News

Menlo Park: Transportation woes leave commission at impasse over general plan

 

With the Planning Commission's members down to four (three commissioners recused themselves due to personal connections to the area under discussion), the commission found itself at an 11 p.m. impasse. The commission split 2-2 on whether the city's general plan update is OK as is or should be refined to adopt specific measures to address citywide traffic.

This was the last meeting on the general plan update before the City Council will review the proposed changes to city zoning that could allow construction of 2.3 million additional square feet of nonresidential buildings, 400 hotel rooms and 4,500 residential units in eastern Menlo Park. The update would also reclassify roadway designations citywide.

Commissioners Larry Kahle and Andrew Barnes voted to recommend the changes be approved by the City Council as proposed, with a recommendation to "use all means possible to push regional transportation solutions forward," in the words of Commissioner Kahle.

Mr. Barnes pointed out the regional nature of much of Menlo Park's traffic problems."There are things in Menlo Park we can control, (and) things we cannot, which require regional work on this," he said.

Katherine Strehl, who chairs the Planning Commission, and Commissioner Henry Riggs didn't quite agree that Menlo Park was doing enough to address transportation problems, and were not ready to stamp their approval over the proposed plans just yet.

With regard to traffic and transportation problems, Commissioner Strehl said: "Menlo Park hasn't shown much leadership in this area, quite frankly. ... I think it'll be a Herculean task to get anything done. Menlo Park can push and shove with regional agencies, (but) there are bigger fish that are pushing and shoving. ... (Let's) not be naive."

Mr. Riggs said he thinks the city should spend a few more weeks to develop specific alternative transportation plans and find possible funding sources before approving the changes.

Mr. Riggs said, "I find this to be a good plan except for one element, and it's a key element. ... Where (do) the transportation mitigations come from?"

With the existing state of clogged roadways throughout the city, he said, alternative transportation should be a bigger part of the general plan changes. The city should lay out specific milestones or deadlines to ensure the transportation network gets improved while development happens.

"(It) means more than handing out bus passes," he said, hinting a resurrection of the Dumbarton Rail project should be a priority.

Mr. Riggs pointed to the large amount of growth in the works, with the Menlo Gateway hotel and Facebook's expansion, which the commission discussed recently. "Not a single tenant vehicle has hit the streets yet," he said. "Before any of this turns into buildings, we are going to see significant impacts on our transportation."

The general plan updates will go before the City Council for possible approval at its scheduled meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by georg0
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 25, 2016 at 1:59 pm

georg0 is a registered user.

This is a Cart before the Horse issue. The City is proposing to adopt general plan revisions (the Cart) analyzed by consultant’s transportation tests, which do not comply with the city’s present Transportation Impact Analysis (TIA) or Circulation System Assessment (CSA) document (the Horse). The City proposes to wait to examine and amend the Horse in 2018 or 2019, well after the Cart begins rolling through our neighborhoods.


5 people like this
Posted by MPR
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 25, 2016 at 3:42 pm

It is right "on point" to slow things down until serious plans for traffic mitigation are put in place. It's unfathomable that our city would knowingly sign off on a plan that doesn't seriously address the impact of all of our development projects on traffic. Everything is mitigatabl,...one way or another.
I am pro intelligent development. If the plan doesn't include a strategy and actions to manage what is in our control, and a strategy and actions to work at the state level on things not in our direct control, the plan is not ready for prime time.


5 people like this
Posted by Linda
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:06 pm

Over the decades, in this area, I have seen so many City officials discuss analyze approve mega development projects and then be hired on after they've finished or retired by local Big Fish development companies, Stanford etc.. It is an interesting list.

Also just today I took a walk at the Bidwell Park Marsh Baylands and witnessed the gigantic Steel multi-story building popping up in front of the viewscape between the park and the mountains in the diatance. Hopefully it will not be some garish color but dark enough to blend in somehow.


2 people like this
Posted by Fair Oaks Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Oct 26, 2016 at 9:41 am

Marsh and Willow Roads are the only 2 conduits from west of 101 into the M2 area. Willow Road, especially, is gridlocked much of the time. Not everyone going into that area will be coming off of 101, and Middlefield, Marsh and Willow Roads aren't big enough to handle that kind of traffic. I think it will take more than bus passes and bicycle paths to solve the problem.

The Fair Oaks neighborhood has had trouble with cut through traffic from Middlefield to Marsh for many years, and for a number of reasons - including the fact that we are both Atherton and unincorporated Menlo Park, we have not been able to solve the problem. I can only imagine what it will be like if we add hundreds of cars to that equation.

I agree that transportation issues should be addressed in a meaningful way before revisions to the general plan are adopted.


2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 26, 2016 at 10:13 am

@Linda:

Is there really a 'list' of who's gone to what companies? it would be interesting for to see- please reference.


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