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Guest opinion: Government/business collaboration has led city into a mess

Original post made on Aug 1, 2019

The congestion issues we face are a good example of government and business collaborating to pursue their own interests, which, sadly, don't match those of the community.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 1, 2019, 11:06 AM

Comments (11)

18 people like this
Posted by Flugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Very well written! I can't wait for the usual developer and real estate interests to respond. When they do I, and with the benefit of hightsight, I hope they will tell what they would have done differently. Also I'm still waiting for an in-depth response from those council members who ethusiastically approved the general plan some years ago. This includes the Almanac by the way.

10 people like this
Posted by Whaaaa
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 1, 2019 at 3:18 pm

Traffic is a known cost of living in the middle of a vibrant metro area such as this one. If you are a long term home owner, you also are enjoying low property taxes and a nice amount of appreciation. Maybe it's a fair exchange for some traffic. (By the way traffic caused in part to the opposition to any type of infrastructure or housing projects for decades by the citizens of MP- Sand Hill Rd, grade separations , etc...)

Easy to blame the city council and developers for traffic, but the rewards are pretty sweet! And the long term home owners elected those evil city council members, so there's that.

FYI -- Growth is not unprecedented here in Menlo Park. There was nothing on Santa Cruz Ave before 1920 (Camp Fremont was there from 1917 - 1918). The population doubled from 1950 - 1960! Imagine what those long time residents thought!

14 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2019 at 3:30 pm


You miss the point. Traffic, like what we are dealing with today, is the result of poor planning. When many of us "Long Time residents" moved here it was still a great place to live with reasonable growth and reasonable traffic. What does it matter that some people bought long ago and have "low property tax and a nice amount of appreciation", does that make up for the fact that it can take 30 minutes to go from Middlefield to 101 on Willow? no it does not. Appreciation is only useful when you want to sell your house, and some of us have no intention of doing that so it means nothing.

I do agree that the residents bear some responsibility by electing the people that approved all that growth, it is now time to do something to fix the problem, stopping the growth of office space is the first thing we need to do.

6 people like this
Posted by Menlo Boomer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 2, 2019 at 10:02 am

"Brian" nails it, as usual!! Development is ~Good~ if it:

- Happened in the past
- Benefitted me and him

On the other hand, development is ~Bad~ if it:

- Is in the present
- Benefits other people

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

4 people like this
Posted by Whaaaa
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2019 at 11:36 am

over the past 50 yeas in MP
Long term residents elected city councils that would limit growth
Long term residents routinely oppose infrastructure projects that could improve traffic flow - result, terrible compromises or nothing is built - once again look at Sand Hill and our lack of grade separations to star
Long term residents then complain about traffic and 'poor' planning which is a direct result their actions.
LTRs demand no change - which is naive - change is the one thing we can count on.

Appreciation and low taxes give you options.. so that's not nothing.

MPers stuck their head in the sand on traffic many many years ago. Doing nothing isn't the answer.

So Brain, let's hear your plan for making traffic better.

12 people like this
Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Bill Wood, it couldn't have been said more eloquently. Thank you, and thanks to the ALMANAC for publishing this.

Development is not about "vibrancy" or any of those other marketing buzz-terms. It's about the money! We Menlo Park residents are all the victims of this relentless, self-serving development, whether, as in these comments, we agree with your words or not.

Over a lifetime, (and as a former participant in government bureaucracy), I have learned that these organizations do not exist to accomplish anything other than provide avenues of financial success for the developer/contractor/consultant community.

Menlo Park's Council and Administration are in the business of increasing their budgets and headcount.
Individual members -- council members and staff -- understand that their resumes are enhanced by facilitating development, and more, for them, is better. . . at the expense of Menlo Park residents. A large number of Council members, for whom I have voted, once in office make 180 degree turns against their promises of sustaining the well-being of the city's residents.

"Quality of life" is a phrase that I have heard used in Menlo Park for 20 years, and with great regret have watched it disappear.

2 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2019 at 3:03 pm

Can't we have "vibrancy" with a mix of redeveloped 2 and 3 story buildings?

2 people like this
Posted by Whaaaa
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2019 at 4:46 pm

The last thing you are is a victim. Entitled baby boomer yes, victim. no. Enjoy your low taxes and appreciation and deal with the traffic. At least you have the option to cash out an move to a 'nicer' community,

5 people like this
Posted by resentment is showing
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 10, 2019 at 9:38 am

@Whaaaa - you have an interesting perspective on MP history. The rapid growth of jobs without commensurate housing or infrastructure occurred in recent years under recent councils and administration. Not in the past.
Many long-term and newer residents have fought valiantly for balanced growth. Unfortunately, many other long-term and newer residents supported "anything" to take the place of vacant lots. So now we have lots of development throughout Menlo Park that is bringing lots of jobs and lots of commuters because there was little thought about providing housing, too, or pre-conditioning that growth on infrastructure improvements.
It is alarmingly prejudicial to lump residents into categories when no one really knows who supports or opposes what. Labeling groups as targets for rants of resentment is frightening.
In my experience, almost no one wants "no change". Nearly everyone wants a healthy quality of life but few take the time to understand the complexities of how decisions affect that.

Please stop playing the blame game and try to fix the mess that exists. Some day you will will be a long-term resident and might understand how tied people can get to their community and how each generation is faced with challenges. There are opportunities to work together but angry resentment makes that difficult.

Like this comment
Posted by progress
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 11, 2019 at 9:18 am

The council discussion on a moratorium brought by Nash and Taylor (Web Link) was two months ago so I watched it again. Carlton and Mueller gave compelling reasons to abandon this moratorium idea to avoid wrath from Sacramento and Combs talked about being on the losing side when citywide voters showed support for the specific plan by defeating Measure M in 2014. Fortunately, Mueller was able to capture the main goal of the proposal, forming two subcommittees and adjusting council priorities, without calling it a moratorium.

2 people like this
Posted by Whaaaa
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2019 at 8:15 pm

resentment is showing

lived here since 1971. The building of office space and research parks with out commiserate infrastructure and housing has been going on for decades. Sorry this is nothing recent. Sure Facebook has grown a ton and they are *trying* to build housing and infrastructure.

Some ideas
1. Fully implement the DSP creating more density Downtown
2. Build a parking ramp downtown
3. eliminate parking in ECR
4. Ped, Bike tunnel under train at Middle - I'd like to see a road for cars, but I know that won't ever happen
5. GRADE SEPERATIONS at ravenswood, oak grove and valpo
6. SIDEWALKS everywhere
7. Widen willow road from Middlefield to 101

Ok so let's hear yours. Unfortunately, doing nothing, as the Poster suggest is the exact reason for this mess.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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