Planning Commission critiques Greystar housing proposal | March 6, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - March 6, 2019

Planning Commission critiques Greystar housing proposal

by Kate Bradshaw

Members of the Menlo Park Planning Commission were frank in their skepticism that a large new housing development proposed by development company Greystar would work at the scale proposed without significant modifications during a study session held Feb. 25.

Greystar has proposed building 483 new housing units, 441 of which would be apartments and 42 of which would be townhomes for sale at 141 Jefferson Drive and 180-186 Constitution Drive.

The biggest criticism? Greystar is proposing a new development in an already congested part of town without amenities that could keep the new residents from having to travel by car across town, commissioners said.

"This would be a traffic impact if it were in the middle of nowhere," said Commissioner Henry Riggs. "Instead, this is being located in traffic jam central. It is hard to imagine how this could possibly work."

Commissioner Katherine Strehl noted that without a grocery store, drugstore or bank in Menlo Park east of 101, the development could trigger major increases in crosstown traffic.

Commissioner Camille Kennedy, who works at Avenidas, a Palo Alto-based nonprofit that supports seniors, said she'd be more supportive of the project if it were designed to be more inclusive of seniors. Many seniors would love to downsize to smaller homes, she said, but there aren't many places they can move in the community. She said she would be comfortable with more density, so long as amenities were provided that could help seniors without cars get around, as well as access medical care easily.

Several commissioners criticized the plan's limited open space provisions for being too minimal.

Andrew Morcos, a senior developer at Greystar, said the group plans to ask what community members think should be included as a "public amenity."

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