Almanac

News - October 12, 2011

Menlo Park council finishes draft review of downtown plan

by Sandy Brundage

"And there's a lot to discuss," Mayor Rich Cline commented at one point during the council's Oct. 4 review of Menlo Park's draft downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.

He wasn't joking. There was still so much to discuss, in fact, that the meeting ran past midnight again.

The last session of the council's review focused on portions of El Camino Real, particularly parcels owned by Stanford University, with some digression into how to link public benefits to preferred land uses.

But finally, those on the dais gave a unanimous green light to moving the plan forward to the next phase. Unlike the Planning Commission, however, the council opted not to take a formal vote to do so.

"The Council could have made a final vote (as the Commission did), or the Commission could have directed their guidance be moved forward as unanimous consent (as the Council did)," Associate Planner Thomas Rogers explained to the Almanac in an email.

He said that it was hard to set a specific date for the next meeting. Staff has "a bit of work to do" to compile the council's recommendations, he noted, which affects the timeline for returning to the Planning Commission and City Council with a final draft of the plan and its environmental impact report.

The first meeting with the Planning Commission on the final plan probably won't happen until January at the earliest, according to Mr. Rogers, and will then be followed by council review.

"You've given us a lot to chew on," Mr. Rogers said near the end of the meeting, and later closed out the discussion by appreciating the council's attention to detail. "Thanks, and we'll see you again."

Go to tinyurl.com/plan-163 to review all documents associated with the specific plan.

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