Menlo Park: City won't extend deadline to comment on draft EIR for Greenheart complex


The deadline to respond to the draft environmental impact report for the proposed Greenheart "Station 1300" project on El Camino Real in Menlo Park ended April 4 despite a request from the Sierra Club to extend it for two weeks.

Gita Dev of the Loma Prieta Chapter of the Sierra Club had requested via email that the deadline be extended for an additional two weeks beyond the customary 45-day review period.

The email said they need more time to respond to issues that have been raised beyond the typical 45-day window, since the first public hearing for the project's environmental report was held only two weeks ago, on March 21.

Greenheart Land Co.'s project proposed for the parcel at 1300 El Camino Real includes 420,000 square feet of residential, office and retail space.

During that period, anyone can submit written or verbal comments that will be included as part of the final report, which will ultimately go before the Menlo Park City Council when it decides whether or not to approve the project.

Thomas Rogers, Menlo Park principal planner, responded to the request, saying: "We (including the City Manager's Office) have reviewed the Sierra Club's request for additional time, but we don't believe there are unique circumstances that warrant an extension."

He said that the kind of the environmental impact report that was done for the Greenheart project, called an "Infill EIR" (referring to its location in an already mostly built-up area of the city), is supposed to streamline the environmental review process, which, he says, makes it "harder to justify" an extension.

He said the Planning Commission often holds public hearings toward the end of the 45-day public review period because it is intended to give people who want to offer verbal comments at the public hearing sufficient time to review the report.

For previous coverage on the potential impacts of the Greenheart Land Co. development:

● February 17: Greenheart to offer free Caltrain passes to residents, workers at its new complex

● February 22: Greenheart complex in Menlo Park has 'significant and unavoidable' traffic impacts

● March 23: Greenheart project goes to Menlo Park Planning Commission

● March 24: Menlo Park: Does Greenheart development have enough housing?

● April 1: Atherton claims Greenheart environmental study has flaws

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8 people like this
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 4, 2016 at 1:48 pm

Let's see if I get this right. The developer spends months (years?) designing the project, the MP staff spends months reviewing it. An EIR takes months to complete and at the end of this the public gets to sit in room and hear it presented and then has 336 hours to ponder it?

Get real!

8 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 4, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Indeed it points to the acceptance that the planning and politicos give the general population of Menlo Park "lip service" at its most limited. Is this a service to the populace who elects them?
People are waking up. And we're not happy.

4 people like this
Posted by Query
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2016 at 2:17 pm

Aren't EIR response times set by law? Beth and Frugal, have either of you requested extensions to respond to the EIR that weren't granted? Seems unfair to blame the City if extension requests weren't made to extend the statutory deadline. How can people be angry at the City? The only body to review the project to date has been the Planning Commission, and their review isn't even completed yet.

Like this comment
Posted by mp observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 4, 2016 at 6:06 pm

there is a required minimum time period for gathering feedback but not a maximum

4 people like this
Posted by Ready
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 5, 2016 at 7:54 am

It's clear that some people would like to slow things down for more review, but to be fair, we're talking about a process leading up to this project that has been underway for over 10 years! The main potential environmental impacts were determined, reviewed, debated, and even brought to the ballot box MANY times over the past 10 years as the car dealers left, multiple different councils were elected, a Specific Area Plan was created, and this project was brought forward. The Specific Area Plan drives most of the environmental impacts and took over 6 years and nearly 100 public meetings. THIS specific project has been under development, with a lot of public review opportunity for years. It's disingenuous to make it sound like we've only had 336 hours to review everything. Yes, there will be some impact ... both good and bad. But there's been plenty of time and opportunity for the public to note their concerns. The results may not go (or have gone) the way some people would have liked, but that's certainly NOT due to lack of opportunity or sincere consideration by the City. The process has been thorough, and has taken TOO long, if anything already.

4 people like this
Posted by Encinal
a resident of Encinal School
on Apr 5, 2016 at 8:04 am

If you think the congestion in front of Encinal School is bad now, just wait until this project adds a few hundred car-trips. People are already passing over the double yellow lines and in the bike lane while parents queue to pick up their kids. Atherton should demand funding from the developers to create a fix for this problem ...

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Posted by mp observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 6, 2016 at 10:16 am

@ observer While it does appear the request came late in the process, you are quite mistaken about the environmental review process. This project's EIR is required because it was expected to cause MORE negative impacts than were ever studied before.
This site was not even assumed to be an "opportunity site" in the Specific Plan because other projects were in the works.
So the current environmental study does matter. And the characteristics of the project do matter.
There should be more attention placed on why, after all the review by the MP staff the project the developer says they intend to build is not the same project in the EIR or public benefit financial analysis. How could that happen? Why?

2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 6, 2016 at 10:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Atherton should demand funding from the developers to create a fix for this problem ..."

This problem was created by the way in which the school designed its drop off/pick up areas, not by the Town or by developers.

Local jurisdictions have no control over how poorly a school may design its vehicular access.

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

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