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Tonight: Menlo Park council reviews Facebook expansion project

 

After many study sessions and discussions, and approvals through various commissions, the Menlo Park City Council is set to review Facebook's proposed major expansion on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

The expansion would add to the Facebook complex a 200-room hotel and two 75-foot-high office buildings with 962,400 square feet of floor area. An estimated 6,550 people would work in the offices and the hotel.

On Sept. 26, Menlo Park's Planning Commission unanimously recommended that the council approve the expansion. Commenters from environmental groups praised the project for its sustainability features, such as an onsite water recycling system and solar panels. Also, Facebook promises to reduce car trips during peak hours by encouraging workers to use buses and other means of transportation other than single-occupancy vehicles.

Commenter Ellison Folk, an environmental and land use lawyer at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger LLP, said the environmental impact analysis hadn't looked at the indirect displacement that could happen with the influx of so many new workers, and whether such changes would increase housing costs or evictions for renters in Menlo Park or East Palo Alto.

As part of its development agreement with the city, Facebook would plan and design 1,500 housing units on its Prologis site, though it couldn't build anything until Menlo Park's general plan update is approved by the council. Those 1,500 units are separate from the 1,500 possible units recently designated for "corporate housing" on Facebook's east campus. In all, Facebook could build up to 3,500 housing units on its property with the general plan changes.

Under proposed changes to the general plan, the company would be able to build 2,000 housing units on that site, according to Deanna Chow, principal planner at the city of Menlo Park. Facebook also will have to pay the costs for or build 20 housing units, and has agreed to subsidize rental costs for 22 apartments for local teachers, public safety officers or nonprofit workers.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at the Menlo Park City Council Chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Civic Center. Read the agenda here or watch the meeting online.

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