Menlo Park: Housing proposal on Independence Drive moves forward

A proposed eight-story, 105-apartment building project at 111 Independence Drive now faces the environmental review process to evaluate its potential impacts on traffic, housing, air quality, and other factors. (Image courtesy BDE Architecture.)

A proposal to build 105 apartments and less than 1,000 square feet of commercial space at 111 Independence Drive on the Bay side of Menlo Park is moving forward, following a June 24 discussion by the city's Planning Commission.

Consultants are beginning the environmental impact review process for the proposal, and are seeking public feedback on what topics should be studied to determine the project's environmental impacts.

Developer SP Menlo LLC, represented by Sateez Kadivar, proposes to replace a 15,000-square-foot office building with 105 new apartments and 115 parking spaces; the apartments would be mostly one-bedroom and studio units. The overall maximum height would be 85 feet.

Nine percent of the apartments would have two bedrooms. The building would have several common areas as well as a pool, a spa, a club room, a fitness center, a lounge, a dog run, a dog wash area, a basketball court, a bocce court and a ground-floor cafe. The proposal requests that the cafe count toward the developer's requirement to provide community amenities.

Under the city's zoning policies for this property, the city expects a developer to provide community amenities in exchange for greater, denser development permissions than would otherwise be allowed. On this property, without the provision of community amenities, the developer would be permitted to build only a maximum of 30 housing units per acre, compared with the proposed 105 units on slightly under one acre.

An initial environmental study has been done, but because of a lawsuit settlement reached between the cities of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, new developments brought forward following the rezoning in the "ConnectMenlo" area on the Bay side of the city have to go through the more extensive environmental analysis.

The areas that have been determined to warrant further analysis by consultants are air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, traffic noise, population and housing, and transportation. After these impacts are studied, the matter will come back to the Planning Commission for additional review, and the public will get a 45-day window to provide feedback on the environmental analyses.

The developer will also complete a fiscal impact analysis to evaluate the potential value of the building and determine what is fair for the developer to provide to the community in exchange for development permits.

Planning Commissioner Henry Riggs asked if the city can find out what the impacts of the development will be on specific neighborhoods around it.

Those who wish to weigh in can send their comments to Kaitie Meador at, or by mail to her at the City of Menlo Park, Community Development Department Planning Division, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025 by the deadline, 5 p.m. on Monday, July 15.

Access the preliminary environmental analysis online at here.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story indicated that Kadivar is the property owner; the property in fact belongs to his family and he is its representative.


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5 people like this
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jul 10, 2019 at 8:01 pm


Another project for the rich again.... more traffic and headaches... when do we stop?

Mr. Riggs;
How can this development help us. Don’t be a coward, run for public office and stop with these appointed positions.

Maybe scared to lose?

9 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 10, 2019 at 10:55 pm

Another tall building to negatively impact the weather in MP west of 101. All these tall bldgs change the breeze and wind patterns from the bay that help keep us cooler and blow away some pollution. Enough is enough.

9 people like this
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 11, 2019 at 12:06 am

For the increase density of more than 2x, a public benefit of a "cafe" is ludicrous. Come on city council and planning commission, we need new housing stock in MP, but not at expense of token public benefits. We need substantial benefits, i.e. improve traffic congestion, funds for a new library in east MP, etc.

10 people like this
Posted by sie
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 11, 2019 at 7:44 am

sie is a registered user.

A tiny cafe in exchange for building more than 100 apartments? That doesn't even come close to being a community benefit. It's doubtful that most of the people who live in the Belle Haven neighborhood would use the cafe, given its location. The planning commission and the city council must require all of these proposed developments to include meaningful community benefits as well as complete traffic mitigation, and to implement both the benefits and the mitigations in the first phase of the project.

5 people like this
Posted by SeaLevelRise?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 11, 2019 at 3:07 pm

Why are we not concerned about the impacts of sea level rise east of 101? Living in a fool’s paradise, peninsula!

2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 11, 2019 at 3:13 pm

The traffic problem will be solved when everyone is in a canoe

Like this comment
Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 11, 2019 at 3:48 pm

It is an ambitious plan, but this has been circulating around for a bit, Web Link

Singapore did something similar, Web Link, to create a fresh water reservoir and combat sea level rise. However, that was at a much smaller scale, then what we would have to do with SF Bay.

2 people like this
Posted by Not Enough Parking
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 12, 2019 at 11:27 am

115 parking spots for 105 apartments isn't enough...I don't think we'll ever learn the lesson. MAYBE one person will live in a studio, but the couples I know (2 people, 2 cars) rent 1-bedroom apartments. Given that this location isn't close to or accessible to public transit, those living here would need cars to get to jobs and other 'community amenities' like grocery stores, restaurants, shopping, etc.

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