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Menlo Park Briefs: Planning commission to discuss 400-unit Parkline development, redistricting commission to review maps of new council districts

Original post made on Mar 28, 2022

In this week's Menlo Park briefs, the city planning commission will hold a study session on the Parkline development, and the independent redistricting commission will review maps for new city council boundaries.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 28, 2022, 9:22 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Mar 28, 2022 at 12:33 pm

David B is a registered user.

And the pitchforks come out in 3....... 2........ 1......


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 28, 2022 at 1:46 pm

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Aren't there plenty of large acreage sites in Portola Valley that could handle these 400 residential units and more. PV is very short on residential units.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 28, 2022 at 4:35 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

All rentals? Purchasing a home is the only real way the average person can accumulate wealth in our Country.

Make these a combination of Condos, Townhomes and Single-Family Homes for sale.

My guess is the rents for these units now and as rents go up over the next 10 -20 years will be similar to costs for entry-level home purchases now. And yes some people may require a leg up to do it, This could be a real missed opportunity for a lot of individuals and families to own a piece of the American Dream,


Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 28, 2022 at 11:05 pm

Enough is a registered user.

I don't think we need rental units. These should be new single family homes and townhouses that people purchase. I agree that this is an opportunity for the city to help get some people into housing that they might not be able to afford. In addition to requiring below market housing maybe the city can help by offering lower interest rates, help with down payments, etc.

I am curious as to how SRI acquired the land. It was the original site of Dibble hospital during WW2. Did SRI purchase it at a fair market value or were they giving a deal on the land. If the latter maybe they need to be required to pay that forward.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 29, 2022 at 1:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I doubt that requiring a land owner to sell their property rather than renting it is legal.

If it is legal then why shouldn't Menlo Park require all rental units to be sold?

In fact that would be a very bad idea even if it is legal.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 29, 2022 at 1:23 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

To the MPCC,
Please realize this is a once in a generation opportunity to do the right thing, Consider a bond measure to purchase the property, not a tax but a bond measure, Put together a Stanford style hybrid model of owning and developing the property then selling the improvements but retaining ownership of the land. Develop a mix of some smaller, say 800-1200 sq. ft. units of condos and townhouses. This model would offer some of these units at a reduced entry-level price. Also include some larger family size single-family homes. Give ownership to everything above ground. Have a set aside for our Police Officers, Firefighters, city building dept. officials, librarians, teachers, maintenance workers, Just think of the retention rate if our prized city workers could live and work in their community, From this location many of our city workers listed above could walk to work, just think of the reduction in greenhouse gases from those not commuting, reduced turnover and how much happier our workers would be living and owning in the community they work in. Get an official estimate on the GHG emissions reduction amount.
There are 89 different types of positions currently listed on our City Job Classifications site on the city website that I'm sure would love to live here. You could even hold some as short term rentals for transient workers, You would be able to draw from a larger pool of potential workers, A plan could be assembled that the units could be offered first to those with over 2-5 years of on the job time, My suggestion is consider it as a model that could be duplicated in Communities across the Country, Be leaders and set an example. We would have the most qualified and the happiest City workers, And our City would own the land for generations to come. It's a win-win.
Set up an Ad Hoc Committee to at least explore the possibilities. There's no rush. Spend a few months exploring it. We owe it to our workers and our Community.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 29, 2022 at 2:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Westbrook - GREAT idea, particularly having the city buy and hold the property but allowing long term land leases ala Stanford and most of Hawaii so that individuals could own and sell their homes with such ground leases.


Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2022 at 4:12 pm

Enough is a registered user.

Menlo Park can approve or deny building permits and rezoning of the property. In fact I think they should decline to rezone that property for residential. It is currently zoned commercial from the map I saw, there is no reason to rezone it as residential if the developer is not willing to work with the city.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 29, 2022 at 5:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" no reason to rezone it as residential"??

Are you totally unaware how much pressure the city is under to increase its housing stock?

Do you really want this HUGE property to be used for high density offices with thousands of employees and thousands more daily automobile trips.

Sounds like shooting yourself in the foot.

I don't recommend that the city try to play hardball with a property owner that has much better lawyers and zero short term cash needs. Remember what happened when the city played hardball with Stanford on the ECR development and then Stanford simply sought no bonuses and put in tax exempt housing. How much tax revenue did the city and all the other property tax revenue recipients (school districts, fire district etc.)lose in that game of hardball?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 29, 2022 at 7:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note that SRI is a non-profit entity and as long as its property is being used for SRI's mission that property is tax exempt.

The current proposal would turn much of the property into unrelated business income property that would be subject to property taxes and would therefore generate considerable revenue to the city and other property tax recipients.

Now do you really want to play hardball with SRI and have them simply recruit dozens of other non-profit entities to be their tenants in SRI's commercial zoned properties?

No new property tax revenues and no new housing - that does not sound like a good outcome to me.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 29, 2022 at 9:11 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.


This is the last large parcel left to build housing on in Menlo Park West of the Freeway, Lets don't miss this opportunity to make this work for everyone,
It's walking or biking distance to Willow Market, Safeway, Downtown Restaurants, Shopping, and Cal Train, Walking eliminates car trips,which eliminates Green House gases, The businesses downtown win, it fills the property tax coffers, and people get some exercise, Whats not to like, Please don't sell this to another private equity firm for permanent rentals, Homeownership is slowly disappearing in this Country and being replaced with Rentals. Don't blow this one,
Future generations will look back on this and thank the Community Leaders who stood up for for them and did the right thing.


Posted by Enough
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 29, 2022 at 10:06 pm

Enough is a registered user.

Peter,

I see to remember you supporting the ECR Stanford Project, dare I say vigorously. Funny to hear you talk about it now in a different light. Menlo Park does not need to rezone the SRI property, that is up to the city. They might choose to rezone it for residential if the developer agrees to develop single family houses and town houses. I find it funny to hear you saying the city is powerless against developers. The voters of the city should have their say...


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 29, 2022 at 11:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I see to remember you supporting the ECR Stanford Project"

I certainly did support this project. The city was stupid in rejecting two Stanford proposals that would have been very beneficial to the city. Stanford then stuck it to the city with a project that exactly conformed to the zoning ordinance but which converted the project to tax exempt uses.

Trying to play the same game with SRI will produce the same result.

Stupid is doing the same thing again and again.


Posted by Ellen
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 4, 2022 at 12:38 pm

Ellen is a registered user.

I concur that Westbrook has a great idea. Perhaps, like Stanford, restrictions could be included such that purchasers had to be public employees.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 4, 2022 at 4:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Perhaps, like Stanford, restrictions could be included such that purchasers had to be public employees."

Yes, that would be one of the benefits of the city becoming the owner.



Posted by Private citizen
a resident of Laurel School
on Apr 20, 2022 at 9:05 am

Private citizen is a registered user.

We await the environmental impact report.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 21, 2022 at 5:06 pm

PH is a registered user.

Sorry to be a buzzkill.

In 2000, as I recall, buried in a Staff Report appendix were horrifying words to the effect that if SRI should abandon the site and sell the property it must be re-offered first to Stanford. Remember the “S” in SRI once stood for “Stanford.” Their lawyers are really good. So, if I’m correct Stanford still holds some form of right of refusal to buy the land, and this should be researched and made public.

A fiscal impact study should be done to settle claims about alleged “financial” benefits from property taxes etc.

SRI has rented out for decades. Do they pay any taxes now?

While it *may* be true that non-SRI uses should pay property taxes, Peter is not my lawyer. If SRI’s lawyers were good at anything it would be how to avoid taxes. This may be another reason why SRI is subdiving parcels, to allow it to sell off the housing approvals, and retain the non-housing acreage as an SRI operated endeavor that does *not* have to pay taxes.

Regardless, having analyzed tens of FIA’s here are the basic rules. Most FIAs are online. Read them for yourself.

1.) Office breaks even but doesn’t generate much net increases, unless it books some kind of sales tax as a headquarter. Cities kill for these usually by rebating the taxes.
2.) Housing is a real net money loser for the city.
3.) Retail generates net financial gains. Of course hotels and auto dealers are the best. Retail nets the same per sf property tax as office plus it nets sales tax.
4.) “Impact” fees can NEVER generate net income, or they would be considered a “tax” and have to be voted on.

Prop 13 effectively killed property tax as a net revenue source, after which cities turned to impact fees to no avail.

1.) and 2.) don’t generate net revenue because they increase daytime or resident populations both of which require city services whose costs chew up revenues.

For office, “induced” downstream housing also generates additional costs (see Facebook FIA)


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 21, 2022 at 5:14 pm

PH is a registered user.

Thumbnail calculations I've made for the site suggest that the proposed project will increase actual on-site employment from between 850 to 1250 (possibly more) let's call it 1000. I cannot answer the question whether the 480 units "mitigates" the increased employment at the site.

If it does not, then the proposed project would increase the housing deficit and the "no project" option genuinely looks more attractive on that measure.


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