News - May 4, 2011

Menlo briefs: Facebook's big plans in Menlo Park

by Sandy Brundage

Facebook is bursting at the seams even before it moves to Menlo Park, or at least, it thinks it will be.

The social networking giant has asked the city to permit more employees than were previously allowed on the former Sun/Oracle campus at 10 Network Circle — 3,000 more, and another 2,800 on the 22-acres the company bought across the street, for a total of 9,400 employees by 2017, according to documents filed with the city.

The request initiated an environmental impact review of the project. The public may submit comments to city staff until 5 p.m. Thursday, May 26.

Also of potential interest, architects will formally present the results of the design charrette to the City Council during its meeting on Tuesday, May 3. In March, 174 architects, students, designers, and dreamers spent 12 hours proposing ideas for development of the Belle Haven and Willow business area after Facebook moves in. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.

Appealing to the council

After viewing the Facebook design charrette results, the City Council then plans to tend more business, namely, tax bonds, "envisioning scenarios," and hearing a local physician's appeal of a transportation impact fee.

In a letter to the council, Dr. Darren Phelan called the $9,663 fee "egregious," and said he was still in shock at how discriminated against he feels on behalf of his medical practice, located at 401 Burgess Dr.

The squabble arose after the city decided that the doctor's new concierge medical practice counted as a "change of use" from the office's previous use for speech therapy, which triggered the fee. Told by the Planning Commission that he'd have to pay the fee before getting a use permit revision, Dr. Phelan did so back in February. He also added a bike rack and displayed information about public transportation.

In his letter, Dr. Phelan argued that the change of use was inappropriate, since speech therapy is also a form of medical treatment. He would now like his money back.

The council may either uphold or modify the fee, according to the staff report, which warns, "Should Council decide to overturn this determination, a new precedent would be set possibly inviting more such appeals."

The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.


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