Menlo Park's City Council spent about four and a half hours Tuesday night hearing comments, asking questions and giving feedback about proposed changes to the city's general plan, which governs new development.
The proposed general plan changes are the culmination of more than two years of work and 65 public meetings, said Placeworks consultant Charlie Knox, who has led the project with city planner Deanna Chow.
"We've had a lot of people who have stuck with us through meeting after meeting," Mr. Knox said.
Menlo Park's general plan has not been updated since 1994. The updates factor in other potential regional changes and city growth through 2040.
As proposed, the changes would allow in the city's M-2 area, roughly bounded by San Francisco Bay, University Avenue, U.S. 101 and Marsh Road:
• 2.3 million square feet of nonresidential development
• 4,500 housing units
• 400 hotel rooms
The plans sets specific standards for how things get built. One aspect of that is the proposed sustainability component, which would require new water recycling infrastructure and buildings in the flood plain area to be built 24 inches above the ground.
An environmental impact report, detailing how the environment could be affected by the development, found that the biggest adverse impacts would occur if nothing beyond what's already allowed gets built, Mr. Knox said. That's because of the significant regional growth in development and traffic.
If more housing isn't built closer to where the jobs are, traffic will definitely get worse, Mr. Knox said. And allowing commercial development will make developers provide "community amenities," which include public open spaces and community assets such a grocery store with a pharmacy.
A list of such amenities was developed using a survey and community meetings with local residents, though, as one speaker at Tuesday's meeting pointed out, developers were well-represented at those meetings and frequently offered feedback.
Speakers who addressed the council frequently raised concerns about future development exacerbating the city's existing transportation and housing problems, and the development's potential environment impact on wildlife.
The council asked questions of the staff that are expected to receive responses at its Nov. 29 meeting. Councilwoman Catherine Carlton was absent from the meeting.