News

Report: Greenheart complex in Menlo Park has 'significant and unavoidable' traffic impacts

Developer holds community meeting on project Thursday, Feb. 25

Greenheart Land Co.'s proposal for a 420,000-square-foot office, apartment and retail complex on El Camino Real in downtown Menlo Park would have a number of significant and unavoidable impacts on traffic, according to an environmental impact report released Feb. 17.

The complex, which Greenheart is calling "Station 1300," would have about 190,000 square feet of offices, up to 202 rental apartments, and up to 29,000 square feet of retail on 7.2 acres on El Camino at Oak Grove Avenue.

A public hearing on the draft environmental impact report -- a mere 1,376 pages, including appendices -- will be held by the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Monday, March 21.

Greenheart Land Co. will host a community meeting on the project from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Performing Arts Center at Hillview Middle School, 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park.

Some of the impacts of the project, such as on water use, were studied during the process of approving the El Camino Real/downtown specific plan, said Thomas Rogers, Menlo Park's principal planner, and are not included in this report.

The report explores ways to reduce the development's impacts, but found that most of the measures to alleviate the effects of increased traffic would only partially address the problems, have unknown results, or are outside the city's jurisdiction.

The report says five main intersections in the immediate area of the project would have significantly increased traffic delays in the short term, considered to be by the year 2020. Only at one, at Ravenswood Avenue and Laurel Street, is there a clear solution the city could require that would reduce the delays significantly.

An unacceptable impact includes an increase of 25 percent or more in the existing traffic level or an increase in delay at an intersection of more than 23 seconds.

There would also be unacceptable short-term impacts on four nearby roadway segments and four regional routes.

In addition, with planned development and the impact of the Station 1300 projects, by 2040 eight more intersections would have unacceptable impacts. The environmental report finds feasible ways to offset the impacts to less than significant levels in three of them.

Short-term impacts

The intersections affected by 2020 include:

● Ravenswood Avenue and Laurel Street. Impacts could be offset by adding a left-turn lane plus a shared through/right turn lane to southbound Laurel Street. It would require removal of on-street parking and 10-foot wide travel lanes.

● Middlefield Road and Glenwood Avenue. Impacts could be offset with a traffic signal. However, because it may require rights-of-way not currently owned by the city and modification of the Glenwood Gate at east Linden Avenue, plus Atherton approval, it is deemed not feasible.

● Oak Grove Avenue and Alma Street. Impacts could be offset if changes were made at Derry Lane. (See below.)

● Oak Grove Avenue/Derry Lane (Garwood Way would be extended to Derry). Impacts could be offset with southbound left-turn restrictions during the peak hours, but the city says such restrictions are ignored by drivers, so changes are deemed not feasible. Impacts can be partially offset by widening Garwood Way to two lanes at Oak Grove Avenue and by adding bicycle lanes on Oak Grove Avenue between El Camino Real and the east city limits.

● El Camino Real/Ravenswood Avenue and Menlo Avenue. Impacts could be offset with the addition of a third northbound through travel lane along El Camino Real, but that would likely require removal of some of the trees located at the southeast corner, affect access to the 1000 El Camino Real property, affect bicyclists and pedestrians who would have to cross additional lanes of traffic and require Caltrans approval, so it is deemed not feasible.

The roadway segments affected by 2020 include:

● Oak Grove Avenue between El Camino Real and Laurel Street. Adding a bike route would partially offset the impacts.

● Garwood Way between Glenwood Avenue and Oak Grove Avenue. A bike route on Garwood Way would partially offset the impacts.

Regional routes affected by 2020:

● Willow Road, from U.S. 101 to Bayfront Expressway, northbound and southbound.

● Bayfront Expressway, from University Avenue to Willow Road, eastbound and westbound. A Traffic Demand Management (TDM) program could offset the impact on northbound Willow Road between U.S. 101 and Bayfront Expressway if it reduces traffic by 30 percent, but since how much the TDM program would reduce traffic is unclear, it is deemed not feasible. Even a 30 percent reduction would not reduce the impact to acceptable levels on the other routes.

Longer-term impacts

By 2040 an additional eight intersections would be impacted by projected development plus the impact of the Station 1300 project.

Those intersections include:

● Oak Grove Avenue/University Drive. Can be offset by reconfiguring the westbound Oak Grove Avenue approach to include one left-turn only lane and one right-turn lane only lane. Requires removing several parking spaces on the south side of Oak Grove Avenue. Adding bike lanes on Oak Grove Avenue would also help to offset the impacts.

● Santa Cruz Avenue and University Drive. A signal at the intersection could offset the impacts.

● Middlefield Road and Encinal Avenue. An additional right-turn lane on the southbound Middlefield Road and eastbound Encinal Avenue approaches could offset the impacts, but requires additional rights-of-way and approval of Atherton, so deemed not feasible.

● Middlefield Road and Ravenswood Avenue. A second northbound left-turn lane and a corresponding receiving lane on the west leg would offset the impacts, but would require coordination with Atherton, so is deemed not feasible.

● Middlefield and Willow Road. Impacts can be offset by widening the eastbound Willow Road approach to provide an additional through lane and widening the westbound Willow Road approach to provide an additional left-turn lane, plus re-striping the existing shared through/left-turn lane to a through-only lane. In addition, widening the southbound Middlefield Road approach to include an exclusive through lane and re-striping the existing shared through/left-turn lane to a through-only lane would be needed. Because of effects on bicyclist and pedestrian safety, it would also need safety improvements including modified signal timing, warning signs and markings.

● Laurel Street at Glenwood Avenue. Impacts can be offset by a signal, but it needs approval by Atherton, so is deemed not feasible.

● El Camino Real and Glenwood Avenue and Valparaiso Avenue. Impacts could be offset by widening westbound Glenwood Avenue for right-turn only lane, changing the northbound and southbound right-turn lanes to shared through/right-turn lanes, and widening El Camino Real to provide additional receiving lanes in both the northbound and southbound directions. But this would conflict with the specific plan goals to provide enhanced pedestrian crossing and sidewalks along El Camino and could increase danger for pedestrians and bicyclists, so deemed not feasible. Impacts could be partially offset by widening westbound Glenwood Avenue approach to provide an exclusive right-turn lane, but would need Caltrans approval, so deemed not feasible.

● El Camino Real and Oak Grove Avenue. Impacts could be offset by reconfiguring the northbound right-turn lane into a shared through/right-turn lane and adding a corresponding receiving lane, but could increase the danger for bicyclists and pedestrians and would need Caltrans approval, so deemed not feasible.

Other environmental impacts

With proper mitigation measures, other environmental impacts could be reduced to an acceptable level, the report says.

Water use

The water that the complex would require is estimated at about 57,300 gallons per day for all uses – office, residential and retail. That level was determined to produce a "less than significant" environmental impact, based on an analysis done by the city during the adoption of the downtown specific plan.

The report (page 3-110) says increased water use in that location had already been anticipated in the Bear Gulch Water District's predictions for future water needs. It was also determined that the existing waste-water treatment facilities could handle the added water.

Air quality

The analysis showed that the risks posed by the presence of diesel and the particulate matter it releases into the air during construction could be reduced to acceptable levels by using machines with engines and filters approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. An analysis would have to be done on the site to ensure no volatile compounds are released into the air.

What happens next

The draft of the environmental report is open to public comment until 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 4. Written comments may go to Thomas Rogers at throgers@menlopark.org or Thomas Rogers, City of Menlo Park Planning Division, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

A public hearing on this environmental impact report will be held by the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Monday, March 21. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers in the Menlo Park Civic Center.

The city staff will respond to comments and make any necessary revisions before presenting the final document to the Planning Commission for a recommendation and to the City Council for approval.

Greenheart Land Co. will host a community meeting on the project from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Performing Arts Center at Hillview Middle School at 1100 Elder Ave.

Go to tinyurl.com/green217 for city documents on this project, including the environmental impact report.

Comments

45 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 11:59 am

Of course the impcts are avoidable.
Just don't build it or drastically change the plans until all the negative impacts are avoided.


2 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Question: What are the consequences of a finding that a proposed development has "significant and unavoidable impacts on traffic, i.e, what options are available to the city and the developer?


24 people like this
Posted by athertonian
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Feb 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Soooo against this type of high density development on ECR without consideration for surrounding neighborhoods...where is the study that outlines the impact of increased traffic on ALL residential streets since few locals or commuters will tolerate snarls and sluggish traffic on major thoroughfares....time to get neighboring cities involved to brainstorm some solutions long term that prevent the spillover effect.


36 people like this
Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Given this finding, the project will not go forward it its current form unless the city council finds that the benefits of the project outweigh the impacts.

It is hard for me to imagine what benefits could outweigh these impacts.


19 people like this
Posted by Caroline
a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2016 at 1:56 pm

Why not just leave a vacant lot. Someone always feels the need to build more of everything we already have. The developers make tons of money on their projects, but don't live nearby so they don't have to deal with all the traffic. I rarely go shopping because there isn't any place to park. People are so stressed from traffic and too many people, and it shows in how aggressively they drive. Lets keep a vacant lot. Everything doesn't need to have a building on it.


17 people like this
Posted by not sure of that
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:13 pm

Mr Bressler above commented that the project would not go forward because of the finding of this traffic study.

With this present council, I suspect they will just issue findings of "overriding considerations" and approve. How many projects have they turned down?

They just approved the Hunter project, which is a disaster. They are suspected of wanting to go ahead with the ridiculous hotel on the former Shell Station lot; anything to being in more revenue to feed to the staff.

All very sad. We badly need a new council. We badly need to have someone step up start a referendum if indeed they do approve


14 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:21 pm

Yes indeed, Jasons seems to be the entire purpose of that site. Forget about mitigating traffic, building senior housing (for that's in their proposal), or anything else, let's all just leave Menlo Park as a pathetic backwater of vacant lots, poorly patronized shops, sad bungalow housing, and the attitude that if you can't drive to it, it's not worth doing.

Instead of a fly-over state, we're a drive-past town.


10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

what really? said.


11 people like this
Posted by alternatives exist
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:42 pm

Yes, the Council could simply decide the benefits outweigh the negative impacts. It only takes 3 votes to make that decision, I think, maybe 4 (does anyone know).

This was an entirely predictable finding of the EIR. I believe it is the very reason some of our neighbors promoted Measure M and others promoted changes to the Downtown Plan so impacts like this would be less likely. The Council ignored all of that activity. The question is whether they will demand changes to the project so there would be fewer impacts.

There are alternatives to what is proposed such as a smaller project, a project with more housing and less office, a project with a lot of senior housing, a project that has more services and retail within it so the occupants don't have to travel elsewhere to get what they need.


10 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Having a large number of residents and office workers within WALKING distance of downtown is an outstanding opportunity to increase its vitality, one of the very few MenloPark has for this district. And WITHOUT the need to build expensive parking structures. Few retailers are willing to come here when there is so little regular foot traffic, i.e, diners and shoppers. (just ask our business development manager) Look how eager retailers are to enter the Palo Alto Town & Country less than 2 miles away. As expected, the SaveMenlo "types" are sharpening their swords and ready to plunge the City into another period of contentious quarreling driven by their minority-held views. Preferring paralysis over progress once again?


32 people like this
Posted by MenloPark Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Greenheart + Stanford + hotel at old Shell station + Offices at what used to be Iberia + Housing at old RR nursery + ??? = UTTER GRIDLOCK AND PANDEMONIUM.
God knows what will be built at Feldman's Books building on El Camino.

Then add the traffic due to the mandated low-income housing additions.
Consider also the increased burden on the schools system and on utilities systems.

Developers publish their incremental project-specific estimates, which I'm sure are tilted in their favor.
The proper approach is for City government to aggregate all traffic flows, and to publish them to the community-at-large for review.
That this is not done speaks either to outright incompetence, or to sell-out at the hands of developers.
Perhaps it's time for interested groups to begin an extensive review of the paper-trails at city hall, and to initiate recall proceedings against the present council -- which is obviously not putting the interests of Menlo Park residents first.


10 people like this
Posted by alternatives exist
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 3:03 pm

@ DH - please explain why Town and Country is so vibrant without new offices and homes nearby? The logic escapes me.

Alternatives to the proposed mix would still mean progress, right? They could also produce fewer negative impacts, making it easier for everyone to get around than what apparently will happen with this project as it is proposed.


20 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 22, 2016 at 3:09 pm

".... let's all just leave Menlo Park as a pathetic backwater of vacant lots, poorly patronized shops, sad bungalow housing, and the attitude that if you can't drive to it, it's not worth doing."

I'm sure if the 'house next door' were severely blighted, that the City would require that measures be taken.
Developers intentionally let their properties deteriorate, in order to use remediation of blight as an excuse for overbuilding.
Message to MP City Hall: order developers to maintain their property. Temporary parks, anyone ?


25 people like this
Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm

The confluence of the tracks, El Camino and our downtown makes this site a problem. Many of us have to drive through that area on a regular basis.

Without huge infrastructure change, this sight is only suitable for light use. However, no one should say that light use has to be ugly.

The choice is simple:

Either a large number of people who live and work in this area are going to take a permanent hit to their quality of life or some people who bought this land are not going to make a good return on investment.

Let the city council know where you come down on this.


23 people like this
Posted by Enuff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 22, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Hey, what about that endangered species: retail!
Retail, not office parks, makes cities vibrant. Retail does not overcrowd schools. Retail does not require huge, high-density, multistory sun-blocking buildings. Retail can be attractive one- and two-story buildings and shops.
And retail brings in revenue for the city.

On the other hand, if our "Never-seen-a-huge-project-we-didn't-like" City Council votes to allow this new, gross insult to our community to be built, it will negatively impact Cafe Borrone and Keplers, hurting retail, and negatively impacting the Borrone plaza/ fountain area that everyone agrees is one of the few jewels of our city.


6 people like this
Posted by John Kadvany
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 3:49 pm

In addition to a 'No Project' alternative, the EIR includes two others, both at the Baseline level of development, leading to buildings with about 112K less overall square footage. One alternative maximizes office and has the rest residential (154K sq ft office, 139 units); the other maximizes residential (limited by density) and fills the rest with office (87K sq ft office, 206 units). Both also reduce retail space by about 1/2, or 14K sq ft. The proposed project has (189K sq ft office, 202 units, 29K sq ft retail). For both of the reduced alternatives, the EIR estimates somewhat lower transportation impacts as the proposed project, but still leading to similar 'significant and unavoidable' intersection and roadway impacts. See chapter 5, 'Alternatives'.


10 people like this
Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 22, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Thanks John, good information there.

This project really exposes the flaws in the Specific Plan process, which looks at impacts in aggregate.

This is a very bad place to jam a huge project in. I'd almost say that we need a people mover and offsite parking, way off site, in order to make something like this work.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

" it will negatively impact Cafe Borrone and Keplers, hurting retail, and negatively impacting the Borrone plaza/ fountain area that everyone agrees is one of the few jewels of our city."

How do you figure?

Also the same arguments were made before "jewel of the city" was built. If they had listened to the no birds then we wouldn't have that jewel would we?


7 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm

Alternatives exist: you missed my central point that lots of "foot traffic" in the form of shoppers and diners" are critical to increasing the vitality of downtown. Greenheart will increase the number of shoppers and diners who use the "existing" downtown => this significant increase will make downtown more attractive to more retailers => a greater variety of high quality retailers/restaurants/cafes will appeal to even more shoppers and diners and casual strollers => an the cycle repeats. This is how markets work and how business districts can pull themselves out of the doldrums. It's really that simple. Greenheart will be the catalyst for this dynamic. The longer we wait the longer this economic cycle is delayed.


13 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm

Up front - I haven't read the entire paperwork of this project, but do have a few questions formed from this brief article:
1) "...up to 202 rental apartments" - like sales that are "UP TO..", this means there could be 1, or 20 or 201. And if they are to be for seniors, how is that defined? Age 50 or 65 or 75? And what about below-market affordable apartments? Our city has reneged or been hoodwinked on those generally, as the developers or land owners found and used loopholes.

2) Why hold meetings with the community when all the facts are not yet completed? Because they said they'd have meetings? Sa-mooooth....

3) The amount of building allowed in MP is mind boggling. And the traffic will be horrendous, not only in the areas mentioned above, but all the other cut-throughs in residential neighborhoods.

As for Town and Country - it's a one-story, retail mainly, easy access spot. Would these developers consider doing the same? In short, giving to the community what it uses.

4) Don't forget the impact of the BBC opening up.


5 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 6:16 pm

As with Measure M a minority of residents would still like Greenheart and Stanford to devote their properties to different configuration of uses, e.g., housing, hotel, office, retail, parks, open space. Let me remind you that Greenheart is operating within the requirements of the Specific Plan (which you also opposed), tried to reshape with Measure M (and lost) and you continue to disregard the most basic economic mechanisms for improving the vitality of downtown (which perhaps you do not actually want or value?).


4 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 6:27 pm

Beth:

The Palo Alto Town & Country exists in a POPULAR city at a location with a huge amount of drive-by LOCAL traffic so it has a natural advantages over downtown Menlo Park which has neither. That there are no other similar shopping/dining
centers on El Camino Real on the Peninsula speaks to T&C's uniqueness.

If a developer thought they could replicate it in "sleepy" Menlo Park they likely would try but why would they want to take on such a high risk investment? It would have to be MUCH more economically attractive than current plans.


6 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 7:39 pm

Dana -

T&C does particularly well because of its range of shopping opportunities that downtown Palo Alto has lost to office space - as I believe the current PA council is deeply concerned about.

Yes, the developers would make less - what's wrong with that, so long as it sustained a decent income for them? I'm really getting tired of every move and decision being formed, made and accepted in financial terms. To me, it reduces the quality of life when you think that's the definition of success in life.


11 people like this
Posted by Let's be clear
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Despite claims that there will be lots of strolling shoppers and diners, the EIR makes it abundantly clear that there will be significantly worse traffic. That's because this project will.bring commuters in cars. Lots of the,
Worsened traffic can be a deterrent to current and potential shoppers and diners.
Redwood city's downtown precise plan specified how much office, housing, retail could be built. They enforced a balance of uses. Menlo park lets "the market" decide because it has no such mechanism in the specific plan to create a similar balance of uses. The reason this project had to do an EIR was because it is proposing a project with impacts that go beyond what was projected for the balanced development described in the plan.
This project is at the Public Benefit size. It should have plenty of benefits. Not plenty of negative impacts.

Let's be clear. The negative impacts will be much worse with this project than what was projected for the downtown plan. The council has a duty to minimize the negative impacts for the good of,our community and businesses.


1 person likes this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2016 at 10:20 pm

Beth:

I agree that the range and number of shops and restaurants is critical but the shops do well in large part because they are co-located at an excellent easily accessed central spot in Palo Alto. They all benefit from each other because a customer for one is a potential customer for the rest.

(Parking is a nightmare especially around lunchtime but even that does not appear to hurt them.)

Do you think our City should decide what a decent income is? How? Or, investors and the marketplace?

Wishing that investors will accept "less" is simply unrealistic.





9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2016 at 6:56 am

Dana Hendrickson: Your emphasis on market forces is greviously misplaced. It is the residents of Menlo Park who suffer great loss of quality of life at the hsnds of overblown projects such as these. The developers don't live here, and if they did they could afford to live in areas relatively unscathed by the traffic attending their projects.

You will say that residents have representation through the city council. Do they? No more than the US population at large now has through a congress beholden to corporate lobbysts for campaign funds.

Your position reeks of now-discredited trickle-down economics.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2016 at 7:08 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Menlo Park Resident:

Are you saying our council members are beholden to developers? Do you have any proof? And to what end would a council member become beholden? It's not like any of them, save maybe one, have any political aspirations. They are serving us and trying to make our city great.


14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 23, 2016 at 7:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

After long and vigorous debate the Specific Plan was adopted.

Measure M failed.

Land owners can and will develop in accordance with the limits and incentives of the Specific Plan.

The democratic sysytem of representative government is working.

Anyone who wishes to do so can decide to relocate to another community that has different plans for the future.


7 people like this
Posted by Political Aspirations
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 23, 2016 at 7:36 am

Menlo Voter... two Councilmember have demonstrated political aspirations. Peter Ohtaki is currently running for State Assembly and Kirsten Keith already ran a failed bid for the Board of Supervisors.


4 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2016 at 8:42 am

Menlo Park Resident:

re: your statement that

"Your position reeks of now-discredited trickle-down economics."

Support for encouraging more customers living and working within walking distance to downtowns has nothing to do with the "trickle down" theory. Yes, my support must be balanced against other interests like new traffic but no one has shown me the amount and patterns of traffic generated by station 1300 will greatly exceeds its benefits. Do you have proof? If so, please share it. Wringing ones hands, making unsupported claims and crying the "sky is falling" will not suffice. At least, not for me and I believe most residents.


6 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 23, 2016 at 9:13 am

Has this proposed idea taken into consideration the huge impact it will have on the Fire District and it's response times?
ECR traffic is bad enough, now we are adding bike lanes, the daily traffic vehicle count is way up and as the economy
grows, does the over burdened traffic problems in order to get new office,residential space. What ever to scaled down
versions of everything. Bigger is not always better !


Like this comment
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2016 at 9:27 am

Re Concerned and Fire District.
Well Peter?


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 23, 2016 at 10:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

ECR with three lanes in both directions and without bicycle lanes provides, in my personal opinion, suitable access for emergency services.

The present two lane constriction of ECR in a small portion of Menlo Park for the sole convenience of less than twenty parking spaces is unwise and unsafe.

The addition of bicycle lanes to ECR would create unnecessary safety risks.


Like this comment
Posted by alternatives exist
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm

If one of the studied alternatives has fewer negative impacts and offers more housing, isn't that better? Otherwise, this project would be worsening the jobs/housing balance (putting more pressure for even more housing, and on schools to support more) and also worsening the already bad traffic congestion. That would be progress and also better for Menlo Park.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 23, 2016 at 2:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As posted above:

"For both of the reduced alternatives, the EIR estimates somewhat lower transportation impacts as the proposed project, but still leading to similar 'significant and unavoidable' intersection and roadway impacts"


Like this comment
Posted by Let's be clear
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 23, 2016 at 9:38 pm

what is the Public Benefit of a project that maximizes the office allowed at the Public Benefit Bonus level but would not build the maximum density of housing units?
Proposed are 31.6 units per acre but 50 units per acre are allowed at the Bonus level (32 units per acre at the Base level) Higher density would help relieve the housing shortage and the units should be more affordable. Singles and young professionals are expected to occupy the units. More housing and less office would be a better project for Menlo Park.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2016 at 10:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The adopted Specific Plan details the permitted mix of residential and offices uses on this site both with and without public benefit bonuses.

The City may not now alter those requirements without amending the Specific Plan.

It is time to move on.

For those who wish to see nothing happen with this site please make Greenheart an offer to buy them out recognizing their total investment to date and their anticipated returns from that very significant investment. Then you can dedicate this land as a People's Park - while paying property taxes on your purchase price for the property.


6 people like this
Posted by Dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:40 pm

Peter, I would certainly support this as Plan B and look forward to seeing how much money they can raise and how much they will need to charge residents to access this new not-for-profit Menlo "Park".

:)


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" look forward to seeing how much money they can raise"

If, for example, every person who voted for Measure M (3892 people voted Yes) contributed $10,000 then they would have almost $39 million which might be enough to start negotiating with Greenheart.

Of course I presume that these same 3892 people would each year make the City and the School District whole for the property taxes and impact fees lost because nothing would be built on this parcel.


Like this comment
Posted by alternatives exist
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:26 pm

More housing is allowed at the Public Benefit level at this site. No amendment is required of the Specific Plan. The developer is choosing to maximize office development, adding more jobs at the PB level but not adding more housing.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 24, 2016 at 2:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"More housing is allowed at the Public Benefit level at this site."

Correct but the current proposal also complies with the Specific Plan.

Zoning can limit what can be built but zoning cannot require anything to be built. Property owners are allowed to do what they wish within the established zoning limits but the City cannot force them to make one allowed choice over another allowed choice.


4 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 24, 2016 at 4:01 pm

The vacant lots look great! Let's keep them. There is no need for us to revitalize our downtown like Redwood City has done. Redwood City is now really nice and vibrant. Let's just keep pretending we are Atherton. #vacantlots&blight


Like this comment
Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Feb 25, 2016 at 7:36 am

Richard Hine is a registered user.

Greenheart is holding a meeting tonight on this complex, and the Planning Commission will hold a hearing on March 21: Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by Lynnsegal
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Lynnsegal is a registered user.

repost from my neighbor--Patti Fry: Read before it is to late!!
Dear City,
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Draft EIR for the Greenheart 1300 El Camino project. The site provides an exciting opportunity to remove long-vacant and under-utilized properties. However, as indicated by the Draft EIR, the Project studied would introduce significant adverse impacts, particularly traffic congestion, in the heart of our town. It also would exacerbate the existing housing shortage. Because of these major negative impacts, decision-makers have an obligation to either a) make findings that the project’s benefits outweigh the negative impacts, b) approve a smaller project that was studied in the DEIR, or c) work with the developer to create a project that is better for Menlo Park. The DEIR should study the actual project that Greenheart intends to build at either the Base or Bonus level.

It is quite troubling that the Project evaluated in the DEIR is not what the developer intends to build, as indicated in Greenheart’s open house, their January 27 2016 Proposal, and their presentation to the Planning Commission on March 21st. For example, Greenheart states that the Bonus project would only have 182 residential units, about 10% fewer than the 202 units studied in the DEIR. This is material. At the same square feet allocated to residential, these units would be, on average, 11% larger, with potentially more school impacts than the DEIR Project.

It also appears the developer has no intention of building 29,000 SF of community serving uses:

* Approximately 10,400 SF of “community serving” space in the office building is characterized as flex space. That is 36% of the maximum range studied.As pointed out in the BAE March 14, 2016 study, office rental rates are assumed to be $66/SF and retail rental rates are assumed to be $36/SF. With the potential for the flex space to yield revenue of $30 more per square foot if it were office, it is unreasonable to think the actual use would be anything other than office (not retail or other community serving uses). The DEIR needs to acknowledge that.
* The developer’s January 2016 Proposal mentions using 2,500 SF for real estate rental office in the residential building, further reducing what is potentially community serving.
It also is quite troubling that the BAE Urban Economics March 14, 2016 financial modeling and public benefit analysis used assumptions about uses of space that do not match the DEIR Project or Base Alternatives. The assumptions also do not match those in the Project Case and Base Case presented by Greenheart in their January 27, 2016 Proposal to the City.

* In the BAE analyses, costly elements such as underground parking spaces, are greater in quantity than in either the DEIR Project and the Greenheart Proposal, and developer revenue is understated by omitting revenue for commercial and residential tenant parking, which is Greenheart’s stated intention to charge. These serve to underestimate the financial return of the actual project.
* Both the Greenheart Proposal and the BAE analysis also use a different Base Case than either of the Alternatives evaluated in the DEIR. For example, the Greenheart Proposal states that at the Base level, there would be 130 residential units whereas the DEIR evaluated 206 and 139 units in the Base Residential and Base Office Alternatives, respectively.

The Greenheart and BAE comparisons between a Bonus project and a Base alternative provide artificial comparisons because neither utilize the same project components as the Bonus and Base alternatives in the DEIR, and not even the same ones as each other.

This development is in the part of the downtown Specific Plan designated to focus on residential development. The City, and the DEIR, should evaluate a Bonus-level Residential Alternative, which would better satisfy the Specific Plan’s goals for this area while also imposing significantly less rush hour commuter traffic into our already congested intersections and roadways.

The DEIR should study the real Project, not a hypothetical one, and at least one Bonus level Alternative. Any analysis of financial and other benefits of the Project and Alternatives also should be of the same project alternatives. The evaluation process Is a sham otherwise, and the City will be making decisions based on faulty information.

Additional comments are attached.

Sincerely,
Patti Fry
Menlo Park resident, MBA, and former Planning Commissioner

PS Any analysis of financial benefits should omit impact fees. By law, these are required to be no greater than the additional costs to the city.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 4, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The City, and the DEIR, should evaluate a Bonus-level Residential Alternative, which would better satisfy the Specific Plan's goals for this area while also imposing significantly less rush hour commuter traffic into our already congested intersections and roadways."

So is it assumed that residents don't go to and from work?


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2016 at 7:46 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

More nonsense from Fry and her minions to try and stifle ANY development. We want more housing. We get it and we don't want it because it will cause more traffic. Do you want it both ways?


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


To post your comment, please login or register at the top of the page. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

Tokyo ramen shop to open first U.S. outpost in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 22 comments | 4,113 views

It’s Not Someone Else’s Responsibility to Honor My Marriage . . .
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 782 views

Babywearing
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 764 views

 

Meet the winners!

The results are in. Check out The Almanac readers' favorite foods, services and fun stuff in the area.

View Winners