Tonight, the Menlo Park Planning Commission will meet again on the city's general plan update, this time to issue recommendations to the City Council. The commission previously met on Oct. 19 for a four-hour discussion on proposed changes to the plan that governs future development in the city.
Among the topics discussed in the first meeting were the new zoning designation of "corporate housing" at Facebook's east campus. According to City Planner Deanna Chow, there could be up to 1,500 dorm-style corporate housing apartments built there, and could be used for Facebook employees only.
The dorms wouldn't have any extra parking, and it would be expected that the development would generate zero new car trips. Spouses who work elsewhere or children couldn't live there, and pets would not be allowed either.
James Eggers, director of the Sierra Club's Loma Prieta Chapter, raised concerns about the potential new tenants who, without onsite parking and with limited public transit options, would be effectively "marooned" in an isolated corner of the city.
"Where do the residents of this island go to after work or apart from work?" he asked. "We do not want to see more highly active nighttime activities with light outdoors near the wildlife refuge."
He suggested a pedestrian tunnel or some type of additional infrastructure be built to grant those tenants easier access to the rest of the city.
Other general plan issues previously discussed include impacts on water supply and emergency safety.
Impact of changes
Menlo Park's project to update its general plan has involved two years of work by city staff and consultants from PlaceWorks, and more than 60 meetings to discuss the proposals and gather community feedback.
Proposed changes to the general plan could allow an additional 2.3 million square feet of nonresidential development, 4,500 housing units and 400 hotel rooms to be built in Menlo Park east of U.S. 101. That's beyond the additional 1,000 housing units and 1.8 million square feet of nonresidential development that are allowed throughout the city by current zoning, not including projects that are planned or underway.
The changes could result in the city's population rising to 50,350 residents and 53,250 workers by 2040, according to the consultants' estimates.