As Menlo Park updates its general plan, the city's Housing Commission intends to push the City Council to get built as many "below market rate" housing units as possible.
The commission made that decision at its July 7 meeting, attended by three commissioners: Sally Cadigan, Meg McGraw-Scherer and chair Michelle Tate.
Potential zoning changes in Menlo Park's M-2 area east of U.S. 101 could allow up to 4,500 housing units to be built. Most of those units would be on land owned by Facebook. But the city has not yet decided how many affordable housing units that some large developments would have to fund or build.
The commissioners also agreed to question a Facebook-funded displacement study that concluded that Facebook's plans to add 6,550 employees to Menlo Park would have only a limited, indirect impact on local housing demand. Both commissioners and others at the meeting said they were not convinced of the study's findings.
"None of us thinks the numbers are realistic," said Ms. Tate.
"No matter what the displacement analysis said, this is a huge issue the city has to deal with," said Ms. McGraw-Scherer.
"For the first time, the room was full of people who want affordable housing," Housing Commissioner Sally Cadigan commented to her fellow commissioners about the public response at the previous week's meeting. In her four or five years on the commission, she said, the room has been full of people before, but only those who didn't want affordable housing near them.
Ms. McGraw-Scherer also recommended that the city consider using the incremental increase in tax revenue it will get from Facebook's new buildings to fund "below market rate" housing.