City Council members who weighed in said they are pleased with the changes, but they want to do more analysis.
"Menlo Park needs to activate its vacant lands on El Camino Real, bringing life and activity back into the affected neighborhoods," Mayor Catherine Carlton said. "This project, if done well, will contribute to a coherent community fabric."
However, she added that she "was surprised not to see the undercrossing that will link Burgess Park to the plaza, providing easier and safer access to the park, a safer route to school, and better connecting Menlo Park east to west."
Councilman Peter Ohtaki said decreasing office space would help mitigate traffic, but noted that adding anything to the empty lots on the site would increase traffic to the already bottlenecked intersection at El Camino Real and Ravenswood Avenue.
"The Stanford project can take place as long as we fix that bottleneck," he said. "It will enhance the vitality and vibrancy downtown."
Councilman Rich Cline said the new plans are "far and away improved" in comparison with earlier iterations. A primary concern, he said, is traffic, but he is "ready for us to all have a discussion about it."
John Kadvany, who said he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a member of the Menlo Park Planning Commission, said the new proposal "looks like an improvement in terms of the plaza location, building design, scale and the mix of residential and office (space)."
He said he had continuing questions about the project and the streets it would affect, including: whether an additional crosswalk would be added at the street crossing at El Camino Real and Middle Avenue, how much Stanford will commit to supporting a pedestrian and bike tunnel under the tracks to the Civic Center, and whether land currently occupied by rarely used parking spots in the Big 5 Sporting Goods lot could be used for the development of the tunnel.
Former councilman Steve Schmidt and former planning commissioner Patti Fry said they had wanted to see clearer commitments by Stanford to building a pedestrian tunnel beneath Caltrain to enable a safer crossing to Burgess Park and the Civic Center area.
Both were proponents of Measure M, the ballot proposal, defeated by voters, that would have limited office development along El Camino and downtown
Mr. Schmidt said he thought that a tunnel at El Camino Real and Cambridge Avenue, instead of at El Camino Real and Middle Avenue, might be a more feasible option.
"The tenants of Stanford's housing should be able to access the city's park, library and Civic Center," he said. "Stanford should be willing to pay for the construction of the undercrossing."
Ms. Fry also said she was "pretty disappointed that there's no commitment to funding the tunnel," and said she wants to see what effect the project would have on the jobs-housing ratio, a measure of the number of jobs the new space would create versus the number of people it can house.
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