The environmental report on the proposed Greenheart Land Co. mixed-use project on El Camino Real in Menlo Park has some major flaws, especially in the way the impacts of increased traffic are calculated, a March 31 letter from Atherton says.
The letter also asks to have the developers of the 420,000-square-foot project at 1300 El Camino Real help pay for improvements to make Atherton's roadways safer and more convenient for bicyclists and pedestrians as a way to take cars off the road and reduce the project's traffic impacts.
The letter, signed by Mayor Elizabeth Lewis on behalf of the town, says that flaws in the process of making predictions about the amount of traffic the project will generate and where that traffic will go "lead to false conclusions and underestimating project impacts" on Atherton.
Assumptions based on 16- to 18-year-old information about where traffic will go need to be updated, the letter says. Assumptions that traffic will grow about 1 percent a year for the next 24 years are also low, it says, basing that conclusion on recent traffic counts done by Atherton showing growth of about 3 percent or more each year between 2002 and 2015 on several Atherton streets.
The letter lists a number of suggested bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects to help take cars off the streets. Those projects are on Middlefield Road and El Camino Real and come from Atherton's Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan.
City Manager George Rodericks said Atherton thinks Greenheart Land Co. "should pay their fair share based on the project impacts."
Atherton also wants the report to look at reducing the amount of parking planned for the project. Plans show more than 1,000 onsite spots plus more new parking spaces on Garwood Way.
The town "believes parking reduction alternatives were not adequately studied," especially given that the proposed project is near the Caltrain station and other public transit, the letter says.
The letter also asks for approval by neighboring Atherton residents before making a number of suggested improvements to local streets to offset the impact of additional traffic that will come with the project.
One proposed change, to the intersection of El Camino Real at Valparaiso and Glenwood avenues, is opposed by Atherton because it might not leave room for a future bike lane on El Camino, the letter says. Any changes "that preclude bicyclists and pedestrians on El Camino Real will not be supported" by Atherton, the letter says.
Atherton comments, and all other comments made during the review period for the environmental report, will have to be addressed in the final environmental report for the project. The final report must be approved by the Menlo Park City Council.
The public comment period on the draft environmental impact report ends on April 4. Comments can be emailed to Thomas Rogers, principal planner, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or sent by mail to: Thomas Rogers, City of Menlo Park Community Development Department, Planning Division, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park CA 94025.
Related story: Does Greenheart development have enough housing?