Some residents of Menlo Park's Belle Haven neighborhood say they don't like the fact that the industrial district around them, long known as the M-2 zone, is now being relabeled the Bayfront. Some said the new label will separate their residential area from the improvements being planned for the industrial zone.
On Tuesday night, Oct. 6, a little more than halfway through a two-year process, Menlo Park's City Council took a look at the progress the city has been making on revising the city's general plan. The plan is a state-mandated document that serves as the city's constitution upon which its regulations are based. The update is focusing on the M-2 industrial area and on the city's "circulation" systems of streets, paths and trails.
A number of speakers told the council they feel the fact that the plan has relabeled the M-2 area as the Bayfront, an area separate from Belle Haven, may hurt Belle Haven and leave the perception that any improvements that are being made are in the Bayfront, not Belle Haven.
"By separating and creating this new neighborhood, it's kind of like you're cutting us off in the Belle Haven area," said Toni Marie Ali, a Belle Haven resident. Instead, she said, the city should be looked at "as one functioning unit."
"We're not separate, we're one community," she said.
Another resident, Pamela Jones, said the labeling of the area being studied as the Bayfront, or M-2 Bayfront, may have left some Belle Haven residents not understanding that their neighborhood would be affected by the changes.
Vicky Robledo said changing the name of the industrial area separates it from Belle Haven. "The Bayfront has always been part of Belle Haven," she said. Giving the industrial area its own name "creates a barrier you create a wall," she said.
"I'm a little heartbroken that the area is being renamed," said resident Maya Perkins. She said Belle Haven residents also want one of the slogans of the plan, "live, work, play," which refers to the fact that new developments will be asked to provide not only work places, but also residences and amenities such as shopping or restaurants.
"Why is this distinction being made?" she asked. "It feels like (Belle Haven) is being cut off."
Council members appeared to agree that the Bayfront label should be reconsidered. Councilman Rich Cline said that the project was meant to improve the industrial area, "not to change anything about Belle Haven."
"My bias is always, it's Menlo Park," he said. "This is one community."
Councilwoman Kirsten Keith agreed. "I think this calling it the Bayfront is not the way to go," she said. "I think it's important to keep Belle Haven as the name for this."
Charlie Knox, who heads up the team of consultants working on the general plan revisions, said he would work on the issue. "We are looking for a name for the non-residential portions" of the area, he said. "There's no intent here to talk about changing the name of the Belle Haven neighborhood."