Following roughly six hours of discussion on Saturday, Feb. 2, the Menlo Park City Council agreed to hold off until later in the month to pick its top priorities for 2019.
While parts of the discussion seemed fitting for the day the meeting took place -- Groundhog Day -- a number of new ideas were brought before the council for consideration.
Members of the public suggested several projects to add to the city's annual work plan, including:
• Supporting affordable housing for teachers by working with Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian.
• Developing policies to support tenants and improve housing affordability.
• Broadening plans for a bike and pedestrian crossing at Middle Avenue to connect it with a bike lane route between Hillview Middle School and Burgess Park.
• Looking into establishing a subregional transportation management association, an organization made up of employers, developers and property managers working to provide alternatives to driving solo within a given geographic area.
Two of last year's top priority projects have been accomplished: transitioning the city to district elections and approving land-use plans to rebuild the Guild Theatre from an old movie theater into a live music and performing arts venue.
The city made some progress on top priority items in 2018. It is working on developing a Safe Routes to School program that would begin by the end of June. The city's transportation master plan is still in the works and likely won't be completed until the second half of 2019.
Two other top priorities, to plan a downtown parking structure and to adopt an update to the city's El Camino Real/downtown specific plan, do not have concrete deadlines set.
Council members were split 2-2 on the downtown parking structure, with Councilman Drew Combs and Councilwoman Betsy Nash against moving forward with planning for a parking structure and Vice Mayor Cecilia Taylor and Councilwoman Catherine Carlton favoring the structure. Mayor Ray Mueller recused himself because the company he works for has an office in downtown Menlo Park.
Items completed on the work plan in 2018 include developing a plan for electric-vehicle-charger infrastructure, approving a water system master plan, and efforts by the administrative services department to evaluate user fees, employee engagement and organization development.
Work plan projects that are slated for completion this fiscal year include efforts to develop a citywide communications program, adopt a green infrastructure plan, build restrooms at Jack Lyle Park, update the parks and recreation facilities master plan and complete a preliminary study on the Ravenswood Avenue and Caltrain grade separation project.
Projects expected to run into the new fiscal year include installing sidewalks and streetscape infrastructure on Chilco Street, studying a bike and pedestrian crossing at Middle Avenue and the Caltrain rail line, planning a new Belle Haven Library, and updating the city's heritage tree ordinance.
The City Council is expected to select its top five or six priorities at its meeting scheduled Tuesday, Feb. 26.