News

Menlo Park: Development plan for Roger Reynolds nursery site ruffles neighbors

Commission recommends approval of the proposal to build 24 townhouse-like residential units

By Kate Bradshaw

Residents of Stone Pine Lane in Menlo Park were none too pleased when developer Derek "Deke" Hunter presented revised plans Monday to build 24 townhouse-like residential units at 133 Encinal Ave., the former site of the Roger Reynolds Nursery.

Mr. Hunter, who presented the plans at the Oct. 19 Menlo Park Planning Commission meeting, proposes to build eight buildings. Six would be three stories high. Of the two structures closest to Stone Pine Lane, one would be two stories and the other, one story.

Among those objecting was the chairman of the commission, John Onken. Because he lives on Stone Pine Lane, he recused himself from the commission's discussion and decision, and stated his objections from the floor during public comment.

Nevertheless, the other commission members voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council approve the proposal because it fell well within the limits set in the city's El Camino Real/downtown specific plan.

Neighbors object

Residents of Stone Pine Lane said that the project would not go far enough in preserving their privacy. Several residences have windows that would face out directly on the development.

Mr. Onken raised concerns about the narrow gap between the proposed development and the back of Stone Pine Lane in the current plans, which in some places is no wider than 31 feet, he said. The new townhouse-style residential units would be clustered more densely than the homes on Stone Pine Lane, which is OK for residents who want to live closer together, he said, but added: "What we don't see as acceptable is that condition imposed on the neighbors."

Other neighbors echoed Mr. Onken's sentiments, including Scott Phillips, Ursula Feusl, Bianca Skubniic and Jason Thrasher, who said their homes would look out directly onto the development, affecting their access to sunlight.

The commissioners said they recommended approval of the project since it is aligned with the specific plan and showed restraint compared to the maximum housing density allowed. "(It's) a way, way better project compared to other hypothetical ones that could be there," said commission member John Kadvany.

The commissioners made several suggestions, including possibly removing the eighth building, which would be a rebuilt and remodeled version of the existing carriage house on the site, to allow more flexibility to create changes and visual interest in the two-story building that face Stone Pine Lane.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:05 pm

really? is a registered user.

Bet that would never get through Woodside's ASRB....


4 people like this
Posted by What-a-NIMBY
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm

Mr. Onken ... added: "What we don't see as acceptable is that condition imposed on the neighbors."

I've been t multiple planing meetings involving new developments, and I've never heard him express that concern before. I guess piled higher and denser is great for the rest of Menlo Park, just not his precious neighborhood.

Enjoy the view, John.


7 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 22, 2015 at 4:12 pm

Higher-density housing in Menlo Park is an inevitability. At the head of our street, We have some very attractive townhomes which were completed in the last few years. Neighbors would fare better spending their energy trying to improve this project rather than oppose it.


7 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 22, 2015 at 6:19 pm

There are two major issues here that I have questions about:

1. Water
Does anyone have any idea about how much water in total the residents of those 24 townhouses are likely to use in an average month, compared to the amount of water the nursery used in an average month?

2 . Traffic
Does anyone have any idea how much traffic all the residents of those 24 townhouses are likely to generate in an average month, compared to how much traffic the nursery generated in an average month?

I appreciate any reliable info anyone can give me. Thanks!


2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 23, 2015 at 7:07 am

really? is a registered user.

Watched the commission on line- Whata Nimby: I think that the commissioner was speaking as a property owner rather than a commissioner. Is there a difference? Sad to see more yuppy housing going up.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 23, 2015 at 8:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I think that the commissioner was speaking as a property owner rather than a commissioner."


That is exactly what the law requires for someone who has this type of conflict of interest - to leave the podium and speak as a citizen.

If he had had an economic interest in the project itself then he would have been required to both leave the podium and to actually leave the room so as not not in any way influence his colleagues during the discussion and their vote.


10 people like this
Posted by Ironic, isn't it?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 23, 2015 at 10:24 am

Regardless of recusal, apparently the juicy irony was missed or ignored.

Commissioner speaks in favor of other high density projects that affect others, but speaks against project that affects himself.


Like this comment
Posted by Interesting Tidbit
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2015 at 5:11 pm

According the Palo Alto Daily News Planning Commissioner Drew Combs "brokered" the approval of the project.


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

Orenchi Ramen expands to Redwood City
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 5,341 views

Sharing A Column About a Brilliant Teacher Idea
By Steve Levy | 6 comments | 1,559 views

Family Matters: Caring for the Dying, and Their Loved Ones
By Aldis Petriceks | 2 comments | 1,115 views

A fast approaching birthday
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 682 views

Henry and Fluffy, On Duty
By Stuart Soffer | 0 comments | 296 views