The past approvals of the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan and the General Plan update in Menlo Park that rezoned much of downtown and the city's Bay side, have left a lot of power in the hands of the Planning Commission, which in many cases has been the final decision-making body on whether to approve significant developments in the city. The Council reasserted some of its power with the new procedure, asserting its claim to be the final decision-maker on any development its members choose to appeal.
The council will now get a public email memo the day after major Planning Commission development decisions. These decisions would include projects that add 10,000 square feet or more of net new commercial space anywhere in the city, or a nonresidential project that involves bonus-level development.
For mixed-use developments, a project that meets either of those criteria and has less than two-thirds of its square footage dedicated to housing would also be subject to this notification process.
At that point, any City Council member would be able to take up the decision for council consideration without an appeal from the public.
The initiative will be reviewed in six months to see if it's effective, by request of Vice Mayor Cecilia Taylor.
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