Neighbors, developer, city reach consensus on housing project | February 29, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - February 29, 2012

Neighbors, developer, city reach consensus on housing project

by Sandy Brundage

It's not very often that you get to write a story like this in Menlo Park, where a faceoff between a developer and a neighborhood turned into a collaboration that seems to have left both parties ... pleased.

In 2008, when Matteson Companies proposed building 48 homes on the former Chevrolet truck lot at 389 El Camino Real, residents living in the Allied Arts neighborhood that borders the 1.23-acre project site said no. Loudly, and often.

Four years later, they're saying OK to a scaled-down proposal to build 26 homes. The consensus came about thanks to city staff, a neighborhood task force, and the developer.

Task force leader Annie Berlin described the collaboration as a surprise.

"It wasn't always easy, but it was a solid 'three-legged stool' from which we worked hard and pushed for making it a better project. I think you would find all participants very satisfied and that the project as a whole was better for this process and that Matteson made a lot of compromises," she said.

The compromises included reducing the number of units, and making changes to the landscaping and construction materials to help the project blend into the neighborhood. Matt Matteson, president of the development company, described the many changes as "positive."

The project's draft environmental impact report (DEIR) came out Feb. 17; the public comment period runs through Monday, April 2.

As far as the DEIR goes, concern remains about parking and traffic, given the number of children and senior citizens that live in the area, particularly during construction.

"What you may have witnessed on El Camino with the hospital renewal project (at Stanford) — the size, speed and volume of large trucks — will only get worse with more construction," Ms. Berlin said. "That said, the task force representing the neighborhood will remain vigilant that the construction disruption be kept to a manageable level."

The 26 units consist of nine single-family homes and 17 townhouses, with three units set aside for the city's below-market-rate housing program. The plan includes 60 parking spaces, with two 26-foot wide driveways off El Camino Real providing the main access to the property.

Open space is incorporated as 7,256 square feet of private yards for the single-family homes, and an additional 11,059 square feet of shared, landscaped space.

The Planning Commission expects to hold a hearing and study session on the project on Monday, March 19, in the council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Go to to review the DEIR.


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