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Downtown remodel idea

Original post made by Menlo Park Promenade, Menlo Park: University Heights, on Jan 4, 2016

This is a random idea that probably won't fly for all kinds of reasons, but I thought I'd throw it out for feedback regardless.

I'd love it if Menlo Park had a downtown pedestrian mall similar to Santa Monica's "Third Street Promenade":
Web Link

Santa Cruz Ave would be the natural location, but doesn't seem feasible given its necessity of connecting traffic between El Camino and west Menlo. But some part of parking area parallel to Santa Cruz Ave seems like a natural alternative (see link): Web Link

Of course parking structures on either end would have to be built and it probably violates leases, private property, etc. But I just thought I'd throw that out there to see if it's even remotely feasible, desirable, etc.

Thanks in advance for your feedback (good or bad).

Comments (15)

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 5, 2016 at 7:22 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

This has been suggested several times. Also, referencing the Pearl Street mall in Boulder, CO, which is a great spece. Close Santa Cruz Ave. downtown and turn it into a pedestrian mall. It allows for outdoor dining and many other things that would add some vibrancy to our downtown. The "NO birds" won't have it though.


Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 5, 2016 at 10:36 am

Why stop with Santa Cruz. Let's make ECR one big pedestrian mall.


Posted by Half-truths
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 5, 2016 at 10:56 am

Most residents would love this! Menlo Voter, the "no birds" are your developer friends who complain that retail doesn't "pencil out" and insist on more offices, more traffic, and fewer goods & services for those of us who actually live here!


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:11 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

If retail doesn't pencil out, why is virtually every storefront on Santa Cruz occupied?


Posted by Half-truths
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

Every storefront is occupied because demand is great. But because developers can make more money with offices, they aren't interested in creating new retail. Hence, changes that are driven by developer profits rather than resident needs.


Posted by Menlo Park Promenade
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 5, 2016 at 1:09 pm

@really? My idea was not Santa Cruz Ave, but part of the area parallel to it.
Web Link

And not the entire area -- perhaps two or three blocks.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 5, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

half-truths:

developers wouldn't have to do anything with Santa Cruz Ave. The city would need to close it and elevate the traffic lanes to sidewalk height. No developers needed. the retail space is already there.


Posted by Henry
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

A promenade parallel to S Cruz was suggested during the specific plan meetings, by Skip Hilton I think. The idea was adopted in concept and appears in the plan. Of course this would be a big project and be linked to parking structure funding. Good time to support the idea as council will be discussing same I heard. Write [email protected]


Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Thanks for the clarification Mr Promenade, just in time. I was at AAA rentals getting a few hundred cones to close of El Camino and start this project when I happened to look at Town Square....


Posted by Menlo Park Promenade
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 5, 2016 at 6:36 pm

really? If you don't like the idea - no problem. In my initial post I implied I was open to criticism. Instead you've just written two sarcastic comments. I'd be interested if you could elaborate.


Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 5, 2016 at 6:44 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Even if not novel, your suggestion is a good idea, MPP.

Don't sweat the expected dumb comments. Think of them as the entertainment portion of your program and it's a little easier to take.


Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 6, 2016 at 8:44 am

Oh please Mr Promenade, lighten up.

For people to actively use a pedestrianized city, you need a much higher level of density and much more integration with public transport. In our suburban American situation, the best we can muster is Santana Row- a fake simulacrum of a pedestrian mall that is only supported by 8 story parking garages. The successful examples are mostly in Europe where existing city streets have been taken over by 'pedestrianization', but successful because the population density is triple of Menlo Park with half the vehicle ownership. Boudler is supported by a huge student population and much higher bicycle ridership.

So wait and see if anyone starts using Crane Street and Chestnut Street in any meaningful way as City takes baby steps towards more pedestrianization, but build the parking garages nonetheless.


Posted by change the plan?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 6, 2016 at 11:42 am

@ MV - During the downtown planning process, these great ideas were surfaced, but the consultants, staff, and council decided otherwise. The current council has had numerous opportunities to modify the plan to promote more residential density (by modifying the amount of office allowed, even at the bonus level), to re-evaluate pedestrian-only areas, fund public improvements like a garage, etc. They have declined to do so. They are the NO people.


Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 6, 2016 at 1:15 pm

@Menlo Park Promenade

1) You propose closing Menlo Ave? One side is flanked by housing the other by office and grocery stores. Not a great pedestrian experience and there would be no where for residential drive way to enter the street. Menlo is aslo the most direct route to Willow Road and 101, so where would that traffic go?

If you are going to make a promenade it would be SC. Although, creating per plazas have also killed downtowns in many areas, so it is not a slam dunk. I also feel that most people in this area would be driving and parking there anyway unless public transportations gets better. Of course the dizinens of MP don't really want that either (electrify CalTrain, Nope! Create bike, ped friendly grade separations, Nope!, Improve traffic flow on ECR, Nope!).

2) There has been an approved downtown plan since 2012, that is designed to improve the look and feel of downtown and make it more ped friendly. It is 2016, nothing has yet to be done to implement anything. SC is still stuck in the 1970s when they put in the wood street signs etc, the sidewalks are crumbling on side streets downtown and virtually nothing has been changed on SC since I was a kid (I am 45). The people of MP cannot even get it together to get sidewalk build on SC (approved in 2008).

So while your idea my have some merit, it is certainly not original or even playable. Further, your suggestion is symptomatic of MP biggest issue, which IMO is to discuss everything over and over and over and NEVER actually do anything.


Posted by change the plan?
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 6, 2016 at 5:11 pm

@Henry- please point to where in the downtown plan a promenade is featured. I do not recall seeing it anywhere in the adopted plan.

@MPer - your comments are right on!


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