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City Manager Contributing to Roadside Safety Problem

Original post made by Safety Minded, Menlo Park: The Willows, on May 20, 2010

There are a number of streets in Menlo Park without sidewalks or roadside paths which result in unsafe conditions for pedestrians. The city has a master plan for developing sidewalks or paths to address these areas taking into consideration the pedestrian and vehicular traffic use as well as the existing state of the roadside areas. This master plan is available on the Menlo Park city website at Web Link . Given the current financial state of the city, however, it is likely we will need to wait some time for the identified unsafe areas to all be retrofitted with paths or sidewalks.

However, there is a very inexpensive solution for the city to pursue that could greatly improve the safety of these problem roadside areas. The solution is to simply request each property owner whose land abuts the problem areas to bring their property up to code. The relevant section from the city municipal code is 16.64 Web Link .
In particular, 16.64.060 states:

"16.64.060 Trimming growth to avoid interference with use of sidewalks and roadways.
Any owner or occupant of a building, lot or premises shall keep trees, hedges and other growth on said premises properly trimmed in such a manner that the same shall not interfere with the free use of sidewalks, sidewalk areas and roadways. (Ord. 906 § 1 (part), 2001)."

It is a sad commentary on our city management that the city manager, Glen Rojas, owns a property that is clearly in violation of this code and contributes to the unsafe pedestrian use of Woodland Avenue. In deference to Mr. Rojas' privacy, I am purposefully omitting the property address at present. I hope that he will shortly bring his property up to code, and adopt my suggestion that he have his department ask all homeowners whose property abut the identified unsafe pedestrian areas in Menlo Park to similarly make corrections.

Comments (4)

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Posted by concerned mom
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2010 at 4:07 pm

Thank you Safety Minded for raising this important issue. I would add that there are way too many corners where motorists do not have adequate sight due to overgrown vegetation. Enforcement seems to be only by complaint rather than proactively with true safety in mind. Even downtown on Santa Cruz and within the library parking lot, vegetation has grown far too high for safe viewing by motorists and pedestrians alike.
The next section of the Municipal Code spells out the maximum height of vegetation at corners in residential neighborhoods. The same restrictions ought to apply to commercial areas also:

16.64.020 Height of fences, walls, hedges or similar structures in residential districts.

(a) The maximum height of fences, walls, hedges or similar structures shall not exceed four feet (4’) in the required front setback. Otherwise the fence, wall, hedge or similar structure shall not exceed seven feet (7’) in height. Height shall be measured from the finished grade at the location of the fence, wall, hedge or similar structure. If the finished grade varies on the two (2) sides of the fence, the height shall be measured from the lower of the two finished grades.

(b) The maximum height of fences, walls, hedges, or similar structures on corner lots shall not exceed three feet (3’) within the triangular area bounded on two (2) sides by the right-of-way lines of the intersecting streets and the third side by a line joining points on the right-of-way lines at a distance of thirty-five feet (35’) from their point of intersection. Height shall be measured from the lowest edges of the constructed roadways or shoulders.

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Posted by Not Surprised
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 21, 2010 at 11:53 am

This is no surprise to me. The city would have to actually spend resources (i.e. inspector time) to go out and document code violations. This would take inspectors off the "reimbursing" work of going out and reviewing permitted work. And it seems when the Menlo Park building office weighs alternatives which reimburse the city against those with small cost but possibly significant safety benefits for the general MP population --- it's always the money-earning alternative that wins!!

And good luck getting Rojas to correct his own violation! What's his address? I'll take some pictures and take them down to the building office. It would be interesting to see if the "watchers" have different policies for themselves!

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 21, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I am not surprised.

Like this comment
Posted by Mrs. Rojas
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 26, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Dear SafetyMinded

I just read your commentary and appreciate your comment "In deference to Mr. Rojas' privacy, I am purposefully omitting the property address at present." I only wish you would have knocked on our door and made me aware of it. We had requested a gardner to remove the shrubs but he is out of town another 10 days, and with all the rain we've had this year, the shrubs have grown especially unruly.

To the other posters, for the record, my husband does NOT have a different policy for himself. He never has and never will.

It is my wish that in the future, instead of holding people up to public scrutiny neighbors would first talk with one another.

Thank you.

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