Almanac

Viewpoint - August 10, 2011

Letter: Civility lost at Planning Commission meeting

While watching online broadcast of the July 28 Menlo Park Planning Commission review of the downtown portion of the specific plan, I was struck by the incivility of some of our citizens.

City staff, planning commissioners, and some who made public comments were courteous and informative, including balanced points made by the owners of Santa Cruz Avenue shops Alys Grace and Cheeky Monkey. But mostly there was a vocal contingent speaking against the plan, often with rudeness and alarmism.

The same contingent appeared also to applaud and boo many comments, in defiance of the commission chair's request for order. From what I could tell online, many in this group were relatively senior citizens, representing themselves as "preservationists" protecting Menlo Park from the forces of change.

They spoke with much the same "us versus them" rhetoric heard on Sundays at the farmers' market and laid to rest, at least for me, at the meeting. The spokespersons for change appeared to be a younger, more civil crowd. Is there a generation gap dividing Menlo Park?

Susan Gillman, College Avenue, Menlo Park

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