Letter: Downtown plan would overwhelm city | May 9, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - May 9, 2012

Letter: Downtown plan would overwhelm city

What started out as a "visioning" plan to add "vibrancy" to Menlo Park's downtown, somehow mushroomed into a 1,000-page environmental impact report that saddles the city with cumbersome and drastic alterations to its zoning codes that would negatively impact the city in myriad ways.

The downtown plan would replace our tranquil, livable suburb with the worst aspects of urban squalor: people crammed into high-density, multi-story, overcrowded condo units stacked over retail stores and adjacent to train stations: the least desirable living conditions in any city. The sort of thing we came to the suburbs to avoid.

The plan exults in these high-density, mixed-use buildings, "Gateway" projects, "SmartGrowth," bicycle lanes, fewer parking spaces, sidewalk widenings and street closures. Sound familiar? It should. It's happening in virtually all our Bay Area cities.

A one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter blueprint for a dismal, crowded, communal future. This is a top-down plan that is being forced on us. It is the "vision" of "sustainability," the collapsing of our cities' unique character into an oppressive, crowded uniformity that would cast a pall over our quality of life.

It comes to us through an organization most people haven't heard of: ICLEI — the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives; Menlo Park is a dues-paying member. So are Palo Alto, Redwood City, Burlingame, Sunnyvale, San Francisco, and so on. And we are all paying the price in the "wrenching transformation" of our cities.

Such plans are disastrous for our communities. In Menlo Park, the plan would remove over 90 on-street parking spaces on the south side of Santa Cruz Avenue alone. Kill parking and you kill retail.

It would dot El Camino with four- and five-story high-density, mixed-use buildings with all their attendant problems. In addition, the plan requires a 300-room perpetually booked hotel in order to be solvent — how's that for sustainability?

Let's preserve our city. Tell the City Council to reject the downtown plan.

Cherie Zaslawsky, Downtown Menlo Park


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