Menlo Park council to vote on design options for sidewalks on Santa Cruz Ave.


Eight years ago, the City Council chose to make installing sidewalks along Santa Cruz Avenue between Olive and Johnson streets a priority, or as much of a priority as the vagaries of funding allow. On Tuesday, March 10, the current council will decide, finally, what design option to study further.

Santa Cruz Avenue handles about 15,300 vehicle trips on a weekday, with many people using it to travel to and from Hillview Middle School, according to the city's transportation staff. A slew of recent emails to the city indicated that residents consider the sidewalks a sorely needed safety feature. Some have had close calls with cars pulling out of driveways, or while walking along the roadway's shoulder to reach a crosswalk.

But the improvement plan comes with a catch: Homeowners along Santa Cruz Avenue have extended landscaping and fencing into the city's right-of-way. Menlo Park would have to reclaim at least part of its property to create the sidewalks.

The transportation and bicycle commissions in February and March unanimously recommended the installation of 6- to 8-foot-wide sidewalks, maintaining bike lanes and preserving heritage trees where feasible. Some on-street parking may be sacrificed in exchange.

The city's preferred choice tweaks that option a bit; the staff recommends a 5-foot-wide sidewalk, and making the existing bike lanes wider by 2 feet. Street parking would be eliminated to help mitigate the impact on property owners and maximize preservation of heritage trees, according to the staff report.

Completing the design of the chosen option, expected to take up to 12 months, and starting construction would use the remaining $600,000 in the project's budget. Staff would then ask the council for more funding during the 2015-16 budget approval process.

For more information, review the staff report.

The March 10 council meeting will start at 4 p.m. with a closed session for the city manager's annual review as well as labor negotiations. A study session on Menlo Gateway is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., followed by the regular meeting.

The meeting will be held in the council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. and streamed live online.

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6 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 9, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Sidewalks and bike lanes on this street is a no-brainer. Why is the city taking so long to do this? Residents have been complaining about the lack of sidewalks here for decades. Safety for pedestrians and bicyclists is far more important than subsidized on-street car parking.

2 people like this
Posted by Mike Doran
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 9, 2015 at 1:59 pm

Quote: "Menlo Park would have to reclaim at least part of its property to create the sidewalks." This is not correct. "Alternative 7," developed in conjunction with property owners, would allow the construction of a 5 foot sidewalk without extending the paved area, by eliminating parking. Personally, I favor the City's "Preferred Alternative" (only released last week) which contemplates a 2 foot extension of the paved area, to make room for a 2 foot buffer for the bike lane in addition to a 5 foot sidewalk.

The boundary of the City's right of way is far from clear. My own house on Santa Cruz Ave. was built in 1924. What were homeowners expected to do? Wait 91 years for the City to decide if it wanted sidewalks? Keep the land barren just in case? I have a potentially impacted redwood on my property with a trunk 10 feet in diameter. If trees like this are destroyed, it will take generations to replace them.

I believe most of the property owners are responsible and reasonable people, who want what is best for Menlo Park, just like other residents do. The way to achieve that is to have a calm and reasoned discussion about what is needed, and what might be lost. I believe sidewalks and better bike lanes are needed, and they can be accommodated without losing the heritage trees and other landscaping that give Menlo Park its character. I don't think residents will like the result if the City scrapes the side of the street to the full 68 foot width the City claims they own, and paves it over. The result of that would be sterile and uninviting, more like Cupertino than Menlo Park. We would have sidewalks, but no one would want to use them. Menlo Park deserves better than that.

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

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