Town Square

Menlo Park council commits to more housing, but not everyone's on board

Original post made on Nov 12, 2007

According to a loosely enforced state law, Menlo Park has to adjust zoning for, if not approve, the construction of 993 new homes within city limits over the next seven years.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 31, 2007, 12:00 AM


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Posted by Paul Collacchi
a resident of another community
on Nov 12, 2007 at 5:23 pm

Technically, I think its true that "housing advocates" can sue cities, but clearly this does not mean that they can force cities to build housing, or even to change their General Plans, or even pay monetary damages.

As I recall from my conversations with the City Attorney, it means that housing advocates might have stronger grounds to oppose or block city approvals of non-housing projects. This makes the stymied office or retail developer the real party in interest not the city.

Frankly, I can think of worse things to fear than housing advocates blocking office complexes, but in any case, I think the reporter should qualify who is suing whom for what rather than raise the cloud of a non-specific lawsuit, which arguably holds little actual threat to the city.

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Posted by creeping socialism
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 12, 2007 at 6:29 pm

Rumor has it that the state housing advocates and affiliated nonprofit organizations are sponsored by real estate interests. Even if that's not true, it's hard for me to see flaws with deferring to market forces. Sure, some people won't be able to afford to live here, but a lot of others are moving out of the area because the towns/schools/roads are getting unpleasantly crowded.

You can't just mandate housing without becoming entangled in a host of other issues, blithely overlooked by those who care only about adding more housing. However, it's interesting to note that other local cities that have much larger quotas than we do seem to be much more irate about the forced imposition of housing. I suspect that any lawsuits may be backed by the cities that are seeking to wrest themselves from the authority of the housing zealots.

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Posted by open space
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:10 am

It seems that creating/preserving open space should be of higher priority than more housing. Has there ever been any serious discussion in this town about asking the citizens of Menlo Park to support the buyback of land in centrally located city areas to increase parks and open space? This is frequently done by townships back east.

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Posted by more parks
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:33 am

open, that is an interesting comment. We have so much money from in lieu fees that we should be able to buy some land. The ideologues in town are always saying that we need more dense housing so that we can preserve open space, but in actuality, the dense housing that is being developed has destroyed a number of small but valued open spaces that residents used to enjoy.

A quick walking tour of Linfield Oaks will demonstrate how easy it is to sacrifice acres of green space and heritage trees to high density units. Even Manhattan has parks every few blocks.

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Posted by oak knoll neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Nov 13, 2007 at 8:59 am

the school district wants to wipe out over 2 acres of parkland at Oak Knoll school to build a huge auditorium and 20 plus car parking lot. Open space gone forever, when they could easily put it on the back asphalt playcourts, with a whole open playfield next to it. You should go check it out and then go to the school board mtg. on the 19th at Encinal and loudly protest this crime.

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Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 13, 2007 at 4:06 pm

This discussion, it seems to me, strikes at the very heart of the central issue for Menlo Park. Do we, as a community and city, want to grow, to have a larger resident population, to have higher, more urbanized density?

Or, don’t we? What is our ratio of open space to commercial and residential land use, and what is our per square mile population density vs. other similar towns?

Are Hillsborough, Atherton or Los Altos Hills confronting this dilemma? Are there residents there demanding more BMR and "affordable" housing?

Can we be forced to sacrifice the current “quality of life” of Menlo Park to comply with abstract and arbitrary jobs-to-residence ratios? Whose formulas are these? What if, in a major economic down-turn, Menlo Park were to lose population and job slots? Would we then be obliged to tear down the housing we were recently required to construct? Is population expansion inexorable and beyond our control?

Even the best of intentions can have disastrous results. Beware of unintended consequences. Fortunately, we all know that all this ABAG-talk is political correctness, and disconnected from any reality, implementation or even intention toward compliance.