The Menlo Park community is invited tonight to weigh in on this question: In exchange for permission to build higher and larger structures than permitted by the city's base zoning rules, what should developers give back to the city?
The community discussion on this topic will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 24, at the Menlo Park Senior Center, 110 Terminal Ave.
The meeting is part of the city's ConnectMenlo process for revising the general plan and zoning for the M-2 light industrial area, roughly bordered by the San Francisco Bay, University Avenue, U.S. 101 and Marsh Road.
No actions or decisions will be made at the meeting. There will be Spanish translation and childcare for children ages 3 and older available.
Whether the perks developers provide are called "public benefits" or "community amenities" the new term used for the ConnectMenlo project there's little consensus on what and how those benefits should be determined.
Among related questions to be addressed, according to the meeting agenda are: When are community amenities required? What is the formula for determining how much is required? How are community amenities implemented? What are the identified community amenities?
An option proposed by ConnectMenlo consultants is this formula: developers would provide amenities valued at 50 percent of the appraised value of the added allowable square feet of development. Construction or installation of the amenities would have to be completed before the development could be occupied. The amenities could be built or paid for but must be located in Menlo Park between U.S. 101 and the Bay.
Some of the amenities that developers could provide or help fund are sidewalk and landscape lighting; bike trails, lanes or paths; a bike-pedestrian path along the Dumbarton Rail corridor; a trolley system on the Dumbarton corridor from Redwood City to near Willow Road; a full-service grocery store, pharmacy, or bank with an ATM; job training or internship programs with local students and young adults; a medical center; investments in energy technology or utilities infrastructure; and open space or park improvements.