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Menlo voters defeat Measure M

Original post made on Nov 5, 2014

Measure M, the resident-sponsored initiative to change the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, has been the center of a maelstrom in Menlo Park. But 62 percent of the voters said no.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 1:12 AM

Comments (159)

3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 7:01 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Let's see how long it takes Lanza/Fry, savemenlo, et al to file a lawsuit.


10 people like this
Posted by formerly undecided on M
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 5, 2014 at 8:06 am

I'm hoping that the intensity of this debate can recede quickly - and that we can realize people on both sides of the initiative are well intentioned. Let's move on and find a common goal to address - like traffic beyond the boundaries of the DSP. The real challenges aren't going away and they will need cooperation, collaboration and imagination to find solutions.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 5, 2014 at 8:21 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As I posted yesterday before the results were known, here is what I hope happens and what I will work for:

1 - A collaborative effort with all of the concerned citizens to reaffirm their support for the deliberative process of the Specific Plan and the efforts of the Planning Commission and the City Council,

2 - An outreach to Stanford and Greenheart to submit revised proposals that reflect the outcome of the election,

3 - A commitment by both Save Menlo and Menlo Park Deserves Better to serve as a positive forces moving forward by encouraging dialogue and collaboration.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 8:26 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

formerly:

I agree with you. Unfortunately, the Measure M crowd doesn't. From another thread:

Posted by Kingston Jamison, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
7 hours ago

Sad voting results. Most of the NO votes were purchased. Menlo will now go downhill. Be prepared for legal action , referendums, long public comments, litigation, etc.

The yes on M people should be happy, because the no on M people are the losers.

Sounds like any attempt to build anything to replace the blight will end up facing "legal action, referendums, long public comments, litigation, etc."

Heyward is already talking referendum and the Measure M body isn't even cold yet.


19 people like this
Posted by Mike G
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 8:45 am

It is sad that there is already talk of "legal action, referendums, long public comments, litigation, etc." when an overwhelming majority of voters clearly stated the position that Measure M was a mistake for our city.

As long as I have lived in Menlo Park (since 2004) there has always been the opportunity to contribute at council and planning commission meetings, there is transparency and there are avenues for input to assist the council in the direction our city heads. It's time for people to realize that a collaborative mindset means compromise and if you don't get everything you want you shouldn't start "legal action, referendums, long public comments, litigation, etc.".

Be a part of the open/public process and continue to drive toward the best results for our city. But don't throw your hands in the air and threaten to derail the processes in place if you don't get your way. We are all adults here and we should understand we won't get everything we want, compromise means give and take. I'd rather compromise and lose some of what I want than continue to drive past the disgusting vacant lots on El Camino that make our city look terrible.


16 people like this
Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

To add to Menlo Voters post, in a Daily News article, Perla Ni is quoted as saying "This is not the end....this is the beginning. The developers outspent us 2 to 1. They confused many voters with full page ads and mailers..."

First, let me say that I think the Yes on M people seriously underestimate the intelligence of the Menlo Park voter. We can filter through all the noise. We understood the issues and came to our own independent conclusions. The group behind M was well intentioned, but M had many flaws. It should not have become law. The people of Menlo Park spoke and said no.

If the Yes on M coalition wants to persist, they certainly have the constitutional right to do so. However, please be aware that you blew a considerable amount of community good will and capital in your campaign. Your tactics actually alienated voters. You misled people with your own advertising and claims. People have M fatigue.

For the good of everyone in this community, please give it a rest. We spoke and said No.


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Posted by formerly undecided on M
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 5, 2014 at 10:45 am

"Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?" - Abraham Lincoln

"The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but it is fear." Ghandi

I think the challenge moving forward is to identify what each side fears - and combine those things to find common purpose.

(now my challenge is to register on the Almanac site without giving them my cellphone number. ?!?!)


Editor's note: A cellphone number is not a required field on the registration form: Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

As an outspoken No on M supporter, I agree that we all need to move on and help make Menlo Park the great city it should be. I think Peter Carpenters three goals are a great start at collaboration to do so.

SaveMenlo has indicated they are not through fighting and that is unfortunate. They continue to make up data.....

Perla, I am sorry but you and the NO campaign SPENT the same amount approximately $100,000 each. They RAISED (but did not spend) more than you ($200K vs $100K) And for the record, we always considered the No on M campaign to be Menlo Park Deserves Better (MPDB) vs. SaveMenlo. Counting only those two groups SaveMenlo outspent MPDB 10:1 ($100,000 vs $10,000). most of that for paid signature gatherers, lawyers and consultants.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


2 people like this
Posted by John Michaels
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 12:50 pm

Only 62% said "no", That is indeed impressive that 38% said "yes", especially given the wealth and misleading statements made by the no on m people.

38% is a healthy amount, and the council should now pay attention to that.

Unfortunately our city council did not get improved, so that will enhance the potential for litigation. The mayoral race was disappointing, so everyone plan efficient burdensome ,meetings for years to come. This election is only the start. Bet there would less litigation had measure m passed.

A litigation attorney spoke of all the steps that can be taken in the next year, since Menlo voters were confused and overpowered by money and misleading information.


1 person likes this
Posted by John Michaels
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Central Menlo Man said "For the good of everyone in this community, please give it a rest. We spoke and said No."


CORRECTION: "We spoke and only 62% said no"

These issues will not die, and now it will be actually easier to save Menlo from the mild disaster and unsolvable traffic jams which less than two-thirds of the city thinks they want.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Mr. Michaels:

no one was confused and over powered by money. Savemenlo spent more money than Menlo Park Deserves Better and they spent the same amount as the opposition. So, you can't say those of us who voted No didn't know what we were voting for or that we were somehow bought off or any other such nonsense.

It's quite obvious from your tone and savemenlo/Perla Ni's tone that you will file lawsuits. Anything it takes to stop any progress.

Yes, 62% of the voters said NO. That's a pretty wide margin. In case you hadn't noticed that's a majority. And that's how our system works.


6 people like this
Posted by MOE
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

MP citizens have clearly stated their desires. Let's move forward now and use the tools we have (Specific Plan) to shape the future development of MP in a creative, cooperative way. Let's all put the venom back in the bottle, burry the hatchets and use our energies to allow MP to grow into the place we old timers (I've lived here 44 years) as well as newcomers can find pleasant and exciting to live in.


2 people like this
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@John Michaels

You are kidding on the wealth line right? A (part removed) BILLIONAIRE (Gary Lauder) was Save Menlo's largest backer. Save Menlo spent 10X what Menlo Park Deserves Better did ($100K vs $10K) [part removed. State your view without attacking posters.)

For the record anything above 55% is considered a landslide in the Initiative/Ballot-Measure world.

[part removed.]

Roy Thiele-Sardina


5 people like this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Census information reports that there are about 25,000 people living in Menlo Park who are 18 or older. I will make the assumption that all/most of these people could vote if they chose to. 6,657 Menlo Park residents or 26% of eligible people voted on Measure M. About 18% voted no on M while 10% voted yes. Looks like about 70% of the residents don't care one way or the other. I find that disturbing. Equally appalling is the low number of votes each person running for council received. If my analysis is flawed, I'm sure someone will let me know.


9 people like this
Posted by Tired of the delusions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:50 pm

As someone who only came to know about the Measure M issue once lawn signs started popping up and then investigating, I can state that my vote against M was not in any way purchased by some big real estate lobby or influenced by propoganda.

Rather, I was (and am) offended by the notion that a small group of citizens decided that they know better than the government process and tried to go around a 6 year exercise and our governing bodies.

I don't know much about zoning, permitting, or how city planners make their towns vibrant. Nor do I think it's my job to understand all of this - I vote for elected officials to represent me in the process. I don't expect every decision or action to be perfect, nor do I expect to agree with everything that happens.

Here's what else I know - our downtown sort of sucks the way it is. So I'd rather see some revitalization, and have it happen in my lifetime.

Measure M lost badly by any reasonable definition. It's time to move on.


4 people like this
Posted by Jym Clendenin
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 1:56 pm

I have no problem with 3- and 4-story buildings between El Camino and the RR (I like the ones that are already there), but I am very concerned about the traffic impact of the large developments proposed. I campaigned for and voted NO on M because I believe the City Council has both the tools and the desire to find the best possible solution to the traffic problem. Now with 38% of the voters supporting M, I am expecting to see the Council take serious action to reduce the traffic impacts.


4 people like this
Posted by Sam Tyler
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:05 pm

It was so disappointing to see the Save Menlo folks continue their negative message and threaten lawsuits. For whatever reason, they can not support a representative government and accept that their view is in the minority. John Michaels, who said "only 62% said no" is kidding himself. Looking at the various local and state races, very few elections were decided by a margin as high as 62%. Measure M lost, and it was not close.

It is time for Save Menlo to take a collective look in the mirror and decide to they want to be part of collaborative solution or remain obstructionists. I hope they take the opportunity to participate and not litigate.


1 person likes this
Posted by Patrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:10 pm

@retired teacher

Per Web Link, there are 17,737 "Registered Voters".


10 people like this
Posted by downtown property owner
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

I also campaigned for team 'No' and was thinking all along, I already contributed my time to the visioning plan several years ago, why am I contributing more hours and shoe leather to defend something that was already decided fairly? This fight pitted neighbor against neighbor. Drive down any block, it was yellow and black signs next to green and white. This was a god-awful way to settle political differences. If someone were to suggest eliminating California's initiative process entirely, I would be on board for that. There has been some truly awful stuff passed by the voters thinking short term or feeling passion or fear. And the consequences are so hard to fix. I sure hope that the SM's vow to fight on doesn't go any further or falls on deaf ears. I've had enough of this.


2 people like this
Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Edward Syrett is a registered user.

"Central Menlo" said:

"If the Yes on M coalition wants to persist, they certainly have the constitutional right to do so. However, please be aware that you blew a considerable amount of community good will and capital in your campaign. Your tactics actually alienated voters. You misled people with your own advertising and claims. People have M fatigue.

For the good of everyone in this community, please give it a rest. We spoke and said No."

This quote confirms my suspicion that the Save Menlo people are whistling past the graveyard of Menlo Park residentialism. The Big Lie technique is working as well as ever. I should have taken a photo, for evidence, of the early "No on M" yard signs which included the line "No on More Traffic". Oh yeah. Those mega-developments won't generate any traffic. "Everyone in the community" knows that's true. After all, that's what those signs said, and 2/3 of our electorate approved that message.

And the climate hasn't changed, and we don't have a drought, and the sun rises in the west. We could vote on those things too. Pick your own facts.

But please, Ms. Fry and Mr. Robinson, no more referendums. Don't you see how easy it is for "the people who run Menlo Park" to fool most of the people most of the time?


1 person likes this
Posted by City shenanigans
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Does anyone really want to know what was in that Smith contract? it's over and done with time to move on, Absolutely no need to investigate what emails may or may not have been sent by City staff to the consultant about swaying public opinion on the measure, let's just take the good City Manager at his word that there was nothing improper, and even though Ms. Brandell may have suggested in her emails otherwise, he clearly knew nothing about that. $5000 dollars of taxpayer money was paid to the consultant, he is no longer under contract, It's history, the NO on M campaign was successful thanks to his work and now the City can proceed with developing ECR without further constraints. More development means no more traffic!I


1 person likes this
Posted by mark gilles
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:27 pm

The notion that Measure M lost simply because more money was spent on defeating it is of course nonsense. This issue was about a small group of people who cannot or will not accept a different point of view on this issue. Measure M proponents should have known that they were going to lose badly when all four local newspapers came out against the Measure. Believe that the editors of all four newspapers got it wrong but 62% is a landslide. Re-election of the three council members that supported M makes it a rout. The voters clearly want to see progress in addressing the blight . Continuing the fight in court will just serve to marginalize the sour grapes gang even more. As for the majority of us, we will focus our energies into making whatever is built downtown the best it can possibly be.


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Posted by John Michaels
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm

Yes, 62% of the voters pressed NO (whether they meant it or not). Don't care about other votes, the point is that ONLY 62% of the people (mostly confused and didn't understand the valuable parts of M) wanted to keep the status quo. That's just 12% more than half. Pathetic.

Let's just hope the city council pays close attention to that, because there are other ways to accomplish the worthwhile goals intended by M.

Collaborative solutions does not mean that the council can do what is not in the best interests of those citizens impacted adversely by these projects.

The fun has just started.


1 person likes this
Posted by retired teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Patrick...thanks for the information on the number of registered voters. So...38% of these people voted on Measure M and 62% did not. Yes or No on Measure M... sad so few seem to care about what is happening in their community.


8 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

"Let's just hope the city council pays close attention to that, because there are other ways to accomplish the worthwhile goals intended by M."

This was one of my biggest problems with M. There were other ways to accomplish those goals. Ways that didn't handcuff future city councils, ways that didn't pour concrete on our zoning regulations. I opposed M even though I have concerns about traffic and making sure that new developments bring tangible benefits to our city and not just more cars. I opposed M precisely because there are other, better, ways of accomplishing those goals.

Please don't characterize those of us who voted against M as confused and misunderstanding the measure. I didn't like being accused of being in the pocket of developers, and I don't like being patronized to either. Let's try instead to move forward positively, seeking some common ground and mutually-agreed upon goals.


6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Mr Michaels:

your opinion of your fellow Menlo Park citizens is disgusting. We weren't "confused." We knew we were pushing the NO button. And we weren't bought off by the developers. Were the supporters of M bought off? After all they spent just as much money in support of M as those opposed to it did.

Just 12% more than half? That means nearly two thirds of the voters said NO! That's pretty much a landslide.

You lost and you lost big. It's time to move on.


2 people like this
Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:00 pm

@Menlo Voter

LOL! Will do.

On a more serious note:

I think everybody should step back and do a bit of a post mortem on the election results. First note that there were 6,675 votes in total cast for or against Measure M. Second note that there were a total of 16,616 votes cast for council members. If you assume everybody that voted for council members voted for 3 of them - that means about 5,539 people actually voted for council members - about 1,136 less than voted on Measure M.

My take away from this is that people were more energized to vote No on M than to vote for city council members. By and large it seems likely that if you voted for Measure M you voted for Drew Combs (2531 compared to 2574) - but not necessarily for Kelly Fergusson or Kristen Duriseti. If you voted no on M - it wasn't clear you would vote for the incumbents.

I think this should be a warning to future politicians.

I hope the well intentioned SaveMenlo people will realize that they lost big yesterday - I believe people don't like ballot measures. Note significantly, more people voted No on M than for any candidate. Seriously, after polling several of my neighbors - that was the theme. Measure M - Section 4.1 was a loser. After this election/campaign cycle no one wanted to see another ballot initiative - too costly in terms of the negative campaigning on both sides.

Secondly, I also hope that the well-intentioned SaveMenlo people will realize going forward that this is a political battle - not a litigation battle. You can't litigate your way to popularity.

On the other side, the MenloDeservesBetter people should realize this election was only the battle - not the war. IMO, SaveMenlo identified the right problem - traffic. A ballot measure is not the right - or most popular solution however - evidenced by the numbers above.

IMO, both sides need to develop candidates for city council that are as popular as "no on M" (no on M got 4144 votes - the average incumbent received 3162 votes - the average candidate supported by SaveMenlo received even less - 2377 votes.

Both sides would do well to not focus on shooting invective at each other but instead focus on the voter (WIFM - what's in it for me - a staple of presentations classes.)

I believe the voters won - they killed Measure M: the candidates lost (even Mr. Ohtaki).


5 people like this
Posted by Sam Tyler
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Mr. Michaels: I am not sure you understand my point. In Menlo Park, 62% of the people voted No. This was NOT a close election, regardless of how you want to spin the numbers. The word "only" is defined as "no more than; merely; just". You stating that "only 62% voted against Measure M" is like saying I only lost the football game 62-38. You are either the most optimistic person I have ever "met" or unable to face the reality of the outcome.

As I said earlier, I hope Save Menlo chooses to participate in whatever process that moves forward.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Tumbridge Wells

I could not agree more. NOBODY wants to see gridlock traffic everyday, but as you stated.

There are other ways to resolve that issue. THe fact that SRI can get 40% of it's workforce to use alternate transportation to mitigate traffic is a sign that we can do a great job mitigating traffic when we work with the building owners.

The group of citizens who worked so hard to defeat M (Menlo Park Deserves Better) did not include a single developer amoung us. we ALL wanted a more vibrant community for Menlo Park.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


3 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:27 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I wasn't confused or bought off. I knew the Measure M was wrong and voted No.


2 people like this
Posted by Unsurprising
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:34 pm

Is it really surprising the leaders of this group would not want their leadership to end, even with a lopsided defeat? If SaveMenlo stopped "fighting", who would Perla and Heyward "lead"? The question isn't what the leaders want. It's whether anyone will choose to actively follow them anymore?

One thing seems evident: Kelly's political career has ended. Her vitriolic rhetoric was rejected by the voters. She didn't even gain every vote cast for Measure M and placed 5th in a field of 6th.


1 person likes this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:45 pm

@ "Mr. Michaels"

"...the point is that ONLY 62% of the people (mostly confused and didn't understand the valuable parts of M) wanted to keep the status quo. That's just 12% more than half. Pathetic."

Please. The election is over. No more assumptions without a basis in fact. And, respectfully, those who voted NO would appear not to want "to keep the status quo." Quite the contrary, they voted against a measure which would have significantly hamstrung positive progress.

For the well-being of everyone, let's move forward productively.

Would it be possible for former Measure M supporters to use their collective energies to put some positive, realistic proposals on the table?


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Posted by Heyward Robinson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Heyward Robinson is a registered user.

Henry Riggs has made two comments in the press that need correction. He claims that Measure M received fewer votes than it received signatures. Henry been around enough elections to know that the vote totals will grow substantially in the next few weeks as vote by mail ballots that were received at the elections office on election day are verified and counted. With 12,000 or more votes expected in this election, the totals could nearly double what they are now. Measure M will far exceed the number of signatures that put it on the ballot.

Riggs also took a shot at Yes on M in today’s Post, accusing Yes on M of "faking endorsements". That is not true. To our dismay, Anne Moser was mid-identifed as a volunteer. How this error occurred is not known. She was removed from our database as soon as this was brought to our attention.

Heyward


1 person likes this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Further re Mr. Michael's reference to "the valuable parts of M." Unfortunately, that was part of M's problem. No one could pick and choose. So further to my previous post, if there are positive, realistic components of M, please bring them forward in the spirit of progress and a recognition that some compromise can actually lead to a better end product.


2 people like this
Posted by patrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

patrick is a registered user.

Looking at the individual precincts, the only ones where M was accepted were:

3452 (244 vs 208)
4403 (76 vs 70)
4406 (5 vs 3)
4431 (9 vs 8)
4436 (4 vs 2)

Looking at the map (Web Link), 3452 is the precinct most affected by this measure, and even there plenty of people voted no. I find this a bit surprising - seems like Yes on M wasn't very effective at convincing folks...


1 person likes this
Posted by Sam Donalds
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Agree that the battle was confusing, and the savemenlo group would have been better to set different/better limits than forcing an election. Listening to both groups it was confusing. The no group deceived much more than the yes on m group. Fortunately there are many more steps before these projects go in. But us Menlo people will never get what these developers are hinting at, promising, or inferring. Unless the menlo council acts wisely, some group will put a measure on the next ballot.

These projects should never have been approved until the traffic situation was solved.

Still don't see how retail on El Camino will bring more business to those Santa Cruz Ave shops.


1 person likes this
Posted by Heyward Robinson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Heyward Robinson is a registered user.


@ Roy Thiele-Sardiña
"Perla, I am sorry but you and the NO campaign SPENT the same amount approximately $100,000 each. They RAISED (but did not spend) more than you ($200K vs $100K) And for the record, we always considered the No on M campaign to be Menlo Park Deserves Better (MPDB) vs. SaveMenlo. Counting only those two groups SaveMenlo outspent MPDB 10:1 ($100,000 vs $10,000). most of that for paid signature gatherers, lawyers and consultants."

The final financial statements for all the campaigns aren’t due until January 2015. We will find out then how much each campaign raised and spent. MPBD largest expense will be for the mailer that was sent out. It hasn’t been reported yet, but it’s safe to say that MPDB’s spending will be significantly more than has been reported. And Roy, do you really think MPDB would have only spent able to spend such a relatively small amount if you didn’t have a $200K partner in Greenheart? Most of Yes on M’s expenses were to design, print, and mail 5 mailers. MPDB sent out one. Greenheart had at least 6. Do you think you could have raised enough money to pay for those 6 on your own?


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Posted by John Michaels
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:15 pm

It makes absolute sense that the neighborhood negatively impacted by these projects SHOULD have the most say. People in their plush protected rural homes, such as Lindenwood, should have minimal input.

Let's see if Atherton would accept these projects.


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Posted by Heyward Robinson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Heyward Robinson is a registered user.

I urge caution in over interpreting the precinct results. The data are very skewed by the early absentee ballots. Thousands of ballots have yet to be processed. As more returns come in, I suspect that additional precincts will tilt toward Yes.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:21 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Mr. Michaels:

That's not how our system of government works. One group doesn't get more say than any other. If you don't think other parts of town aren't going to be impacted you're living in a dream world.


2 people like this
Posted by Unsurprising
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Heyward it's time to let it go. The election is over. The classy thing to do is concede and pledge to work together.


4 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

I can't wait for Farmer's Market this Sunday and not having an arguement with someone.

Don't follow leaders; Watch the parking meters.


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Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 5, 2014 at 5:17 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@Heyward Robinson

Good point about the absentee ballots. Do you have an estimation for when these will be counted?


3 people like this
Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 5:20 pm

Some of these Yes on M people are like the Living Dead-- they just keep coming back at you!

The measure lost by 24%. That is a plurality. In a democracy, there is no subtlety about the result. People did not want M.

We are not stupid. We were not misinformed. We were not bought out. To insist otherwise is to delude yourself. To persist in this vein is ludicrous. I predict that you will see a severe backlash from the people, yes, THE PEOPLE, if this continues.

Stop thinking you speak for me. You do not.


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Posted by Heyward Robinson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Heyward Robinson is a registered user.

@ formerly formerly

Absentee ballot schedule:
November 7, 2014 4:30 p.m.
November 12, 2014 4:30 p.m.
November 14, 2014 4:30 p.m.
November 18, 2014 4:30 p.m.

It will be interesting to see what the final turnout is. I suspect it to be pretty high for an off year election.

@Unsurprising
please don’t misinterpret my comments to imply that Yes on M could pull this out. Thats not going to happen. But I think the margin will shrink, as it did when the poll votes came in.


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Posted by Allied
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Patrick-- If you're still patrolling this board, where did you get the precinct by precinct vote?

The fact that 3452 was only 53.9% in favor of M suggest that some (many?) precincts were overwhelmingly against M?


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Posted by patrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 5, 2014 at 9:37 pm

patrick is a registered user.

@Allied

Check out this page: Web Link

Towards the bottom, select all the precincts in the list and click on "Display Contest Results by Precinct".


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Posted by Karen Kosloso
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on Nov 5, 2014 at 10:11 pm

I move here from Montana. Someone please explain why beautiful parks and outdoor exercise equipment are not being built on these vacant places. My old city is beautiful with green lawns and parks and old buildings, not new buildings. Why all the fuss?


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Posted by moving on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 10:47 pm

Hope that the MP community can move on and focus beyond Menlo Park's borders regarding future traffic challenges on and near ECR. The scope of this conversation needs to be dramatically increased if there is any hope of coming up with viable solutions.

We need City Council to fully understand ECR traffic & strategically identify TRAFFIC SOLUTIONS that coordinate with neighboring communities: Atherton, Redwood City, Palo Alto, and Stanford (it's also a CDP-census-designated place). To be more explicit - the surrounding communities are developing, growing, and building, whether you want Menlo Park to be a village or not. So MP needs to work with its neighbors on how to handle/solve the traffic impact. "Just say no," fails to be an effective solution when the challenges really go beyond MP.

Some examples of what is happening beyond Menlo Park:

These are all the projects already underway in Redwood City (note the large projects right off ECR):
Web Link

Stanford Medical Center is increasing it's footprint by millions of sqft:
Web Link

The revitalized Stanford Mall (although footprint is roughly the same) is going to more effectively attract shoppers/traffic.
Web Link

And Atherton City Council announced it is studying the impact of removing lanes on ECR:
Web Link

Good night and good luck!


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Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 11:16 pm

The good news is that nearby cities including Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Redwood City are all developing city-based programs to reduce vehicle trips. They are also afflicted by the same congestion. So they would be open to opportunities to partner. Palo Alto council members talked about interest in partnering with neighboring cities on trip reduction in recent council meetings discussing updates of their plans.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 12:40 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Heyward

your quote of "With 12,000 or more votes expected in this election, the totals could nearly double what they are now." is hogwash.

So here is my bet: if more than 10,000 ballots are the final count (I am giving you a 2,000 ballot gimme out of pity) I will give you and your bride a $100 gift certificate to Bradley Ogden's new restaurant. IF it's one ballot less, Laura and get to eat there on you (same $100 certificate).

You and I both know that 12,000 ballots in an off year election is absurd, but you sound so sure of yourself.....so do we have a bet?

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 6:14 am

@Roy Thiele-Sardiña:

You write: your quote of "With 12,000 or more votes expected in this election, the totals could nearly double what they are now." is hogwash

Well sir, like everything you profess to know and write, [portion removed.]

In 2010,for Menlo Park, two measures were on the ballot, Measure T and Measure L. That was the last off year election.

Total votes for Measure T was 11,801
Total votes for Measure L was 11,549

This year the total votes cast on Measure M as of right now is 6657.

There may well be at least another 5000 votes yet to be counted based on the records.

[portion deleted. Please try to state your differences without characterizing another poster.]






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Posted by John Onken
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2014 at 7:53 am

And as Adina references above, one of the offshoots of Measure M was going to be our traffice management abilities. If the office space to be built in MP is populated by larger, accountable companies, then we can tie them to Traffic Management Plans as one of our only weapons against gridlock. If large companies don't move in, then we have an endless population of small offices who come and go under the radar, and are impossible to implement a TMP with.

So this is our Stick and Carrot, and Adina is our champion. Measure M would have theoretically frustrated our management abilities.

If it gets too bad, we can always narrow ECR down to two lanes and make things so bad, people find other methods of getting around. Looking at the way Europe deals with city traffic, this idea isn't as fantastical as you think…...


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Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 6, 2014 at 8:05 am

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@Karen Kosloso

IMO the reason there aren't open spaces and exercise equipment going in these vacant lots boils down to money. Land is expensive. Greenheart's paid almost $50M for their 7 acres. Stanford's 8.4 acres is probably worth $60m.

No one is going to cough up $110M for a par course track (about $3000/resident of MP).

Probably a different calculation in Montanna.


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Posted by Stanford owes us
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 6, 2014 at 8:16 am

The Stanford parcels should be converted into parks and playing fields.

Considering that Stanford pushes as much of its traffic as it can our way, rather than into Palo Alto, that Stanford gave most of the mitigation fees for the new hospital to Palo Alto, and gave Menlo Park as little as possible, and considering that these parcels cost Stanford next to nothing and mean very little to Stanford in terms of its overall budget, Stanford should stop trying to make huge dollars from the parcels and let Menlo Park make a green area or parks and playing fields.

Will never happen of course, but one can always dream.


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Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 9:54 am

Stanford's charter does not allow it to sell any of its property. They can lease it out. MP can definitely try to negotiate a favorable lease. However, there is no economic incentive for them to do so, unless out of pure goodwill.

The irony is that pursing this route will cost MP money for the lease and maintenance of the park, no additional tax revenue, and does not address existing traffic issues on ECR (maybe increase traffic from people using the park).


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2014 at 10:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford Owes Us - "The Stanford parcels should be converted into parks and playing fields."

What is scary is that this person actually believes this should be done with someone else's private property.

And that this person, and many others, don't realize that IF there were no Stanford University then Menlo Park would be another Gilroy (but without the garlic).


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@old timer,

if your predictions turn out to be true, then Heyward gets dinner on me if accepts the bet. easy.

Roy


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Posted by Heyward Robinson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

Heyward Robinson is a registered user.

@Roy Thiele-Sardiña
Bet accepted. I’m looking forward to a delicious dinner.

@ formerly formerly
Your numbers are very low. A commercial office building in MP just sold for around $1200/SF. That makes Stanford’s 200,000 SF of office worth $240 million. Residential is selling for around $900/SF. Stanford proposes to build between 203,000 and 250,000 SF of residential. 250,000 SF * $900 = $225 million. The 10,000 SF of retail (about $1000/SF) is worth around $10 million. Total value = $475 million. Greenheart’s value would be even higher.

Stanford value calculation
Use SF $/SF Value
office 199,500 $1,200 $239,400,000
Res 250,000 $900 $225,000,000
retail 10,000 $1,000 $10,000,000
Total $474,400,000

When the DTSP passed, Stanford’s allowed FAR went from 0.55 to 1.25, an increase of 2.3. Using this multiplier, the increase in Stanford’s value was about $265 million. One would think they could use a bit of this to fund the entire bike/ped tunnel and other amenities. Hopefully the City Council will follow through on their pre-election discussion and give themselves real negotiating leverage by lowering the public benefit threshold, letting residents share part of Stanford’s windfall.


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Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:16 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@Heyward Robinson

My $110M estimate was just to buy the 15.4 acres of stanford and Greenheart land to convert to open space. I think Greenheart paid 46.5M for their land alone.

My point is that the huge land expenses drive the business case for large developments in order to generate sufficient ROI.

Typical building estimates for replacement of buildings are about $300/sq ft based on recent insurance data - so Stanford and Greenheart are probably into this for another $120M a piece to do their build outs.

Your residential $900/sq ft estimates also include land prices.


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Posted by problem solved
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm

The Stanford proposal got the allied art neighborhood up in arms because Middle Ave will get a few more car trips.

Stanford should simply build one ramp the the underground parking at the end of Willow Road. This can also function as a bike tunnel, and there will be no cars messing up the plaza at Middle Ave.

Problem solved.


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Posted by Does size matter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Looking at the numbers in the previous post, the building will be 459,500 square feet. I assume the other building will also be approximately half million square feet. What do the no-on-M folks think about the size?


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@FF & @HR

the cost of medium class A unfinished (no TE) is correctly assumed to be $300 per for foot. The two projects will be a bit more dues to underground parking. so there is approximately $60,000,000 in office improvements on each site that is taxable.

Stanford has already stated they will contribute to the bike/pedestrian tunnel so that is additional cost. I remember hearing the Homer Tunnel cost $12-16M to build. so add that to the cost of the construction. plus the residential development costs at ~$500 makes the $160M to $200M each will invest a significant investment in Menlo Park.

Again all this is a huge financial win for Menlo Park.

Roy


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@FF & @HR

the cost of medium class A unfinished (no TE) is correctly assumed to be $300 per for foot. The two projects will be a bit more dues to underground parking. so there is approximately $60,000,000 in office improvements on each site that is taxable.

Stanford has already stated they will contribute to the bike/pedestrian tunnel so that is additional cost. I remember hearing the Homer Tunnel cost $12-16M to build. so add that to the cost of the construction. plus the residential development costs at ~$500 makes the $160M to $200M each will invest a significant investment in Menlo Park.

Again all this is a huge financial win for Menlo Park.

Roy


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

translate that to revenue to the city please. It's my understanding that a small % flows to the city in property taxes. And then its growth is limited by Prop 13, so property taxes increase more slowly than city expenses (mostly labor) do.

Just imagine if more than the meager 10,000 SF of retail out of 459,000 SF total generated sales or hotel tax revenue. Measure M's attempt to limit office was good for the city -- less rush hour traffic and potentially more sales or hotel tax revenue.

How about pushing the council to pay attention to managing traffic and managing our town's finances?


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 3:46 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@curious

The Briones Letter which was sent to city regarding the taxes generated by the projects is linked below. See page 3.

Web Link

Upwards of $6M per year in revenue to MPK and other agencies.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To put that annual property tax revenue in perspective the City of Menlo Park receives a total of $6-7 million a year in sales tax from ALL Menlo Park businesses.

Property taxes are a much more reliable source of tax revenue than property taxes.
"The downturn stabilized and economic growth returned at a moderate pace in 2005-06, but the near 50 percent decline in sales tax revenues from the height of the technology boom continued to limit the City’s fiscal flexibility." Menlo Park COMPREHENSIVE ANNUAL FINANCIAL REPORT
Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2013


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@curious

The highest payer of Sales Tax in MPK history was Sun Microsystems. When they moved their billing to Santa Clara (in an agreement similar to MPK's old agreement) we lost over $6M in sales tax revenue. The Car dealerships NEVER even came close to those amounts.

The highest payer of taxes in MPK are the Two Hotels Stanford already owns. the "retail" sales tax is MINUSCULE.

Roy




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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:25 pm

What is the source of the Brion study? Who paid for it? When was it done? It appears that Greenheart Land Company was a source for a number of the charts.

It seems to contradict the city consultant's study. Substantially.
For example - the 10,000 sq ft of retail of the Stanford project in Brion produce $82,100 says Brion.
According to Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc. study page A3-4, the 91,800 sq ft of retail in the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan's EIR produces $133,000.

So you're saying that 11% of the Plan's sq ft of retail produces 62% of the sales tax revenue according to the city's consultant? That was the same as the city's Financial Impact Analysis, too, done by other consultants.




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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:41 pm

The city's consultant Lisa Wise Consulting said that the property taxes to the city were roughly the same regardless of what was in the buildings.

This Brion "study" needs evaluated critically. It implies that there will be one-time real property transfer tax from the Stanford project. As another poster mentions, Stanford typically does not sell its property. So what's that about?
Then this Brion "study" portrays as "Revenue Benefits" Impact Fees. Brion and readers ought to know that impact fees cannot provide net revenue benefit to the city - by law the fees cannot exceed actual incremental costs.

Methinks this is a bogus study. Reader beware.


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña wrote above:

"The highest payer of Sales Tax in MPK history was Sun Microsystems. When they moved their billing to Santa Clara (in an agreement similar to MPK's old agreement) we lost over $6M in sales tax revenue. The Car dealerships NEVER even came close to those amounts."

I am not sure Sun the highest ever sales tax revenue producer, but they yielded a lot.

It was one huge FU, that the development agreement with Sun, did not insist that the sales office stay within MP. Some of the staff that screwed that up are still with the City.

Note should be taken that the 10,000 jobs and more to come from Facebook will not yield hardly any Sales Tax revenue, since what they sell is advertising, which is not taxable. (should be)


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Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:49 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@Roy Thiele-Sardiña
@Heyward Robinson

Thanks for the good discussion - much appreciated.

After paging through the Brion report that Roy linked to - I still have a question - I note that General Fund Revenues and Property Tax Revenues are broken out separately on the first page (Stanford 3.07M and Greenheart $3.29M) - but in table S-2 Property Taxes are $282k and $302k for Stanford and Greenheart respectively.

I assume that this difference is due to the amount of property tax collected by the county - that comes to the city (about 9% or so.) Is this a correct assumption?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What big sales tax producer would even consider locating in Menlo Park until it is clear that whatever they propose will not be stalled by an initiative?

It will take time and consistency of policy for Menlo Park to regain the confidence of potential investors - one of the unfortunate but fully anticipated consequences of the failed Measure M.


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Posted by Has Been
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2014 at 5:33 pm

There's an old proverb, "Don't sell past the close." You guys won. Enough already with the financial BS.

Joan Brion is an economic consultant who first worked for David Bohannon against the proposed rezoning in M-2 back in 2002. She worked again for him in 2010, and then flipped becoming the City's economic consultant for Facebook. Web Link

The study is bogus because 1.) it only includes revenues not costs. It's the usual developer BS.

Genuine Fiscal Impact Analysis is available in the DSP FIA, and is recalibrated by the Lisa Wise Consulting Study.

The Brion study includes the usual pro-developer pile-on that includes impact fees, which are simply dollar for dollar reimbursements for hard costs, and alleged "lunch money" the amount of "multiplier" money supposedly generated by project users. None of the pile-on financial data produces NET Public Revenue.

Both Greenheart and Stanford projects are money losers for the city, not because of the office, but because of the housing. However LWC computed an "all office" bookend based on the FIA that showed all-office buildouts of the non-res portion of the SP would produce a net annual loss to the City of about $282,000k.

The largest sales tax producer in Menlo Park history is Boise Cascade, not Sun Microsystems. A boring old warehouse in M-2 that had few employees and even fewer traffic impacts except for a delivery truck every now and then.

My understanding is that Boise Cascade announced recently it will be leaving. At its peak, ca 2001, Menlo Park annual sales tax revenue approached $13M, now its about half that or less. The exodus of major sales tax producers began in the last office boom during the 1990's when rents started increasing beyond levels that could be afforded by retail and "flex" users who pay sales tax. It had nothing to do with the Derry referendum.

Essentially the crowding out of sales tax producers by professional office users has taken public sales tax revenues and turned it into private rents. Council did enact some form of sales in Lieu of the Spieker development in M-2, though I haven't reviewed the terms or amounts.

The Sun Microsystem payments came from a 10 year developer contract, which guaranteed the city a minimum, though use taxes (paid out of the large complex called Sun Quentin) and sales taxes paid by Sun, (out of its sale office located in the office complex near Marsh road) far exceeded those figures. It was Bohannon that drove out the sales office with rent increases.

The suggestion that property tax is more "stable" is usually true (except when its not) but, 1.) it is literally right out of David Bohannon's mouth, and 2.) property tax doesnt track real costs because of prop 13, and 3.) the city gets only a fraction of the property tax dollars (about 12%) and 4.) commercial enterprises and property partnerships are the big winners since they hold their properties essentially in perpetuity and rarely have the land re-evaluated at market rates.

The basis for the Stanford project will be mostly from construction with no revaluation from the land value. Brion was zooming you. Stanford knows better than anyone how to avoid property transfers that trigger land re-assessments.

VOters always get what they deserve.




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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2014 at 5:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"commercial enterprises and property partnerships are the big winners since they hold their properties essentially in perpetuity and rarely have the land re-evaluated at market rates."

EXCEPT when there is new new construction on the properties and then reassessment is automatic and unavoidable.


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Posted by menlo voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 6, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I like the thought of both the YES and NO groups moving on but am dismayed at the both sides continual fighting. At least in the Almanac I feel that the discussion is reasonable, unlike the Next Door Neighbor, where the NO on M side is incredibly inflammatory. I voted no on M and am getting embarrassed I did. Maybe everything would settle down if both sides cut their rhetoric, and quit sending unending, unwanted spam.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Once again the Measure M/Save Menlo supporters have resorted to stealing other people's names:

Posted by menlo voter
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights

This is NOT a posting by long time Forum participant Menlo Voter.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 6, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Menlo voter:

please stop using my handle. I've had it for many years.

Thanks!


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Has Been

Sun moved that sales office to Santa Clara NOT because of rent increases, but because it cut a similar deal to develop Agnews......

Roy


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 8:19 am

No - new development does not automatically trigger reassessment of the LAND. Only the buildings.

Another gem out of the Brion "study" -- the amount of sales taxes from both the Stanford and Greenheart projects would be $211,100 - from 39,000 sq ft of retail space (remember Greenheart hasn't committed to ANY yet).

The city's consultants during the ECR/D SP process said $133,000 sales tax revenue from 91,800 sq ft!
This figure was confirmed by Lisa Wise Consulting this summer, again paid by the city.

Brion is claiming 159% of the sales tax revenue from 42% of the retail sq ft in the plan. Please explain (other than pure propoganda).

Why no response as to who paid for the Brion study and when. Roy? Peter? YOU have it and presented it to this forum.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@old timer

The Sun move was NOT an FU to MPK. The Sun deal did have a minimum number of years on it. Sun lived up to that contract. They signed a similar contract with the city of Santa Clara to develop Agnews as their southern campus.

It was literally 8 employees in a building that sent invoices that "decided" where you collect sales tax from, and for 1`0 years that was MPK.

Trust me, Sun was the LARGEST sales tax provider in MPK.....

Roy


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@old timer

The Sun move was NOT an FU to MPK. The Sun deal did have a minimum number of years on it. Sun lived up to that contract. They signed a similar contract with the city of Santa Clara to develop Agnews as their southern campus.

It was literally 8 employees in a building that sent invoices that "decided" where you collect sales tax from, and for 1`0 years that was MPK.

Trust me, Sun was the LARGEST sales tax provider in MPK.....

Roy


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 8:26 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@old timer

The Sun move was NOT an FU to MPK. The Sun deal did have a minimum number of years on it. Sun lived up to that contract. They signed a similar contract with the city of Santa Clara to develop Agnews as their southern campus.

It was literally 8 employees in a building that sent invoices that "decided" where you collect sales tax from, and for 1`0 years that was MPK.

Trust me, Sun was the LARGEST sales tax provider in MPK.....

Roy


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm

No - new development does not automatically trigger reassessment of the LAND. Only the buildings.

Another gem out of the Brion "study" -- the amount of sales taxes from both the Stanford and Greenheart projects would be $211,100 - from 39,000 sq ft of retail space (remember Greenheart hasn't committed to ANY yet).

The city's consultants during the ECR/D SP process said $133,000 sales tax revenue from 91,800 sq ft!
This figure was confirmed by Lisa Wise Consulting this summer, again paid by the city.

Brion is claiming 159% of the sales tax revenue from 42% of the retail sq ft in the plan. Please explain (other than pure propoganda).

Why no response as to who paid for the Brion study and when. Roy? Peter? YOU have it and presented it to this forum.


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Posted by Central Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Ladies and Gentleman

This thread has now descended into what the internet is famous for: random disparate threads of bashing and occassional glimpses of brilliance. Although, kudos to my high achieving neighbors, it has been most informative.

Nevertheless, it has lost its way. Under the power I now vest in myself, I hereby appoint moi as the moderator. To our main protagonists, Heyward, Peter and Roy, let me kick this off by asking: What would be a great vision for ECR? And in your answer please take into account aesthetics, traffic, value to the community and tax revenue to MP. Others, feel free to join in as well. Civility and conciseness are always appreciated.


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Posted by Time to move on
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 8, 2014 at 5:26 am

Central......Let me take it one step further. The election is over and it is time to stop theorizing and get on to the next real life steps. So, in that light, I'd twist your request and suggest that the most informed on this topic summarize the facts of what the three next key steps are for the evolution of the specific plan or the details of the Stanford proposal. The only ground rule is that it has to be 'official" in terms of things like upcoming council meetings, plan review, etc. Time for all of us to get focused on the true next steps here.


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Posted by Litigation Attorney
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

Nice article in the Daily Post about Councilman Cline being concerned that the City of Menlo Park hired Malcolm Smith to help defeat Measure M, and some papers are conveniently missing. This is going to be fun. In four months over $5,000 was paid and it's unclear why.

Will follow this with intense interest in litigation to revive M in several ways, especially give the small number of votes in which this Measure did not pass.


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Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 8, 2014 at 11:47 am

In reply to Karen Kosloso, recently arrived from Montana, let me say simply "Welcome to Menlo Park." Each of the towns in the mid-Peninsula has its own character and its own geography. If you look at Palo Alto, all along the railroad tracks there are, in fact, parks. Also, Palo Alto passed Measure D last year; it was a residential-revolt initiative similar to Menlo's Measure M. And P.A. followed up by electing a residentialist City Council, and now we see headlines in the Daily Post (which focuses more on P.A. than on M.P.) about moves to limit new office space city-wide, harking back to earlier headlines about vanishing retail (storefronts being converted to office space).

Here's a hint: landowners make more money from offices than they do from retail businesses. Here's another hint: Palo Alto has already had its share of concrete monoliths facing its major traffic artery, Alma Street. That's what led to the Measure D revolt. But our current council (just re-elected) is extremely proud of what it has accomplished with the Downtown Specific Plan, and you can see on this forum the expressions of confidence in them from people who won't understand the problem until it is literally cast in concrete.

One caution: if you're thinking of moving to Palo Alto, consider the much higher cost of any kind of housing there, rented or owned, as opposed to Menlo Park. You get what you pay for, just like the Greenheart developers.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" If you look at Palo Alto, all along the railroad tracks there are, in fact, parks."

Check Google Earth - less than 3% of the CalTrain right of way in Palo Alto abuts parks.

In Menlo Park the Burgess Park frontage probably constitutes about 5% of the Menlo Park CalTrain right of way.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As of last night the Measure M vote count remains unchanged with only 14% of the registered voters having voted in favor of Measure M.


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Posted by Bob Cousins
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 8, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Agree that had 605 people changed their vote from 'no' to 'yes' then this important measure would have prevailed. Given this irregularity (to be polite) with our city and Smith, let's see what can be done to reactivate better guidelines for the city council on controlling traffic and bring in more money. Go for it.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Only 24% of registered voters voted Yes and only 20% voted for the top Council vote-getter.

I repeat my request -- Why no response as to who paid for the Brion study and when. Roy? Peter? YOU have it and presented its existence to this forum. How about some full disclosure?



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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 8, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Actually I saw excerpts from the study and quoted them but I do not have a copy of the study and hence do not know its provenance.


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Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 8, 2014 at 4:47 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@ Bob Cousins

I don't know where in the world you got your idea 605 votes would have made the difference.

A quick look at the San Mateo County voting results shows Measure M lost by 1,637 votes so it would 819 voters to shift vote. (4,331 to 2.694 - a difference of 1,637 - divide by 2 and you get 818.5 round up to 819). Web Link

Another way to look at it would be the Yes on M votes would have had to increase from 2694 to 3513 --- an increase in the "Yes on M" votes of 30.4%.

I've noticed in this whole thing - people throw numbers around and don't really back them up.

Let it go.


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Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 8, 2014 at 4:57 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@Litigation Attorney

"Will follow this with intense interest in litigation to revive M in several ways, especially give the small number of votes in which this Measure did not pass...."

Communication consultant Malcom Smith received $5,000 in consulting fees to wordsmith the website. That's maybe 25 hours of consulting time..... which would include deep read of M vs. the DSP - writing - editorial review by the person in the city that hired Smith.. Seems totally reasonable to me for 3 days of work.

For that you are recommending litigation to address a "voting irregularity" where Measure M lost by a margin of almost 2:1? Web Link (4331 to 2694.)

I hope I'm just missing your sarcasm. If not -- my counsel to you is let it go.


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Posted by formerly formerly
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 8, 2014 at 9:04 pm

formerly formerly is a registered user.

@curious

Elections are decided by the voters that actually vote - not by the potential voters who didn't make it to the polls.

Let it go.

BTW. 2694 people voted for Measure M. There are 18814 registered voters. That comes out to 14% Registered voters for Measure M. Not exactly a ringing endorsement.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Save Menlo claims " Newly-counted votes for Measure M were about evenly split for & against Yes on M, much closer than in early voting. "

Save Menlo meet Reality:

The latest vote count:
2694 Yes 38.35%
4331 No 61.65%

Only 15% of the 17737 registered voters voted Yes on Measure M.


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Posted by Edward Syrett
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Kelly Fergusson wrote in a recent email:

Yes on M / SaveMenlo volunteers have vowed to continue the fight to fix the Specific Plan so that the projects it allows match the residents' 12-point Vision Plan, and that the projects coming up for approval by Planning Commission and City Council indeed match the Vision. The residents want to see that they are getting something for the nearly billion dollars in upzoning the incumbents (Ohtaki, Cline, Keith) granted the developers other than the specters of worsening the rush-hour traffic nightmare, and sterile office buildings that will be with us for the next 100 years or more.

Here is my reply to her:

Well, I hope you're right. But my best guess is that we'll have to wait for those "sterile office buildings" to take up most of the footage along
the CalTrain side of ECR before we get the kind of effective change that Palo Alto recently experienced (see the latest P.A. Weekly, etc.) on the heels of their successful Measure D.

I was amused to read in the P.A. Weekly that the "Palo Altans for Good Governance" (or whatever the pro-development faction called themselves) were endorsed by a long list of former P.A. mayors, council members and others in the P.A. establishment. Just like what happened here.

Except that here, many well-intentioned voters (some of whom went to the trouble of explaining their position on the Almanac's "Town Square" forum) put their trust in "the people who run Menlo Park", whereas Palo Alto's voters had had quite enough of how their incumbents were running their city.

At the end of the day, this contest wasn't, and will never be, about zoning and development per se. Those details can be worked out, but only by people we trust. That's what it comes back to. Whom can we trust?

Unfortunately, M.P. voters still trust City Hall. We'll have to wait as long as it takes for them to come to their senses.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

so savemenlo has chosen to try and continue with their obstructionist tactics. Big surprise.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 10, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Save Menlo never intended to give up - no matter what:

"Heyward Robinson files complaint against Menlo Park"

" The City Council and the City of Menlo Park have acted unwisely and with massive conflicts of interest. This will make attorneys drool, especially if measure M does not win"

"Fortunately, the people behind these projects understand the substantial added costs and delays associated with developing their parcels piecemeal would outweigh Peter's imagined benefits, especially when the proposed mini-skyscrapers would likely run afoul of citizen-led initiatives and referendums of their own."

" Because Yes on M / SaveMenlo is over 250 volunteers strong, we're powerful, we're gaining momentum, and we're not going away. "


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Registered Voters: 17737
Ballots: 9893
Precincts Reporting: 25 of 25Number to be Elected: 1
Measure Votes By Mail Early Voting Election Day Grand Total Votes
YES (38.41%)
2,352 16 1,333 3,701
NO (61.59%) *
3,951 33 1,951 5,935
* = current leaders
Last Updated: November 14, 2014 Report


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Posted by Never Was
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 4:42 pm

@Roy TS Just to go through this one more time.

I'm looking at the "top-30" analysis/spreadsheet I made based on the quarterly/yearly sales figures the State sends the City each quarter and in *that* year, Boise Cascade was number one and Sun was number 3. These are the thru-3Q figures for that year.

Boise Cascade 977122
Anderson Chevrolet 690813
Sun Microsystems 660265

Now, you might want to try to argue that Sun made it up in other years, or they had a blow-out Q4, but its just not so. And yes, I did regularly monitor the quarterly sales tax reports, and no, Sun was not the number one historical producer, Boise Cascade was.

Two more facts to re-assert: Sun was booking revenue in Menlo Park for a ten year window agreed to under the developer agreement where they had a minimum commitment of $250,000. They absolutely lived up to the deal. No-one is saying they didn't.

Sun was booking revenues from two separate physical locations: "use taxes" from Sun Quentin and and "sales taxes" from a Sales office in Bohannon West.

The Sun revenue stream tailed off in a two-step. The first huge hit occurred when the small sales office in Bohannon West was relocated in the face of a huge rent increase. *LATER* the revenue took the remaining hit when Sun Quentin moved.

@PeterCarp I agree with @Curious that its not my understanding that land value is reassessed with new construction, only the "development" part of the tax bill, and that is not a market appraisal figure, that is figure computed by the city, somehow. We can argue about whether the city figure understates the market value of buildings or not, but the land is not re-appraised with new construction.


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Posted by mighta been
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

@Curious. Good catch. So the Brion analysis cooks the sales tax figures.

Cat Carlton, an elected official is quoting this analysis in emails, rather than using City's FIA and LWC financial data?

BTW, if office developers would commit to sales-in-lieu figures, COLA'd for inflation, at the Brion happy-talk level, I would probably drop my objection to offices. If Menlo Park extends the Brion happy-talk level to M2, I'm in!

Its funny, because @RoyTS and @PeterCarp will call us no-growthers, but the real truth is we're just more honest and better fiscal conservatives than they are!!! The problem with laisse-faire ideologues is they really can't tell the difference between PRIVATE dollars and PUBLIC dollars. It all looks equally green to them, poor things.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 15, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

mighta-been - a very apt self chosen name.

You obviously don't know either Roy or me. We both have created a lot of real jobs and we fully understand the fundamental difference between private enterprise and public entities.


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Posted by Mighta Been
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Great. So then both your and Roy's financial analysis can distinguish financial benefits in terms that accurately detail both net PUBLIC monies and net PRIVATE monies and we will both be happy.

Do you agree, Peter?

We were checking facts, Peter. One of which is your claim that redevelopment triggers a property tax re-assessment of the "land value" portion of property taxes.

I'm pretty sure that's not the case, but I have to admit, I don't know for sure. Where are you with it now? Certain or not. Fess up.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 15, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"One of which is your claim that redevelopment triggers a property tax re-assessment of the "land value" portion of property taxes."

What don't you understand about my statement that "when there is new new construction on the properties and then reassessment is automatic and unavoidable."?


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Posted by Mighta been
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 7:20 pm

We're trying to establish whether or not new construction on a parcel triggers a re-assessment of both the "land" portion of the property tax and the "improvement" portion of the property tax.

If you click here Web Link and enter an address or parcel number you will see that the property tax is a combination of "land" and "improvements" values.

Are you claiming that new construction triggers a re-assessment of both
"land" and "improvement" values? That's what I don't understand.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 15, 2014 at 7:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Are you claiming that new construction triggers a re-assessment of both
"land" and "improvement" values? "

No - As I stated "when there is new new construction on the properties and then reassessment is automatic and unavoidable."
[Portion removed; please keep it respectful.]


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 15, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

mighta:

there will be no reassessment of the land value. The reassessment will be on improvements. Considering the improvements will be $50 million plus, that's not a small number. Even if the land isn't revalued, there will still will be significant property tax increase to the city.


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 15, 2014 at 8:09 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Didn't voters defeat Measure M by a 62/38 margin?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 16, 2014 at 9:09 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Haven't you heard POGO? It was all a big conspiracy by our city council, city staff and developers. The voters of Menlo Park are so stupid that that conspiracy convinced nearly two thirds of them to vote No. It couldn't possibly be because the voters were smarter than the savemenlo crowd gave them credit for. It couldn't possibly be that the voters saw a poorly written measure that was put forward and supported by a pack of lies. No, it had to be a conspiracy and the voters were dumb.


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Posted by Mighta been
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2014 at 9:20 am

@Menlo Voter -- thank you, that's what I thought.

@Pogo -- Yes. My experience is that when voters settle an issue by margins of 60-40 (plus minus) that its very settled. A strong statement by the voters. "Crushed" is appropriate.

The initial post in the "financial" flame wars started when @Roy TS was called out for "selling past the close." Roy was gushing over the Greenheart sponsored Brion financial analysis. The Brion financial infomercial was promptly deconstructed by some of us who have seen this kind of stuff for decades and wonder (less) why @RoyTS and (more) why Cat Carlton are citing the Brion analysis rather than the City's FIA or the LWC financial analysis.


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Posted by Might Been
a resident of another community
on Nov 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

@Curious

Just to pile onto the Brion infomercial.... during the Measure M fracas, opponents and City were consistently vigilant in analyzing the Greenheart project's *NET* square footage, (though that NET calculation is probably fraught with more legal uncertainty than anyone cares to admit.)

Now, recall that the empty Greenheart lot at 1300 ECR wasn't really empty at all, it already had a project approval for 50k sf office and 50k sf retail. It also includes the Derry parcels, which themselves contain retail square footage. For some reason the City doesn't net out the Derry approvals but it does net out the prior 1300 ECR approvals. (And I think there's one new parcel thrown into the mix.)

So keeping City rules in place, if SP square footage is counted as NET of prior approvals on 1300 ECR, and if EIR traffic counts are counted as NET of prior approvals trip generation rates, then why wouldn't Brion's financial analysis also be NET of prior 1300ECR approvals?

Did Ms. Brion forget to subtract the sales tax of the 50sf of 1300ECR retail? (Along with the property tax for the NET square footage.)

Oopsies!!!

You see the 50k sf grocery story is real retail that gets eliminated by Greenheart. The Union fought hard to keep it unionized retail, yesiree.

From a purely analytical point of view, Brion should first subtract the 1300 ECR retail space from the alleged Greenheart retail space. (And she should actually compute the property tax increase on the NET square footage as well.) That would show a net DECREASE in retail space, so there is actually a NET LOSS of anticipated sales tax revenues that she simply "forgets" and she overstates the property tax.

Again, Brion can do as she wants. And RoyTS may gush as he pleases. It is Carlton that I am concerned about. Now that Measure M has been defeated all those vigilant NET square footage counters can pivot to non vigilance and non NET square footage when computing alleged financial benefits of Greenheart.


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Posted by More Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 18, 2014 at 12:28 am

@Peter Carpenter

Peter - your response regarding the assessment issue is not above board.

Has Been made a comment that the Stanford land wouldn't get reevaluated for property tax assessments since it wasn't changing hands. Specifically he/she said:

"commercial enterprises and property partnerships are the big winners since they hold their properties essentially in perpetuity and rarely have the land re-evaluated at market rates."

The point being that Stanford's currently proposed development would produce a property tax benefit to the city less substantial than many "no on M folks" believe (and without a hotel and almost no retail, much less substantial than originally envisioned).

You replied "EXCEPT when there is new new construction on the properties and then reassessment is automatic and unavoidable."

Your statement leads forum readers unknowledgeable in this area to erroneously believe that the land would get reevaluated. [portion removed.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 18, 2014 at 7:16 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Clarification - Properties are not reassessed EXCEPT when there is new new construction on the properties and then reassessment is automatic, unavoidable and based on the assessed value of the improvements; the underlying land is not reassessed.

When properties are sold then they are reassessed based on the price of the sale (which includes both land and improvements.)


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Posted by patrick
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 18, 2014 at 8:55 pm

patrick is a registered user.

The final counts are now out, by YES precinct:

3452 (359 vs 337)
4403 (118 vs 114)
4404 (185 vs 169)
4406 (9 vs 3)
4436 (8 vs 4)

(for comparison, earlier numbers for YES were
3452 (244 vs 208)
4403 (76 vs 70)
4404 was NO vote (didn't save counts :-(
4406 (5 vs 3)
4431 (9 vs 8)
4436 (4 vs 2))

Overall count is 6,179 no vs. 3,892 yes (38.65%). Source: Web Link


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Posted by lets be done with this
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 18, 2014 at 11:47 pm

thanks for the data now that they have closed the books on the election.

61% of voters did not want Measure M. That is a drubbing. The voters have spoken.

Now lets move on and come together to make this city great.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2014 at 10:33 am

Thank you PC for agreeing with the point made previously. The LAND is not reassessed unless and until it changes hands. That is a big deal for the Stanford property, the largest in the DT Specific Plan area. It is a big deal because its basis is extremely low. The gift of upzoning to Stanford was enormous, and our community gets little "for sure" in return.
The Council could give itself some true negotiating powers if it only would. At the same time couldn't the Council could also negotiate some reassessment of the land?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 19, 2014 at 11:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"At the same time couldn't the Council could also negotiate some reassessment of the land?"

No, a city council has no power to change a property's assessment.


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Posted by Morris Brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 19, 2014 at 1:14 pm

@curious

[portion removed.]

In fact as part of the approval for a project, the land owner,(in this case Stanford), could very well agree that the land be assessed to current value.

I have had this discussion with him before, and he is just WRONG, period.

The project could be approved through a mutually agreed "development agreement" one part of which would be that Stanford would agree to reassessment of the land.

I have posted an article to this effect:

see:

Oct 1st edition of the Almanac:


Web Link


morris brown


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 19, 2014 at 1:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Morris keeps posting his opinion but cannot cite any legal basis for that opinion.

Cities have NO authority to change property assessments.

Morris - feel free to prove me wrong with a legal citation.


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Posted by Richard Hine
editor of The Almanac
on Nov 19, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Richard Hine is a registered user.

Peter - Morris is saying that a property owner can enter into a development agreement and one of the terms of that agreement can be to agree to increase the property tax assessment. It's a term of the agreement, not an imposition by the city.


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Posted by Referee
a resident of another community
on Nov 19, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Both Peter and Morris are saying true thing that talk past each other.

Menlo Park may not impose a re-assessement on any developer as a condition of approval.

Any developer can propose or agree to a re-assessment in a negotiated developer's agreement.

In practice a City could use its power to say, "NO" to a project, whenever it has that power, making it known, that it might change to "Yes" with certain developer proposed modifications.

I am not aware of any instance in Menlo Park where a developer offered a property re-assessment within the scope of a Developer's agreement.

Just because, this wouldn't be the Almanac forum without a little controversy ;) Peter probably wants to say something along the lines that, outside of CEQA, Menlo Park has no authority to deny a conforming Stanford project, and i would disagree strongly with that.

I am well aware of council members voting, "NO" under the discretionary authorities provided by "Architectural Control." The simple notion that Architectural Control limits imposing conditions only on, well architecture, is not true. There are five findings that can or cannot be made for SP Architectural control. One of them deals with "consistency" with the SP, and another deals with "orderly development of the community."

Ca 1998 Menlo Park once had a knock-down drag out fight over approving 1600 ECR using only architectural control. My recollection is that at least three motions to approve lost 3-2, before the developer "volunteered" some additional sweetener which Mr. Schmidt accepted, whereafter the project was finally approved 3-2.

The Sweetener was not imposed on the Developer, but she saw the writing on the wall during the meeting and volunteered it.

McClure, not Greg Stepanicich or Thomas Rogers, who thinks he's a lawyer, was the City Attorney of record that night.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 19, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Any developer can propose or agree to a re-assessment in a negotiated developer's agreement."

Wrong. Under California law ONLY the Tax Assessor may change the assessed value of a property.

The City and a property owner can agree to whatever financial terms they wish but neither of them have the authority to change the assessed value.

And why would Menlo Park even want to change the assessed value in lieu of other considerations since the city would only get a small percentage of the increased property taxes? Dumb idea with no legal basis.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 19, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Planning Commission does not approve or disapprove a project - that is only done by the Council and only when there is some deviation from what is explicitly permitted by the zonng ordinance.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2014 at 11:44 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

@Heyward

So the final vote count is in. 10,071 ballots were cast and certified.

So while your prediction of 12,000 was WAY off. My giving you a 2,000 vote "gimme" looks to have been my own undoing. I owe you a $100 gift certificate to BFD because more than 10,000 ballots were cast.

You and Joanna will enjoy the meal. We've LOVED the food, but dreaded the service (they are still working the kinks out of that....slow). Enjoy!

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by Referee
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2014 at 9:41 am

Unlike Palo Alto, Menlo Park Planning Commissioners do have delegated authority to grant or withhold whatever approval is under consideration, be it Use Permit, Architecture Control, or Variance. That decision could be appealed to Council, and denials usually are appealed, but, if there is no appeal, the decision is final, as is the case with most approvals. So yes, they do approve or deny projects, and, unless appealed, their authority is final.

It's an interesting question as to whether a private property owner can solicit and/or initiate an upward tax re-assessment from the assessor and get one. But it doesn't matter. For the purposes of writing a Developer agreement to obtain a cash payment EQUIVALENT to a re-assessment, there's nothing stopping the Developer and City from writing up a clause that requires a payment stream from the developer to the City equivalent to the amount that would flow, AS IF, the property had been re-assessed at market rate, including the 1% prop 13 increment.

One thing you might point out and be sensitive to is the fact that this "pseudo-re-assessment" might not benefit other agencies, such as County, Fire Department and Mosquito Abatement District (don't forget them) etc. as a true re-assessment would. This could be written in as well, but It's hard to believe that a City would be so altruistic that it would negotiate for a stream of cash of which it received only 12%, and its hard to believe that any developer would agree to pay the city a flow, X, and other parties a flow of 8X the city flow.


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Posted by Poster
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2014 at 10:17 am

Very helpful post, Referee. Thank you.


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Posted by MIghta Been
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2014 at 11:04 am

@curious

Regarding the property tax savings Stanford enjoys in not having to reassess the land portion of the assessment.

It's easy enough to use the online SM County secured property tax search system to find out the land assessments for the Stanford Parcels.

If you want to know the market rate for land in that area, the Greenheart project is the comp and sets the value at about $7M/acre.

So, as I recall, Stanford owns 6.2 acres. At $7M per thats ~$40M in net value. You have to subtract the current valuations to get the change. I don't happen to have the parcel APN's here, or I'd do the work, but first order approximation, assuming $1M/acre current valuation then not re-assessing the land value would lose about $36M and assuming $2M/acre could lose about $30M in potential property tax revenues.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 20, 2014 at 11:12 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" assuming $1M/acre current valuation then not re-assessing the land value would lose about $36M and assuming $2M/acre could lose about $30M in potential property tax revenues."

You have calculated changes in land valuation, not changes in property taxes.

The 500 El Camino Real project site consists of the following six parcels, which total 8.43 acres in size:

· 300 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-060)
· 350 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-050)
· 444 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-030)
· 550 El Camino Real (APN: 071-440-040)
· Unaddressed (APN: 071-440-120)
· Unaddressed (APN: 071-440-130)


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Posted by Mighta Been
a resident of another community
on Nov 20, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Yup, good point. Assuming property tax rate at 1% of assessed value ...

From the APN's provided,

If you think land is worth $6M/acre then un assessed value is ~$47M.
If you think land is worth $7M/acre then un assessed value is ~$55.4M.

Total uncollected property tax would be between $4.7M to $5.5M. Net to Menlo at 12% is between $550k and $665k. (I seem to recall that with the Statewide ERAF changes, the city gets a bit more than 12% but I don't know for sure and how much.)



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Posted by More Common Sense
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 21, 2014 at 10:41 am

Wish the above calculations were correct, but I think you accidentally calculated total property tax ( prior to MP12%) at 10% of approx 50 mil rather than 1%.


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Posted by Mighta Been
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2014 at 9:49 am

Yup. Another good catch. Clearly my online calculation skills have deteriorated enough to contradict my online handle. :)

Backing into the calculation, it takes $500M of taxable valuation to produce $500k in property tax for the city. (Geez, I hope i get this one right.)

You can see why a city business model based on building one's way to fiscal solvency through property taxes is an unsustainable urbanization treadmill. So long as prop 13 is in effect, it's hard to advocate that business model for the City.



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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 22, 2014 at 9:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The real property tax increase for the city comes from the revaluation that occurs after new construction. Building both the Greenheart and Stanford projects would increase their assessments by 100's of millions and yield greatly increased taxes every year.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 22, 2014 at 12:15 pm

New buildings generate about the same amount of property taxes regardless of the uses within them. But some uses, like shops and restaurants and hotels, also generate a lot more other kinds of tax revenue for the city - and those aren't constrained by Prop 13 as time goes by.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 22, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To generate sales and occupancy taxes "shops and restaurants and hotels" require customers.

Ask any local merchant what is their most important need - it is more customers.

The best way to generate more customers is to implement the Specific Plan's balance of offices and residences. Both Greenheart and Stanford propose to do exactly that. And one of the effects, in addition to a huge increase in property taxes will be increased revenue from both sales taxes and occupancy taxes from existing businesses and hotels.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 22, 2014 at 7:18 pm

Yes, the Specific Plan's expected balance of 2/3 of the square feet as housing, and office as <20% of the total square feet seems about right to attain a good jobs/housing balance, revenue from retail and hotel, and some offices.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 23, 2014 at 7:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wrong, the Specific Plan requirement is not 2/3 housing and 20% offices for the Stanford and Greenheart parcels.

Please read the Specific Plan to see the correct balance.

For example, for the Stanford parcels the Maximum FAR for Offices, inclusive
of Medical and Dental Offices is One half of the Base or Public Benefit Bonus FAR, whichever is applicable. The balance would be residences (Base Density: 40 dwelling units per acre) and retail. Plus at the Retail Node at Middle Avenue (east of El Camino Real) a minimum 10,000 sf of retail/restaurant space. Refer to Page E11.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 23, 2014 at 8:35 am

All the Specific Plan discussions and analyses assumed the balance I mentioned. Not the ratios proposed. The Plan is fatally flawed


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 23, 2014 at 8:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"All the Specific Plan discussions and analyses assumed the balance I mentioned."

Please provide citations that support your opinion - neither the Specific Plan or the EIR support your stated residence/office ratio.

If the Stanford parcels were 66% residences and given the Specific Plan limit on number of residences then those residences would be 3 and 4 bedroom units with a huge impact on our schools.

The Specific Plan embodies a careful balance and deviate from that balance will have unexpected and unintended consequences.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 23, 2014 at 8:54 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

measure m supporters still can't get their facts straight or provide documentation for anything they say. Give it up. You lost. You can either be a participant in orderly progress or an impediment.


1 person likes this
Posted by Loser
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 23, 2014 at 12:32 pm

In case you guys hadn't heard Measure M won big. You won. Be Happy. You can put the fire in your hair out now. No need to remain hysterical. You're safe now.

When the City made analytical findings in adopting the Specific Plan ordinance(s) it referenced particular ratios, SP area-wide jobs/du's, that showed an improvement over "existing." In essence it said, "This SP, when built out to these caps, makes it better, better as defined by this metric."

This take place in two parts, in the Statement of Overriding Considerations and the analysis on Growth Inducing Effects, exhibit B p173.

To be specific and technical, the City doesn't use a straight jobs/du metric but rather it uses a jobs per "employed residents" figure. The "employed residents" figure is derived from du's by a simple multiplier ER = k * DU.

The city's existing figure is 1.78 and the SP's figure, if built out is 1.56, but neither the Stanford or Greenheart projects internally meets the 1.56 figure. They are too offic-y.

(And BTW, the Greenheart project destroys >75k sf of approval retail. It's not clear to me at least, how destroying a half office/half retail project to build an all office project is the "best" way to support retail).

The issue then will be, and it's a question no reporter or interviewer asked of any candidate, "If the non-residential portion reaches its cap BEFORE the housing portion reaches ITS cap, will you raise the non-res cap, or will you wait until both housing and office are built out before raising the non-res cap?"

The answer of course is critical. We can pretend to build more housing, and pretend that the SP "improves" the balance, but if council keeps raising the non-res cap faster than the residential cap, then the whole thing is a joke.

It's like telling your children that they may have a portion of protein and vegetables and a a dessert per each meal, allowing them to eat the dessert first, and, then raising the dessert limit before requiring they finish the protein and vegetables.

I wonder if that's how Cat Carlton treats her 7 year old.

BTW, the only financial feasibility analysis performed by the City on the zoning code was Task G in the Final EIR appendices. Its famously wrong, and I could write for years on what this document says and means, but suffice it to say, the document says Housing, particular BONUSE density housing, and retail are economically feasible, and office, small and large are not. Office would not become more feasible with larger FARS, or even higher rents (!!!!) and would not become feasible in the short and mid-term even after the office market recovers.

So, Menlo Voter, and PEter Carp, tell me your references for the allegation that the "The best way to generate more customers is to implement the Specific Plan's balance of offices and residences."

You know, I think the ONLY place I have seen a similar allegation is in Malcolms Smiths draft Fact of the Week talking points, which we all know were never released to the public.


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Posted by Loser
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

"The best way to generate more customers is to implement the Specific Plan's balance of offices and residences."

"You know, I think the ONLY place I have seen a similar allegation is in Malcolms Smiths draft Fact of the Week talking points, which we all know were never released to the public."

BTW, this isn't quite true, and I won't say where else I saw it, but I thought I'd let you guys play Name-That-Source.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Measure M won? News to me.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 23, 2014 at 4:31 pm

The Specific Plan EIR and Financial Impact Analysis each studied the scenario of 680 housing units and 474,000 SF non-residential (specifically 380 hotel rooms, 91,800 SF retail, 240,820 SF office).

Assuming an average of 1,400 SF per housing unit, that becomes a total of 1.42 million SF of development. 67% housing, 17% office, 10% hotel, 6% retail.

There is nothing that says the housing units have to be 3-4 bedrooms.

This discussion is not about Measure M. It's about the Specific Plan and the future of our downtown.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 23, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"This discussion is not about Measure M. It's about the Specific Plan and the future of our downtown."

Then you should be happy M failed as the council can continue to make modifications to it.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 23, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Curious and Loser ( what a great self descriptive name! ) should actually READ the Specific Plan:

"The Specific Plan encourages a mix of appropriate
uses, including offices. The Specific Plan also
requires that new office uses, either in isolation or as
part of a mixed-use project, have a maximum FAR
that is one-third to one-half of the overall maximum
FAR, which will additionally encourage a mixture of
uses."

"A balance of activities is essential to maintain liveliness during the
day as well as at night."


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Posted by Loser
a resident of another community
on Nov 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

@MenloVoter .... M lost ... of course.

@Curious a better figure for infill housing is 1000-1200 sf /unit. 1400 is big-ish. Yes, I know, the Stanford-2 units were ~1500sf/unit.

So, Menlo Voter, and Peter Carp, tell me the references for the allegation that the "The best way to generate more customers is to implement the Specific Plan's balance of offices and residences."





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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Easy -"The Downtown/Station Area Retail/Mixed Use designation
focuses on uses that enhance downtown vibrancy by
building upon existing community-serving retail and
personal services in the downtown area. While emphasizing
retail for ground-floor uses, the designation allows for a mix
of uses, including offi ce and residential uses, enhancing
downtown vibrancy through an increased customer base
for restaurants and retail businesses."


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Posted by Loser
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

Not buying it. You said, with reverence, "The BEST way to generate more customers is to implement the Specific Plan's BALANCE of offices and residences."

There's no market support analysis that looks at different combinations of housing/office to see which is "best" for retail market support. Task G says retail could be profitable as part of mixed use residential or office projects, but office projects weren't feasible.

[Portion removed; don't attack other posters.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 24, 2014 at 6:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Loser - Where do new customers come from?

[Portion removed.]

New customers not come from competing retail establishments but from new residents and new office workers.

It is neither conservative nor liberal - just simply logic.


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Posted by Loser
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 24, 2014 at 9:13 pm

GO TO
Me: "Not buying it."
You: "The BEST way is to ... implement the [holy] SP balance ..."
ME: 'The City did no market analysis that confirms the balance is optimal...'
Then repeat ad nausea.

BTW, new customers DO come from "other" retail establishments, because most don't compete. Car dealers eat burgers, and chefs drive cars. Ford workers bought Ford cars, that was Henry's big insight. Retail employment can provide market support for retail. Residential is important but office is not. (c.f. Los Altos)

Your fantasy SP would work better, IF office and Residential were true mixed-use with ground floor retail components as shown in all the pretty pictures in the SP massing diagrams. But these projects are actually adjacent single use projects with a residential component abutting an office component. Greenheart wipes out 75K sf of retail and both Stan and Greenheart are >95% non-retail (c.f LWC Report).

The SP has a really weak Ground Floor Retail requirement, and so what's really happening is both existing and future retailers are being crowded out by office.

Just by way of an anecdote, my wife came home from the hairdresser who happens to have her shop on Ground Zero (Alma) of the SP. The hairdresser was disappointed that M lost and now fears increasing rents and eventual displacement. Of course she's right. The SP office won't benefit her.

The real critique is that the SP fails to provide good minimums and guidance on what mixes are truly healthy for the community. The PC is powerless to negotiate better mixes. Even in RWC the empty retail spaces are now filled.

I would settle for a much stronger Ground Floor Retail requirement and said so when Iacofono et al interviewed me in 2006.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 25, 2014 at 7:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Even in RWC the empty retail spaces are now filled. "

You have made my point - look at the office/residence/retail balance in RWC.

Hint - retail needs customers (and not just the few employees in other retail stores.)


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2014 at 9:33 am

Redwood City began their renaissance with the new theater and retail complex.

Redwood City's 2011 downtown plan has limits to office, retail, housing, hotels. Office development is near that maximum but the other uses are not near theirs.

Menlo Park let "the market" decide, based on consultants insisting there would be no market for office. The natural result is what is happening - loss of retail.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 25, 2014 at 9:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Redwood City's 2011 downtown plan has limits to office, retail, housing, hotels"

Exactly. And so does Menlo Park's Downtown ECR Specific Plan [portion deleted.]

And then talk to the existing MP retailers and ask them what they need - it is more customers not more competition.


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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2014 at 10:03 am

NO - the Menlo Park plan does not have Maximum Allowable Development limits anything like Redwood City does on office, retail, hotel. Menlo Park has limits only on housing and total "non-residential". [part deleted.]

The Specific Plan provides a lot of new customers - many new residents and new workers if it were built out as projected.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 25, 2014 at 10:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"NO - the Menlo Park plan does not have Maximum Allowable Development limits anything like Redwood City does on office, retail, hotel. Menlo Park has limits only on housing and total "non-residential"

PLEASE read the Specific Plan:
"Maximum Allowable Development
The Specific Plan establishes the maximum allowable net
new development as follows:
• Residential uses: 680 units; and
• Non-residential uses, including retail, office and
hotel: 474,000 Square Feet.
The Specific Plan divides the maximum allowable
development between residential and non-residential
uses as shown, recognizing the particular impacts from
residential development (e.g., on schools and parks) while
otherwise allowing market forces to determine the final
combination of development types over time."

EVERY zone has a specified limit on what % of the FAR can be used for offices.

[portion deleted.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 25, 2014 at 10:45 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Richard - You are not paying attention.

Curious stated "Menlo Park has limits only on housing and total "non-residential"

I replied that "EVERY zone has a specified limit on what % of the FAR can be used for offices."

Example limit "Maximum FAR for Offices, inclusive of Medical and Dental Offices -One half of the Base or Public Benefit Bonus FAR, whichever is applicable" Table E-15

Please read the Specific Plan before compounding and affirming the errors of others.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 25, 2014 at 12:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

More from the Specific Plan for those who keep misrepresenting it:

"In addition to the base FAR and public benefi t bonus
FAR summarized in Figure E2 and Table E2, following
pages, the Specific Plan limits the amount of business and
professional office allowed, similar to existing City policy,
and the amount of medical and dental office, based on
community concerns.

Standards
E.3.1.01 Business and Professional office (inclusive of
medical and dental office) shall not exceed one half of
the base FAR or public benefit bonus FAR, whichever is
applicable.
E.3.1.02 Medical and Dental office shall not exceed
one third of the base FAR or public benefit bonus FAR,
whichever is applicable."

page E16

What is not clear about that statement?


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