Tonight: Menlo Park weighs 'sanctuary city' status, bike route


The Menlo Park City Council will have its hands full tonight considering whether it should adopt a "sanctuary city" ordinance, move forward with bike lanes on Oak Grove Avenue and more.

Sanctuary city

The council is scheduled to consider three options to clarify and codify its stance toward the policing of undocumented residents or people who have immigrated to the U.S. illegally.

According to a staff report, the first option would be to adopt an ordinance that would identify Menlo Park as a "sanctuary city," a "city of refuge" or a "safe city" by prohibiting the use of city resources to enforce federal immigration laws or collect sensitive information.

A second option is to adopt a resolution to join the "Welcoming Cities and Counties Initiative." The staff report describes this action as a "starting point," and would follow the lead of other cities in reducing linguistic and cultural barriers to people being included in city services, and to expand the availability of tools to improve civic engagement and access to knowledge about naturalization, voter registration, public safety and health.

The third option would authorize Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith to sign a letter of support for the California Values Act (SB 54), which would make California a "sanctuary state." The town of Portola Valley recently sent such a letter of support for the bill.

At the core of the debate is the question of how far the city should go to codify its positions on immigration and sensitive information, given what the potential stakes are. In an executive order, President Trump stated plans to withhold federal funds from jurisdictions that don't cooperate with federal immigration officials.

In the 2016-2017 fiscal year, Menlo Park received $1.18 million in federal funds. About $413,000 went to community services, $700,000 to public works, and $70,000 to the police department. On average, the city gets about $665,000 in federal funds each year, a staff report said.

Menlo Park relies heavily on grants for ongoing capital improvement and infrastructure projects. If federal funding were to be withheld, many projects could be jeopardized, including separating Ravenswood Avenue from the Caltrain tracks, improving the Dumbarton Corridor, building a bicycle/pedestrian crossing at Middle Avenue, "managing" lanes on U.S. 101, modernizing and electrifying Caltrain, resurfacing Santa Cruz and Middle avenues, and making changes to San Francisquito Creek, the staff report said.

Pending lawsuits have challenged the constitutionality of President Trump's executive order on immigration enforcement. The counties of San Francisco and Santa Clara have filed lawsuits alleging that the order violates the 10th Amendment to the Constitution because states (and by extension, cities) can't be forced into helping the federal government administer federal programs. So-called "sanctuary city" policies don't prohibit communication between local and federal agencies, they say.

Menlo Park has signed an amicus brief in support of the Santa Clara County lawsuit. Thirty-three other jurisdictions around the U.S. have asked that the executive order be halted.

Among jurisdictions that have adopted "sanctuary city" ordinances are San Francisco and Santa Ana. Other jurisdictions – such as San Mateo County, the town of Portola Valley and the city of Palo Alto – have adopted resolutions affirming a commitment to a supportive and inclusive community.

Menlo Park is already part of the latter cohort, having passed a resolution but not an ordinance on the topic on Jan. 24. (Resolutions are not enforceable, but ordinances are.) The resolution, approved unanimously by the City Council, states the city is committed to a "diverse, supportive, inclusive and protective community."

The idea behind both ordinances and resolutions is to assure residents that the their law enforcement agencies will not use city or county resources to administer federal immigration law.

That said, such jurisdictions do comply with federal criminal warrants, just not "civil detainer requests." Civil detainer requests are issued by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency and do not come from a judge based on a finding of "probable cause," according to the staff report. Federal immigration officials make these requests to local law enforcement agencies, asking them to hold undocumented people after their release date to give them extra time to decide whether to take those people into federal custody and/or deport them. Local law enforcement agencies are not required to comply with such requests.

According to the staff report, "At the core, these lawsuits stand for the principle that complying with civil detainer requests undermines community trust of law enforcement, instills fear in immigrant communities (which undermines the goal of local government to provide public services) and uses limited local resources."

Oak Grove bike lanes

The City Council also has on its agenda a decision on what appeared to be a done deal: a pilot program to install bike lanes on Oak Grove Avenue as part of a "safe routes to school" program. The program is facing opposition.

When they last discussed the matter, council members gave feedback to city staff that would extend the timeline for the project.

The staff is presenting the council with options that could have the bike lane installation completed by August or October. A third option would install the bike lanes west of El Camino Real during the summer, while doing more outreach, and then install the bike lanes east of El Camino Real in the fall.

Delaying the process to do more community outreach and possibly redesigning the project would cost an additional $15,000 to $40,000, according to the staff report.

A number of people have expressed concerns about the plan because it calls for the temporary removal of street parking, with the most complaints coming from the proposed elimination of 94 spots on Oak Grove Avenue east of El Camino Real.

The proposed bike lane pilot program was approved in December 2016 and would start at Menlo-Atherton High School, run along Oak Grove Avenue past El Camino Real to Crane Street, and then continue left with a mild jog across Santa Cruz Avenue, go right up Live Oak Avenue, and continue left again on University Drive to Middle Avenue. The Crane Street bike lane would extend in the other direction to connect with Valparaiso Avenue. The one-year pilot is expected to cost $236,000.

Bike lanes would be indicated with a minimum 18-inch buffer from the road, and on some stretches, "sharrows" (painted markings on the roads that remind drivers to share the road with cyclists) would be installed.

Other business

On other matters, the council could:

● Make appointments to fill vacancies on city commissions.

● Get an update from the police department about its proposal to create a fourth police unit in city's M-2 area. The unit would be made up of five officers and one sergeant, according to a staff report. Facebook has agreed to pay the estimated $11.2 million costs of the unit (previously it was $9.1 million) over five years, and could offer a two-year extension if the city isn't generating its expected revenues in that area by 2022, according to the report by Police Commander William Dixon.

Read the agenda, watch the meeting online, or attend in person. The council's regular session begins at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in the Menlo Park Civic Center.


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23 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Making Menlo Park a sanctuary city, sets a poor example to our youth. It shows that it is acceptable to break Federal law if you don't agree with the law. What on earth are people thinking? It is never acceptable to break the law. If people want to change laws, they can do through proper channels.

2 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

I believe the local proponents of "sanctuary" status are primarily concerned with maintaining status quo for their domestic help, i.e., nannies, cleaning staff, and gardeners. Also, many local contractors use undocumented workers for less-skilled work @ construction jobs. There were several of those during a major remodel at my house a couple of years ago. The men digging with shovels, filling debris boxes, wetting down soil to minimize dust, etc., were definitely not documented.

Like this comment
Posted by Jen Wolosin
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 1:48 pm

The future of Safe Routes in Menlo Park is in jeopardy. The City Council must take action tonight to move forward with the approved Oak Grove Bike Pilot. Words alone do not keep kids safe.

Please see my opinion piece from yesterday:
Web Link

Email Council Council ( NOW and tell them to move forward with the approved Oak Grove Bike Pilot. Safety for our kids can not wait.

Jen Wolosin
Parents for Safe Routes

14 people like this
Posted by illegal
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:00 pm

Not sure what the attraction is for citizens for anything resembling a sanctuary city. does MS -13 mean anything? does Kate Steinly and many others mean anything. Sanctuary for whom? not for the law-abiding citizens. Much of the California politicians have gone nuts--and for what reason? doesn't make any sense. Abide by the laws of the United States. if you want to live here--do it the right way. we don't need to protect criminals, thugs, people intent on doing harm--like MS-13.

Please wake up before it is too late. too many sanctuaries and too many safe zones are destroying the US.

14 people like this
Posted by Home of Empathy and Education
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Making Menlo Park a sanctuary city, sets a GREAT example to our youth.

12 people like this
Posted by Central Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm

There is no way the Menlo Park City Council should have the right to make any politically motivated decision (that not all residents agree with) which would negatively impact our City by giving up valuable federal funding. Focus on making safer bike and pedestrian routes and other matters of critical importance to all residents of Menlo Park!

15 people like this
Posted by bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:34 pm

I am AGAINST sanctuary status for Menlo Park.

22 people like this
Posted by Access Hollywood bus
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Dear John, bragging about sexually assaulting women (to Billy Bush) sets a poor example for our youth. Council can set a good example by making sure all residents feel safe going to police.

The DOJ lawyers have explained that Trump is just mouthing off from a bully pulpit and we should not take his threats seriously.

22 people like this
Posted by Constitutional Supporter
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Apr 18, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Are you kidding me? How utterly disgraceful. So, Menlo Park's city council is now making law by considering saying to hell with federal law that has been in place since the writing of the constitution? In view of what is going on in our world, in addition to the laws of the land, the rule of law, the US constitution, how can this notion of a sanctuary city even be under consideration? This is anarchy. Treasonous. A community can't pick and choose which federal laws they are going to follow. That's what people do in banana republics.
Not everyone who comes here deserves to be here simply because they walked across the border. We need to know who they are. They need to go through the process designed to become citizens. I'm not anti-immigration, but I AM anti-illegal immigration.
And what kind of an example does this set for our youth? When Obama was president, we were told that states had no rights to oppose federal law. What's suddenly changed? Oh, yeah, the new president. So, now suddenly it's ok to have state rights again. Is this the kind of country we want to live in? Laws according to whims of the day? NO to sanctuary cities. It's against the law for good reason.

8 people like this
Posted by Jewish Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Apr 18, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Wow, what a scary group of comments.

Please support the Sanctuary City Ordinance.

14 people like this
Posted by Student of the Constitution
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 18, 2017 at 11:25 pm

Constitutional Supporter should reflect on the values of the founding fathers. Some were slave owners, none were women.

Like this comment
Posted by illegal
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Apr 19, 2017 at 8:10 am

what is scary-- despite what a couple of writers have indicated--that we are a bunch of losers because we don't support the constitution and our laws in place--is MS-13 who have come across the border with blessings from those who apparently are morally above everyone else. They came across our borders illegally-- approx 8000-10,000 who have gone into cities across the country --with the sole purpose of killing anyone and everyone. is this what the sanctuary city is for--to protect their "safety" so that they can go around killing our citizens and residents? the safety is for the people who are here lawfully--not for those who want to destroy others' lives. this is a vicious gang and they have come over the border with many other thugs and drug dealers. time to know who is here and who shouldn't be here. No one is complaining about the law-abiding citizens--it is the thugs and destruction makers who need to go. but, apparently, some enlightened few think they are so above everyone else that these people deserve protecting--even though they are hell-bent on destruction. enough with this "sanctuary" city non-sense. all it means, is that people who should be protecting its citizens are refusing to do their job. they are paid to protect its citizens--not its thugs. (notice there is no mention of any criteria other than unlawful thugs. these animals have got to go. What other country lets people come and go willy nilly? last time we went anywhere--a passport and more was required to go to any other country-we just didn't get on a plane and fly away to never never land, nor we were allowed to just walk across any borders. we all better wake up before it is too late. not only won't we have "sanctuary" cities--where citizens feel safe, we won't even have sanctuary homes--"locks on doors" won't be allowed to keep strangers out--and no one will be able to help when thugs do decide to visit you at home.

18 people like this
Posted by Home of Empathy and Education
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 19, 2017 at 9:11 am

Fear: the Fox news staple. And they're going a little crazy these days without their O'Rielly harassment.

Making Menlo Park a sanctuary city, sets a GREAT example to our youth.

2 people like this
Posted by Jen Wolosin
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:35 am

Thank you, Mayor Keith, for your wonderful leadership last night. Menlo Park is lucky to have you looking out for our kids.

For those of you who want to see for yourselves how things went at the City Council meeting, you can watch the whole proceedings here:
Web Link
Please note that the discussion about Oak Grove occurs at approximately hour 3:35:00. Be warned that the interface to watch is not very user friendly.

Parents for Safe Routes looks forward to continuing to work with members of the community to keep our kids safe getting to and from school.

Jen Wolosin
Parents for Safe Routes

4 people like this
Posted by Group think
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2017 at 11:41 am

Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing dissenting viewpoints, and by isolating themselves from outside influences.

Jen Wolosin is right. Residents should absolutely watch the meeting. It is a case study in how Groupthink develops and its pitfalls.

Last night a City Counclmember actually advocated threatening taxing a local Church to coerce it into providing parking in it's parking lot for high school students. The Mayor proposed that the attendees of weddings, funerals, and special events at Nativity Chuch be made to take shuttles to these services. And today Ms. Wolosin and her organization praises these actions.


6 people like this
Posted by Think deeper
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 21, 2017 at 8:47 am

Wow--John: It is never acceptable to break the law? Good thing you weren't around during the era of MLK. Or maybe you were? In any case, it seems clear that you would not have agreed with him. "An unjust law is no law at all." (Letter from Birmingham Jail).

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven

on Apr 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

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