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Menlo Park Planning Commission endorses Greenheart's El Camino complex

Original post made on Dec 13, 2016

A 420,000-square-foot development at 1300 El Camino Real offering offices, 183 rental apartments and retail space was unanimously endorsed by the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Dec. 12.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, December 13, 2016, 11:56 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 13, 2016 at 12:37 pm

I think the writer of the story should have included comments by one of the Menlo Park residents who spoke at the meeting last night. This gentleman had concerns about the proximity of the railroad crossing at Oak Grove to the main access street in and out of the project. This is a very legitimate concern. Even though I live very close by and cross the tracks at Oak Grove many times a week, I drove by the Derry/Garwood Way/Oakgrove intersection after the meeting and can not imagine what it will be like to have hundreds of vehicles entering or leaving Oak Grove every day at Garwood Way. This is going to be a very dangerous intersection and apparently there will be no signal as this was determined to not be possible because of the short distance from Garwood Way to the tracks. None of the planning commissioners seemed to be concerned, but they should be. I support this project, but access and safety is a very big problem.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Subsequent to your post, we added to the story comments made by speakers at the meeting.

Posted by Menlo resident
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 13, 2016 at 1:05 pm

We live in the San Francisco/San Jose metro area and as such, we will deal with the traffic that is associated with the strong and vibrant area in which we live. It is up to all of us, drivers, cyclists, pedestrians, to behave responsibly while driving, cycling, walking, or perhaps just reading our messages on our respective phones. Development happens. We all need to adapt and comply for the good of all of us.

Posted by Property Owner
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 13, 2016 at 1:29 pm

It's about time that we move forward with quality projects like this one. We need more housing and this is the ideal place for it; walking distance to retail, jobs and public transit. Hats off to the City and the developer for the well-conceived project and pushing it ahead. Make Menlo Great Again!

Posted by School Parent
a resident of Encinal School
on Dec 13, 2016 at 2:39 pm

Is anyone worried about this project's impact on schools, namely Encinal?

Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 13, 2016 at 4:17 pm

With the exception of Facebook's campus housing, all new housing will have an impact on schools. We can't have it both ways- demanding more housing and then wondering where we put the kids.

Or just keep building subsidized senior housing...

Posted by Casey
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 13, 2016 at 5:15 pm

Two questions

1. What will be done about the 25% increase in traffic as identified in the EIR? Are we just stuck with that?

2. Who owns Greenheart?

Posted by the Wall
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Dec 13, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Of course the developers are going to say whatever needs to be said to get approval, but the fact is that this project eliminates all options for railroad crossings other than an elevated track. Even though residents have repeatedly said they don't want it, that's what we're going to get.

"Make Menlo great again." "We need to adapt and comply..."

Surprised to see that? You shouldn't be. George Orwell only missed the mark by a few decades.

Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 13, 2016 at 9:23 pm


I may be wrong, but i think the project only works with the tracks at grade and not elevated because of the way Garwood spits out. Good luck to those folks fortunate to live next to the tracks with trains blasting through.

Let's all push back against this over-kill idea of building up the tracks through town, making us an even more divided city!

Posted by School Parent
a resident of Encinal School
on Dec 14, 2016 at 9:09 am


I guess what I am struggling with is why it needs to be binary: housing or schools, not both. Why aren't we, as a community, demanding more help for our schools? They're the cornerstone of our community, and right now need is high. I noticed the Station 1300 developer has pledged $2.1 million as a community benefit gift to the City in exchange for more office and housing, which will invariably impact our schools. Why wouldn't they structure a similar benefit, or at least a portion of that $2.1, to be directed to the school district to offset those impacts? The Station 1300 ECR EIR itself says all our elementary schools are over capacity and it will send dozens of students into the district, and yet there is no accommodation other than the woefully inadequate Senate Bill 50 payment, which is capped across the state without regard to each school district's cost of living index.

It just surprises me that this innovative and caring community hasn't or can't come up with a creative solution that is a win-win-win for the developer, City, and the schools.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 14, 2016 at 9:19 am

@SchoolParent: Cities aren't allowed to give money directly to school districts. Earlier this year Councilmember Mueller actually offered a way to get around this rule to help the Ravenswood School District saying the City could create a third party called a JPA. The City could give money to the JPA which could then be redistributed to the Ravenswood School District. Maybe the idea could be expanded to help all the Menlo Park schools?

Posted by Senior
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 14, 2016 at 11:20 am

Senior housing would be a win. No schools impact.
Instead this has offices aimed at startup youngsters who need many more apartments than this provides, worsening the local shortage.

Posted by School Parent
a resident of Encinal School
on Dec 14, 2016 at 11:38 am

@another parent,

Thanks for your response. I understand that cities are not permitted to require developers to compensate their local school districts as a condition of approving projects. The JPA is an interesting idea, but I am suggesting something more simple: that the constituents of the City Council -you and me- could demand that a developer voluntarily enter into an independent agreement with the local school districts to provide benefits or mitigations subject to the City Council approving their project. They could take the time to understand what the true impacts of their project are and how to provide a comprehensive solution for the entire community, as opposed to asking us to grin and bear it as more kids enter the classroom and revenue per child decreases. What an excellent show of good faith that would be by a developer, and I am sure community members would show their appreciation and support of the project as their electeds go through the approval process. And if a developer chooses not to pursue this kind of solution for the schools? Constituents should let its electeds know that's not acceptable in this community. With the upcoming parcel tax as the case in point, at the end of the day we are the ones paying for it.

It's true that City Councils are often limited in their ability to approve or deny a project. But very often they have the discretion to make unilateral decisions, for example when a developer pursues bonus-level densities, and in those cases it's okay to say no on the general grounds that a project isn't a fit within its community.

These are simple, pro growth solutions that keep us moving forward while protecting our most sacred assets. An independent agreement with the school districts doesn't need to be a hardship for a developer; they can scale the cost to the benefit of getting broad community support and certainty of approval. And yes, this should be the expectation and community standard for each of MPCSD, Ravenswood and Sequoia Union, depending which would be affected by each individual project.

Posted by another parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 14, 2016 at 12:07 pm

@schoolparent are you saying you want the City Council to tell a developer their project won't be approved unless they agree to give money to a school district above the school fees already in place and assessed to their land? Are you sure that is legal? That sounds illegal to me.

Posted by School Parent
a resident of Encinal School
on Dec 14, 2016 at 12:25 pm

@another parent, they somehow figured out how to do it in Fremont, Los Gatos, Cupertino...

Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 14, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Late to this discourse: I read last month that Redwood City Council denied a developer who wanted to build large projects on the east side of 101.

They denied it. They said the RC residents didn't want massive, large developments in that area. I was impressed.

Casey - I hope someone answers your questions. My bet is on a development company that's part of a much larger financial entity.

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