News - May 11, 2011

Menlo Park briefs: Arrested development on Terminal Avenue

by Sandy Brundage

School or homes? The Menlo Park City Council revisits that question on Tuesday, May 10, when it's scheduled to discuss whether to let Beechwood School, a private Belle Haven facility for K-8, buy a 1.5-acre parcel on Terminal Avenue.

For the past nine years, Habitat for Humanity had wanted to build 12 to 22 affordable homes on the site, but community opposition stalled development until the nonprofit finally pulled the plug, according to a letter sent to the city on April 29. Even without construction, the project has run up a tab: Menlo Park has already spent $998,000 on environmental remediation to prepare the site for housing, while the nonprofit paid $481,590 to buy an adjacent parcel to get access to the building site.

Money remains an issue — to date Beechwood hasn't offered what the council considers a fair price. Another problem is the scarcity of sites for affordable housing in Menlo Park, making the city reluctant to sell.

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

Housing and more housing

After studying the city's below-market-rate housing guidelines at the request of the council, the Menlo Park Housing Commission decided nothing needed to change, according to a staff report.

The study came after the Beltramos won approval to build 16 townhomes and an office complex at 1460 El Camino Real, in exchange for one below-market-rate (BMR) unit and a stack of fees. The city and developer haggled for months over the number of below-market-rate townhomes to be included on the 1.54 acre site. The original plan, first approved in 2006, followed city policy by setting aside three units, but the Beltramos asked to include only one in light of declining real estate values.

The council will consider the Housing Commission's conclusions at its meeting on Tuesday, May 10, which starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.

Bike to Work Day set for Thursday

To the joy of bikers and chagrin of drivers, Thursday, May 12, marks the 17th annual Bike to Work Day in the Bay Area.

From 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. local bikers will find "energizer" stations at the Willow Place, Pierce Street, and San Mateo bike bridges and the Menlo Park Caltrain station. Bike bags, brochures, and other freebies will be handed out to all riders who stop by.


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