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Menlo Balance initiative sparks fervent debate among residents

Original post made on Jul 28, 2022

A ballot initiative that would take decisions on housing out of the hands of the Menlo Park City Council sharply divided community members at the July 26 meeting, inspiring 33 people to come out and speak.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 28, 2022, 11:31 AM

Comments (47)

Posted by Karen Bradshaw
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Karen Bradshaw is a registered user.

Cameron Rebosio-As a journalist you should DO your research before you publish false information. The header of your article is incorrect, as the Menlo Balance Initiative is a proposal to allow voters to VOTE on specific rezoning...it does not "block the construction of any multifamily housing".

"If passed by voters in November, the Menlo Balance initiative would block the construction of any multifamily housing in most Menlo Park neighborhoods, including a proposed teacher housing project at the vacant James Flood Magnet School at 321 Sheridan Drive."

FALSE.


Posted by JOlson
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 5:38 pm

JOlson is a registered user.

I support Menlo Balance and their ballot measure which would allow Menlo Park residents to vote on whether Menlo Park citizens want historically very low density and low density residential communities in our city to be rezoned to high density. This measure would allow the whole community to vote on the future of our town and not just five City Council members. I believe that the residents and voters of Menlo Park should have chance to preserve areas of single family neighborhood zoning if they so desire. Let's allow Menlo Park residents to drive the future of their own city.


Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 5:48 pm

Mary is a registered user.

Affordable housing in this area of California is an oxymoron. OK, say you have affordable housing. Then you need affordable food, affordable medical care, affordable prescriptions, affordable transportation, etc. Then there’s the question. Who is going to be making up the deficit for all these affordable items?


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 28, 2022 at 9:46 pm

Brian is a registered user.

I also support the Menlo Balance initiative. My family has been in Menlo park or close to 100 years and it has changes significantly. Unfortunately the Council has in the past approved to much office space and now we are being forced to pay for that with high density housing and horrible traffic. It is time that we put some of the decision making back in the hands of the residents. I certainly do not want to have our parks turned into high density housing, and while some say that won't happen I would point out that 3 council members (Taylor, Wolosin and Nash) would not vote to block that from happening. And opposed to one of the people who said people don't chose where they live they chose based on what they can afford I have to disagree. I chose to move back to the Willows because I love the neighborhood and the people I get to interact with here.


Posted by Ron
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 28, 2022 at 11:33 pm

Ron is a registered user.

If we are to support the principle of a majority vote, then we should embrace the notion when the majority of the local city population has the opportunity to vote on decisions that have significant and long lasting impacts on the city. In what scenario is it actually preferable to have four politicians overrule the majority of the populace? How can it possibly be deemed detrimental to have the people be able to vote if a commercial property can be re-zoned to an ultra high density housing lot? This should be especially concerning if no other similar type of ultra high density housing exists anywhere in the city or neighboring cities. Rather, if we support democratic ideals where the people’s vote can not be overturned by four overzealous politicians seeking their own political gain, then we should absolutely embrace and support the opportunity to vote on powerful issues that will have much longer lasting implications to all the city’s residents long after those politicians have left office.

In regards to this particular issue, we should demand from those same politicians to focus on facts and less on political rhetoric. We should demand those politicians to explain why ultra density housing is being proposed at levels far above what the state recommends. In reality, the politicians are well aware of the excessiveness of the ultra high density housing being proposed at the Ravenswood site, which is why they feel compelled and obligated to avoid those facts, and instead to turn this into a grandstanding rhetoric issue about supporting teacher housing. But this is not the problem because of course all residents absolutely support teacher housing. Rather this issue is not about teacher housing at all; it is instead entirely about a concern of ultra high density housing, and an even graver concern about why four city politicians would prefer to avoid allowing the populace to vote on ultra high density housing that directly affects their lives.


Posted by Karen Bradshaw
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 7:47 am

Karen Bradshaw is a registered user.

I support Menlo Balance. Residents should have a vote as to whether their single-family neighborhoods are rezoned to high density, and such a drastic change shouldn't be left up to 3 City Council members. This isn't just about housing, it is about traffic safety, preservation of Menlo Park public parks, and school capacities, to name a few.


Posted by MPMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 8:50 am

MPMom is a registered user.

Accessibility is a key concern of the residents of Suburban Park. Imagine living on a cul-de-sac, which is where the Flood School site lies, and having 90 residents living at the end of it. The traffic impact of hundreds of cars going in and out on a daily basis, through a narrow curved street that is frequently occupied with children on bikes and scooters, is frightening. The residents who live on the ONLY street into the site chose this neighborhood for it's family friendly environment and quality of life. And, they paid a pretty penny for it. Nobody here objects to building low-income housing, but they would like a say in the decision, while carefully evaluating all of the logisitics. It doesn't appear that RSD or the MP City Council understood or even cared about the environmental impact this project would have. Please vote YES on the Menlo Balance initiative in November.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 29, 2022 at 11:43 am

PH is a registered user.

@Almanac photo caption "If passed by voters in November, the Menlo Balance initiative would block the construction of any multifamily housing in most Menlo Park neighborhoods, including ..."

Breathe, Karen.

I noticed this inaccuracy too. With a little less tone, and just for fun, here's my favorite edited version

"If passed by voters in November, the Menlo Balance initiative would block the construction of any [cannabis shop, liquor store, adult book store, gas station, smelting plant, steer rendering plant, and pole dancing establishment] in most Menlo Park neighborhoods, including ..."

Hopefully now we see the bias.

It's important for the Almanac to correct its stock description of the Initiative moving forward, because, reading this one, a citizen might believe the Initiative itself legislated OUTCOMES rather than transferred authority. The Initiative does not legislatively preclude any possible outcome, including multi-family housing.

My version is much better.


Posted by new guy
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 29, 2022 at 12:41 pm

new guy is a registered user.

Pretty clear which council members are against this one. and why this needs to be voted on!


Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 29, 2022 at 12:53 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

The gathering of signatures was fraught with out and out lies. the gentlemen who came to my front door (I live in Central Menlo (Windsor Drive) asked "Do you want them to build a 6 story building 3 blocks from your house" again, not helpful or truthful.

So if that's the tact they are taking, then count me in to lead the NO campaign against this NIMBY proposal, and I am sure a number of my former Yes on Measure L and No on Measure M brethren will sign up......

Foolish indeed

Roy Thiele-Sardina


Posted by MiddleAged Menlo Parker
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 2:54 pm

MiddleAged Menlo Parker is a registered user.

"(My sons) grew up in this community, they will not be able to live here," said Ronen Vengosh. "They're not going to be able to afford to do so and they'll probably end up leaving the Bay Area, probably the state...."
I have an issue with this comment. I couldn't necessarily afford MP 20 years ago (because news flash: it hasn't been affordable here in 40+ years) but I scrimped and saved and worked multiple jobs until I was able to buy a small house here. If you save your $ and invest wisely and forgo vacations every 6 months and don't eat out all the time, you can do it. Now my neighborhood is going to be directly impacted by this Flood School proposal, so yes, I'm mad about it. That's why I support Menlo Balance and the opportunity to bring this issues to the voters vs. having the City Council decide it for us.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 29, 2022 at 3:43 pm

PH is a registered user.

Blanket Upzoning—A Blunt Instrument—Won't Solve the Affordable Housing Crisis

Web Link

"Michael Storper: The “housing as opportunity” school of thought is a consensus in mainstream housing economics that ... claims that the housing crisis in our major prosperous metropolitan regions is principally due to restrictive zoning and regulations. It follows ... that we can solve this crisis through widespread upzoning, which it claims will increase the supply of housing in these prosperous regions, and that this overall supply increase will have a trickle-down effect by increasing affordability for lower income people and families."

Cities like LA, San Francisco, ... have a strong economic base that attracts skilled people in occupations with high wages. They also have a large population with very low incomes. What drives housing prices up is the strength of the fundamental economic forces that causes the skilled to want to be in big metropolitan areas today. This force is much stronger than 30 years ago. The payoff for a skilled person to locating in a big city today (in terms of higher wages compared to locating in other places) is much bigger than in the past. That is why the skilled continue to crowd into LA and even the Bay Area, in spite of their high housing costs. It’s also why any increase in supply will mostly benefit them (in terms of better housing choices for them).

That’s fine, but what it is unlikely to do is have a strong trickle-down effect, and upzoning legislation is largely being sold on the affordability or trickle-down argument."


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 29, 2022 at 6:25 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

I fought Measure M and I'll fight this one. It is a stupid idea that is fraught with unintended consequences. "Affordable Housing" in this area is a myth or an outright lie. The land costs too much and the cost of construction is too high, even at the cheapest level of construction. The only way anything that is actually affordable can be built in this area is with significant government funding. Can you say higher taxes? Can you say "the projects? These state laws are nothing more than politicians trying to appear to be "doing something" about homelessness and unaffordable housing without actually doing something. It's extremely cynical.


Posted by Ronen
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 29, 2022 at 9:37 pm

Ronen is a registered user.

I see the NIMBYs are out in force.

People need places to live. We keep adding office space but don’t build housing for all the employees working in those cubicles.

All those houses we’re not building? We’re paying for them with massive commute traffic across the Bay Area.

Young people are leaving the state in large numbers. Just in my office three young professionals in their early 30s, born and raised in the Bay Area, have recently left because they couldn’t afford housing. 2 went to Arizona and 1 to Utah.

When companies can’t find those early career professionals locally, they stop hiring here and move their operations elsewhere.

Can’t you all see how self destructive this is?

We need to build housing.

And stop pretending that you’re for affordable housing, just not on your street. We need more housing everywhere.

If we pass this resolution, there will be NO new multi-family housing built in our town, because no developer in their right mind would take the risk on a city wide vote to permit their project. This is bad policy. This is bad economics. Worst of all, it’s bad for our neighbors and our neighborhoods.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:55 am

Iris is a registered user.

The simplest answer is to convert more land to be zoned for housing. That would reduce the demand for housing and create more at the same time.


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 31, 2022 at 10:25 am

Frozen is a registered user.

The downtown/El Camino specific plan was supposed to govern the next 30 years of development, including a limit on office space. Almost as soon as it was released, Stanford and then-Greenheart gobbled up almost the entire 30 years-worth of office space with tiny amounts of retail and housing to offset that.

Those projects have yet to open. Both are massive, and they will exacerbate the jobs:housing imbalance even more, with even more residents trying to hang on to a scrap of our former quality of life.

It's funny that Atherton is getting away, again, with blowing off the requirements. I laud their leaders for echoing the desires of residents rather than catering to those who want to live in Atherton. How come those of you who accuse Menlo Park residents of being entitled NIMBYs aren't over in the Atherton thread? Menlo Park is affluent but not rich enough for a single family home lifestyle?

I believe everyone should have housing, and we could have many discussions about the origins of today's housing problems. But I will guarantee you one thing: those of us who work long hours to afford to live here are not the cause. Nor do I think we should be expected to build "affordable housing everywhere." That kind of rhetoric may earn you points among your fellow virtue-signalers, but it is not economically viable or sustainable.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 31, 2022 at 10:38 am

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

Hey Ronen. How about companies build more office where housing is more affordable? How about remote work? Is our housing allocation taking remote work into consideration? Everything seems to be for the benefit of corporations at the expense of everyone else. NIMBY is a simple slur which ignores the reality.

Also, until the use of real estate as an debt and tax advantaged investment vehicle comes to an end, along with the endless money printing which facilitates this... there will be NO solution to the housing shortage. All we can do is destroy the quality of life for everyone except those at the top of the food chain who are making this happen and benefiting from it.

Finally, as the insane inflation in housing prices continues nationwide, eventually CA prop 13 protection will bring people back here, as they discover that taxes are not so cheap after all in Texas and other places.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 31, 2022 at 7:27 pm

PH is a registered user.

@Ronen "When companies can’t find those early career professionals locally, they stop hiring here and move their operations elsewhere. Can’t you all see how self destructive this is?"

Our alleged "loss" is some other regions gain. Why is that a bad thing? My gosh, talk about opportunity hoarding.

What's most destructive is to shoehorn every high-skilled early career professional in five supercities in the US as a market-driven national policy. It economically devastates the heartland, and insures the weird rural v urban politics we have, and it also creates inequities locally since highly paid young professionals outbid long time teachers and other workforce members for housing stock.

No matter how many units we build, there's a planet full of highly skilled, highly paid young workers that will in-migrate to snatch them away from lower paid local workers like teachers.

Locations where national politics are "purpling" are those places Atlanta, Arizona, and Texas in the sunbelt that are out-migration destinations from the super cities such as SF and LA.

Maybe we should allow the out-migration and share the wealth with the rest of America including the heartland. That is called "placed-based" policy. It attempts to distribute the wealth with the rest of the US, including those places where housing is cheaper and people would benefit from the economic influx.

Must we really house and employ everyone in five supercities. Couldn't we create twenty? Or nineteen? Or twenty seven? Why five? Why here?

I've heard people worry about "destroying" the Silicon Valley for more than three decades. Nothing has hurt the local economy more than Capitalism itself, first with the tech bubble bursting in 2001 and then with Wall Street screwing the world in 2006.

Take a deep breath Ronan. It'll be okay. We just can't employ and house every young professional here.

The 90 units on Flood School aren't going to save worldwide Capitalism.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 31, 2022 at 8:14 pm

Brian is a registered user.

I would first like to say that if you are using the term "NIMBY" you are part of the problem with our country and city today. Just the use of that term makes a lot of open minded people stop reading and put the comments in the uninformed category. Do you understand the issue? Do you understand where residents are not happy about having their neighborhoods drastically changed without a say in it? What are you afraid of by having the voters of Menlo Park have a say in their neighborhoods? What is served by name calling?

it seems obvious that some on City Council don't trust the voters that elected them or don't think they can make good decisions and therefore don't want they to be able to have a say in their neighborhoods, that is sad. When the council can't even agree to take our public parks off the table for high density housing it is time the voters took a stand and that is just what they are doing. I embrace democracy and love the fact that this initiative got enough signatures to make the ballot, it is democracy in action and a check and balance on the majority of the city council that has made decisions counter to the wishes of the residents of the affected neighborhoods. Maybe it will pass, maybe it won't but regardless I hope a message is received.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2022 at 7:58 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Brian:

We live in a representative democracy. We elect people to make decisions for us. When we don't like their decisions we let them know and don't reelect them. You are pushing true democracy which has been shown historically to be an absolute disaster. You will have people like Ronan that throws around the NIMBY name like weapon voting on things as well as people that want to see absolutely no growth or change. In addition to those you will have completely uninformed people voting in your true democracy.

I'm not happy with a number of things the council is doing and I will be sure to make my displeasure known at the ballot box. This measure is just asking for all kinds of unintended consequences. I will vote against it and fight its passage. This is right up there with the Measure M folks and their measure right after the DSP went into effect. They couldn't be bothered to pay attention to the SIX YEAR process that created it, but got upset when it was put into effect. Those are the kind of people you are asking to vote on this measure. Do you see the problem with that?


Posted by Menlo Lifestyle
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:14 am

Menlo Lifestyle is a registered user.

@MenloVoter No I do not see a problem with that. When less than 5 people can change the entire complexion of a city without working with homeowners they need that power taken away. In your representative democracy the representatives only have the power given to them by the people. When they abuse it they will lose it. That's exactly what's happening with this ballot measure. It has nothing to do with previous measures, and your "uninformed" neighbors will reset this out of touch city council.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2022 at 10:24 am

Brian is a registered user.

Menlo Voter,

I guess you don't believe in the initiative process and the power that it gives to people, however I do. Initiatives have a long history in California including what is likely the most famous Proposition 13. They provide a useful and often necessary check on the elected officials, as I believe is the case here. It is often that elected officials do not act in the interest of the voters and there are many reasons for that. In some cases official are less than truthful in the positions while running for office and in other cases certain topics are not discussed because they are not relevant during the election cycle. We also have the issue of district elections that, while beneficial in getting equal representation have the draw back that the elected officials are more focused on their district, and reelection by that district, than the city as a whole. This is where the initiative process comes in and it is necessary and very useful. There is a hurdle that must be met to qualify, that being a number of verified signatures to qualify for the ballot, something that Menlo Balance not only met but exceeded in a short amount of time. This tells me that many people in Menlo Park feel this is a problem.

As with any election it will fail or pass based on the voted it gets. I have not been afraid to say I support it because I think it puts ore control in the voters hands and in general I don't believe this City Council or ones in the past have made good decisions on Menlo Park growth or development. I did support Measure M because I felt that it would limit business development and help prevent the position we are in now with too much office space compared to housing. It failed and here we are.

As for the use NIMBY, well name calling was juvenile back in grade school and it has not become less so by adults. If people have pertinent arguments to make then by all means they should make them, but calling people names just makes them look petty.


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

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I don't think the sponsors have carefully considered the dynamics of a city wide vote on a neighborhood specific project.

Perhaps the sponsors of Measure M will explain why they think that voters NOT impacted by a zoning change in someone else's neighborhood would vote against that change.

The rational voter would vote FOR increased density elsewhere in order to reduce the need for greater density in their neighborhood.

And voters concerned with equity issues would also support a zoning density increase.

The only voters motivated to vote against the change would be the immediate neighbors and, by definition, the immediate neighbors would be a small minority of the total voters.

And we would all bear the considerable cost of each such election.

I think the Measure M folks need to go back to the drawing board.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:19 pm

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

Peter

Why do you care so much about this?

You are:

* trying to tie it to Measure M, which lost, even though there is no evidence to support this.
* trying to pit one neighborhood against another
* warning about considerable costs without elaborating

This is the behavior of a troll.

definition of troll:

One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Running Hard is a good name to hide behind because you are wrong on all of your suppositions.

I said nothing about Measure M.

I did not pit one neighborhood against another - that is what the Menlo Balance initiative would do.

The considerable costs are obvious to anyone familiar with local elections. Each time a zoning change goes to a city wide election it will cost between $50 and $100k depending on how many other issues are on the ballot.

I deal in facts - trolls do not.


Posted by Menlo Lifestyle
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:36 pm

Menlo Lifestyle is a registered user.

@Peter I believe you're ascribing actions to people you really know nothing about. As a part of the group that came up with the initiative I can assure you we fully understand what this measure means. This measure ONLY deals with single family home rezoning. It affects no other kind of property in Menlo. If one of our neighborhoods was advocating a high density development in the middle of their neighborhood we would all help them support that.

But your post implies no one would want that. And so you've really made the point very well that the only way a large development goes into the middle of a neighborhood (requiring the rezoning) is if it's forced on the home owners and voters.

Also, I was on the team that gathered signatures. I can report we had a 9 to 1 in favor, with many, many long-time homeowners visibly angry city council would rezone ANY R-1 lot to something dense in the middle of a neighborhood.

The voters aren't going to buy the argument to be made by big money progressives that "Menlo Park homeowners HAVE to change their single family home lifestyle." It's going to be a landslide for our ethos.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:37 pm

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

Peter

I'll respond to the one thing pertinent thing you just wrote, about the cost of zoning changes.

You lament the cost of zoning changes without pointing out that developers pay for them and benefit from them. I remember hearing that Bohannon paid 7.5 million dollars to get a big chunk of his land rezoned so that he could build the ugly gateway project.

The sad fact is that developer money pays for the planning department and so it is inevitable that this becomes a patron / servant relationship.

This is a strong argument in favor of this initiative.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 1, 2022 at 1:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I'll respond to the one thing pertinent thing you just wrote, about the cost of zoning changes."

I said NOTHING about the cost of zoning changes.

I spoke only about the costs os a city wide election of each and every propose zoning change.

Please engage in an honest dialogue or you will further discredit your cause.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 1, 2022 at 2:19 pm

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

Peter

It's dishonest to suggest that this is about the cost of zoning change, either via election or otherwise.

Zoning changes happen in the insular world where developers are the patrons paying to play among city staff and city council members. The elections of the city council members are often paid for directly and indirectly by development interests.

This initiative seek to put an end to that system, at least for changes to residential zoning districts. Of course there will be opposition to this, paid for by development interests.






Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 1, 2022 at 4:01 pm

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Brian:

No, I don't believe in the initiative process. A very good argument can be made that the initiative process in this state is greatly responsible for many of our problems. Not to mention any time our "leaders" want political cover for something unpopular they put it out as an initiative. Can't blame them no matter how bad it turns out. Initiatives are a blunt instrument they are ill suited to dealing with complex problems. And they usually create bad unintended consequences.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 1, 2022 at 9:09 pm

Brian is a registered user.

MenloVoter,

On this we will have to agree to disagree. I am a firm believer in giving the initiative power to the people. I will agree that some initiatives are bad and don't benefit people. The truly bad ones don't make it through the court challenges because they are not legal or full of problems, but in general I don't blindly trust elected officials and there are plenty of cases in California where they were not looking out for the best interests of the population they were supposed to represent.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 1, 2022 at 11:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Given that the State is REQUIRING that Menlo Park increase its housing stock perhaps the sponsors of Measure M will explain why they think that voters NOT impacted by a zoning change in someone else's neighborhood would vote against that change since housing built in someone else's neighborhood will reduce the need to build new housing in all the other neighborhoods.

And, for the record, I personally believe that this initiative, clearly created out of fear, is a poor substitute for elected representative government.


Posted by MenloVoter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 2, 2022 at 7:39 am

MenloVoter. is a registered user.

Brian:

I don't "blindly" trust our leaders either. See my point about dealing with them at the ballot box. The fact remains when the general public gets involved it usually doesn't end well because the majority of voters don't take the time to fully educate themselves and fully consider all ramifications of what they are voting for. In the case of this initiative, what needs to happen is the voters need to turn out the council members that are going along with the state's nonsense and put people in that won't.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:15 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The great tragedy of democratic governments is that after the generations who have literally fought to establish or protect those democracies die out the vast majority of the remaining citizens have ZERO interest in serving as an elected representative.

Even worse some of those who elect to sit on the sidelines feel free to disempower their duly elected representatives.

A direct democracy is VERY hard work. The closest we have is Switzerland which has four representative elections a year
and then also votes, with a 60% turnout rate, on dozens of initiatives a year.

In contrast less than 35% of Menlo Park voters voted on Measure M.


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:28 am

Frozen is a registered user.

Peter, you seem unnaturally obsessed with Measure M. It's unrelated to this current initiative; it had nothing to do with housing! It was an effort by residents to hold the city accountable to the downtown/El Camino plan that had taken so many years to craft and was supposed to cover 30 years of development.

Two deep-pocketed developers walked all over that plan, and the city let them. When residents protested, those same rich developers launched a vicious smear campaign against the Measure M proponents. Hardly a surprise that Measure M lost.

But that was almost a decade ago, and many city residents weren't aware of changing dynamics in this city. Now people are, and we see the potential impacts on all neighborhoods, not just those adjacent to El Camino. We don't want our neighborhoods destroyed. Hence, this initiative.

Yes, elections cost money, but since this initiative is on the November ballot, the marginal cost is tiny. Are you suggesting that we get rid of all elections because they're expensive? Sounds like it, but I don't think that's a form of government that most of us want.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:35 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, you seem unnaturally obsessed with Measure M."

Wrong. Voter turnout on Measure M is the issue that I raise to demonstrate that even very controversial measures seldom draw a majority of voters to the polls.


If you turn every difficult issue into a city wide election you will have government by a small minority - usually less than 20% of the voters will support the winning outcome. That is a recipe for disaster.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:40 am

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

Peter

Right now we have a small group of people controlling the zoning process. The initiative is designed to take power away from them.

As such, your entire argument here is backward and appears to be disingenuous.

We need systems where the population does not need to be ever vigilant in the protection of their basic property rights.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:50 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Right now we have a small group of people controlling the zoning process. The initiative is designed to take power away from them."

And give it to an unelected 20% of the voters who have NO factual knowledge about either planning or zoning and most of whom will do NO homework before casting an impulsive vote on an issue that they don't understand.

That is simply crazy.

Do you have ANY idea how many hours of preparation individual Planning Commissioners and Council members put into preparing to vote on any issue?

I spent 4 1/2 years as a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner and spent at least 20 hours every week getting ready for a 4-6 hour meeting.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 10:57 am

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

Deferring to experts is one of the weakest arguments.

However, in this case it is even worse, because I know exactly what I'm talking about.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Deferring to experts is one of the weakest arguments."

Of course it was amateurs who got us to the moon.
It was amateurs who provided the leadership to win WW II.
It was amateurs who developed the mRNA Covid vaccine in less than a week.

Deferring to amateurs is the height of ignorance and hubris.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:12 am

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

This is nothing more than trolling.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I deeply regret that you have not been able to answer a single one of my questions or refute any of my statements of fact.

If this is " to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. " then you need to step up to the challenge of an honest dialogue.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:39 am

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

I deeply regret that there is no mute feature for this forum, as there is on Twitter, so that I might increase the signal to noise ratio here.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 11:42 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The best way to increase the signal to noise ratio is to provide new facts and to refute false statements with actual data.


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 3, 2022 at 8:55 pm

Brian is a registered user.

Running,

Just ignore it, that is what I do.

Brian


Posted by mvheim
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
9 hours ago

mvheim is a registered user.

When I was asked by a neighbor to sign the petition, I declined; and the more I read about it, the more I disagree with the initiative. It seems obvious that it represents a NIMBY point of view. Realistically, it will prevent any rezoning in the foreseeable future, and that is undoubtedly its purpose despite protestations by supporters (it is laughable to think that there will be a citywide ballot measure on the zoning of every single piece of property proposed for development from now to the end of time; or indeed, that any developer would invest any time or effort into planning housing in this city, knowing that it would have to pass this hurdle). It basically handcuffs the city government and prevents any progress on the critical issue of housing equity — again, by design. It is possible to critique the particular development plan for the Flood property or any other parcel without invoking this extremely restrictive limitation on our elected officials. I personally don't have a stake in this battle since I am selling out and will almost certainly be leaving Menlo Park, but it is clear that if it passes, the city will become even more an exclusive enclave of the 5%. If that is your vision for Menlo Park, then feel free to support it.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
9 hours ago

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

mvheim - you are either mis-informed or dishonest. The initiative states that this the restrictions only apply to single family housing zoning.

Also, most development does not require changes in zoning. Zoning changes primarily benefit wealthy land owners and developers like Bohannon, Stanford and Greenheart.

The current city council give a "no-comment" when asked if they will protect our park-spaces from development. That's not my idea of progress, nor is rezoning single family housing districts. We can already add a lot of housing via ADU and subdivisions within these districts per state mandates.

Arguments about elitism and/or racism are inappropriate.


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