forum is not a battle zone. Or most of us don't want it to be at any rate.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 2:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"more" is a statement that a certain amount of something is greater than a smaller amount of the same something - like housing.

adjective, compar. of much or many with most as superl.
1.in greater quantity, amount, measure, degree, or number:


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 2:55 pm

@Calm yourself,

You have to forgive Peter. He has over $2700 in non-tax-deductible donations riding on this election. He really wants to get the current council back in because I suspect he thinks there's a pretty good chance the challengers are not going to be as malleable to his requests.

What he doesn't seem to realize is that years have gone by with his "buddies" on Council and they have not made the new fire department rebuild a reality. It's unfortunate because it should have happened long ago per people I know.

It's like the Republican primary voters who keep voting for some yahoo who will promise to eliminate abortion and gay-friendly laws who then does nothing for these narrow interests once in office.

Like I said, this whole election is a microcosm for state and national politics and policy. It's kind of pathetic.


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed; stick to the issues]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"When negotiating, you don't get to decide what your counterpart should value. You educate yourself on what they do value and why"

I fully understand Game Theory and have a pretty good understanding of Stanford. In my opinion Stanford Real Estate, the entity responsible for the ECR properties, is much more interested in its return on investment from these properties than it is on increasing Stanford University's housing stock.

If housing is Stanford's first priority then their best strategy would be to build faculty and student housing with the attendant property tax implications. Game over.


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

"In my opinion Stanford Real Estate, the entity responsible for the ECR properties, is much more interested in its return on investment from these properties than it is on increasing Stanford University's housing stock."

Your opinion is incorrect.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In Game Theory is is foolish to discard information.

And what facts do you have to support your proposition that Stanford Real Estate, the entity responsible for the ECR properties, is much more interested in increasing Stanford University's housing stock than it is on its return on investment from these properties.?


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Posted by formerly undecided on M
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Stanford's already owns the two big hotels in town (Stanford Park and Rosewood). Does it make any sense to put another hotel next to Stanfford Park? Look at how (not) full Stanford Park's parking lot is. Does the city have a legal right to force Stanford to build another hotel? I think not.

I'm hoping hat when the dust settles and development actually occurs - there will be a business case to put more hotel rooms in by the Caltrain Station or downtown on Santa Cruz. Menlo has got to get more happening before that occurs IMO.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Does the city have a legal right to force Stanford to build another hotel? I think not. "

No. As patiently pointed out many times zoning determines what can be built but zoning cannot require a property owner to build anything.

The key is finding a proper/fair/reasonable balance between what the community wants and what the property owner wants. Stanford's first two proposals suggests that it has no interest in using its ECR properties for either a hotel or faculty/staff/student housing. That is hard data and preparing those proposals was not a trivial expense.


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Oh Peter, you're out of your depth... Please stop. It's embarrassing.

If economic ROI was all they cared about or was their primary concern, do you think they would restrict purchase just to the Stanford community or open it up to the general public at large? The answer should be obvious.

The value of an object is not just its value in trade (i.e., price on market). There are other values such as providing attractive housing to young families with limited incomes relative to their community peers. Stanford places a value on this, as they should, because salaries on campus tend to be lower than in the surrounding community. There are of course the occasional engineering or business school faculty members who have done well in private industry, but they are by no means the norm. Utility functions can be compound and heterogeneous.

There is a direct correlate here in terms of the debate about development in Menlo Park. A resident's utility function is not just about development, tax revenues, and seeing shiny new buildings on ECR instead of empty lots. It includes components such as our personal property values, our commute around town, our peace of mind for our kids who bike/walk to school, our family pets who venture out onto the street, noise pollution, air pollutions, etc.

The more you say, the more it becomes clear that your perspective is either ill-informed or too narrow to be one that any resident of Menlo Park should listen to.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 3:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If economic ROI was all they cared about or was their primary concern, do you think they would restrict purchase just to the Stanford community or open it up to the general public at large? The answer should be obvious."

Their first two proposals DID open up access to both offices and the residences to the general public, therefore you have proved my point - thanks. Hard data is always useful when gaming.

And go easy on the personal insult - I am very used to them and they ad no value to the discussion.


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 4:02 pm

"Their first two proposals DID open up access to both offices and the residences to the general public, therefore you have proved my point - thanks. Hard data is always useful when gaming."

Sorry, *VERY WEAK* attempt at redirection.

The discussion was about the ECR/Stanford Ave development and how it demonstrates that Stanford has a housing shortage that it wants to address; and how the DSP negotiations could have leveraged that fact to Menlo Park's advantage. Just as an FYI, the development we were referring to was in a city called Palo Alto to our south.

Peter, you actually have no interest in learning and being informed. You simply cannot accept the fact that your pet candidates failed and the DSP that you advocate so strongly for is horribly flawed after 6 years and many hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[Portion removed; see below.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

[Sorry, duelers; this and your subsequent posts over the last few minutes are being removed because the conversation has devolved into a schoolyard fight. Please discuss the issues and stop the personal attacks already.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Honestly, Peter, you need to chill."

Thanks, I will now that the Editors have cleaned up this thread.


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 5:10 pm

"Stanford's first two proposals suggests[sic] that it has no interest in using its ECR properties for either a hotel or faculty/staff/student housing. That is hard data and preparing those proposals was not a trivial expense."

I don't recall mentioning hotel space, but ok.

Again, you miss the point. Stanford has lots of interests. They might have a preference for office space on ECR given the proximity to the main campus. They also have an interest in housing in general. The notion that they don't get exactly what they want, but something that they still need is what compromise represents. You can only achieve this if you actually explicitly acknowledge that they have this need. They have demonstrated this need over and over again from Board of Trustee meetings to recent land management decisions. There is no way to color this any other way. It's fact and in the record. Stanford is free to spend it's money how it wants to generate whatever proposals it wants. It can ask/plan to do whatever it wants. What it gets to do is constrained by the structure of ordinance. That's is what ordinance does. I suspect very few people are naive enough to believe you can force a private property owner to build something they do not want to build.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 5:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I suspect very few people are naive enough to believe you can force a private property owner to build something they do not want to build."

We agree. As I posted many times zoning is permissive, not directive. A zoning ordinance can specify what the community wants and what is does not want but a zoning ordinance cannot require a property owner to build anything.

"What it gets to do is constrained by the structure of ordinance. That's is what ordinance does"

Again we agree.

The key is finding a proper/fair/reasonable balance between what the community wants and what the property owner wants.


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 4, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Wait a few hours and this whole debate about measure M will be moot. We can move from the election to the courts because I am certain that based on what I have read and heard about the City councils bahavior recently they will have to answer for their actions and be judged by a neutral party. I am also sure that if Measure M passes Greenheart or Stanford will not roll over, I think we all know Peter is unlikely to do that, and someone will on the No on M side will try to get it into court.

I also think that the results of the city council race will be interesting.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I think we all know Peter is unlikely to do that,"

Wrong, win or lose I will respect the will of the voters - as I always have.


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Posted by not_just_about_land_use
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2014 at 5:27 pm

@Brian,

Why do you think this would go to the courts?

I sincerely hope not. Expensive for the city -- and therefore for you and me.


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm

"Why do you think this would go to the courts?"

History for one. There is a lot of money at steak with these developers and if Measure M passes they could decide to take it to court. I am not a lawyer and I don't know if they have a leg to stand on but when has that stopped anyone?

on the other side of the coin, The behavior of the City Council and their failure to disclose information such as the contract with this hired consultant, smell to high heaven. Maybe they didn't do anything illegal but there is certainly the appearance if impropriety and I am sure someone will act on that. To my mind they do need to answer for their actions to a neutral court just to clear the air.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 4, 2014 at 6:07 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

We can be guaranteed if it doesn't go Savemenlo's way there will be lawsuits. Some of their supporters have already said as much.


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Posted by formerly undecided on M
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 4, 2014 at 6:16 pm

Regarding court actions - I have a few thoughts - but with the caveat I'm not a lawyer.

I think Heyward Robinson's filing a complaint with the grand jury probably stopped the city from disclosing other information to him. The city will probably wait for the grand jury to request specific information. Why air more stuff when a legal proceeding is in process?

Regarding lawsuits - I believe you have to show injury or damage to proceed. If Measure M is defeated - I think it will be hard to demonstrate damage was incurred. Traffic will increase? Traffic is already increasing - hard to legally prove causation. Aesthetics of the village are damaged? - how would you quantify? Property values may rise - ironically - since Menlo Park may be seen as a stable place to invest in.

Way to hypothetical --- I'm interested to know what others think.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 4, 2014 at 7:04 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

formerly:

anyone can file suit for anything. Doesn't mean no one will file suit. My prediction is that savemenlo will file some type of lawsuit if they lose. Doesn't mean they will win. It just means they will stall things even longer. As far as I can see that is their long game.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 4, 2014 at 7:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Absent evidence of fraudulent voting the outcome of the election cannot be appealed. Given the record of the San Mateo Registrar of Voters there is virtually no probability of fraudulent voting.

The next step of the obstructions will be project specific lawsuits and initiatives as predicted by this poster:
"Fortunately, the people behind these projects understand the substantial added costs and delays associated with developing their parcels piecemeal would outweigh Peter's imagined benefits, especially when the proposed mini-skyscrapers would likely run afoul of citizen-led initiatives and referendums of their own."

Hopefully cooler heads will prevail - but that will require leadership.


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Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 5, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Edward Syrett is a registered user.

The backers of Measure M have broadcast an email saying, in effect, that they view their campaign as having succeeded in raising awareness of the Stanford/Arrillaga and Greenheart projects and of the DSP itself among Menlo Park residents who don't spend lots of time hanging out at City Hall.

I didn't read anything there saying they plan to go to court any time soon.

The "Save Menlo" people are entitled to their opinion (or positive spin on a negative outcome), but I'm not so sanguine. I think the council, seeing its incumbents handily re-elected and Measure M defeated nearly 2 to 1, will sense a mandate for unlimited development and forge ahead. How soon can ground be broken? How soon will the offices be ready for occupancy? How soon will the gridlock (already present at rush hours, sans mega-projects) begin to ramp up?

When it gets intolerable, the part along Willow Road will doubtless be "mitigated" by the revival of the Willow Expressway. Since the VA hospital grounds can't be taken for that purpose, it will be my side of Willow that gets widened, and my house will be one of those taken by eminent domain to make room for the cars carrying the workers who fill the offices whose rents accrue to the developers.

I hope I'm wrong about this, but obviously Menlo Park is not Richmond, CA. There, the electorate has declared that they don't trust Chevron, despite all the money it dumped into their campaign. Here, the electorate has spoken, and while "Save Menlo" keeps a stiff upper lip, the developers are hearing their cash registers ring with the return on their $200,000+ investment. Just like Sacramento, just like DC.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Edward Syrett

For the record: No on M (Menlo Park Deserves Better) and Yes on M (Save Menlo) spent $10,000 and $100,000 respectively (meaning the Yes on M people outspent us 10:1). Greenheart spent $100,000 of the $200,000 they raised as of the last filing. so they spent the about the SAME as SaveMenlo did.

While it is clearly NOT the outcome you hoped for, the MAJORITY of the people in Menlo Park disagreed with you. And democracy worked as our forefathers planned.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

The development won't be "unlimited", it will have to be within the bounds of the DSP for those properties within the DSP. The city is currently undergoing a revision of its General Plan for the M-2 area, so people who have opinions and ideas about how the M-2 area should be developed (or not) there are opportunities to make your voice heard. More information at the city website: Web Link

The concern about the Willow "expressway" is not founded in anything tangible. In fact it would run counter to the city's recent adoption of a "Complete Streets" policy that ends car-first planning and requires the city to take into account the impacts upon and needs of all users of our streets- pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, disabled people. The Complete Streets policy, properly implemented, will make it easier for pedestrians to cross El Camino, Willow, Middlefield, and other busy streets in our town. It will make it safer for residents to run their errands on bicycles, and hopefully provide a meaningful alternative for residents who don't want to have to drive everywhere.


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