News

Menlo Park ballot initiative seeks to put single-family rezoning to a vote

A Menlo Balance flyer that reads "Residential neighborhoods are at risk" outside the Arrillaga Family Gymnasium in Menlo Park. Photo by Andrea Gemmet.

An initiative proposed by local group Menlo Balance seeks to make rezoning single-family neighborhoods in Menlo Park require a vote at the ballot box, but critics say that it's trying to fend off a threat that doesn't exist.

Menlo Balance was founded by residents Nicole Chessari and Tim Yaeger to pass an initiative restricting the redesignation of single-family residential zones in the city. The group gathered 3,000 signatures in just three weeks in order to qualify it to be on the ballot in Menlo Park this year.

"It matters to me because I have a 5-year-old" Chessari said. "I want him to be able to ride his bike in our neighborhood … without having hundreds of cars zooming by, which is the problem with having high density in residential areas."

To qualify, the initiative needed either 1,984 valid signatures or 2,183 verified with a random sampling, according to Chessari, but the Menlo Balance sought to gather enough to qualify either way.

The canvassing has not been without controversy. There are reports of canvassers telling residents that single-family homes were being knocked down to create big box stores, or claiming that the initiative has the support of the Menlo Park city attorney, who has denied the claim. There are also reports of the canvassers claiming without evidence that several council members support the initiative.

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"I'm disappointed that this discussion had to reach the point of initiative," Councilman Drew Combs said. "I wish we would have been able to bring all of the stakeholders together and work out a path for it that everyone would've been in support of."

Chessari and Yaeger said it was never a talking point for canvassers to claim that the city attorney was in support of the initiative.

Menlo Together, a local group focused on addressing housing and transportation problems in Menlo Park, is opposed to the initiative, said Adina Levin, a member of the group's steering committee. She said the city has no plans to bulldoze and replace homes in the "R1" zoning districts, which currently includes churches, a school and a vacant lot.

"There are no plans anywhere to knock down houses and do the kinds of development that the ballot measure is purporting to prevent," Levin said.

The proposed initiative would prevent the city from rezoning single-family homes without the approval of Menlo Park voters. However, according to Levin, this would act as a barrier for several churches that want to build affordable housing in their parking lots and for old school sites such as Flood School, which fall within R1 zoning areas.

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

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"We want an equitable community," Levin said. "Having a good housing element that enables the creation of housing, and especially affordable housing, is something that we really want to have happen. The Bay Area as a region and Menlo Park, in particular, has housing that is really unattainable for a very large number of people."

But Yaeger, who has a background in real estate development, insists that the city is not growing in a smart way.

"I think when you envision how the city's laid out … with the road widths we have … this planning process was never envisioned (as) having the density we're now talking about," Yaeger said. "When you look at sites that are not close to the train, not close to bus stops, and you talk about putting high-density (housing) there, you are exacerbating traffic problems."

The initiative would have a big effect on any future development of the Flood School lot. The site is proposed to have 90 units of affordable housing in Suburban Park at the former site of James Flood magnet school. If the initiative proposed by Menlo Balance passes, there must be a vote before housing could be built on the land.

"This would essentially just make it so the city has to do its job," Chessari said. "They should already be taking the community concerns into account and if they address the community concerns then I'm confident that people would vote to approve a change of zoning for that project."

The initiative can be read here.

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Cameron Rebosio joined the Almanac in 2022 as the Menlo Park reporter. She previously wrote for the Daily Californian and the Palo Alto Weekly. Read more >>

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Menlo Park ballot initiative seeks to put single-family rezoning to a vote

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, May 27, 2022, 11:45 am

An initiative proposed by local group Menlo Balance seeks to make rezoning single-family neighborhoods in Menlo Park require a vote at the ballot box, but critics say that it's trying to fend off a threat that doesn't exist.

Menlo Balance was founded by residents Nicole Chessari and Tim Yaeger to pass an initiative restricting the redesignation of single-family residential zones in the city. The group gathered 3,000 signatures in just three weeks in order to qualify it to be on the ballot in Menlo Park this year.

"It matters to me because I have a 5-year-old" Chessari said. "I want him to be able to ride his bike in our neighborhood … without having hundreds of cars zooming by, which is the problem with having high density in residential areas."

To qualify, the initiative needed either 1,984 valid signatures or 2,183 verified with a random sampling, according to Chessari, but the Menlo Balance sought to gather enough to qualify either way.

The canvassing has not been without controversy. There are reports of canvassers telling residents that single-family homes were being knocked down to create big box stores, or claiming that the initiative has the support of the Menlo Park city attorney, who has denied the claim. There are also reports of the canvassers claiming without evidence that several council members support the initiative.

"I'm disappointed that this discussion had to reach the point of initiative," Councilman Drew Combs said. "I wish we would have been able to bring all of the stakeholders together and work out a path for it that everyone would've been in support of."

Chessari and Yaeger said it was never a talking point for canvassers to claim that the city attorney was in support of the initiative.

Menlo Together, a local group focused on addressing housing and transportation problems in Menlo Park, is opposed to the initiative, said Adina Levin, a member of the group's steering committee. She said the city has no plans to bulldoze and replace homes in the "R1" zoning districts, which currently includes churches, a school and a vacant lot.

"There are no plans anywhere to knock down houses and do the kinds of development that the ballot measure is purporting to prevent," Levin said.

The proposed initiative would prevent the city from rezoning single-family homes without the approval of Menlo Park voters. However, according to Levin, this would act as a barrier for several churches that want to build affordable housing in their parking lots and for old school sites such as Flood School, which fall within R1 zoning areas.

"We want an equitable community," Levin said. "Having a good housing element that enables the creation of housing, and especially affordable housing, is something that we really want to have happen. The Bay Area as a region and Menlo Park, in particular, has housing that is really unattainable for a very large number of people."

But Yaeger, who has a background in real estate development, insists that the city is not growing in a smart way.

"I think when you envision how the city's laid out … with the road widths we have … this planning process was never envisioned (as) having the density we're now talking about," Yaeger said. "When you look at sites that are not close to the train, not close to bus stops, and you talk about putting high-density (housing) there, you are exacerbating traffic problems."

The initiative would have a big effect on any future development of the Flood School lot. The site is proposed to have 90 units of affordable housing in Suburban Park at the former site of James Flood magnet school. If the initiative proposed by Menlo Balance passes, there must be a vote before housing could be built on the land.

"This would essentially just make it so the city has to do its job," Chessari said. "They should already be taking the community concerns into account and if they address the community concerns then I'm confident that people would vote to approve a change of zoning for that project."

The initiative can be read here.

Comments

Long Time Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 27, 2022 at 12:18 pm
Long Time Resident, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 12:18 pm

The land use issues in this initiative should go through the planning commission and city council first. That is why we have them. Running a city by 'mandate' with voters is cumbersome, inefficient, and fraught with misinformation and discord. An initiative like this should be a 'last ditch' effort following a failed public process.


Kevin
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on May 27, 2022 at 2:33 pm
Kevin, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 2:33 pm

@Long Time Resident,
Absolutely concur that we need to leverage the planning commission and city council first, before trying to tinker via the unwieldily and costly ballot initiative process. I have seen far too many of these knee-jerk citizen initiatives have unintended and mostly negative consequences over both the short term and the long term.


SoodyQ
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 27, 2022 at 4:28 pm
SoodyQ, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 4:28 pm

A couple of weeks ago, a woman approached my partner and me at the Downtown Menlo Park Farmers Market. She claimed that certain Council member was in support of this ballot measure. Her pitch about this petition was false and misleading at best. I also know that the same group falsely mentioned other "supportive" council members in a different neighborhood. Is it coincidentally or calculated that the canvassers pick and choose the so-called "supportive" council member (or public official) based on who they think a particular neighborhood supports?

Further, Yaeger does not just have a background in real estate development. Yaeger (born and raised in Atherton), according to his Linkedin profile, is a Residential Real Estate expert focused on building and selling custom homes on the San Francisco Peninsula and manages three distinct companies in the home building space: Graben, Inc. - excavation and grading contractor; Yaeger Construction, Inc. - custom home builder; and Yaeger Residential Brokerage - real estate broker.

This ballot measure opening with the "existing pattern of land use in Menlo Park … is highly desirable by the community" has been used since the Jim Crow to make the neighborhoods more exclusive because developers could charge more for single-family homes than they could for duplexes or cottage apartments.

Menlo Park already suffers from inequitable housing practices without tying the Council's hand regarding rezoning. For example, the language in Menlo Park's Specific Plan Guiding Principles includes dog whistle language: "Sustain Menlo Park's Village Character."

A recent 2020 study from UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute found that 83% of residential land in the Bay Area is devoted to single-family zoning. That means that on only 17% of the land, it's legal to build apartments, condos, duplexes, or triplexes. And that's not unusual. A New York Times analysis found that about 75% of the residential land in major cities across the country


SoodyQ
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 27, 2022 at 4:29 pm
SoodyQ, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Continue from above:

A recent 2020 study from UC Berkeley's Othering & Belonging Institute found that 83% of residential land in the Bay Area is devoted to single-family zoning. That means that on only 17% of the land, it's legal to build apartments, condos, duplexes, or triplexes. And that's not unusual. A New York Times analysis found that about 75% of the residential land in major cities across the country is devoted exclusively to single-family homes.

The same Othering & Belonging Institute study found that increasing the percentage of single-family zoning in a city increases the percentage of white residents. Part of that is because renting an apartment or duplex is less expensive than renting or buying a home. It's also a legacy of racist housing policies, like redlining, that barred Black families from receiving federally-backed loans following the Great Depression and from the GI Bill after WWII. Add to exclusionary zoning other laws such as Proposition 13 (a 1978 California law that limits how much governments can tax property to 1% of its assessed value), which offers bigger tax breaks to homeowners in wealthy, white neighborhoods.

Menlo Park needs more housing throughout the City (and not just in the already-congested District 1, which has been bearing the brunt of numerous hotels and commercial buildings) ... not more laws to restrict it.


Native
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2022 at 5:30 pm
Native, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 5:30 pm

Menlo Park is such a joke. These people, who are actively seeking to make it harder for young people and people of color to live in this community, probably even have "All immigrants welcome here" signs in their yard.

I hope Menlo residents see through this thinly veiled attempt to scare people about a threat that, frankly, doesn't exist. Otherwise, Menlo will just continue to morph into the ultrawealthy retirement community it's becoming.

Your children can't afford this place anymore, and you wonder why?


Menlo Park Citizen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 27, 2022 at 6:57 pm
Menlo Park Citizen, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 6:57 pm

A long time resident and homeowner in Menlo Park, I oppose the Menlo Balance initiative and am saddened to see an exclusionary effort like this one in our community. In my view, Menlo Balance is using misleading tactics to recruit signatures by telling folks that single family zoning could be changed to accommodate big box stores. This isn't the case, this isn't up for consideration at City Council, and it's not within the scope of city discussions, hard stop. Rather, this is a scare tactic to lead folks into signing before folks can realize what this is actually about. At its core, Menlo Balance's initiative would block an affordable housing project as designed for Ravenswood School District teachers. This is a district whose teachers are paid much less than the teachers at MPCSD (30% less, in fact). This is the difference between a teacher at MPCSD making on the order of $100K a year, and a Ravenswood teacher making $70K a year. The Ravenswood School District deserves to be able to recruit and keep its public school teachers, and ample affordable housing will help greatly with this effort. Ravenswood students benefit greatly when their school district can successfully recruit and keep its teachers. Menlo Balance seems to be using "icky" tactics (including sending some volunteers to canvas at the MPCSD Fun Run festival, without approval from the school district and despite not being an MPCSD initiative). Don't be fooled -- this is about keeping Menlo Park white and wealthy. It's about exclusion. It's about keeping their own property values high while hurting another district's ability to recruit and house its teachers. I'm sorely disappointed to see something so unwelcoming and unkind in our otherwise fine city. We can do better than this. We can treat our neighbors with kindness, not exclusion. You can write to the City Clerk in Menlo Park to ask that your name be removed from the petition if you wish to do so -- it's not too late.


MP_Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 27, 2022 at 9:28 pm
MP_Resident , Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 9:28 pm

Lack of communication builds mistrust, misunderstanding, missed opportunities etc…and that’s exactly what City Councilmembers and key stakeholders are allowing to happen by not bringing the big issues our City must address together under one comprehensive narrative that helps residents understand some of the changes we’re facing as a community (housing, safe streets, downtown revitalization, transportation etc), helps us plan and visualize the possibilities, and brings us together as a community in building the future of Menlo Park. Because all of these issues we’re facing are being approached in vacuums, it’s easy for neighborhood groups like Suburban Park to jump to unfounded conclusions on a particular issue they feel affects them, rally their personal resources (Nicole = lawyer; Tim = developer), and spin up an alarmist and false narrative to get signatures. Now, should it pass in November, this measure will s-l-o-w down the wheels of progress for our fair city even more than they already are. And let’s be honest, it will pass because the average voter won’t do their homework and this nimble neighborhood group will out-spin those brave enough to speak up in opposition between now and November. Our city leaders should do more than be disappointed. They need to work together and LEAD our community. That’s what Nicole and Tim did with this initiative and they weren’t even elected to do so, nor did they have an existing infrastructure as a platform. They created it from scratch. It might be time to work from a different playbook Menlo Park, because whatever you think you’re doing, isn’t working.


Ronen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 27, 2022 at 9:33 pm
Ronen, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 9:33 pm

As a long time home owner in the city, I feel this initiative is despicable. We need more housing. Lots of it. Home prices are going through the roof. Families are leaving the Bay Area and the state because they can’t afford housing. Enough!

If these NIMBYs want to live in a village, let them move to a rural community, not in the middle of Silicon Valley.

I want my kids to be able to live in the community they grew up in.

If anyone wants to start a campaign against this stupidity, please contact me. Let’s go door to door and explain to folks how self-destructive this initiative is.


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on May 27, 2022 at 10:15 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on May 27, 2022 at 10:15 pm

Seems to me there is a lot of fear about allowing the residents of Menlo Park to have a say in how our city is shaped. 3000 signatures in 3 weeks is pretty impressive. I signed it because I think the residents of Menlo Park should have a say in our cities future. No one made any false claims to get me to sign it, nor do I believe false claims were made to get signatures. If the majority of Menlo Park residents feel the same way as the people posting above then it will fail, If not then the majority will vote to approve the initiative and that will help shape the city. Let the residents have their say.


Rvengosh
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 28, 2022 at 8:20 am
Rvengosh, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 28, 2022 at 8:20 am

It’s possible for an initiative to pass and be self destructive at the same time.

The cost of housing in the Bay Area is insane. If I had to buy my own house now I couldn’t afford it. Not even close. In a few years when my kids look to start their own families their only option would be to leave the Bay Area. This is self destructive. We’re killing everything that made Silicon Valley the success that it is.


Iris
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 28, 2022 at 3:03 pm
Iris, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on May 28, 2022 at 3:03 pm

The Council could take the initiative as a sign that many residents are concerned about the impacts of increased density. They have the opportunity to address these concerns before this effort is placed on the ballot.
They also have an opportunity to explain how new housing will be affordable given the high cost of land and building materials. Concerns about affordability seem legitimate absent substantial subsidies (from where?). And if Menlo Park keeps allowing more and more big office buildings, when and how will this situation end? The Council needs to hold an honest, thoughtful and comprehensive community discussion.


JOlson
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 29, 2022 at 6:35 am
JOlson, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 29, 2022 at 6:35 am

I think this ballot measure is a good idea for Menlo Park. Residents should have a say in the reshaping of their own neighborhoods through the use of zoning changes. Neighborhoods should have a voice in their own future and this ballot measure, if passed, would give them a voice.


John Donald
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 29, 2022 at 7:05 am
John Donald, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 29, 2022 at 7:05 am

See www.floodschoolhousing.org, a website I and a few others put together to counter the misinformation from the Menlo Balance group. Share if you support the Flood School Housing project and are concerned about this ballot initiative.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on May 29, 2022 at 8:39 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on May 29, 2022 at 8:39 am

jolsen:

The people of this city do have a say, they just have to use it. But, they will have to actually participate in the process. The last time a measure was out up, Measure M, it was soundly defeated. The measure was put up to try and undo the downtown specific plan. A plan that was developed over the course of SIX years. Yet, the no birds were somehow taken by surprise regarding what the plan was.

Ballot measures are a terrible way to do things. One only need look at this state to see what happens when things gets run by initiatives. Let planning and council do their jobs with plenty of input from citizens. Of course, citizens will have to actually participate and put some time into it. If they aren't willing to do that, then they have no right to complain about the result.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 30, 2022 at 12:16 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on May 30, 2022 at 12:16 pm

I support Menlo Balance and find the personal attacks on its leaders appalling. Those of us who already live here -- who worked hard to buy a house and have invested substantial resources in our homes -- should have primary control over the kind of city we want to live in.

Make no mistake: these high-density initiatives are driven by those who stand to profit (and who themselves live in communities that will not be touched by high density development) and promulgated by misguided ideologues. Measure M failed not because of its objectives but because the supporters were opposed by Stanford, a deep-pockets developer that could outspend them at every turn.

Re the statistics about single family housing: most of the bay area is devoted to that because that's how most of us want to live. We may be fine with tiny apartments in our 20s, but when we get married/have kids we want space and a yard for the family. The "dog whistle" regarding village character: are some of you saying that POC don't want to live in a community where people know and support each other? Now, that is a racist, elitist assumption.

Although I supported the new City Council configuration, with seats allocated by district, the downside is that an ideology-driven majority has taken over the council, one seat at a time. Since the council appoints the planning commissioners, those commissioners reflect the council majority. Anyone else note that the newest PC members are renters? Of course they'd love to be able to buy a single family home here for under $1mm. But who is going to subsidize their housing?

Housing prices have become obscene, but don't blame us, the homeowners. Most of us couldn't afford to buy our own homes today. Blame the federal government's money printing machines and interest rate manipulation that have driven up prices. We shouldn't be asked to sacrifice our quality of life because of housing inflation.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 30, 2022 at 3:42 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on May 30, 2022 at 3:42 pm

It's a small step from condemning people who would protect their neighborhoods from over-development, to confiscating their property outright. The propaganda techniques of shaming and dehumanizing leads from one to the other and should not be tolerated.

Since we can't create more land, adding more and more housing is a form of degrading the commons for those who are already here.

We are confronted with a question: Do we have a right at the city and neighborhood level to determine the parameters of development? Or does that right reside at the State level?

For any collective process, I say that it is usually best to defer to the local level. Pushing those decisions up and away from the local level results in lots of opportunity for local harm, visited on the locals by people who are not harmed themselves.

This is a particularly pernicious situation when massive amounts of money are involved. The opportunity for conflicts of interest and destruction of the commons for personal benefit becomes glaringly obvious.

If our City Council and Planning Commission do not reflect the desires of the community, they should be voted out and if necessary, worked around until such time as they can be voted out.

In any case, not everyone who wants a house in Menlo Park will ever be able to afford one.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 30, 2022 at 6:07 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on May 30, 2022 at 6:07 pm

@Running "We are confronted with a question: Do we have a right at the city and neighborhood level to determine the parameters of development? Or does that right reside at the State level?"

Thank you so much. I put the question like this: "If everyone in the world wants to live and work in Palo Alto, must Palo Alto let them? If not, when and how do they get to draw the line?"

I use Palo Alto as an example, because you may not know that this very topic, in different language is the central topic of much progressive liberal chattering class policy that is decidedly anti-single family zoning. Yale professors, economics professors, legal scholars, housing scholars, planners, who have been miffed over single family zone ("SFZ") for more than fifty years. In their jargon, the call it "exclusionary zoning" ("EZ"). The anti-EZ project, composed of "neo-liberals", those who fawn over "markets" and think that SFZ defeats markets, and "housing advocates", those who think SFZ is frankly racist, but are clever enough to say it using Liberal dog whistles, are launching a nation-wide pincer movement against SFZ, which, unfortunately, is gaining traction only in Blue States, naturally.

Don't get down, there are a few academics who assert that "neighborhood" properly includes what can be understood as a collective private property right in which local authority has standing to preserve its culture. But ...... SFZ is under attack from powerful authorities.

Make no mistake about it, local authority is under attack, particularly from the Left, and wrongly I believe. Nevertheless it is so.

The current law says, local zoning authority is lawful, but can be circumvented by higher authorities. "Zoning" power is a use of the so-called "police power" granted to cities by the State. Hence cities enjoy zoning powers only if States let them.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 30, 2022 at 6:17 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on May 30, 2022 at 6:17 pm

To further your understanding of where this is all coming from. In 2015 the Supremes, allowed that "disparate impact" was "cognizable" under the Fair Housing Act. HUD then made up new rules called "affirmatively furthering" housing which was then promulgated and adopted, mostly by Blue States. Progessive housing advocates in California have been pushing HUD rules through State law and the RHNA process into cities.

That's one hand slapping you in the face.

The other hand slapping you in the face is the market reality, not acknowledged either by "neo-liberals" or by "housing advocates" that office is far more profitable than housing, particularly in Menlo Park, and that office crowds out housing.

There's only so much land, and God's not making any more of it. Once all non-SFZ sites have been built out, usually as office, the only remaining residential sites will be SFZ. You can see where this is going.

Menlo Park's problem has never been that is denies housing. Its problem has always been that it approves uneeded office. But what went around is now coming around.

Which brings us to SRI. Did you know that that project will add about 2000 new jobs to a centrally located Menlo Park site, while building only 400 housing units. And that the developer is cleverly circumventing existing zoning and permitting to build twice as much office than is currently allowed there, while dangling 400 housing units in front of a pro-housing council.

In Menlo Park, keep your eye on the prize. Office = housing demand > housing supply. If housing demand (office) continues to outpace housing supply you will be swallowing high -density housing until you are blue in the face.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 30, 2022 at 8:02 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on May 30, 2022 at 8:02 pm

>>Menlo Park's problem has never been that it denies housing. Its problem has always been that it approves unneeded office.<<

That encapsulates one key factor in the current push for housing development: the multiplicative effect. Council members don't seem to understand that approving massive office development today will result in an increase in housing requirements tomorrow. Menlo Park's allocation for the 2015-2023 cycle was 655 housing units; the allocation for this upcoming cycle is almost 5x as great. Is explosive growth in the best interest of this community?

It is also disconcerting to hear council members acknowledge meeting privately with developers. The fact that members so easily succumb to developer blandishments makes our elected officials look like naive yokels. If this initiative serves to remind them that they work for us, the residents, then perhaps they can get back to advocating on our behalf.


Nanc
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 31, 2022 at 12:44 pm
Nanc, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 12:44 pm

So ashamed at the neighbors in our community who are behind Menlo Balance and not just because their NIMBY attitudes are abhorrent, it’s because they are lying and misleading the public and also making unfounded claims that affordable housing will somehow ruin their way of life here. Their precious home values won’t suffer and neither will their children if renters and essential workers can find affordable housing in the City where they work, and *shudder* live amongst the NIMBYS.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on May 31, 2022 at 12:46 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 12:46 pm

Ms. Wolosin lives in your district, Frozen. You get a shot at her in 2024. Ms. Nash is up in 2022. As is Ms. Taylor. Is it time to recruit candidates? The initiative has it merits, but if one is going to bust one's hump, why not seat friendly council members.

District 4 covers downtown Menlo Park and the Allied Arts neighborhood.

As of Sunday Nash had 1,732 votes (55.2 percent), while Ohtaki had 944 votes (30.1 percent) and Ron Shepherd had 463 votes (14.7 percent). Those votes add up to 3,440, or 78.3 percent of District 4's 4,392 registered voters.
District elections make it easy.

48% of the people in District 4 did not vote for the incumbent.

But first, one needs a challenger.


Belle Haven Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 31, 2022 at 1:08 pm
Belle Haven Resident, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 1:08 pm

Nobody before the current city council has ever listened to Belle Haven when we said we want to preserve our quality of life by limiting development. I can't find it in my heart to feel sorry for the people in the rest of Menlo Park who have been quietly letting us get over-built and now don't want to pick up their fair share.


Dagwood
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 31, 2022 at 3:17 pm
Dagwood, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 3:17 pm

I’m requesting that those responsible for this ballot measure please withdraw it. The measure is going to cause a lot of confusion and dissent. If enacted the measure will make zoning and planning more difficult than it is already. I’m sympathetic to the group’s concerns but this is not thought out. So please, withdraw the measure if at all possible. There are other better ways to get good new buildings built.


Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 31, 2022 at 3:24 pm
Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 3:24 pm

Bell Haven Resident:

This is your chance to shape your Bell Haven Community to override the city council that has not listened or cared about what your community thinks. With this proposal on the ballot, if passes, your community has a huge say regarding all types of zoning. Helps all 5 MP Districts.


kbehroozi
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 31, 2022 at 5:24 pm
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 5:24 pm

Director Silano, your assertion is misleading.

The ballot initiative does *not* give residents of Menlo Park a say about changes to *all* types of zoning–it would only apply to parcels currently zoned R-1 (or R-1U, R-E, etc.)

None of the considerable recent or planned development in or around Belle Haven would have been affected by this initiative, because all of that current/proposed development is slated for parcels already zoned for multi-family/mixed use/commercial development.

Residents who want to know more about how parcels in their neighborhoods are zoned can view the citywide zoning map here: Web Link

(to see zoning designations, click the "layers" icon on the upper left–looks like a stack of paper–and then when the layers box pops up, unselect "Adopted Council Districts" and select "Zoning")


Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 31, 2022 at 5:49 pm
Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 5:49 pm

kbehroozi;

Wrong:
1) I’m writing not as a representative of the fire Board. As you can see from the name heading.

2) I did not specially mention what types of zoning: just in a general sense.

3) Don’t put false interpretation( s)…


smallbusinessownerCZ
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 31, 2022 at 8:34 pm
smallbusinessownerCZ, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 8:34 pm

I cannot help but be sad about a fair amount of these posts. This particular housing complex is designed to be affordable and built for teachers and staff. The teachers and staff that made a commitment to educate our youth. The Ravenswood District is doing everything they can to hire and keep teachers and staff. If this works out, these same committed individuals will be able to live a bit closer to the district they serve. The district is also committed to addressing the challenges that the residents of the immediate area are concerned about. That is a process everyone can get involved in and in good faith collectively all the issues should be addressed. All elected officials in San Mateo County, not just some but ALL have to address the housing issues and challenges of which there are many. But in this specific issue it all goes back to this - if you won’t support affordable housing for teachers - then who?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on May 31, 2022 at 9:02 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on May 31, 2022 at 9:02 pm

It is an embarrassment to live in a community where some people even propose such a dog whistle measure.

The good news is that if it reaches the voters it will be soundly defeated.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 1, 2022 at 11:02 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 1, 2022 at 11:02 am

I am not sure why so many of the posters here are opposed to Menlo Park residents having a say in their neighborhoods, or is there fear that they will go against the current City Council. I am not so sure this will be easily defeated, they gathered the signatures very quickly and that tells me there is a lot of support for this initiative. Also, when the majority of the City Council votes against protecting our parks from housing development that tells the residents we need to take matters into our own hands. We will see in November but in the mean time I am all for letting the voters in Menlo Park have a more direct say in their neighborhoods, especially with the majority of the City Council does not seem to listen to them.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 1, 2022 at 11:29 am
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 1, 2022 at 11:29 am

Maintaining neighborhood quality was an explicit priority in prior Housing Elements. Is it even mentioned in the current 700+ page draft? Maybe; if so, I missed it.

To those of you who are accusing residents of racism or "dog whistles" -- you either like to insult people online, don't get out much, or don't care about your neighbors. I was at the Ravenswood/Laurel intersection today before school started. Gridlock. Okay, none of us are supposed to mind that (because if we complain about traffic, we're clearly NIMBY racists) but what about the safety of the kids biking to school and maneuvering around cars that are illegally blocking intersections? For anyone who needs or wants to get out of the house, the quality of life has deteriorated. And that's before the two huge developments on El Camino come online, never mind SRI.

Most of us are tired of being blamed for problems we did not create and are not perpetuating. Those of us who own a place derive no benefit from rising home prices. When did wanting to live in a quiet, family-oriented neighborhood become so reprehensible to some of you?

Menlo Balance isn't trying to stop development -- that's very clear if you actually read their statements. Unfortunately, given that our council remains enamored with oversized office development, maintaining the livability of our neighborhoods seems to be a constant struggle.

An initiative will give us all a voice. Why is that so scary to some of you?


Iris
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 1, 2022 at 3:11 pm
Iris, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Jun 1, 2022 at 3:11 pm

@ PH thanks for stating so clearly the real issue: ”Office = housing demand > housing supply. If housing demand (office) continues to outpace housing supply you will be swallowing high -density housing until you are blue in the face.”
It is unfortunate that the initiative doesn’t address the root problem. It looked like Measure M did for the downtown area but BIG developer money defeated it. It was about limiting office space growth and preserving open space.

BTW who is fighting Willow Village? Its ratio of jobs and housing is pitiful and would make the general problem of inadequate housing worse. Is Belle Haven fighting that?

Most of us reject that racism is the driving factor of current concerns about increased density. Our neighborhoods have become more diverse over the years (census confirms this) and it’s great. Our concerns are about safety (traffic) and quality of life (adequacy of schools, water, athletic fields, open land in yards for for trees, gardens and birds, etc) not about the persons.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 2, 2022 at 8:22 am
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2022 at 8:22 am

@Frozen "Most of us are tired of being blamed for problems we did not create and are not perpetuating.

Yep. Been there. Saw this coming. Fixed it. Don't blame us for badly mis-managing the jobs/housing ratio in the twenty years since, and for overdeveloping Belle Haven.

From twenty years ago. A little history lesson Web Link

"Menlo Park might soon update its zoning rules, eliminating a loophole that allows oversized, high-density offices to crowd-out light industrial uses and warehouses in the eastern half of the city. City Planners call the commercial area east of Highway 101 the "M-2" district.
...
A recent financial analysis conducted by staff using sophisticated modeling ... shows that ... [c]onverting to high-density offices will also double the number of employees in M-2 to a whopping 50,000, creating more traffic and increasing our jobs/housing imbalance to intolerable levels. ...

Doubling employees in the M-2 zone would create tremendous new pressure to build high-density housing throughout the city, negatively impacting our schools and recreational facilities.

... The city has been working on M-2 zoning since the city-wide office rush began in 1997."


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 2, 2022 at 9:20 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2022 at 9:20 am

Frozen, PH, Iris

I couldn't agree more. Those of us who supported Measure M saw this coming and now we are dealing with it. Developments like Willow Village need to be stopped. No more office space until housing needs have exceeded the state requirements for the office space we already have. With the majority of the current City Council not seeming to care about the residents desires, such as preventing development of our parks, it is time for the residents to have their say and send a strong message. Also it is time to take stock of just what the council is doing. There are seats up for re-election this year.


Rob Silano
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 2, 2022 at 10:11 am
Rob Silano, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2022 at 10:11 am

Please correct me if I’m wrong: I heard META… aka Facebook owns over 80% of all the commercial real estate in Menlo Park? If true; how about META buck up some land for low income housing for Menlo Park, all school employees, and public safety workers. I’m sure there will be enough for META employees too.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 2, 2022 at 10:55 am
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2022 at 10:55 am

@Brian "I couldn't agree more. Those of us who supported Measure M saw this coming and now we are dealing with it."

As long as we're playing "Oldie but Goodies." Remember Measure T, the 10-story Bohannon hotel/office complex in M-2 that also received voter approval around 2010. It set the precedent for overdevelopment in M-2. It won with almost 65% of the vote.

Web Link

"Measure T permits 1.7 million square feet of office, hotel, and parking structures, a six-fold increase over what's currently allowed, twice as much as the University Circle hotel/office project and six times as much as the Rosewood hotel/office project."

Menlo Park elementary schools get no new revenue and will actually be hurt financially by new local housing units induced by the project.

• Las Lomitas Elementary will lose $44,881 annually.
• Menlo Park Elementary will lose $16,139 annually.
• Ravenswood and Redwood City elementary get no benefit. Both are "revenue limit" districts -- new revenues are offset by reductions in state aid.

The new demand for 1,799 homes, will add pressure for unsustainably dense housing projects locally

The approvals codify generous zoning densities and lax new development standards written by the developer. This will encourage others in East Menlo Park to play "let's make a deal" to get similar favors and drive out even more sales-tax producing businesses."


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 2, 2022 at 11:28 am
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2022 at 11:28 am

@Rob "how about META buck up some land for low income housing for Menlo Park, all school employees, and public safety workers. I’m sure there will be enough for META employees too."

SRI only needs 283k sf of renovated lab space on their 52 acre site but they are building an additional 1M sf of brand new office whose rents will finance all the construction and make a future fortune for Lane Partners and Wall Street capital investors in the project.

With a bit of community leadership, maybe Meta could help finance the renovation, under the Willows Village project developer agreement, and obtain the rest of the SRI site for housing. Housing is still profitable. At slightly increased BMR rates, dedicated to RSD teachers and other RSD workforce members. Meta could sell off the housing site to a developer, get housing for its employees, housing for teachers, and to get much of its money back to repurpose in Belle Haven.

The SRI location is ideally suited for housing, and replacing office with housing reduces housing deficits twice as quickly and actually reduces commute traffic and reverses its profile.

But that would take a vision and leadership. There's a lot of moving piece-parts. I don't know what commercial construction costs are, but at roughly $1000 per sf the 283k sf lab would cost about $.28B which is certainly in the range of what is now being committed by Meta to the Willows Village project.

The much simpler deal is this. Right now council is pushing SRI to cram another 100 affordable units on the site in addition to the 1.28M sf of commercial development. From your perspective you guys could offer to drop the initiative in exchange for reduced density at Flood and dedication of some SRI units to replace the lost Flood units. Of course, this would betray everyone else by allowing the 1M sf on SRI and by dropping the initiative which has merits independent of the Flood school issue.



Iris
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2022 at 1:34 pm
Iris, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Jun 2, 2022 at 1:34 pm

@PH thanks for history lesson. Good information. Didn't SRI tout the current proposal as being “no bigger”? That should mean no more workers (no new demand for housing).
Some creative thoughts here. I am intrigued with the idea of petitioners negotiating something. There seems to be a remarkable lack of creative ideas at city hall. Keep ideas coming!


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 3, 2022 at 12:01 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2022 at 12:01 pm

@Iris "Didn't SRI tout the current proposal as being “no bigger”? That should mean no more workers"

Oh my. SRI eliminates existing site employment caps, particularly non-SRI employment caps and converts from a low intensity use to a much higher intensity use. SRI employs about 1400 and the site is built out with 2800 parking spaces. The net intensification would be minimally about 1400 employees, but could well be in excess of 2000.

Here are the facts:

SRI proposes to "renovate" about 1.29 M sf of existing lab into .29Msf of renovated lab plus 1Msf of brand new office. According to the SVBJ Web Link "SRI International intends to occupy about three of the nine buildings once the development is complete." ... the three renovated labs = .29Msf Makes sense. Not much admin.

In 1997, under the existing CDP, the city capped SRI site employment under a set of rules that also counts non-SRI employees double. SRI is wants to eliminate those rules.

Historical employment has been about 1400. After divesting 10 acres for housing, the cap would be reduced to 2770 SRI employees. IF SRI employs 1400, non-SRI employees should be capped at 675 for a total site density of 2075.

There is parking for 2800. There would be no cap.

Now let's estimate how many employees similar 50-acre sites with 1M sf of office support elsewhere in Menlo Park.

-The 57 acre nine-building 1M sf former Sun Microsystems office, now Facebook East, allowed 3600 employees and Meta-style use now allows 6600.

-The 59 acre 1M sf Willows Village commercial space now seats 3570 Meta workers and will be expanded to employ 6950.

-The .33M Downtown SP estimated 1500 new employees.

Standard 3 per 1000 puts the office occupancy at 3000 ... plus the labs.


Nanc
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2022 at 12:39 pm
Nanc, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2022 at 12:39 pm

If only the NIMBY’s behind a menlo Balance were more concerned about major increases in Office space - which will result in thousands of new commuters and increase in traffic here. But instead their efforts are fighting the creation of 90 affordable housing units ‘in their back yard’ for people already working in the schools in Menlo Park.


Nanc
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 3, 2022 at 12:40 pm
Nanc, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2022 at 12:40 pm

If only the Suburban Park residents behind a menlo Balance were more concerned about major increases in Office space - which will result in thousands of new commuters and increase in traffic here. But instead their efforts are fighting the creation of 90 affordable housing units ‘in their back yard’ for people already working in the schools in Menlo Park.


Iris
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 3, 2022 at 5:53 pm
Iris, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Why aren't there caps for both office and for numbers of workers like in the past?

I’ve heard Meta plans 150sq ft per worker and some of the incubator-style startups use 50 sq ft per worker. One million sq ft of office could mean 6,666 - 20,000 workers!!! Menlo Park can never keep up with the traffic, infrastructure and housing demand that would bring.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 3, 2022 at 6:39 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2022 at 6:39 pm

@IRIS "Why aren't there caps for both office and for numbers of workers like in the past?"

Meta platforms is #11 in employee PROFIT, not just revenue, per employee at $500k/employee. The boy king can't pack those worker bees in dense enough!

Web Link

Palo Alto was smart enough to evict Facebook. Menlo Park, not so much.

I'm so sorry. The downtown rents in Menlo Park Springline (formerly Greenheart) are now the highest in America. Of course SRI wants to use its office to capture those rents, and, though I don't believe they intend to host a hive of Meta worker bees, they could if council lets them. The site and space is big enough, and certainly the profits are good enough.

Once you allow the office to get built its almost impossible to stop it from eventually being filled with as many worker bees as will make the most amount of money. Even if there is a cap, Lane/SRI will wait and wait. One sleepy day during some future pandemic, or some future friendly council they will ask and get permission to increase the cap, whatever it is.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 3, 2022 at 10:11 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 3, 2022 at 10:11 pm

Nanc,

"If only the NIMBY’s behind a menlo Balance were more concerned about major increases in Office space..."

Name calling is neither helpful nor justified, it just makes your posts look petty. If you look at the proposal it allows for much more than 90 units. I believe everyone should have a say in their neighborhood and the majority of the City Council seems to not care about the residents so they felt the need to take matters to the voters of Menlo Park. If you are opposed to it then vote No. Many people have tried to stop or slow office development and those measures failed (see above posts) Hopefully this one will be successful.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 6, 2022 at 10:18 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Jun 6, 2022 at 10:18 am

The City Council is elected by the residents.

If you don't like the person that represents your district then urge someone more to your liking to take the time and considerable effort to run for public office.

Hopefully if this measure reaches the ballot it will be rejected as a not very well disguised effort to forever maintain the status quo.


Stuart Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 7, 2022 at 4:37 pm
Stuart Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 7, 2022 at 4:37 pm

Soffer Housing. 1/3 parts

Don’t repeat past mistakes in understanding housing.

When we moved into our Linfield Oaks home, the statement of CC&R’s (Conditions, Covenants and Restrictions) provided to us at closing included interesting details, such as ‘“Asians may not stay overnight.” While I was flabbergasted, this reflected the post WW-II paranoia and sentiments, as the Linfield Oaks subdivision was created less than 10 years after the end of WW-II.

Then City Attorney Bill McClure, a real city attorney who grew up in Menlo Park, and thus inherently preserves institutional knowledge, said that subsequent federal law removed that possibility.

Quirky Phantom Parcels and Easements

There are instances of land quirks in the city. For example is a shaded path in the willows extending behind houses from the Willows Market to near highway 101. The ownership of that path is unclear, or forgotten, but nonetheless serves as a barrier to some forms of development, such as, removing trees in Tree City.

When I was on the Planning Commission, one proposed single family project we reviewed included a separate, tiny lot - 6 inches wide by 20 feet long; barely visible in the plans provided to us, along the driveway, whose intent was to prevent expansion by neighbors, Justin Murphy probably remembers that.


Don’t buy into other people’s neuroses…

… Like California Bill SB 9, which I dubbed “The Menstrual Hut Ordinance” and caused mirth and laughter by one of the local paper editors. (I apologize for the sexist imagery. I needed it for the parody housing message. Ps. Parody is protected speech.) If any are built I predict that these will be used as home offices, and not for necessarily housing.

What about the proposed Right of First Refusal for the when a rental property is sold. Easy enough to require, but the details are tough: What does a renter need to quality for a loan?


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 8, 2022 at 8:29 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 8, 2022 at 8:29 pm

Pretty much the position I expected you would take. It will make the ballot, and I think there is a good chance it will pass. If the majority of the city council is not even willing to commit to protecting our public parks then it is time for the residents to step and and do their job for them. Politics are funny, people say one thing and then they get elected and decide todo something else. I will agree with you on one thing, the election is coming up and some on council are up for reelection. It is time for the residents to decide if they agree with the decisions or not.


Westbrook
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 8, 2022 at 10:38 pm
Westbrook, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Jun 8, 2022 at 10:38 pm
new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 9, 2022 at 11:24 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jun 9, 2022 at 11:24 am

Peter: There is a problem that I predicted when MP went to district elections. Simply that council members (which face no consequences to voters from other districts) can band together to vote against other districts. We are now in this situation, and aided by "inclusion and equity" on top of it. So we will see that Council from districts 1,2,3 will simply vote for density in 4,5. This is why I think this initiative was formed and why it will pass.


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 9, 2022 at 12:24 pm
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 9, 2022 at 12:24 pm

But doesn't the same logic about the council not representing the whole city apply to all of us as voters? Why would a majority of West Menlo Park, Linfield Oaks, the Willows, Belle Haven, etc. oppose dense housing in Suburban Park? We all know that housing is needed and will happen in our city, so I suspect that voters who are worried about increased density in their own neighborhoods would be incentivized to vote for increased density in other neighborhoods.


Jlincoln
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 10, 2022 at 12:19 pm
Jlincoln, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Jun 10, 2022 at 12:19 pm

San Mateo County
May 2022 residential sales/listing for single family residences
Median Price $2,080,000
Active Listings: 508
Closed sales; 466
Average days on market: 14

Good luck to all who want to love here or those who do t have access to an existing g family home, family wealth, stock options or an income exceeding $500,000 year or more
More housing is needed ! Not less!


Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jun 11, 2022 at 5:13 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jun 11, 2022 at 5:13 pm

Menlo Park Resident,

I think the problem is that if the City Council is willing to approve ill thought out housing in one neighborhood they will do it in other areas of Menlo Park. If you are familiar with the Suburban Park area of Menlo Park you know that it is a small neighborhood with narrow roads and limited entry and exit points. The city likes to say there will only be 90 units but in fact there could be up to 300 and I am pretty sure we all know that a developer will do what ever it takes to maximize either profit by building as many units as they can get approved. Is there any binding agreement to only build 90 units? I have not heard of one. I don't believe there have been any studies on the impact of the added traffic to the neighborhood, why not?

I find it telling that they got 3000 signatures in 3 weeks, that is impressive and a lot more signatures that residents of the impacted neighborhood which tells me this is an issue felt all over Menlo. When we have members of the City Council that are not even willing to vote against developing our city parks for low income housing it is time residents took matters into their own hands. First the initiative then the election of the city council members who are tone deaf to the residents of Menlo Park.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 12, 2022 at 9:12 am
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 12, 2022 at 9:12 am

@Enough "Is there any binding agreement to only build 90 units?"

FYI RSD: Web Link

“How many units are planned for the site?

• The contract, which is still being negotiated, explicitly caps the number of units at 90 units and four floors - meaning that no matter what the site is zoned at or if there are any density bonuses, the number of units and floors cannot exceed that which is permitted in the contract.

• If the ultimate zoning determines lower limits, then the lower zoning limit would apply.

• If the ultimate zoning is higher than that limit, then the contractual cap would apply.

• Furthermore, 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”


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 13, 2022 at 4:28 pm
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 13, 2022 at 4:28 pm

I think that one of the reasons the Menlo Balance initiative has so many signatures is that they have been using false statements and scare tactics when collecting signatures. The person who came to our door told us that the city is planning to rezone ALL parcels in the city to allow commercial development (!), and that the ballot initiative was intended to stop this. I don't believe that this volunteer's messaging is representative of the entire team supporting the initiative, but I have heard numerous other variations of false statements used to get people to sign to put the initiative on the ballot.


Michael
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 14, 2022 at 8:37 am
Michael, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 8:37 am

Does anyone know if this ballot initiative overrides SB9 and SB10? Pretty sure its only a matter of time before Sacramento takes over all zoning in order to deal with all this local silliness.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 14, 2022 at 8:52 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 8:52 am

Measure M is aptly named - "I've got Mine"

Aka "the lifeboat is full and you will just have to try to stay afloat while I am snug in my single family lifeboat."


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 14, 2022 at 9:41 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 9:41 am

Funny. "I've got Mine."

yep, and I paid for mine.

funny to me is how Atherton residents get to keep their 1+ acre estates, while we fight over trying to cram more people into tiny parcels and parking lots in MP. can we simply close our train station and therefor no longer be "transit rich" like Atherton did.


Menlo Lifestyle
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 14, 2022 at 9:49 am
Menlo Lifestyle, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 9:49 am

Aka "the lifeboat is full and you will just have to try to stay afloat while I am snug in my single family lifeboat." is totally wrong.

"the lifeboat is full and let's shove 90 more people into yours."

That's a better analogy. Homeowners worked their whole lives and invested their life savings in a family-oriented single family home community. I can't imagine why they would be upset that some activists want to destroy that with dense, low income housing.

I predict the measure wins in a landslide. 9 out of 10 homeowners we approached for signatures thanked us profusely for protecting them and their life savings.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 14, 2022 at 10:24 am
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 10:24 am

@Peter Carpenter "the lifeboat is full ..."

If the lifeboat is full why is council putting more people on the boat?

And, if there’s not enough space atop the boat for more lifeboats, are you really going to store lifeboats in passenger cabins? That’s your solution?

And when the passengers complain you call them names.

-Willows Village creates net demand for 850 unmitigated housing units.

-SRI will create net demand for 300-700 unmitigated housing units.

-Ravenswood school district is leasing two parcels, Flood and 2021 Euclid. Combined they will produce more unmitigated housing demand.

There is a relationship between housing demand and housing supply. Housing demand continues to outpace housing supply.

The “pro-housing” city council is moving forward with approvals that continue the trend.

Every unmitigated housing unit displaces a future school teacher, or someone of lower income.

How could anyone who claims to care about current residents of lower income engage in land-use policies that invite higher paid non-residents to come here and displace them?


Cheryl Schaff
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 14, 2022 at 12:24 pm
Cheryl Schaff, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 12:24 pm

The most important statement that I read in all of these comments is: This is "a legacy of racist housing policies, like redlining, that barred Black families from receiving federally-backed loans following the Great Depression and from the GI Bill after WWII."

This is a racist, regressed, ridiculous initiative. I'm embarrassed and appalled that this initiative has gained enough signatures to be on the ballot.


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 14, 2022 at 12:47 pm
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 12:47 pm

PM: may you never know what it is like to live somewhere that is no longer creating new jobs, or worse, have declining jobs/opportunities (sure, housing is cheap there).

Lifeboats being full - well, what is actually full are playing fields, schools, parks.

sure, we can always increase density, but in return, we should normally receive something, such as new parks, new schools, playgrounds, community facilities... but at this point, we are getting none of that, and in reality, since we have built on everything, there are no more open spaces for new parks, schools, playing fields. clearly these "advocates" for more housing do not deal with these issues/constraints.

Michael - "local silliness". please take a few civic lessons, learn about local politics. This "local silliness" is simply our elected officials representing the interests of their voters. That is how it works. Hint: cities where the elected officials represent their communities are the ones everyone seems to want to move to. Weird right?


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 14, 2022 at 12:52 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 12:52 pm

"This "local silliness" is simply our elected officials representing the interests of their voters"

Exactly why Measure M will be defeated by the voters.


Roy Thiele-Sardiña
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 14, 2022 at 3:45 pm
Roy Thiele-Sardiña, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 3:45 pm

@Peter Carpenter

as always you can count on me to help defeat this if it appears on the ballot.

the lack of local memory retention is tiring.....we fight the same battles over and over again.

Roy


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jun 14, 2022 at 6:22 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jun 14, 2022 at 6:22 pm

Funny how this measure is M, just like the last one I worked to help defeat.


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:49 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 8:49 am

Peter/Roy:

If you read my comment from further above you will see that it IS different this time around. We have an individually voted on council (district based), who have already publicly stated that no new housing would go into District 1. So that leaves certain council members with the ability to push housing into other areas (and we all know which ones that means at this point - just watch one of the housing element meetings).

Note: I am against referendum/measure based government. representative democracy has brought society great benefits. BUT, we have moved to a situation in MP where we have no check on the electeds outside of our district. while this may be viewed as offering "better representation" across the city, it has created the "need" in the view of the measure proponents for a "city wide" check on development/rezoning, etc.

This one will pass.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:00 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:00 am

The fact is that certain districts have more unused/vacant land than other districts so it makes no sense to argue that incremental housing should somehow be precluded from being added to those less developed districts.

If you are the temporary beneficiary of nearby vacant/unused land you have no vested right to that land and that land should be used in the best interest of the community not in the best interest of a lucky neighbor.

Of course, if you want to preserve nearby unused/vacant land then buy it.


Stuart Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:53 am
Stuart Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:53 am

Don’t repeat past mistakes in understanding housing. (Part 1)

and Restrictions) provided to us at closing included interesting details, such as ‘“Asians may not stay overnight.” While I was flabbergasted, this reflected the post WW-II paranoia and sentiments, as the Linfield Oaks subdivision was created less than 10 years after the end of WW-II.

Then City Attorney Bill McClure, a real city attorney who grew up in Menlo Park, and thus inherently preserves institutional knowledge, said that subsequent federal law removed that possibility.

Quirky Phantom Parcels and Easements

There are instances of land quirks in the city. For example is a shaded path in the willows extending behind houses from the Willows Market to near highway 101. The ownership of that path is unclear, or forgotten, but nonetheless serves as a barrier to some forms of development, such as, removing trees in Tree City.

When I was on the Planning Commission, one proposed single family project we reviewed included a separate, tiny lot - 6 inches wide by 20 feet long; barely visible in the plans provided to us, along the driveway, whose intent was to prevent expansion by neighbors, Justin Murphy probably remembers that.



Menlo Lifestyle
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 15, 2022 at 10:31 am
Menlo Lifestyle, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 10:31 am

The last Measure M related to downtown development. Everyone in Menlo Park has an opinion about downtown, but few are intensely passionate about it. This time it's about building high density low-income housing in the middle of existing residential neighborhoods with no representation by the very homeowners whose property values and quality of life are directly impacted. Messing with someone's home elicits a visceral response. Very few people who actually own homes in Menlo want to start down that path.

Leave 4 people you can't vote for (and who don't care what you think) the power to build dense, low-income housing on your street? I predict this measure will pass 9 to 1.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 15, 2022 at 12:19 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 12:19 pm

@Menlo Lifestyle “ …it's about building high density low-income housing in the middle of existing residential neighborhoods.”

I think you need to find a better way to say this.

For the record, I would support both the 95 units and the initiative. As I suspect do a number of your signers. At issue is whether remote neighbors feel as you do about the project, or whether they are reacting to SB9 or the threat of further intrusion of State power into local zoning.

Were it me, I would pitch the latter and not the former.

Apartments and single family homes are very compatible in Menlo Park. Linfield is the most obvious example where apartments co-exist near single family homes.

What’s different about your situation is that the conditions you bought into are changing, and your neighborhood is probably being treated a bit differently than others. Newer housing developments in existing single family neighborhoods have usually been detached units on small lots zoned R3(X), also in Linfield. The condos on Encinal built out under the SP-ECR-D are also low density. SRI has modified its initial housing component to put condos not apartments next to the adjacent Classics home owners.

BTW, nothing passes 9 to 1. Work on your positioning.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 15, 2022 at 12:26 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 12:26 pm

>>This is a racist, regressed, ridiculous initiative.<<

Most people who invest in buying a place to live in Menlo Park do so because they prefer a safe, family-oriented environment, ideally with a little bit of land, proximity to essential goods and services, and a pleasant, walkable community with plenty of green space.

To call this "racist" is to suggest that there are some minority groups who would rather live in a cramped, high-density, less safe environment characterized by lack of the amenities that draw people to areas like ours. Can you please enlighten us as to which minority groups want to live like that? Or is it more entertaining to hurl groundless accusations of racism?


kbehroozi
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 15, 2022 at 1:51 pm
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 1:51 pm

Paul, I think if Menlo Lifestyle wants to say the quiet part out loud (maybe it's not about race but it sure sounds like it's about class), let him. His canvassers were selling misinformation about Chinese developers, big box
stores, etc., so it's not surprising that people signed the petition. (Our council is as likely to rezone downtown for kangaroo farming as they would be to convert residential land to commercial/industrial, but I guess not everyone knows that.)

It's clear that many folks are confused about what this would actually do. At risk of repeating myself:

1) Council just authorized city staff to send a draft housing element to the state for review. Residents who are concerned about the changes described by Menlo Balance canvassers should read it. They might be relieved to see no proposed changes to existing single-family housing, or to parks.

2) In the entire draft housing element, there were five proposed parcels that would be affected by this ballot measure–now four, because the Stanford parcel was removed from the list. The rest are church parking lots and the Flood School site, which used to generate 100s of commute trips/day. (not the same as replacing single-family housing w/ apartments)

3) Council voted last Tuesday to limit proposed zoning on the Flood School site to 20 units/acre, which even considering any and all possible affordability bonuses would cap the site at 90 units total.

4) the ballot measure would not give residents any power over SB9.

5) the ballot measure would not give residents any power over zoning changes to commercial, multi-family, public, industrial, or mixed use land.

There are, in fact, new/improved parks and public spaces being proposed in conjunction with Willow Village and SRI, as well as a new school being discussed for USGS. (not everyone thinks these are reasonable trade-offs)

In general, zoning-by-ballot is terrible policy and homeowners are not as monolithically change-averse as Almanac reply guys.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 15, 2022 at 3:01 pm
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 3:01 pm

It would be helpful if all members of Menlo Together could identify themselves when they post here. I understand that you are well-organized, with a broad agenda and specific talking points, whereas most of us are speaking out solely in the hopes of maintaining at least some of the character of Menlo Park -- that's why we moved here in the first place! If we'd wanted high density, highrise buildings, no yard, and nonstop gridlock we would have chosen that storied city about 30 miles northwest of here.

if, as is claimed above, the Menlo Balance proposal isn't going to affect the Housing Element execution, then why is Menlo Together so you opposed to it? (That's a rhetorical question; I don't expect a candid response.)

This is not "zoning by ballot" but rather, an effort by residents -- many of whom feel powerless in the face of a council that seems more responsive to developers than to residents -- to ensure that our perspectives are also heard. The needs of current residents, not the millions who might want to move here if they can find a place to rent for $100/month, should always come first.


Stuart Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 15, 2022 at 7:01 pm
Stuart Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 7:01 pm


Soffer Housing cont'd

Council-members should not impose on other areas of our city that one’s own planned subdivision precludes from implementing on their own property. Like splitting lots. I suggest council members n CC&R’s on the City website for all to compare to changes she proposes.

We already have a two story triplex that overlooks our bedroom windows.

Sacrificing Burgess Park has always been tempting. Menlo Park long ago sacrificed and demolished a city facility in Burgess Park: The Menlo Community Theater, for the current swimming pool.


We’ve been through housing experiments over the years - like the former Menlo Park Redevelopment Agency (formerly a council responsibility). More well-intentioned voodoo economics. Basically, the RDA could issue bonds to finance housing and other improvements, The bond holders were paid through increased in value of the properties from rent and sales. Our RDA collapsed when the bank that issued RDA bonds couldn’t pay the interest.

Housing concerns are nothing new,. They are difficult. Long ago former council member Paul Collacchi and I toured Menlo Park examining areas and ‘How to solve the housing crisis.’ We once stopped at the end of University Avenue facing the San Francisco Bay. It dawned on us that we could solve all housing needs in one swoop by constructing two buildings in the Bay, 100 stories each. Voila.


Well, city parking lots are not entirely owned by the city. While maintained by the City, they are a pastiche of parcels whose current owner(s) would need to be located, persuaded - and compensated, or to sell. Menlo Park had such a problem on the construction of a property downtown where we had to locate heirs to the parcels and persuade the current heirs to sell.

Why Isn’t the Town of Atherton adding low cost housing as well?



Enough
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jun 15, 2022 at 7:29 pm
Enough, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 7:29 pm

Katie,

You make some serious accusations but I don't see anything to back them up. I do find it quite sad that when anyone brings up something that others oppose they immediately play the race card. Menlo Together has their own agenda and it is not one supported by all of Menlo Park, in fact many of us oppose it. Congratulations to Menlo Together for getting three council members who share their goals elected. The counter to their agenda is initiatives like the one we are discussing. One that has wide spread support based on how many signatures they were able to get so quickly.

You like to claim that "(Our council is as likely to rezone downtown for kangaroo farming as they would be to convert residential land to commercial/industrial, but I guess not everyone knows that.)" and I would like to believe that. However I would have found it very hard to believe that three members of the City Council (Nash, Taylor and Wolosin, the same ones with ties to Menlo Together) would consider taking our parks and using them for low income housing. Yet when you look a the motion brought up several months ago to prohibit development on city park land like Burgess and Sharon those members voted against it. So with their stand and failure to support the current city residents, initiatives like this are necessary. You don't think homeowners will vote in favor of the initiative, I guess we will have to wait and see.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:19 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 15, 2022 at 9:19 pm

Interesting comments. Having just had a conversation about them I would like to clarify my stance. I have posted several times above as well.

I support this initiative, in fact I support most initiatives because they are a cornerstone of democracy and a way for voters to have a voice when they do not feel their elected officials have the best interest of the majority at heart. The only people who I see as opposed to having initiatives in general are the ones that feel that they know better than the "general population" and don't think they should have any direct say in government. As for this initiative I guess we will see in November if the majority support it or not.

I will say for the record that I was approached by three different people asking me to sign the initiative, all at different Little League games. At no time did anyone mention Chinese Developers or Big Box stores. I signed it because I do want the different neighborhoods to have a say in the development happening around them. And while it has been argues to me that the City Council does not plan to develop housing on city park land I just can't get over that the majority of the city council voted against a proposal banning housing development on city park land. Maybe there ws some confusion when this was proposed but it could have been clarified and brought up to a vote in one of the meetings following and to my knowledge that has not happened.

I do not agree with the majority of City Council on a number of topics and I think they are trying to "nanny city" Menlo Park. Forcing people to convert to Electric appliances is one such policy that I find ridiculous and not in the best interest of the residents of Menlo Park. They way they want to develop housing is another.


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 16, 2022 at 3:53 pm
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 16, 2022 at 3:53 pm

I have been a homeowner for over a decade in a single-family neighborhood near the proposed development at SRI and the former Sunset HQ. I am not affiliated with Menlo Together, though I appreciate some of their perspectives -- as I do the perspectives of many other folks in our city.

I am still stuck on the basic premise of this proposed ballot measure: That individual residents will somehow have more of a say through direct vote than through representative government. Do you distrust your elected representatives so much that you think they're not representing the people of your district? Or is your view such a minority view in your district that even your representative isn't speaking for it?

"This time it's about building high density low-income housing in the middle of existing residential neighborhoods with no representation by the very homeowners whose property values and quality of life are directly impacted. Messing with someone's home elicits a visceral response. Very few people who actually own homes in Menlo want to start down that path."
--> I own a home in MP. I am represented by my city council member, as is every other homeowner in our city.

"I am all for letting the voters in Menlo Park have a more direct say in their neighborhoods, especially with the majority of the City Council does not seem to listen to them."
--> Where to build moderately dense housing in our city is a citywide decision, with input from residents. In no circumstance will a group of neighbors alone get to determine zoning near their homes, under either the current model or the proposed ballot measure.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 17, 2022 at 10:32 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 17, 2022 at 10:32 pm

Menlo Park Resident,

You do understand that with the move to District elections several years ago that you only have a say in one of the five city council members, right? Each member of city council is elected by the voters in their district and while theoretically they should take the entire city into consideration that does not always seem to be the case.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 19, 2022 at 7:20 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 19, 2022 at 7:20 pm

@Brian You do understand that there is absolutely nothing stopping you from recruiting, funding, and campaigning for candidates in other districts who share your values, right?

It’s an election year. What are you waiting for?


Menlo Park resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 21, 2022 at 9:36 am
Menlo Park resident, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 21, 2022 at 9:36 am

Brian - Yes, I certainly do understand district elections in Menlo Park. Your response reaffirms my confusion about the push for this initiative. My point is that if residents were to vote directly, we wouldn't have a greater say in the parcels that are in our immediate neighborhoods.


MP Father
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2022 at 5:34 pm
MP Father, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jun 21, 2022 at 5:34 pm

Perhaps it is District Elections we need to push back on. Perhaps there is an alternative way to respond to threats from Shenkman & Hughes. The current City Council has a mind of its own (really driven from Nash, Wolosin, and Taylor) and does not appear to be paying any attention to what its "constituents" are saying. As a homeowner, I certainly don't feel represented by the current City Council.

Below is the background on District Elections from a MPC website:

On August 21, 2017, the City received a certified letter from Attorney Kevin Shenkman of Shenkman & Hughes, which alleged that voting within the City is racially polarized, resulting in minority vote dilution and that the City’s at-large elections violate the California Voting Rights Act of 2001. Specifically, the letter alleged that, “Menlo Park’s at-large system dilutes the ability of Latinos and African Americans (each a ‘protected class’) to elect candidates of their choice or otherwise influence the outcome of Menlo Park’s City Council elections.” One remedy for the alleged racially polarized voting is to switch to district-based voting in which the City would be divided into districts and only the voters in a district decide who will represent that district on the City Council.
The City of Menlo Park currently uses an at-large election system in which all voters in the City have the opportunity to vote for candidates for all five seats on the City Council. At the October 4, 2017, City Council Special Meeting, the City Council adopted Resolution No. 6404 declaring its intent to transition to district-based elections in response to Mr. Shenkman’s letter. The City Council also directed staff to explore other voting systems.


private citizen
Registered user
Laurel School
on Jun 26, 2022 at 5:28 pm
private citizen, Laurel School
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2022 at 5:28 pm

Please explain how overbuilding at sri, usgs and flood school is sharing equally across MP. Please add to this list the fact that the county is zoning flood park predominantly for sports fields. Their parking plan looks as if they might well count Bay rd as part of the parking solution. And I hear Atherton might propose building up single family lots on Ringwood to meet their affordability quota.

And why would you consider mitigating the inconvenience to suburban park by redirecting traffic through flood triangle/ Van Buren?? How is doing that to Flood triangle a mitigation? How about sticking with the original proposal of a 90-units - buy way of keeping the promise not to exceed that?

What about fb? They own well over half the city’s land and Mark claims that half of his people will be working from home over the next five years.

Covid changed the game. More and more people are working from home at least part time. We need to start knocking on the doors of the mega companies up and down the peninsula that have swallowed up vast tracts of land for their private use. Or should I say, their private under-use?

I’m all for sharing the responsibility for creating affordable housing. So far, the plan for Menlo Park is not “Sharing” and that’s not right.


Ellen
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 26, 2022 at 5:36 pm
Ellen, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2022 at 5:36 pm

I just read about the dispute between the East Palo Alto Sanitary District (which covers some parts of Menlo Park) and the numerous developers who are trying to build more commercial and residential units in East Palo Alto. I read about this in the SanJose Mercury and don't recall any mention of it in the Almanac.
If the developers' plans are approved, the impact on Menlo Park will be enormous. Why hasn't the Almanac covered this?


private citizen
Registered user
Laurel School
on Jun 26, 2022 at 5:53 pm
private citizen, Laurel School
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Just got truncated by the town square discussion app thing.
instead of:

I’m all for sharing the responsibility for creating affordable housing. So far, the plan for Menlo Park is not “Sharing” and that’s not right.

That last paragraph should read:

I’m all for sharing the responsibility for creating affordable housing in my area. So far, the plan for Menlo Park is not sounding like 'sharing', but more like tribalism on steroids where some neighborhoods are being set up to absorb the lion's share of the burden, while other neighborhoods, who seem to avoid participating, hurl insults from the sidelines.

If you have no skin in the game, just stop! And even if you have skin in the game, can we please have a discussion free of insults and bullying??


private citizen
Registered user
Laurel School
on Jun 26, 2022 at 6:09 pm
private citizen, Laurel School
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2022 at 6:09 pm


We may find that the council, the city and the housing department are hoping to convince developers to hugely increase the number of affordable residential units on sites such as SRI, USGS, Flood School by allowing them to also increase market rate apartments and expand or add more commercial space. Just a thought. What it means for those of us nearby is a crushing amount of overbuilding.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jun 27, 2022 at 10:29 am
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jun 27, 2022 at 10:29 am

Council is making approvals that increase net future homelessness. Future high-income Facebook Villagers will displace roughly 1100 existing low, very low, and extremely low income workers. This displacement is being overshadowed by the public theater of projects that would create 95 units at Flood Park or 100 units at SRI.

As part of a legal settlement agreement with EPA , MP agreed to perform Housing Needs Analysis (HNA) for projects in the former M-2 area.

"[An] HNA presents the anticipated housing needs associated with [a] Proposed Project. ...[it] also evaluates the Proposed Project’s potential to contribute to the displacement of existing residents ..."

The Facebook Village HNA appears as Appendix 3.13 of the DEIR. Web Link

It shows the project generates a regional net decrease in housing availability of 815 units for all income levels (p62), and, worse it shows a bigger net decrease in available housing of

127 units for extremely low incomes
207 units for very low incomes
727 units for low incomes.

Section 3.1.3 of the DEIR is something of a bureaucratic master class in how CEQA lets cities ignore this.

".. indirect displacement, as analyzed in the HNA, is provided for informational purposes and is not a requirement of CEQA."

Only "direct" displacement is required by CEQA. Even though "[i]ndirect ... impacts are those that are caused by a project ... later in time or farther removed in distance but still reasonably foreseeable."

Nevertheless, the HNA forecasts can be used "... as data for decision-makers during the entitlement process."

Will it be? Housing advocates. Push back harder on these projects. You have the power to do so. Fully mitigate the housing impacts on site.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
2 hours ago
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
2 hours ago

I don't think the sponsors have carefully considered the dynamics of a city wide vote on a neighborhood specific project.

Perhaps the sponsors of Measure M will explain why they think that voters NOT impacted by a zoning change in someone else's neighborhood would vote against that change.

The rational voter would vote FOR increased density elsewhere in order to reduce the need for greater density in their neighborhood.

And voters concerned with equity issues would also support a zoning density increase.

The only voters motivated to vote against the change would be the immediate neighbors and, by definition, the immediate neighbors would be a small minority of the total voters.

And we would all bear the considerable cost of each such election.

I think the Measure M folks need to go back to the drawing board.


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