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Guest opinion: Green spaces, a healthy planet, and affordable housing

Original post made on Sep 17, 2021

I love green spaces. I began advocating for more affordable homes in Menlo Park in part because I know that affordable homes near schools and jobs are vital to a healthy planet. While I love all green spaces, Sharon Park is my neighborhood park, and I walk my dog there almost every day. It is my love for green spaces, healthy communities, and a healthy planet that motivated me to propose that we consider Sharon Park and other land owned by the city of Menlo Park as sites for affordable housing.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 17, 2021, 12:00 AM

Comments (10)

Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 17, 2021 at 3:48 pm

new guy is a registered user.

Sadly, no amount of hyperbole can overcome reality. Additionally, it is almost unbelievable that this paper chose to publish such a opinion.

If Ms. Grove or the editor only opened their eyes to see how little open space, park space, ballfields space, that is currently available, the thought of reducing this space AND adding more people to them - you might change your minds.

If you knew the difficulties in funding, and especially the current over enrollment of the Menlo Park school district - you might change your minds.

Please, before you suggest paving over parks and public land, please let us know where you have found the new parks and public lands, ballfields that will replace them, and since you wish for higher density, expand on them, because they are currently all over capacity.

Please, before you suggest adding more children to the school system, please review school capacity, funding, and enrollment numbers. Then suggest how to fund the building of new schools, where they will be built (actually identify where you have found space for them) then suggest how you will fund all of that.

Otherwise, not sure what the existential crisis is you are referring to: Zillow list 54 houses for sale and 145 rental units available.

Please, Menlo Park, do not sell our parks, do not allow density without the necessary facilities, schools, roads, etc.

Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 18, 2021 at 7:55 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"If you knew the difficulties in funding, and especially the current over enrollment of the Menlo Park school district - you might change your minds."

FALSE! This is a lie. MPCSD is NOT over enrolled. In fact, their enrollments are declining. This is why many of us object when they come begging for more money and parcel taxes. Property tax revenue is up and enrollment in DOWN. Why would they need more money. Stop perpetuating the LIE that they are over enrolled.

Posted by Triona Gogarty
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 21, 2021 at 9:15 am

Triona Gogarty is a registered user.

I am writing to voice my opinion on the placement of new housing in the City of Menlo Park.

I have heard of a proposal to use space at Sharon Park and Burgess Park for new housing. I am opposed to this. I have lived in Menlo for over 40 years and have always wished there were more parks and open space in our city.

In the early '80s, the Menlo Park Planning Commission and City Council voted to approve the development of Sharon Hill. The Hill rivaled Palo Alto's Foothill Park in vistas if not in size. The Hill was a place I loved to walk and sit just to spend some time above the fray looking at views of our bay area. With the decision to allow development, we lost an irreplaceable and invaluable public treasure. The green spaces where one could spread a blanket and read a book are now covered with asphalt and townhouses. The only untouched spots on the Hill are a steep slope.

Most of Menlo Parks's current parks are actually playing fields, not places one can go, walk, or sit to decompress. I am not opposed to playing fields. Sports enthusiasts need to play games. We also need untouched green spaces.

So where to put new housing? I suggest the vacant retail spaces filling our downtown. Yes, this is more expensive land upfront. But taking parkland is simply an accounting trick. We pay for the loss of open space for the rest of time.

Triona Gogarty

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 21, 2021 at 12:47 pm

Observer is a registered user.

There is only one true solution for overcrowding and lack of housing and climate change and depletion of the earth's resources including water.
Fewer people.
Major population control enforced on every country and all religions.
Moving forward the US could start by eliminating income tax benefits and credits for those with more than two children.
I could go on and on but best not to anger everyone all at once.

Posted by Happy Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 22, 2021 at 12:55 pm

Happy Resident is a registered user.

This is deja vu all over again. Please consider my comments below made in 2012 and responded to responsibly by the City Council.

Please consider the following facts that make the Sharon Park site unsuitable for the Housing Element:

1. Our City needs more parks not less
2. The Sharon Park site is completely car dependent
3. There is no viable public transportation near the Sharon Park site
4. There is no shopping within reasonable walking distance of the Sharon Park site
5. The site is much too far from downtown Menlo Park where all services are available within easy walking distance and where high density housing would be of the most benefit to the most people
6. The isolation of the site and car dependency makes the site entirely unsuitable for senior or low income housing which most requires shopping and services within easy walking distance

Comments: September 12, 2012
30+ Year Menlo Park Resident

Posted by Bobnoir
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Sep 22, 2021 at 1:03 pm

Bobnoir is a registered user.

'Looks like a lot of NIMBY comments here.
One good suggestion is that we need fewer people. So I suggest some
current residents move to fulfill their suggestions.

Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 22, 2021 at 3:43 pm

PH is a registered user.

"I love green spaces. ... It is my love for green spaces, ... and a healthy planet that motivated me to propose that we consider Sharon Park and other land owned by the city of Menlo Park as sites for affordable housing."

The reasoning escapes me. Am I the only one who thinks it odd that one shows one's love for green spaces by filling it with development?

Some of us who love green spaces, and Earth, show our love by making generous contributions to land trusts such as POST which acquires minimally developed private open space and restores it before donating it to MROSD for public ownership. We help buy private open space and make it public. We generally do not advocate making existing public green space private, for use by a few.

Put more directly, those of us who are fortunate and love open space put our money where our mouth is to expand public open space on the Peninsula.

Karen Grove, the daughter of Andy Grove, founder and CEO of Intel, and who works for and chairs the Grove Foundation, might instead consider showing her love for green spaces by having The Foundation make a grant to POST to help it acquire more open space, or she could consider showing her love for affordable housing by donating Foundation money to affordable housing, or she might consider creating an entity equivalent to POST that acquires urban land and then donates it to affordable housing projects.

It strikes me as bizarre form of philanthropy for the heir to the Grove fortune and chair of its Foundation to advocate donating OPM, Other People's Land, in this case public land, to affordable housing.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 22, 2021 at 4:01 pm

Observer is a registered user.

Thank you so much for suggesting your neighborhood for much needed low income housing. With lot sizes ranging up to 10 acres in Skywood that would be at least 60 times the units we could get on my miniscule MP lot. Heck if you go by some of the standards recommended for some of the land here that could be a whole new community of 100,000 on all those wasted acres around you. Think of all the new friends you could meet from your kitchen window.

Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 22, 2021 at 8:26 pm

new guy is a registered user.

Hi all,

So I did some research, and also listened in to the City Council meeting on a proposal to ban development in parks.

As for the meeting, it was sad, and confusing. Our city lawyer had no info necessary to understand if parks are in danger, members of council mostly did not think there was an issue (as we were told some emails from Karen Grove indicated that she would remove parks from consideration for development: weird.) So no motion passed to protect our parks from development in the end.

BUT today I get the glossy Housing Element Update (newsletter) in which it is written as a bullet point under "Taking a Holistic Approach", that "downtown parking lots and other publicly owned lands, SUCH AS PARKS, could be considered a potential tool to meet our RHNA - particularly affordable income units where land cost is often a barrier."

As for the other research: Karen Grove is the daughter of Andy Grove (intel CEO, fame, and substantial wealth). She, now as I can see, directs/runs is chair of Grove Foundation, and others. Wonder how she equates nepotism with equity.

Also, there is clearly some kind of for better words an agreement that district 1 has born all impacts of housing growth, and that the rest of the districts should be equitable, and place subsidized housing in their neighborhoods. Not sure where this is a settled fact or agreement. If we looked into the past, we would probably find that land there (district 1) was cheaper, and that the greatest impact for achieving numbers of units made the most sense. It might still be the case today (but I guess people would feel bad or something).

So what is going to happen now:

Because our city council is by district, district 5, then 4 will bear the most impact. It is simply a numbers game now, there are districts 1,2,3 who will vote no on housing in their districts and vote to place impacts in 4 and 5. Simple tyranny of the masses now.

Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 23, 2021 at 4:56 pm

PH is a registered user.

"... district 1 has born all impacts of housing growth, and that the rest of the districts should be equitable, and place subsidized housing in their neighborhoods."

For the record, the MP inclusionary housing ordinance has and does apply to all housing projects and has placed subsidized units in all areas of the city.

Most subsidize units are included in MR projects. To my knowledge MP has had only one all-BMR project. The housing being built in the former M-2 zone is market rate with inclusionary BMRs.

Inclusionary BMRs must be "substantially" similar to MR units.

Finally, in 1999, when council proposed downzoning professional office in "Zone 1", which would have preserved low impact, high revenue warehouses, organized by office developers, the Belle Haven neighborhood came out to oppose the restrictions and favor new office development, which foreseeably generated new housing demand and higher RHNA numbers.

What went around has now come around, and, twenty years ago, it was reasonably foreseeable, and, we told you so.

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