News

Ravenswood district's plans for 90-unit apartment building faces pushback

Housing at former Flood School site would destroy quality of life, Suburban Park neighbors claim

The empty James Flood Magnet School property at 321 Sheridan Drive in Menlo Park on Nov. 2, 2021. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A rare plot of vacant land, the former James Flood magnet school at 321 Sheridan Drive, is creating a divide in a Menlo Park community.

On Tuesday evening, more than 120 people, mostly former and current local residents, tuned into a virtual meeting about development plans for the 2.6-acre parcel owned by the Ravenswood City School District which was recently marked as a potential "opportunity site" for housing as part of a citywide process to update Menlo Park's housing element for 2023-31.

The site has a long history of leases and failed leasing bids, before it was razed in 2018 and eyed for teacher housing that would support lower-income staff and also bring steady revenue to the underfunded district.

In January, Ravenswood's governing board voted to enter into exclusive negotiating agreements with developer Alliant Strategic. The district is discussing a 90-year lease with Alliant to build a three- to four-story, 90-unit, affordable rental housing development with first preference to district teachers and staff.

But on Tuesday, May 3, Suburban Park residents fiercely opposed to the project expressed fears that life in the small neighborhood would be permanently destroyed by higher density and traffic congestion.

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"I can assure you that I'm very much in favor of affordable housing, but not to the detriment of our neighborhoods that we have come to love," said Curtis Evans, a longtime Suburban Park resident.

It was the common refrain of the night from many of the neighborhood's residents. They stressed their support for affordable housing, some citing their experience serving lower-income families, but decried the idea of putting a three-to-four story apartment building in their neighborhood.

Evans recalled the "charm" that first reeled him into Suburban Park more than 30 years ago, when children safely played outside and families walked through the streets — a trait that has returned ever since Flood School moved out of Menlo Park, he said.

Ruth Schechter, a 25-year Suburban Park resident, described the neighborhood as "quiet." Another neighborhood resident painted it as "one of the last 'Leave it to Beaver' neighborhoods," referencing a 1950s sitcom.

All of that, they argue, would be irrevocably stripped away by the potential development.

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"There is a need for affordable housing, but just not here," the resident said.

A major focal point of many of the residents' arguments was around traffic, one of the impact areas that will be studied.

The former Flood School site sits on a cul-de-sac on Sheridan Drive, east of Suburban Park neighborhood. Map by Lloyd Lee.

The neighborhood has two access points on Hedge Road and Greenwood Drive, and the site itself sits on a road that ends at a cul-de-sac.

By building apartments, some of the neighborhood residents fear that traffic will quickly plague Suburban Park. Schechter said traffic clogged the streets when Flood School was opened, even when parents dropped off their kids closer to Flood Park, the county park that's adjacent to the site.

The school enrolled around 275 students with 16 teachers before it closed in 2012, according to publicschoolreview.com, which cites data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the California Department of Education. Carolyn Bowsher, board chair of the Ravenswood Education Foundation (REF) who also attended Tuesday's community meeting, said the school had around 50 staff members at the time.

Some of the residents said they would support an affordable housing project at a much reduced density and height, and if the plans come with alternative entry points.

Part of the backlash stemmed from the assumption that the land is poised to be developed not for 90 units but up to 260 units. The latter figure came from the city's rules on Housing Overlay Zones, which gives developers a "density bonus" or the right to build additional units per acre, if the project is 100% affordable housing. With this planning tool, a developer could have the option to build up to 100 units per acre in this case, 260 total units.

No other type of development besides housing is being considered, the district wrote in its explanation of the plans, and the contract that is still under negotiation "explicitly caps the number of units at 90 units and four floors." To do so, the city must rezone the site, currently designated for multi-family housing.

It also added that "due to the type of construction planned and the number of parking spots on the site, it is not economically feasible to have more than 90 units or four floors for the site."

Read more about the district's plan here.

Arguments in favor

Proponents of the development plan argued that the location provides much needed affordable housing for lower-income Ravenswood district staff and additional funding for a district that has less than half as much per-pupil spending than the neighboring Menlo Park City School District, according to a district analysis.

"It is time for the Ravenswood City School District to be able to use their public lands to be able to better serve the community," said Ronda White, teacher and president of Ravenswood Teachers Association.

In its explanation of the plans, the district wrote that it would ensure teachers and staff, who qualify for affordable housing based on local income eligibility thresholds, will have the first opportunity to apply. According to White, the district has about 115 teachers and 200 classified staff members, which includes janitors and campus relations employees.

Bowsher, who is also a 24-year Menlo Park resident, added that the housing development would help with staff retention and argued that it would ultimately benefit the students through the revenue that the site could generate for the district.

"This is a really strategic use of that land," she said.

-,

Members of the REF board that attended the meeting were also receptive to neighbors' concerns around traffic mitigation and tried to mollify community members, saying that it was an issue with solutions.

John Pimentel, Menlo Park housing commissioner and a former state deputy secretary of transportation who serves on the foundation board, said he expects residential use of the land "would generate less traffic than a school ever would."

He also expressed confidence that the district would end up with a proposal to provide egresses through Flood Park and Van Buren Road.

The two alternative entryways being explored would go through Flood Park and near LifeMoves' Haven Family House transitional housing.

"Both entrances are being actively discussed with the County of San Mateo, which controls much of the surrounding land," the district wrote.

I'm struggling to understand how one can assume that all these horrible things are going to happen to the neighborhood when the Ravenswood district hasn't even had a full opportunity to plan out this entire project.

-Kathleen Daly, Cafe Zoe owner

Adina Levin, an executive director of Friends of Caltrain and past member of the Complete Streets Commission, acknowledged that there are some "circulation issues" in the neighborhood but that it shouldn't be an excuse to rule out the site entirely.

"I think those are things that we should look at addressing them, rather than to use as a rationale to not have much-needed homes on this site," she said at the meeting.

Others threw in general support for Ravenswood and frustration about the opposition that has formed at the very outset of the district's plans.

"I've had the absolute joy of working with the Ravenswood School District for many years, and I'm struggling to understand how one can assume that all these horrible things are going to happen to the neighborhood when the Ravenswood district hasn't even had a full opportunity to plan out this entire project," said Kathleen Daly, owner of Cafe Zoe.

Like any large project proposals, the developer will then need to submit plans subject to several stages of review and city approval, including an Environmental Impact Report that outlines a development's impact to air pollution, noise, traffic and city resources such as nearby schools.

Opposition groups form

Recently, a group of local residents have begun to organize campaigns that could stop Ravenswood's plans in its tracks.

One group called Stop Goliath, describing itself as a "network of concerned Menlo Park residents," has characterized the potential deal between Alliant developer and the Ravenswood district as a bid driven by the pursuit of "hyper-profits" and an educational mission "corrupted by greed."

An online petition from a neighborhood group billing itself Stop Goliath says Ravenswood's "educational mission is corrupted by greed." Screenshot from change.org.

Two residents of Suburban Park, Timothy Yaeger and Nicole Chessari, have also submitted a ballot initiative they've billed as the "Menlo Park Neighborhood Protection and General Plan Consistency Initiative."

The language of the ballot measure would essentially bring any proposal to rezone single family-home parcels, such as Ravenswood's Flood School site, to a citywide vote.

In a brief interview, Yaeger said that the measure came out of community concerns around some of the stances a majority of the City Council — specifically members Betsy Nash, Cecilia Taylor and Jen Wolosin — appeared to have taken on development throughout the city. He referred to a decision in September when the three council members voted against a proposal to ban housing development in city parks.

When asked, Yaeger said that the ballot initiative was not meant to specifically target the Flood School site and that it is a citywide initiative to stop commercial development in residential zones.

To find more information on the city's housing element process and provide feedback to city staff, go to beta.menlopark.org.

Read the full text of the ballot initiative below.

This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: Download PDF.

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Lloyd Lee joined The Almanac in 2022 as the Menlo Park reporter. Previously, he was the editorial assistant for the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com. Read more >>

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Ravenswood district's plans for 90-unit apartment building faces pushback

Housing at former Flood School site would destroy quality of life, Suburban Park neighbors claim

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, May 5, 2022, 11:19 am

A rare plot of vacant land, the former James Flood magnet school at 321 Sheridan Drive, is creating a divide in a Menlo Park community.

On Tuesday evening, more than 120 people, mostly former and current local residents, tuned into a virtual meeting about development plans for the 2.6-acre parcel owned by the Ravenswood City School District which was recently marked as a potential "opportunity site" for housing as part of a citywide process to update Menlo Park's housing element for 2023-31.

The site has a long history of leases and failed leasing bids, before it was razed in 2018 and eyed for teacher housing that would support lower-income staff and also bring steady revenue to the underfunded district.

In January, Ravenswood's governing board voted to enter into exclusive negotiating agreements with developer Alliant Strategic. The district is discussing a 90-year lease with Alliant to build a three- to four-story, 90-unit, affordable rental housing development with first preference to district teachers and staff.

But on Tuesday, May 3, Suburban Park residents fiercely opposed to the project expressed fears that life in the small neighborhood would be permanently destroyed by higher density and traffic congestion.

"I can assure you that I'm very much in favor of affordable housing, but not to the detriment of our neighborhoods that we have come to love," said Curtis Evans, a longtime Suburban Park resident.

It was the common refrain of the night from many of the neighborhood's residents. They stressed their support for affordable housing, some citing their experience serving lower-income families, but decried the idea of putting a three-to-four story apartment building in their neighborhood.

Evans recalled the "charm" that first reeled him into Suburban Park more than 30 years ago, when children safely played outside and families walked through the streets — a trait that has returned ever since Flood School moved out of Menlo Park, he said.

Ruth Schechter, a 25-year Suburban Park resident, described the neighborhood as "quiet." Another neighborhood resident painted it as "one of the last 'Leave it to Beaver' neighborhoods," referencing a 1950s sitcom.

All of that, they argue, would be irrevocably stripped away by the potential development.

"There is a need for affordable housing, but just not here," the resident said.

A major focal point of many of the residents' arguments was around traffic, one of the impact areas that will be studied.

The neighborhood has two access points on Hedge Road and Greenwood Drive, and the site itself sits on a road that ends at a cul-de-sac.

By building apartments, some of the neighborhood residents fear that traffic will quickly plague Suburban Park. Schechter said traffic clogged the streets when Flood School was opened, even when parents dropped off their kids closer to Flood Park, the county park that's adjacent to the site.

The school enrolled around 275 students with 16 teachers before it closed in 2012, according to publicschoolreview.com, which cites data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the California Department of Education. Carolyn Bowsher, board chair of the Ravenswood Education Foundation (REF) who also attended Tuesday's community meeting, said the school had around 50 staff members at the time.

Some of the residents said they would support an affordable housing project at a much reduced density and height, and if the plans come with alternative entry points.

Part of the backlash stemmed from the assumption that the land is poised to be developed not for 90 units but up to 260 units. The latter figure came from the city's rules on Housing Overlay Zones, which gives developers a "density bonus" or the right to build additional units per acre, if the project is 100% affordable housing. With this planning tool, a developer could have the option to build up to 100 units per acre in this case, 260 total units.

No other type of development besides housing is being considered, the district wrote in its explanation of the plans, and the contract that is still under negotiation "explicitly caps the number of units at 90 units and four floors." To do so, the city must rezone the site, currently designated for multi-family housing.

It also added that "due to the type of construction planned and the number of parking spots on the site, it is not economically feasible to have more than 90 units or four floors for the site."

Read more about the district's plan here.

Proponents of the development plan argued that the location provides much needed affordable housing for lower-income Ravenswood district staff and additional funding for a district that has less than half as much per-pupil spending than the neighboring Menlo Park City School District, according to a district analysis.

"It is time for the Ravenswood City School District to be able to use their public lands to be able to better serve the community," said Ronda White, teacher and president of Ravenswood Teachers Association.

In its explanation of the plans, the district wrote that it would ensure teachers and staff, who qualify for affordable housing based on local income eligibility thresholds, will have the first opportunity to apply. According to White, the district has about 115 teachers and 200 classified staff members, which includes janitors and campus relations employees.

Bowsher, who is also a 24-year Menlo Park resident, added that the housing development would help with staff retention and argued that it would ultimately benefit the students through the revenue that the site could generate for the district.

"This is a really strategic use of that land," she said.

Members of the REF board that attended the meeting were also receptive to neighbors' concerns around traffic mitigation and tried to mollify community members, saying that it was an issue with solutions.

John Pimentel, Menlo Park housing commissioner and a former state deputy secretary of transportation who serves on the foundation board, said he expects residential use of the land "would generate less traffic than a school ever would."

He also expressed confidence that the district would end up with a proposal to provide egresses through Flood Park and Van Buren Road.

The two alternative entryways being explored would go through Flood Park and near LifeMoves' Haven Family House transitional housing.

"Both entrances are being actively discussed with the County of San Mateo, which controls much of the surrounding land," the district wrote.

Adina Levin, an executive director of Friends of Caltrain and past member of the Complete Streets Commission, acknowledged that there are some "circulation issues" in the neighborhood but that it shouldn't be an excuse to rule out the site entirely.

"I think those are things that we should look at addressing them, rather than to use as a rationale to not have much-needed homes on this site," she said at the meeting.

Others threw in general support for Ravenswood and frustration about the opposition that has formed at the very outset of the district's plans.

"I've had the absolute joy of working with the Ravenswood School District for many years, and I'm struggling to understand how one can assume that all these horrible things are going to happen to the neighborhood when the Ravenswood district hasn't even had a full opportunity to plan out this entire project," said Kathleen Daly, owner of Cafe Zoe.

Like any large project proposals, the developer will then need to submit plans subject to several stages of review and city approval, including an Environmental Impact Report that outlines a development's impact to air pollution, noise, traffic and city resources such as nearby schools.

Recently, a group of local residents have begun to organize campaigns that could stop Ravenswood's plans in its tracks.

One group called Stop Goliath, describing itself as a "network of concerned Menlo Park residents," has characterized the potential deal between Alliant developer and the Ravenswood district as a bid driven by the pursuit of "hyper-profits" and an educational mission "corrupted by greed."

Two residents of Suburban Park, Timothy Yaeger and Nicole Chessari, have also submitted a ballot initiative they've billed as the "Menlo Park Neighborhood Protection and General Plan Consistency Initiative."

The language of the ballot measure would essentially bring any proposal to rezone single family-home parcels, such as Ravenswood's Flood School site, to a citywide vote.

In a brief interview, Yaeger said that the measure came out of community concerns around some of the stances a majority of the City Council — specifically members Betsy Nash, Cecilia Taylor and Jen Wolosin — appeared to have taken on development throughout the city. He referred to a decision in September when the three council members voted against a proposal to ban housing development in city parks.

When asked, Yaeger said that the ballot initiative was not meant to specifically target the Flood School site and that it is a citywide initiative to stop commercial development in residential zones.

To find more information on the city's housing element process and provide feedback to city staff, go to beta.menlopark.org.

Read the full text of the ballot initiative below.

Comments

Nanc
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 5, 2022 at 12:23 pm
Nanc, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 12:23 pm

The ‘we need affordable housing, but not here’ sentiment is deplorable. We need affordable housing disbursed throughout Menlo Park neighborhoods, from West Menlo (Sharon height) to Suburban Park. Really embarrassed by our NIMBY neighbors representing the absolute worst in our City.


Ronda, East Palo Alto
Registered user
another community
on May 5, 2022 at 12:49 pm
Ronda, East Palo Alto, another community
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Correction
115 teachers, and 200 ( NOT 20) classified staff members from the Ravenswood City School District who could potentially live in the 90 units of affordable housing!


Dawn1234
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 5, 2022 at 12:54 pm
Dawn1234, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 12:54 pm

Lack of multiple ingress/egress points hasn't stopped the city from overdeveloping the Belle Haven neighborhood and I didn't see any of these neighbors standing up for that neighborhood's right to calmer traffic. This is just another variation of the group that wanted the bike bridge connecting the city across 101 dismantled permanently because of crime. Every neighborhood in our town deserves its share of apartments no matter who is living in them. It's a shameful attempt to keep from sharing the burden of housing in our city and it should be called out as such.


kbehroozi
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 5, 2022 at 12:56 pm
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 12:56 pm

"Yaeger said that the measure came out of community concerns around some of the stances a majority of the City Council — specifically members Betsy Nash, Cecilia Taylor and Jen Wolosin — appeared to have taken on development throughout the city. He referred to a decision in September when the three council members voted against a proposal to ban housing development in city parks."

I'd encourage Yaeger to take a closer look, both at what council members have said–and what they do. None of the council members wanted to put housing on parkland, and they were crystal clear about that in the meeting last fall (as the Almanac reported)–they just had differing opinions about whether and how to codify that. And despite the lack of ordinance (competing proposals from Wolosin and Mueller failed to get a majority of support), the current housing element, as promised, includes no parkland.

It's also true that early in the housing element process, Wolosin expressed a desire to "keep options on the table" and would not accede to Mueller's request to preemptively eliminate any R1-zoned properties for multi-family housing. It's a good thing that she didn't, because the Flood School site, a 2.5-acre vacant lot that has never been anything but a school, is technically zoned R1, as are several church parking lots where affordable housing might be developed. Those are now opportunity sites in our housing element draft. But–and this is important–those are the only R1 properties under consideration. While Atherton has proposed upzoning single-family homes along Bay Rd to meet their RHNA numbers, Menlo Park isn't doing this. Nor is MP considering rezoning R1 (or other) housing to accommodate the "big-box store/manufacturing plant/1,000-person capacity office building/sprawling mixed-use developments" that Menlo Balance describes in their flyers. (SRI and USGS, which are residential neighborhood-adjacent, are not zoned R1 and do not contain housing.) So...what is this really about?


John Pimentel
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm
John Pimentel, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 1:00 pm

The lack of pass-through traffic in Suburban Park is a wonderful feature of the neighborhood, and increased traffic volume is a legitimate concern being raised by Suburban Park residents. All reasonable mitigation measures should be thoroughly explored as part of a robust project planning process. The County is pursuing a major renovation at Flood Park and access to the proposed housing can/should be incorporated. Access via Van Buren should also be considered. Ultimately, key details like the number of units will be firmly set through the planning process which enables reliable traffic impact analysis. A major strategic benefit is that residents will be well-positioned to walk/bike to work. The pandemic-inspired Work From Home culture and the increased presence of delivery vehicles are both considerations that will be part of a properly done traffic analysis. After all the facts are available a sober analysis of traffic impacts can be weighed against the strategic benefit of providing affordable teacher housing in the community where they teach. Generally, putting housing closer to work sites reduces traffic, improves, air quality, and enhances the sense of community. This project could be a great benefit to our community, but it can and should be pursued in a manner that respects and accommodates the legitimate concerns being raised by the Suburban Park neighbors.


Alan
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 5, 2022 at 1:31 pm
Alan, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 1:31 pm

My guess is the traffic won't be as bad as when there was an operating school there.


[email protected]
Registered user
another community
on May 5, 2022 at 1:48 pm
[email protected], another community
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Hi Ronda,

Thank you for your clarification. The edit has been made.

Lloyd


Andrew C.
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 5, 2022 at 1:49 pm
Andrew C., Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 1:49 pm

I am a Suburban Park resident, and I'm concerned that me and my neighbors are labelled NIMBY or worse because it's simply not accurate. I hope the labels aren't intentionally insulting, and instead a misunderstanding of our perspective. While they may exist, I don't know a single fellow resident who has voiced an opinion that is opposed to adding affordable housing at that site. The sole concern has been "how much is too much?" for one neighborhood's infrastructure to handle. If the project has the potential to be as large as 260 units, this would increase traffic density by more than 100%. Nobody knows for certain how big this will be, and we as neighborhood would like the know this answer. Nobody knows how many access points there will be, and we would like to know this answer. For everybody who comments about how "ashamed" they are of us for wanting to know these answers, I hope you can imagine how confused you would be if this was being proposed in your own backyard. I am 100% for affordable housing being spread throughout Menlo Park, and each site should be examined an allocation determined that the roads and infrastructure can handle. That opinion is not at all NIMBY or worse, it's just reasonable sustainable community planning.


Karen O.
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 5, 2022 at 2:06 pm
Karen O., Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 2:06 pm

I am encouraged by the thoughtful responses to this article. My hope is that the community will engage in thoughtful debate and good faith negotiation and compromise rather than resorting to scare tactics and knee-jerk reactions. As a Ravenswood City School District volunteer, I know how hard teachers and staff are working to help vulnerable children in our community. We should do everything we can to offer safe and affordable housing in our area.


Observer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 5, 2022 at 2:12 pm
Observer, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 2:12 pm

My experience has been that folks who label others as NIMBYS are more often than not the true NIMBYS. It is so much easier to sit from afar and spout one's I care badge until you are the one who might suffer from the negative impacts - TGINMBY (thank god its not my back yard).


Andrew C.
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 5, 2022 at 3:12 pm
Andrew C., Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 3:12 pm

Alan, why would you guess the traffic won't be as bad as when there was a school there? I have lived in the neighborhood for 15 years, and experienced the school traffic. First point of fact, the entrance to the school was NOT through Suburban Park. There were signs on the gate entrance instructing families to use the Flood Park entrance. Secondly, everybody knows that school traffic is different than residential traffic. Schools are in session on weekdays for just a portion of the year, let's say 8 months. Also, school traffic tends to concentrated to about 30 minutes before school and 30 minutes after school during those days. Felton Gables had a series of parking restrictions enacted when Encinal expanded, and you can look at the restriction times on the signs themselves. A residential community has no such limitations or concentrations on traffic flow. For these reasons, my gut feeling is that the overall traffic congestion would be significantly higher without even considering that the only proposed entrance to this apartment complex is through Hedge Road, which was not the previous school entrance.


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 5, 2022 at 3:37 pm
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 3:37 pm

To Andrew and other concerned Suburban Park residents -- I am sympathetic with your uncertainty about the project, given that there is a big difference between 90 units and 260 units, and that the traffic impacts would be different based on how the access streets are established. I support you and your neighbors participating in the local government process to share your views on these concerns and to work toward establishing more density and lower income housing in a manner that will be sustainable for your neighborhood.

I do not, however, support the alarmist language and advocacy of Menlo Balance and their ballot initiative that would make the redesignation or rezoning of individual properties in single-family neighbors subject to approval *only* through a general election. This is a regressive approach that is not manageable and will not facilitate the thoughtful planning that we need in Menlo Park. Our city, like all cities in the Bay Area, will need to accommodate more housing -- including multi-family housing -- in order to create sustainable and environmentally friendly communities. We cannot make this process overly constrained by requiring a city-wide vote. It's frankly rather absurd.

The Menlo Balance folks may think that the elected officials are too tied to developer interest, and if that's their view they can participate in our democratic process. But we should not throw out the democratic process entirely -- a process that relies on us electing officials to make complex planning decisions that are not well suited for general election votes.


Happy Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 5, 2022 at 5:26 pm
Happy Resident, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 5:26 pm

How could anyone object to their children's teachers living in their neighborhood. What could be more important for the children and the neighborhood. Let's get this done in this neighborhood and in others.


Mark Dinan
Registered user
another community
on May 5, 2022 at 5:27 pm
Mark Dinan, another community
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 5:27 pm

Another good article by Lloyd Lee on housing - thanks for covering this important issue.


Not-Jeff
Registered user
Hillview Middle School
on May 5, 2022 at 5:46 pm
Not-Jeff, Hillview Middle School
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 5:46 pm

"[the potential housing could] bring steady revenue to the underfunded district"

????

Underfunded district? That's a very debatable statement.

For the 2020-2021 school year:
* Ravenswood revenue/student: $26,581
* MPCSD revenue/student: $21,313
* RWC ESD revenue/student: $16,640
* Burlingame ESD: $12,884

(source: Web Link )

In fact, Ravenswood has the 4th-highest revenue/student for any elementary school district in the entire county.

Instead of 'underfunded', 'poorly managed' would have been more accurate.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on May 5, 2022 at 8:04 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 8:04 pm

People are so quick to jump in with the NIMBY label. If NIMBY means you want to protect your quality of life and the quality of life that your neighbors have built in your neighborhood then so be it, but that is NOT a bad thing. I support these residents of Suburban Park and I support the ballot initiative, I think we need it because the majority of the current city council seems to care less about the existing residents of Menlo Park than they care about building new housing at any cost. To that point they voted against banning the use our city parks for potential housing development. It galls me because those parks belong to us, the residents of Menlo Park and are not the property of Taylor, Nash or Wolosin to use as they please.

Menlo Park was a nice community, then developers targeted Menlo Park with huge commercial developments resulting in more traffic than the roads were designed to accommodate. They there was a huge imbalance between office space and living space so now we are forced to add more huge developments for housing, but in most cases they are also adding more office space (Stanford, Facebook, etc.). The small town feel of Menlo Park is already gone, let's try to protect the small pockets that are left. Suburban Park is a small, close knit neighborhood with very limited egress points. All traffic needs to use Bay Road and there are two points to enter and exit Suburban Park, as the article points out. That does not sound like a good setting for high density housing. Sure Ravenswood wants to make money on the site like they are making money renting out their unused schools, but it is the right thing for the community? Suburban park residents deserve a voice in this as they will feel the impact. I hope our current City council takes them into consideration.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 5, 2022 at 8:12 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 8:12 pm

Not-Jeff,

You make a good point. I attended a Ravenswood School many years ago and I can speak from personal experience that it was a horrible educational experience. From what I have seen it has not improved since, test scores and state rankings are abysmal. How many families take advantage of the Tinsley Transfer Program to send their kids to better school districts because Ravenswood just can't do a good job at educating them? How many times have there been claims and investigation of poor spending or corruption within the district? This school district needs to get into better shape financially before being entrusted with more funds...


K in MP
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 5, 2022 at 10:32 pm
K in MP, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 5, 2022 at 10:32 pm

To Happy Resident

“ How could anyone object to their children's teachers living in their neighborhood. What could be more important for the children and the neighborhood. Let's get this done in this neighborhood and in others.”

You will find that the property is PART OF the Ravenswood School District but is SURROUNDED BY the Menlo Park City School District.

The point is, anyone who lives there will sent their students to the Ravenswood School District but surrounded by the Menlo Park City School District, so there will be exactly zero of the neighbor’s children's teachers living there unless they are living within the new housing.

Also, any student living there will have to cross 101 to get to their school over in East Menlo Park or East Palo Alto.

If you really want to do the right thing, make it low income housing, sized to match the Suburban Park neighborhood, AND transfer the land into the Menlo Park City School District. Trust me, that’s a hard thing to do.


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 6, 2022 at 9:55 am
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 6, 2022 at 9:55 am

There is a pedestrian and bike bridge across 101, making it an approximately 15 minute walk (per Google maps) from the proposed site to Belle Haven School.


Michael
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 6, 2022 at 10:36 am
Michael, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 6, 2022 at 10:36 am

@notjeff did you also factor in the volunteer time and education foundation dollars into each of those annual per child spend numbers? Would be interesting to see what total spend is.


East of Middlefield Road
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 8, 2022 at 8:59 am
East of Middlefield Road, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 8, 2022 at 8:59 am

John Pimentel, how lucky you are that your neighborhood does not have cut through traffic. Any project that is built on the former Flood school site will house your neighbors not cut through traffic. Your proposal of access from VanBuren Road to the Flood site cuts right through Haven House, a homeless shelter for 23 families. VanBuren Road is a deadend which is what the sponsors of Haven House like about the site.
VanBuren Road is a cut through for those avoiding Bay Road and the stop sign at Ringwood. By opening access to the Flood site from VanBuren or Iris Lane all of Suburban Park can cut through the Flood Triangle neighborhood. Yes, Flood Triangle is a nice neighborhood too.
Rather than NIMBY I find the attitude of Suburban Park elitist.


Alice Newton
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 9, 2022 at 10:37 am
Alice Newton, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 10:37 am

I've lived on Del Norte Ave. in the Flood Triangle for 35 years and would like to offer several thoughts about this. Housing, especially low-income housing, is definitely needed in Menlo Park and I'd especially like to see low-housing built with the arrangement that it's residents have a path to ownership to build up equity. This is not a new or novel idea. It exists, and needs expanding. The old Flood School site is problematic for a dense housing building due to limited access to the property and the impact on already existing M-F commute traffic congestion on Bay Rd., Marsh, and Willow that is already going to increase when several new ballfields & sports courts are built in Flood Park for M-F after-school use. This is in addition to the various issues that would result from traffic added to neighborhoods adjacent to the site. Changing the configuration of either Haven House property or Flood Park to create an eastern access route would have environmental drawbacks and be costly. Six years ago, a neighbor and I began urging the SM Co. Parks Dept. to acquire the vacant school site to add to the park to help accommodate the many new amenities desired, needed additional parking spaces and help avoid the planned removal of 35 oaks + other trees. Perhaps now SM County would see it as preferable to reconfiguring Haven House or park property for access to that site. Ravenswood City School District could use the funds for a better site for housing. Perhaps a coalition of groups that would benefit from acquiring the site for the park such as Menlo Park, Sequoia School District, SM County, sports groups etc. could lease or buy it. If not an extension of the park, perhaps an expansion of Haven House? I realize that these suggestions are not easy, but what happens to this property will last for many decades with impacts to neighborhoods for miles around, not just those adjacent to Flood Park, as well as impacting global warming (fewer trees removed in the park).


Hmmm
Registered user
another community
on May 9, 2022 at 1:12 pm
Hmmm, another community
Registered user
on May 9, 2022 at 1:12 pm

Dear Menlo Park, just because you’re situated near Atherton, Woodside and Palo Alto doesn’t mean you have to behave like them with regard to housing. You’re remembered for when you were sued for not doing the right thing about housing.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 10, 2022 at 9:02 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 10, 2022 at 9:02 am

I see there is a petition being circulated to put this issue, and possible others, on the ballot. I think that is a good idea, the voters of Menlo Park can have their say and send a message, either way, to the City Council. I encourage every voter in Menlo Park to sign the initiative and get this on the ballot.


Janet Chen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 11, 2022 at 2:12 pm
Janet Chen, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on May 11, 2022 at 2:12 pm

Hmmm, all my comments on the NIMBYs vanished.

So silence the truth tellers.

Don't worry. This rag is not the only place where truth gets told.

The time for NIMBYism is over.


Menlo Park Parent
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 12, 2022 at 9:01 am
Menlo Park Parent, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 12, 2022 at 9:01 am

K in MP: "You will find that the property is PART OF the Ravenswood School District but is SURROUNDED BY the Menlo Park City School District. " And why is that, K?

Enough: I encourage you to read kbehroozi's post about the bugaboo of developing on park land. This is just a scare tactic, and no city council member favors it.

Brian: No, the initiative is a bad idea. It short circuits the planning process, which hasn't even begun in this case.

Alice: I can't think of anywhere it would not be "problematic" in some way to build higher density housing. That's why we have a planning process, to work through the problems.

Andrew: You are asking questions that will be address through the process. Your group wants to shut down the process and kill this project.

Janet: It's too bad your posts were censored. You are angry and so are a lot of other people.


MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on May 13, 2022 at 7:41 am
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 7:41 am

Janet:

silence the "truth tellers"?

No, silence the TROLLS.


AH
Registered user
another community
on May 13, 2022 at 4:43 pm
AH, another community
Registered user
on May 13, 2022 at 4:43 pm

The residents of Suburban Park support teacher housing and balanced development at the Flood School site. We would very much like to have Ravenswood School District teachers and staff live at the development.
The majority of people in support of developing the Flood School site have relied on three themes when stating their support for the development:
1. A need for Ravenswood School District teacher/staff housing
2. A limit of 90 units
3. A second (and possibly third) access point to the final development

A local resident wrote an open letter to Ravenswood asking them to address the three themes listed above. I encourage everyone take a look at the letter that can be found here:

Web Link


Andrew C.
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 16, 2022 at 3:23 pm
Andrew C., Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 16, 2022 at 3:23 pm

Menlo Park Parent writes: "Andrew: You are asking questions that will be address through the process. Your group wants to shut down the process and kill this project."

Are you certain the vote to rezone this property will happen AFTER traffic studies, egress studies, environmental impact studies, negotiations with the County Park systems, and Haven House? I don't believe so. Those "questions" will likely be fielded after our city council agrees to rezone this up to a maximum of 260 units. It's not a very good planning order.


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 16, 2022 at 6:45 pm
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on May 16, 2022 at 6:45 pm

FYI,

Underfunded district? That's a very debatable statement.

For the 2020-2021 school year:
* Ravenswood revenue/student: $26,581
* MPCSD revenue/student: $21,313
* RWC ESD revenue/student: $16,640
* Burlingame ESD: $12,884

Belle Haven School, as part of the Ravenswood School District, has the highest per-student revenue as listed above but they also have the lowest student-teacher ratio, at 15 students per teacher, They are ranked a 2 out of 10 on Great Schools with a test score rating of 1 out of 10, the lowest it can go.
Can someone explain that to me?


anony
Registered user
another community
on May 23, 2022 at 10:53 am
anony, another community
Registered user
on May 23, 2022 at 10:53 am

Ravenswood has been making a lot of changes to its leadership, remodeling their schools sites, teacher coaching, staff salary and a million other things and I hope this housing opportunity for the staff happens. Sounds like a lot of selfish Menlo Park residents and a few more cars on the road shouldn't take away from the beauty of the neighborhood or the opportunity of housing a lot of staff would greatly benefit from.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 24, 2022 at 12:48 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on May 24, 2022 at 12:48 pm

This project is part of a pair of School District projects, the other of which is an office project targeted for a 4.5 acre site on Euclid.

"The leading proposal for the 4.15 acre 2120 Euclid site is to build a life science lab and office building. ... The 7-8 story life science building would be similar in height to the planned development next door"

The School District, like SRI, is going into the land-use development business, to monetize their land.

The pair of projects are not self-mitigating.

The combined projects will, in the long run, worsen the jobs housing deficit. The office will create a future need for more housing, including very affordable housing that will not be satisfied by the 90 units on the Flood site.

So despite the "affordable housing" dangle, the combined projects are a housing loser. The office developer wins. And the community swallows a future obligation for still more housing.

The 90 affordable units are nose candy to distract from the new housing demand being created.

Worse, it's likely that the new employees attracted into the area, especially the RSD area, will have higher salaries than current RSD residents. So the school district is engaging in fiscal development that will further gentrify its district.

Same same with the SRI project. The new housing demand on the SRI site will outpace the housing supply on the site.

You know this will never stop, right.


Marina
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 24, 2022 at 2:24 pm
Marina, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on May 24, 2022 at 2:24 pm

The nerve of these people! Another example of why the district territory transfers of this neighborhood in 1967 and 1976 were a mistake. Ravenswood City School District has no responsibility to these same residents who petition to leave for Menlo Park City School District. I applaud Ravenswood for going forward with the much needed housing. We cannot rectify the errors of the past but we can make a better fiscal future for the East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park children no matter the ridiculous obstacles.


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