Town Square

Post a New Topic

Details emerge on Menlo Park council's failed attempt to keep Measure V off the ballot

Original post made on Sep 16, 2022

The Menlo Park City Council failed to reach a compromise on a teacher housing proposal at the former Flood School site at a closed session meeting on Aug. 4 that could have seen a contentious citizen initiative pulled from the ballot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 16, 2022, 9:15 AM

Comments (35)

Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 16, 2022 at 9:59 am

Observer is a registered user.

Wasn't this meeting a violation of the Brown Act and why was that not mentioned in the article? Actually that should have been the major point of the article.


Posted by Dawn1234
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 16, 2022 at 10:32 am

Dawn1234 is a registered user.

"That's the City Council not doing its job," Chessari said. "And if people are concerned about City Council not doing its job, or doing things in a way that's racist, then that's not our measure's fault, but the City Council's fault"

This measure seeks to reaffirm zoning practices with their roots in segregation. I am not accusing anyone of being racist. I am pointing out that supporters of this measure are working to make sure that systems with their roots in segregation stay in place. And second guessing a council that is only *just* beginning to represent every neighborhood seems again like an effort to keep a segregationist system going strong. Though the motivations may be different, the system Measure V is supporting perpetuates segregation (city report) because it was designed that way. If city council working to undo that goes against your wishes, that's unfortunate. Let's work together to mitigate the effect of social justice changes so that streets are safe in 100% of Menlo Park, not just 43%, and our young people can find housing in the community and neighborhoods they grew up in (if and when they wish). Pushing more housing on an overburdened neighborhood hardly seems balanced to me or anyone else in the Bayfront area.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 16, 2022 at 10:34 am

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

Daily Post, Friday, Sept 16, 2022.

San Mateo County Central Labor Council endorses Republican Peter Ohtaki for Menlo Park District 4 council seat. Let that sink in. Menlo Park needs Peter's financial expertise.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 16, 2022 at 10:41 am

PH is a registered user.

They're saying they met to discuss potential litigation. The article makes no attempt to determine or describe what that "credible" litigation was and by whom.

And then the meeting included a "discussion of THE compromise." THE compromise suggests a known negotiation among known participants, one of whom was a council member? Can a council member brief colleagues on a subject that might trigger future council action?

The expansion of scope sounds like it warrants additional explanation particularly if council action is required to help withdraw a submitted, certified petition.

Its news to me, that once Initiative paperwork has been submitted and certified that it can be withdrawn. I have never seen it. I think Ms. Chessari had wide-ranging responsibilities to the many who signed to protect R-1 zones other than those on the affordable site list.

Many of us think the scope and import of Measure V far exceeds the Flood project or the affordable housing site wish-list.

I'm sure the City can dance around this, but it sure looks like it used a (non-public) litigation threat as a pretext for a closed session whose scope was expanded.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 16, 2022 at 11:21 am

PH is a registered user.

@Stu -- Labor endorsed Peter because of his proven unreconstructed laissed-faire development policies, particularly ConnectMenlo. Build, build, build, build, build, build, build.

You know better. Choosing Ohtaki over Nash is a lesser of evils choice required to break up the Menlo Together silliness. Don't tell me for a minute that Ohtaki will push back on SRI. Its out of the frying pan into the fire with Peter over Nancy.


Posted by georg0
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 16, 2022 at 2:01 pm

georg0 is a registered user.

Before Peter Ohtaki was voted off the City Council, his purported financial expertise caused Menlo Park real estate development problems, including inadequate housing and lack of safe uncongested non-cut-through traffic jeopardizing vehicle, pedestrian, and bicycle safety. The housing imbalance led to the law requiring district elections and SB9.

The prior Ohtaki council’s damage caused by stuffing the toothpaste tube area between El Camino and the railroad tracks with office space and Stanford affiliated housing and requiring its traffic, combined with new pedestrian and bicycle access to a new railroad under-crossing, to all squeeze into and out a narrow nozzle at El Camino and Middle Ave has yet to be fully felt.

These complex problems require innovative analysis and judgment for the best interests of Menlo Park, not a redo by those who contributed to their cause. Betsy Nash is better.

George C. Fisher


Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 16, 2022 at 2:08 pm

Brian is a registered user.

"I am not accusing anyone of being racist." Seems to me that that is what you post was doing. Pretty much saying that anyone that supports Measure V is racist. Here is my take on it, any who votes for Measure V values their community and neighborhood. People bought into these neighborhoods because they like the feel of the neighborhood and the relative peace and quiet. Putting high density housing in the middle of a single family home neighborhood will ruin that. It would ruin it in Suburban Park, it would ruin it in Belle Haven and it would ruin it in Sharon Heights, unfortunately the majority of our City Council does not seem to care about that. Time to take that decision our of their hands and put it back in the hands of the current residents.

"While Chessari says that Menlo Balance has no plans to sue if Measure V does not pass, Eger says that Ravenswood would consider the option."

So what Eger is saying is that they could care less about the wishes of the residents or the voters on Menlo Park, if they don't get their way they litigate? And why would they be opposed to guaranteeing at least 50% occupancy by teachers? That is why they want to build it, right? Is this intended to be another bait and switch where once it is built they rent it out to anyone who can afford it? Something seems shady with this proposal to me.

Stu, Agreed, I think Peter is the way to go to be the council balanced and not a front for Menlo Together.


Posted by Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 16, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Observer is a registered user.

I thought this was about the council discussions article. What in heck dies ut have to about Ohtaki! We are discussing the current situation, not what could've been. The upcoming council election is a different issue.


Posted by Private citizen
a resident of Laurel School
on Sep 16, 2022 at 2:50 pm

Private citizen is a registered user.

Have to agree with emerald hills on Ohtaki. Peter was right there helping to enable Facebook’s purchase of and the subsequent overdevelopment of District 1. Aka: Connect Menlo.

Ironically, Nash with her three-person council voting block will now enable the same type of outcome for district 2 and parts of district 3.

Side bar:
It makes me wonder about the closed-door process for identifying lots with potential for high density development. The process is supposed to result in high density housing across the city instead of protecting certain neighborhoods at the expense of others. Shouldn’t residents be involved, or at least have greater visibility into the process? Checks and balances, anyone?

Anyhow:
By all means, build affordable housing for RCSD school employees on the site of the former Flood School. But the best way to keep Measure V off the ballot is to consider right-sizing the housing project so the impact doesn’t exceed the impact of the former school. (Whether that’s by fewer floors, fewer units, eliminating commercial space or some combination- I don’t know.)
And please don’t disturb our Haven House neighbors with a cut through that offloads traffic from the site into adjacent community, Flood Triangle to appease Suburban Park. HH residents desperately need the short-term peace, privacy and safety it provides. There’s no earthly justification for jeopardizing that. Perhaps consider increased egress through the park instead?

There’s all sorts of room for compromise.


Posted by Dawn1234
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Sep 16, 2022 at 4:36 pm

Dawn1234 is a registered user.

Brian, if you read the article, racist didn't come from me and I chose my words very carefully. Supporting racist systems can make people uncomfortable when that is pointed out to them. This town has a lot of work to do to recover from zoning laws put in place to maintain segregation. Measure V seeks to make that even harder. What do you mean these developments "will ruin Belle Haven" also? I have a 196 unit complex down the street from me. 3 times the size of the thing you're complaining about, but with about the same ratio of units/acre.
Replaced underused light industrial, worked with the community to make the least impact - once they had the zoning in place to actually get to that stage. It was much less disruptive than I expected it to be. Belle Haven is far from ruined. Have a walk over the bike bridge that neighbors in your area fought to keep from being rebuilt because of the negative perceptions of Belle Haven. Let the zoning happen and the conversations and planning you seek will begin to happen. Like many things, the unknown is scary. Ironically, I bike from one side of town to the other and I breathe a sigh of calm when i get to the Belle Haven side of the bridge because many people on the other side of 101 drive too fast and pull in front of bikes way more often. My streets are so much calmer to ride down even with all that density.


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 16, 2022 at 5:59 pm

Frozen is a registered user.

Okay, Dawn1234, since you keep playing/not playing the race card, can you answer these questions?

1. How does zoning, which is about property, not people, discriminate against any ethnic group?

2. Measure V tries to preserve family-oriented housing. Which ethnic groups don't want to live in single family homes? (I note that most Belle Haven residents live in single family homes, so you may have to go beyond Menlo Park to answer that question.)

I hope we can all agree that rezoning first, planning later is a recipe for city-wide regret.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 16, 2022 at 7:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Any measure/ordinance which seeks to preserve the status quo is inherently discriminatory and racial preferential.

Measure V’s motto could well be “I’ve got mine”.


Posted by Running hard to stay in place
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 16, 2022 at 8:42 pm

Running hard to stay in place is a registered user.

A troll uses vague terms, accuses others of being racially discriminatory without explaining how, attacks property rights and attempts to shame others in order to provoke a response and keep other on their heels.

Reasoned arguments can be disputed, but the troll does not seek to engage in reasoned arguments. Any use of such arguments is met with more trolling.

This continues inevitably until the troll is confronted with nothing other than a reflection of their own behavior.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 16, 2022 at 9:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If you cannot refute someone’s arguments then simply repeatedly calling them a troll only confirms that you are unable to defend your position.

Code words like preserve and protect expose Measure V as a discriminatory and racial preferential attempt to maintain the status quo.

“I’ve got mine”


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 17, 2022 at 7:54 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Housing discrimination on the basis of race has been outlawed for more than half a century, yet Americans still reside in neighborhoods significantly divided by race and, to a lesser extent, class. Although this state of affairs has multiple causes, one of the most important is land use regulations that are used by cities and towns to exclude certain types of people from neighborhoods and even entire towns. Zoning in particular is one such tool."

Web Link

"Exclusionary zoning laws essentially trap many Black families into low-income neighborhoods by pricing them out of richer ones."

Web Link

Measure V supporters - please refute these arguments.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 17, 2022 at 7:56 am

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

"Have to agree with emerald hills on Ohtaki. Peter was right there helping to enable Facebook’s purchase of and the subsequent overdevelopment of District 1"
Not so. This was the moribund Redevelopment Agency whose purpose was redevelopment of District 1. Then the banks wouldn't guarantee RDA bonds. Ahh, those were the days. To the extent that "Peter was right there helping to enable Facebook’s purchase", all council members were marching with that oompah band as well.

But I digress.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 17, 2022 at 7:56 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Exclusionary zoning laws place restrictions on the types of homes that can be built in a particular neighborhood. Common examples include minimum lot size requirements, minimum square footage requirements, prohibitions on multi-family homes, and limits on the height of buildings. The origins of such laws date back to the nineteenth century, as many cities were concerned about fire hazards as well as light-and-air regulations. In the subsequent decades, some zoning laws have been used to discriminate against people of color and to maintain property prices in suburban and, more recently, urban neighborhoods."

Web Link


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 17, 2022 at 8:35 am

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

I have seen old deeds from homes in a variety of peninsula areas that specifically stated the homes could not be sold to negroes, hispanics or chinese. Chinese being the word for all asians at the time. Those codicils of those deeds have since been long ago outlawed, but the language still appears in many old deeds. So, if we start with that kind of thinking when the original zoning was set up, what we have now, if we do a deep dive into current zoning that is a reflection of, or continuation of, those early zoning laws they can't be anything but inherently racist. The fact that the original zoning laws were designed to discriminate has never been addressed. The law says one can't discriminate on the basis of race thereby making that old deed language moot, but it never addressed the inherent racism built into the original zoning laws.

Time marches on, things change and so has Menlo Park. And it continues to change. The authors of V and M wanted to stop any change. With M it was the claim that the DSP would "destroy the village character of Menlo Park". Never mind that MP hasn't been a village since the 20's or maybe even earlier. Now it's "we purchased here for the quiet neighborhoods". It's the same nonsense and the same code for, as Peter said, "I've got mine, you can go somewhere else and get yours".

I am against SB9 and SB10. They're both BS laws designed to let the legislature pretend they are "doing something" about housing costs while actually doing nothing. I think the cities of the state should come together and fight it. It is bad law. But, Measure V doesn't do this. It is a blunt instrument that will have untold unintended consequences. We have an electorate in this city that barely participates in local elections and that has very few people that actually inform themselves about local issues and the authors of V want those same voters to vote on something as complex as zoning and planning? It's ridiculous.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 18, 2022 at 9:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is interesting and telling that when studies are posted that show that zoning has been used to discriminate the supporters of Measure V remain silent.

Their silence speaks volumes.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 19, 2022 at 11:39 am

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

Peter:
a) The proper put-down is "I am deafened by [the, your] silence". Learned it years ago in litigation. Memorable for juries.

b) Yesterday I walked Kramer down Sherwood Way and marveled how this one block endures with the same families for years - including two sisters who were born in their house long ago.

c) It's the price of the dirt.



Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 19, 2022 at 11:43 am

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

@Menlo Voter

"Those codicils of those deeds have since been long ago outlawed, but the language still appears in many old deeds.

"So, if we start with that kind of thinking when the original zoning was set up, what we have now, if we do a deep dive into current zoning that is a reflection of, or continuation of, those early zoning laws they can't be anything but inherently racist"

This is a big jump. Some examples, please.


Posted by Stuart Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 19, 2022 at 11:51 am

Stuart Soffer is a registered user.

"The housing imbalance led to the law requiring district elections and SB9."
No, district elections were caused by a dude in LA.

(Is LA still there?)


Posted by Frozen
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 19, 2022 at 12:27 pm

Frozen is a registered user.

Not all of us have time to post on Town Square every ten minutes, Peter.

Nothing you've linked suggests that Menlo Park zoning is racist. Zoning is related to land, not people. Ensuring livable communities through proper zoning benefits all.

Willie Mays can afford to live in Atherton. Peter lived there too. Most of us can't afford a home there. That's not because of racism or zoning but a matter of plain economics and relative wealth. Or does the NAH-MP crowd suggest scraping capitalism in favor of communes that accommodate all?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 19, 2022 at 12:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stu - Here are the facts re historical restrictive zoning and the long term impacts racial discrimination:

Web Link


Posted by georg0
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 19, 2022 at 4:59 pm

georg0 is a registered user.

Sofer:

“"The housing imbalance led to the law requiring district elections and SB9."
No, district elections were caused by a dude in LA.”

Response:

Per The Almanac: “Menlo Park City Council…faced with what amounts to little choice” changing to district elections due to lawsuit “alleging that its current at large voting system results in ‘racially polarized voting’ and makes it harder for candidates preferred by Latinos or African Americans from Belle Haven to be elected to the city council”. Web Link


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 23, 2022 at 3:04 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

For the record, I am opposed to Measure V for lots of reasons,

but Peter as soon as you start making it about race you lose me and a lot of other people,

you then start making it about an agenda. Its virtue signaling to the woke crowd. Can we for once leave race out of it.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 23, 2022 at 5:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Westbrook - How do you respond to these studies which clearly show that single family zoning, the mantra of Measure V, is inherently discriminatory?

"Housing discrimination on the basis of race has been outlawed for more than half a century, yet Americans still reside in neighborhoods significantly divided by race and, to a lesser extent, class. Although this state of affairs has multiple causes, one of the most important is land use regulations that are used by cities and towns to exclude certain types of people from neighborhoods and even entire towns. Zoning in particular is one such tool."


"Exclusionary zoning laws essentially trap many Black families into low-income neighborhoods by pricing them out of richer ones."


"Exclusionary zoning laws place restrictions on the types of homes that can be built in a particular neighborhood. Common examples include minimum lot size requirements, minimum square footage requirements, prohibitions on multi-family homes, and limits on the height of buildings. The origins of such laws date back to the nineteenth century, as many cities were concerned about fire hazards as well as light-and-air regulations. In the subsequent decades, some zoning laws have been used to discriminate against people of color and to maintain property prices in suburban and, more recently, urban neighborhoods."


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 23, 2022 at 10:46 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

Exclusionary zoning laws have been outlawed for 70 years. That's past history. If you're still looking at that today you might as well go back to slavery,

You and I both know the only thing keeping anyone on the "other side of the tracks" is money. Plenty of people of all races live on the "good side of the tracks" Plenty of people of all races live on "the bad side of the tracks",

Can we join the 21st Century now,

To say otherwise is wrong and disingenuous,


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 24, 2022 at 6:30 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"You and I both know the only thing keeping anyone on the "other side of the tracks" is money."

Correct and single family housing discriminates against the less well off and that means disproportionately people of color.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 24, 2022 at 11:42 am

PH is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter "Correct and single family housing discriminates against the less well off and that means disproportionately people of color."

Finally, you've said it correctly. You've just stumbled onto your position. Now read what you just wrote.

Markets are unfair. They discriminate directly and indirectly because of income inequality.

Are you proposing to get rid of markets, or income inequality?

Housing advocates confuse housing equality with income equality. Symptom versus root cause.

Upzoning wont fix income inequality. It won't touch the root cause.

Nor can it change the symptom, income-driven housing segregation. New market rate apartments in Menlo Park are luxury units with "exclusionary" rents.

And thanks to SB9 there is no longer single family zoning in California.

So, are we all equal now? Problem solved?

Or are single family homes still a pervasive exclusionary evil that needs to be eradicated?







Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 24, 2022 at 12:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Single family zoning by definition reduces the supply of housing.

That shortage adversely impacts the less well off.

IF society wants more housing then one of the obstacles, given that there is no more land being made, is to reduce the amount of space reserved for single family housing.

That is a choice which our elected representatives have made with SB 9.

If a majority of citizens disagree with SB 9 then California provides the Referendum process as a remedy.


Posted by Westbrook
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 24, 2022 at 2:31 pm

Westbrook is a registered user.

I believe we both agree housing is not racially discriminatory but through income inequality, Unless we want to become a communist country, we will by the nature of our democracy always have income inequality, We are a meritocracy and should be. That's why millions of people are flooding our country for a chance to get ahead.

Re; Measure V, I am opposed to it for a lot of reasons but you put it most succintly. You made the best argument for opposing it out of everything I've read so far.

"Ironically, if Measure V happens to pass (unlikely) and an upzoning of this site is then submitted to a city-wide vote the upzoning will be approved. Given the State mandate for more housing in Menlo Park, any rational voter would vote to place more housing in some other neighborhood. Only the immediate neighbors would vote against such an upzoning. At that point, those neighbors will wish they had the protection of the process and expertise involved in the normal route of project review and approval but sadly the Planning Commission and Council will have had their hands tied by Measure V."

To those who support V be careful what you wish for. IMO specifically as to this Suburban Park parcel, I'm confident the city-wide vote would support a large development there. Why not it's not in their neighborhood and it makes them feel good to help the cause.


Posted by PH
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
10 hours ago

PH is a registered user.

‘Build More Housing’ Is No Match for Inequality

A new analysis finds that liberalizing zoning rules and building more won’t solve the urban affordability crisis, and could exacerbate it.

Web Link

"“Housing is an area where the law of unintended consequences is most powerful,” Storper recently told Planning Report. “The idea that upzoning will cause housing affordability to trickle down within our metropolis, while also setting up Los Angeles and San Francisco as the new golden land for people in less prosperous regions, is just a lot to promise—and it’s based on a narrative of housing as opportunity that is deeply flawed.”

And as Rodríguez-Pose told me via email: “Upzoning is far from the progressive policy tool it has been sold to be. It mainly leads to building high-end housing in desirable locations.”


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
9 hours ago

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is interesting to note that the exact language of Measure V reserves the authority to rezone most residential properties to the voters in a city wide election. "..shall not be redesignated or rezoned except by a vote of the people of Menlo Park at a regular election."

The unappreciated impact of this is that Measure V in effect permits the city to put a rezoning on the ballot without any studies or public hearings. And the result of such an election would be unappealable. All of the protections provided by the current process including Planning Commission and City Council studies and public hearings and related appeals are NOT required by Measure V.

Be very careful what you wish/vote for !


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
8 hours ago

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The authors of Measure V even went further to make clear that Measure V supersedes all of the process and protections for rezoning that currently exist by stating "To the extent that any provisions of the Menlo Park Municipal Code, including the Zoning Regulations of the City of Menlo Park, or any other ordinances of the City may be inconsistent with this Initiative, the provisions of this Initiative shall prevail."

So a developer who wants an upzoning can simply demand that the city put that upzoning on a general election ballot - no hearings, no studies, no appeals.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Almanac Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

BREAKING: James Beard Award winning chef Traci Des Jardins' restaurant el Alto abruptly closes its doors in Los Altos months after highly anticipated opening
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 4,957 views

Palo Alto's bold proposal to jumpstart home electrification
By Sherry Listgarten | 7 comments | 2,495 views

San Bruno Wins Food Trend Craze with First Plant-Based Gas Mart
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 1,857 views

The Benefits of Adding Market-Rate Housing in Palo Alto
By Steve Levy | 10 comments | 1,466 views

How Much Time do You Spend Outdoors?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,199 views