Almanac

News - May 25, 2011

Facebook wants city to lift lid on number of employees

by Sandy Brundage

Facebook's quest to swap a limit on the number of employees permitted to work at its new Menlo Park campus with a cap on the number of vehicle trips took a step closer to the finish line at the last Planning Commission meeting.

Facebook bought the 57-acre former Sun campus at 10 Network Circle in December. It has asked the city to permit more employees than were previously allowed on the site — 3,000 more, and another 2,800 on the 22-acre site the company bought across the street, for a total of 9,400 employees by 2017, according to documents filed with the city.

On May 16, the commissioners heard Menlo Park residents share what they thought the project's environmental impact report (EIR) should consider, including bicycle access, pedestrian safety, and wildlife preservation.

Matt Henry, speaking for the Belle Haven Neighborhood Association, brought up the interchange between Willow Road and U.S. 101, saying it had been overlooked in the proposed EIR. "At eight different places on this interchange, cars and people compete for space," he said and advocated for a pedestrian bridge running from the Belle Haven side of the highway to Bay Road on the other side.

Representatives from the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project urged the commission to keep the wildlife refuge that borders the campus.

The commissioners also viewed a presentation by the social networking giant that included a glimpse of what the campus might look like once Facebook finishes renovations by 2013.

"Facebook is really all about communication and making connections," Director of Real Estate John Tenanes said. As a result, the company wants to open up the buildings to facilitate employee interaction. He showed renditions of garage-type doors that would open from the office buildings into a central courtyard as an example.

Menlo Park will also accept written comments on what items to include in the EIR until May 26. Email comments to Development Services Manager Justin Murphy at jicmurphy@menlopark.org or send to 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

Comments

Posted by bike to work, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Would be great if they can replace car trips with bicycle trips. But they really need to work with the Menlo Park, and also East Palo Alto, to improve the bike routes out to that campus. Current road conditions are poor and the safe bike routes over Hwy 101 are leave a lot to be desired.


Posted by sadfsf, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 24, 2011 at 4:43 pm

It would be great if they build a freeway through menlo park for traffic mitigation purposes.


Posted by where is the housing, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

For this many new employees, Menlo Park will be tasked to address the aggravated jobs/housing imbalance that already exists. Facebook should be required to provide additional housing commensurate with the additional need. Ideally, it is located near the new campus to minimize traffic. Facebook should not be left off the hook to provide this (unlike what happened with the Bohannon project).


Posted by Imbalance?, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 3, 2011 at 9:31 am

I keep hearing about the "jobs and housing imbalance" in Menlo Park -- but I don't see it. Where are all these jobs? We have a very small proportion of commercial property to residential.

Oh, are we expected to take responsibility for Stanford's jobs, too?

We always get the last crumbs of mitigation for any Stanford project, so, frankly, I don't think we should take any responsibility for their shortfalls. Whenever they want to do something, they take full advantage of being a different jurisdiction in a different county. I refuse to see why Menlo Park has to approve a canyon of high-density housing along El Camino to address someone else's problem.

And now Facebook is demanding a waiver -- well, OK ... but if the Council grants it, don't give us more of this "jobs/housing imbalance" nonsense to justify additional high-density MP housing -- cramming more traffic onto our roads, more kids into our schools, and more users in our libraries, parks, and other infrastructure.


Posted by Scorecard, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2011 at 10:16 am

Have the usual gadflies and saboteurs gone on record opposing this yet? Or have they actually learned something from the Menlo Gateway experience?


Posted by Wondering, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jun 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm

What we learned from menlo gateway is that rich people can flout the rules. It just took me 20 minutes to drive a mile on Willow. Can someone explain what benefit there is for menlo park in letting facebook ignore zoning requirements? Why dont they just acquire more o office space?


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