The June 17 Almanac article, The Best Laid Plans states that “Morris Brown interprets the referendum drive on the four-story Derry project, during which he collected over 3,000 signatures, as a sign that many residents don’t support buildings that tall”. He is shocked that buildings over three stories tall on El Camino are even being considered.
Finally, is this an admission from Mr. Brown that his referendum was not about the flawed process conducted by the Winkler/Duboc Council but instead about his opposition to the height and number of living units in the project?
People who signed the referendum believed that their signatures would force the Derry and Cadillac projects back to the council where a new process would take place. Who could have predicted that a self-appointed committee would negotiate elements of the Derry project behind closed doors? The referendum’s professed remedy was that these projects needed to be put through the City’s planning process correctly. The height and density of the Derry project were not part of the referendum’s legal language. In addition, the $2,000,000 extortion money dragged out of the developers was a weapon concocted by members of the secret committee, some of whom such as Paul Collacchi and David Speer were not even Menlo Park residents.
Two years later, the Derry project appears to be dead, at a loss of needed below market units and a project that would have been considered a progressive transit oriented development. So much for environmental leadership from the city council members who ran for office on green platforms built with the popular timber of global warming, sustainable communities and bicycle-friendly streets.
Mr. Brown has been described by this newspaper as a shadow looming over the visioning process, an exercise costing the city some $1.16 million. Perhaps, this looming shadow ought to reconsider his interpretation of his 3,000 referendum signatories. Many of us understand the true motive behind Brown’s heavy-handed referendum. His credibility has been damaged and both residents and developers alike now know that this weak council has allowed the threat of future referenda to become a planning policy tool. Menlo park is well on its way to become a dead zone on the Peninsula thanks to a handful of people like Morris Brown who lack not only vision, but hope.