Town Square

Developer, neighbors battle over driveway permit

Original post made on Mar 20, 2013

Charges of misrepresentation and fraud are flying from both developers and Louise Street residents after the Menlo Park council voted to revoke a driveway permit.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 9:40 PM


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Posted by Grow up!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

[Portion removed. Personal attacks.] You took a business risk based on your greedy assumptions. You made a bet that you could squeeze the public easement for private gain, and you lost. Ever heard that line about not counting your chickens before they hatch?

Imagine this: you manage to ramrod your driveway through, sell the property with a Louise St address...and then get sued by the buyer for failing to disclose the pre-existing condition of a hostile neighborhood.

I wonder where Mircea Voskerician grew up -- someplace where this kind of childish threat is productive? Why is Sam Sinnott working with such a [portion removed; personal attack].

I don't have any skin in the game, other than being tired of developers trying get away with these tricks. And caring about neighborhoods.

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Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2013 at 1:15 pm

Sure let's ask the council to vote again.

This time instead of 3-1 and 1 recusal, let's ask for 4-0 and one recusal.

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Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 20, 2013 at 4:12 pm

After reading between the lines on this it sounds like Sinnot wants to replace his old driveway where the neighbors illegally put parking. I don't understand the green belt arguments.

It also sounds like the neighbors put names of people on the petition who didn't want to be on it. That goes beyond just signing for people. That truly is fraud.

If they are willing to do that I wonder what other lies they've told?

This one my not be over.

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Posted by oakfield neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2013 at 7:37 pm

I'm with Sam Sinnot. Why should neighbors get the strip for illegal parking? The city granted the permit in the first instance and shouldn't revoke it under pressure from self-interested neighbors.
And note to Grow Up--what kind of comment is that to ask where Mr. Voskerician grew up?

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Posted by Scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2013 at 9:19 pm

The original permit was granted by staff with little review. Usually these permits are for a 2-4 foot connection across the city right of way so you can connect your driveway to the city street.

This case involves a 50 foot encroachment. Obviously it required further review. The city council heard all sides and made a ruling. They spent hours looking at the evidence and made a considered ruling. They obviously gave it more attention than a newspaper article could. We elected these 5 council members to represent the needs of the city and serve the public trust. The decision should stand.

Mr Sinott should build his planned 4500 square foot house on Santa Cruz, where his property is deeded.

Rather than reading about this in the almanac, come to the meeting and get real flavor for these folks.

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Posted by Menlo homeowner
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2013 at 9:45 pm

Mr. Sinnott and Mr. Voskerician keep trying to make this issue about parking because they have no better arguments. Hundreds of residents are opposed to their driveway plans not because of parking but because they intend to pave over more than 800 square feet of City-owned green space for the private benefit of a single home - theirs. Many bushes and trees that have been enjoyed for generations by the neighborhood will have to be removed to install their driveway. In fact, Mr. Sinnott already had a bunch of trees and bushes removed from the area without a permit last summer and more would need to come out.
The alternative to this wildly unpopular driveway proposal is simple, and plainly obvious to anyone who's visited the property in question - put the driveway on Santa Cruz where it has always been and leave Louise Street alone.
Now these gentlemen are trying to shift the argument to quibbling about the neighbors' petition? The City Council made its decision based on meetings with Mr. Sinnott, meetings with residents, a lengthy staff report, visits to the Street, and three hours of discussion at the Council meeting. To suggest that the petition was the reason the Council said no is just the latest desperate attempt to distract from the real issue. And now hundreds of people have signed the online petition in support of the Council's ruling - so why are we even still talking about it?
The hostility of the owners of this property toward their neighbors and the City Council is just outrageous.

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Posted by Signer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 21, 2013 at 12:12 am

Hooray to MP City Council for doing the right thing. A lot of us are really tired of well-heeled developers thinking that the rules should be rewritten just for them. Sam's partner is threatening to sic the police on Louise Street? Great way to make friends, for sure.

As for the petition: anyone can access it. What's to stop Sam from signing "Mickey Mouse" and then pointing out that the petition obviously has invalid names on it and therefore should be thrown out?

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Posted by Pot calling the kettle black
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 21, 2013 at 8:45 am

It's good that Mr. Voskerician is so concerned with combating fraud in the Menlo Park community. While he is visiting the district attorney about the signatures, he should also have them do something about the fraudster who's advertising the non-existent house on 1100 Louise St (search for "1100 louise st menlo park" on Google to find it).

Oh wait, that's Mr. Voskerician's phone number on those ads. Never mind.

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Posted by H.J.
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm

Why does the City Council want to force a family to go in and out on the most dangerous part of Santa Cruz ? Part of their justification to take away the safe, historical access on Louise is that there are only a few accidents on Santa Cruz a year- let's increase it!

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Posted by Louise Street resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 21, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Let's get a few facts straight:

1) The parking spaces are not an issue. They were installed before the current homeowners bought the property. The owners have publicly committed to remove the parking spaces. So the issue of “illegal parking” is moot.

2) Comparing the correction of a written petition or letter of support to a bank robbery is a stretch. But the bank robbery metaphor is a revealing choice for someone so focused on increasing his own profits. Our online petition now has 308 signatures, far more than were submitted on March 5th.

3) You have Louise Street residents trying to secure the green space for the benefit of the neighborhood - as it is and as it was intended to be - in perpetuity.

You have Mr. Sinnott and Mr. Mircea trying to secure a 900 square foot private driveway through the middle of the existing green space in order to increase the value of their speculative investment on Santa Cruz Avenue.

You have as the greatest single misrepresentation and fraud here the repeated false assertion that Mr. Sinnott and Mr. Mircea are simply replacing or relocating a pre-existing driveway, which they know is not true.

And you have more than 60 current and former Louise Street residents dating back to 1948 willing to testify under oath that no such driveway has EVER existed.

Mr. Sinnott’s reply to this fact is that residents just don’t remember.

As a journalist, when I have 60 people corroborating a story and one person providing a completely different version, that’s usually called a no-brainer.

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Posted by Triona
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 21, 2013 at 6:53 pm

Thank goodness for google maps. It looks like the property in question has a large section of the rear property line on Louise Street. Why not let the driveway exit on Louise? That will make Santa Cruz a little safer for everyone including the children biking and walking to school.
On another note, as a taxpayer and long time resident I am absolutely opposed to having public right of way deeded over to any private individuals just because they ask.
And on a third note, if I may. If Louise St. residents have been parking on public right of way for years I hope they have received as many tickets as I, my family, and my neighbors have over the years every time we forget and park on the public right of way over night.

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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2013 at 8:33 am

Triona doesn't have her facts straight. It is the developer who wants to turn the public right of way into a 55x 16' private driveway. All traffic from Louise Street needs to use Santa Cruz to travel downtown. Plus the developer also wants to build a guest house (secondary dwelling unit) on the same property facing Santa Cruz that would have a Santa Cruz driveway, so if anything he will be adding traffic to Santa Cruz, not taking it away.

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Posted by Longtime Louise Street resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

After Sam Sinnott learned Louise Street residents were appealing the staff's decision to issue a conditional encroachment permit, he wrote an email to us in which he said, "I hope you are more willing to live with the council’s decision than you are staffs’." We believe it is time for him to heed his own words and stop attacking our personal characters and integrity.

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Posted by Developer
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jun 30, 2013 at 6:54 pm

I will offer Mr. Sinnott and its partner $15,000.00 towards their legal fees to sue the city of MP so this neighborhood madness will stop and owners’ rights are protected. City of MP and some of the neighbors that a tremble Mr. Sinnott’s property rights will have to be taught a lesson. And to all of you thinking that that the battle is over …Think again. July 16th is the last chance for the city council members to READ READ READ the Title research and understand the facts or all your taxes will be paid to Mr. Sinnott on a law suit and the abandonment will never happen since Mr. McClure does not even understand the abandonment laws. I am sure Mr. Sinnott will win at least a 1.5M from the cityy of MP and then he can still build a house facing Santa Cruz. Fair trade.
Also like a writer states above ... “yes we had unpermitted parking and now we remove it because we got caught”..Really Rob a bank and then go next day and return the money and is all OK…or REMOVE FRAUDALENT SIGNATURES…when you are discovered.What a joke.

And to the comments that Mr. Voskerician did not have the right to advertise selling this development with access to Louise the answer is YES he did since Mr. Sinnott ALWAYS had access to Louise and it was never a reason to hide. Mr. Voskerician was exercising his RIGHTS and I applaud him for that. See you all on July 16th… Firm financial supporter of Mr. Sinnott