News

Menlo Park: 'Corporate housing' zone would allow 1,500 dorm-style units on Facebook campus

Tonight: Menlo Park commission to act on general plan update

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.

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Civic Center. Read the agenda or watch the meeting online.

Related stories:

Oct. 19: Menlo Park general plan update goes before Planning Commission.

Oct. 12: Menlo Park releases final environmental report on general plan update.

Comments

19 people like this
Posted by Fantasy Island
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 24, 2016 at 12:23 pm

How is it possible that 1500 people could even live on campus by the Dumbarton Bridge without any owning a single car? Zero car trips? Really? Are the City's Planning staff really buying this?

How does the City plan to keep track of whether or not cars parked in the pre-existing Facebook parking lots belong to residents of the dorm housing?


10 people like this
Posted by David Lehmann
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Regarding cars & parking, I think the point about the dorm style housing for 1500 at Facebook is that it would generate zero NEW car trips. If you assume that those 1500 employees already get to & from Facebook with cars or other transportation, they would have the same cars and transportation available to them while living there. Seems to me that would lower the amount of commute traffic, and improve drivetimes or transportation time overall.


21 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:16 pm

Wouldn't it be a grand gesture by the MP city council members to have Facebook address the unhoused people in EPA and Menlo Park, by providing adequate housing. I emphasize adequate, not the miniscule amount they usually demand from developers, of which Facebook is one.

Wait, the homeless seldom have cars - isn't this close to a perfect solution/marriage? Or is this another 'subtle' way for Facebook to pick and choose who and where new residents to MP will live.

I agree, where's the water coming from to house them? And at what point do we keep the Preserve and Bayfront Park from surrounding overdevelopment? If our city officers don't, who will?

Come on, council, put away your rubber stamps.


7 people like this
Posted by Naive city
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:17 pm

Anyone heard of uber and lyft? There will be vehicle trips, folks. The city is really naive to believe there wont be.

Question: would these new changes eliminate any restraints Facebook has agreed to? It sounds as if new rules would apply there, so what does this mean to previous rules? Some day that site might be owned by another company that isnt as community minded as facebook


23 people like this
Posted by mary
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Oct 24, 2016 at 1:59 pm

Am i the only person on earth who is worried about water usage? 1500 people here, 1g000 there and pretty soon it starts to add up. We are bound to face another shortage and, this time, I refuse to let my garden die or save water from the shower...When will the water company weigh in on this?
w


13 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:05 pm

Residential water use is about 5% of all water usage in the state. A huge chunk of that is for landscaping, which would be minimal for 1500 dorm-style units (which would not have individual yards or gardens)

If you're really worried about water use, push for more efficient use by agriculture, which uses 90%, e.g. drip irrigation.

(the other 5% or so goes to commercial / industrial)


14 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:18 pm

How is it that someone living in west Atherton, where the lots are an acre + is now worried about water use in what will basically be a dorm. I would imagine one house in west atherton uses many many times more water than 10 - 20 studios. maybe more, and that is just for landscaping.


2 people like this
Posted by Roberto
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 24, 2016 at 4:46 pm

Roberto is a registered user.

@Beth - your point is - make sure those not served today are served with fb housing funds....only you did not say where the funds come from. You cannot extrapolate that the funds from this housing would assist those not served. That is like saying a presidential candidate would take their advertising and private plane funds to help those who need it. Grand gesture, not reality


17 people like this
Posted by The Onion
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 24, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Thank You Menlo Resident for shutting down the insipid complaints of all things . . . water. As you correctly noted, Beth and Mary who are exposing us to their water saving shower habits, are just spitting into the wind. You want to save water, go talk to a farmer, not your Menlo Park neighbor. I once again have to laugh at the incongruity of the Drought Believers comments online next to the SF Chronicle's headline of "Rain this week beginning to raise fears of flooding". The Onion strikes again, in real life. Facebook has been doing everything our paid Council Members should be pushing, ie getting a train line running from Redwood City Sequoia Station past Facebook HQ and across the Bay along the Dumbarton Bridge. The rail line exists (some of it damaged), but like CalTrain and BART with their 5 year plans to add new cars, there is little to no progress. The Chinese would have a line running inside of 4 weeks time. The rail line exists, the will to use it does not. Dorm units next to the workplace are a perfect solution since our public officials seem incapable of handling the public transportation policy for the city. What party do they belong to any ways? Must be the party of unaccountability.


10 people like this
Posted by Mark L
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 24, 2016 at 7:25 pm

A software factory with a dorm for workers next door. They can call it "Little Dongguan".


21 people like this
Posted by JC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:25 pm

This doesn't make any sense. Please don't allow this to happen.

The 8-Story Building on the corner of 101 and Marsh is a Monster and the last thing we need is 1,500 more units in the area. Let's wait and see how the current residential projects and increased density affect traffic and other infrastructure before we bow down to Facebook and other projects.

The Gateway Project and Facebook current plans are enough along with all the new residential on Haven. All of the new buildings/houses will not be positive and we should slow down before we approve anything over there.

100% agree that the rail that runs from downtown RWC to Facebook across the Bay should be pushed...We have very few public transportation routes going East/West and this is a logical step for the bay. Bohannon/Facebook should have to pay for a lot of this.


13 people like this
Posted by Naive city
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 8:07 am

The facebook campus is the wrong place for more development. It is in the midst of a wildlife refuge.


8 people like this
Posted by Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 25, 2016 at 8:56 am

This is a bizarre solution to the worker/housing imbalance. Is the assumption that the workers will spend five days a week in a dormitory while their families get along without them in the Central Valley or wherever they can actually afford a home? I hope that Facebook is planning to invest in a large staff of marriage councilors for these workers!


9 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 25, 2016 at 9:57 am

All this moaning about a different housing type. Ironically, it's the menlo park model of single low density houses on large landscaped lots on cul-de-sacs with no reasonable public transportation that is the real threat. The water/space/gasoline-hungry model of making communities that we cling to is unsustainable.

Dorms for Facebook? Let's try it. Make Belle Haven permit parking only? Let's try that. Take back Willow from Caltrans so we can make it a slow neighborhood boulevard? Might as well try that too since our do-nothing attitude has produced zilch so far other than gridlock.


Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Regarding the water, this is probably not for 1500 new people coming into the area either. I'm sure a majority of those people already lived in CA and so the net impact in little. Or do you only car about MP's water supply?

Again as others have mentioned, the net trips to Facebook might even be helped because some of those employees won't be driving in anymore, but just walking/riding over. I personally wouldn't want to live in my company's dorms, but it seems like many might.

There isn't much out there anyway and those people won't be coming from 280 to get to Facebook. It also might bring in some more people at nights/weekends which the retail and restaurants would love.


7 people like this
Posted by Do Gooder
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 25, 2016 at 1:02 pm

If anyone reading this is worried about water use, they should know that 50-55% of our fresh water is used for raising,feeding and processing animals that people eat. Don't take my word for it, check out the website comfortably unaware or Cowspiracy.com. Household use is only 4 - 5%.


9 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 2:55 pm

I'd like to understand something. Why is Facebook providing housing for its employees? Is this a grand gesture, a location problem (cutting down travel to work), a financial/business choice (tax/writeoff advantages), and are they to be Menlo Park citizens and therefore able to possibly exert tremendous influence, when voting especially! and maybe in other ways?

The only other time I recall this was when Stanford built their apartments for employees, so they could attract and keep needed skilled personnel who otherwise would live and work in another community. Have other companies provided this kind of housing for employees? - Google?, Apple?

These might be naive questions, and I'd appreciate answers.


8 people like this
Posted by Quality of life
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Oct 26, 2016 at 7:15 am

The whole dorm room idea seems to be about hiring an army of software workers at subsistence wages. Facebook doesn't want to pay them salaries that would allow them to rent or buy in the Bay area,or even allow them to have cars so they are not cooped up on the campus! This is not the kind of job creation that we want to encourage.


16 people like this
Posted by grow up
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 26, 2016 at 7:48 am

Obviously these people will be parking their vehicles on the Facebook campus. yes, providing housing makes sense when there are so many employees now at the campus and not enough housing in the area. It's too late to put the Genie back in the bottle, once the City approved the massive office spaces in Menlo Park this housing and traffic crisis was inevitable and is just going to get worse, building dorms addresses part the problem. TIme for our City to insist on getting FB and other developers to pay for housing for all of the displaced people and homeless in the area, get that commuter rail built from RWC>Facebook>BART across the bay, improve bike trials - along the bay and in town, build the bike tunnel to Middle and elevate the train tracks. The longer the community drags its feet the worse this traffic and housing nightmare is going to be - get on it. BIggest obstacle is a City Council that is beholden to developers and unwilling to acknowledge a homeless and housing crisis for the working class while the NIMBYs in Menlo Park bemoan making any necessary changes to the myth of the village character. grow a pair and grow up, Menlo Park.


6 people like this
Posted by STFU
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 12:21 pm

No wonder everyone I know is moving to Oregon, Colorado and Minnesota. Just getting away from people like you all is going to be the best thing ever----so sick of the phrases "NIMBY" "YIIMBY" and the entitled, egocentric views that just because you work somewhere means that you ought to be able to live within minutes of there. You ALL need to grow up. Stop whining. Stop kvetching. Grow a pair and either move somewhere where you can afford the housing---there are LOTS of more affordable, yet wonderful cities in the nation---or just shut your mouth. "Grow Up":I agreed with most everything your wrote right up until your "Biggest obstacle is the City Council....yada yada yada housing for the working class." Why does everyone think that just because they grew up somewhere, went to school somewhere, or want to live somewhere, that they are entitled to do so? In the immortal words of Despair.com, "Not everyone gets to be an astronaut." If Facebook, or Stanford, or any other company or entity you might work for in this area won't pay you enough to afford the house you want, then get a different job and move to somewhere that you can live the way you want to. Else wise, be quiet.


11 people like this
Posted by Grow up
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm

I own a home here in Menlo, I'm concerned about a lack of housing for people like teachers and other people who provide valuable services in our community, I am concerned about the people living in their vehicles by the parks and the homeless - this is a HealthCrisis for them as well as the community where they live - on the streets, in the creek, etc. Developers aren't going to create housing out of the goodness of their hearts and it's up to City government to addrsss these issues and make sure that all of the money exchanging hands includes money for low and middle income housing in our city as well as transportation infrastructure (light raid, bike trails). Menlo Park ain't that charming and losing its charm as more and more people are becoming homeless and the haves are telling the have nots to STFU.


Like this comment
Posted by reporter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Kate, do your work and give us data. How many displacements? Since when? How many evictions? Since when?

All of these comments are a direct result of your opaque writing. You cover little pieces of a greater issue and then drop it off on the laps of residents to make sense of the info you provide. [part removed.]

Do your job. Get real facts out to people.

Everyone is convinced that traffic is a result of the approved development. Is it? What development? FB is the only one I can think of with that kind of impact. Can you report that? Dumbarton rail kicks down the road but BART took monies dedicated to that rail line, correct?

[part removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by maximusgolden
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 26, 2016 at 3:22 pm

Facebook is trying to alleviate the traffic and housing issues in the Menlo Park community. If Facebook were not investing in housing near their campus, their employees, with their higher compensation, would be putting even more pressure on local housing cost.

I find it ironic that most people in Menlo Park who live West of 101 couldn't have cared less about what happened East of 101 until Facebook came along and began investing in the East Menlo community.

Some of the arguments raised here like water supply are laughable. These folks are going to use water somewhere. If you are really worried about water, lobby for better agricultural land use and redo your landscaping.


5 people like this
Posted by Roberto
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 27, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Roberto is a registered user.

@ Quality of Life: where do you get your facts and based on what?
Intern (when I was young, this was for free...they pay $7k / month)
Job Title Facebook Salary
Software Engineer $125,789
Software Engineer Intern - Monthly $7,247/mo
Software Engineering Intern - Monthly $7,005/mo
Production Engineer $135,290
With regards to the housing style (campus style), this is consistent with what young software engineers often like. Live / work environment.


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

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