Menlo Park takes on second Greystar proposal to add hundreds of apartments citywide in under a month | News | Almanac Online |

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Menlo Park takes on second Greystar proposal to add hundreds of apartments citywide in under a month

Menlo Portal, which could add more than 330 apartments, enters environmental review phase

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A rendering of "Menlo Portal," a proposed project that would build 335 apartments, some office space and a small amount of commercial space at 115 Independence Drive and 104 and 110 Constitution Drive in Menlo Park. (Image courtesy Greystar/Heller Manus Architects.)

Menlo Portal, the tentative name for a second proposed project by developer Greystar that would build hundreds of apartments on Menlo Park's Bay side, is moving forward, Menlo Park Principal Planner Kyle Perata announced on Jan. 7.

The proposal would add 335 new apartments, about 35,000 square feet of office space and about 1,600 square feet of commercial space on a 3.2-acre site at 115 Independence Drive and 104 and 110 Constitution Drive.

The project will be entering its environmental review phase with the release of a "notice of preparation" of an environmental impact study. With such proposals, the city is required to conduct an environmental impact analysis to identify potential areas where the project could have a negative impact on the environment, and establish a plan to mitigate or minimize those impacts.

The step comes only weeks after the Planning Commission, on Dec. 16, had the same required discussion with Greystar over the developer's Menlo Uptown proposal. That development would add 483 new housing units – 441 rental apartments and 42 condos – at 141 Jefferson Drive and 180-186 Constitution Drive.

Together, both projects would add 818 new homes to a city where jobs far outnumber housing units.

Last July, when the Planning Commission first discussed the Menlo Portal project, commissioner feedback included: support for more than the required minimum 15% of units designated to be below market rate for a range of lower-income renters; a requirement that the developer create a plan to reduce traffic trips by more than 20%; support for a publicly accessible open space that could be used for seating or live music; and the suggestion that the developer work with the community to figure out what "community amenity" or publicly accessible benefit should be required in exchange for being able to build at a higher density than would otherwise be permitted in the city.

The announcement opens up a 30-day period during which people can comment on the scope of the environmental review process and make suggestions on what topics should be evaluated for potential environmental impact.

The deadline to comment is Friday, Feb. 7. People can submit comments by email to Kaitie Meador at kmmeador@menlopark.org or by mail to Meador at the Community Development Department, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

People can also comment during the Planning Commission's scheduled hearing on the topic, set for Monday, Jan. 27. The commission is set to meet at 7 p.m. that night in the council chambers at 701 Laurel St. in Menlo Park.

The meeting can be streamed online here.

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Comments

17 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 9, 2020 at 5:21 pm

blech!


21 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 9, 2020 at 5:31 pm

These large multi floor bldgs east of 101 are changing the bay breezes and climate in the rest of the city. Enough is enough! Do the planning commission and the city council have the guts to say no to the developers and protect the rest of us?


25 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 9, 2020 at 8:38 pm

@whatever,
Where does this NIMBY mock science come from. Truly saddens me to see people make flimsy claims like yours to stop something that would clearly help bring greater housing jobs balance at a local level.


24 people like this
Posted by ok
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 10, 2020 at 6:27 am

y’all needa stop. there’s already too much construction going on near facebook and instagram. traffic is horrible and our city is being torn down by these huge companies. LET US LIVE.


17 people like this
Posted by Nicole
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 10, 2020 at 7:40 am

I work right by a current construction project where they're already building apartments. The sounds of loud, uneccessary construction disrupt my business. Every single client of mine complains. If everyone is upset about this new proposal to build MORE, than how was it even approved? It's all about money and greed. They don't care about human beings.


20 people like this
Posted by Matt
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 10, 2020 at 7:46 am

This is great! We need more housing locally. If you want to reduce traffic, let people live closer to where they actually work.


21 people like this
Posted by Lisa
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2020 at 8:12 am

I don’t know how Menlo Park is going to handle the increase in traffic on our local roads. It has gotten so bad lately especially on El Camino Real. How many units is menlo park adding in total between all of the projects going on? I now try to avoid driving on el Camino because of the traffic and the apartments and businesses are not even completed. I can’t imagine how the roads are going to handle the influx of local traffic. I think el Camino will become permanently clogged and all of the roads surrounding it will become cut through streets from people avoiding El Camino. Adding businesses and housing is great, but I just don’t think our downtown parking and roads can handle anymore more cars.


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 10, 2020 at 9:06 am

Nicole:

could you please define "unnecessary construction"?


18 people like this
Posted by Let me explain
a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2020 at 9:36 am

Why? How? Did all these buildings get approved? It's called the General Plan. The Council of Cline, Ohtaki, Keith, Carlton and Mueller approved a growth plan for the next 20 years that gave property owners the right to go big. Housing is needed thanks to that council approving millions of sf of office that is filled with employees commuting into Menlo Park. Now, we cannot refuse housing projects when they are presented.
It all happened in the open, maybe fluffed up with pretty pictures and obscure language but that's what staff and consultants are paid to do. We elect people who promise voters that they will protect residents and then we go back to our lives and expect protection.
The city now has three new council members and 2 more new members will be elected this fall. Too bad the former council caused the damage it did and the developers now have rights to go go go. Elections have consequences. Menlo Park needs residents with integrity to step forward and run for the 2 seats that will be available this fall.


8 people like this
Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 10, 2020 at 11:19 am

If this works the way it's supposed to, it could help traffic - at least the housing part. *Assuming* the people who live in these new residences will work in that business park for the most part, they will usually not be driving much during commute time. If you also assume these people would still be working in the business park and commuting from elsewhere if these weren't built - that's an improvement. Drive 10x as far, contribute 10x more to traffic. Additional office construction is another matter; or, if for some reason, people who move into these residents work a ways away - this won't help.


8 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 10, 2020 at 12:16 pm

New housing near jobs is a good thing people. It will reduce traffic!

Yes construction noise is a pain, but so is lack of housing.


16 people like this
Posted by MP Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 10, 2020 at 12:46 pm

Facebook has completely taken over our community and it seems that planning and development decisions are taken solely to accommodate corporate growth, and without regard for families living in Menlo Park. My greatest hope is that Facebook will create campuses in other parts of the country. There are tons of young people who would love to live and work in a lower cost area with better quality of living. As far as I am concerned, Facebook has been a net negative to our community in terms of the constant building and traffic (not to mention our children's mental health, the outcome of the elections and state of political discourse in the world). Menlo Park residents, please let's work together to stop this unchecked growth and take back our community!!


20 people like this
Posted by Historian
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 10, 2020 at 12:58 pm

@letmeexplain

Actually Mueller was the only vote against the General Plan.
Look it up.


17 people like this
Posted by Historian
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 10, 2020 at 1:02 pm

@letmeexplain

Web Link

“On a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Ray Mueller opposed, the council agreed Nov. 29 to make major changes in the city's general plan for development”





11 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jan 10, 2020 at 1:27 pm

@ “Let me explain”: As you certainly know by now - or maybe you always knew, and simply chose to misinform others - Mueller clearly voted against the General Plan. Should we expect this type of misinformation from you going forward up until the election? Using these lies to slander his integrity will not work; It only makes supporters like myself work harder for him. If your strategy is to lie and make up these types of comments; it seems pretty pathetic.


4 people like this
Posted by Almanac - Can You Help?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Are these overly simplified assumptions correct?

The General Plan set a long term vision for office growth. Silicone Vally economics and FB turned the long term vision into our short term reality. Rapid office growth, driven by FB, worsened the housing/office imbalance, which led to the constant need for more housing. It also put MP at the bulseye of aggressive housing initiatives, like SB50.

Do others see things this way?

Council leans toward adding housing to address the imbalance as quickly as it can. Maybe before Sacramento takes control of zoning? I don't hear a call from anyone to put local voters' needs ahead of more global issues like climate and housing. (Not looking to be branded a NIMBY, but what do voters want?)

Almanac --- you have great reporters, and have broken many important stories. Can you investigate and help inform? With elections coming up, those running will want to know how the public feels. Thank you.


4 people like this
Posted by Leet me explain
a resident of another community
on Jan 10, 2020 at 2:18 pm

@Historian. NOT SO FAST!

The vote on November 29 2016 that council member Mueller voted against were only two resolutions: 1 against the community Amenities list developed through the Connectmenlo process and the other a resolution against the Land Use and Circulation Element

Mueller was absent on Dec 6 2016 for the other 7 resolutions that pertained to the real growth entitlements given to property owners.

Interesting that the city's 20 year growth plan would not be on the agenda when the full council was present. To vote on 2 of the 9 elements is a good start but not why voters elected Mueller. If council members can call in votes from Burning Man and Mexico and Italy, why did Mueller skip this vote?

I found this information in a letter to council October 20,2019


5 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 10, 2020 at 2:50 pm

Hello -- I'm the person who posted the Oct 20, 2019 letter to Council with the ConnectMenlo Resolutions and Ordinances. Gathering the information took considerable time too. Here is the link to my post. Web Link

The ConnectMenlo (zoning) Ordinances & Resolutions were passed at two Council meetings: Nov 29, 2016 and Dec 6, 2016. Mueller was the only NO vote at the Nov 29, 2016 meeting. However, Mueller (and Cline) were absent at the Dec 6, 2016 meeting.

At the Dec 6, 2016 meeting all the ConnectMenlo zoning ordinances were approved (No's 1024, 1025, 1026, 1027, 1028, 1029) and the CM Program-level EIR (Resolution No. 6356) that is being cited today by developers who want to "tier" off those decisions.

At the Nov 29, 2016 meeting, two ConnectMenlo Resolutions were passed: Resolution 6359 and 6360). The first was the general Resolution approving ConnectMenlo and the second was the Resolution approving the Community Amenities list.

In short, most of the ConnectMenlo decisions were passed by only three Council members. Whether a Council member voted for it or not is also a moot point now.
What's important is what our current Council will do about the many problems stemming from the ConnectMenlo decisions!


4 people like this
Posted by Rudy
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 10, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Why are these projects always east of 101?. There is tons of space west of Alameda. But that’s where rich people live so that’s never going to happen. I’ve lived in North Fair Oaks for almost 41 years and Menlo Park has lost all its charm in exchange for an amphitheater no one will use or a walking path or a little park. If they build these projects (and they surely will) I would like for there to be 0 parking spots for its residents. If you want to live there you gotta walk, bike lockers would take too much space. And they can’t use rideshare either.


3 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 10, 2020 at 7:37 pm

@rudy, it’s called zoning. Most of the land east of 101, except for the Belle Haven triangle, was zoned for commercial or high density residential for many years. Can be changed but would likely take a supermajority of voters across all districts to change.


10 people like this
Posted by Libel
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 11, 2020 at 7:22 am

@LetMeExplain, you claimed Mueller voted for the General Plan.
You used that claim to then say he had no integrity, etc.

But it turns out he voted AGAINST the General Plan. You now admit that. Then the Council took more votes on the General Plan when he wasn’t there.

So the fact remains, Ray never voted for the General Plan and according to @LynneBramlett he voted against the whole Plan.

When the following votes occurred,, maybe he was sick. Maybe they scheduled it when he couldn’t be there. Maybe he protested the following votes. According to @LynneBramlett he had already voted against the whole plan.

It’s pretty obvious you took this article that had nothing to do with Ray and just decided to try to write a political hit piece making things up.



4 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 12:36 pm

I consider the focus on Mueller’s 2016 ConnectMenlo vote to be a “red herring” that distracts us from evaluating his overall record on the topic.

We now have three new Council members. At least two have clearly signaled their concerns with ConnectMenlo. So Mueller has the needed voting block to support actual policy proposals related to fixing ConnectMenlo problems.

One could also argue that Mueller only voted against part of ConnectMenlo. Yes, Mueller voted “NO” at the Nov 29, 2016 meeting where the general “theory” of ConnectMenlo was approved in the form of two resolutions. However, Mueller was absent at the Dec 6, 2016 Council meeting where the specifics of ConnectMenlo were passed in the form of 6 zoning ordinances and the program-level EIR.

While I see no recent tangible action from Mueller, I see action from Council members Nash and Taylor. These two proposed the Council discussion on a development moratorium at the June 11, 2019 agenda. That night, most speakers implored the Council to fix the ConnectMenlo problems! Web Link
Unfortunately, from the Staff Report and presentation to how the meeting was conducted, my distinct impression was that the Council discussion was steered towards no development moratorium. (I heard later, from a reliable source, that Staff was quite worried about the possibility of a development moratorium as they feared layoffs.) Housing related issues, and pending laws, were given as a reason why Council should not enact a moratorium. However, the housing shortage could instead have been used as the justification for reviewing and then revising the ConnectMenlo ordinances to reduce office and increase housing.

If Mueller opposed ConnectMenlo, he could have joined Taylor and Nash in voting for a development moratorium at the June 11, 2019 meeting. Instead, the then Mayor Mueller steered the discussion towards tabling the idea without an actual vote. The only outcome was Council’s creation of two subcommittees: one for District 1 (Ray Mueller and Cecilia Taylor) and one for Districts 2-5 (Nash and Comb).
To help, I also sent Council a memo with suggestions for both subcommittees. They may also have heard from others. Web Link

On Aug 27, Cecilia Taylor informally reported her ideas during personal comments at the end of a Council meeting. One got the impression that she reported because she wanted the public to hear something. Her memo is attached at the end of the minutes, pages 56-57. Web Link

On Oct 15, 2019, the public finally heard a
"study session" on the Council subcommittees. However, only Cecilia Taylor’s name was on the District 1 subcommittee recommendations. In other words, no recommendations were listed as being from Ray Mueller.

Mueller was also the Mayor during 2019. The Mayor helps to set the agenda so Mueller could also have placed the follow-on subcommittee topic much sooner than approximately 4 months after Council’s June 11 development moratorium discussion. Meanwhile, major development projects in District 1 continue to go to the EIR stage!

Mueller’s vote at the Nov 29, 2016 Council meeting is just one data point. His actions since then, especially those during 2019 until today, should also be evaluated when considering Mueller’s position on ConnectMenlo.


3 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 12:40 pm

Here's the link to the Council subcommittee report for the Oct 15, 2019 Study Session. Web Link= As you can see, the one for the District 1 recommendations only includes ones from Cecilia Taylor.


12 people like this
Posted by Wise Decision
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 13, 2020 at 1:09 pm

@LynneBramlett,

You don’t need to cast dispersions on others. The Almanac Editorial Board agreed with the City Council decision not to move forward with a moratorium and called it a “wise decision.”

No development projects were approved in Belle Haven in 2019, the year Ray was Mayor. Those who were paying attention to the moratorium discussion remember that moratoriums don’t stop projects from being evaluated or EIRs from going forward. Moratoriums only stop projects from being approved. In essence in 2019 no projects were approved in Belle Haven, the same result as if there was a moratorium.

You can read the almanac editorial below that called the decision “wise”.

Web Link


3 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 13, 2020 at 6:53 pm

Wise Decision -- the central point of my comment is that it's important to examine Council member's current actions regarding ConnectMenlo. He says he voted against it, but we don't hear his plans to fix some of the many problems with ConnectMenlo.

My point is what is he doing today? Why did we not hear from him when the District 1 subcommittee gave its recommendations to Council? Why weren't the post moratorium topics discussed earlier too?



2 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 14, 2020 at 1:32 pm

Heaven forbid they tear down those poor 1960s-1980s era historical office park buildings! Think of the children?
I say build baby build. It’ll be make us a more sophisticated world city and raise land values. This will not affect traffic anywhere else except the bayfront expressway and that will be mitigated completely when they build the “dumbarton rail”


5 people like this
Posted by Dawn1234
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 15, 2020 at 1:22 pm

The article headline says "citywide", but I failed to see where there are any proposals that aren't bayside. Maybe I just didn't read it carefully - or the headline predates the revisions of the article? Just curious.


7 people like this
Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 15, 2020 at 7:07 pm

The General Plan set 30 year building goals that have already been met. It doesn't matter who voted for it, it was implemented in a headlong rush that has resulted in even more crowding, gridlock and air pollution in Belle Haven while the rest of Menlo Park watches from a distance . That distance may or may not be comfortable, but it is not nearly as uncomfortable as what we have been putting up with.

People are free to hope that new housing over here will reduce traffic, but that will happen only if all the people who move into that new housing can walk or bike to work over here. I don't think that is likely or even legal to require. People will continue to jam in wherever they can afford to and work wherever they can get jobs.

We need something better than ConnectMenlo, which has mainly worked to keep Menlo Park divided, as it always was before.


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