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Proposal to redevelop SRI International campus in the works

Original post made on Jun 1, 2021

Menlo Park-based SRI International has launched plans to redevelop its 63-acre campus that would dedicate 10 acres for residential development and 29 acres for publicly accessible open space.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 1, 2021, 11:53 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by Karen
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2021 at 1:30 pm

Karen is a registered user.

I can't even imagine the traffic this "new neighborhood" will create. 400 houses????? Sounds awful to me.


Posted by Herbert
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 1, 2021 at 1:53 pm

Herbert is a registered user.

It is likely that traffic will increase significantly regardless of what any EIR concludes. Just think what Ravenswood will look like at 8 AM and 5 PM and the hours before and after ! Consider the access of emergency vehicles. Happy Days


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 1, 2021 at 1:58 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Forget market rate housing. How about 400plus low income senior housing units and senior appropriate facilities.


Posted by Bill Kirsch
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 1, 2021 at 2:00 pm

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Hopefully, the developers and the City will put a premium on accommodating pedestrian and bicycling/ebike access to this property, instead of knee-jerking to a completely auto centric design. Caltrain, Burgess Park (and all of its amenities) and the downtown are all within easy walking distance, provided the City provides safe and attractive pedestrian access. Hopefully our planning commission, City staff, and Council will rise up to this challenge.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 1, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Also seniors would be close to civic center facilities such as library and Arrilaga Center. Short shuttle service downtown and grocery stores and train. And likely less rush hour traffic with seniors for all those one lane roads - Laural, Ravenswood, Willow, Middlefield north of MA, etc. And SRI can study all the seniors.


Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 1, 2021 at 4:57 pm

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New housing outside Belle Haven? I'm for it!!!


Posted by frugal
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2021 at 6:05 pm

frugal is a registered user.

I like it. 400 more housing units will attract 400 more jobs which will require 400 more housing units which will attract 400 more jobs. which will require 400 more housing units which will attract 400 more jobs. So what are we up to now 1200 more housing units and counting. Will one of brilliant city planners explain what's going here?


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 1, 2021 at 6:17 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

The city can't win for losing. First they have everyone whining that we need more housing desperately. Then someone proposes providing that much needed housing and you have everyone whining that it's too much. Make up your minds.


Posted by frugal
a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2021 at 7:06 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Whining? Maybe so. I just wished we'd slowed down 20 years ago. Too late now and the worst is yet to come.


Posted by Rvengosh
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 2, 2021 at 8:31 am

Rvengosh is a registered user.

The city needs more housing, especially within easy walking distance to public transportation and retail. I agree with the comment about making this bike centric and completely support the idea for a mixed use, vibrant neighborhood.

Folks, we live In the heart of Silicon Valley. We are NOT a village or a remote hamlet. Housing here is unaffordable and that’s self inflicted. We need much more, affordable housing so our kids can stay In the community.

Yes, let’s build!


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2021 at 9:09 am

Iris is a registered user.

This is an exciting opportunity! What an ideal area, close to transit and the city center for more housing and recreational space (playing fields, anyone?).
But Menlo Park does not need replacement space that would add workers and ever more commuters and increases local demand for more housing. What is this really?
@Frugal - your logic seems backwards. More housing addresses the existing severe shortage of housing, and likely reduces the number of commuters coming to Menlo Park. More offices that bring more workers is what increases the demand for more housing. Menlo Park is on that treadmill right now, approving projects that add more jobs without enough more housing to support that increase and whittle down the existing shortage. This project could help a lot.
I wish it added even more housing.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 2, 2021 at 9:42 am

Brian is a registered user.

Unfortunately I do not believe the majority of our current City Council puts a premium on preserving the small town feel of Menlo Park. Just the fact they they refuse to take the zoning removal of single family housing off the table make that clear. I worry that this project will add more traffic, already a problem that has been ignored for decades and put strains on city services. Residents of the city need to weigh in on this and consider the impact when we elect new council members.


Posted by Misha
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 2, 2021 at 10:17 am

Misha is a registered user.

Public open space is great but I think we can do better than 400 units of housing on 63 acres. We have approved millions of square feet of office space in the past decade, let's go big on housing as well!


Posted by Laurel Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 2, 2021 at 10:29 am

Laurel Mom is a registered user.

We're well past the time when it would be appropriate for our city council to "put a premium on preserving the small town feel of Menlo Park." We are not a "small town." We are a thriving suburb that is is, as Rvengosh noted, in the heart of Silicon Valley. We don't live in Napa Valley or Gilroy. While I don't believe that Menlo Park should become Manhattan, there's a lot of room between here and there. We can add density and have a great community feel -- think Berkeley, but with better weather. Building more housing near transit seems like a great evolution for our city.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 2, 2021 at 10:39 am

Brian is a registered user.

"Think Berkeley"

I seriously hope we can have a better example than Berkeley. Menlo Pak, while a suburb, retained it small town community feel well into the 80's before attracting such major developments like Sun (Now Facebook) and the Bohannon business park. We can stop now and work to restore that feel that attracted so many people. At the very least the city can work to address the existing problems having a negative impact on the Quality of life before making it worse.


Posted by ReginaR
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jun 2, 2021 at 12:20 pm

ReginaR is a registered user.

Where are all these new resident’ families going to go to school? There is a lot of new housing in the area going in already, and the schools, especially M-A are bursting.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2021 at 1:26 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Every proposed housing project in Menlo Park has played the same tune: "everyone will walk to our exciting downtown and take public transit if they need to go anywhere." The city and council fall for it every time, so no surprise that developers keep using that tired line. Problem is: our downtown doesn't offer much in the way of goods and services, and public transit is a joke. Sure, a few people will bike, but even most of them will also need cars to reach destinations not in reasonable biking distance.

Affordable housing? Right. It's not going to pencil out for any developer. And high density? Some of you fail to realize that high density is resource-intense. You can't cram in more people without asking where their food and water will come from, whether our city's aging infrastructure can handle the load, where people will play -- we don't have enough park space as is! -- and where kids will attend school.

Keep in mind that we still haven't felt the impact of hundreds of new housing units being constructed right now on El Camino. Don't be fooled: the developers will pocket a lot of $$$, and the quality of life will continue to deteriorate for those of us who actually live here.


Posted by sjtaffee
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 2, 2021 at 2:01 pm

sjtaffee is a registered user.

Small town feel sounds a lot like all white community to me. I am for this project. I would, however, suggest to SRI that they consider phasing the residential side to all for them to experiment with some units and apply less Ron’s learned to additional dwellings as they are built. Alternatively, create several prototypes on their campus for such an experiment. In other words, use the SRI process to research housing solutions that may inform further development in the region.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 2, 2021 at 2:48 pm

Observer is a registered user.

"Small town feel sounds a lot like all white community." Wow. I'd suggest that most of us, whatever our skin color (and I don't pretend to know what you all look like) want to live in a place that offers open space and other community amenities, where people are friendly, help their neighbors, and will step up and volunteer to get things done. Not a noisy, overcrowded big city where people walk with their heads down, put bars on their windows, and shoot at their neighbor's puppies.

Or are you suggesting that POC prefer a lower quality of life?


Posted by kbehroozi
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jun 2, 2021 at 4:10 pm

kbehroozi is a registered user.

I'm always dumbfounded when I hear folks talking about preserving the Menlo Park of yore by limiting the construction of duplexes or multi-family housing.

According to US Census data,
~80% of Menlo Park residences were built prior to 1980.
–even adjusted for inflation, median family income here has *quadrupled* since 1950.
–The median home value, meanwhile, has gone from being approximately 3x (~$150K in today's dollars) the median family income in 1950 to more than 10x ((~$2 million) the median family income in 2020.

What does this mean? Lots of current residents are priced out of the housing market. Future residents, especially those in the earlier part of their careers, are priced out of the housing market. People's children who attended our excellent local schools and grew up to be as firefighters, teachers, nurses, restauranteurs, veterinarians, physical therapists, marriage counselors, piano teachers, high school football coaches, etc.? Probably priced out of the housing market (unless they were lucky enough to inherit a property bought back when things were more normal.)

Those long-term residents who bought or inherited one of the comparatively modest ranch houses or bungalows (the ones that are slowly but surely being either scraped and/or remodeled to double their original size), ask yourselves: would you (or your parents) have been able to find a family home in today's Menlo Park at today's prices? We used to be a middle-class community. Not anymore.


Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 2, 2021 at 9:42 pm

MP Resident is a registered user.

@ kbehroozi

I find your comment off base, and unnecessarily accusatory. Menlo Park is not unique. The Bay Area, and most comparable areas in CA, have experienced similar imbalances in housing prices to income. Just because people want to preserve parts of what they value about Menlo Park does not make them insensitive to how difficult it is for people starting out to buy here.

I don't see people debating the need to add housing. It's a State mandate. The question is how. Why does that lead some proponents of a broader urban housing stock, like yourself, to be "dumbfounded" by people who want to preserve single family neighborhoods?

For most people, their home is not just a basis for their quality of life, but their single greatest asset. Putting a multi-story triplex next to small lots with "comparatively modest ranch houses or bungalows" imposes multiple burdens on these residents. Why is removing single family zoning necessary when it won't add substantially to the housing stock? (So says the consultant.)

For those who point to Seminary Oaks, the difference is that this neighborhood was planned so that duplexes fit in seamlessly. That's not possible in existing neighborhoods.

Menlo Park has an obligation to substantially grow its housing stock, but the City should look to its current residents and how they want the city to change. This includes residents in all parts of the city. Everyone's voice should be valued.




Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 3, 2021 at 6:53 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Why does that lead some proponents of a broader urban housing stock, like yourself, to be "dumbfounded" by people who want to preserve single family neighborhoods?"
""
Because you can't have it both ways. Single family homes eat up a lot of real estate and probably represent most of the real estate in this city. Yes, CITY. MP stopped being a "village", if it ever was one, a long time ago. If you want to add housing it has to go somewhere. We have a perfect example of a good place to put higher density housing that isn't in a single family neighborhood and right on time the no birds start singing about ruining the "village" and traffic and, and, and.

If we are going to improve our housing stock we're going to have to put it somewhere and since most of that somewhere in this city is single family neighborhoods, that's where some of it is going to have to go. If the zoning regulations are written properly you won't end up with three story buildings next to single family ranch homes. At most they'll be two stories. Just like all of the new single family homes that are being built in those same neighborhoods. And I'll bet you don't like that either, do you?


Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 3, 2021 at 10:39 am

MP Resident is a registered user.

@ Menlo Voter

Nasty.

I actually quite like the new two story homes in my neighborhood. And the people who live in them, too.

I didn't say three story home, I said, triplex. I believe neighbors should be parties to decisions about adding multifamily homes to single family neighborhoods.

Changed zoning will disrupt and accelerate the economics of development. If you develop spec houses, will you build a single family home on that small plot in Allied Arts or the Willows, or a multifamily home? If single family zoning is eliminated, we can expect a rapid rise in the land value under those quaint ranches and bungalows, with luxury multi-family units going into their places since that maximizes the developer's return. Yes, there will be more housing, but it is unlikely to address the supply of starter homes @kbehrooz expects to find.

Be careful what you ask for.


Posted by Ellen
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jun 3, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Ellen is a registered user.

There is no mention in the article of the number of people who will be employed in the redesigned space. I assume it will be more than SRI's current (or pre-pandemic) staff because there will be space for "other tenants" in addition to SRI. Can the City require an estimate from the developers before approving the project?
Four hundred new homes won't solve the homes/jobs imbalance if, once again, we are adding more jobs to the mix.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 3, 2021 at 1:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Park inherited from San Mateo County a unique development which combines density and livability - Park Forest which was built in the 1960's.

With some 90 three story townhouses (each of which which share one of three common areas - each having open space and a pool) Park Forest has a density three times that of single family houses and twice that of duplexes yet Park Forest remains a very comfortable place to live.

Many of the current Park residents are people who have downsized from larger single family homes on large lots - and few of us complain about the density.

And Park Forest is a closer and more vibrant community than most single family neighborhoods.

And yet the City of Menlo Park, when it annexed Park Forest from the County, deemed the entire development as "non-conforming".

Menlo Park would be wise to establish the Park Forest model as a standard for new developments rather than as an aberation.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 3, 2021 at 6:33 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

MP Resident:

If you want a voice in what goes into your neighborhood get involved now. Be involved in the decisions to change the zoning. It's coming. If the zoning regs are written right putting higher density into single family neighborhoods won't be a problem. It just requires the right planning and zoning.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 4, 2021 at 8:05 am

Iris is a registered user.

If people in Menlo Park do not want a lot more housing density then they need to push back on how much non-residential growth occurs. The State assigns more housing where more jobs are.

Adding housing is only one part of the equation to attain a better balance of supply and demand for housing. We have to address the other part of the equation -- the insatiable growth of non-residential development -- too. This is a big issue within Menlo Park and in the region.


Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 4, 2021 at 10:44 am

new guy is a registered user.

For those who wish MP would build massive density so you could move from your less desirable location to your more desirable MP location and not have to pay the premium for it, less discuss the "little things".

1. There are no more open spaces to build parks, sports field, community building/pools. Go see one of our sports field to see that there are likely 5-10 teams sharing one field space during weekly practices, go see our community pools and see there is no more space for you or your current/future children.

2. There are no more open space to build additional schools or add capacity to current schools, our current facilities are already over their original build to capacity.

So what will your moving here "add" to value of MP. Think of it this way, all the things you wish to move here for (and leave wherever you currently from to get away from) will eventually create less desirability.

If you do not believe this will happen, simply do some work analyzing what happens to house prices for homes in the areas close to MP. Why is it that a larger/newer house in Redwood city costs less than a smaller/older house in MP? RC even has more sports fields. Riddle me that? Its no secret, MP has higher rated schools.

From my perspective as a management consultant (where can I put effort in that would have the largest benefit). and sorry, but if we are honest, just look at that town between RC and MP. You know the one, the island that seems to be out of scope of housing requirements) where massive homes and pool houses, and tennis courts, sit on 1+ acre lots and for many sit empty as the owners live in multiple house around the world and their yachts the rest of the year. If you YIMBY's can demand to live in MP, then I should be able to demand to live in "that town". There is even that train thing that even goes through it, oh, and there is a road that goes thought it too, with busses, so don't tell me its not a "transit rich" area, as you state MP is.




Posted by Nanc
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 4, 2021 at 12:54 pm

Nanc is a registered user.

I would support dense housing proposed if it were designated for low and moderate income residents. The proposed 5 story parking garage would tower over the Burgess homes and is in a very poor location. The proposed 400 New housing units should be slashed in half and the building capped at 3 stories.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 4, 2021 at 2:07 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Park has been approving many more new commercial developments than new residential developments.

Now we have no choice but to redress this jobs/housing imbalance.

Given the absence of vacant land in Menlo Park the only solution is increasing the density of any new residential projects and to require all new commercial projects to carry their fair share of the housing burden.

If you don't like the changes required to accomplish this increased residential density then you are simply out of luck.

Our challenge as a community is to find creative solutions to this problem rather than to simply complain.


Posted by local teacher
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 4, 2021 at 9:18 pm

local teacher is a registered user.

Why is there never development on the West side of El Camino? During non-Covid times, we here on the East side experience complete gridlock due to all of the development. I cannot imagine what traffic will look like with 400 more units of housing going in.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 7, 2021 at 8:25 am

Iris is a registered user.

Less traffic should result when growth occurs near transit, and when housing is located near jobs.

Why is it that those who support massive commercial growth do not accept the consequences of traffic and nearby housing and instead want it to be someplace else where the land is more expensive (meaning the new units will be more expensive)?

Menlo Park is tasked to add thousands more new housing units because Menlo Park approved large amounts of new commercial space; the state interprets this as new jobs with new demand for new housing. Simply adding housing will not solve the problems Menlo Park brought on itself.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 7, 2021 at 11:54 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Why is it that those who support massive commercial growth do not accept the consequences of traffic and nearby housing and instead want it to be someplace else where the land is more expensive (meaning the new units will be more expensive)?"

Because they got "theirs", the hell with everyone else. They're happy to see it happen if it doesn't impact them. Can you say "NIMBY"?


Posted by Menlo Oaks Mom
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 8, 2021 at 12:57 pm

Menlo Oaks Mom is a registered user.

I am very skeptical of the new development proposal because we already have terrible traffic on Middlefield/Ravenswood and throughout Menlo Park. Also, isn’t SRI on Stanford land? I understand that Stanford does not pay taxes due to its status as an academic non-profit (which is really crazy if you consider Stanford’s endowment). If that is the case, what benefit does the development provide to Menlo Park? I would be much more open to this if the housing proposals gave preference to the hard working people who provide important services in our community - teachers, emergency services, retail workers, house keepers, child care providers, gardeners, etc. But most local real estate seems to be sold as investment properties to private equity, overseas foreign investors or developers who remodel and resell properties at a cost that is out of reach for most. Also, I don’t feel like we should provide housing for more Facebook employees - Facebook and the other big tech companies have more than enough resources to develop campuses and housing without so negatively impacting our backyard. Yes, we are in the heart of Silicon Valley but there is a reason many of us did not choose to live in SF or San Jose. Thank you for considering this viewpoint.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2021 at 8:26 am

Iris is a registered user.

MenloOaksMom is right - Stanford, an academic institution does not pay property or sales taxes when its properties are used for academic or not-for-profit purposes. SRI and Facebook and the VC's, realtors, and attorneys and other providers of services also do not pay sales taxes.
Concerns about the city's revenue base should be addressed city-wide. When Menlo Park had a lot of car dealerships and companies that made and sold tangible things (e.g., Raychem and SUN Microsystems), sales taxes were the primary sources of city revenue. Few such sources remain although there is some revenue from highly cyclical hotel occupancy taxes.
Unless SRI rents out the housing or other parts of the project, this project would not yield commercial taxes although it would result in an initial bump in property taxes from reassessment.
@menlovoter Do not assume that everyone is happy with massive commercial development anywhere when there is an existing shortage of housing, space for sports, and excessive traffic.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 14, 2021 at 2:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Much of the proposed development will be subject to property taxes - that portion not used by SRI for its approved non-profit activities.

This will be a significant increase in tax revenues compared to the current all-SRI usage of this property.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 16, 2021 at 3:25 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

We need a study done on the impact on our schools with 400 new housing units. I hope the council is listening. How many new students are projected to come out of this new development and can the already crowded schools support that influx. Can we get specific please?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

School Developer Fees
Effective January 1, 1987, Assembly Bill 2926, Section 53080 to the California Government Code authorizes school districts to levy "School Developer Fees" on new, remodels or additions to residential, commercial and industrial development projects. Legislation also provides that "No building permits may be issued until the district's certify that any fees due have been paid."



The Maintenance and Operations department of the Sequoia Union High School District, collects school developer fees for both the Belmont/Redwood Shores, Las Lomitas, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Ravenswood, Redwood City, San Carlos and Woodside Elementary School Districts and the Sequoia Union High School District.



On April 4, 2018, Resolution No. 1622 was APPROVED, PASSED and ADOPTED by the Governing Board of the Sequoia Union High School District and became effective on June 3, 2018. The new rate for residential is $3.79 per square foot and $0.61 per square foot for commercial/industrial projects.



On April 20, 2016, Resolution No. 1569 was APPROVED, PASSED and ADOPTED by the Governing Board of the Sequoia Union High School District and became effective on June 19, 2016. The new rate for residential is $3.48 per square foot and $0.56 per square foot for commercial/industrial projects.

Web Link


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 16, 2021 at 4:51 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Peter, any idea how much Stanford is paying in school fees for their new huge development on El Camino, ditto to the commercial development on El Camino and Ravenswood, Are there ongoing fees or strictly one and done? If only one shot, how does that protect the district from long-term financial consequences?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jun 16, 2021 at 5:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

School impact fees provide funding for increasing the schools' capacity.

Annual property taxes then pay for on-going school expenses.

Re fees for the projects mentioned please do your own research.


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