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Councilman Mueller: Menlo Park Planning Commission has too much on its plate tonight

Councilman calls for postponement of commission review of general plan report

Attempting to review two massive and important reports – one on Facebook's expansion plans and the other on the general plan update – in one meeting is not a good idea, says Menlo Park Council Ray Mueller. He is calling on the city manager to postpone tonight's Planning Commission review of an environmental impact report on the general plan update, so the commission can focus on the Facebook report.

The two environmental impact reports together span more than 10,000 pages.

And there are additional complications: Planning Commission Chair Katherine Strehl will miss tonight's meeting because she is out of town, and two commissioners – John Onken and Drew Combs – will be recused from the general plan review because of potential conflicts of interest. Mr. Combs will also be recused from the Facebook review because he is a Facebook employee.

Planning Commissioner Henry Riggs, who will chair the meeting, said Monday he had not heard any indication that either of the items will be postponed, but items can be removed from the agenda without the 72 hours of advance notice required to put items on the agenda. He said he plans to come to the meeting "prepared for everything."

Proposed changes to the general plan would allow up to 4,500 more housing units, 2.3 million more square feet of nonresidential space, and 400 more hotel rooms in the M-2 area (located east of U.S. 101). Those changes could increase the number of employees by 5,500.

At Facebook, the expansion project entails knocking down several buildings on the TE Connectivity site (bounded roughly by Constitution Drive, Chilco Street and Bayfront Expressway) and building three 75-foot-tall buildings: two offices buildings totaling 962,400 square feet, a 200-room, 174,800-square-foot hotel, and 3,533 parking spaces. Combined, the buildings could accommodate about 6,550 additional employees.

After the Planning Commission reviews the Facebook document and has a study session on it, other comments will be gathered and the draft EIRs will be presented as part of both projects' packages for overall approval.

The general plan update is expected to return to the Planning Commission on Aug. 29 before moving to the City Council in September and October for approval.

The Facebook project is expected to return to the Planning Commission on Aug. 22 before moving to the City Council in September.

Public comments

Comments on the Facebook project environmental report may be delivered during the meeting's public comment session. The deadline to submit written comments is 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 11. They can be emailed to ktperata@menlopark.org or mailed to: City of Menlo Park, Community Development Department, Planning Division, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

Comments on the environmental report for the general plan update, if not made at the meeting, may be submitted in writing by 5 p.m. Friday, July 15. They may be emailed to connectmenlo@menlopark.org with "Menlo Park General Plan Update EIR" in the subject line, or mailed to: Deanna Chow, city of Menlo Park Planning Division, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park 94025.

Links and information

Planning Commission meeting agenda.

Watch the meeting online.

Staff report on Facebook expansion.

Staff report on general plan update.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday, June 20, in the Menlo Park City Council Chambers at 701 Laurel St.

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