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Menlo Balance initiative sparks fervent debate among residents

Menlo Park council acts to put ballot measure restricting multifamily housing before voters in November

If passed by voters in November, the Menlo Balance initiative would block the construction of any multifamily housing in most Menlo Park neighborhoods, including a proposed teacher housing project at the vacant James Flood Magnet School at 321 Sheridan Drive. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

A ballot initiative that would take key decisions on new housing out of the hands of the Menlo Park City Council sharply divided community members at the July 26 meeting.

Eight residents voiced disapproval of Menlo Balance's initiative at the June 28 meeting, paling in comparison to the 33 residents who spoke out on July 26, with 15 in support and 18 against the initiative.

"It is very clear from the findings that this ballot measure is taking a very complicated and intricate problem and using a blunt instrument to solve only one part of that problem," said Evelyn Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council. "This measure attempts brain surgery with a baseball bat."

The initiative proposed by Menlo Balance would prohibit the Menlo Park City Council from redesignating areas zoned for single-family homes without voter approval, effectively blocking the development of multifamily housing in large swaths of the city. It has all the signatures needed to get on the ballot. The council on June 28 delayed action to put it on the ballot and authorized a study on the impacts to be conducted first. Council members voted unanimously at the July 26 meeting to put the initiative before voters in November. The council's other option was to pass it immediately into law.

"Menlo Park's current system is broken when three City Council members who don't represent a certain district can currently vote to rezone a low-density, single-family parcel against the wishes of the City Council member for that district and against the wishes of the public," Menlo Balance founder Nicole Chessari said. "People's homes are sacrosanct. People choose to live where they want to live, and they should have a vote."

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Another resident countered the assertion that living situations are a choice.

"I think (the report) certainly puts the lie to the assertion that people choose to live where they live, because it shows that people live where they can afford to live," said Catherine Dumont.

The study found that the ballot initiative would impact 53 lots in Menlo Park that could have been developed, and zoning would be frozen throughout approximately 80% of Menlo Park's residential areas without a public vote. The ballot measure covers 1,540 acres of city land, what translates to 43.8% of all land in the city. A similar initiative passed in Saratoga has been on the books for 26 years, never facing a vote to amend it, according to the staff report.

"This measure attempts brain surgery with a baseball bat."

-Evelyn Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council

Residents shared their worries over what could happen if the initiative passed, with some fearing for the ability of current residents to continue living in the Bay Area, while others voiced concerns with their inability to take action if the initiative doesn't pass.

"(My sons) grew up in this community, they will not be able to live here," said Ronen Vengosh. "They're not going to be able to afford to do so and they'll probably end up leaving the Bay Area, probably the state. I've seen so many other young families and people leaving for that reason and it makes no sense to me. You know, worst of all, this is self-inflicted. There's no shortage of space in the Bay Area, there's no shortage of ability to build. What we have is a shortage of political will."

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Wayne Muesse said there was no other choice but to support the initiative. "We're not being listened to, you know, there are many other sites that are more suitable for what's going on out here. But yet, they're not being considered."

One concern is that this initiative could contradict policies laid out in the city's general plan, as addressed in the report. One states that each neighborhood should shoulder its fair share of new housing developments, while another requires that the city support housing opportunities for all without discrimination. Also mentioned in the report are policies for identifying housing sites and to address local housing needs. All four policies could be affected if Menlo Balance's initiative was to pass.

Resident Adina Levin mentioned that Menlo Park had been sued for noncompliance with the housing element before.

"Because we have some famous companies in our city, the eyes of the world are going to be upon us," Levin said. "And this is something that's going to make the city very vulnerable if this (initiative) passes."

"We need housing in communities throughout the state, and our region, especially housing for critical workforce, like teachers and school staff," said Alex Torres, director of state government relations for the Bay Area Council. "There is an economic benefit, and of course an equity benefit, in that we are undoing some of the harm that single families zonings at single homes zoning has caused in basically segregating our communities historically."

While some arguments hinged on the report, others spoke of their personal experience with housing in Menlo Park. Resident Sandeep Gupta said Menlo Balance's initiative would preserve what he finds special and vital about his local community.

"The safety of our kids and families is important to the residents, and that was evident to me and other volunteers," said Gupta. "When we went for signature-gathering across the city, the traffic from commercial and high-density residential buildings and single-family neighborhood is (bad), especially during weekends, evenings, when kids are playing on streets, neighbors are taking a walk connecting with their neighbors. This has not been thought through properly."

Another resident, Keith Diggs, spoke about what brought him to Menlo Park, and how housing could impact his life.

"I went to attend law school, worked for a national nonprofit for seven years, and then I got priced out of Phoenix, Arizona because my rent went up 30%," Diggs said. "It's frustrating to me that we're even having this conversation in the first place. Nothing about development requires anybody to give up the home they have, the problem is that so many of the rest of us are homeless. I don't even know where to register to vote because I don't have a home anymore."

One project that would be immediately affected is the redevelopment of the old Flood School site, a proposal that could build up to 90 units of affordable housing at the site of the former James Flood Magnet School. The 2.5-acre vacant school property is zoned for single-family housing.

Residents expressed concern about the availability of units to teachers.

Kathleen Daly spoke in support of housing for district staff, referencing a report by the Ravenswood City School District on the effect of the development would have.

"'It would change my life,'" Daly said, quoting a staff member. "Say that again: 'It would change my life,' a super important point for teachers, staff, the people that feed our children, who take care of the facilities. These are people that are committed to the education of our young people going forward."

Others, however, voiced concern that the units wouldn't actually be made available to district staff, and that a developer would use the project as an opportunity to make a profit.

"I want to talk about the sort of false focus on teachers, how many units in this development are reserved for teachers? Zero. There's nothing reserved for teachers," said resident Buck Bard, a claim that was rebutted by Ravenswood City School District officials.

Ravenswood's Chief Business Officer Will Eger said that the development agreement, regardless of zoning, would hinge on the idea that Ravenswood faculty and staff would always receive priority if there's a unit available. While non-staff members can rent a unit if there are no other takers, Ravenswood district workers get priority.

The long-term effects of the initiative were a focus of both the analysis commissioned by the city and the comments at the meeting. According to the report, Menlo Park would feel the effects not just with the Flood School site, but more dramatically in the future housing element cycles.

"I support our initiative not just for my backyard, but for the backyards of all my Menlo Park neighbors."

-Steve Wong, Menlo Park resident

Over the next several eight-year housing element cycles, options for development sites could be drastically reduced, and may become incompatible with state housing law requiring that sufficient vacant land be zoned for residential use, according to the report. If the initiative passes, it would become increasingly difficult for future city councils to plan for affordable housing, pushing all development into non-single-family housing areas.

"Please do not cede your authority in future planning for the city. Don't screw the future councils ... which would also, frankly, screw our future residents," said Katie Behroozi.

Resident Steve Wong, said he hoped that the ballot measure would have a positive effect on the future of city residents.

"I support our initiative not just for my backyard, but for the backyards of all my Menlo Park neighbors who also have the right to maintain the expected quality of life in their neighborhoods," he said.

However, not all residents thought that the long-term effects would be helpful.

"This measure is a one-way door that's permanent, that will make it so that these sites that are perfect housing sites, large tracts of land where schools used to be, where churches might want to build housing, very reasonable parcels will have to go to a vote and it will never happen," said Michael Levinson. "So they may say they support housing, but this measure in effect will make it impossible to build and these sites, these are not high-density sites."

Equity was also a focus of the comments, with some speakers saying they feared that the initiative could contribute to housing inequality along lines of wealth and race. Other speakers said that one could support both the initiative and low-income housing, and that they were not mutually exclusive.

"In 2020, we marched for Black lives. So I really want to thank the City Council for including racial and educational equity impacts in the study of the ballot measure, because the report validates, in government, to us what we have been hearing people say in human words for years and years and years, based on lived experience," said Karen Grove. "It will function as a continuation of this historic use of strict land use controls to perpetuate unequal and unfair governmental aids by enforcing and locking in residential, racial and economic segregation."

Ballot arguments will be submitted by Aug. 14, and the initiative will be available for public review beginning Aug. 19.

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Cameron Rebosio
 
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 Balance initiative sparks fervent debate among residents

Menlo Park council acts to put ballot measure restricting multifamily housing before voters in November

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Jul 28, 2022, 11:31 am

A ballot initiative that would take key decisions on new housing out of the hands of the Menlo Park City Council sharply divided community members at the July 26 meeting.

Eight residents voiced disapproval of Menlo Balance's initiative at the June 28 meeting, paling in comparison to the 33 residents who spoke out on July 26, with 15 in support and 18 against the initiative.

"It is very clear from the findings that this ballot measure is taking a very complicated and intricate problem and using a blunt instrument to solve only one part of that problem," said Evelyn Stivers, executive director of the Housing Leadership Council. "This measure attempts brain surgery with a baseball bat."

The initiative proposed by Menlo Balance would prohibit the Menlo Park City Council from redesignating areas zoned for single-family homes without voter approval, effectively blocking the development of multifamily housing in large swaths of the city. It has all the signatures needed to get on the ballot. The council on June 28 delayed action to put it on the ballot and authorized a study on the impacts to be conducted first. Council members voted unanimously at the July 26 meeting to put the initiative before voters in November. The council's other option was to pass it immediately into law.

"Menlo Park's current system is broken when three City Council members who don't represent a certain district can currently vote to rezone a low-density, single-family parcel against the wishes of the City Council member for that district and against the wishes of the public," Menlo Balance founder Nicole Chessari said. "People's homes are sacrosanct. People choose to live where they want to live, and they should have a vote."

Another resident countered the assertion that living situations are a choice.

"I think (the report) certainly puts the lie to the assertion that people choose to live where they live, because it shows that people live where they can afford to live," said Catherine Dumont.

The study found that the ballot initiative would impact 53 lots in Menlo Park that could have been developed, and zoning would be frozen throughout approximately 80% of Menlo Park's residential areas without a public vote. The ballot measure covers 1,540 acres of city land, what translates to 43.8% of all land in the city. A similar initiative passed in Saratoga has been on the books for 26 years, never facing a vote to amend it, according to the staff report.

Residents shared their worries over what could happen if the initiative passed, with some fearing for the ability of current residents to continue living in the Bay Area, while others voiced concerns with their inability to take action if the initiative doesn't pass.

"(My sons) grew up in this community, they will not be able to live here," said Ronen Vengosh. "They're not going to be able to afford to do so and they'll probably end up leaving the Bay Area, probably the state. I've seen so many other young families and people leaving for that reason and it makes no sense to me. You know, worst of all, this is self-inflicted. There's no shortage of space in the Bay Area, there's no shortage of ability to build. What we have is a shortage of political will."

Wayne Muesse said there was no other choice but to support the initiative. "We're not being listened to, you know, there are many other sites that are more suitable for what's going on out here. But yet, they're not being considered."

One concern is that this initiative could contradict policies laid out in the city's general plan, as addressed in the report. One states that each neighborhood should shoulder its fair share of new housing developments, while another requires that the city support housing opportunities for all without discrimination. Also mentioned in the report are policies for identifying housing sites and to address local housing needs. All four policies could be affected if Menlo Balance's initiative was to pass.

Resident Adina Levin mentioned that Menlo Park had been sued for noncompliance with the housing element before.

"Because we have some famous companies in our city, the eyes of the world are going to be upon us," Levin said. "And this is something that's going to make the city very vulnerable if this (initiative) passes."

"We need housing in communities throughout the state, and our region, especially housing for critical workforce, like teachers and school staff," said Alex Torres, director of state government relations for the Bay Area Council. "There is an economic benefit, and of course an equity benefit, in that we are undoing some of the harm that single families zonings at single homes zoning has caused in basically segregating our communities historically."

While some arguments hinged on the report, others spoke of their personal experience with housing in Menlo Park. Resident Sandeep Gupta said Menlo Balance's initiative would preserve what he finds special and vital about his local community.

"The safety of our kids and families is important to the residents, and that was evident to me and other volunteers," said Gupta. "When we went for signature-gathering across the city, the traffic from commercial and high-density residential buildings and single-family neighborhood is (bad), especially during weekends, evenings, when kids are playing on streets, neighbors are taking a walk connecting with their neighbors. This has not been thought through properly."

Another resident, Keith Diggs, spoke about what brought him to Menlo Park, and how housing could impact his life.

"I went to attend law school, worked for a national nonprofit for seven years, and then I got priced out of Phoenix, Arizona because my rent went up 30%," Diggs said. "It's frustrating to me that we're even having this conversation in the first place. Nothing about development requires anybody to give up the home they have, the problem is that so many of the rest of us are homeless. I don't even know where to register to vote because I don't have a home anymore."

One project that would be immediately affected is the redevelopment of the old Flood School site, a proposal that could build up to 90 units of affordable housing at the site of the former James Flood Magnet School. The 2.5-acre vacant school property is zoned for single-family housing.

Residents expressed concern about the availability of units to teachers.

Kathleen Daly spoke in support of housing for district staff, referencing a report by the Ravenswood City School District on the effect of the development would have.

"'It would change my life,'" Daly said, quoting a staff member. "Say that again: 'It would change my life,' a super important point for teachers, staff, the people that feed our children, who take care of the facilities. These are people that are committed to the education of our young people going forward."

Others, however, voiced concern that the units wouldn't actually be made available to district staff, and that a developer would use the project as an opportunity to make a profit.

"I want to talk about the sort of false focus on teachers, how many units in this development are reserved for teachers? Zero. There's nothing reserved for teachers," said resident Buck Bard, a claim that was rebutted by Ravenswood City School District officials.

Ravenswood's Chief Business Officer Will Eger said that the development agreement, regardless of zoning, would hinge on the idea that Ravenswood faculty and staff would always receive priority if there's a unit available. While non-staff members can rent a unit if there are no other takers, Ravenswood district workers get priority.

The long-term effects of the initiative were a focus of both the analysis commissioned by the city and the comments at the meeting. According to the report, Menlo Park would feel the effects not just with the Flood School site, but more dramatically in the future housing element cycles.

Over the next several eight-year housing element cycles, options for development sites could be drastically reduced, and may become incompatible with state housing law requiring that sufficient vacant land be zoned for residential use, according to the report. If the initiative passes, it would become increasingly difficult for future city councils to plan for affordable housing, pushing all development into non-single-family housing areas.

"Please do not cede your authority in future planning for the city. Don't screw the future councils ... which would also, frankly, screw our future residents," said Katie Behroozi.

Resident Steve Wong, said he hoped that the ballot measure would have a positive effect on the future of city residents.

"I support our initiative not just for my backyard, but for the backyards of all my Menlo Park neighbors who also have the right to maintain the expected quality of life in their neighborhoods," he said.

However, not all residents thought that the long-term effects would be helpful.

"This measure is a one-way door that's permanent, that will make it so that these sites that are perfect housing sites, large tracts of land where schools used to be, where churches might want to build housing, very reasonable parcels will have to go to a vote and it will never happen," said Michael Levinson. "So they may say they support housing, but this measure in effect will make it impossible to build and these sites, these are not high-density sites."

Equity was also a focus of the comments, with some speakers saying they feared that the initiative could contribute to housing inequality along lines of wealth and race. Other speakers said that one could support both the initiative and low-income housing, and that they were not mutually exclusive.

"In 2020, we marched for Black lives. So I really want to thank the City Council for including racial and educational equity impacts in the study of the ballot measure, because the report validates, in government, to us what we have been hearing people say in human words for years and years and years, based on lived experience," said Karen Grove. "It will function as a continuation of this historic use of strict land use controls to perpetuate unequal and unfair governmental aids by enforcing and locking in residential, racial and economic segregation."

Ballot arguments will be submitted by Aug. 14, and the initiative will be available for public review beginning Aug. 19.

Comments

Karen Bradshaw
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 2:34 pm
Karen Bradshaw, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Cameron Rebosio-As a journalist you should DO your research before you publish false information. The header of your article is incorrect, as the Menlo Balance Initiative is a proposal to allow voters to VOTE on specific rezoning...it does not "block the construction of any multifamily housing".

"If passed by voters in November, the Menlo Balance initiative would block the construction of any multifamily housing in most Menlo Park neighborhoods, including a proposed teacher housing project at the vacant James Flood Magnet School at 321 Sheridan Drive."

FALSE.


JOlson
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 5:38 pm
JOlson, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2022 at 5:38 pm

I support Menlo Balance and their ballot measure which would allow Menlo Park residents to vote on whether Menlo Park citizens want historically very low density and low density residential communities in our city to be rezoned to high density. This measure would allow the whole community to vote on the future of our town and not just five City Council members. I believe that the residents and voters of Menlo Park should have chance to preserve areas of single family neighborhood zoning if they so desire. Let's allow Menlo Park residents to drive the future of their own city.


Mary
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 5:48 pm
Mary , Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2022 at 5:48 pm

Affordable housing in this area of California is an oxymoron. OK, say you have affordable housing. Then you need affordable food, affordable medical care, affordable prescriptions, affordable transportation, etc. Then there’s the question. Who is going to be making up the deficit for all these affordable items?


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 28, 2022 at 9:46 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2022 at 9:46 pm

I also support the Menlo Balance initiative. My family has been in Menlo park or close to 100 years and it has changes significantly. Unfortunately the Council has in the past approved to much office space and now we are being forced to pay for that with high density housing and horrible traffic. It is time that we put some of the decision making back in the hands of the residents. I certainly do not want to have our parks turned into high density housing, and while some say that won't happen I would point out that 3 council members (Taylor, Wolosin and Nash) would not vote to block that from happening. And opposed to one of the people who said people don't chose where they live they chose based on what they can afford I have to disagree. I chose to move back to the Willows because I love the neighborhood and the people I get to interact with here.


Ron
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 11:33 pm
Ron, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2022 at 11:33 pm

If we are to support the principle of a majority vote, then we should embrace the notion when the majority of the local city population has the opportunity to vote on decisions that have significant and long lasting impacts on the city. In what scenario is it actually preferable to have four politicians overrule the majority of the populace? How can it possibly be deemed detrimental to have the people be able to vote if a commercial property can be re-zoned to an ultra high density housing lot? This should be especially concerning if no other similar type of ultra high density housing exists anywhere in the city or neighboring cities. Rather, if we support democratic ideals where the people’s vote can not be overturned by four overzealous politicians seeking their own political gain, then we should absolutely embrace and support the opportunity to vote on powerful issues that will have much longer lasting implications to all the city’s residents long after those politicians have left office.

In regards to this particular issue, we should demand from those same politicians to focus on facts and less on political rhetoric. We should demand those politicians to explain why ultra density housing is being proposed at levels far above what the state recommends. In reality, the politicians are well aware of the excessiveness of the ultra high density housing being proposed at the Ravenswood site, which is why they feel compelled and obligated to avoid those facts, and instead to turn this into a grandstanding rhetoric issue about supporting teacher housing. But this is not the problem because of course all residents absolutely support teacher housing. Rather this issue is not about teacher housing at all; it is instead entirely about a concern of ultra high density housing, and an even graver concern about why four city politicians would prefer to avoid allowing the populace to vote on ultra high density housing that directly affects their lives.


Karen Bradshaw
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 7:47 am
Karen Bradshaw, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 7:47 am

I support Menlo Balance. Residents should have a vote as to whether their single-family neighborhoods are rezoned to high density, and such a drastic change shouldn't be left up to 3 City Council members. This isn't just about housing, it is about traffic safety, preservation of Menlo Park public parks, and school capacities, to name a few.


MPMom
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 8:50 am
MPMom, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 8:50 am

Accessibility is a key concern of the residents of Suburban Park. Imagine living on a cul-de-sac, which is where the Flood School site lies, and having 90 residents living at the end of it. The traffic impact of hundreds of cars going in and out on a daily basis, through a narrow curved street that is frequently occupied with children on bikes and scooters, is frightening. The residents who live on the ONLY street into the site chose this neighborhood for it's family friendly environment and quality of life. And, they paid a pretty penny for it. Nobody here objects to building low-income housing, but they would like a say in the decision, while carefully evaluating all of the logisitics. It doesn't appear that RSD or the MP City Council understood or even cared about the environmental impact this project would have. Please vote YES on the Menlo Balance initiative in November.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:43 am
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:43 am

@Almanac photo caption "If passed by voters in November, the Menlo Balance initiative would block the construction of any multifamily housing in most Menlo Park neighborhoods, including ..."

Breathe, Karen.

I noticed this inaccuracy too. With a little less tone, and just for fun, here's my favorite edited version

"If passed by voters in November, the Menlo Balance initiative would block the construction of any [cannabis shop, liquor store, adult book store, gas station, smelting plant, steer rendering plant, and pole dancing establishment] in most Menlo Park neighborhoods, including ..."

Hopefully now we see the bias.

It's important for the Almanac to correct its stock description of the Initiative moving forward, because, reading this one, a citizen might believe the Initiative itself legislated OUTCOMES rather than transferred authority. The Initiative does not legislatively preclude any possible outcome, including multi-family housing.

My version is much better.


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 29, 2022 at 12:41 pm
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 12:41 pm

Pretty clear which council members are against this one. and why this needs to be voted on!


Roy Thiele-Sardiña
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2022 at 12:53 pm
Roy Thiele-Sardiña, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 12:53 pm

The gathering of signatures was fraught with out and out lies. the gentlemen who came to my front door (I live in Central Menlo (Windsor Drive) asked "Do you want them to build a 6 story building 3 blocks from your house" again, not helpful or truthful.

So if that's the tact they are taking, then count me in to lead the NO campaign against this NIMBY proposal, and I am sure a number of my former Yes on Measure L and No on Measure M brethren will sign up......

Foolish indeed

Roy Thiele-Sardina


MiddleAged Menlo Parker
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 2:54 pm
MiddleAged Menlo Parker, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 2:54 pm

"(My sons) grew up in this community, they will not be able to live here," said Ronen Vengosh. "They're not going to be able to afford to do so and they'll probably end up leaving the Bay Area, probably the state...."
I have an issue with this comment. I couldn't necessarily afford MP 20 years ago (because news flash: it hasn't been affordable here in 40+ years) but I scrimped and saved and worked multiple jobs until I was able to buy a small house here. If you save your $ and invest wisely and forgo vacations every 6 months and don't eat out all the time, you can do it. Now my neighborhood is going to be directly impacted by this Flood School proposal, so yes, I'm mad about it. That's why I support Menlo Balance and the opportunity to bring this issues to the voters vs. having the City Council decide it for us.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 29, 2022 at 3:43 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 3:43 pm

Blanket Upzoning—A Blunt Instrument—Won't Solve the Affordable Housing Crisis

Web Link

"Michael Storper: The “housing as opportunity” school of thought is a consensus in mainstream housing economics that ... claims that the housing crisis in our major prosperous metropolitan regions is principally due to restrictive zoning and regulations. It follows ... that we can solve this crisis through widespread upzoning, which it claims will increase the supply of housing in these prosperous regions, and that this overall supply increase will have a trickle-down effect by increasing affordability for lower income people and families."

Cities like LA, San Francisco, ... have a strong economic base that attracts skilled people in occupations with high wages. They also have a large population with very low incomes. What drives housing prices up is the strength of the fundamental economic forces that causes the skilled to want to be in big metropolitan areas today. This force is much stronger than 30 years ago. The payoff for a skilled person to locating in a big city today (in terms of higher wages compared to locating in other places) is much bigger than in the past. That is why the skilled continue to crowd into LA and even the Bay Area, in spite of their high housing costs. It’s also why any increase in supply will mostly benefit them (in terms of better housing choices for them).

That’s fine, but what it is unlikely to do is have a strong trickle-down effect, and upzoning legislation is largely being sold on the affordability or trickle-down argument."


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2022 at 6:25 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 6:25 pm

I fought Measure M and I'll fight this one. It is a stupid idea that is fraught with unintended consequences. "Affordable Housing" in this area is a myth or an outright lie. The land costs too much and the cost of construction is too high, even at the cheapest level of construction. The only way anything that is actually affordable can be built in this area is with significant government funding. Can you say higher taxes? Can you say "the projects? These state laws are nothing more than politicians trying to appear to be "doing something" about homelessness and unaffordable housing without actually doing something. It's extremely cynical.


Ronen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 9:37 pm
Ronen, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2022 at 9:37 pm

I see the NIMBYs are out in force.

People need places to live. We keep adding office space but don’t build housing for all the employees working in those cubicles.

All those houses we’re not building? We’re paying for them with massive commute traffic across the Bay Area.

Young people are leaving the state in large numbers. Just in my office three young professionals in their early 30s, born and raised in the Bay Area, have recently left because they couldn’t afford housing. 2 went to Arizona and 1 to Utah.

When companies can’t find those early career professionals locally, they stop hiring here and move their operations elsewhere.

Can’t you all see how self destructive this is?

We need to build housing.

And stop pretending that you’re for affordable housing, just not on your street. We need more housing everywhere.

If we pass this resolution, there will be NO new multi-family housing built in our town, because no developer in their right mind would take the risk on a city wide vote to permit their project. This is bad policy. This is bad economics. Worst of all, it’s bad for our neighbors and our neighborhoods.


Iris
Registered user
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:55 am
Iris, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
Registered user
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:55 am

The simplest answer is to convert more land to be zoned for housing. That would reduce the demand for housing and create more at the same time.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 31, 2022 at 10:25 am
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Jul 31, 2022 at 10:25 am

The downtown/El Camino specific plan was supposed to govern the next 30 years of development, including a limit on office space. Almost as soon as it was released, Stanford and then-Greenheart gobbled up almost the entire 30 years-worth of office space with tiny amounts of retail and housing to offset that.

Those projects have yet to open. Both are massive, and they will exacerbate the jobs:housing imbalance even more, with even more residents trying to hang on to a scrap of our former quality of life.

It's funny that Atherton is getting away, again, with blowing off the requirements. I laud their leaders for echoing the desires of residents rather than catering to those who want to live in Atherton. How come those of you who accuse Menlo Park residents of being entitled NIMBYs aren't over in the Atherton thread? Menlo Park is affluent but not rich enough for a single family home lifestyle?

I believe everyone should have housing, and we could have many discussions about the origins of today's housing problems. But I will guarantee you one thing: those of us who work long hours to afford to live here are not the cause. Nor do I think we should be expected to build "affordable housing everywhere." That kind of rhetoric may earn you points among your fellow virtue-signalers, but it is not economically viable or sustainable.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 31, 2022 at 10:38 am
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jul 31, 2022 at 10:38 am

Hey Ronen. How about companies build more office where housing is more affordable? How about remote work? Is our housing allocation taking remote work into consideration? Everything seems to be for the benefit of corporations at the expense of everyone else. NIMBY is a simple slur which ignores the reality.

Also, until the use of real estate as an debt and tax advantaged investment vehicle comes to an end, along with the endless money printing which facilitates this... there will be NO solution to the housing shortage. All we can do is destroy the quality of life for everyone except those at the top of the food chain who are making this happen and benefiting from it.

Finally, as the insane inflation in housing prices continues nationwide, eventually CA prop 13 protection will bring people back here, as they discover that taxes are not so cheap after all in Texas and other places.


PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:27 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:27 pm

@Ronen "When companies can’t find those early career professionals locally, they stop hiring here and move their operations elsewhere. Can’t you all see how self destructive this is?"

Our alleged "loss" is some other regions gain. Why is that a bad thing? My gosh, talk about opportunity hoarding.

What's most destructive is to shoehorn every high-skilled early career professional in five supercities in the US as a market-driven national policy. It economically devastates the heartland, and insures the weird rural v urban politics we have, and it also creates inequities locally since highly paid young professionals outbid long time teachers and other workforce members for housing stock.

No matter how many units we build, there's a planet full of highly skilled, highly paid young workers that will in-migrate to snatch them away from lower paid local workers like teachers.

Locations where national politics are "purpling" are those places Atlanta, Arizona, and Texas in the sunbelt that are out-migration destinations from the super cities such as SF and LA.

Maybe we should allow the out-migration and share the wealth with the rest of America including the heartland. That is called "placed-based" policy. It attempts to distribute the wealth with the rest of the US, including those places where housing is cheaper and people would benefit from the economic influx.

Must we really house and employ everyone in five supercities. Couldn't we create twenty? Or nineteen? Or twenty seven? Why five? Why here?

I've heard people worry about "destroying" the Silicon Valley for more than three decades. Nothing has hurt the local economy more than Capitalism itself, first with the tech bubble bursting in 2001 and then with Wall Street screwing the world in 2006.

Take a deep breath Ronan. It'll be okay. We just can't employ and house every young professional here.

The 90 units on Flood School aren't going to save worldwide Capitalism.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 31, 2022 at 8:14 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jul 31, 2022 at 8:14 pm

I would first like to say that if you are using the term "NIMBY" you are part of the problem with our country and city today. Just the use of that term makes a lot of open minded people stop reading and put the comments in the uninformed category. Do you understand the issue? Do you understand where residents are not happy about having their neighborhoods drastically changed without a say in it? What are you afraid of by having the voters of Menlo Park have a say in their neighborhoods? What is served by name calling?

it seems obvious that some on City Council don't trust the voters that elected them or don't think they can make good decisions and therefore don't want they to be able to have a say in their neighborhoods, that is sad. When the council can't even agree to take our public parks off the table for high density housing it is time the voters took a stand and that is just what they are doing. I embrace democracy and love the fact that this initiative got enough signatures to make the ballot, it is democracy in action and a check and balance on the majority of the city council that has made decisions counter to the wishes of the residents of the affected neighborhoods. Maybe it will pass, maybe it won't but regardless I hope a message is received.


MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:58 am
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:58 am

Brian:

We live in a representative democracy. We elect people to make decisions for us. When we don't like their decisions we let them know and don't reelect them. You are pushing true democracy which has been shown historically to be an absolute disaster. You will have people like Ronan that throws around the NIMBY name like weapon voting on things as well as people that want to see absolutely no growth or change. In addition to those you will have completely uninformed people voting in your true democracy.

I'm not happy with a number of things the council is doing and I will be sure to make my displeasure known at the ballot box. This measure is just asking for all kinds of unintended consequences. I will vote against it and fight its passage. This is right up there with the Measure M folks and their measure right after the DSP went into effect. They couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the SIX YEAR process that created it, but got upset when it was put into effect. Those are the kind of people you are asking to vote on this measure. Do you see the problem with that?


Menlo Lifestyle
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:14 am
Menlo Lifestyle, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:14 am

@MenloVoter No I do not see a problem with that. When less than 5 people can change the entire complexion of a city without working with homeowners they need that power taken away. In your representative democracy the representatives only have the power given to them by the people. When they abuse it they will lose it. That's exactly what's happening with this ballot measure. It has nothing to do with previous measures, and your "uninformed" neighbors will reset this out of touch city council.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2022 at 10:24 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 10:24 am

Menlo Voter,

I guess you don't believe in the initiative process and the power that it gives to people, however I do. Initiatives have a long history in California including what is likely the most famous Proposition 13. They provide a useful and often necessary check on the elected officials, as I believe is the case here. It is often that elected officials do not act in the interest of the voters and there are many reasons for that. In some cases official are less than truthful in the positions while running for office and in other cases certain topics are not discussed because they are not relevant during the election cycle. We also have the issue of district elections that, while beneficial in getting equal representation have the draw back that the elected officials are more focused on their district, and reelection by that district, than the city as a whole. This is where the initiative process comes in and it is necessary and very useful. There is a hurdle that must be met to qualify, that being a number of verified signatures to qualify for the ballot, something that Menlo Balance not only met but exceeded in a short amount of time. This tells me that many people in Menlo Park feel this is a problem.

As with any election it will fail or pass based on the voted it gets. I have not been afraid to say I support it because I think it puts ore control in the voters hands and in general I don't believe this City Council or ones in the past have made good decisions on Menlo Park growth or development. I did support Measure M because I felt that it would limit business development and help prevent the position we are in now with too much office space compared to housing. It failed and here we are.

As for the use NIMBY, well name calling was juvenile back in grade school and it has not become less so by adults. If people have pertinent arguments to make then by all means they should make them, but calling people names just makes them look petty.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:04 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:04 pm

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.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:19 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:19 pm

Peter

Why do you care so much about this?

You are:

* trying to tie it to Measure M, which lost, even though there is no evidence to support this.
* trying to pit one neighborhood against another
* warning about considerable costs without elaborating

This is the behavior of a troll.

definition of troll:

One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:26 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Running Hard is a good name to hide behind because you are wrong on all of your suppositions.

I said nothing about Measure M.

I did not pit one neighborhood against another - that is what the Menlo Balance initiative would do.

The considerable costs are obvious to anyone familiar with local elections. Each time a zoning change goes to a city wide election it will cost between $50 and $100k depending on how many other issues are on the ballot.

I deal in facts - trolls do not.


Menlo Lifestyle
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:36 pm
Menlo Lifestyle, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:36 pm

@Peter I believe you're ascribing actions to people you really know nothing about. As a part of the group that came up with the initiative I can assure you we fully understand what this measure means. This measure ONLY deals with single family home rezoning. It affects no other kind of property in Menlo. If one of our neighborhoods was advocating a high density development in the middle of their neighborhood we would all help them support that.

But your post implies no one would want that. And so you've really made the point very well that the only way a large development goes into the middle of a neighborhood (requiring the rezoning) is if it's forced on the home owners and voters.

Also, I was on the team that gathered signatures. I can report we had a 9 to 1 in favor, with many, many long-time homeowners visibly angry city council would rezone ANY R-1 lot to something dense in the middle of a neighborhood.

The voters aren't going to buy the argument to be made by big money progressives that "Menlo Park homeowners HAVE to change their single family home lifestyle." It's going to be a landslide for our ethos.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:37 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Peter

I'll respond to the one thing pertinent thing you just wrote, about the cost of zoning changes.

You lament the cost of zoning changes without pointing out that developers pay for them and benefit from them. I remember hearing that Bohannon paid 7.5 million dollars to get a big chunk of his land rezoned so that he could build the ugly gateway project.

The sad fact is that developer money pays for the planning department and so it is inevitable that this becomes a patron / servant relationship.

This is a strong argument in favor of this initiative.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:42 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:42 pm

"I'll respond to the one thing pertinent thing you just wrote, about the cost of zoning changes."

I said NOTHING about the cost of zoning changes.

I spoke only about the costs os a city wide election of each and every propose zoning change.

Please engage in an honest dialogue or you will further discredit your cause.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2022 at 2:19 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 2:19 pm

Peter

It's dishonest to suggest that this is about the cost of zoning change, either via election or otherwise.

Zoning changes happen in the insular world where developers are the patrons paying to play among city staff and city council members. The elections of the city council members are often paid for directly and indirectly by development interests.

This initiative seek to put an end to that system, at least for changes to residential zoning districts. Of course there will be opposition to this, paid for by development interests.






MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2022 at 4:01 pm
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 4:01 pm

Brian:

No, I don't believe in the initiative process. A very good argument can be made that the initiative process in this state is greatly responsible for many of our problems. Not to mention any time our "leaders" want political cover for something unpopular they put it out as an initiative. Can't blame them no matter how bad it turns out. Initiatives are a blunt instrument they are ill suited to dealing with complex problems. And they usually create bad unintended consequences.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:09 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:09 pm

MenloVoter,

On this we will have to agree to disagree. I am a firm believer in giving the initiative power to the people. I will agree that some initiatives are bad and don't benefit people. The truly bad ones don't make it through the court challenges because they are not legal or full of problems, but in general I don't blindly trust elected officials and there are plenty of cases in California where they were not looking out for the best interests of the population they were supposed to represent.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 1, 2022 at 11:27 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2022 at 11:27 pm

Given that the State is REQUIRING that Menlo Park increase its housing stock 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 since housing built in someone else's neighborhood will reduce the need to build new housing in all the other neighborhoods.

And, for the record, I personally believe that this initiative, clearly created out of fear, is a poor substitute for elected representative government.


MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 2, 2022 at 7:39 am
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 7:39 am

Brian:

I don't "blindly" trust our leaders either. See my point about dealing with them at the ballot box. The fact remains when the general public gets involved it usually doesn't end well because the majority of voters don't take the time to fully educate themselves and fully consider all ramifications of what they are voting for. In the case of this initiative, what needs to happen is the voters need to turn out the council members that are going along with the state's nonsense and put people in that won't.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:15 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:15 am

The great tragedy of democratic governments is that after the generations who have literally fought to establish or protect those democracies die out the vast majority of the remaining citizens have ZERO interest in serving as an elected representative.

Even worse some of those who elect to sit on the sidelines feel free to disempower their duly elected representatives.

A direct democracy is VERY hard work. The closest we have is Switzerland which has four representative elections a year
and then also votes, with a 60% turnout rate, on dozens of initiatives a year.

In contrast less than 35% of Menlo Park voters voted on Measure M.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:28 am
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:28 am

Peter, you seem unnaturally obsessed with Measure M. It's unrelated to this current initiative; it had nothing to do with housing! It was an effort by residents to hold the city accountable to the downtown/El Camino plan that had taken so many years to craft and was supposed to cover 30 years of development.

Two deep-pocketed developers walked all over that plan, and the city let them. When residents protested, those same rich developers launched a vicious smear campaign against the Measure M proponents. Hardly a surprise that Measure M lost.

But that was almost a decade ago, and many city residents weren't aware of changing dynamics in this city. Now people are, and we see the potential impacts on all neighborhoods, not just those adjacent to El Camino. We don't want our neighborhoods destroyed. Hence, this initiative.

Yes, elections cost money, but since this initiative is on the November ballot, the marginal cost is tiny. Are you suggesting that we get rid of all elections because they're expensive? Sounds like it, but I don't think that's a form of government that most of us want.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:35 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:35 am

"Peter, you seem unnaturally obsessed with Measure M."

Wrong. Voter turnout on Measure M is the issue that I raise to demonstrate that even very controversial measures seldom draw a majority of voters to the polls.


If you turn every difficult issue into a city wide election you will have government by a small minority - usually less than 20% of the voters will support the winning outcome. That is a recipe for disaster.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:40 am
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:40 am

Peter

Right now we have a small group of people controlling the zoning process. The initiative is designed to take power away from them.

As such, your entire argument here is backward and appears to be disingenuous.

We need systems where the population does not need to be ever vigilant in the protection of their basic property rights.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:50 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:50 am

"Right now we have a small group of people controlling the zoning process. The initiative is designed to take power away from them."

And give it to an unelected 20% of the voters who have NO factual knowledge about either planning or zoning and most of whom will do NO homework before casting an impulsive vote on an issue that they don't understand.

That is simply crazy.

Do you have ANY idea how many hours of preparation individual Planning Commissioners and Council members put into preparing to vote on any issue?

I spent 4 1/2 years as a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner and spent at least 20 hours every week getting ready for a 4-6 hour meeting.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:57 am
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:57 am

Deferring to experts is one of the weakest arguments.

However, in this case it is even worse, because I know exactly what I'm talking about.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:08 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:08 am

"Deferring to experts is one of the weakest arguments."

Of course it was amateurs who got us to the moon.
It was amateurs who provided the leadership to win WW II.
It was amateurs who developed the mRNA Covid vaccine in less than a week.

Deferring to amateurs is the height of ignorance and hubris.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:12 am
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:12 am

This is nothing more than trolling.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:20 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:20 am

I deeply regret that you have not been able to answer a single one of my questions or refute any of my statements of fact.

If this is " to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. " then you need to step up to the challenge of an honest dialogue.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:39 am
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:39 am

I deeply regret that there is no mute feature for this forum, as there is on Twitter, so that I might increase the signal to noise ratio here.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:42 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:42 am

The best way to increase the signal to noise ratio is to provide new facts and to refute false statements with actual data.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 3, 2022 at 8:55 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 3, 2022 at 8:55 pm

Running,

Just ignore it, that is what I do.

Brian


mvheim
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:37 pm
mvheim, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:37 pm

When I was asked by a neighbor to sign the petition, I declined; and the more I read about it, the more I disagree with the initiative. It seems obvious that it represents a NIMBY point of view. Realistically, it will prevent any rezoning in the foreseeable future, and that is undoubtedly its purpose despite protestations by supporters (it is laughable to think that there will be a citywide ballot measure on the zoning of every single piece of property proposed for development from now to the end of time; or indeed, that any developer would invest any time or effort into planning housing in this city, knowing that it would have to pass this hurdle). It basically handcuffs the city government and prevents any progress on the critical issue of housing equity — again, by design. It is possible to critique the particular development plan for the Flood property or any other parcel without invoking this extremely restrictive limitation on our elected officials. I personally don't have a stake in this battle since I am selling out and will almost certainly be leaving Menlo Park, but it is clear that if it passes, the city will become even more an exclusive enclave of the 5%. If that is your vision for Menlo Park, then feel free to support it.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:50 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 12, 2022 at 1:50 pm

mvheim - you are either mis-informed or dishonest. The initiative states that this the restrictions only apply to single family housing zoning.

Also, most development does not require changes in zoning. Zoning changes primarily benefit wealthy land owners and developers like Bohannon, Stanford and Greenheart.

The current city council give a "no-comment" when asked if they will protect our park-spaces from development. That's not my idea of progress, nor is rezoning single family housing districts. We can already add a lot of housing via ADU and subdivisions within these districts per state mandates.

Arguments about elitism and/or racism are inappropriate.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 13, 2022 at 3:32 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 3:32 am

If you are running hard to stay in a single family home just imagine how much harder you would have to run to get on the housing ladder in the first place.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2022 at 8:34 am
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 8:34 am

Peter - Classic trolling.


Frozen
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 13, 2022 at 10:51 am
Frozen, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 10:51 am

It's not the job of Menlo Park residents to provide a place to live for everyone who wants to live here, any more than I expect Atherton to offer me a house.

It is the job of the city council to protect and further the interests of current residents. Right now, the majority is failing at that. The initiative may help reorient their thinking so that they stop kowtowing to developers and put residents first.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 13, 2022 at 11:11 am
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 11:11 am

"The initiative may help reorient their thinking so that they stop kowtowing to developers and put residents first."

IF the initiative passes all the council has to do is to put any INDIVIDUAL rezoning on a ballot at a time and every one of those rezonings will be approved.

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.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:27 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:27 pm

Peter - When you are not trolling, your content is incoherent and nonsensical.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:42 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:42 pm

It is so telling that those opposed to my opinions are totally unable to rationally respond to them and instead do nothing but attempt trumpian distractions.

If you feel that I am wrong then simply point out the errors in my arguments.

Town Square is meant to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion not a place for childish name calling.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:43 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:43 pm

Peter - When you present a coherent, reasoned argument I'll respond. But I'm not holding my breath.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:59 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 1:59 pm

Given the State's mandate increased housing density is a requirement not an option.

Achieving increase housing density in Menlo Park is a zero sum game. Any increase in density in one neighborhood will reduce the need to increase density in other neighborhoods.

If the entire community is asked to decide on increasing housing density in one small neighborhood the rational voter will vote YES in order to reduce the need to increase housing density in their neighborhood.

I would much prefer that our City Council make decisions that are in the best interests of ALL the neighborhoods and that they equally distribute new housing throughout our community.


Running hard to stay in place
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 13, 2022 at 3:13 pm
Running hard to stay in place, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 13, 2022 at 3:13 pm

Perhaps the best solution would be another initiative mandating that no new office shall be constructed in Menlo Park unless the development fully offsets the housing requirement created by said new housing.

It's not easy to find places to build more housing unless you want to start building on public open spaces or confiscating property via eminent domain.

Also seems like the real unintended consequences are created by the state mandate and by the city council's irresponsible gifting of more office without offsetting housing in the mix. Under current circumstances, adding office is a powerful case of polluting the commons for the benefit of a few rich people.


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