Guest opinion: Greenheart project complies with the rules; let's get on with it | May 18, 2016 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

Viewpoint - May 18, 2016

Guest opinion: Greenheart project complies with the rules; let's get on with it

by John Boyle

As I read the guest opinion in the May 4 Almanac criticizing the proposed Greenheart project on El Camino Real, I felt like perhaps I was stuck in a Menlo Park version of the classic movie, "Groundhog Day." Didn't we already have this debate, many times over?

Many of the people who today are saying that the Greenheart project doesn't have enough housing are the same ones responsible for derailing the Derry project at the same location back in 2006. Ironically, back then, they were against that project because they said it had too much housing. Through the scare of a referendum, they forced the developer to negotiate a private deal (without public participation) in which these same people agreed to a deal that reduced the number of housing units and increased the amount of commercial space.

The back-and-forth caused so much delay that the market conditions changed and the project was never built. As a direct result of that fiasco, Menlo Park decided to create a specific plan for our downtown area to create more certainty by defining a community-driven set of zoning and building guidelines.

Over the five-plus years that it took to develop and approve the specific plan, there were nearly 100 public meetings and participation by over 1,000 residents. All of the arguments that we're hearing now were voiced back then — and then again in multiple specific plan reviews, and then again in the Measure M debate.

There are, of course, parts of the specific plan that some people don't like. But it was an exhaustive, consensus-building process. It was the result of a process that was overseen by multiple Planning Commissions and City Councils. It was approved unanimously in 2012.

In 2013 and again in 2015, the Planning Commission and the City Council reviewed the specific plan, made a few modest changes and improvements, and re-approved it each time.

These same protesters were still not satisfied, and so they placed Measure M on the ballot in 2014, attempting to get the specific plan changed to meet their personal preferences. By a margin of 62 percent to 38 percent, Measure M was soundly defeated by people who voted, as I did, to support the consensus-based specific plan and to enable projects like Greenheart's to move forward.

The critical May 4 guest opinion was focused on the specific Greenheart project, but it was really just another attempt to impose their preferences in place of the specific plan. The column trotted out mostly the same misleading information they've used in the past. For example, they claim that "these additional adverse (traffic) impacts were not anticipated when the downtown specific plan was adopted." This has already been shown to be not true. The specific plan's traffic engineer stated that the Greenheart traffic impacts are substantially less than the traffic impacts for the same 6-plus acres in the specific plan's EIR.

They also claim that this project "is still in its conceptual design phase, when plan modification can be easily made." Again, untrue. The changes proposed in the guest opinion would require a complete redesign of the project and would restart the environmental impact analysis. The current draft EIR was started 22 months ago by the city. A restart could delay this project by years. Worse, the market window might close again, and we could see nothing in the vacant lots for another 10 years.

As a former City Council member, I helped to start and advance the community project that led to the specific plan. I don't have any personal stake in the Greenheart project other than as a resident who, like many others, is tired of the embarrassing empty lots along El Camino Real and the endless rehashing of the same debates. The Greenheart project looks to be 100 percent compliant with the specific plan. It's time to stop repeating "Groundhog Day." Let's move forward toward revitalizing our downtown area.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 17, 2016 at 3:30 pm

I totally agree with your position. Minority views are ALWAYS welcome as well as all persuasive, fact-based arguments offered by opposition groups. However, deception is never acceptable.


12 people like this
Posted by Mary Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 17, 2016 at 4:09 pm

Mary Gilles is a registered user.

I cannot agree more with John Boyle's accurate depiction of the DECADE long attempts to revitalize the El Camino corridor. The tactics employed by people who refuse to allow Menlo Park to better itself are costly to the residents and our city and the malaise of El Camino and our downtown will never be cured if these tactics gain traction. I have lived in Menlo Park since 1988 and John's Groundhog Day metaphor would be humorous if it weren't for the fact that our city is truly suffering from the endless game that is being played. I urge the residents who desire a downtown and El Camino corridor that complements the beauty and quality of the residences surrounding it will speak up and lend support to the Greenheart project.


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 17, 2016 at 4:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

No one is going to be interested in investing in a community that either cannot make up its mind or is unwilling to follow its established rules.

Unless developments which comply with the Downtown Specific Plan are allowed to proceed without endless obstruction there will be a lot of vacant lots and empty structures in Menlo Park - which, sadly, is exactly what the opponents really seem to want.


7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 17, 2016 at 4:54 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Right on John! You are 100% correct. The city needs to ignore the stalling tactics of those that want zero development in MP and approve this project. Let's get rid of these vacant lots.


14 people like this
Posted by Housing now
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 17, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Yes.

I am definitely in favor of more housing. But we have to actually build it! This building adds housing and it complies with the rules. It's an attractive, well-designed building. Let's just get on with it.

I want a nice downtown and El Camino while I'm still young enough to enjoy it!


6 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 17, 2016 at 10:02 pm

Totally DISAGREE with your position.
Cannot DISAGREE more with John Boyle's depiction.
Way TOO MANY PEOPLE are interested in investing in this community - for their own financial profit, to the detriment of the community.
Bad on you, John! You are 100% WRONG.
I am definitely against more housing. And against more office space.

Our schools are stuffed to the gills and El Camino has more traffic "vibrancy" than it can handle.
ENOUGH with the overdevelopment.


17 people like this
Posted by Mary Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 17, 2016 at 10:17 pm

Mary Gilles is a registered user.

Menlo Park is UNDER-developed. We have antiquated buildings all over the place that need to be revitalized or rebuilt to the land's highest and best use. We have millionaires living in our midst yet it looks like we are poor and feeble residents when you see our downtown and El Camino corridor. It's unbelievable it is taking so long to refurbish our town. I have lived here 28 years and there are only a handful of improved or newly built commercial and residential properties downtown. Traffic and school facilities can be dealt with. Smart people will figure it out and we have many smart people living here. Let's build a parking structure downtown and get parking off the streets so we can have bike lanes up and down Santa Cruz and Oak Grove. Let's get the sidewalks installed on Santa Cruz Avenue so people can walk to town without fear of being hit by a car or bike. Let's build some condos or townhomes downtown so people can actually walk to breakfast, lunch and dinner and patronize our downtown stores without driving a car. Just imagine how great it could be. Residents need to support the developers who are willing to do this for us!


7 people like this
Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 17, 2016 at 10:29 pm

Mary Gilles, who sells real estate for a living, says "Traffic and school facilities can be dealt with."
Sure, clogged roadways and overcrowded schools can be dealt with. But there is no money to be made there. So it won't happen.


9 people like this
Posted by Nikki Stitt Sokol
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 17, 2016 at 10:37 pm

Nikki Stitt Sokol is a registered user.

I totally agree with this opinion piece. The specific objections of those who oppose this project are meaningless when viewed through the lens of history. Having seen enough objections by the same small but vocal minority to every proposed project over the years, what has become clear is that it doesn't matter what is proposed, they will oppose it, even if time proved their specific criticisms contradictory.

So, what should we do? First, our decision makers should decline to give undue weight to the complaints of a few. The vast majority of residents with whom I have spoken for over a decade vigorously support beautiful, high quality new development to remove the blight and bring in the kinds of businesses we desire in our community. This is just that kind of project! Unfortunately, most people are so busy with jobs and families and volunteer commitments that most people simply have neither the time nor the bandwidth to track these issues and a small minority ends up having undue sway.

Second, we as a community should collectively focus on what we DO want and work together to make it happen.

No more delay. Let's move forward. Enough already!


1 person likes this
Posted by Steve Taffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 18, 2016 at 12:35 pm

I share the frustration many have expressed about the slow progress on redevelop this and other parcels along El Camino Real. At the same time, we need to consider that over the past five years the economy has changed, affordable housing for low and middle income families has become more pressing, and everyone is concerned about traffic.

We need to "skate to where the puck is going to be," projecting forward as best we can what will benefit the CIty and its residents more. I suspect that office space along the peninsula will take care of itself but that housing, especially that located in proximity to mass transit, will not.

My 2 cents.

steve taffee


11 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Great editorial, you hit the nail on the head. I am tired of the 'don't do anything' crowd. MP has become a laugh stock if the Peninsula. While other downtowns are full of new businesses, new housing, new offices ours has 5, yes 5 thrift stores. This is not a sign of a vibrant downtown/city. We have one of the high-test per capita zips in the US and the largest right next door, yet the sidewalk crumble and empty lots are numerous.

I am delighted at the comments here, it seems that people have had enough and want to see the blight turned to good use. I've been here more that 40 years and it is about time for MP to step up and be a real city,

@enough, you say the developers are greedy. How about the greed of the 'we got ours crowd'. it is the obstructionists who are the greedy one's.


Like this comment
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2016 at 1:19 pm

@enough

Menlo Park city schools are some of the best in the nation, certainly in the area. They have huge funding and very new facilities. Citing school crowding as a reason not to build much needed housing is bogus.

Traffic, MP has used Traffic as an excuse not to do anything for decades. Time to grow up.


6 people like this
Posted by Jane
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 18, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Time to bring Menlo Park up to date. If we improve the El Camino corridor residents could use business closer to home and not have to always get in the car. Others would stop in Menlo instead of just driving thru on their was to vital downtowns like Palo Alto and Redwood City.

Right now we are just a bump in the road while everyone is heading somewhere else. Redwood City use to be the poor neighbor next door now Menlo Parks downtown has taken over as the place no one needs to go to.


7 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 18, 2016 at 11:30 pm

John, the only reason an eir was required for the greenheart project is because additional adverse impacfs were expected. Those were the exact findings of the environmental study. So lets deal with facts. Please point specifically to where in the eir it says there are fewer impacts at rush hour. I found the same references Fry did of significant worsening of rush hour traffic at 11 intersections and addtional roadways.

A project with more housing and less office would ease the housing crunch, not worsen it, right? And that would comply with the specific plan rules, correct?

We can get new development without worsening the traffic at rush hour as much as this would. We owe it to current and future generations to provide more housing and do what we can to minimize traffic.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2016 at 7:08 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

More of the same "the sky is falling" I've been hearing for the last 22 years. "It will make traffic worse!" No kidding? What development doesn't? I'm sick and tired of the no birds and the blighted lots.

The community has spoken. Loudly, in fact. They rejected the no birds Measure M by a huge margin. It is time for them to sit down and let the majority of the citizens of this city have what they want.


3 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 19, 2016 at 7:46 am

A huge office project makes traffic the very worst at rush hour, when its already intolerable. Less office and more houaing would indeed oncrease traffic but not nearly as much, and we'd get the shoppers and diners who can support our downtown businesses every day of the week - because the tenants would live here.

I am tired of false accusations against those who do want development but think it is wrong to add not a lot of new offices downtown. And a lot of offices just add commtuters who cant find places to live here. Ttransit oriented housing was featured in the specific plan. Offices werent. Many supported the plan becuase they thought it would help relieve the housing crisis. The godfather of the plan. Boyle, wants offices anyway. Even though that worsens the crisis, worsens traffic, and displaces restaurants and retail. Methinks the specific plan was a very expensive sham.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2016 at 8:43 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Facts:

The Greenheart project complies with the DSP. A plan that allows offices as well as housing. That means the DSP most definitely was not a sham. Just because you don't like what it says doesn't make it a sham.


10 people like this
Posted by Mary Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 19, 2016 at 8:43 am

Mary Gilles is a registered user.

I think Facts Please might be overlooking the point of Transit Oriented Development. The idea of building offices with residences as part of the complex is so people can live and work in the same location. The LIVE-WORK-PLAY concept is a goal in urban design now. This is the model that works in cities. So, the assertion that offices will bring commuters is being blown out of proportion. Furthermore, there is not one person I know who doesn't want to live as close as possible to their place of work. People are making decisions on where to work and live based on their commute. The argument against more office or more housing is beyond its shelf life now. Build the project and get rid of the blight.


Like this comment
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2016 at 8:45 am

There's an argument for and against ever use type on this project:

Housing- not in plan and all rental anyways so very little low income impact, but easier on traffic. Not so much on schools
Office- as permitted and helps keep people working close to home rather than commute to SF or Cupertino with good transit, but generates more rush-hour traffic.
Retail- need more action along ECR and something more salubrious than the junk that's there now, but could all fail and be no better than what's across the street.

But stopping all building is just such a ridiculous position...... Mixed use like this is the best we can hope for. It will never be the 'ideal' mix, but then is there ever an ideal? Just wish it didn't look like Santa Barbara


2 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 19, 2016 at 9:34 am

Housing was definitely part of the plan. Not nearly this much offuce was.

The specifc plan had a mix of uses. That mix imoroved the jobs housing ratio. That is nothing like what is about to happen. Why? The plan has not been adjusted to current market conditions. And there is a sentiment that anything a developer proposes is ok. But the plan requires assessment of whether things woukd get worse than the plans eir. The recentlyvreleased sYs it would. The plan supports nehotiating fir a better oroject. Why not do that?


Like this comment
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 19, 2016 at 9:40 am

Sorry, I meant 'Their' plan, not 'The' plan meaning the DSP.


6 people like this
Posted by Steve Schmidt
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 19, 2016 at 11:57 am

Steve Schmidt is a registered user.

Thanks, John, for weighing in on this thorny discussion. It is a shame that both the old Derry and Cadillac projects were opposed and ultimately abandoned, as both gave the city just the right mix of office and housing, some of which was affordable. Let's not forget that our current Mayor, Rich Cline, was also involved with the failure of these projects, along with Kelly Fergusson and Heyward Robinson. It is not my recollection that an excessive amount of housing was their argument but rather the height and lack of public benefit. It's all water under the bridge and you and I have commiserated about this loss more than once. Councilmembers WInkler, Jellins and Duboc mistakenly sought two amendments to the General Plan in one year that were needed to get these developments approved. This gave the opponents the hook to file the referendum. The law is that the City had the authority to make one amendment in a given year to the General Plan but that council tried to push two through. Perhaps Former Mayor Heyward Robinson can check my memory but this is my recollection.

The issue today is not about opposing this development but instead accepting the findings of the DEIR that state there are traffic impacts from the office component of the current proposal that cannot be mitigated. By reducing some of the office or holding it to the Specific Plan designation of the ECR NE-R base level of development, the negative impacts could be less. There is a scenario in the DEIR that shows that more housing and less office would be much better on this site that is in an already severely congested area.

Of course, this is supposed to be a Transit Oriented Development (TOD) but the question is why the DEIR states that only 5% of the office workers are projected to use transit. Furthermore, Greenheart wants 1,000 parking spaces which contradicts the basic description of a TOD. Make parking easy & plentiful and fewer people will use Caltrain or Samtrans.

Painting residents who take the time to read the DEIR and compare it to the goals of the Specific Plan as no-growth, heads in the sand trouble makers is counterproductive. All of us who have given years to the City's well being over the years and this includes Mayor RIch Cline whose positions have changed and Patti Fry who cared enough to share her analysis of the DEIR have the same affection for Menlo Park.



Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 19, 2016 at 12:39 pm


While I agree it will create more traffic.

Suggest everyone drive El Camino during afternoon rush hour to be objective and add in what Stanford is planning between Middle and Alma, All residential streets in between will be flooded w/ more traffic not only El Camino.

I also agree developers will think twice about planning any new projects in Menlo Park.

Compromise is always the best way to settle disagreements.


3 people like this
Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 19, 2016 at 1:52 pm

OK resident.

So Palo Alto and Redwood City get to build out, but because anything built in MP will add one more car of trafic, WE (menlo park) cannot build? Great solution.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 19, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The DSP provides for a range of office space square footage and a range of housing units at this location.

If MP did not want to allow flexibility then it should not have provides ranges but rather established precise limits/requirements.

Having provided a range acceptable square footage and residential units and having had the citizens reaffirm the DSP by rejecting Measure M the city cannot now legally, ethically or responsibly require the developer to increase housing and decrease office space within the allowable ranges.


9 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 19, 2016 at 3:00 pm

When a project is proposed at the bonus level and causes significant negative impacts as in the greenheart situation,, the council has the legal authority to negotiate the best possible result for our the community. The council opposed measure m to retain that authorirty. The council has a moral obligation to support the spirit of the specific plan and to protext the quality of life for the menlo park community.
In the instance where greenheart has proposed a bonus level project and the required environmental study shows a great number of negative impacts, the council has legal and moral responsibilites. The council is not at all obligated to approve the proposed greenheart project "as is" because that worsens residents' daily lives. The city's own consultants have shown that there are viable alternatives (financially viable for greenheart and fewer negative impacts).

The council is required by law to select an alternative with fewer impacts, as Schmidt has described, or make a determination that the benefits far outweigh the additional negative Impacts. They would be ignoring the facts in the EIR and financial analysis focus on facts.


3 people like this
Posted by Mary Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 19, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Mary Gilles is a registered user.

Dear "Facts Please":

Please stick to the facts. When you assert that "the council is not at all obligated to approve the proposed Greenheart project "as is" because that worsens the residents' daily lives", you are relying on a subjective opinion as to what is worsening the residents' daily lives. The DSP came up with some guidelines that give developers specific parameters so developers can decide whether it is worth the risk to build such a huge project. Now, you are suggesting that we go back to relying on someone's opinion as to what will worsen the residents' daily lives. Facts, as your pseudo name suggests are really what developers have been waiting for over the last decade so they had solid footing upon which to base their decisions to take the risks. The DSP gave them those "facts" or guidelines. Let the process be managed via the DSP and the Council. The residents are done with stopping life because of the threat of traffic. Traffic is a by-product of a growing and healthy community. It's how you manage the traffic and that is where we should be focussing the discussion of traffic. Traffic is here to stay and we need to address our roads, the flow and how to create safe bike crossings from east to west MP. Train crossings should also be a big part of the discussion. Go under or over but do something to get trains off the grade. This then, of course, leads into the High Speed Rail discussion. Complicated!


12 people like this
Posted by Facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 19, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Can we try to take the city's own report at face value? Web Link
I realize 300 pages is a lot to read [part removed] but it is a fact, not a "subjective opinion" that there are alternatives to the current plan that have fewer negative impacts. As Facts Please noted, the council, as stewards of the community, need to act in the best interests of all residents, not just those who will profit from the development or those who are unduly impatient.

If you haven't even skimmed the report, you're not really qualified to comment here.


2 people like this
Posted by Mary Gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 19, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Mary Gilles is a registered user.

Dear Fact and Facts Please: Why don't you identify who you really are and not be insulting to participants in the blog?


Like this comment
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 19, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Facts Please: Here is one you seemed to have missed:

YOUR STATEMENT:

"John, the only reason an EIR was required for the greenheart project is because additional adverse impacfs were expected.

FACT:

(Quotes from consutant letter at Web Link) "At the time that the ECR/Downtown Specific Plan TIA was prepared, there were
existing proposals and environmental documents for both the Derry Lane and 1300 El Camino Real
properties. As known approved / pending projects, the traffic added by these projects were
included in the cumulative analysis of the ECR/Downtown planning area." So an EIR was required because station 1300 had not been considered. "Overall the proposed Greenheart project has a reduced level of impact on the transportation network than the uses originally assumed in the ECR/Downtown Specific Plan EIR."


4 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 19, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Dana, the document appears to be a letter paid by greenheart, not a city document with any analysis by staff.

The city's draft eir states that a housing intensive project has fewer impacts than an office intensive project. That is the issue here.


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Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 19, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Dana, the document appears to be a letter paid by greenheart, not a city document with any analysis by staff.

The city's draft eir states that a housing intensive project has fewer impacts than an office intensive project. That is the issue here.


2 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 19, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Dana, the document appears to be a letter paid by greenheart, not a city document with any analysis by staff.

The city's draft eir states that a housing intensive project has fewer impacts than an office intensive project. That is the issue here.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2016 at 5:14 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The city's draft eir states that a housing intensive project has fewer impacts than an office intensive project."

Wrong. The Draft EIR shows that the more housing intensive option has DIFFERENT impacts than a more office intensive project. Some impacts are greater with the housing intensive option and some impacts are greater with the office intensive option. Both options are permitted by the DSP.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2016 at 5:47 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"With a Public Benefit Bonus,2 the Project would be consistent with allowed development in the ECR NE-R District. The permitted floor-area ratio (FAR) is 1.10, but with a Public Benefit Bonus, the FAR can increase to 1.50. In either scenario, a non-medical office is limited to no more than one-half the maximum FAR. In general, maximum heights are permitted to 38 feet. Although 48 feet is permitted with a Public Benefit Bonus, building facades cannot exceed a height of 38 feet. The Project would be constructed at the maximum FAR and height permitted with a Public Benefit Bonus. Up to 32 dwelling units per acre are allowed at the Project site, and up to 50 units per acre are permitted with a Public Benefit Bonus. Therefore, because the Project would develop at an intensity of approximately 31.6 units per acre, a Public Benefit Bonus would not be required for dwelling unit density. All uses proposed under the Project are permitted in the ECR NE-R District."

Page ES-2 Draft EIR


6 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 20, 2016 at 6:42 am

Greenheart says they intend to build less housing than in the EIR - only 181 units. That is 28.1 units per acre, less than the conventional ratio of 32 units per acre for transot oriented housing.

Different impacts? The peak hour traffic impacts are less for a housing intensive project than for an office intensive project.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2016 at 7:48 am

As I said "different impacts".

More housing has a far greater impact on the schools than does more offices.

Stop focusing on only the impact that supports your opinion.

Facts means all the facts not just selected facts.

So factS please.


9 people like this
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 20, 2016 at 10:59 am

"More housing has a far greater impact on the schools than does more offices."

As has been pointed out dozens or hundreds of times in various threads in this forum, Peter, the preponderance of office space in the Greenheart project will only further skew the jobs/housing imbalance in Menlo Park, thus making the city beholden to ABAG to build yet more housing. Office, in truth, brings both impacts: near-term increases in downtown and neighborhood traffic for which no reasonable mitigation has yet been proposed and downstream burdens on our schools, given the requirement to build yet more housing to "complement" the additional office space.

Gern


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2016 at 12:20 pm

The ratio of housing vs offices is within the limits established by the DSP.

It is NOT Greenheart's responsibility to deal with any knock on effects of their complying project.


8 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Facts Please: The letter I posted earlier was written by the Specific Plan's EIR Traffic Engineering consultant (Robert Eckols of Fehr & Peers), who is certainly qualified to make such a statement. Do you not trust him and his firm? Why not? Greenheart also paid for the station 1300 EIR. Do you not trust that document?

As far as I can tell, Greenheart is fully compliant with the Specific Plan and has less traffic impact than the City expected from a project previously approved for this property; however, you PREFER more housing at station 1300. However, you have not provided a persuasive fact-supported argument for requiring Greenheart to comply with your wishes. Did I miss something?

If not please provide one.


3 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 20, 2016 at 6:27 pm

@ Enough:

Your quote:

Bad on you, John! You are 100% WRONG.
I am definitely against more housing. And against more office space.

*****

Most respectfully, "Enough" what are you actually "for" that would be beneficial to our greater community?

You (and the pro-Measure M crowd who were soundly and quite recently defeated by a majority of the electorate) seem to be against everything...including any development of any kind.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 20, 2016 at 6:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A full reading of all of the above postings makes clear that the carefully crafted and ballot tested DSP provides a clear path forward for the community including its property owners. None of the opponents have been able to present a solid counter argument and none of them actually include factual information in their postings.

As John said, it is time to move forward.


4 people like this
Posted by Bryson Estes
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 20, 2016 at 6:45 pm

[Post removed. Please make your point without general negative characterization of others.]


4 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 20, 2016 at 11:27 pm

@dana Yes i question a letter sent to greenheart and not vetted by city staff. You purport to be unbiased and post something that appears to be communcation by a consultant to Greenheart, not to the city.
A Logical question about it:Why is there a deduction for internal capture and transit only for the Greenheart project? An apples to apples comparison would apply such a deduction to both.

Again, the real issue is about amount of housing. Yes i do prefer more housing for this project because this site near tranist is well suited for density. The amount of housing allowed on this site falls well below the amount the schools have known for a long tome is allowed by the dtsp.

I also prefer less office because of the ultimate impact on our schools, as well as on peak hour traffic. As Gern states. the amount of new office of this project and other projects near facebook will make menlo park vulnerable to abag demands and housing advocate lawsuits to add a lot more housing, forcing the city to find places for housing in less suitable locations in our neighborhoods. Even more impacts on schools.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2016 at 7:57 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

It's called growth. It's happening all around us. We either figure out how to deal with it or get steamrolled by it. Putting our heads in the sand and demanding no growth is a recipe for disaster. Not to mention on going blight.


4 people like this
Posted by Get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

No one is opposing the growth. The issue at hand is the housing/office mix
We must have more housing, and if not here, where?


2 people like this
Posted by Peter. Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 21, 2016 at 1:49 pm

"We must have more housing, "

Greenheart will provide 181 MORE housing units than MP already has.

Greenheart will provide 181 MORE housing units than what already exists on this site.

"..and if not here, where?"

Why not increase the permitted residential density in neighborhoods like Allied Arts?


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Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 21, 2016 at 2:51 pm

@ carpenter it is totally unimpressive that the Greenheart prohect adds 181 housiing units because it adds a lot more new housing demand than it satisfies. By proposing the maximium allowed office, Greenheart adds at least 700 new workers (possibky even hundreds more than that at tech worker densities). But it only would add about half the maximum allowed housing (181 out of 322 homes allowed). We shoukd be happy? And where would the rest live?
There already is permitted density at the Greenheart site It should be built.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter r
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 21, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Zoning permits what can be built but it cannot require anything to actually be built.

If facts please wants more housing buy the parcel from Greenheart and build all the housing that is permitted and that you can afford.


1 person likes this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 21, 2016 at 4:19 pm

If you add more housing, there will be a significant contingent against it. No matter what is proposed, there will always be a vocal minority opposing it because everyone has a different idea of what is ideal. Some people want more density. Some want a park with no density. There is zero chance to make everyone happy even if the proposal is changed.

At the point when everything is said and done, you have to go with the design the developer and most of the community is happy with. The community's voice is represented by the city council.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2016 at 4:59 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"The community's voice is represented by the city council."

Bingo! Not to mention the DSP that took FIVE years to be developed and was OVERWHELMINGLY supported with the DEFEAT of Measure M. [part removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 21, 2016 at 5:58 pm

Facts Please: the city staff and City Council have this letter and I am not aware they have challenged the claim. Go ahead and ask them if you are concerned about it's trustworthiness instead of implying that I am biased if I accept it because no sane professional consultant would be willing to risk his/her reputation and business by misrepresenting findings. Without proof your are simply advancing a conspiracy theory.

Others: Where could more housing be built in the Specific Plan area?

Here are some reasonable future possibilities:

1. On the site about to be sold by the Beltramos (1540 ECR)

2. Above the shopping mall that houses Big 5 and Bev Mo or simply replace the entire building with three stories of housing.

3. On the site currently used by Celia's (1850 ECR)

4. In one or more of the downtown parking plazas especially if a parking structure is built.

5. Re-zone properties on the West side of ECR so 2 or 3-story housing could be built

If it makes economic sense housing will be built!

Greenheart clearly is NOT the last opportunity. Why compel it to solve Menlo Park's downtown/ECR housing problems.

If the Specific Plan needs to be modified to accomplish the city's housing goals, it can do it.


2 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 22, 2016 at 1:30 pm

None of those properties can make up for the increased demand for housing this single project would cause. And if there is no will to encourage more housing now, why would that be different in the future.

Laissez faire governance means Office will win out because it gets the highest rents in the current market. Once built, those buildings wont convert to other uses. Note that developers can make handsome profits with other kinds of projects, as shown by other projects in the works and some recently completed.

Yes, the council does have to decide how it intends to address the increasing housing shortage. So far the council has worsened the shortage (except when forced by a lawsuit to build some housing) by promoting and facilitating office projects. The council can require this project to have more housing because the developer is asking to build at a higher density.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 22, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Facts please:

"None of those properties can make up for the increased demand for housing this single project (station 1300) would cause."

So how many new housing units do you think are needed to compensate for the offices proposed in the Greenheart project?

Please share your model and assumptions so your projection is credible.


19 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 22, 2016 at 4:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The long considered, ballot tested DSP addressed all of the trade off questions raised by fp.

The rules are set and Greenheart should not be required to conform to new, spur of the moment, whimsy requirements.

Democracy involves both careful deliberation, consensus and then commitment to the adopted policies.

Democracy cannot exist if anyone can unilaterally exercise after the fact veto rights - that is anarchy.


4 people like this
Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 22, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Could not agree with Peter Carpenter more. But look for criticism from Steve, Gail, Heyward and Kelly. Of those four Steve Schmidt is the only one who did any good for the city of Menlo Park. But I have to respectfully disagree with him on this one. Enough is enough. This is not a debating society. This is Government. And you can only study something for so long. All sides had ample inputs. So in the words of the far left it is time to "MOVE ON!"


6 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 22, 2016 at 10:35 pm

A project at the Bonus level can be negotiated to provide public benefit. That is a rule of the specific plan. If it were not, the specific plan would have just allowed Bonus zoning outright. CEQA is a law of California. There is nothing new or whimsical about supporting the rules of both ceqa or the dtsp. The approval process for dtsp projects is not over; it is not a rubber stamp process. Judgment is required regarding environmental and other impacts and amount and adequacy of public benefit.

@ Dana - if the number of new workers is 700 and greenheart proposes 181 housing intis, the differemce is 159. Lets say the zoning of the properties is for 32 units per acre. Then it would take more than 16 acres to build that much houisng. Greenheart property is about 6.5 acres. Stanford property 8+. So those two propertoes are not large enoug to build that much housing.
If projects are at Bonus zoning at 50 units/ acre then more than 10 acres is needed. There are no sites of that size (10-16 acres) in the downtown area.

Most tech offices pack in the workers, so the reality may be that the number of workers is even higher and so the amount of housing needed would be even higher and more difficult to find. The dtsp purposefully had higher housing densities near transit. The council can negotiate for more and still follow all rules of the dtsp.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 23, 2016 at 12:14 pm

Facts please:

I appreciate the additional numbers but your argument - logic, facts and assumptions - still are not clear enough to be understood AND be accepted as credible.

First, does the City of Menlo Park have a formula that says that when 100 office workers are added a specific number of housing units is required? Is this a requirement or a preference? Does it matter whether the project is near public transportation. In Palo Alto I believe 30% of workers commute by public transportation, and I am sure you could find out what % commutes by vehicle or live within walking or biking distance. Perhaps. Palo Alto has a formula for new employees/new housing. Of course, the number of workers per housing unit would also matter.

Next, in her guest opinion Patti Fry states ...

"But instead of providing as many as the 322 housing units that are allowed within the downtown plan's limits, the project offers only 181 new homes to balance the 700 to 1,000 new workers in this office-intensive project."

What number are you (and Patti) actually recommending given the entire property is 6.5 acres?

Per your calculations, "Lets say the zoning of the properties is for 32 units per acre" , Greenheart would need to convert an acre of some combination of offices, public space, and retail space for every 32 housing units. That's 15% of the total acreage.

But, it is already providing 181 units => which would require 5.6 acres per your calculation => 86% of total acreage.

Clearly your calculation does not makes sense.

Please explain this apparent inconsistency so all readers have a better understanding of (a) exactly how many housing units you want AND (b) your supporting argument supported by FACTS and sound assumptions.. Thanks.




12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 23, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Mess around with the current proposal long enough and Greenheart will be gone ala Derry.

I suspect that exactly what the opponents want on this site - nothing.


9 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 23, 2016 at 10:08 pm

@Dana here are some facts.
The dtsp has different rules for zoning districts, with highest density near transit.
The Greenheart site's zoning in the El Camino Real North-east-Residential zone is 50 housing untis/acre at the Bonus size that is proposed.
The Beltramo site's zoning in the El Camino Real North-east zone at the Base size is 25 units/acre and 40 units/ acre at Bonus size.
The Celia's site is in the El Camino Real North-east-Low-density zone where the amount of housing units allowed at the Base size is 20 units/acre and at Bonus size 30 units/acre. You can do the arithmetic.

The dtsp's EIR assumed the dtsp would result in a jobs/housing ratio of 1.56. Using arithmetic, that would mean 449 housing units for the 700 workers of the Greenheart commercial space. If the offices are filled with tech workers at Valley densities, the number of workers woukd be more than 700 and the housing needed to achieve the dtsp's ratio of 1.56 would be more.

It appears to me that Boyle, Hendrickson and Carpenter want to let Greenheart do whatever they want. I believe Fry's point was that the council can negotiate for fewer traffic impacts and an improved jobs/housing rstio because the dtsp and ceqa rules allow such negotiation when a project is at the Bonus level and the eir shows significantly worse traffic. In the thread about her guest editorial. She pointed out that the city's economic consultants showed the Greenheart project has much higher than typical profits, and that a housing-intensive project has a hugher return than an office intensive project. It seems to me that she is not proposing "nothing" but rather is advocating for a negotiated project.


5 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 24, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Facts please

"It appears to me that Boyle, Hendrickson and Carpenter want to let Greenheart do whatever they want."

That is neither a fact nor a reasonable opinion, rather an attempt to discredit those who do not accept your opinion.

I, for one, have simply asked you to fully explain your frequent unsupported claims so others could understand why you make them. You appear to believe others should accept then at "face value". Why so thin-skinned?

Again, what amount of housing would satisfy you (and Patty) . Simply saying "more" is not enough. 10 more units? 25? 50? 100? And then, why that particular number?


4 people like this
Posted by Facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 24, 2016 at 10:33 pm

Dana please explain why you are happy with a project that causes a greatly worsened jobs/ housing ratio and are unwilling to support any project changes that would lessen traffic.

Obviously you like the project "as is", so it seems factual that you support letting greenheart build exactly what they have proposed.

And oh by the way, i woukd be happiest if the project achieved better than the dtsp's jobs/housing ratio of 1.56 since this is a large site near transit. There are plenty of ways to do that.

[Portion removed; don't make assumptions about other posters' actions.]


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 25, 2016 at 8:45 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

IF the city wanted a specific amount of housing in the public benefit bonus then the DSP would have specified exactly that - the Council approved and voter confirmed DSP instead allows for a range of housing units under the public benefit bonus. Greenheart's project falls within the acceptable range.

End of discussion and time to move on.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 25, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Facts please:

"Dana please explain why you are happy with a project that causes a greatly worsened jobs/ housing ratio and are unwilling to support any project changes that would lessen traffic."

Again you make a presumption about what I believe and wish to accomplish. This is an extremely weak form of argument which suggests you cannot justify your own position.

Why do you not simply answer my reasonable question: what amount of housing would satisfy you?


5 people like this
Posted by Joy
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 25, 2016 at 8:46 pm

As a long time Menlo Park resident, I am tired of the endless battles whenever anyone wants to build anything and tired of looking at the weed-filled lots. Lets get on with it and build something!


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