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A Menlo Park City Council candidate has alleged another campaign discouraged him from running. What really happened?

Max Fennell in Seminary Oaks Park in Menlo Park on July 8. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

In a debate hosted Sept. 30 by the local League of Women Voters chapter, Menlo Park City Council candidate Max Fennell told attendees that he had been asked not to run for the City Council by Karen Grove, who he alleged to be working on behalf of candidate Jen Wolosin.

Wolosin denied any involvement and said she was unhappy to hear that it had happened.

Fennell, 32, is a professional triathlete and owner of Fenn Coffee who has lived in Menlo Park for about five years.

He said that earlier this summer, just after a Palo Alto Weekly story was published indicating his interest in running for the City Council, Menlo Park Housing Commissioner Karen Grove sent him an email inviting him to a phone call with Planning Commissioner Michele Tate.

Both Grove and Tate are also involved with Menlo Together, a fiscally sponsored project of the Foundation for Regional Transit, also known as Friends of Caltrain. It was started with a $40,000 grant from Grove's donor-advised fund. The project advocates in Menlo Park for policies that support housing, transportation, sustainability and equity, according to its website. Up until recently, Wolosin was also a member of Menlo Together.

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Both Grove and Tate were acting independently of their roles with Menlo Together and city commissions and were not acting on behalf of Wolosin's campaign, Grove said in an interview.

Fennell said he wasn't clear on what the scheduled call would be about – he thought they wanted to talk about the situation with the police chief, since one of the early topics he started speaking about publicly was police reform.

"The next thing you know, it turned into an interrogation of if I was qualified to run," Fennell said of the phone call, which took place in the morning of June 22, according to Grove. Fennell said Grove said he shouldn't run and should support Jen Wolosin's campaign instead.

Grove said she did not tell him not to run, but said Fennell could consider moving to District 5 and running against unopposed council incumbent Ray Mueller. That way, she could support them both, Grove said.

Grove told The Almanac that she has since apologized to Fennell. "I clearly had an impact I did not want to have," she said.

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She said she was excited to learn that "a diverse voice was considering a run," but it wasn't until they got on the phone that she learned he was a District 3 resident, which disappointed her, she said.

"I had already endorsed Jen," she said. "I couldn't support both if he were to run in District 3."

She said the conversation from there "shifted to different ways to effect change in the ways he wanted to," and called it a "collaborative conversation about change in Menlo Park."

Michele Tate was also on the call. As a former housing commissioner, she said she asked Fennell whether he had considered applying for the Housing Commission, because his platform was primarily focused on housing issues. At the time, the council had only weeks previously made appointments to city commissions, and there had been only one applicant to fill a vacancy on the Housing Commission.

The phone call with Fennell "was purely an effort to get to know who the candidate was," Tate said.

"I did not hang up the phone thinking Karen was trying to push him any direction or trying to discourage him at all," she said.

"By no means was this a call from Jen (Wolosin)'s camp," Tate said, noting that she has not endorsed any City Council candidate in the race and does not plan to do so.

Fennell said that at the time of the phone call, he was under the impression that Grove was acting on behalf of Wolosin's campaign.

"Somebody's running for office trying to silence a voice they say they are trying to represent," he told The Almanac Oct. 1.

Fennell said he feels that the conversation has affected his campaign. "For quite a few weeks, I didn't say anything to anyone (about the call)," he said. "I was holding it in."

In an email, Wolosin told The Almanac that Grove has never been part of her campaign team.

Grove said that she checked in with Wolosin before making the call, but Wolosin distanced herself from the matter and did not provide any direction. Grove noted that she has endorsed and contributed to Wolosin's campaign. According to campaign finance documents, she contributed $500 to Wolosin's campaign last year.

While the phone call between Fennell, Grove and Tate took place on June 22, it wasn't until several days later, on June 25, that Wolosin announced her formal plans to step back from Menlo Together, according to email records she provided. She was removed from the group's mailing list the following day.

She said she is grateful for Grove's support, but added, "I was not happy to learn about her outreach to Max and I can see why he found it offensive. ...I think it’s good for our community to have multiple candidates in an election, sharing a variety of viewpoints and ideas."

Fennell declined to participate in the candidate forum hosted by Menlo Together on Oct. 3 and said he had asked that it be canceled. In a statement he sent to Menlo Together in advance of the forum, he said that he would not attend due to a conflict of interest between the Wolosin campaign and Menlo Together, and alleged that her campaign had engaged in intimidation against him.

Candidate Chelsea Nguyen also declined to participate, leaving only Wolosin to answer the questions posed by the advocacy organization of which she is a former member.

"I'm still going to give it 110%," Fennell said about his run for the District 3 seat. "We're so focused on bringing about real change."

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A Menlo Park City Council candidate has alleged another campaign discouraged him from running. What really happened?

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 5, 2020, 11:01 am

In a debate hosted Sept. 30 by the local League of Women Voters chapter, Menlo Park City Council candidate Max Fennell told attendees that he had been asked not to run for the City Council by Karen Grove, who he alleged to be working on behalf of candidate Jen Wolosin.

Wolosin denied any involvement and said she was unhappy to hear that it had happened.

Fennell, 32, is a professional triathlete and owner of Fenn Coffee who has lived in Menlo Park for about five years.

He said that earlier this summer, just after a Palo Alto Weekly story was published indicating his interest in running for the City Council, Menlo Park Housing Commissioner Karen Grove sent him an email inviting him to a phone call with Planning Commissioner Michele Tate.

Both Grove and Tate are also involved with Menlo Together, a fiscally sponsored project of the Foundation for Regional Transit, also known as Friends of Caltrain. It was started with a $40,000 grant from Grove's donor-advised fund. The project advocates in Menlo Park for policies that support housing, transportation, sustainability and equity, according to its website. Up until recently, Wolosin was also a member of Menlo Together.

Both Grove and Tate were acting independently of their roles with Menlo Together and city commissions and were not acting on behalf of Wolosin's campaign, Grove said in an interview.

Fennell said he wasn't clear on what the scheduled call would be about – he thought they wanted to talk about the situation with the police chief, since one of the early topics he started speaking about publicly was police reform.

"The next thing you know, it turned into an interrogation of if I was qualified to run," Fennell said of the phone call, which took place in the morning of June 22, according to Grove. Fennell said Grove said he shouldn't run and should support Jen Wolosin's campaign instead.

Grove said she did not tell him not to run, but said Fennell could consider moving to District 5 and running against unopposed council incumbent Ray Mueller. That way, she could support them both, Grove said.

Grove told The Almanac that she has since apologized to Fennell. "I clearly had an impact I did not want to have," she said.

She said she was excited to learn that "a diverse voice was considering a run," but it wasn't until they got on the phone that she learned he was a District 3 resident, which disappointed her, she said.

"I had already endorsed Jen," she said. "I couldn't support both if he were to run in District 3."

She said the conversation from there "shifted to different ways to effect change in the ways he wanted to," and called it a "collaborative conversation about change in Menlo Park."

Michele Tate was also on the call. As a former housing commissioner, she said she asked Fennell whether he had considered applying for the Housing Commission, because his platform was primarily focused on housing issues. At the time, the council had only weeks previously made appointments to city commissions, and there had been only one applicant to fill a vacancy on the Housing Commission.

The phone call with Fennell "was purely an effort to get to know who the candidate was," Tate said.

"I did not hang up the phone thinking Karen was trying to push him any direction or trying to discourage him at all," she said.

"By no means was this a call from Jen (Wolosin)'s camp," Tate said, noting that she has not endorsed any City Council candidate in the race and does not plan to do so.

Fennell said that at the time of the phone call, he was under the impression that Grove was acting on behalf of Wolosin's campaign.

"Somebody's running for office trying to silence a voice they say they are trying to represent," he told The Almanac Oct. 1.

Fennell said he feels that the conversation has affected his campaign. "For quite a few weeks, I didn't say anything to anyone (about the call)," he said. "I was holding it in."

In an email, Wolosin told The Almanac that Grove has never been part of her campaign team.

Grove said that she checked in with Wolosin before making the call, but Wolosin distanced herself from the matter and did not provide any direction. Grove noted that she has endorsed and contributed to Wolosin's campaign. According to campaign finance documents, she contributed $500 to Wolosin's campaign last year.

While the phone call between Fennell, Grove and Tate took place on June 22, it wasn't until several days later, on June 25, that Wolosin announced her formal plans to step back from Menlo Together, according to email records she provided. She was removed from the group's mailing list the following day.

She said she is grateful for Grove's support, but added, "I was not happy to learn about her outreach to Max and I can see why he found it offensive. ...I think it’s good for our community to have multiple candidates in an election, sharing a variety of viewpoints and ideas."

Fennell declined to participate in the candidate forum hosted by Menlo Together on Oct. 3 and said he had asked that it be canceled. In a statement he sent to Menlo Together in advance of the forum, he said that he would not attend due to a conflict of interest between the Wolosin campaign and Menlo Together, and alleged that her campaign had engaged in intimidation against him.

Candidate Chelsea Nguyen also declined to participate, leaving only Wolosin to answer the questions posed by the advocacy organization of which she is a former member.

"I'm still going to give it 110%," Fennell said about his run for the District 3 seat. "We're so focused on bringing about real change."

Comments

Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2020 at 11:41 am
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 11:41 am

Zoning Mayhem in District 3, and other zoning recipes


Macbeth, ACT 4, Scene 1 William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

A dark Cave. An ad-hoc land use commission. In the middle, a Caldron boiling. Thunder.
Enter the three Witches.
1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin'd.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—'tis time! 'tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;

In the poison'd entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and owlet's wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.

3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches' mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg'd i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar's lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.


Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2020 at 12:15 pm
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 12:15 pm

I should add that Candidate Jen Wolosin (with no planning experience)is proposing up-zoning District 3 (Linfield Oaks and Felton Gables, and more) from single family to multi-family duplexes and triplexes.

Now, I am an expert in Zoning Mayhem as I was accused of such when I was on the Planning Commission. Specifically, I recall, when we are trying to protect the Allied Arts neighborhood from tourist buses on weekends. Were trying to give the neighborhood one reliably quiet day a week.


Karen Grove
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 5, 2020 at 1:22 pm
Karen Grove, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 1:22 pm

This is Karen Grove, and I’m writing on behalf of myself alone. I want to acknowledge my role in this, and be clear that I was acting as an individual and not on behalf of any campaign or organization.

I also want to say that Kate Bradshaw has represented my perspective of events accurately, including that although my intentions were encouraging, my impact was not; I have apologized to Mr. Fennell, and I extend that apology to others who were impacted on behalf of Mr. Fennell or his campaign, Jen Wolosin or her campaign, Menlo Together, or simply as an observer.

Only Mr. Fennell can say if Bradshaw represented his perspective accurately, but assuming she did, then her coverage illustrates how two (or three) people can share an experience and take away different – and valuable - observations and conclusions from it, depending on many things, including who they are and their life experience.


Samuel Y
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Samuel Y, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 3:07 pm

Why would any city official recommend to any candidate to move to another district to run against someone else? I would want to vote for a candidate who has lived in my district for a good amount of time, rather than someone who moved into my district just 4 months before the election for some political shenanigans. Plus, it's expensive to just pick up and move, especially to districts 4&5.


Not A City Official
Registered user
another community
on Oct 5, 2020 at 4:14 pm
Not A City Official, another community
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 4:14 pm

Karen Grove, who suggested Max move, is not a city official. She is a member of Menlo Together.


Samuel Y
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2020 at 4:27 pm
Samuel Y, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 4:27 pm

This article identified Karen Grove as the Menlo Park Housing Commissioner and a member of Menlo Together. I checked the Menlo Park City website, and it identifies her as the Chair of the Housing Commission with her term expiring April 20, 2022. Is this not a city official?


Not A City Official
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Oct 5, 2020 at 4:33 pm
Not A City Official, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 4:33 pm

You are correct. Great research Samuel Y.


Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2020 at 5:42 pm
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Vote for Chelsea Nguyen. Lives in District 3 near Willow.
Chelsea isn't a puppet.


Disgusted
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2020 at 5:53 pm
Disgusted, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 5:53 pm

Menlo Together should register as a political lobbying group. Both Grove and Tate should resign from their commissions.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 5, 2020 at 8:03 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 8:03 pm

Nice Article and it is easy to see how misunderstandings happen. I still feel Jen is the better candidate because she has experience on City Commissions where Max and Chelsea do not have any. It was nice to read that the Almanac editorial staff felt the same way and endorsed Jen for the District 3 seat. For those who are on the fence I would highly recommend watching the League of Woman Voters candidate forum video where each of the three candidates explains their positions on different topics and their ideas on housing and the future of Menlo Park. I found it very enlightening.


Lynne Bramlett
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 5, 2020 at 8:43 pm
Lynne Bramlett, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 8:43 pm

Max did the right thing to drop out of the Menlo Together "debate." I applaud his courageous stand. Karen Grove's association with the event, and Jen Wolosin's too, are reason enough to not view the forum as a fair venue. I also point out that Chelsea Nguyen received two threatening and abusive emails, a few days before the League of Women Voters debate. Keep that in mind when viewing the tape. Those emails would have rattled me and most people.

I admire the courage and integrity of Max and Chelsea. Both represent fresh perspectives and they have conducted themselves admirably so far.


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 5, 2020 at 10:34 pm
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 10:34 pm

This situation doesn't feel good.

The Menlo Together website reads: "Housing, Transportation, Sustainability, and Equity in Menlo Park." "Members agree with our Values, Visions, and Goals and share one or more of our goals. Members will be invited to join working groups and other activities. Members must participate at least twice a year in a variety of ways (signing petitions, attending an event, writing to a city council, or relevant commissions), to stay members."

So, to be a member, you must be an active member. The website lists 13. Jen Wolosin is emeritus. We already have Karen Grove on the Housing Commission and Michele Tate on Planning. Jen Wolosin will likely be a council member. (Has anyone asked why she stepped down from being an active member?)

Does anyone else find it concerning that members of one small advocacy group, regardless of its charter, hold so many positions of influence in our city government? How do we know that these members won't put their personal advocacy, as required by their charter, ahead of other interests as they fulfill their duties on behalf of the city?


Concerned about Menlo Together
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 8:39 am
Concerned about Menlo Together, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 8:39 am

Menlo Together started as an exclusive group, select invitation only. Little diversity of thought. Only after months, did group open up a little after some pushed to join. The small size of the group is telling. However it is more a lobbying/advocacy group and so its members should not be allowed to serve on City Commissions. Tate and Grove are not the only ones doing so from MT.

Despite the protestations that Grove and Tate were speaking for themselves, their Commission positions would give them undue clout and be intimidating. I would like Council to set stricter ethical requirements for Commissioners. The behavior of Tate and Grove, as described in this article, should be prohibited for currently serving Commissioners and for at least two years after their service ends.

Grove or Tate could also move to District 5, and run for office, if they wanted competition in that Council race. Grove might even already live there. Why try to inconvenience Fennell by asking him to move?

Appreciate Kate's article very much.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 8:49 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 8:49 am

Restricting service on City commissions because of someone's affiliation with any legal group is a horrible idea. If you start with MT then why not add the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, even Menlo Church?

Forget it!


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 9:36 am
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 9:36 am

Peter, are the Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis, even Menlo Church advocacy groups?

The Chamber comes closest. "Our goal? Help your business succeed here." The others are a red herring.

MT is an advocacy group with a political agenda.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:09 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:09 am

Long Time - I am a Vietnam Veteran and a proud member of the Vietnam Veterans of America. Its stated mission is:
VVA’s goals are to promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans. VVA strives to achieve the following:

"Aggressively advocate on issues important to veterans
Seek full access to quality health care for veterans
Identify the full range of disabling injuries and illnesses incurred during military service
Hold government agencies accountable for following laws mandating veterans health care
Create a positive public perception of Vietnam veterans
Seek the fullest possible accounting of America’s POWs and MIAs
Support the next generation of America’s war veterans
Serve our communities"

Clearly an advocacy group with a political agenda.

Restricting service on City commissions because of someone's affiliation with any legal group is a horrible idea.


Chelsea
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:20 am
Chelsea, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:20 am

On the day of the Menlo Together Forum, Adina Levin called Max to encourage him to reconsider. She voluntarily added that Karen Grove acted independently. When the article about me came out, and with some Comments regarding "who" was the person discouraged Max from entering the race, Karen Grove reached out to Max and claimed that she acted independently. If KG acted indenpendently, how does Adina Levin (part of Menlo Together) knew about this? This seems like a conspiracy to me. I expect a lot of people know about this scheme than what is represented by Karen Grove and Jen Wolosin. Expecting Max to move to District 5 and run against Ray Mueller? Wow, if Max is haivng rent issue, how is he supposed to pay for rent in District 5? What KG really wants is to have her friend and mentee to run unopposed in the political quest. I have come to know Max these past month. He is a deent guy. I believe him.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:32 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:32 am

" I expect a lot of people know about this scheme than what is represented by Karen Grove and Jen Wolosin."

Wolosin had NOTHING to do with this and it is inappropriate to suggest otherwise.


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:48 am
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:48 am

Peter, thank you for your service. The VA is a wonderful organization. But it is not advocating policy that directly impacts Menlo Park and how the city creates rules and regulations, and spends local tax dollars. As just one example, a simple web search shows MT supporting Friends of Caltrain, a Caltrain political advocacy group.

Citizens are welcome to join political advocacy groups. I just don't believe they should be appointed to city commissions that have sway over local issues, such as housing and planning.


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:50 am
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:50 am
Concerned about Menlo Together
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:51 am
Concerned about Menlo Together, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:51 am

Peter Carpenter cannot possibly know what Jen knew or did not know about the attempts to get Max to drop out of the District 3 race. Personally, I find it more likely that she did know. I find it hard to believe that Tate and Grove would have acted the way they did if they thought that Jen might not approve.

Menlo Together should be classified as a political lobbying group. It is also time to add diversity requirements for Commissioners so that they reflect the Menlo Park population.

Carpenter also gave Jen $500 for her race so he is not a neutral party.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:00 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:00 am

Concerned - How can you consider rumor and supposition as truth over reported facts?

Wolosin has DENIED she was aware of this interaction until well after it happened.

It seems like anyone who disagrees with you is not a neutral party. Trumpian!

Please quit the rumor mongering.


Reader
Registered user
another community
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:43 am
Reader, another community
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:43 am

@petercarpenter, the article itself says Wolosin knew about the call before it happened. Grove admitted it. "Grove said that she checked in with Wolosin before making the call, but Wolosin distanced herself from the matter and did not provide any direction. "


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:47 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:47 am

"Wolosin distanced herself from the matter and did not provide any direction. "


Conscience
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:48 am
Conscience, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:48 am

For the record, six of 13 Menlo Together members serve on Menlo Park Commissions or Advisory Committees (excluding Jen Wolosin). Karen Grove and Rachael Horst on Housing; Adina Levin and Katie Behroozi on Complete Streets; Michelle Tate on the Planning Commission; Diane Bailey (Executive Director of Menlo Park) serves on the City's Transportation Master Plan outreach advisory committee (as does Jen Wolosin). Worth noting that Pam Jones, Mayor Taylor's mother, is also a member of the group.

Menlo Together has considerable influence considering its small membership.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:54 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:54 am

"For the record, six of 13 Menlo Together members serve on Menlo Park Commissions or Advisory Committees (excluding Jen Wolosin). Karen Grove and Rachael Horst on Housing; Adina Levin and Katie Behroozi on Complete Streets; Michelle Tate on the Planning Commission; Diane Bailey (Executive Director of Menlo Park) serves on the City's Transportation Master Plan outreach advisory committee (as does Jen Wolosin). Worth noting that Pam Jones, Mayor Taylor's mother, is also a member of the group."

These individuals are to be commended for their public service - Thank you.

I suspect that many of them also belong to CSAA, the County Library and are even registered members of the Almanac Town Forum.


Reader
Registered user
another community
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:02 pm
Reader, another community
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:02 pm

Menlo Park City Councilmember Betsy Nash is also considered a founding member of Menlo Together. See the quote below from an Almanac article in 2018.

"One factor that may have helped Nash is her tie to "Menlo Together," a group that formed earlier this year before the elections. It is nonpartisan, but Nash said she attended several meetings of the group before deciding to run for office.

The group includes city leaders who are involved in various parts of Menlo Park civic life, including Karen Grove from the city's Housing Commission, fellow Complete Streets commissioners Adina Levin and Katie Behroozi, Diane Bailey of Menlo Spark and Jennifer Wolosin of Parents for Safe Routes and representatives of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County.

Grove said that while Nash is considered a "founding member" of the group, she was removed from all email discussions leading up to the candidate forum the group hosted. Wolosin and Behroozi also helped with her campaign. Moving forward, the group is still figuring out if Nash will rejoin as an elected council member."

Web Link


Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:11 pm

This just in - from the League of Women Voters session:

Watch this video at 1:08:55 to to 1:10:04. Jen Wolosin wants to rezone all single family home lots to duplexes and triplexes.

Web Link


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:12 pm
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:12 pm

@Kate Bradshaw

As in the case of this article, you do a great job investigating and reporting on local issues. I believe this topic would merit your time and energy. Thank you.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 12:23 pm

"This just in - from the League of Women Voters session:"

Do watch ALL of it and note that both Nguyen and Fennell are advocating rent control as THE answer while Wolosin is simply proposing that everything be on the table for discussion.


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:23 pm
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:23 pm

This situation only seems to get worse. From prior commenters:

MT is a policy advocacy group with 13 members, 3 emeritus and a founder who took her name off the website before a candidate forum.

Half of the current MT members hold city positions of influence. One MT founder is currently serving on the MP city council. The mayor's mother is a MT group member. And now a newly emeritus MT member, who helped on the council campaign of MT's founder, is running for MP city council herself.

It is appropriate for the members of one small group to have so much influence on city policy? Even if it is legal, is it wise? Is our city getting the benefit of representative leadership? While the mayor is not her mother, is it right to have 3 members of a 5 person council with such close ties to such an aggressively, pro-urban agenda?

And why are we only learning of this now, and in the Comments section?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:28 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:28 pm

"is it right to have 3 members of a 5 person council with such close ties to such an aggressively, pro-urban agenda?"

The voters decided that this is what they wanted.

All of these people hold office after being elected by the voters.


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:41 pm

"All of these people hold office after being elected by the voters."

Peter, I didn't realize that we voted for commission members. Please let me know when those elections took place.

Also, congratulations on getting two likes within one minute of posting your comment. That's impressive.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:44 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Long Time - You are not paying attention.

You asked:

"is it right to have 3 members of a 5 person council with such close ties to such an aggressively, pro-urban agenda?"

I responded:

"The voters decided that this is what they wanted.

All of these people hold office after being elected by the voters."


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:54 pm
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:54 pm

Good catch. Thank you.

And I stand by my concern that the influence of MT on Menlo Park policy is outsized, and not well known.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:57 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 4:57 pm

I find it hard to accept that people who actively care about our community and who devote time and effort to better our community have undue influence in our community.

Would you prefer the first ten people in the phone book?


Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 5:46 pm
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 5:46 pm

That's a nonsensical comparison. We should all value those who pursue public service.

My concern is having a preponderance of people from one advocacy group in so many positions of influence within the city, especially without that connection broadly known or acknowledged.

Both Betsy Nash and Jen Wolosin advocate platforms consistent with MT even though they are no longer members. One can't help but wonder if they stepped away from active membership in MT during their campaigns for city council to avoid the type of discussion we are having here.

If Jen Wolosin is elected, will she and Betsy Nash be able to serve on the same task force or subcommittee? Will we get a rubber stamp to an MT position or a healthy dialog?

I think these are important considerations.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 6, 2020 at 5:51 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 5:51 pm

The voters know the positions of the candidates IF the voters have done their homework.

What difference does it make if the voters elect people whose last names start with A or who are short or tall?

Do you want to exclude people who belong to a particular political party or who belong to Planned Parenthood or the Sierra Club?

Elections allow the voters to decide and no members of a legal group should be excluded from public service.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:26 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 10:26 pm

So many people (or maybe just 1 or 2) hiding behind fictitious names making accusations. How convenient. This reminds me of the District 2 election in 2018 where at least one person would hide behind several names and throw out false information attacking Drew Combs. The Voters saw through that and I expect they will see through this smoke screen as well.

If you want to accuse people please provide evidence, otherwise it is just malicious innuendo and we should be better than that.

Stu, I did hear that part and was surprised. I also heard Max suggest that new office buildings and "Luxury Housing" convert into low rent housing. I also heard Chelsea's suggestion of building a 5 story building in the parking lot behind the Left Bank to provide 2 floors of parking, a floor for mixed use then I believe two floors of family housing and 2 floors of single apartments or studios all at below market rent. I did not hear who would be paying for this, did you? It is a great idea but who foots the bill?

If anyone wants to listen to the League of Woman Voters forum listen to all of it and not just little snippets.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 7, 2020 at 7:24 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 7:24 am

They tried to push through the mixed use/housing/garage thing back in the late 90's. It went down in flames because people know what low income housing developments turn into. Not to mention the plan did not include enough parking for the residences.


Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:17 am
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:17 am

Brian...

The problem is that Jen never served on the Planning Commission (neither did Chelsea for that matter).

The best training for being on the council is the Planning Commission; they do work in tandem with the Council; they have economic value; PC votes can be appealed to the council; and you see the issues that get peoples' dander up: fence heights, setbacks.

I also see projects that are approved as 'housing' but miraculously morph into office. I can give you tour of them. People cheat. Drives me up the wall.

I doubt Jen ever saw a Menlo Park zoning map; I have one which was nailed to my office wall.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:49 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:49 am

Lots of very good council members never served on the planning commission.

Having been a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner I can understand that a former MP Planning Commissioner thinks that such service is a superb credential (perhaps like having an MBA) but I can assure you that such service is not a prerequisite for being a very productive elected official.


Stu Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 7, 2020 at 3:04 pm
Stu Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 3:04 pm

And Peter, I can assure you that the converse is also true - in spades:

Some very poor council members never served on the planning commission. And were voted out of office.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 7, 2020 at 3:11 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 3:11 pm

"Some very poor council members never served on the planning commission. And were voted out of office."

And some very poor council members that had served on the planning commission were also not reelected.

Which proves nothing


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 7, 2020 at 9:54 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 9:54 pm

"The problem is that Jen never served on the Planning Commission (neither did Chelsea for that matter)."

Stu,

Nor did Max. I completely agree with you that serving on the Planning Commission is great experience and helps those who move onto council. If nothing else it teaches people to endure very long meetings :-) In my personal opinion serving on one of the commissions should be a pre-requisite for sitting on city council but I will acknowledge that it is not always possible.

Personally I don't think the idea of converting luxury housing to below market rate apartments, or building a 5 story building for below market housing or rezoning all R-1-U (Single family homes) into R3 (Duplex and Triplex) will fly with the majority of Menlo Park residents/voters. I dare say that most of us moved here or live here because we like Menlo Park and the community, not because we wanted to turn it into higher density housing with more traffic and parking issues.


Kevin
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:43 pm
Kevin, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 1:43 pm

@Brian, I'm have to point out that the state and the city have already opened the door to "duplexes" and "triplexes" in R1 zoning without any real review - Any owner/developer can add an ADU plus a JADU to their current R1 parcel, subject to certain considerations. You're aiming at a false bogey !

● A new category of junior accessory dwelling unit (JADU) was created. These are dwellings no more than 500 square feet in size and contained entirely within an existing single-family structure.

● In single-family zones, one detached ADU plus one ADU or JADU are permitted.

● In multi-family zones (such as apartment buildings) two detached ADUs are allowed and one uninhabited space (such as laundry rooms) can be converted into an ADU.

● Cities cannot enforce a minimum lot size requirement.

● Requirements have been relaxed for ADU setbacks, which are minimum distances by which a building or other structure must be set back from the street, rear and sides of a property.

● ADU permits must be processed in 60 days, rather than the previous 120.

Web Link


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