News

Guest opinion: There's still time to improve Greenheart project

About the author: Patti Fry, a longtime resident of Menlo Park, is a former member of the city's Planning Commission.

By Patti Fry

The long-vacant Cadillac dealership site on El Camino Real is due to be revitalized. The location is central to Menlo Park and adjacent to downtown. Most residents would like to see the blight replaced by a great project, but Greenheart Land Company's "Station 1300" falls far short of that ideal.

The proposed project, while attractive, significantly worsens Menlo Park's traffic congestion and housing shortage. It is located on nearly 6.5 acres near the train station and downtown, on the stretch of El Camino Real that already has the worst downtown traffic jams.

Any development there will worsen traffic, but the proposed project would have substantially more negative impacts than viable alternatives.

The project's recently published draft environmental impact report (DEIR) tells us that the project, as currently configured, would significantly worsen rush-hour traffic at 11 already-congested intersections and roadways from El Camino to Bayfront Expressway. It also tells us that there are no feasible measures available to fully alleviate those impacts. These additional adverse impacts were not anticipated when the downtown specific plan was adopted.

The DEIR explains that a housing-intensive project would have far fewer traffic impacts than an office-intensive project, and would be appropriate for a location near the train station area and downtown. But instead of providing as many as the 322 housing units that are allowed within the downtown plan's limits, the project offers only 181 new homes to balance the 700 to 1,000 new workers in this office-intensive project.

A good mix of restaurant, retail, and personal services would contribute to downtown vibrancy and help the tenants of the project avoid automobile use, but the developer designed only 4 percent of the project as "community serving space." The wording of the Greenheart proposal is so vague that this space could be used for restaurants or retail — or could be rented for business-oriented services that don't serve residents.

We learned from the city's consultants that a housing-intensive project has fewer negative impacts than an office-intensive project. We also found out that the developer's potential return on investment is at least three times the current market range. There is ample room for our City Council to negotiate a project that is much better for Menlo Park and its residents.

Now is the time to get the project right. This is a once-in-a generation opportunity. The project is still in its conceptual design phase, when plan modifications can be easily made.

The ingredients for a better — and great — project exist. Residents should insist on it.

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm

I personally like most of the elements of the current Greenheart project design for 1300 ECR and am eager to have a beautiful, revenue-generating, multi-use development completed no later than 2020. ( I am assuming that construction will take about two years after final approvals.) That said, I welcome additional attention to the office/housing mix. I do not understand the trade-offs between housing and office space re: developer profitability BUT am generally very hesitant about the City dictating a developer's business model. However, a greater understanding of the impact on traffic of potential changes to the housing/office mix IS a reasonable requirement. If the projected impact on traffic is significant then it warrants the City's consideration. However, I recommend that large delays NOT be introduced based on unsubstantiated fears. Let's not lose sight of the fact that traffic has gotten worse on El Camino in Menlo Park largely because of the amount of office and residential developments in surrounding cities and Stanford. The fundamental question is NOT whether Greenheart will increase traffic - it;s likely to increase anyways- rather would additional changes to the proposed housing/office mix really make a MATERIAL difference.


5 people like this
Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 6, 2016 at 2:32 pm

The City is to be commended for at long last addressing this blighted portion along El Camino Real.

I'm reminded of the adage, "everybody talked about the weather, nobody seemed to do anything about it." Of course nobody did anything about it as weather is beyond our control. But we still like to kvetch about it, even in California.

Something else we kvetch about and can do something about is housing. There's never enough, it's too expensive, it's too far from public transportation, there's nowhere to park, and so on.

Yet it seems to me that we ave an opportunity to use this development to make a start on better housing; of taking a small step that, with creative planning and architecture we can make something beautiful and affordable. City leaders and developers perhaps WANT more business for the tax revenue, but what Menlo Park NEEDS is better housing.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 6, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The current Greenheart plans COMPLY with the Downtown Specific Plan.

IF the city wanted more housing for this area then they should have required that for this zone in the Downtown Specific Plan.

Who in the world wants to try to do anything in a city if it keeps changing the rules?


9 people like this
Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 4:53 pm

I hope that Patti will not be discouraged by ad hominem attacks, however, the moderator should step in and give a rest to anyone who uses them.

The last time I saw the plans for the Greenheart Project, they were planning to use Garwood way to enter and exit their project. I don't think that this has changed. If you've ever driven in that area during rush hour, you know that the all the side streets are already backed up. The public process exists to weed out bad ideas that may benefit a handful of people in the short run but that hurt everyone in the long run.

The specific plan was put in place to help streamline the design process, and we have seen some beautiful plans come out of it. The specific plan was NOT put in place to grant a few people the right to negatively impact everyone else for their own benefit. Under the specific plan these projects are still subject to project specific environmental review.

Those who would like to shut down debate by trying to humiliate or intimidate others need to give it a rest.


6 people like this
Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 6:19 pm

Sounds pretty spot on to me:

ad hominem (adverb & adjective)
1. (of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.

[part removed.]




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Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

actually Vince, if you were paying attention, I was addressing her argument. She previously LOST it. Her argument hasn't changed since Measure M.

[part removed.]


14 people like this
Posted by Cowardly anons
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Patti, thank you for the well-written piece. Clearly you and Vincent have touched some nerves given that no one can find any fault with your logic so must attack you on dubious personal grounds instead.

"Ad hominem attack" encapsulates this situation pretty well! And even applies as a plural form.

Menlo Park remains a desirable city for development, which is why the city keeps having to hire more people for the planning department. We are fortunate that the city retains some oversight of these huge projects. If a project has a huge negative impact on the community and offers no benefits, then it doesn't belong here, period.

"The public process exists to weed out bad ideas that may benefit a handful of people in the short run but that hurt everyone in the long run." Well said. It is a public process, and the project will be the better for having been vetted by the community -- the people who will still be here long after the developers have pocketed their profits and moved on.


40 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2016 at 6:36 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

cowardly:

Perhaps you've forgotten. The city went through a five year process to determine what they found acceptable for the the DSP area. The Greenheart project complies, yet those like Patti wish to attack it. [Part removed.}


9 people like this
Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 7:46 pm

The specific plan provides a formula whereby projects may be presented and where only "architectural oversight" is permitted.

And yet, if the project exceeds the base level of development intensity (Greenheart does), then this kicks off a public benefit bonus negotiation which is not well defined.

It's not hard to imagine this public benefit bonus negotiation affecting uses.

The 500 ECR project (Stanford) was redesigned and lots of housing added, even without the whole issue of the public benefit bonus negotiation coming into play. But that was Stanford, an entity which is part of our community, not Greenheart.

Specific plan aside, the Greenheart project has very significant traffic impacts which must be mitigated. This will throw a monkey wrench into the design of the project. Greenheart may find that they have to modify uses to get their traffic impact down.

It's interesting to see the attacks here on anyone who would dare suggest that which is obvious.



5 people like this
Posted by Cowardly anons
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 7:53 pm

"The city went through a five year process to determine what they found acceptable for the the DSP area."

Exactly. And the process resulted in a plan that REQUIRES this project to be reviewed. Reviewed, with an IEP. Not rubberstamped. That means we all have the opportunity to weigh in.


14 people like this
Posted by mickie winkler
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2016 at 8:02 pm

As for the traffic impacts, Basically all of them were identified in the DTSP EIR Traffic Analysis with the exception of the S1300 project entry at Garwood/Oak Grove--and were nevertheless adopted by the City Council.

Then the community supported the Downtown Plan when it scuttled Measure M.

I remember when Patti tried to micromanage the retail uses of the Safeway Plaza. Her attempt was rejected because it just doesn't work that way.


7 people like this
Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 6, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Mickie,

You make it sound like the impacts of the Greenheart have already been conceded by the city council when the specific plan was approved.

But the problems associated with getting people into and out of this project via cars entering Oak Grove and Glenwood at rush hour are massive and not anticipated by the specific plan eir.

While I realize (from your post above) that you are aware of this fact, why would you or anyone else who lives here and is familiar with the traffic problems in this area seek to diminish these impacts or imply that we have already decided to live with this?

This is a big deal. I pointed this out when the project first came before the planning commission. The city council and everyone involved have a responsibility to make sure that these impacts are mitigated or removed. Greenheart will do their job advocating for their project.

Thanks,
Vince


13 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 10:14 pm

dana hendrickson is a registered user.

Patti, you have every right to express your concerns about how the currently designed Greenheart project might impact vehicle traffic as many residents share your concert. And you are correct in pointing out that the City is responsible for ensuring projected incremental traffic is acceptable.

However, I do have a problem with you making many strong claims without providing factual support for them.

1. "The project's recently published draft environmental impact report (DEIR) tells us that the project, as currently configured, would significantly worsen rush-hour traffic at 11 already-congested intersections and roadways from El Camino to Bayfront Expressway."

You should have provided credible data that supports your claim traffic would be SIGNIFICANTLY worsened? It is unreasonable to expect readers to simply accept your statement.

2. "These additional adverse impacts were not anticipated when the downtown specific plan was adopted."

Please explain why this statement is true.

3. "The DEIR explains that a housing-intensive project would have far fewer traffic impacts than an office-intensive project, and would be appropriate for a location near the train station area and downtown."

While this may be true, I do not believe there is a city requirement that a developer provide the maximum amount of possible housing. So you are simply expressing your desire for more housing than Greenheart has proposed. Right?
Do you believe the city should compel developers to build the maximum amount? If not, what would satisfy you?

4. "A good mix of restaurant, retail, and personal services would contribute to downtown vibrancy and help the tenants of the project avoid automobile use, but the developer designed only 4 percent of the project as "community serving space." What would satisfy you?

I do not believe anyone knows what the final mix of restaurant, retail, and personal services will be as the market will ultimately decide. There will certainly be a restaurant and some retail. Do you believe the city should heavily regulate the mix? What kind of non-office and non-resident tenants do you believe would significantly reduce vehicle use? Why? What mix would satisfy you?

Also, wouldn't your position be more balanced if you acknowledged that Greenheart all residents free Caltrains passes and extensive bike facilities for both residents and office workers?

5. "We also found out that the developer's potential return on investment is at least three times the current market range.

THIS IS A VERY BOLD CLAIM and I would love to see your assumptions and the basis for them. Please share your analysis so everyone can understand it. Otherwise, it this statement lacks credibility and potentially simply illustrates a strong personal bias. Please describe your definition of return on investment and "current market range" . What is the source? What return on investment would satisfy you? How would you calculate it?

Finally, I am not defending Greenheart nor its current project design but I would appreciate a constructive public debate. if you are going to challenge Greenheart, I recommend you make a much stronger case for your concerns and claims. Otherwise, there is a danger that readers will simply view your opinions as purely political.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2016 at 10:34 pm

dana hendrickson is a registered user.

Vince: I believe Patti is capable of defending her views and arguments without needing a moderator to stifle public debate. Others are questioning her positions and arguments with a general tone much more civil than comments that frequently appear in The Almanac online forum.

Also, the Specific Plan recommends that Garwood and Alma become a primary north-south bike corridor that parallels Laurel and El Camino. The city also requires Greenheart fund bike lanes on the section of Oak Grove adjacent to its property, maintain bike facilities across its property and create a bike connector to Garwood Way. I am confident that Greenheart and the city will ensure these facilities will be well-designed.


5 people like this
Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 7, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Steve Schmidt is a registered user.


Nowhere in the Greenheart thread is there any mention of the long-awaited grade separations at Ravenswood, Oak Grove, Glenwood and Encinal and their role in determining a safe & practical solution to the access issue surrounding this office-heavy development proposal and others in the Caltrain station area. Missing is a critical path that demonstrates understanding the relationship between the Caltrain track elevation and the developments in the immediate area. We are now grappling with the results of the ECR traffic study, the Station 1300 Draft EIR, bike boulevard proposals and a current Grade Separation Study but none seem to be integrated with one another. The Greenheart EIR should be reopened to include the results of the Grade Separation Study and perhaps the findings of a traffic study on the Stanford Project.

A $200,000 study completed in 2004 presented three alternatives for all four crossings of Caltrain in Menlo Park:

1. A roadway tunnel at each crossing, keeping Caltrain at grade
2. A fully elevated Caltrain, keeping each roadway at grade
3. A hybrid that raises Caltrain and depresses the roadways at each crossing

The single constant constraint is that the road below the tracks has to be at least 20 feet deep to provide for the structure that supports the tracks and traffic that includes large trucks. The approaches to a depressed roadway for options 1 or 3 are based on this 20 feet.

The 2004 study also illustrated that the negative impacts on circulation and property access would be inversely proportional to the track elevation; the higher the tracks above grade, the easier it would be to maintain existing circulation patterns and to develop the adjacent properties. A tunnel under the tracks, according to the study, would require condemnation of some properties and cut off streets like Alma, San Antonio, Merrill and Garwood. A tunnel or even some version of a hybrid could leave Greenheart’s project without garage access.

The 2004 study was put on the shelf, where many Menlo Park ideas languish, and was forgotten during the 2007-8 panic over High Speed Rail. Opposition to HSR became a requirement for all City Council candidates until Joe Simitian’s Blended Plan was born. Still on the shelf was the understanding and appreciation that the Blended Plan is a concept that benefits from grade separations.

The proposed site plan for Greenheart’s project, Station 1300, depends on Glenwood, Oak Grove and Garwood to remain at grade so to insure Garwood access to the site. Bicycle and pedestrian use around this project would be facilitated by elevated tracks. Fully elevated or a hybrid track configuration a la San Carlos & Belmont would enable the safer east-west circulation desired by residents and highlighted in the Specific Plan.

My conclusion? Before any of these projects near Caltrain proceed with any degree of certainty, the Menlo Park Council needs to make a commitment to cooperate with HSR, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority and Caltrain to allow Caltrain to be mostly or fully elevated all the way through Menlo Park. Without this commitment Greenheart and other developers will be at risk of losing access in the near future and rendered unable to fulfill their promises to improve pedestrian and bicycle circulation around their projects.


2 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2016 at 2:33 pm

dana hendrickson is a registered user.

Steve:

Shouldn't residents assume the City and developer are willing to accept the road-grade separation risks you point out?
What is the REAL LIKELY downside - not the worse case. Are you recommending Menlo Park not make any improvements near ALL these crossing until ALL the separation designs are finalized or simply advocating that the City factor in the different separation options into its planning? Please help us all better understand your concern. Thanks.

"The Greenheart EIR should be reopened to include the results of the Grade Separation Study and perhaps the findings of a traffic study on the Stanford Project."

This statement appears extreme and therefore comes across as simply another attempt to further delay commercial development on ECR.


5 people like this
Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 7, 2016 at 6:48 pm

Steve Schmidt is a registered user.

Dana,
It would be irresponsible to certify any DEIR for a project before it is known what each crossing is going to look like. Greenheart's project would most certainly perform differently if their garage access on Garwood were to be cut off from both Oak Grove and Glenwood by grade separations with 20' deep trenches. If only the Oak Grove Caltrain crossing were to be grade separated, Greenheart’s office and residential tenants could only enter and exit via Glenwood. This information would be of great interest to Atherton.

The Grade separation study should have been completed and findings released before the closing date for comments for the Greenheart EIR. It is not extreme to reopen the EIR and incorporate information from the grade separation into the traffic study conducted for the EIR. It is responsible and professional.

Like you, I have wanted this site developed ever since the Cadillac dealership closed. I supported both the Cadillac and Derry developments in 2006 and did not support the referendum. To delay the EIR and get all the information on the table is what we all should want. This is not a pro development or anti development discussion. We are fortunate for the wisdom Patti Fry shared with readers in her op-ed piece.

Insofar as a Oak Grove Bicycle Boulevard for students who attend M.A. High School or Hillview Middle school, knowing if there’s going to be a grade separation and how it will be designed is essential. Using Oak Grove as a route for students bicycling has its downsides with this office heavy development that assumes over 1,000 drivers on Garwood and many retail businesses west of El Camino Real.

There are many pieces to this puzzle and taking an ad hoc approach and not a comprehensive approach will produce a system that makes no sense.

My recommendation is that the City adopt a policy that would work with the other agencies to fully elevate Caltrain through the City. This design will preserve access to all the properties along the right-of-way. The developers can then proceed with assurances that they will not lose access to their projects. Once that decision is made, the other pieces of the puzzle will fit.

Completion of the Grade Separation study and adoption of its recommended alternative should be given the highest priority.


6 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 7, 2016 at 9:08 pm

dana hendrickson is a registered user.

Hi Steve:

Thanks for sharing your perspectives; I have learned a lot.

Like you, I expect a holistic consideration of the many uncertainties surrounding the possible implementation of high speed rail on the Peninsula BUT....

1. I do not share your apparent willingness to delay City planning and Greenheart progress. I am confident that our City Council can factor in "high speed rail" and grade separation without requiring either the city or developers to undertake new time-consuming studies. So on this point we simply disagree.

2) Unlike you, I do not believe Patti displayed any wisdom in her Guest opinion and my earlier comment explains why. Net View: Making strong but unsupported claims is NOT wise.

3. Please keep in mind that both you and Patti are widely known as being major supporters of the costly failed Measure M initiative which a majority of voting residents soundly defeated. So, fair or not, I like many Menlo Park residents understandably are initially skeptical of any recommendations you make that would delay City progress.

How do you and Patti intend to overcome this common perception?



4 people like this
Posted by Patti Fry
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 11:56 am

Patti Fry is a registered user.

I do my homework and do my best to tell it like it is.
I wrote the article because the February 16th Draft Environmental Impact Report (“DEIR”) about the Greenheart project revealed that it would cause additional impacts that were not studied in the Specific Plan’s own environmental review. Guest editorials do not allow for footnotes. I will attempt to respond below to some of the comments. Others can do their own homework.

The information upon which I based my comments comes from the full 297-page DEIR (including its 1,376-page Appendices) and the 62-page 3/21/16 staff report Web Link for the Planning Commission’s meeting and study session about the project and DEIR. This staff report includes a January 2016 proposal from Greenheart and two City-funded financial analysis reports from BAE Urban Economics.

Additional impacts: Staff report page 3 - “Most project proposals under the Specific Plan are anticipated to be fully addressed as part of the Specific Plan EIR. However, for the proposed project, staff and an independent CEQA consulting firm (ICF International, with support from W-Trans, a transportation analysis sub-consultant) determined that a project-level EIR was required to examine specific impacts not addressed in the Specific Plan EIR.”

Use of the term “significant”: "Significant" is defined by California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) with standards of significance established by public agencies, including the City of Menlo Park. The Greenheart project-specific DEIR concluded that there would be “significant and unavoidable” traffic impacts. Staff report page 5 lists the 11 intersections, 4 roadway segments, and 4 Routes of Regional Significance with Significant impacts. The DEIR took into account all feasible mitigation measures, including ones proposed by Greenheart, when arriving at those conclusions.

Impacts: DEIR page S-15 - ”The Base Level Maximum Residential Alternative would result in less severe environmental [traffic and traffic-related] impacts” than a Maximum Office Alternative of the same size and to the proposed project, and that (Maximum Residential) is the “environmentally superior alternative”. A Bonus level project with Maximum Residential also should have fewer impacts than the proposed Maximum Office project.

Financial return: According to BAE Urban Economics “Financial modeling of public benefit bonus for potential 1300 El Camino Real project” report dated March 14, 2016 page 4: “the current market range is between eight and 12 percent”, I said the proposed project's return would be “at least” 3 times the market rate because a) 3x would be 24-36% and and BAE's pro forma on page 9 shows a return of 30% for the project. and b) the pro forma omitted two major financial elements that could make the profit much higher than 30%. First, BAE assumed 1,086 parking spaces, most of which would be underground. Greenheart says they intend to build only 980 (Exhibit A of their January 2016 Proposal, included in the staff report). At the cost estimated by BAE of $42,500 each, the 106 fewer underground spaces represents $4.5 million less upfront cost than the BAE pro forma includes. Further, the BAE analysis omits parking revenue that Greenheart announced at the Planning Commission meeting that they intend to charge from all commercial and residential tenants.

Among reasons I favor more residential and less office for it are
1) more residential fits better the site’s zoning designation in the Specific Plan. This project is in the Specific Plan zoning district designated El Camino Real/Northeast-Residential. Page E56 of the Specific Plan states “the district provides for higher intensities with a focus on residential development given its location near the train station area and downtown.” The 181 housing units Greenheart proposes are quite a bit less than the zoning allows at both the Base level that allows 206 units and at the Bonus level that allows 322 units.
2) more housing and less office would have fewer rush hour traffic impacts, as shown by the DEIR.
3) more housing would help make that area be more vibrant in evenings and weekends than two large office buildings
4) more housing and less office helps alleviate, rather than worsen, the current housing crisis as the project would, as proposed. According to housing advocacy groups, the severe housing shortage is causing school districts to have a challenge hiring and retaining young teachers, congregations to lose members, and current tenants to be displaced by escalating rents.

Approval of this project: this is not automatic because it is at the Bonus level size and because it causes additional adverse impacts that cannot be fully mitigated. When the City Council approves a project at this site, they must determine that it provides more benefits to Menlo Park than the negative impacts the DEIR says it would cause. Within the rules of CEQA and the Specific Plan, the City Council is empowered to negotiate the mix of uses and/or the size of the project in order to reduce the adverse impacts and increase the benefits. I encourage them to negotiate to maximize the allowed housing. That is what I wrote.


1 person likes this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 12:51 pm

dana hendrickson is a registered user.

Hi Patti:

Thanks for sharing this additional information; it makes it much easier for residents to understand the basis for your concerns.

A few brief comments:

1. My knowledge of DEIRs is extremely poor but Is a DEIR finding of significant unmitigable impact all that uncommon? I expect both the City and Greenheart are prepared to address your concern and look forward to hearing their responses.

"Staff report page 5 lists the 11 intersections, 4 roadway segments, and 4 Routes of Regional Significance with Significant impacts. The DEIR took into account all feasible mitigation measures, including ones proposed by Greenheart, when arriving at those conclusions.


2. Again I am not familiar with the "BAE Urban Economics “Financial modeling of public benefit bonus for potential 1300 El Camino Real project":

That said, I doubt that this analysis truly reflects the real-world investment environment that financial markets use to evaluate project risk and returns. For example, Greenheart has already invested millions of dollars and continues to spend more. The actual return on this money will CONTINUE to be reduced every day the project is delayed. That is a real-world risk Greenheart accepted when it decided to invest in Menlo Park where commercial development is more difficult that most California cities. Therefore, higher risk translates to a need for a greater than average expected return. How much? The local market decides.

3. I understand your reasons and preferences for more housing but you should also acknowledged more tradeoffs so residents have a fuller understanding of the housing/office mix issue. For example, more housing could mean more students in our public school system; parents driving them to destinations multiple times a day which creates traffic, and in general stay-at-home residents likely drive cars more frequently during the weekday than office workers.

My central point is that both the pluses and minuses of changes to the housing/office mix should be fully weighed. If a different mix can be CREDIBLY demonstrated to deliver MATERIALLY more net benefits to Menlo Park then I expect the City Council will negotiate a final agreement that reflects it. And I expect this includes the negotiation of public benefits.

Thanks again for sharing more information with readers.


7 people like this
Posted by our town
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 8, 2016 at 4:03 pm

our town is a registered user.

So the people who are bashing Patti haven't bothered to read any of the available materials and don't understand the basic nomenclature. They're just posting because Patti apparently makes an easy target, and since she's female, she's obviously speaking out of fear rather than relying on fact.

Got it.

Thanks, Patti, for your thoughtful analysis. Maybe some of your detractors will now try to educate themselves on these important issues? As you point out, we need to get it right the first time.


3 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 4:31 pm

dana hendrickson is a registered user.

our town:

"So the people who are bashing Patti haven't bothered to read any of the available materials and don't understand the basic nomenclature. They're just posting because Patti apparently makes an easy target, and since she's female, she's obviously speaking out of fear rather than relying on fact."

Patti did not provide either (a) her analysis or (b) information sources to support her claims in her original guest opinion. That is why others have either asked her to explain her claims and share her facts and assumptions.

After you read all the documents Patti referenced in her comments please provide your personal perspectives on the issues she raises.

I personally know Patti and If you are going to rush to her defense, I expect she would like something with more substance.

And now YOU introduce the sexist card... I doubt she appreciates it.


2 people like this
Posted by Patti Fry
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 8, 2016 at 6:56 pm

Patti Fry is a registered user.

I am very proud of our school system and sensitive to the potential impacts of additional housing on our schools. The adopted Specific Plan has a limit of 680 housing units. Maximizing the allowed housing on this site would be well within that limit. The more dense the housing, the smaller and more affordable each unit. Families with schoolchildren are less likely to seek small units. An alternative is senior housing, which is on the Specific Plan's list of what is regarded as public benefit for projects at the bonus level.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 8, 2016 at 7:17 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Patti:

apparently you've never visited Bell Haven or North Far Oaks where folks stuff just about as many people as possible into a given dwelling. You don't think that will impact our schools? Think again.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 8, 2016 at 7:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The adopted Specific Plan has a limit of 680 housing units.

For Greenheart the Bonus level would allow 322 units.

That would leave 358 housing units for all other projects.

The Stanford project currently has 215 residential units.

That would leave just 143 residential units for all other projects.


1 person likes this
Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 9, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Steve Schmidt is a registered user.

Peter,
You sound alarmed by the prospect of the projected number of housing units in the Specific Plan getting closer to the plan’s maximum of 680 units.

Let’s look at the office component of the Specific Plan. Of the 474,000 sf of non-residential development (hotel, retail and office) projected in the Specific Plan, how much has been approved and proposed to date? There’s Stanford, Greenheart, the Pollock boutique hotel and 1020 Alma Street. And what happens when the approvals for non-residential projects approaches the Specific Plan maximum allowable development? See page G 16 of the Specific Plan. Where are we now?

Wouldn’t either scenario trigger additional environmental review and/or a possible revision of the current Specific Plan limits? Would either be a bad thing?

With a serious housing deficit in Menlo Park, it would seem prudent to maximize opportunities to build housing especially in the ECR-NE-R zone, which the Specific Plan states, “provides for higher intensities with a focus on residential development given its location near the train station area and downtown.”

Once Stanford and Greenheart are built, the sites available for significant housing development in the Specific Plan area will be used up and the 680 unit maximum may never be reached.

Shouldn’t we be worrying about Menlo Park as an office boomtown than resisting desperately needed housing being built within the Specific Plan maximum?


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter,
You sound alarmed by the prospect of the projected number of housing units in the Specific Plan getting closer to the plan's maximum of 680 units. "

Not at all - I just think it is important to keep track of where we are vs the cap.


2 people like this
Posted by Nikki Stitt Sokol
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 17, 2016 at 10:24 pm

Nikki Stitt Sokol is a registered user.

I write here to express the view that City leaders who have the power to decide issues relating to this project should not take this opinion piece or the comments on this thread into account in their decision making. Based on over 10 years living here, I believe that the views in this opinion piece do not reflect the vast majority of Menlo Park residents. What we actually want is the beautiful, vibrant city that we deserve. It's beyond time to move forward.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardi�a
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2016 at 11:26 am

Roy Thiele-Sardi�a is a registered user.

@Nikki

It is clear that the opinions do not represent our communities views. These are well "rehearsed" views that they tried to pass with Measure M. They lost by a wide margin (by referendum standards) and are more than happy to continue to "try" to influence public opinion.

[part removed.]

Like you I want the blight gone, a vibrant increased tax base, and more people living close to downtown to bring foot traffic to a dismal and dreary Santa Cruz Avenue that needs revamping in the WORST way.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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