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Editorial: New vision is welcome for El Camino

Original post made on Mar 13, 2008

Menlo Park officials who are making a major effort to get the public involved in a plan to spiff up El Camino Real, the city's main thoroughfare, have to be pleased with the turnout and wide range of ideas presented at a workshop last week.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 12:00 AM

Comments (11)

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Posted by Negative Impact
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 13, 2008 at 3:16 am

While some suggestions above regarding the ECR corridors future may have merit, we must always question solutions that come to mind too easily.
The idea of placing a connecting bridge between Menlo Park and Palo Alto at El Camino would never resolve the overall traffic backup that begins at the Lytton traffic light on Alma. Palo Alto has spent the better part of nearly two decades trying to address traffic/parking in the Downtown North area. This is a non-starter.
In response to the grade separation issue, attempting to quell the challenges these structures pose, it was suggested that simply putting the tracks underground would be enough. Sounds good from the start, however we must be aware that this grand excavation will create very real traffic and noise disturbances for the duration of the project, which will be measured in years, not weeks or months. In addition, existing neighbors along the corridor (up to a few blocks away) will be subject to increased (and likely intense) in ground vibrations as the new trains speed through our neighborhoods.
While looking to the future and improving California's mass transit, we must be cautious in our actions, remembering that in Menlo Park we are indeed living in a suburb, with others that chose to live in this environment as well. Inner city/urban solutions don't always translate well.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 13, 2008 at 10:03 am

Some thoughts...

We cannot sacrifice long term goals because of short term inconveniences.

If those in the past thought that way, we wouldn't have some of the upgrades we enjoy today.

Those who live near the tracks knew that they would have to deal with noise and vibration.

I agree that undertaking a task as building a bridge between MP and PA is problematic.

We must know which projects are immune and off the table from public opinion like the Acorn Restaurant development.

Adaptive traffic lights will dramatically improve mid-day traffic conditions around downtown MP. But prepare for a 6 or 7 figure evaluation study and who knows what else before that happens.

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Posted by go bears
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 13, 2008 at 10:50 pm

$750K for ECR visioning planning? Thought we had $750K salaried planning staff that gets every other Friday off. Why do we need clueless outside consultants paid out of more critical funding for street paving, sidewalks. Our infrastructure deterioration needs immediate attention. We don't need to waste our money on overpaid outside consultants. Time to tell the council "Are you Nuts?"
Re:ECR key development components.
What gives when the key component is Stanford owned abandoned car dealerships? Those leases expire in under 5 years.
Fergusson and Robinson can't participate in any Stanford related discussions 'cause of conflict of interest rules (spouses work/worked for Stanford)> Boyle is Stanford's go to guy. He's pushing 2 clones to run for council to take Cohen and Fergusson out and then Boyle can run the show. No surprise there!
Big time exercise in futility for ECR redevelopment until somebody demands Palo Alto open up Alma to access from ECR, or the huge MedCtr. and ShopCtr. expansion will further inundate MP's ECR at evening rush hour. Time to get Stanford to lay its cards on the table and get somebody with cojones to stand up to Palo Alto and Stanford on dumping its traffic on Menlo.
Same old same old, only the names change.

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Posted by go bears blow hard
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 14, 2008 at 8:17 am

go bears like joanna is part of a menlo park past that thrived on splitting the city and ramming political spite down our throats. they remember things like the willow expressway and alma and they constantly denegrate new ideas clinging to a past when they were relevant. i went to the workshop and i liked it. i filled out my survey. i missed the downtown walks but i heard they were great. what i liked best is about the workshop was that there were a lot of new faces who were looking forward.

thanks for the reminder of what we have to leave behind.

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Posted by Civic Inertia
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2008 at 6:39 pm

I've seen Menlo Park spent truck-loads of money on various design studies for El Camino and downtown, and it never came to anything. Remember Smart Growth? Center City Design?

Is there any hope that this latest effort won't be another colossal waste of time and energy and scarce funds resulting a bunch of lovely drawings that will end up in a drawer somewhere?

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Posted by go bears
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 14, 2008 at 8:43 pm

not unless MP declared the Stanford owned vacant dealerships
"Blighted Area" and included it in their Redevlopment Area,
using Eminent Domain powers to condemn the land and acquire fee simple ownership. Otherwise, ECR visioning is an exercise in futility.

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Posted by just looking on
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 15, 2008 at 7:04 am

From reading the above posts, some corrections should be made.

Heyward Robinson's will be able to make decisions involving Stanford, since his wife no longer works for Stanford.

Joanna, we already have traffic lights with adaptive support -- you should get your information right before you go running off with your keyboard.

I'm no fan of Boyle and that is for sure. He has used his time thus far on council to delay and obstruct progress. He is terribly smooth, but his mission, just has was Jellins' when Jellins was on council is to obstruct, try to make the present majority look bad. Unfortunately, the majority doesn't get much accomplished.

Nevertheless, I don't see Boyle as a Stanford stooge. He represents the development interests in town.

One should note that the developers, who have managed to get far more than their fair share on the oversight committee,,(Boyle was really effective here wasn't he), really show their colors during the workshop. They really don't care what is going to be the future of El Camino as far as what kind of businesses or housing or whatever. What they want is one thing. Higher density, with all the traffic and school impacts this will produce. Just let us build higher and wider is their motto. Did you not notice these guys pasting all four of their dots on one item -- "higher density"?

This council has very little guts. They won't say no to Stanford. Eminent domain really should be considered, but it won't even be considered. Stanford will just stall around for a couple of years, we will hear more crying about empty car lots and then they will come in with their medical office proposals, probably accompanied with a few dollars to get us to buy in.

So I suspect in the end, the City will end up just spending dollars and a lot of the public's time on an effort that will not get the support needed to do anything like produce a new general plan for the area. Yes, it may well be another repeat of Smart Growth.

For my part, I'm not going to any further workshops or talks. This is a failed mission right now. Sad but true.

just looking on

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 15, 2008 at 8:42 am

Looking on,

1) If it is true that we do have adaptive lights, they simply don't work. There are some systems that account for real time traffic as well as pre-programmed traffic patterns. Because we still have an unreasonable amount of traffic, we, whether or not some lights were installed, have *no* adaptive light system. Time for a $75k study?

2) I too think that the workshops and talks are in vain. They are nice to have, but essentially they are ineffective. Sad but true.

3) Major developments will be proposed by the development companies and MP will give in. MP will *never* use eminent domain.

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Posted by new to this all
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 16, 2008 at 9:11 am

I moved here with my family just a couple of years ago. I think this town does need a plan for the El Camino roadway and I like the workshops and the surveys. I moved from Petaluma which is similar with a nice downtown but a lot of traffic. Petaluma never sent surveys or held workshops like this, so it is very refreshing. I cannot comment on past experiences but I for one am very excited about this and I know many people who are like me.

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Posted by truth
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 16, 2008 at 9:37 am

Hey new to this all, this is probably not your best place to go to get information. These sites have been hijacked by about 10-15 folks who have nothing positive to say about anything or anyone in town. I have watched for months the deliberate misinformation and the obvious impotence of this group to look forward or think positively at all. This is a sham of a site and Gibboney should be ashamed.

Force these obvious political operators to put a name on the card, come out from the shadows and have a spine. The public deserves to know who you are.

Welcome to Menlo Park, but know that this site does not represent our great City.

(watch how they all respond...;-)

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Posted by Donald
a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Anonymous internet forums are wonderful, aren't they? Anybody can be an expert and speak for the community. One person can speak with many voices, and nobody can tell. I know for a fact that one person has had an argument with himself here, taking both sides of the issue heatedly, just for fun! I view it as entertainment and would not make any serious decisions based on anythig I read here.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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