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Menlo Park: City releases summary of potential specific plan initiative

Original post made on Mar 11, 2014

The official title of the proposed downtown/El Camino Real specific plan initiative is a mouthful, in the way government titles tend to be.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 9:14 AM

Comments (45)

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Posted by seen all of this
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 11, 2014 at 11:03 am

Anyone who believes that the proposal by Mayor Mueller to hire an " independent consultant" to analyze the initiative, and thus get a view independent from what Staff has manufactured with the Specific Plan, really fails to understand what goes on in City Hall.

City Hall has lists of various consultants. They will simply choose a consultant that they know will render opinions in line with their thinking; in this case very "pro-development" consultants. Council has no expertise is being able to choose a consultant and they will depend on Staff for such a choice.

City Manager McIntyre's statement in the article, clearly shows what he wants; he wants no change. He will make sure any consultant chosen will agree with him.

Net result, money down the drian.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 11, 2014 at 10:33 pm

It shouldn't be too difficult to get the necessary signatures to put this initiative on the ballot. Then we can finally let Menlo Park voters (and not just Almanac News posters) decide this issue.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 11, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As previously stated:

"I welcome debate on the specific language in the initiative and I am confident that such debate will illuminate its flaws and educate the voters. Save/Stop Menlo does not seem very interested in such an open debate- I wonder why?"


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 12, 2014 at 12:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

One of the great benefits of public scrutiny is Truth in Labeling:

Compare the original proposed title of:

The El Camino ReaI/ Downtown Specific Plan Area Livable, Walkable Community Development Standards Act.

To the independently developed and approved title of:

"An initiative measure proposing amendments to the City of Menlo Park general plan and Menlo Park 2012 El Camino Real/Downtown specific plan limiting office development, modifying open space requirements, and requiring voter approval for new non-residential projects that exceed specified development limits."

The motherhood and apple pie phrases of "livable, walkable" have, surprise, disappeared.


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2014 at 5:46 am

If Peter Carpenter had attended the Visioning sessions, which were meant to guide how the Specific Plan was to be drawn up, he would know that the phrases he quotes above:

"The motherhood and apple pie phrases of "livable, walkable" have, surprise, disappeared"

were keystones of what the voters in Menlo Park expected to be obtained from the specific plan.

We now know full well, Menlo Park Staff was basically "behind closed doors", meeting with Stanford and making sure the Specific Plan was "ok with Stanford".

Now even ex-Mayor Richard Cline, admits that what is being proposed by Stanford is not what he expected and what he was told by Stanford planning would be implemented.


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Posted by History repeats
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 12, 2014 at 6:21 am

The specific plan was created and adopted with public input, consultation and at significant expense. Menlo residents were happy with it and trusted council members and staff to be able to implement it. Stanford brings to the table a project following that plan. Then the tomato throwers show up at council meetings and the council members are petrified to stand up to the loud few.

Glad it is an election year. Toss out the weak leaders and put this initiative in the grave.


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Posted by Alex
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 12, 2014 at 6:48 am

Of course, the city manager from Oregon has nothing but distain for this and any initiative. He and his cohorts will attack any initiative which, by legal definition, cannot be overriden by the city manager or city council (,except insofsr as the initiative might dangerously provide). If, as others have noted, the city manager or city council could ignore, override or significantly amend an initiative, it would be nearly worthless. This initiative allows no suvh nonsense. The issue is what the initiative will accomplish. Developers, oc course, will attempt to work sround any lae. They would build 50-story buildings.if allowed. Why is there.no such building binge in Atherton? Because Atherton residents would not stand for the destruction of their residential community. And in Atherton, city government is not a power and money craving bureaucracy - at least not yet.


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Posted by Tired of it
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Mar 12, 2014 at 11:06 am

We have, if memory serves, a housing / jobs imbalance where we are short of housing. The large amount of office space in the proposed development compared to housing would seem to only make that worse. Or am I missing something?

That being said I hate initiatives as a way of governing. Gives elected officials an easy out, gives moneyed interests too much influence, and results in bad law.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Folks the SCARIEST scenario is because of this legal gerrymandering they convert the WHOLE area into rental housing. We are LEGALLY short housing units and could NEVER stop it, they wouldn't use a SINGLE foot of the allowable footage under the specific plan in doing so.

The traffic and impact to schools would be catastrophic....but it would satisfy the slow growth anti-business people. Not sure how it would "Save Menlo"

Stanford would collect rent on housing instead of office space.

Be careful what you ask for.

Roy


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Posted by old timer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2014 at 11:47 am

A ridiculous comment that "they would convert the whole area to housing."

Why do you think they want the office space sir? Because that's is where the BIG money is. Better re-think your comment Roy.

To Tired of it:

In this case this initiative is certainly not working for the big moneyed interests or the elected officials; this initiative keeps them in check.


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Posted by misled
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2014 at 1:48 pm

This isn't about Stanford. It's about the fact that Stanford and Greenheart together propose to build more than 400,000 SF of large office buildings under the Plan. Then what happens on the BevMo shopping center site? How are those consistent with the Vision of a balance of uses and small town character (not my words, but those in the Vision and Plan)?

As stated previously, we were told that it was reasonably foreseeable that 240,820 SF of office would be built in the Plan area over the next 30 years. Seems to me this initiative is just trying to make that more "reasonably foreseeable".


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Posted by History repeats
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 12, 2014 at 3:37 pm

If more housing units are needed, why doesn't the city incorporate the unincorporated area of Menlo Park?


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Posted by Scott Oesterling
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 13, 2014 at 7:51 am

Kudos to Peter and Roy for posting under their own names.

Can the Almanac or the city set up a FAQ page? save menlo.org has an expired domain name.

I really want to know:

What does a 200,000 square foot building look like?

Have the developers released pictures or mock ups?

How many square feet are the offices on the corner of Ravenswood and El Camino by comparison?

While the initiative may be about future building, I think the residents will treat it as a referendum on the proposed projects.

As an aside, I would be in favor of giving the developers significant concessions for a pedestrian underpass under el camino and the railroad.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Scott is correct - the Save Menlo web site has disappeared. Why is Save Menlo going silent just at the time that people want more information about their initiative?

I firmly believe that the more people know about the details of this lengthy, complex and forever initiative the less likely that they will vote for it. Perhaps that is why Save Menlo has gone dark.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

To help interested citizen understand this initiative here is the text as submitted to the city:

Web Link

Also, I will repost my concerns regarding the petition.

A - Process
1 - The petition was created in secret
2 - Without any opportunity for public review
3 - And hence without the opportunity to improve/clarify the initiative to reflect the concerns of those outside the small group that wrote it.
4 - Once the first signature is gathered the language cannot be changed without starting the entire filing process again.
5 - No effort has been or seems to be planned to ensure that potential signers of the petition have even read it.

B - Substance
1 - The initiative is lengthy and covers a number of different issues
2 - Therefore the opportunity for mistakes and conflict are significant
3 - The initiative is a 'forever' document which will, as intended, preclude some changes to the Specific Plan without another vote and will also, as an untended consequence, make it difficult to make any changes to the Specific Plan, particularly given the Priority Clause:
"PRIORITY.
5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede all provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
measure."
4 - Some of the language, as noted, does not and cannot accommodate changes in commerce such as banking and medical offices.
5- The initiative would force individuals with adjacent parcels to develop them separately thereby precluding integrated design and shared amenities.

C - Impact
1 - The initiative, even if not passed, will signal to any interested party that Menlo Park's planning process and established rules cannot be relied upon and they will make their investments elsewhere.
2 - The initiative, even if not passed, will delay moving forward with the Specific Plan.
3 - The initiative, even if not passed, will send a chilling message to the Planning Commissioners, the City Council and the planning staff that their efforts to have an open and inclusive process can be thwarted by a small group of disgruntled citizens.

I am sure that others can add concerns that I have overlooked.

My concern is that each of the petition signers actually read the entire proposed initiative before they sign their names. Typically the signature sheet only includes the title of the proposed ballot measure. Hopefully all the parties involved will work collaboratively to make sure that each prospective signer is fully informed as to the contents of the proposed initiative.

The irony is that Save Menlo is proposing an initiative whose language has never been presented for public comment and which they want to be binding over all other city ordinances for thirty years. They have not even posted the proposed initiative on their own web site. No public discussion, no opportunity for revisions or corrections - just take it or leave it. Correcting even a single error in the initiative ( and a 12 page document produced in secret without public input and review is likely to have a number of both errors and policy misstatements) would require another expensive ballot measure:
"the voter adopted development standards and definitions set forth in Section 3, above, may be repealed or amended only by a majority vote of the electorate of the City of Menlo Park voting "YES" on a ballot measure proposing such repeal or amendment at a regular or special election."

Save Menlo wants to substitute their judgement and their choice of words for a multi-year, deliberative, iterative process including scores of open forums, Planning Commission meetings and Council meetings, all with public input, that produced the current Downtown ECR Specific Plan.

I welcome debate on the specific language in the initiative and I am confident that such debate will illuminate its flaws and educate the voters. Save/Stop Menlo does not seem very interested in such an open debate- I wonder why?


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 10:07 am

Excellent summary - thanks one again for your extraordinary community service!


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 10:23 am

Peter, I can create a website dedicated to informing MP residents about the FACTS re: the initiative, Specific Plan, proposed developments, etc. If you are interested in supplying content, let's talk. Others who are willing to support this mission would, of course, be welcomed.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2014 at 10:28 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Dana,
I would be pleased to help and hope that such a web site would become a community resource to which all of the proponents and the opponents could contribute. Let's start with a section on the facts include links to the Downtown ECR Specific Plan and the EIR and then info on how an initiative is undertaken and then the official title and summary from the city and then the actual proposed initiative. This could be followed by pro and con views. Etc.

An informed electorate is a wise electorate.

Peter


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Posted by Enuff
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Peter Carpenter keeps protesting the initiative was prepared "in secret" without "public review." What balderdash! This is how initiatives are always written! A group of concerned citizens get together--and by the way, anyone who wanted to could sign up with SaveMenlo and/or give their input, and many did--and then they hire an attorney to formally draw up their initiative. Then they gather signatures to put it on the ballot, and once on the ballot, the public gets to vote on it, so it is the pure Democratic process at work. Mr. Carpenter so often tells us he believes in this process--or is it only when it serves purposes he favors?

By the way, any and all initiatives, by law, cannot be altered or repealed except by an election, whether or not this is stated in the initiative as it is in this one. Otherwise, what would be the point? A city council could overturn initiatives at will as soon as they were passed.

Lastly, how is it a "chilling message" for residents to use their prerogative to use the valid and legal initiative process when the city government fails to adequately address their concerns? Again, this is the Democratic process at work, which Mr. Carpenter praises when it suits his purpose, and finds "chilling" when it doesn't.


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Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Okay, Peter. l will set-up a basic website by May 1 and pay for the initial monthly hosting. We will need to deal wih content, features, use policies, etc. I am willing to handle the technical and administration functions to get the website running but might need a partner at some point as I already manage two websites and opening a third one in April. Let's do it! We need to meet and exchange contact information. Coffee in MP next week?


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Enuf:

Your statement to Peter:

"This is how initiatives are always written!"

Is simply another example of one's opinion asserted as a truth. (Which it is not!)

Many initiative developers PROACTIVELY invite their entire communities to participate in the initiative developement process.

This can build support, improve the initiative and increase the chances of it succeeding.

Make sense?


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 14, 2014 at 4:37 pm

In the time it would take to read Peter's lengthy and contrived "analysis" of the measure, which, it must be said, is largely opinion and conjecture and exhibits an odd habit of regeneration in this forum, much like a tenacious weed, one might just as easily read the succinct and straightforward text of the initiative itself. The salient sections run from 3.3.5 to 5.1, barely five pages of heavily indented text.

Peter's "concerns" have as much to do with the general initiative process as they do with the specific measure before us, which begs the question: Where was Peter's clarion call of reason when Sections 9200-9226 of our flawed California Elections Code were developed? Peter consistently rails against Menlo Park voters for not having participated in the development of the DSP (his perception), then turns round and lambasts us for availing ourselves of an older, more established and better understood legal and democratic mechanism in the petition for proposed ordinance.

How does the self-styled Sage of Lindenwood reconcile this seeming contradiction?

Peter also managed to find victory in the renaming of the measure, one "independently developed" by our own city attorney, concluding, "The motherhood and apple pie phrases of "livable, walkable" have, surprise, disappeared." True, as will any notion of "livable" or "walkable" disappear from our downtown if we bookend El Camino Real with more than 400,000 square feet of office space.

Dana Hendrickson stated, "Many initiative developers PROACTIVELY invite their entire communities to participate in the initiative developement process." Can you provide us with a few local examples from the past decade or two, Dana?

Gern


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Posted by dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2014 at 7:59 pm

Gern, I feel no need to spend time researching and providing you LOCAL examples of community participation in initiative develpment. (I did note your insertion of the word local). If you wish to spend your time on proving communty participation anywhere is untrue, go for it! More importantly, do you disagree with the good reasons for doing it that way? Yes or No?


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 15, 2014 at 1:07 am

Forgive me, Dana, but your assertion that "many initiative developers PROACTIVELY invite their entire communities to participate in the initiative developement process" led me to believe you had some grounding in the matter, some expertise even, but now that I know you "feel no need to spend time researching and providing LOCAL examples of community participation in initiative develpment" the source for your first statement is clear: someone's rectum.

By "local" I was thinking of California, as sections 9200-9226 of the state elections code appear to be at issue here. Is California broad enough for you to find a few examples? And do I believe initiatives should be created by committee in all cases, based on your vague hand-waving that "this can build support, improve the initiative and increase the chances of it succeeding"? Well, how has that worked for the DSP thus far?

The text of the initiative is short and straightforward and the intent is clear. Ridiculous claims that Menlo Park may forever be deprived by the initiative language of medical marijuana dispensaries or "banks of the future" should be recognized as the desperate incantations of our local fudmonger, nothing more.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2014 at 1:08 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Dana,
I am in the UK until 24 March and would look forward to meeting with you on my return. In the meantime I will provide whatever input I can to assist you in the development of a comprehensive web site.


Gern,
I fully expect that the proponents of this initiative will comply with all of the provisions of the California Elections Codes as a minimum. Given the proponents strong belief that the Specific Plan was concocted in secret I would have hoped that they would have ensured that their initiative was presented in draft form for public debate and comment before it was frozen into a take it or leave document that would be forever binding on the city.

I also expect the proponents to comply with Section 9207.
"The proponents may commence to circulate the petitions among
the voters of the city for signatures by any registered voter of the
city AFTER publication or posting, or both, as required by Section
9205, of the title and summary prepared by the city attorney. Each
section of the petition shall bear a copy of the notice of intention
and the title and summary prepared by the city attorney."


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2014 at 1:38 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Points of information:

1 - The true and impartial statement of the purpose of the proposed measure was not provided by the City Attorney as Mr. McClure was recessed from this matter due to the physical location of his office within an area that would be impacted by the proposed initiative. The matter was referred to a non-recused individual.

2 -The proposed initiative takes and or revises a number of definitions and Commercial Use Classifications which are in the Specific Plan and would make those definitions immutable by stating that "The foregoing definition is hereby adopted by the voters." In a changing world it is unwise to make definitions immutable unless a city wide election is held to bring them up to date.

It is easy to write "Ridiculous claims that Menlo Park may forever be deprived by the initiative language of medical marijuana dispensaries or "banks of the future" should be recognized as the desperate incantations of our local fudmonger, nothing more." but it is more instructive to actually read the proposed language and reach your own conclusion:
The proposed initiative states:
"As adopted on July 12, 2012, the ECR Specific Plan's Appendix
includes the following Commercial Use Classification for "Banks
and Other Financial Institutions": "Financial institutions providing
retail banking services. This classification includes only those
institutions engaged in the on-site circulation of money, including
credit unions." The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is
hereby adopted by the voters."

Do the voters really want to be tied to that very specific definition of what is a Bank or other Financial Institution forever (absent another election) given he rapidly changing nature of the world of electronic banking?

Intelligent discussion would be enhanced if those who disagree with me would offer counter opinions supported by facts rather than just attacking my statements and fantasizing about my motivations, finances and supposed loyalties.


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Posted by mutual admiration
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

I think the most exciting thing about this thread is that Peter and Dana are finally going to have coffee together.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 15, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Gern, your constant rants and lack of civility are amusing as are your endless suppositions. I will do what I have recommended to others (and regret only that I did not follow my own advice earlier). I will ignore your posts and spend my time constructively informing our community of the facts about the SP, initiative, etc. Goodbye, Gern.


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 15, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Mutual Admiration, me too!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2014 at 1:29 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Now that the Save Menlo web site has disappeared it is important to remember what they asked for:

REQUEST TO MENLO PARK CITY COUNCIL:

With this petition Menlo Park citizens ask the Menlo Park City Council and Planning Commission to put a hold on the implementation of the Stanford/Arrillaga proposal until the following recommended actions are taken:

Commission a study to fully understand traffic congestion and neighborhood cut-through traffic issues arising from such a large and traffic intensive development
Study pedestrian and bike safety implications along El Camino Real, on school routes, across the railroad tracks and on neighborhood streets, including Allied Arts, and the intersections of Middle at El Camino, Cambridge at El Camino, and College at El Camino in particular.
Provide an EIR because of the intensity of the project and the fact that medical office use wasn't studied previously in the Specific Plan
Find ways to receive public benefits from the developer in exchange for the Specific Plan's generous re-zoning that allows this developer a 77% increase in size than was previously allowed.
Negotiate with the developer a project that better fits with Menlo Park's small-town character and achieves the stated goals of the Specific Plan
Study and implement suitable traffic mitigation and transportation demand management measures before approving additional traffic sources of such scale
REQUEST to John Hennessey and John Arrillaga:

We appreciate Mr. Arrillaga for generously donating to the recreational centers at Burgess Park in the past several years.

We know that Stanford wants to have a good relationship with Menlo Park and the people here. Many Stanford alumni, donors, and employees live in Menlo Park. And the development creates a long-term relationship where Stanford will be using Menlo Park public services – schools, fire, police, water, and sewage.

We know that you both want to improve Menlo Park. With this development, you have an opportunity to improve Menlo Park and make it a safe and desirable place to work or live.

We ask Stanford to live up to the assurances which they made to some members of the Menlo Park City Council during the planning process of the El Camino/Downtown Specific Plan.

Stanford represented that if the city increased the allowable development size, Stanford would build mostly senior housing, which would cause less additional traffic – and therefore pose fewer risks to pedestrian and bicyclists crossing El Camino or travelling in the neighboring Allied Arts. And it would help Menlo Park meet its housing goals rather than increase them through an office project.

We want Stanford to live up to your previous assurances to Menlo Park - to build low-traffic causing development, and contribute to the city's vision of safe crossings on El Camino.
******

Everything that Save Menlo asked for in this petition has been done.
Stanford made significant concessions including eliminating medical offices and increasing the number of homes and help fund the pedestrian connecting to Alma, etc..
The traffic study has been done.
The Specific Plan has been reviewed.

And Save Menlo's answer is to simply remove their prior demands from the web as if those demands never existed and now ask for even more.

These folks do not want a better project, they want no project. And if they cannot get 'no project' then they want simply to delay anything being built for as long as possible. This is not responsible citizenship but rather the pursuit of narrow self interests.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2014 at 1:40 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

P.s. - Save Menlo needs to realize that simply shutting down its web site does not eliminate what was posted there. Nothing on the web really disappears if you know where to look.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

Savemenlo.org was brought back online a day or two ago, Peter -- whatever the reason for their "outage" (some payment or configuration issue with their domain registrar, likely) it was short-lived.

Peter states, "These folks do not want a better project, they want no project."

Utter nonsense, and yet another example of Peter's inability to separate fact from his own opinion. The short, straightforward text of the initiative (something Peter refuses to read or chooses to ignore) makes abundantly clear the level of development SaveMenlo and many of us support. Instead of obsessively vilifying SaveMenlo why don't you make your case for allowing allowing Stanford and Greenheart to build 400,000 square feet of office space on El Camino Real, Peter, about twice the amount specified in the DSP/DSP EIR?

Stanford (and now Greenheart) is playing a gambit with their El Camino Real project, something they so much as admitted when they pulled the plug on the initial medical office plan with nary a whimper, never mind the theatrics with the Council subcommittee. The bright folks at Stanford likely foresaw all that is now happening, including the initiative, and if in the end they are constrained to building a smaller project, one more in keeping with the DSP vision, they will do so -- they understand opportunity cost as well as anyone.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2014 at 10:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - "To compromise is to make a deal between different parties where each party gives up part of their demand."

Stanford has made many concessions while Save Menlo has made none and now, with the initiative, they have increased their 'demands' or 'suffer the consequences'.

When Stanford removed the medical offices these people described it as "playing a gambit with their El Camino Real project, something they so much as admitted when they pulled the plug on the initial medical office plan with nary a whimper". Never once has Save Menlo conceded that all of their original demands have been met.

Why would any rational person deal with people who have no honor and who simply change their demands each time that the other side moves towards them?

There is no reason to believe that Save Menlo will stop with this initiative even if in the highly unlikely event that it passes. After the initiative, pass or fail, will come law suits and other stalling tactics.

The continued uncertainty of what will actually be allowed to be built in Menlo Park will preclude any reasonable party from the significant investment required to develop the detailed and costly plans required to even seek a building permit - knowing that at any time prior to the permit being issued Save Menlo can and will do everything it can to block the approval.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2014 at 11:33 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern states "Savemenlo.org was brought back online a day or two ago,"

Well, not really. What is missing are the original demands made by Save Menlo of the City and Stanford. Now that those demands have been met Save Menlo seems to want to conveniently forget that Stanford made big concessions while Save Menlo has made none.

And the Save Menlo site still describes the Stanford plan as including the medical offices - "including high-traffic generating Medical Offices" - which Stanford has long ago removed.

And Save Menlo has no list of members - only Fry and Lanza are named. Who can be held accountable for the harm that Save Menlo has and continues to do?


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Posted by misled
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 16, 2014 at 11:47 pm

I believe the SaveMenlo initiative is about the specific plan, not just about the Stanford project. At the time of their petition, little was known about the Greenheart project. Speaking of, there isn't anything on the city's website about it. There have been articles in the press, and council members have commented about it but information is not posted. The city at least posted several versions of information about the Stanford proposal. Wonder why.

What's wrong with taking the initiative to a vote. Let the people study the pros and cons and decide.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2014 at 2:11 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Initiatives are blunt tools which should be used carefully. Because of its length, the number of issues covered, the inclusion of narrow definitions, its permanence and its absolute priority over all other local ordinances, etc, this initiative has not been carefully crafted.

It is critical that potential signers read and understand the entire initiative before they sign the qualifying petition. It is not clear how the sponsors intend to ensure that this occurs. In fact, ignorance of the facts may be their chosen ally.

If it reaches the ballot then voters also need to have read and understood the initiative before they cast their vote. It is not clear how the sponsors intend to ensure that this occurs.

An initiative is not without costs. There is the monetary cost of the election itself - which must be borne by the taxpayers and not by the sponsors. There is the cost of diminishing the capacity of our elected representatives to govern as is evidence by the California State legislature constrained by a 2000+ page constitution that is primarily the result of initiatives. There is the cost of the uncertainty created regarding the stability of rules and regulations on those who might otherwise invest in our communities. Sadly all of these costs are welcomed by the supporters because the effort cost them nothing and, even if unsuccessful, it impedes orderly progress.

I welcome an open public debate on the issues involved but, to date, none of the supporters of the proposed initiative have been willing to engage in such a debate.


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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2014 at 9:43 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

The Daily Post has an editorial today discussing the NEGATIVE ramifications of Save Menlo succeeding in Ballot Initiative.

The main point of the story is that if Commercial development becomes too difficult (asking the voters for everything over 100K feet) the developers will make similar size buildings with residential as the main component.

The financial implication to our school districts led Dave Price to suggest that this is NOT an initiative that helps Menlo Park (andd certainly doesn't save it)

Interesting opposing view, and quite frankly this confirms my earlier comments. this is BAD for Menlo Park and REALLY BAD for the school district.....

Roy Thiele-Sardina


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is a perfect example of why amateur attempts, done without public input and proper vetting, to modify the carefully debated and constructed Downtown ECR Specific Plan WILL have unintended and unanticipated consequences. Another example is that the proposed initiative would essentially require Stanford to develop its three ECR parcels as separate projects thereby losing the goal clearly articulated in the Specific Plan to create an integrated development of these unique commonly owned adjacent parcels.

"The El Camino Real Southeast Zoning District (ECR SE) is a unique area
because, with the exception of one small parcel, the area
is owned by three entities, including Stanford University.
Stanford University owns the southern two-thirds of the area
or 12.8 acres, and it intends to prepare a comprehensive plan
for the 8.5 acres of its site north of the Stanford Park Hotel
once ground lease agreements have expired."


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Posted by misled
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2014 at 10:52 am

Don't be misled. Read the initiative. It doesn't require voters to approve projects larger than 100K SF. It's asking the voters to limit OFFICE space to no more than 100K SF per project. Small-scale offices are what's supposed to be on El Camino, and there aren't but a couple sites even large enough to hold office buildings that large. If the initiative is adopted and a project proposes to exceed the initiative's limits, then voters would be asked to vote on modifying the Plan.

What will be the effect on schools of all the new housing that will be required to achieve the city's target of jobs and housing balance with so much office in the stanford and greenhart projects? All the plan's expert consultants crafted a plan anticipating 240,820 SF of office and 680 units of housing. These 2 projects propose 400K sf of office. The school districts already know about the 680 units, and they should know that the plan established that much housing as a maximum buildout.

PC - if the plan was so carefully constructed, why did the Sierra Club tell the council (see 11/18/13 letter) that its "limit" of 50% office should really be 20%? the plan is flawed.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2014 at 11:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

No plan makes everybody happy and the Sierra Club only looks at a plan from the very narrow perspective of the Sierra Club's mission - which has very little to do with the long term welfare of Menlo Park.

"Don't be misled. Read the initiative." Great advice. The ONLY place you can find the initiative language posted is the dropbox posting that I created:

Web Link

Save Menlo dose not even have the text on THEIR web site - I suspect that ignorance is their planned ally.


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Posted by Joseph Baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 17, 2014 at 8:22 pm

A serious question to which I would love an answer.

Peter keeps talking about the open process of developing the plan. All the meetings and hearings and public input.

My question is: Is there any evidence that Menlo Park actually considered the input they received from the public when putting together the plan?

As the old joke goes: My wife wanted a cat; I didn't. So we compromised and got a cat.

I went to meetings on the plan. I was asked very specific questions by a note-taking city employee with a clipboard about how many stories would be acceptable on the site, what should the type of development be,...
The city must have the data they collected. Did they ever present the data they collected from the public?
I don't remember hearing anyone saying 5 stories would be fine.
Seems like we are just getting the damn cat the city/Stanford wanted.


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Posted by oldtimer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2014 at 9:43 pm

Well Joseph Baloney, above, certainly hit the "nail on the head" Peter, not a resident of Menlo Park, who certainly did not attend the meetings, doesn't know what went on, yet he is an expert. Why should anyone want to follow his advice?

The Specific Plan is a fraud, plain and simple. It is not what the voters of Menlo Park asked for; it should have never been approved. Now that the reality of what can be developed under the new zoning, the voters are just beginning to realize what a disaster it will encompass.

This initiative is not nearly drastic enough. It should have implemented a height restriction and insisted that developments along El Camino have much more space devoted to commercial / retail operations. That is what the General Plan of the City says is supposed to be along El Camino; plenty of commercial / retail space.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 4:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Old timer - The Town Square is intended to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. It makes no difference where a poster resides or if he or she is considered by themselves or others as an expert; what counts is the accuracy of the facts which they post and the strength of the arguments which they make in support of their opinions.

I challenge you to find one factual error in the voluminous extracts that I have posted from official sources and I welcome you attempting to prevail with better arguments than mine on what I have presented as my opinion.

"The Specific Plan is a fraud, plain and simple." Your opinion without any supporting facts.

" It is not what the voters of Menlo Park asked for" Your opinion without any supporting facts.

"This initiative is not nearly drastic enough." Your opinion without any supporting facts.

"Is there any evidence that Menlo Park actually considered the input they received from the public when putting together the plan?" Yes, all of the comments received on the draft EIR were responded to in the fnal EIR. There were many emails and presentations by the citizens that were reflected in the Specific Plan. Nothing in the Specific Plan was not discussed in the visioning process, however no everything discussed in the visioning process made its way into the Specific Plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Dana,
I am in the UK until 24 March and would look forward to meeting with you on my return.

Let's use Linkedin to connect or you can send an email to Sandy Brundage at the Almanac and she will forward it to me.


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Posted by Compos Mentis
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 11, 2014 at 12:26 am

SaveMenlo.org should more appropriately be titled, "save the value of my home.com." I live in the midst of the Allied Arts, one-half block from the creek. When I moved here it was a simply charming neighborhood, now every fifth house is being purchased for $2+ million, razed, then replaced with a 7,000 square foot McMansion that would be more appropriate in a subdivision in Livermore. I am seriously considering leaving this once lovely neiborhood that is now inhabited by Rebuplicans parading as Liberals. It would be interesting to see how many residential square feet had been anticipated "in the next 30 years of building." Frankly, my arrogant, self-entitled neighbors, consist of a cluster of homemakers, desparate to do something "important." The more honest local nuvo-millionares, are willing to say that, "we don't want 'those' people to be working and eating in our precious town." after all, while all other cities and towns on the Peninsula deserve traffic, Menlo Park is sooooooooo special, it shouldn't have to suffer these inconveniences - move to Iowa........


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