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Stanford-Arrillaga project grows

Original post made on Jan 22, 2013

Is this a case of "be careful what you wish for"? The latest revision of the proposed Stanford-Arrillaga development in Menlo Park added some housing, which may mollify city officials. But there's a catch: The addition comes without sacrificing office and retail space — meaning that the already massive eight-acre project would grow by about 5,000 square feet, making some residents even more unhappy.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 12:00 AM

Comments (22)

Posted by Arrillaga/Stanford Impacts
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Kudos to the Arrillaga/Stanford development team for adding housing. But, I think the Menlo Park City Council/Planning should address all of the key impacts of the project. MP has a serious affordable housing shortage of which the needed housing should be built along transit lines (railroad and El Camino) main highway areas where densities are higher rather than eating into valuable precious open space which makes this area so desireable to live in the first place! Next, the development project proposes to add considerable amount of office space along MP's prime avenue for business. It should add ground-floor retail and community-serving businesses (delis, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bars, etc) which provide much needed TAX generation revenue as well and helps out the city's long-term fiscal needs. Finally, the development project is right in the direct proximity next to where important southern railroad crossings for bike/car tunnels could/should go to help alleviate the added traffic congestion, and crowding the project will bring. The Arrillaga/Stanford project should contribute money to improving the local roads and long-overdue grade separation, highway safety, and road improvements that the City will need at it's many nearby intersections. The project should also implement "green", "energy saving", "water saving", and renewables (sustainable development) initiatives. Stanford should be at the forefront of this effort.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm

"affordable" in Menlo Park? You folks have got to be dreaming. They put "affordable" housing in Menlo Commons. Could they sell it? Hell no! NO one qualified. The developers had to buy the units and rent them out at "BMR". What a joke. The people that rented those units all had cars and NONE of them were using public transit. NO ONE that can afford to live in this town, even at BMR will be taking public transit. It's time for everyone to pull their collective heads out and realize this is just socialist nonsense that doesn't jibe with reality. The seniors for this so called "sernior housing" have far too much personal wealth to qualify for this BMR housing. NO, this is just Stanford trying to placate people that are totally disconected from reality. They want to feel good because they are providing "lower income" housing. It's bogus! It's not. I hope you dreamers feel good while Stanford is giving us the shaft.

Posted by Arrillaga/Stanford Impacts
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 23, 2013 at 3:21 pm

The "affordable" housing mentioned is in response to the State of CA requirement and recent controversy the City and Planning created with the talk of building it at Sharon Park or Alpine Road in non-dense, incompatible single-family residential/less dense areas of the city which would ruin the charm and character of the town. Let's Keep Menlo Park as liveable and less-dense as possible. We all live in Northern CA to avoid the LA-style sprawl and building. It is evident that "affordable" is a misnomer in MP. What we need is good planning folks!!!! I know it's hard in MP when we still have no grade separations at ALL railroad crossings still in 2013.

Posted by Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 24, 2013 at 8:53 am

While I understand the need to adhere to the State's requirement for "affordable" housing, I am amazed that no one seems to have thought about the negative impact these additional units will have on our already overcrowded public schools. Because we still have strong public schools, especially K through 8, in Menlo Park you can bet that they will become even more overcrowded than they already are. Add traffic, pollution, etc. and we have a significant problem on our hands. Hang onto your values are sure to plummet.

Posted by Neg impacts
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 24, 2013 at 11:29 am

The whole "affordable housing" is a scam, a sham imposed on cities throughout the state by development interests who have the ears of our legislators. In their scenarios, the rate of growth in this state is going to explode, and most of that growth is going to occur among lower income families. Therefore, cities must be forced to build housing to accommodate this growth.

You don't have to look very closely at these arguments before they start to fall apart. And in fact, cities in the East Bay and Marin are already asking a lot of questions. So is Palo Alto, right next door.

You'd think after the real estate debacles of the last decade, including market collapses in many California cities, our state government would be well aware of the perils of overdevelopment. But, no, seems as though we residents and our city governments need to remind them. Menlo Park is at capacity now, and with several projects on the books already (Stanford Med, Bohannon mega-complex) it's only going to get worse. It's time to pull the plug on the new housing rhetoric. Enough social engineering.

Posted by David vs Goliath!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

My only point is if we are going to eventually be "forced" in MP to build "affordable" housing it should be preserved for sites such as THIS Stanford-Arrillaga mega-development along El Camino not adding/building up the riches of the Stanford empire next door with its massive endowment that will dwarf all of MP and its financial structure and infrastructure. Wake up MP! . . we have a David vs. Goliath situation here in MP . . the giant is next door slowly creeping in. We have massive projects on the table (Bohannon, Stanford's Med complex). The El Camino corridor is a key area along transit lines and railroad. We need more housing, retail/revenue-generating business and better railroad/grade-separation crossings. MP Planning should incorporate an additional (future) "southern crossing" over/under the railroad tracks right where the new Arrillaga-Stanford development is slated to go. Plan now not later! Have the development address key issues such as traffic congestion relief, carpooling commitments for new development, grade separation/tunnel/road improvements, green energy/landscaping, and other key infrastructure improvements down the road which will impact the City of MP, its residents, and taxpaying citizens. Have Goliath pay for it now . . not strapping the City later.

Posted by K. Djordjevich
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:01 am

Aside from the obvious objections of heavy traffic on El Camino and the destruction of the small town aspect of Menlo Park, how does this project fit in with the high speed rail project? It is reported that the high speed rail is going to come down the SF Peninsula, along the existing tracks. This will run through the area of this proposed project. How will this be accomplished?

Do the Stanford folks know something that has not been published about this situation?

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

HSR has 'committed' to using only the existing railroad right of way so it will not encroach on these parcels.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm


I doubt that "commitment" will be waht ultimately happens. So hopefully, Stanford can get the shaft along with the rest of us when HSR doesn't stick to their commitment. A little shadenfreud, but there it is.

Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 26, 2013 at 4:25 pm

To: Peter Carpenter:

The so called Commitment in the "blended plan" for the HSR project is not bullet proof, to say the least. In point of fact, on several occasions Authority Staff or staff from the design contractor, Parson Brinkerhoff, have talked about dedicated tracks for HSR (that means 4 tracks) by 2028.

The Authority is unwilling to remove the possibility of 4 tracks as a possibility in the program level EIR for the Peninsula. That should really tell you plenty. It really pays to know the details.

Posted by K. D.
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 27, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Please tell me what "blended" means. The high speed trains will be using the old CalTrain tracks on the SF peninsula? Is that possible?
The same trains which will run at 200 miles per hour down the valley on new tracks? Furthermore, if these high speed trains run regularly from SF to San Jose, all the street crossings must be changed to keep traffic and trains separate...i.e. grade crossings. So the plan is to build grade crossings for the old tracks, and then eventually, as has always been implied, add the needed set of tracks for the high speed trains. And of course rebuild all the grade crossings?
Or make the grade crossings large enough for 4 tracks to begin with. Imagine this mess at every street crossing the tracks!
How blended? Or do they mean running shuttle trains down the peninsula to San Jose, then changing to board the new High Speed Train? (a reasonable alternative) Then say so!
Otherwise, I don't believe you can run these super fast machines on the old tracks, and alternate high speed trains and commuter trains all day long!
No one has said outright that they mean to run these new "bullet" trains on the old tracks, or what kind of grade crossings are envisioned. They just say it will be blended. How blended?
I wish someone would explain


Posted by time to course correct
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 27, 2013 at 3:31 pm

One of many flaws of the Specific Plan is that it kicked the can down the road and didn't commit Menlo Park to creating grade separations for either cars or pedestrians and bikers. Instead, it deferred to HSR's decisions. Other cities nearby have added grade separations without putting the RR tracks higher but by making the east to west connections lower. Redwood City added these at both 5th Avenue and Jefferson for cars and pedestrians. Palo Alto has added 2, for just pedestrians and bikers, at Homer and under the University RR tracks. Menlo Park might dramatically improve its ECR congestion and east to west safety by addressing this and going ahead to do it. If other cities can create grade separations, why can't we?

a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 27, 2013 at 3:57 pm

More cars, more pollution, more gridlock.

How shortsighted was out City Council when they gave the keys to Stanford in exchange for our quality of life?

Posted by Willow By-pass lives again
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 27, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I heard Stanford was planning on putting in an exit to Alma to Willow Road. It would solve the El Camino congestion.

Posted by Neg impacts
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm

No one who actually lives in Linfield Oaks favors a Willow cut-through. It would destroy what is currently a lovely neighborhood in a central location.

A Willow extension would cause backups on El Camino. Right now, 101-bound El Camino traffic in MP must take Ravenswood and Middlefield -- arterial streets designed to handle heavier loads -- to get to Willow and thence 101. The traffic is stretched out a la Disneyland. Even so, the traffic between between 101 and Middlefield on Willow frequently backs up onto Middlefield. If you compressed those vehicles into a smaller space, gridlock would ensue.

And in addition to the $$$ cost of a road:

* You'd have to tear down a chunk of the hotel. Who's going to pay for that?

* You'd have to eminent domain a lot of $2mm+ houses, some of them almost new. Who's going to pay for that?

* You'd divert more Stanford-related traffic to Willow vs University/Embarcadero, causing additional wear on our streets. And who is going to pay for that?

Time for Menlo Park and its residents to reclaim control of our destiny.

Posted by Tell me more
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 27, 2013 at 7:18 pm

That's an interesting idea. Put a garage entrance into the Stanford medical building on Alma and direct the traffic bound for the Dumbarton Bridge to get immediately on Willow. Willow from Alma to Middlefield is wide, perfect for the job. I don't think the hotel would be bothered at all. The garage entrance would be north of the hotel. El Camino Real cannot absorb all the traffic from Stanford's project. Gee, the entrance to the garage could also have a separate lane for people walking to the medical building. Isn't the goal to get people out of their cars?

This is an idea that should be seriously considered.

If the city is going to let Stanford build this project, who are we to send the traffic through Palo Alto? It's ours to eat. No reason to let Linfield neighborhood escape the pain. Are we not all in this together?

Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 28, 2013 at 10:51 am

Garage entrance or exit to Alma is hearsay. If you look at the site plan that is on the city website,Web Link there is nothing there to indicate a plan for exit.

The immediate downside is increase of traffic to Linfield neighborhood, Willow, and probably congestion at Alma and Ravenswood.

Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 28, 2013 at 12:28 pm

"Tell me more" stated: "If the city is going to let Stanford build this project, who are we to send the traffic through Palo Alto? It's ours to eat. No reason to let Linfield neighborhood escape the pain. Are we not all in this together?"

I've read some very silly things in this forum but this is the single most idiotic statement I've seen during the past year or more. In fact it's so ridiculous I'll assume it's the work of a simple troll. Because, as we know, the Vintage Oaks neighborhood has made tremendous sacrifices in order to absorb and alleviate traffic congestion in our fair city.


Posted by Perla Ni
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Neighbors unanimously demand changes of Stanford/Arrillaga development

Menlo Park residents filled up City Chambers last night. More than 32 residents from Allied Arts, Linfield, Willow, Central MP, downtown, and unincorportated MP, made comments. The meeting lasted till near midnight. The residents were UNANIMOUS in demanding changes to the Stanford development.

Our hard-working Planning Commissioners - Vince Bressler, Katie Ferrick, John Kadvany, John O'Malley, Ben Eiref and Henry Riggs - listened and responded to the comments. Also attending were our city council members, Ray Mueller, Catherine Carlton, Peter Ohtaki and Kirsten Keith.

Neighbors told personal stories of how bad the traffic congestion is already on El Camino and Middle. Parents spoke about how their kids learned how to ride their bike on Menlo Park's safe streets and their worries about cut-through traffic. Linfield Oaks residents expressed their concerns that the congestion El Camino may lead to Stanford applying for future car access via Willow. Tax-paying property owners talked about the lack of revenue benefits to the city - if Stanford uses the offices's (for instance, moving the Welch road medical offices here), they would not pay any property taxes as a nonprofit. And furthermore, Stanford's Palo Alto development will be adding 3000 additional car trips per day, just 1 light away, at Sandhill and El Camino.

The Sierra Club also stated that the development, because of its preponderence of offices, actually worsens the housing needs in Menlo Park and would cause an even larger housing deficit that would need to be made up by other developments in Menlo Park.

The Sierra Club also expressed its opposition to traffic-generating medical offices

The City Planning Commissioners took seriously their authority to oversee the project. Among some of their critiques - the massive size of the Stanford proposal is not in character with the neighborhood; the enormous traffic may be detrimental to the safety of families and kids; the development may impair the desirability of investment or occupation in the neighborhood; and that the garage entrance which Stanford claims is the "public plaza" inconsistent with the Specific Plan.

Thanks to all who came, wrote emails, and handed out flyers! To get news on the project, go to

Posted by Neg impacts
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I'm surprised that this isn't front page news. If there had been a hooker involved, maybe the Almanac would have sent a reporter?

Perla, thanks to you and your neighbors for a great presentation last night. The planning commissioners and council members were blown away by the number of people and the collective rejection of the project. I think Stanford just believed we would all roll over and let it happen because they're, you know, Stanford.

Even more importantly, the planning commissioners got the message that they are supposed to represent the residents. Not kowtow to moneyed interests or defer to property owners "because they should be able to do whatever they want with their property." If they can hang onto that resident-centric mindset going forward, that will make a difference in how decisions are made.

Posted by Sandy Brundage, Almanac Staff Writer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 29, 2013 at 12:42 pm

The Almanac covered the study session. Given the very lengthy discussion and complexity of the issues, our story will be posted once we've had time to make it as accurate and thorough as possible.


Posted by Neg impacts
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 30, 2013 at 8:52 am

I'm guessing that Stanford does not want that article to run anywhere in the Almanac.

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