Almanac

Viewpoint - August 3, 2011

Letter: Planning panel ignores dissent; referendum next?

I attended last week's Planning Commission discussion about the proposed downtown plan, which will build on some of the downtown's open parking plazas and add an additional 400,000 square feet of commercial space.

Although I had not planned to speak, I decided to do so at the last minute and first shared the fact that I live in unincorporated Menlo Park, about equidistant from Menlo Park, Redwood City and Palo Alto. As I told the commission that Menlo Park is my shopping destination of choice because of its convenient parking, small-town charm and vibrant farmers' market, I noticed that the commission members seemed distracted: looking at their watches, coffee, drinks, but not at me.

I said that inconvenient parking and higher-density zoning will change our small-town's unique character and questioned why such a monumental change is to be decided by a small commission and city council and not the voting citizens of Menlo Park whose lives will be affected.

Dissenting speakers after me appeared similarly ignored. Time limits seemed all that mattered to this commission that held this meeting as a matter of protocol. I regretted not mentioning to the commission their very obvious dismissal of dissenting opinions. Most of the speakers did not agree with the plan.

The Menlo Park Planning Commission and City Council will change our town forever unless we put the plan to a vote this November. I will do whatever I can to help make this matter a ballot referendum.

Richard Singer, 15th Avenue, Menlo Park

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