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Will the Planning Commissioners sell out to a developer

Original post made by Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood, on Jun 14, 2019

On June 24 the Planning Commission will conduct its final review of the huge 70 room hotel that is proposed to take the place of the existing 28 room Red Cottage Inn.

In order to build this huge hotel the developer is asking the City to grant him a significant increase in the amount of permitted square footage. The proposed justification for this very valuable gift from the City is that the developer will pay his legally required Transient Occupancy Taxes!! There is NO public Benefit to this project - no public park, no public art, nothing tangible except a legally required payment of taxes.

The granting of a PBB for the payment of otherwise legally required Transient Occupancy Taxes makes
no logical sense and is instead a Blight Tax imposed on the surrounding properties who bear the impact
of the PBB but who receive no value from that so-called public benefit.

Seventy six Menlo Park residents have signed this petition:

***************
Remove Public Benefit Bonus from ECR-NE Low Density zone
by: Peter Carpenter
Location: Menlo Park, CA
76 SUPPORTERS IN MENLO PARK
80 SUPPORTERS
The ECR NE-Low Density District is located on the east side of El
Camino Real at the northerly boundary of the City of Menlo
Park and is characterized by a mix of smaller format retail,
restaurant and personal service uses, office uses, motel
and residential uses. The area is directly adjacent to single family
and medium density residential uses.

The current Downtown Specific plan places a 0.75 FAR on developments in this zone but also allows a Public Benefit Bonus of 1.10. This Public Benefit Bonus FAR effectively negates the Low Density designation.


The City Council is preparing to conduct a biennial review of the Downtown Specific Plan.

We the undersigned request that the Public Benefit Bonus be removed from the ECR-NE Low Density zone since the FAR allowed by that Public Benefit Bonus is inconsistent with the designation Low Density.

***********

Should these super development rights simply be sold to the highest bidder?

What else is the City prepared to sell?

Comments (40)

16 people like this
Posted by added knowledge
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 15, 2019 at 1:07 am

Mr. Carpenter identifies himself as living in Lindenwood, Atherton.

In point of fact he has purchased a town house on Forest Lane; the project he is commenting upon is really in his "back yard".

I agree with Carpenter's arguments; this is a lousy project and should not be approved. If indeed it is approved, a lawsuit against the City should be filed.

This kind of nonsense is why a moratorium should have been approved.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 15, 2019 at 4:22 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I notified the Almanac a number of times last year of my address change and their "system" still lists my old neighborhood:

On Aug 3, 2018, at 4:55 PM, Peter Carpenter wrote:

No that does not work. Here is a comment I just posted after I changed my neighborhood 3 days ago:
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
0 hours ago
Peter Carpenter is a registered user.
Your comment is now live. Because you are a registered user you are be able to edit your commentfor the next five minutes to correct any errors or typos.



On Aug 3, 2018, at 4:46 PM, Frank A. Bravo wrote:

I think so.

If you go to your Member Center, where you changed your address, you should see a Neighborhood option. When you change that, it should update your new posts. It will not update old posts on the site, however.


15 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 16, 2019 at 4:15 pm

The whole development bonus system should be subject to a moratorium, not development in general. That would be easier to do and perhaps legally more defensible. It's been a stretch every time to understand what bonus we're getting for selling off our development rights.


16 people like this
Posted by Scott Barnum
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 17, 2019 at 8:15 am

Commercial development in historically zoned low-density residential neighborhoods, like Park Forest, should be mitigated, if not banned. Removing the PPB incentive for commercial developers for projects within a residential neighborhood should help make things less financially attractive and thus less interesting to undertake going forward.

Moreover, eliminating the PPB where there is no real benefit to the public (i.e., where incremental hotel occupancy tax is collected but there is no incremental public area benefit or to Menlo Park community as defined in the statutes) is even more important! Protecting ourselves from over commercial development is something virtually every Menlo Park resident living in a low-density/residential neighborhood should want going forward. It’s about defending our property values, quality of life, privacy and mitigating noise, light, traffic, et.al, to the maximum extent possible. If someone desires lots of noise, light, traffic and less privacy in a residence, they can move into a City or high-rise living in a downtown core. Proximity to downtown without most of the negative “stuff” that comes with downtown living is what we bought into in Park Forest. That is worth defending. Note that the Red Cottage Inn is located well off El Camino and deep within a neighborhood that is zoned low density, unlike the other commercial buildings along El Camino within the so designated “ECR Downtown Specific Zone.”

Pushing for the elimination of the PBB grant in projects like the Hampton Inn in sections of Menlo Park, such as Park Forest, should be something we advocate for. If we don’t reduce/remove this incentive, we could very well end up getting big unwanted and detrimental surprises popping up in our backyards again and again in the future...


10 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 17, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

After seeing Jan 2019 posts on the proposed Hampton Inn, I wrote Tom Smith, City of Menlo Park, a letter on the topic of a 92-foot-tall buidling in the M-2 Area that included the following comments:

We need clarity on MP's public benefit policy. The need for an updated policy was evident in connection with residents’ posts regarding the proposed Hampton Inn Hotel to replace the Red Cottage Inn.

Do we actually have a [Public Benefits] policy? I could not find one at the city's website. One should be able to search and pull up a clearly written policy. However, it's missing and/or too difficult to find. We need a public benefit policy that includes a menu of well-defined outcomes. While I found no policy, I did find the following:

A one-hour Council Study Session was held on April 14, 2015. Details in Staff Report 15-063: Review and Provide General Direction on Different Strategies for Defining Public Benefit. Web Link states that main lack is a well-defined outcome. A related presentation accompanied the Staff Report. Web Link=

Based on reading the minutes, Web Link and then finding no updated public benefit policy, and reading the recent Town Hall concerns about our policy, I conclude that the Study Session was ineffective from a public engagement perspective. Likely reasons include:

1) It was too short.

2) Presentation beforehand and the staff report were both too general. The Staff Report needed to be much more detailed and thorough, especially with comparison information. In other words, those present did not receive enough information for strategic thinking.

3) The public's comments were limited to 3-minutes each. The public speakers could only speak one, by one. There was no interaction in full hearing of all. Some of the comments were too general to be actionable, whereas a more informal (and longer) engagement venue would allow for follow-up questions and more time to make one's points. The public outreach may also have been inadequate. If it consisted of merely posting a 3-day notice of meetings, it was not effective.

4) We need standards for outcomes from Study Sessions. What changed, if anything, as a result of that meeting? The session took up much staff, Council and the public's time. A hindrance to getting the public to meetings is the perception that these meetings are a waste of time because nothing is done with their input. This erodes trust in our local government.

My Process Suggestions to Tom Smith included: Contacting some residents who publicly posted cogent and relevant comments to the Almanac's Town Hall Forum lately regarding the proposed Hamptons Inn. Invite a short list to a working committee focused around developing a draft public benefit policy with a clear menu of outcomes. Of course, Council and Staff would review the draft. I also offered to help. However, I never got a response to my letter.
*************************************************************************
Email me at lynne.e.bramlett@gmail.com if you want a copy of the complete letter that I mailed Tom Smith on Jan 27, 2019.

I also suggest that concerned residents freely avail themselves of the option to submit a complaint to the San Mateo Civil Grand Jury. Web Link


9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 17, 2019 at 1:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From: Peter Carpenter
Subject: 2019 DSP review
Date: March 11, 2019 at 5:15:44 PM PDT
To: menlo park city council


Dear Council Members,

I note that you will be discussing a review of the DSP at your meeting on 12 March.

I have two suggestions for your consideration:

1 - The DSP needs a better definition of what might constitute a Public Benefit in order to qualify for a higher FAR.
In my opinion a Public Benefit is a physical improvement that is accessible to and benefits the general public.
Paying otherwise required taxes or building underground tenant use only garages, for examples, do not benefit
the general public. It makes no sense to grant a developer millions of dollars worth of additional development
rights in exchange for a very small one time cash payment to the city.

2 - The ECR NE - Low Density zone development limits should be revised to completely eliminate the Public Benefit
bonus since the current Public Benefit bonus FAR is inconsistent with the designation of Low Density. This zone
is primarily residential and a Public Benefit bonus FAR of 1.25 far exceeds what is appropriate for a residential
area.

Thank you for your consideration of these suggestions.

Peter Carpenter


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 18, 2019 at 9:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The city staff has been told to maximize revenues to the city as its primary planning objective.

Hotels produce more revenue for the city than does housing.

Bigger hotels produce more revenue for the city than do smaller hotels.

The need for housing is unimportant.

The need for balance is unimportant.

Abs


19 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 18, 2019 at 9:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The city staff has been told to maximize revenues to the city as its primary planning objective.

Hotels produce more revenue for the city than does housing.

Bigger hotels produce more revenue for the city than do smaller hotels.

The need for housing is unimportant.

The need for balance is unimportant.

Absent a public outcry the city will simply sell our quality of life to the highest bidders.`


12 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 19, 2019 at 7:45 pm

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

The recent Almanac editorial on the moratorium also asked Council to "take a close look at the so-called public benefit bonus policy written into the zoning rules.” In an apparent reference to the Red Cottage Inn situation, the Almanac stated, “That policy has already been shown to be subject to abuse with the favorable response by the city to a hotel developer's proposal to consider legally required future hotel taxes to be the "public benefit" that will permit exceeding allowable size limits. Web Link

I suggest a "do-it-yourself" approach here. I searched the City's website again and I did not find a public benefits policy. However, I found an online Policy brief that would help someone develop a draft Public Benefit Policy. Web Link I hope that a small group will work together to develop a draft public benefits policy for MP, along with reviewing relevant ordinances and proposing changes to those too. Then, the proposal could be presented to the Planning Commission and then Council. The do-it-yourself approach has worked for other matters, so I suggest it strongly.

Peter, what you said about Staff priorities is shocking but not surprising. The biggest share of the City’s annual budget goes to pay for Staff salaries and benefits, so the Staff Organization also has a self-serving interest in maximizing development. The City of MP’s Staff Organization is large for a City our size. The smaller the Staff Organization, the less need for new hotel, property and sales taxes that mostly support the Staff organization. Fewer Staff would also make it more financially feasible to build more Housing.

Thankfully our new Council did not agree to add more Staff, as was requested by Staff in this year’s budget. Before adding more staff, the Staff Organization needs an outside organizational review by someone reporting directly to Council.

I also believe that our current Council recognizes the need for a more resident-focused Staff organization. This year’s City Satisfaction Survey should also identify services that residents don’t value and would like to see cut.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 20, 2019 at 8:23 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.



From: "Peter Carpenter via Groups.Io"
Subject: [ParkForestPlus] 1704 ECR
Date: June 20, 2019 at 8:18:06 AM PDT
To: Menlo Park Planning Commission <no-reply@menlopark.org>
Cc: menlo park city council <city.council@menlopark.org>, "ParkForestPlus@groups.io" <ParkForestPlus@groups.io>, Renee Batti <rbatti@AlmanacNews.com>
Reply-To: ParkForestPlus@groups.io

Dear Planning Commissioners,

I will not repeat my many submissions to you regarding this project except to state that, with the Public Benefit Bonus FAR, this project is totally inappropriate for a 0.8 acre island within a residential community.

I also feel that just maximizing revenue to the city for the increased amount of Transient Occupancy Taxes that would be produced by the Public Benefit Bonus FAR of 1.10 vs the TOT from the base level FAR of 0.75 is a poor excuse for imposing this massive structure on this residential neighborhood.

Yes, the Public Benefit Bonus Hampton Inn would be a cash cow for the city but while the city gets the milk the neighbors will get the manure.

Finally, if you feel compelled by the city’s great need for revenue (in spite of the city's reserves being in excess of $100 million) then at least properly screen this monstrosity from the neighbors. As the staff report notes:

"Along the eastern property line, a fence would be added on the southern side, while an existing 13-foot tall stucco wall and two buildings along the lot line would provide screening along the northern portion. The proposed fence may be approved as part of the architectural control request.”

I would ask that the 13-foot stucco wall be required around the entire non-ECR perimeter.


Peter Carpenter

140 Forest Lane

Menlo Park


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 20, 2019 at 9:45 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I will not repeat my many submissions to you regarding this project except to state that, with the Public Benefit Bonus FAR, this project is totally inappropriate for a 0.8 acre island within a residential community.



I also feel that just maximizing revenue to the city for the increased amount of Transient Occupancy Taxes that would be produced by the Public Benefit Bonus FAR of 1.10 vs the TOT from the base level FAR of 0.75 is a poor excuse for imposing this massive structure on this residential neighborhood.



Yes, the Public Benefit Bonus Hampton Inn would be a cash cow for the city but while the city gets the milk the neighbors will get the manure.



Finally, if you feel compelled by the city’s great need for revenue (in spite of the city's reserves being in excess of $100 million) then at least properly screen this monstrosity from the neighbors. As the staff report notes:

"Along the eastern property line, a fence would be added on the southern side, while an existing 13-foot tall stucco wall and two buildings along the lot line would provide screening alongthe northern portion. The proposed fence may be approved as part of the architectural control request.”

I would ask that each of the neighbors be allowed to select a fence of a height and of material of their choice up to and including a 13-foot stucco wall.



Peter Carpenter

140 Forest Lane



9 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Menlo Park is now following the bad examples set by Palo Alto & Redwood City of "selling" zoning exceptions to developers. Trading zoning & building variances for developer-paid fees & transient occupancy taxes does not benefit existing residents in any way. Instead, it adversely affects their quality of life, ease of transportation, privacy and adds noise.

People who relied on MP's zoning regulations when they purchased homes in the Park Forest-Buckthorn area are now betrayed by the Planning Commission & City Council. The proposed Hampton Inn won't benefit any of the residents of Menlo Park in any way.


9 people like this
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2019 at 1:50 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

Paying taxes due is simply not a “public benefit”.


8 people like this
Posted by David Forter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 20, 2019 at 3:45 pm

The comments I have read certainly reinforce my own feelings about what is going on with the 1704 ECR development proposal. It seems to be nothing more than a desire to increase city revenue through the transient occupancy tax (TOT). The Specific Plan has designated this neighborhood "low density". By recommending and perhaps allowing a public benefit bonus (PBB) for this development, the Planning Commission is ignoring the low density requirement. The low density is necessary for this property because it is bounded on three sides by residential properties. No one in the surrounding neighborhoods wants a massive structure - hotel or otherwise - looming over them. The staff review has the audacity to recommend that we - the neighbors - negotiate and make concessions to the developer. While we have actually done that for three years, enough is enough. We want city officials that look out for the residents, taxpayers and neighbors. We do not want officials that are primarily focused on TOT revenue. Another point that seems to have been overlooked is traffic. When a vehicle exits this project, they can only turn north on ECR. What do the vehicles do that need to head south on ECR? The look for a place to make a U turn. Adding to the horrible traffic that already exists on ECR.

Planning Commission, it is time to represent the residents as well as you represent the developers. Do not grant the PBB for this project. As there is no definition for a PBB in Menlo Park and the city coffers have a surplus with more taxes expected from Facebook, Stanford and others. How about giving Park Forest residents a break. How about living up to the spirit of the Downtown Specific Plan and keep this residential neighborhood low density.

I have owned several properties in Menlo Park since 1972. I have never asked for anything from my elected or appointed officials. I am hoping for a resident oriented decision for this project.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 20, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

June 20, 2019

Dear Planning Commissioners and City Council,

I live on Forest Lane in the Park Forest development. I’m writing to express the views of a number of residents in our neighborhood. We have studied Mr. Patel's proposal to build an expanded Hampton Inn since the fall of 2016. I’ve spoken at both study sessions and relayed neighbor concerns about density, privacy, traffic and design.

We as neighbors have proactively campaigned, not against development, but FOR A SIZE of development that is suitable for being surrounded on three sides by residential housing. We took the unusual - and we thought advisable - step of working with Mr. Patel and his architect and shared our concerns and desire for underground parking, property line setbacks, and a visual setback to the Forest Lane and Buckthorn sides of the hotel. While we have been concerned from the start about the unreasonableness of the Public Benefit Bonus, Mr. Patel worked in good faith with us to draft architectural plans that delivered most of what we asked. His sudden change to his plans in 2018, that moved the underground parking to the ground level and increased the bulk of the building, changed everything. We were, understandably, surprised by and opposed to that plan.

He faced some difficult tradeoffs and came back last fall with a plan that returned to underground parking and restored most of the other elements we saw as critical. He might expect full neighborhood support now that those are restored. However, a few things have happened which make things more complex. Namely:
• City wide, voters have made their concern about development known and elected new council members who are questioning the floodgates of development that threaten the quality of life here. The crisis in Belle Haven could be a bell weather for the rest of the city.
• The tide in thinking about the Public Benefit Bonus has shifted and this has become a more central concern. We have from the beginning questioned the reasonableness of this provision for the Low-Density NE area; when the plan was initially proposed we saw little hope that the PBB would be examined; now we see that more Menlo Park residents understand what is at stake here and are more organized to contest this. This issue of concern has grown into a very real opposition movement.
• Along with that tidal change in thinking, we are also appealing now to a different set of commissioners who are evaluating this project. Three have joined fairly recently.

Here is where we stand now:

•We appreciate Mr. Patel's recent willingness to make changes in recent months and feel it important that we hold to our implicit undertaking to support his architectural plans - IF the final plans don't include any material changes to the set posted on the city's website as of June 17 AND the changes we requested in our May letter to staff are incorporated. Mr. Patel has granted most of the design elements we asked for - underground parking, reasonable setbacks, and a recessed third story. We’ve been committed to a fair process and feel honor bound to respect the negotiations we’ve had. We hope you, as planning commissioners, will approve the architectural plan requests outlined in our letter to staff - copied to you - sent on May 15.

• We still firmly believe that, notwithstanding agreements on the architectural design, that the commercial density established by this project via the Public Benefit Bonus is unsupportable. We continue to oppose the use of a tax payable by all hotel customers, the Transit Occupancy Tax, as the basis of granting this particular Public Benefit Bonus. On principal, we think the city needs to revisit the circumstances for granting a right and an incentive to build high density construction in a low-density zoned district. We have said that in every letter we’ve sent to the commission, including our May letter where we said:

If we were starting out today, we would likely oppose ANY project of this scope and commercial nature within a residential neighborhood. In the past 3 years, anxiety about the amount of development along ECR and the related traffic, congestion and noise has certainly increased. Our neighborhood...is a designated low-density zone and that should afford some protection against a large commercial structure, such as the one being proposed, that is situated not on ECR, but several hundred feet off of ECR tucked in between residential buildings within a predominantly residential neighborhood ... Unfortunately, there is no real Public Benefit being offered in this project that we can see.

Our neighborhood has made compelling arguments for the Public Benefit Bonus provision to be reexamined. Seventy-six Menlo Park residents have signed a petition to this effect. I refer you to correspondence from other homeowners on this matter.

Thank you for your attention.

Warmest regards,



Susan Neville 160 Forest Lane

co-signed by:
Scott Barnum 137 Stone Pine Lane
Carol Diamond 180 Forest Lane
Eric Easom 171 Forest Lane
Anne Gregor 130 Forest Lane
Fred Rose 130 Forest Lane
Victor Kliorin 170 Forest Lane
Dave Forter 151 Forest Lane
Jane Carpenter 140 Forest Lane
Peter Carpenter 140 Forest Lane
Deb Melmon 148 Buckthorn Way
Annetta McCarty 162 Buckthorn Way
Morgyn McCarty 162 Buckthorn Way
Bryson Young 154 Buckthorn Way
Marie Young 154 Buckthorn Way
Carol Marquez 186 Buckthorn Way
Carol Boyden 161 Forest Lane
Mark Clayton 161 Forest Lane
Ching-Yu Hu 1731 Stone Pine Lane
Wei Gu 1731 Stone Pine Lane
Melissa Berhow 150 Buckthorn Way
Rick Rosensweig 178 Buckthorn Way
Diane Rosensweig 178 Buckthorn Way
Suzan Liao 132 Buckthorn Way
Kathy Engelmann 143 Buckthorn Way
Robert Flax 111 Forest Lane
Susan Flax 111 Forest Lane
Linda Sadunas 144 Buckthorn Way
Paolo Scafetta 1601 Stone Pine Lane
Stephanie Lettieri 1601 Stone Pine Lane
Owen Harper 1681 Stone Pine Lane
Kathleen Harper 1681 Stone Pine Lane
Carol Broadbent 174 Buckthorn Way
Hannah Fields 174 Buckthorn Way
Barry Goldblatt 1631 Stone Pine Lane
Martin Engel 1621 Stone Pine Lane
Judith Orasanu-Engel 1621 Stone Pine Lane
Michael Lynch 121 Forest Lane
Susan Lynch 121 Forest Lane
Margaret Race 151 Forest Lane
Randy Eyler 179 Stone Pine Lane
Kathy Eyler 179 Stone Pine Lane
Glenna Patton 190 Forest Lane
Michael Brady 191 Forest Lane
Anita Brady 191 Forest Lane


5 people like this
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2019 at 4:49 pm

Does anyone else think it's time for new planning commissioners?
At least a couple of these members who worked for big Bay Area companies or entities get ego boosts from the ability to interact with developers & show some "power."
Is this what we want or need?


Like this comment
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2019 at 5:57 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

Wouldn't additionally property taxes be due for "ANY DEVELOPMENT" which receives increase in size and value per public benefit designation.. Such thinking negates the public benefit reason for allowing additional development. What a joke!.

In any event what a slippery slope additional taxes as public benefit would be. Consideration of such whether or not additional taxes is a public benefit and the extent of any increase in development to receive those payment would eat up any additional taxes.

In fact most taxes for new development are probably eaten up by additional staff costs anyway. What are we doing to ourselves?


2 people like this
Posted by Thomas Paine
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 21, 2019 at 8:50 am

Be careful what you wish for. If this project is halted, it might be replaced by a development twice large and even taller next year if SB 50 passes next year as expected.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 21, 2019 at 8:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" if SB 50 passes next year as expected."

1 - it won't even get out of committee

2 - this site does not meet the proximity to transit standards required by the ever changing terms of SB 50


Like this comment
Posted by Trump
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:03 am

More NIMBYs getting in the way of development. Suck it up people. The fact is that every development along the peninsula was once residential space. And before that orchards and agriculture. Silicon Valley is growing and there isn’t anything you can do to stop that. Even in the areas of Atherton where people thought their money would allow them to make decisions. Nope. If yoiu live anywhere near a train station or along the El Camino get ready. It is never going to a matter if if but when.


2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:12 am

Actually in some places, NIMBY has become BANANAS! (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything). But you have to parse sensible development from inappropriate squeezing-it-in-at-all-costs.

And then slap a big red sign on the front!


1 person likes this
Posted by Woody Guthrie
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:30 am

Atherton boasts one of the wealthiest zip codes in the country, and too many of the residents grabbed their wealth as developers or other professions that prey on the working man and woman. It’s ironic that they’re crying “poor me, what about my lifestyle!” Not only can you expect no sympathy, but that noise you hear are people cheering that what made you all wealthy has come home to roost.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 21, 2019 at 7:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

1704 ECR has Nothing to do with Atherton.

It is in Menlo Park.


4 people like this
Posted by Scott Barnum
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 21, 2019 at 9:39 pm

The Staff Report on the 1704 ECR hotel property (The Red Cottage Inn – Hampton Inn) that has just been released is problematic from my standpoint, on multiple fronts:

1. The Staff contends and infers in the report that the Developer has been the one to hold and organize all the outreach meetings, has made all the “concessions” and that the homeowners surrounding the hotel are lucky that he has made them. Moreover, the tone and manor of the report implies the homeowners surrounding the hotel are like “nuisances” and don't really have legitimate concerns. But this is not the case. There were community and small group meetings, to which the Developer was invited and attended. But these meetings were mostly organized by the neighborhood and at the behest of the neighborhood. While the Developer’s attendance and the resulting Q&A’s were appreciated by the neighborhood, for the Staff report to suggest this was all driven by the Developer is not correct and valid. Why even infer this in the report, if this was not the case?

The residents have negotiated in good faith and have tried hard to collaborate with the Developer and the City to mitigate concerns in an effort to protect property values and quality of residential living in their neighborhood that, not inconsequently, has been zoned residential. That the Staff’s take on the final report discounts and downplays the neighborhood residents’ issues and concerns is very troubling and should be troubling to all Menlo Park resident taxpayers.

2. Unlike a number of the Planning Commission members who have toured the Park Forest area and talked to residents, City Staff has not conducted a “360 degree” neighborhood visit and has not interviewed a reasonable spectrum of the neighborhood’s residents to get their views and understand their perspectives. Maybe that is not official protocol, but it should be. It’s just plain common sense. Zoning relief and project approval recommendations like these should not be made in a vacuum or purely as a paper exercise. They should not inordinately place the onus on the public to push back or defend itself or its neighborhood, particularly for commercial development that is being considered in a neighborhood that is and has been zoned residential. Not surprisingly, the views and concerns that the Park Forest residents have expressed in writing to the Planning Commission, the City Council and Staff are included towards the end of the Staff report, and are, for the most part, buried and under emphasized.

Unfortunately, it is very easy for Staff to side with a developer, if a project meets minimum basic conditions. And if one is cynical, there are real upsides for the Staff for siding with the developer too. Extra tax revenues support a burgeoning City bureaucracy and facilitate higher employee compensation and better pensions and benefits. One would think that this type of perception, by the resident electorate, would be something that the City would like to avoid. The system needs to be structured so that the potential for this perception is mitigated. Likewise, there are very few downsides for Staff not to approve a project, so long as basic minimal compliance is met. What risks or issues are there to not green light a project when Staff doesn’t live in the neighborhood being affected and the City’s management, including Commissioners and Council Members, are encouraging development. Regretfully, there seems to be very little practical consideration for the people in a residential neighborhood that are impacted by commercial development. Why? It seems like a “bass awkward” policy mentality for a City and its elected officials to take favoring the commercial developer over its residents... especially, in a neighborhood that is zoned residential.

3. It is also problematic that while the upcoming project hearing meeting was noticed somewhat in advance, the staff report of 215 pages was not released until this Thursday, two business days and four total days before the hearing on Monday. The Staff and Developer have had months to work on and modify the project and weeks to create the report. But the City gives the public just four days to review the document, which is not exactly “bedside reading” for lay people. Shouldn’t more than four days be given to the public to reflect and digest a large and complex report?

4. Most contentiously, the Staff's analysis supports the granting of the Public Benefit Bonus (PBB) purely on the grounds that the project throws off more hotel occupancy taxes. The PBB in the statues is not exactly 100% clear on how and when it should be applied. It is vague and loosely constructed. Hotel occupancy tax payments are mandated by law. One can certainly argue that mandatory tax payments that the developer is obligated to pay should not be the basis upon which a bonus be granted. The PBB grant, in turn, allows the developer material zoning/setback relief. This is even more problematic when this relief is given for a commercial development project in a low-density zoned neighborhood. And, it’s even more egregious where there is no tangible public benefit for the neighborhood itself. The extra occupancy tax that is the forecasted to be collected in this project is not going back directly into the Park Forest neighborhood in any tangible prescribed way. No thought has been given to the “public benefit” for the neighborhood that is being impacted, let alone the costs and impact on the residents. Why and on what basis should the PPB be granted at all? Perhaps a PBB should have a material and direct benefit for the neighborhood that is being affected and not be automatically routed to the general City coffers...

Development is not inherently bad and is often good for a community, if it is well planned and thought through. But there are unintended consequences in well-meaning analyses, reports and recommendations, especially if the City doesn’t fully understand or fully appreciate all the potential impacts involved and really evaluates the situation from all involved perspectives.

As such, the City of Menlo Park needs to rethink the use of the Public Benefit Bonus for commercial development in residential areas and the development mindset and approach it takes to reviewing commercial development proposals in these neighborhoods. The burden should be on the developer to fully justify to the City and to the neighborhood where the project is to take place that the project is good for all concerned and there is a real public benefit – not just for the City and its balance sheet. Having a better-defined and clarified PPB statute and guidelines for its application should be the minimum action item here. And the City should hold off granting any PBB’s until the statute and its applications are rewritten and better specified.


Like this comment
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2019 at 8:39 am

Peter,
The real answer is that the occupancy tax for hotels is too valuable and painless(mpk residents don't pay it) to pass up for the council...

Your objection will be ignored whilst they have at the dais with $$$ signs in their eyes.....


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 22, 2019 at 8:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

A Letter from Susan Neville on behalf of the Park Forest community:

June 22, 2019

Dear Planning Commissioners and Council Members,

Re: 1704 ECR

I recently sent you a letter signed by over 50 Park Forest Community members. In that letter, written before the staff report was released, we expressed reserved support for the architectural design of the proposed Hampton Inn (not for the Public Benefit Bonus), provided that the concerns we delineated in an email dated May 15 had been adequately addressed. They were not. Hence this follow up.

Scott Barnum and I met personally with Corinna Sandmeier on May 7. Subsequently she emailed us to request that we put our concerns in a memo that she would share with staff and Mr. Patel. We sent that to her on May 15 and had assurance that she had also shared that email with the commissioners. I’ve attached it to this letter.

In that letter we itemized 7 areas of concern to us that we requested be considered prior to the hearing. Those were:

1. Rooftop Terrace
2. Fencing
3. Drainage
4. Building Color
5. Lighting
6. Transformer
7. Potential Alley disturbance

Of those, the only one commented on in the staff report is # 2 fencing. Our request for an 8 ft high fence was considered and is recommended for approval. The other items are not addressed by staff. Instead we see a few comments from the developer and his architect attached to the end of his project description dated June 12 and embedded on pg. 26, page G3, of the staff report. The staff did not apparently review our concerns, nor did they share Mr. Patel’s response with us. We expect our concerns to be heard and considered by the city, not left to the developer to adjudicate.

We request again that:

1) The bumped-out room on the rear 2nd floor terrace be removed and that the open design that was originally agreed to in Mar 2018 be upheld.
3) We get explicit assurance that the drainage from this project will not impact trees or landscaping on adjacent properties.
4) The building color is given due consideration by the commission. Neighbors at Buckthorn Park are concerned about the reflected light from a white façade.
5) We’d like to know exactly where there is any light that is above waist height. Apparently, there are safety lights required. We cannot tell where those are and cannot wait for “mature” landscaping to obscure this.
6) We’d like to have staff and the commission review the positioning of the transformer and make a judgment about the best location for this.
7) Disturbance in the alley is of obvious concern to all the homeowners within visual or hearing distance of the alley. That would be a minimum of probably 6 Buckthorn Park households and 8 or more Park Forest households. There are many bedrooms that open to the common area that borders the alleyway. Reading “hotel operations require noise-generating activities to happen during non-sleeping hours, as much as practicable.” Is hardly sufficient for us to let this go. We want assurance that quiet will be respected after 5 pm and before 8 am and on weekends.

I hope you can, for a minute, step into our shoes. We’ve negotiated many other matters related to 1704 ECR and put a ton of time and work into this project. There is no benefit here for us – in spite of our efforts, there will still be increased congestion and noise, impaired views and years of construction noise. The items we bring up here need attention. Please give these requests your full consideration. They were submitted for review over a month ago. We ask for you to consider the concerns of the taxpayers, Menlo Park residents, who will be very impacted by this commercial enterprise.

Best regards,

Susan Neville
On behalf of Park Forest Plus


3 people like this
Posted by Deb Melmon
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 22, 2019 at 9:23 am

21 June 2019

Dear Commissioners,

I live on Buckthorn Way. My home borders the property line of the north elevation of the Red Cottage Inn. My neighbors and I are the most severely impacted by this proposed, three-story hotel that will be nestled in the midst of a quiet, charming, low-density neighborhood.

When we enter our driveway, we will have a chain hotel looming over us, and all that goes with it: loss of property value, increased traffic, more noise, loss of privacy and quality of life. For what benefit? So that the City of Menlo Park can add more Transient Occupancy Tax to their coffers despite the fact that the city's reserves are in excess of $100 million.

In order to do this, the City is granting the developer the opportunity to increase the footprint of his hotel by 30% through an undefined "Public Benefit Bonus" in order to make the development financially viable for Mr. Patel. The neighborhood should not bear the burden because this project is not financially feasible for Mr. Patel without the PBB and increased FAR.

And what exactly is the Public Benefit? Transient Occupancy Tax, which the hotel is required to pay regardless. What benefit is there to the public? None that I can see. The TOT revenue from this project will be a pittance compared to the tax revenue generated by Facebook, Stanford, etc. This project will destroy the look and feel of a neighborhood in order for the developer to increase the size of his current hotel from 28 rooms to 70.

The Hampton Inn will have an El Camino Real address, but by no means does it border El Camino. It is set back 200 feet from the street in a low-density neighborhood. It will require the developer to remove every tree from the property, which includes two amazingly beautiful heritage oaks and 100' tall pines that will change the entire landscape and skyline of this unique property. It will bring a large freeway-style hotel to the north end of Menlo Park, which will not enhance the beauty and architecture of our city.

I respectfully ask that you consider the negative impact of the proposed development. There is no justification for a public benefit bonus. The homeowners of the neighborhood and Menlo Park, who pay property taxes and elect officials to protect their best interests, who suffer the increased traffic gridlock and inconvenience of development and construction should no longer be ignored.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 22, 2019 at 9:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Another letter by a concerned resident:


I live at 148 Buckthorn Way. My home borders the property line of the north elevation of the Red Cottage Inn. My neighbors and I are the most severely impacted by this proposed, three-story hotel that will be nestled in the midst of a quiet, charming, low-density neighborhood.

When we enter our driveway, we will have a chain hotel looming over us, and all that goes with it: loss of property value, increased traffic, more noise, loss of privacy and quality of life. For what benefit? So that the City of Menlo Park can add more Transient Occupancy Tax to their coffers despite the fact that the city's reserves are in excess of $100 million.

In order to do this, the City is granting the developer the opportunity to increase the footprint of his hotel by 30% through an undefined "Public Benefit Bonus" in order to make the development financially viable for Mr. Patel. The neighborhood should not bear the burden because this project is not financially feasible for Mr. Patel without the PBB and increased FAR.

And what exactly is the Public Benefit? Transient Occupancy Tax, which the hotel is required to pay regardless. What benefit is there to the public? None that I can see. The TOT revenue from this project will be a pittance compared to the tax revenue generated by Facebook, Stanford, etc. This project will destroy the look and feel of a neighborhood in order for the developer to increase the size of his current hotel from 28 rooms to 70.

The Hampton Inn will have an El Camino Real address, but by no means does it border El Camino. It is set back 200 feet from the street in a low-density neighborhood. It will require the developer to remove every tree from the property, which includes two amazingly beautiful heritage oaks and 100' tall pines that will change the entire landscape and skyline of this unique property. It will bring a large freeway-style hotel to the north end of Menlo Park, which will not enhance the beauty and architecture of our city.

I respectfully ask that you consider the negative impact of the proposed development. There is no justification for a public benefit bonus. The homeowners of the neighborhood and Menlo Park, who pay property taxes and elect officials to protect their best interests, who suffer the increased traffic gridlock and inconvenience of development and construction should no longer be ignored.

Deborah Melmon
Linda Sadunas
Buckthorn Park HOA


16 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 22, 2019 at 9:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This project should be shelved until the architectural issues raised by the neighbors are addressed and the PPB policy can be sorted out.


12 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 22, 2019 at 11:21 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

ANOTHER community letter addressing the faults bin this project and in the staff report:

22 June 2019

TO: Planning Commission and City Council
FROM: Deborah Melmon, Buckthorn Park HOa

Dear Planning Commissioners,

This letter addresses specific concerns the Buckthorn Park HOA have regarding the design of the proposed Hampton Inn project.

Fencing: Mr. Patel has agreed to replace certain areas of fencing with an 8' wood fence. we want to make sure that the 8' fence is measured from the interior of our property as we sit on a foundation that makes the fence seem taller from the Red Cottage Inn property. Also, the stretch of fence along the alley that borders the Buckthorn Park HOA needs to be replaced so that it will match the height along the northern elevation when it turns the corner. Otherwise I will have two heights of fence on my property.

Transformer: When Mr. Patel submitted his initial plan for this hotel in March 2018, the transformer was positioned in the alley behind the newly designated trash area. In October, when his position reversed regarding the under-ground parking and setbacks, the transformer was placed in the back northeast corner of his property, next to our common fence and 8' from my house at 148 Buckthorn. This is not acceptable to me and does not feel like the safest place for a high-voltage transformer to be placed. I request that it be moved back to where it was originally planned for in March 2018.

Paint color: Our homes on Buckthorn Way are the most significantly impacted by this hotel. We will be losing an enormous amount of landscape, which includes the huge heritage valley oak. Replacement will be a three-story hotel with a white facade that will reflect the hot afternoon sun and be an enormous eyesore. I contend that the hotel color needs to be one of the alternative choices so that the building not only recedes into the background but also fits with the flavor of Menlo Park. The only white buildings along the El Camino are two automotive shops, a mattress store and McDonalds.

Alley Disturbance: This is of great concern for those of us whose windows open to the alley. We need assurance that trash trucks (who do several pickups per week) will not be operating before 8am or after 5pm. We also ask that the alley is never used for deliveries as it is very tight quarters and would severely impact the Buckthorn and Park Forest homes with trucks virtually in our backyards.

We feel this project is not ready for a vote until our design concerns are resolved and the PBB and murky definition of what that actually means for the public is figured out.

Thank you,

Deborah Melmon, 148 Buckthorn Way


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 22, 2019 at 3:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Another very thoughtful email from the Park Forest neighborhood:

Dear City Council and Planning Commission Members,

I am a resident living at 171 Forest Lane in the Park Forest Development with my wife and two middle school-aged children and am writing to ask for a delay on the granting of a public benefit bonus for 1704 ECR until it is clear the criteria for granting such a bonus.

This massive building — a Hampton Inn which is situated on a flag lot some 200+ feet back from ECR surrounded on all three sides by residential communities that will forever change the landscape of our neighborhood. The granting of this public benefit bonus will add over 30% mass in the building size. This will have a negative public benefit to over 75 homeowners and tax payers in our community.

There are several unanswered questions. Most importantly, what are the criteria for granting a PBB? Has this been published? Council minutes published some years ago identified this as a deficiency and need. Is the Transient Occupancy Tax a valid and sufficiently sole parameter to justify a PBB? Are there other criteria? Does the negative public benefit to a sizable group of neighbors, their property values and property tax impact get incorporated into this analysis? Has this analysis been done for this project? Why does a “low density” area even have a PBB?

It would seem there are a number of unanswered questions that need to be answered before this PBB can be granted. As far as I know these have never been provided to the more than 100 persons who have spoken out against this project.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Eric Easom


3 people like this
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2019 at 5:30 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

Is paying transit occupancy tax a benefit to public, or city staff? It doesn’t reduce my taxes.


9 people like this
Posted by Linn
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 22, 2019 at 9:05 pm

Linn is a registered user.

To: Planning Commission and City Council of Menlo Park

From: Linda Sadunas, Buckthorn Park HOA

Subject: Proposed Hampton Inn at 1704 ECR

Date: June 22, 2019



Dear Commissioners,

I live at 144 Buckthorn Way and support the letters written by Susan Neville and Deborah Melmon. I want to highlight several points for your review.

Public Benefit Bonus (PBB)

What is the policy? It should not be a mystery. The Staff recommendations under the PBB only shows a monetary benefit to the City of Menlo Park and the Applicant/Developer and at the detriment of the Community/Electorate. We need a defined PBB policy to include additional and transparent criteria before a proposed project is approved.

Proposed Hampton Inn

The project is too dense for the neighborhood. Increasing the footprint by 30%, the number of rooms from 28 to 70 and increasing the height from a two story to three story building is invasive and does not enhance the attractiveness, charm and desirability of our neighborhood.

Design Plan proposed for the Hampton Inn

This may seem like minutia, however, it is not when this is your home you live in 365 days a year.

Fencing - The existing fence on the alley off Buckthorn Way should also be replaced to match the new fencing on the North side.

Paint Color - An alternative paint color should be selected instead of the stark white color. The white selected does not fit in with our neighborhood and the sunlight will cause glare from the reflection.


Transformer - The transformer should be positioned as it was in the original plan of March 2018. It is now proposed near the new common 8’ fence near the residence of 148 Buckthorn and it is unsuitable in that location.

Alley Disturbance - The alley should never be used for deliveries. Preferably trash/recycle trucks would not use this entrance either. Should the alley continue to be used for trash/recycle, the trucks should not operate prior to 8am or after 5pm. This is a nuisance and significantly impacts our sleep and quality of life for homes on Buckthorn Way and Park Forest homes.

Traffic

On most week day mornings traffic is backed up on El Camino Real, southbound, to Atherton Avenue and making it difficult to turn left onto El Camino Real from Buckthorn Way. In the afternoon the situation is worse as it impacts north and south bound traffic. The traffic situation will only get worse as the new developments are completed and occupied (i.e. Marquis by Pulte, Station 1300, Pinnacle Residential Apartments, to name a few). Traffic needs to be addressed NOW as each new approved development exacerbates the problem.

Thank you for your consideration.

Regards,

Linda Sadunas


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2019 at 7:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is the very thin reed upon the staff is recommending that the city provide millions of dollars of development benefits to this project:

"As previously noted, at the March 12, 2018 study session, the Planning Commission provided positive
direction that the proposed hotel’s inherent benefit of generating Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenue
for the City on an on-going basis was sufficient as a public benefit in exchange for allowing the floor area
ratio (FAR) to be at the Public Benefit level, the Commission did not provide alternate direction to Staff at
the October 8, 2018 study session."

Clearly reading the above comments this thin reed does not stand up in the court of public opinion and the city would be wise not to have in adjudicated in a court of law.


1 person likes this
Posted by Carla M
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 23, 2019 at 1:37 pm

In response to Peter C., regarding SB50 - I don’t believe your comments are totally correct.

You are correct that SB50 is dead, however the bill bypassed committee using a gut and amend technique and is now in the form of SB592. Also, I believe the area mentioned here is a designated “job rich” zone so transit rules do not apply. Job rich zones within 1/4 mile of regular bus service allows for no cap on density or number of units and .5 parking per residential unit - only restrictions are exiting setbacks and height limits. Hope that helps. You may also want to take a look at these articles and let me know if I missed something. We are very worried about what can happen in Belle Haven if this gets passed and especially if they start the Dumbarton train as a station will be close to Facebook.

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link

Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2019 at 7:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The bus service on ECR at 1704 ECR does not meet these requirements:

(d) “High-quality bus corridor” means a corridor with fixed route bus service that meets all of the following criteria:
(1) It has average service intervals for each line and in each direction of no more than 10 minutes during the three peak hours between 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., inclusive, and the three peak hours between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., inclusive, on Monday through Friday.
(2) It has average service intervals for each line and in each direction of no more than 20 minutes during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., inclusive, on Monday through Friday.
(3) It has average service intervals for each line and in each direction of no more than 30 minutes during the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., inclusive, on Saturday and Sunday.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 23, 2019 at 7:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

From a 1704 ECR staff report:

""Public benefit proposal
The applicant is proposing a hotel development, a use which has an inherent benefit of generating
Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) revenue for the City on an on-going basis. The Specific Plan does list
???Hotel Facility??? as one of several elements that could be considered as public benefits due to its higher tax
revenue generation and potential for enhancing downtown vibrancy, although this list is not binding; each
proposal needs to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. In addition, it is worth noting that the City Council
has previously directed that the Specific Plan be revised to designate hotel uses as permitted by right at the
Public Benefit Bonus levels, in order to incentivize such uses. However, these revisions have been delayed
by staffing shortages and workload constraints."


Note also these unanswered questions in another staff report:

"Planning Commission considerations
The study session format allows for a wide range of discussion/direction on the Public Benefit Bonus topic
as well as on the proposed design. However, to assist the Planning Commission, staff recommends
considering a sequence of questions, including:
 Is the proposed public benefit generally desired? If a public benefit element is something that
Commissioners are negative or even neutral on, the subsequent valuation questions may be
disregarded. In such a case, Commissioners could focus on suggestions for alternate public benefits.
 Are the public benefits and the developer benefits roughly aligned, or does the public benefit
proposal need to be revised/augmented? The Specific Plan does not establish an explicit ratio for the
value of the public benefit in relation to the developer benefit. However, it is implied that these values
should not be orders of magnitude apart. In other words, if the public benefit is substantially higher than
the developer benefit, the extra development may not be feasible and an applicant may elect to not
proceed, while if the developer benefit is substantially higher than the public benefit, the City may not be
receiving the desired benefits.”

The citizens should not let the Planning Commission make a poorly documented PBB decision on 1704 ECR.

The City should not let a poorly documented PBB decision on 1704 ECR jeopardize the entire PBB policy.



Like this comment
Posted by Carla M
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 23, 2019 at 9:33 pm

"The bus service on ECR at 1704 ECR does not meet these requirements:"

A development does not have to meet bus or transit service requirements if located in "job rich" zones.

Summary of the bill. Web Link




2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 24, 2019 at 5:59 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Another letter from an impacted neighbor:

Dear Planning Commissioners,

I am a resident of the Park Forest II neighborhood and live at 190 Forest Lane, which is immediately adjacent to the proposed Hampton Inn Development at 1704 ECR. Based on the proposed plans, multiple rooms will have a direct line of sight into the balcony and kitchen of my home. Others in the neighborhood are similarly or more severely impacted. For those of you who are new to the Commission, I believe you have an obligation to visit the neighborhood and see it for yourself before you cast a vote.

From the time our neighborhood first voiced concerns about this project in December 2016 via letters and emails to the Commission, to a letter sent to the Commission in March 2018 after a study session on the project, to a Feb 2019 petition signed by 77 Menlo Park residents, we have consistently communicated this underlying POV :

1) The FAR increase from .29 to 1.10, if the Public Benefit Bonus is approved, is excessive and conflicts with the Low Density designation. The proposed project would be literally embedded in our Park Forest residential neighborhood on three sides.

2) The exclusive focus on TOT in the Public Benefit Bonus analysis is flawed in that it fails to account for the negative impact on the privacy and serenity of the neighborhood – which in turn will adversely affect our home values.

The above issues should be reviewed independently of the developer's designs. I am part of the neighborhood group that has actively worked with Sagar Patel over the past 2+ years to develop a mutually satisfactory compromise on the designs should the project move forward. I have appreciated Sagar's openness and willingness to address our concerns. While additional issues raised by neighbors remain and have been shared with you, I believe the project has moved in a positive direction from a design perspective.

Despite being encouraged by our progress with Mr. Patel, I urge you to seriously revisit the rationale for the Public Benefit Bonus that is the critical, underlying planning issue at stake. The enormous and inappropriate scale of the hotel that will be imposed on our neighborhood will have an irreversible impact on our quality of life and property values.

Thank you for your consideration,
Glenna Patton

190 Forest Lane
Menlo Park


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jun 25, 2019 at 9:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Dear Planning Commissioners,

Thank you for listening carefully to the concerns of the neighbors regarding this project and for your thoughtful and continuing deliberations.

Clearly the issue of what should be the standards for granting a Public Benefit Bonus and which body should make such a decision is a critical issue. The continuance of your deliberations to your July 22 meeting should provide the opportunity for clarification on this matter.


Peter Carpenter
140 Forest Ln


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