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Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Housing launches campaign

Original post made on Aug 2, 2022

A group of Menlo Park residents celebrated the kick-off of the Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes campaign on Sunday, July 31. The group was formed to oppose the Menlo Balance initiative.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 2, 2022, 11:20 AM

Comments (21)

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 2, 2022 at 1:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is great to see a group of well informed citizens willing to mobilize against the fear based Menlo Balance initiative which is both unwise from a policy perspective and would have the predictable consequence of neighborhoods voting in their own best interest to APPROVE density increases in other neighborhoods.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 2, 2022 at 1:35 pm

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

a) Like other putative housing projects near the bay, it may need to be abandoned if Indian skeletons are encountered when digging. That has happened in the past.

b) Whatever happened to living where you can afford? Like others do.

My parents were always renters. Even in Palo Alto. I got off that track by first renting downtown. Buying a condo downtown. Saving for a downpayment. And then buying a single family home (Also - find an enlightened realtor - and an enlightened bank. We have them here.)


And also - don't be afraid to use your real name - adds a lot of credibility when you do.

b)


Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 2:45 pm

MP Resident is a registered user.

Neighbors for Affordable Homes? Why not call it Menlo Together?

I hope Ms Rebosio updates her article to include the highly relevant addition that Adina Levin and Karen Grove are leaders of Menlo Together, the pro-density, pro-electrification and anti-natural gas group that has been deeply involved in city politics, and has close ties to three current members of our city council.

Ms Levin and Ms Grove are entitled to promote causes they believe in, but if the Almanac is going to report on their initiative, they owe it to their readers to get all the pertinent information out there so the public to come to their own conclusions.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 2, 2022 at 3:30 pm

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

Let me add that I am not unsympathetic.

Until I was 13 I grew up in a 1-bedroom apartment in a 6-story brick apartment building across from subway tracks,, where the bedroom was used by my parents. I slept in a hallway by the front door on a pull-out couch.

And I am grateful for the NYC school system, and Brooklyn Museum.



Posted by Belle Haven Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 2, 2022 at 4:38 pm

Belle Haven Resident is a registered user.

What ever happened to people living near where they work? That is not going to happen as long as only rich people can afford Menlo Park.


Posted by Mark Potter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 2, 2022 at 5:03 pm

Mark Potter is a registered user.

I am so grateful that my fellow citizens are standing up to the tribalism of Menlo Balance. The nimbyism that opposes and stifles affordable housing on the Peninsula is something that must be exposed and opposed.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 2, 2022 at 5:15 pm

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

How much housing is proposed in District 4?

How much housing is proposed in District 5?


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 2, 2022 at 9:27 pm

Brian is a registered user.

This seems to be just another face of Menlo Together. Why not use the name Menlo Together? I think because people know it and are not sympathetic to what they have been pushing for years. I support the initiative and will advocate for it. When three members of the city council won't even support our public parks enough to take housing development in the parks off the table, initiatives like this are necessary. People paid a high premium to live in Menlo Park, and news flash they were not born rich, they worked hard to get their houses. Now the City Council wants to come in and drastically change the characters of the neighborhoods without a thought to the existing residents? Time to step up and take back some control of our own neighborhoods.


Posted by Resident
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2022 at 6:12 am

Resident is a registered user.

Why can’t people just live in East Palo Alto? There are a lot of houses here for sale. It would be great if families started buying them instead of LLCs and slumlords.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 3, 2022 at 10:35 am

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

Define "affordable housing"


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 3, 2022 at 9:13 pm

Iris is a registered user.

This group and the town council need to grasp that they have to stop adding more offices and jobs without first improving the current jobs and housing imbalance. They also need to grasp that a way to do that is to convert land zoning from office to housing. That addresses both parts of the jobs and housing equation without blowing up existing neighborhoods.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 4, 2022 at 8:41 am

Iris is a registered user.

I just looked at the ConnectMenlo General Plan (2016). The zoning changes then were forecast to add 4,500 housing units east of 101 (see page LU-11) beyond projects already in the pipeline, along with more non-residential sq ft and hotel rooms in the same area.
How has that turned out?

How does the Housing Element update jive with that plan, and why weren't other parts of the plan modified to ensure adequate infrastructure exists for more housing?

If the town council is now looking to put that housing elsewhere, isn't it time to step back and comprehensively modify the plans through a community-based process rather than by ad hoc decisions by them?


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 5, 2022 at 4:58 pm

PH is a registered user.

@Stu Soffer "Define 'affordable housing'"

According to state HCD rules, "Housing affordability for moderate income households is assumed by state law to start at 20 DU/ac and lower income affordability is accepted at “default densities” of 30 DU/ac or more."

Web Link
housing-element-memos/docs/defaultdensity2020censusupdate.pdf

So according to HCD, before being built, the Greenheart housing units were zoned for lower income households simply because they were zoned R-40. Even though the built apartments (now: Springline) now rent for between $4000-$7000/month.




Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 5, 2022 at 4:59 pm

PH is a registered user.

Here's the broken link: Web Link


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 6, 2022 at 10:17 am

PH is a registered user.

@Iris "If the town council is now looking to put that housing elsewhere, isn't it time to step back and comprehensively modify the plans through a community-based process rather than by ad hoc decisions by them?"

Yes. And ...

Honestly, you should be running for city council in your district. Can we talk? Nomination season is open. I think its a change election, and you'll do just fine. you would be doing a great public service by providing a much needed policy choice to voters desperate for that choice. Please contact me at paigehurstatprotonmaildotcom in any event.

And just to drone on providing a little text cover for the in-post recruitment. Menlo Together was able to plant a charge of "disparate treatment" against ConnectMenlo in the City's "Impact Report" of the Initiative. If you haven't read it you should. It's part of the City Staff report for that evening. (There's other interesting stuff in the Report.)

Here's my point. If ConnectMenlo is disparate treatment then the City is essentially accusing itself of a pretty serious civil rights violation, and since Menlo Together controls a majority of council, how can it not take action on those grounds? The Grove Foundation also has the funds to wage such a suit. The accusation was arguably planted at the behest of or to pander to KG for use in the campaign. How can she plant the allegation in the Report and take no action? Isnt that similar to an HR #metoo complaint of "harassment" after which HR does nothing with the complaint?

Moving on. There should be common political ground between those who resent ConnectMenlo because of alleged disparate treatment, even if they don't really mean it, and those of us who object to ConnectMenlo as dumb and imbalanced land-use policy.

I have no idea how we all might get together to hold hands to sing Kumbaya, but there is common ground. Getting a leash on ConnectMenlo is job #1, IMO.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 6, 2022 at 10:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

And why exactly does someone from Woodside (PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills) feel that they should have a voice in who are the elected leaders in Menlo Park?


Posted by Adina
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 6, 2022 at 4:53 pm

Adina is a registered user.

People who watched the city council meeting will know that there were several people who asked city council to research a variety of potential impacts of the ballot measure. The questions about the impacts on fair housing also came from several residents of Belle Haven, the neighborhood that was formerly redlined, and was the site of almost all the affordable housing in the city's previous (and first ever) Housing Element. The assessment concluded that the ballot measure would make it difficult for the city to meet state obligations to "affirmatively further fair housing" which means providing housing in high-opportunity areas across the city. People would be, of course, free to run for office on a platform opposing affirmatively furthering fair housing.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Aug 7, 2022 at 2:07 pm

PH is a registered user.

@adina

You actually talked past my point, right? The point was about ConnectMenlo, not the Initiative. It cites information revealed in the Report about ConnectMenlo.

If you (or the Report) are saying that ConnectMenlo, by putting "almost all" the affordable housing in or near Belle Haven, constitutes either "disparate treatment" under the Civil Rights Act or "disparate impact" now "cognizable" under the Fair Housing Act, then *both* of those allegations are serious violations of the law and are actionable, by those, like Menlo Together, who casually insinuate explosive charges of civil rights violations and then do nothing about it.

Adina, are you publicly charging that ConnectMenlo is discriminatory and violates the Civil Rights Act?

The "cure" would be for the city to sue itself to *stay* the implied treatment or disparate impact and undo ConnectMenlo. In other words, rezone the thousands of unit previously targeted for Bayfront throughout the city.

Iris' suggestion was, if that need be done, and that is what is being done, secretly, that it best be done as a public process, not in secret, and not through repeated ad hoc zoning of council.

If you think ConnectMenlo is discrminatory and do nothing, that is on you.

If you think affordable housing once zoned for Belle Haven now has to be rezoned for elsewhere, but without full public disclosure of how many units, and no formal public input, and at the whim of council, then good luck with that.

My other point was we both AGREE that ConnectMenlo is bad policy but for different reasons. The main reason why ConnectMenlo had to jam thousands of housing into Menlo Park is because it also decided to jam tens of thousand of jobs into Menlo Park.

Another solution would be to revisit ConnectMenlo to reduce job densities thereby reducing housing pressure throughout the whole city, including near Belle Haven, and through a public process which was Iris' point.

And, yes, that's a winning platform.






Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 7, 2022 at 3:55 pm

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

There is a disconnect in the policies discussed, and that is, "residential density" and "income" for rent are two different quanta. Density alone doesn't make it affordable (if so, tell us how).

Affordability should describe. parameters of family size and income.

And there is silence on policies to protect families from life contingencies, like divorce, job loss. While that can disrupt families, that's not what this is about.

---

I've served two terms on the Menlo Park Planning Commission, and on the Finance Committee, albeit some time ago. I've traversed and wrestled with these issues, and they're not new to me.


---

And a note to Karen Grove. I used to see her father Andy having dinner regularly at Trellis Restaurant downtown when I was there also. Andy Grove was a holocaust survivor. Bless his memory.





Posted by private citizen
a resident of Laurel School
15 hours ago

private citizen is a registered user.

Great, old book:

"Getting to Yes: Negotiating without Giving In"

Just sayin'.


Posted by Iris
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
30 minutes ago

Iris is a registered user.

@PH - thank you for restating, even better, what I was trying to say.

Less than half the land in Menlo Park is zoned Very Low/Low density residential (43.8%), with another 11.1% zoned Medium/High density. For those of us who think of Menlo Park as a residential community, the numbers belie that, with barely 1/2 the land designated that way.

The initiative could help achieve a better balance between business and residential areas by making it easier to focus on Bayfront, Commercial, and Specific Plan areas for fewer jobs and more housing. These areas are 15.2% the land.

To the point that neighborhoods need to do their share: By state laws, all single family neighborhoods could have ADU's. Presumably those are relatively "affordable". The initiative doesn't affect that or SB-9, right?


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