Town Square

Menlo council says no to Louise Street driveway

Original post made on Mar 6, 2013

Louise Street resident Michael Schwarz said his neighbors were determined to stop developer Sam Sinnott from building a driveway on their street, and they did.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 11:18 AM


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Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 6, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Ultimate NIMBY. Shameful. Who cares if he joins the quieter neighborhood. It's not like he's proposing to open the cul de sac to Santa Cruz.

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Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm

It was the first time, in years, that I saw the Council listen and pay close attention to statements from the residents of Menlo Park in regard to this type of issue. There were numerous speakers in attendance and they all had done their research and delivered well- thought out reasons for their disapproval of Mr. Sinnott's proposal. In the end, the Council made the right decision!
I commend the Mayor for conducting a well-run meeting and the Council for making what they considered a difficult decision because of the supposedly complex property rights component of the issue, the Plannining Commission's recommended approval of the proposal, and because of the long-standing friendship some of the Council members have with the Sinnott's.
I hope this is a sign that this group of MP representatives will continue to listen and try to do what is best for the community first and foremost.

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Posted by Good job, council
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 2:08 pm

[Post removed; personal attacks violate terms of use.]

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Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Finally, a responsible decision. Changing a quiet cul-de-sac into an approach to a new mega-monster isn't fair to existing residents. People who bought on Louise Ln over the years wanted to live where the kids could safely ride bikes without the major disruption & dangers of associated with heavy equipment for demolition, huge delivery trucks & increased traffic from work crews.
The encroachment permit should never have been considered without consulting the neighbors.
Why do so many people seem to think that taking away green space & substituting a very big house for a modest one benefits the community? The bigger the houses, the more cars jam our streets & crowd our schools.

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Posted by whatvever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 2:59 pm

So which council members voted for revocation, which one voted against the revocation and which one was absent or reclused their self? Please be complete when reporting council votes.

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Posted by Sharp Eyes
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Whatever, From the story:

"With members Cat Carlton dissenting -- "I just don't see that much of an impact" to Louise Street -- and Ray Mueller recused, the council sided with the Louise Street residents."

Guess you missed it.

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Posted by loyalty
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2013 at 3:46 pm

The neighborhood came up with $10K to basically take land from the city and give it to one neighbor (that happens to have illegal parking there). According to McClure, just about every driveway requires an encroachment permit, so these neighbors were able to bend reality. This story is not about Louise vs SantaCruz, or developers vs residents. This story is about the loyalty and commitment that exists among neighbors that pay top dollar to buy property on a cul de sac.

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Posted by Council Watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm

This was a case of someone wanting to preserve their on-street parking at the expense of Sam Sinnott. The egress was approved before and Sinnott had precedent on his side. But the Council did not care. It put was was popular over what is right. Particularly distressing is the actions of Peter Ohtaki. He seems so intent on currying favor with his fellow council members that he seems to have forgotten what his role is. He needs to overcome his timidity and be more dedicated to doing the right thing rather than the most popular thing. So far Peter Ohtaki has been a disappointment.

The surprise council member is Cat Carlton. She came to the council with the least experience and is running circles around the rest of the council. She is by far the most forward and lucid thinking council member. Bravo for Cat Carlton. I can't wait for her to be mayor. She is the Cat's Pajamas!

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Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Maybe Mr. Sinnott will have to drop the price to a mere $5mm. (and of course keep the 6% sales commission for himself as a "for sale by owner")

He'll be back will another scheme. How about first building a gymnasium?

Whatever happened to responsible developers?

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Posted by Good job, council
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm

You are right on target, frugal. Now, let's watch your post get deleted because your comment will be interpreted as disparaging someone who evidently has friends at the Almanac.

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Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm

dont be thrown off by the typical political behavior by sam sinnott... the issue is whether the residents of louise want one more driveway on their street, which means 3+ more cars speeding up and down it. It would be one thing if sam were building his own house there, but its quite another thing that he's doing it all for his personal gain $$$$$$. I would advise him to check with the residents and city before throwing $1.5M on a property.

next time.............

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Posted by Louise st resident 1964-1970
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm

If Mr. Sinnott had wanted to build a home with a cul de sac address, he should have purchased a lot on a cul de sac. Seems like all he wanted was to buy low and sell high by cheating the system. I lived in the end house on Louise street when the original owners of the Santa Cruz property still lived there. There was never a vehicle in or out of that back gate; it was used soley for them to go n and out to visit their friends on the street. I wonder how he would feel if someone wanted to do this to the lovely cul de sac he grew up on?

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Posted by Menlo Observer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2013 at 7:56 am

There seems to be so stretches of logic in many of the above posts. Developers build to make a profit. But they could not make a profit it there wasn't something beneficial to be gained by the person buying the property. Developers merely fulfill a community need. Most Menlo Park residents are living in homes built by developers. So if you want to pejoratively refer to them as iniquitous villains please remember you would not be living in your home if it weren't for those treacherous developers.

One poster said it would be different if Sam Sinnott were to live there. It does not matter who lives there as long as that person is a good neighbor.

And what is this speeding down a cul de sac? I don't know anyone who speeds when he is running out of road. That statement is pure nonsense. And the vast increase in traffic on that Cul de sac. It is merely a modest increase.

Precedent was on Sam Sinnott's side. An empty driveway is far less of an eyesore than having two cars parked there. This is simply a matter of one long time resident wanting to preserve his two illegal parking spaces and rallying his neighbors behind his unjust cause. It is unfortunate that the Council allowed itself to be pressured into making the wrong decision.

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Posted by Louise St. Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 7, 2013 at 9:41 am

The assertion that this was an issue of neighbors wanting to preserve a fellow neighbor's illegal parking space is completely false. It was about preserving the greenery, and the neighbors would in fact like to see the parking space returned to be greenery again.

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Posted by Diverse-City
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 7, 2013 at 10:24 am

Develop the lot for below market housing.

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Posted by Stanford
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Is as simple of this...taking away somebody's rights of accessing his property. What is next..if 100 people voice at a meeting then the rightfull owner will loose his property rights? I believe that this decision will be overturned at the re-hearing.Stay tuned.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm


He hasn't lost access to his property. There is existing access from Santa Cruz Ave. There's nothing stopping him from continuing to use it except he doesn't want to.

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Posted by Menlo homeowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2013 at 11:22 am

The Council made a smart, informed and responsible decision. Mr. Sinnott is determined to reverse the frontage of his property despite twice being told "no" by the planning department. He and his wife treated the Louise Street homeowners and their numerous supporters with disdain at the Council meeting, insulting everything from their landscaping to their intelligence, suggesting that hundreds of people were against his turning the back of his house to Santa Cruz Avenue and his takeover of hundreds of square feet of City land just because of one person's parking. That doesn't make any sense.

For someone who's been known for building tasteful properties and attempting to collaborate with the City, Mr. Sinnott now appears to be too convinced of his own position to see what may happen to his long-term interests in the City. He's now not just ignoring the the interests of the residents of the neighborhood adjacent to where he intends to build, but also the direction of the planning department and the City Council. Even his neighbors on Santa Cruz spoke against his plans at the Council meeting and encouraged him to continue to use Santa Cruz to access his property. And now he's told the Almanac he intends to sue the City where he lives and works.

It seems he's missing the forest for the trees...or perhaps missing the forest for a driveway is a better way to put it.

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Posted by Lived here all my life
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Mar 19, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Sam's property on Santa Cruz has an existing driveway onto Louise. Neighbors may not like it, but it exists and was used in the recent past. Neighbors have no right to block driveway access to Louise Street no matter how many fake signatures they collect. Kalpany and Schwarz should be ashamed of misrepresentations on their petition and then submitting signatures from people who have now submitted affidavits saying they did not sign the petition. All so they can park their Mercedes's in the public right of way and Sinnott's lawful driveway. Check out today's article in the Almanac. Sinnott will ultimately prevail in court, but it will cost Menlo Park in legal fees and damages.

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Posted by Santa Cruz Ave Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 21, 2013 at 4:36 pm

I am SO tired of this Sinnott tiff. He's lost three times now. So stop already. Build your mega-mansion,Sam. It should suffice that you'll take away any bit charm left on this end of the Avenue.