My patience has worn thin with the disgusting decade-long blight on El Camino and high vacancy and turnover rate in the Santa Cruz corridor. Some of the decrepit buildings should be leveled and rebuilt in a style that is village-like in character so that we can maintain our small town feel. Pacific Peninsula Group constructed a beautiful building on Oak Grove that perfectly illustrates what can be done.
Naysayers to the plan are creating fear over potential increased traffic. The proposed DSP will attract quality restaurants, commercial and retail tenants that will likely increase traffic at certain times of the day or night while people come to Menlo Park to spend money. This money translates to sales tax revenues which keep our services alive. Maintaining our services is why we want vibrant commerce in Menlo Park.
The DSP allows a reasonable expansion of density to construct mixed-use buildings that include 1-2 bedroom/1 car residential apartments or condos for singles, downsizing empty nesters and seniors. As a local real estate agent, I see a growing need for this type of housing. These people will walk to buy groceries at Draeger's, Trader Joe's and the Farmers' Market, dine in downtown restaurants, grab dessert at the Sugar Shack or Miyo, and buy essentials at Walgreens and the hardware store.
Another word about the sinister and evil traffic. When I served on the Menlo Park Transportation Commission, I discovered a distinction between what may appear to be too much traffic and traffic flow. Traffic flow in our downtown and especially on El Camino Real is horrific at times. When traffic flow is impaired by bad signal timing, train crossings, merging lanes, stop signs or reduced lane size, the sense we have is that we have too much traffic when it is really an issue of bad flow.
Whatever we design for El Camino and the downtown, it is vital that we structure the roads with ease of flow in mind. We need to design roads that will move cars through our downtown and along El Camino as fast as possible. I believe we can achieve a smooth flow of traffic and create a downtown that also encourages cycling and walking. We should be careful not to sacrifice design for good traffic flow for cycling and walking space.
Finally, I sadly recall the beautiful Derry Project that was shut down a few years ago by a few powerful naysayers who played on fears of density and traffic issues. It is an absolute travesty this project never came to fruition. Are we going to let this happen again? If you truly believe in moving forward with this plan that has gone through four years of public process, please write to the City Council.
Mary Gilles lives on Sharon Park Drive and is a Menlo Park Realtor