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By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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Menlo Park's Big Opportunity

Uploaded: Nov 13, 2013
Menlo Park has a big opportunity to address growth. (Special thanks to "chimera" and others who pointed this out.)

For years, downtown development projects have stalled. As the train system modernizes and expands, no one seems to know what to do with the tracks.

Yet change is inevitable on both fronts. With property values climbing and rents soaring, Menlo Park faces continuing pressure to build more housing, and the shopping, parking and general infrastructure that go with it. Meanwhile, trains through downtown will increase in frequency and speed.

Why not accept these changes – and get ahead of the curve?

Surely there is a way to eliminate Menlo Park's lethal level train crossings -- without putting one part of town on the "other side of the tracks."

As for development, isn't a more dense El Camino corridor more or less what one sees in popular European cities? Our growth has to be upward. That means some denser development with shops on the street and a couple of floors of housing above.

Growth and transportation are inextricably linked. Neither can occur without the other. Changes in both are inevitable. And by managing those changes, our community can thrive in ways that benefit us all.

That means encouraging denser, transit-oriented development. And investing in rail improvements that enhance downtown. While Palo Alto studies trenching Caltrain, surely we can come up with our own creative, aesthetically pleasing alternatives.

These are enduringly fractious issues in Menlo Park. But I am ignoring the political history. We do have a future.

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