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Editorial: Initiative would shrink Menlo projects

Original post made on Mar 12, 2014

Menlo Park voters who have noticed the recent skirmishes over the proposed mixed-use housing, office and retail projects on El Camino Real may get a chance to have their say in November.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 12:00 AM

Comments (50)

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Posted by Correction, Please
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 12, 2014 at 9:03 pm

There was no down-sizing initiative related to the Derry property. It was a referendum on the council's error in making 2 amendments to the General Plan in a single year that approved 2 developments that needed the general plan changed.

This is important because both the developments would have had no trouble getting permits had the council been patient and spread them out in 2 years instead of rushing them. One amendment a year to the general plan is allowed, not 2.

This legal error opened the door to the referendum. On top of that this council majority (Duboc, Jellins and Winkler) wanted to change the fundamental mission of Bayfront Park and turn it into a golf course or soccer fields. Both would have required the toxic garbage at the park to be disturbed, releasing methane into the air.

Both Duboc and Winkler were thrown out of office. Please revise the editorial to correct the usage of the word, "initiative."


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Posted by Patti Fry
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2014 at 10:02 pm

Predictability about development in Menlo Park is important. Developers want as much certainty as possible about what they can build, and residents want predictability about their quality of life. The El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan was sold as a tool to guide the city's growth over the next several decades, balancing new community-serving retail, restaurants, housing, offices, But now, less than 18 months into the Plan's life, two major projects propose to build at least 50% more new office space than residents were led to expect for the 30-year life of the Plan -- in the entire 130 acre Plan area!

Not only would this additional office space bring more commuter traffic than anticipated, it also means that actual development may never attain the expected balance of retail/restaurants, small-scale offices, hotel, and transit-oriented housing. Although the Plan has a Maximum Buildout of 680 housing units that our crowded schools already would struggle to accommodate, this much additional office would put significant pressures on Menlo Park to plan for even more housing.

The Plan's rules aren't working properly to support the Plan's vision. These first two El Camino Real development proposals caused the local Sierra Club to write to the City Council last November, stating "[a] closer examination of the plan has exposed a misalignment between its goals and the Development Standards formulae." Specifically pointed out was that the Plan's "limit" of 50% office should actually be 20% office to align development with the Plan's EIR and to provide an appropriate office/housing balance. The letter concluded "the City cannot have it both ways – a jobs-housing balance as articulated and supported by the public process and also 50% FAR for office. It has to decide which direction it wants change to happen in the downtown and El Camino area."

The Sierra Club gets it right. The Plan's rules are not resulting in the "most reasonably foreseeable" scenario of balanced growth and revitalization for the next 30 years, as defined and analyzed by the city's teams of expensive consultants. Rather than an "invalidation of the plan", SaveMenlo's initiative honors the Plan by adopting as firm limits the SAME amount of new office space (240,820 SF) and total non-residential space (474,000 SF) as in the consultants' scenario, so residents can be more confident in the experts' predictions of both the environmental and financial impacts of the Plan, positive and negative.

The initiative's new limit of 100K SF of office in any single development is believed to affect only 3 sites: Stanford's, Greenheart's and the Cortana (Big 5 shopping center) sites, each about 6 acres or larger, which environmentalists claim are highly suited for multi-unit housing to address Menlo Park's jobs/housing imbalance, not worsen it. This provision should provide more certainty to property owners of smaller sites that they could include some office space without triggering costly environmental reviews the Plan was supposed to help them avoid.

The initiative also removes balconies and upper level decks from counting as project open space, providing more ground level open space for livable, walkable new development consistent with our town's desired character. Participants in the Plan visioning process were clear that they did not want the urbanized character of "stack and pack" development of other peninsula cities.

Contrary to some of the Editor's assertions, the initiative does not shrink or alter the total development any particular project can build under the Plan. It does not change the allowable height. It does not change the amount of retail, restaurants or other non-office uses that would make up the rest of the Plan's Maximum Buildout of non-residential development. It does not change the Plan's Maximum Buildout of housing units. It adopts Plan definitions to make it clear how office and open space would be counted after the initiative is adopted.

Voter approval is not required for individual projects. However, rather than returning to the old ad hoc project-by-project negotiations when a proposed project would exceed the initiative's or Plan's limits, the initiative requires a vote of residents (not a Council majority) to decide if it's appropriate to modify the initiative's limits, whether that's sooner or later than the Plan's 30-year life.

Initiative supporters are gathering signatures to give Menlo Park resident the opportunity to vote for or against a few new controls so future development might conform more closely to what residents were told to expect. After all, once huge buildings are constructed, they will affect for generations the walkability, livability, and character of our town. We residents need more predictability about the kind of development and quality of life we're really going to get.
That's why I decided to support SaveMenlo's initiative.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2014 at 1:14 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

What is wrong with implementing the Specific Plan as soon as the funding to do so is available?

If you decided to build a home to live in for the next 30 years why would you want to build it one room at a time rather than building all of it as soon as possible?

Do you really believe that definitions written today:

""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"

""Offices of firms or organizations providing professional,executive,management,or administrative services,such as accounting,advertising,architectural,computer software design,engineering,graphic design, insurance, interior design,investment,and legal offices. This classification excludes hospitals, banks,and savings and loan associations."The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is hereby adopted by the voters.

will still be appropriate even five years from now and if they are not that there should be an election to change even one word of such definitions? What about digital age banks that do not engage in the on site circulation of money? What about a firm that wants to design robots?

The complexity and permanence and priority of the proposed ordinance simply overwhelm whatever virtues it may have. And it is presented as a take it or leave it proposition so now that is has been approved for solicitation of signatures NO changes can be made.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm

My, what a startling contrast we have in the two comments, above. Opposed to Patty Fry's excellent fact-based summary of the initiative goals, most of which Menlo Park residents and voters likely agree with, Peter Carpenter offers up the same irrelevant analogy and fear-based conjecture. Does anyone truly worry that we might exclude "banks of the future" in the affected properties, or that the city may need to vote to fix the problem should it ever arise? And I hesitate to ask, but why should a robot design firm fear exclusion?

Please read the initiative -- it is succinct and focused and addresses two of the chief flaws in the otherwise commendable DSP.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - Patti is dealing with her ideal world while I am dealing with the practical world. Two very different perspectives.

But as you say - please read the initiative - then decide if you prefer Patti's ideal or Peter's practical.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 18, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Peter, I would very much like to understand why it is less practical to constrain Stanford and Greenheart to 200,000 square feet of office space, total, when that is close to the office space cap specified in the DSP/DSP EIR for the coming 30 years!? Do you choose to ignore the DSP when the "practical" considerations of doing so favor Stanford or other development interests?

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Gern - the issue is whether Menlo Park wants to encourage rational development based on a a very public process leading to the current Specific Plan or instead be constrained forever by an amateur initiative developed in secret without the benefit of public review or comment.

I prefer to rely on the public process and the decisions of elected officials.


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 18, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Peter,

You seem to be very opinionated and like to put down other people for sharing their own opinion. I am happy to respect your right to express yourself but I also cherish my right to express myself and I completely disagree with you. I like the idea of a grass roots initiative and letting the residents of Menlo Park express themselves. I do find it funny that one of the most vocal opponents of letting the residents decide is not even a resident himself. You like to "rely on the public process and the decisions of elected officials", I personally prefer to rely on checks and balances and let the citizens have a say in how their city is run. I am not sure why you seem to have such a strong problem with that and such a pro-Stanford bias?


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Posted by Joseph Baloney
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Peter, I asked this on the last thread on got no reply.

You keep 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?

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?

You prefer a "public process and the decisions of elected officials." If they simply ignored the public and did what they/Stanford wanted (I've seen no evidence whether they did or didn't), then I would much prefer being able to actually vote on something.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 18, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Brian:

I happen to agree with Peter. I haven't posted much on this because Peter usually posts the same thing I am thinking before I do. I DO live in Menlo Park and I think this initiative is a huge mistake. One only need look at our state for a lesson on how poorly the initiative process works. We don't live in a direct democracy. We live in a representative democracy. We elect people to represent us and make these decisions for all of us based upon what is best for ALL of us, not just a few that object. The checks and balances you refer to are at the ballot box. Not in the form of an initiative but in the form of not voting for those you do not feel have adequately represented you. If the majority of voters agree with you someone that you all feel does represent you gets elected. The problem with Save Menlo is that they don't seem to believe in a representative system, unless of course, it goes their way. These folks are essentially totally anti-growth and are throwing a tantrum because they don't like what came out of a five year public process to determine what could be built in our town.

It will be interesting to see if they can even get this initiative to the ballot and if they do manage that, get it passed. My guess is that if they don't they will follow up with more of their tantrum behavior and start filing lawsuits.


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 18, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Menlo Voter,

I also live in Menlo Park and I support the initiative process. I think it is naive to believe that elected representatives have the interest of their constituents at heart. I will agree that the initiative process is not always perfect but I think it is an important part of politics and allows for people who feel they are not being represented to have a say. I guess we will have to see what happens, time will tell.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 18, 2014 at 4:59 pm

After reading the response from Patti Frye I now understand why Menlo Park has been paraylyzed any large development project must adhere to the Sierra Clubs balanced growth? is that what we have now?


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 18, 2014 at 5:26 pm

Robert,

You read her post and that is all you got from it? Really?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Brian states -"Peter,

You seem to be very opinionated and like to put down other people for sharing their own opinion"

That is certainly not my intention; I do challenge people to state either facts or their opinion on the issue- rather than having them attack other posters (like where do you live, who pays you, etc.)

Brain states -"Robert,

You read her post and that is all you got from it? Really?"

Is this an example of what you mean?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

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

Yes, input from a lot of people is documented in the responses received from the draft EIR, in the Visioning documents, in the emails to the council and in the numerous direct quotes in the final Specific plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Brian states - "I personally prefer to rely on checks and balances and let the citizens have a say in how their city is run. I am not sure why you seem to have such a strong problem with that and such a pro-Stanford bias?"

First, I believe that our system of representative democracy works well - it is not perfect but it provides us with a way go governing our affairs that balances efficiency and effectiveness.

Second, I am not pro-Stanford but rather a strong believer that society only works well if everyone knows what the rules are and the rules are not changed solely to impact a particular organization or individual.


Brian states -" I think it is naive to believe that elected representatives have the interest of their constituents at heart."
I disagree. If YOUR elected representatives do not have your interests at heart then why did you vote for them in the first place?

Are you truly prepared to accept the burden of direct democracy wherein all of the citizen vote on every issue?

I have served as one of YOUR elected representatives for almost ten years - why exactly do you think I do not have your interests at heart in every decision I make as one of your elected representatives?


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Posted by Patti Fry
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2014 at 8:09 am

The world I live in is where the ideal and practical meet. After our community invests 6 years and $1.7 M on expensive consultant studies to craft a widely accepted vision of the next 30 years and a set of rules that SHOULD support that vision, there ought to be considerable similarity between the vision and the reality of what actually happens.

Something is seriously off kilter when, during the the first 18 months of the plan, two large projects propose 50% more office space than was predicted for the entire plan area for 30 years. The rules aren't working properly to support the vision.

In my prior posting, I referenced the Sierra Club to show that their unqualified prior support also has turned to concern that the plan's rules need to be revisited.

The SaveMenlo initiative would add more predictability that the future painted for us might happen in reality.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 8:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

There is nothing in the Specific Plan which dictates the timing of when the allowed development should take place.

What is wrong with implementing the Specific Plan as soon as the funding to do so is available? Would you rather than land stays vacant for ten years?

If you decided to build a home to live in for the next 30 years why would you want to build it one room at a time rather than building all of it as soon as possible?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 8:27 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what the January 2013 Staff Report FOR THE PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING OF JANUARY 28, 2013
AGENDA ITEM E1 stated:

"The potential for large projects to account for a significant percentage of the Maximum Allowable Development thresholds was discussed by the City Council prior to adoption of the Specific Plan. As noted at the time by staff, because the thresholds are based on net new development, it should not be surprising if a project on a large and primarily vacant site would represent a large proportion of the Maximum Allowable Development. Conversely, more modest projects that propose redevelopment of sites with currently-active uses will typically result in smaller net new development totals. As different types and scales of projects are reviewed, the expectation is that the overall Plan area redevelopment will average out in accordance with the projections. In addition, while there is always some uncertainty with projections, the assumptions made when the Specific Plan environmental review was commenced were based upon the best information available at the time about sites that were likely to be redeveloped under the Specific Plan."


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 20, 2014 at 9:19 am

Peter,

Thanks, your posts do bring me a chuckle. I guess you didn't recognize that I was asking a real question, not telling someone they are in a fantasy world.

So you think a representative government without any input from the electorate except to chose a representative is the best way to go and further more you argue that all elected representatives have the electorate's best interest at heart. Did I summarize correctly? How far back would you like me to go in refuting that, Tammany Hall, Huey Long, Richard Nixon, Rod Blagojevich? There are so many politicians Local, State and National that have acted in their own self interest as opposed to the people they represent that it isn't even worth arguing about it.

That said, and please don't twist my words, I do support absolutely the referendum process. Which, since you seem like an intelligent person I believe you understand is not direct democracy where citizens vote on every topic. The burden to get an something on a ballot is not a small thing, but it does let the people have a voice when they believe they are not being heard. Just because you don't agree with it does not make it bad, that is why every citizen has the ability to vote on it. So argue what you may, insult people, attack positions not based on the content but on the person posting them. In the end I thing everyone reading these comments have made up their minds already.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 9:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"So you think a representative government without any input from the electorate except to chose a representative is the best way to go and further more you argue that all elected representatives have the electorate's best interest at heart. "

No - I think a representative government with a lot of input from the electorate is the best way to go and that most elected representatives have the electorate's best interest at heart. That is why the elected body on which I serve has, following my leadership on the issue, become the most open and transparent in California.

I am proud to serve as an elected official and proud of my record as such and I know of many other elected officials who can state the same.

You can dismiss all of your elected officials with the stroke of your hand but that is only your individual judgement - that is also a sad commentary on your own unwillingness to be involved and participate rather than on those whom you so freely castigate.

BTW, what is involved here in an initiative, not a referendum - a minor detail but important when discussing issues with people who love to ignore the facts.


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Posted by MOE
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2014 at 11:58 am

I agree with the 3/18 - 3:44pm post of Menlo Voter. I also believe that The City of Menlo Park with over 30.000 residents is not a village or town. I also think it is reasonable, logical and, after 5 years of public input, desirable for a city of this size to develop a mixed use core of considerably higher density. Such core development along ECR will not change the visual character of our neighborhoods. Some increase in traffic, particularly in one small area should not be a reason to delay or substantially reduce implementation of the specific plan that was developed with input from residents of the entire city. I totally disagree with this maneuver of a small group to use the initiative process to get their way.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 20, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Patti:

who's "vision?" Yours, that of a narrow group of totally anti-growth people or the vision of the majority of people in Menlo Park who's representatives approved the DSP on their behalf as they were elected to do? Don't bother to answer as I already know. It will be some nonsense about how the DSP isn't what YOU thought is should be. Well, it's what your elected representatives thought it should be. There's no conspiracy here. What we have here is a small group of people that don't like the outcome of our representative democratic process that want to hijack or derail it for their own narrow self interests. Sorry, not buying it. Just another example of a bunch of self absorbed, self entitled people trying to impose their will upon others. I'm sick of it. If your initiative actually makes it to the ballot you can bet I'll be voting NO.


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Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 21, 2014 at 9:24 am

I haven't been posting here either, but I agree with what Peter Carpenter has to say.

The specific plan is well thought out, and provides for sensible, rational growth in the context of the reality that the SFBA is growing, and a handful of anti-growth "build nothing" wingnuts are not going to stop that reality; instead, they're likely to create a situation far worse than anything you would get from the Specific Plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 10:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

People need to realize that the two developers who want to build projects represent 90% of the available properties in the Specific Plan area. Why should they not utilize a significant fraction of the Specific Plan projects growth? And why should that growth be phased in over 30 years ?

If you own a parcel and want to build a totally conforming ten room home should you be forced to build it one room each year for the next ten years ?
Of course not.

Stanford owns six parcels on ECR. Under the initiative they could simply submit five 40,000 sq ft projects and leave the northern most parcel vacant thereby avoiding any responsibility for contribution either space to a plaza or funding for an underpass. The sponsors have failed to consider the unintended consequences of their poorly conceived initiative.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 11:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Oh, and BTW the five separate projects would each have to conform with the setback requirements of each parcel - the result would be five separate buildings with each maxed out horizontally to the setback lines yielding ugly but perfectly legal boxes. Each of the five projects would be required to have its own connections to ECR.

Just brilliant!!


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Mar 21, 2014 at 4:17 pm

From SaveMenloPark.org website:

"SaveMenlo is made up of residents who believe in a walkable and livable Menlo Park. There are nearly six hundred folks involved."

Would Save Menlo Park members be willing to say who they really are? How many members they actually have?

This feels like an attempt at tyranny by a minority at considerable expense to the majority.


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Posted by ANother view
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 21, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Do the opponents have any opinions on the three points in the initiative? I understand you all believe the 7 year process was transparent and the community understood every line in the specific plan and it cot a lot of money. So did the Vietnam war, the Iraqi invasion, the Afghan war but how did those events turn out. The length of time and the cost are not evidence that the plan is either good or sacred. There's nothing wrong with getting the city's long range planning blueprint right.

If the projection was for 240,780 square feet of office, what was the plan after Stanford built 200,000 square feet of office? Then Greenheart builds 190,000 square feet of office. Then the new owner of the Park Theatre parcel is out of luck? Then the new owner of Roger Reynolds is out of luck? What savemenlo is trying to do is make the specific plan work.

Now, can any of you discuss the pros and cons of the elements in the initiative? Can any of you truly say that 100,000 square feet of office is worse than 200,000 square feet of office in any single development? Were any of you at the visioning meetings and heard participants state that they wanted 200,000 square feet of office on Stanford's parcels? I heard that people wanted a balanced mix of office, housing, retail, restaurants and even a hotel.

Do the opponents want large office buildings on el camino real? Say it. Own that statement. This thread has turned into the same name calling in every thread on the specific plan. I want to hear something else besides the old saw
that it took 7 years and it cost a lot of money and savemenlo are selfish residents. Say something new.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 21, 2014 at 7:40 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

another view:

if you think the initiatives issues haven't been addressed then you haven't read all postings or been paying attention. Bottom line, the initiative process is not the way to handle this. It is a blunt instrument and makes it so that any change has to be voted on EVERY time there may need to be a change. Think about how rapidly change has been happening in the last ten years. We need to vote every time things change? Get real. This initiative is pure obstructionism, nothing more. As has been noted by Peter, the initiative requiring no more than 100,000 sf means multiple buildings each with access to ECR as opposed to one or two.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 21, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Readers are encouraged to compare the reasoned, factual and polite comments made above by Patti Fry, a known, long-time, committed resident of Menlo Park, with the posturing and name-calling of a "Menlo Voter," someone so afraid of losing his or her anonymity in this forum that they refused to disclose a proximal Menlo Park neighborhood when registering (as if registering anonymously provides any more credibility). It is abundantly clear to me which person most wishes to see the "vision" — the guiding principles — of the DSP realized. Perhaps "Menlo Voter" would do us the favor of demonstrating where SaveMenlo's vision differs markedly from that of the DSP, and not merely from his or her own hidden agenda?

Incidentally, the use of the "anti-growth" label when describing SaveMenlo or other initiative supporters betrays a clear bias which has nothing to do with a reverence for representative government and everything to do with inciting the small group of Downtown Specific Doctrine supporters in this forum. It's as though the Five Horsemen of the Metropolis — MOE, MV, Dana, Peter and Shemp — are pulling a page from the Fox News playbook: incite the base, facts be damned!

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 1:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

the Five Horsemen of the Metropolis — MOE, MV, Dana, Peter and Shemp — are pulling a page after page after page from the public record to Inform the voters !

And we keep asking specific questions which Save/Stop Menlo refuses to answer.

Like:
If you own a parcel and want to build a totally conforming ten room home should you be forced to build it one room each year for the next ten years ?

What is wrong with implementing the Specific Plan as soon as the funding to do so is available? Would you rather than land stays vacant for ten years?

If YOUR elected representatives do not have your interests at heart then why did you vote for them in the first place?

Are you truly prepared to accept the burden of direct democracy wherein all of the citizen vote on every issue?

I have served as one of YOUR elected representatives for almost ten years - why exactly do you think I do not have your interests at heart in every decision I make as one of your elected representatives?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 1:36 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Because the initiative sponsors have not done their homework they fail to realize that their proposed initiative has every incentive for Stanford, Greenheart and Roger reynolds to develop the smaller partials which make up their much larger holdings as individual projects. This will result in a proliferation of small projects each conforming to its own parcel setbacks thus resulting in a large number of tall boxes - but totally permitted under the initiative. There will be no integrated design with adjacent parcels and no parcel will be large enough to justify any significant public benefits. Instead of a coherent downtown ECR we will have a collection of small (Save Menlo loves that word) ugly tall buildings. The existing parcels all exist and the city cannot prevent each one of them from being developed individually - the Specific Plan is a wise effort to ensure well designed and integrated projects on these multi-parcel sites. Save/Stop Menlo calls that progress?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 2:43 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just exactly what problem is the initiative trying to solve?

Here is what the Specific Plan ALREADY calls for:
"After the granting of entitlements or building permits for 80 percent or more of either the
maximum residential units or maximum non-residential
square footage, the Community Development Director
will report to the City Council. The Council would then
consider whether it wished to consider amending the
Plan and completing the required environmental review,
or the Council could choose to make no changes in the
Plan. Any development proposal that would result in either
more residences or more commercial development than
permitted by the Specific Plan would be required to apply
for an amendment to the Specific Plan and complete the
necessary environmental review.

Ongoing Review of Specific Plan
The Specific Plan constitutes a significant and complex
revision of the existing regulations, and there may be
aspects of the plan that do not function precisely as
intended when applied to actual future development
proposals and public improvement projects. In order
to address such issues comprehensively, as well as to
consider the policy-related implications of various Plan
aspects, the Specific Plan recommends that the City
conduct an initial review of the Specific Plan one year
after adoption. In addition, the Specific Plan recommends
that the City conduct an ongoing review every two years
after the initial review. Such reviews should be conducted
with both the Planning Commission and City Council, and
should incorporate public input. Any modifications that
result from this review should be formally presented for
Planning Commission review and City Council action. Minor
technical modifications would generally be anticipated to
be covered by the current Program EIR analysis, while
substantive changes not covered by the Program EIR
would require additional review"


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Posted by cmon
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 6:39 am

MenloVoter is exactly right about savemenlo. If you have paid attention or attended any meeting, you know that the goal is essentially zero development. Protest attempts at meetings had little impact, since the facts were weak (from the 10 or so members). They are entirely against any intelligent approach to development in Menlo Park. This initiative is the result of having failed in the numerous public forums and has at its core a desire to either dupe the public on what is happening or to try to get Stanford, et al to change their approach -- pure negotiating. You might like this or not, but please don't confuse what they are doing with an attempt to intelligently and constructively move Menlo Park forward.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2014 at 8:40 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

Gern:

you are once again the pot calling the kettle black. Big surprise.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 22, 2014 at 9:52 am

"... their proposed initiative has every incentive for Stanford, Greenheart and Roger reynolds to develop the smaller partials which make up their much larger holdings as individual projects. This will result in a proliferation of small projects each conforming to its own parcel setbacks thus resulting in a large number of tall boxes ..."

More of Peter at his conjectural, FUD-worthy best. Fortunately, the people behind these projects understand the substantial added costs and delays associated with developing their parcels piecemeal would outweigh Peter's imagined benefits, especially when the proposed mini-skyscrapers would likely run afoul of citizen-led initiatives and referendums of their own.

I do have a serious question for you, Peter: You appear to be in favor of allowing Stanford and Greenheart to proceed immediately with ~426,500 square feet of combined office and retail development, which, under the DSP's Maximum Allowable Development cap, would leave less than 50,000 square feet for additional office, retail, and hotel development and redevelopment over the plan's 30-year life, correct? Does that seem prudent to you? Were the Big 5 property alone to be redeveloped it would certainly exceed that number, perhaps several times over, and then there's the Roger Reynolds and older downtown properties to consider, as well.

Lastly, the initiative seeks to limit new office development to 100,000 square feet per project proposal -- how this position may be labeled as "anti-growth" or "no-growth" is beyond me. Clearly, those who use such labels do so for reasons which have nothing to do with reason or fact.

Gern




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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 10:07 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" Peter: You appear to be in favor of allowing Stanford and Greenheart to proceed immediately with ~426,500 square feet of combined office and retail development, which, under the DSP's Maximum Allowable Development cap, would leave less than 50,000 square feet for additional office, retail, and hotel development and redevelopment over the plan's 30-year life, correct? Does that seem prudent to you?"

When looking at the net added space this sou;d leave more than 50,000 net new space for other projects, so YES, this seems very prudent to me. I think getting these very important parcels developed with an integrated design in accordance with the existing Specific Plan would be GREAT!!!

", the initiative seeks to limit new office development to 100,000 square feet per project proposal -- how this position may be labeled as "anti-growth" or "no-growth" is beyond me." Well that is because you refuse to accept that such a limit is directly SOLELY at the owners of large parcels and it is with those large parcel owners that the greatest potential exist for wise and prudent development. The alternative is for those owners to develop their smaller existing parcels as individual projects - a very bad idea.

Gern - you keep asking question now please answer the ones that have been asked of you repeatedly:

1 - If you own a parcel and want to build a totally conforming ten room home should you be forced to build it one room each year for the next ten years ?

2 - Save Menlo got everything they asked for in their original petition, why are you now asking for even more and how much will be enough to satisfy you?

3 - Would Save Menlo Park members be willing to say who they really are? How many members they actually have?

4 - Do you really believe that definitions written today:

""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"

""Offices of firms or organizations providing professional,executive,management,or administrative services,such as accounting,advertising,architectural,computer software design,engineering,graphic design, insurance, interior design,investment,and legal offices. This classification excludes hospitals, banks,and savings and loan associations."The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is hereby adopted by the voters.

will still be appropriate even five years from now and if they are not that there should be an election to change even one word of such definitions? What about digital age banks that do not engage in the on site circulation of money? What about a firm that wants to design robots?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 10:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

When asked about developments that are BOTH consistent with the Specific Plan AND with the proposed initiative Gern responds "would likely run afoul of citizen-led initiatives and referendums of their own."

Bottom line - Save/Stop Menlo is not going to let anything be developed in Menlo Park except additions to their own homes.

It is time that their bluff is called and the city moves ahead with the timely implementation of the Specific Plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 22, 2014 at 11:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Save Menlo asserts that the impacted property owners would simply comply with their proposed new rules.

Not true, here is what Greenheart says:

"Bob Burke, a principal with Greenheart, told me that the measure would mean "our proposed project wouldn't work.
"We'd have to go back and start over," he said. "That would be a long delay. And financially, it doesn't make sense. You'd have to alter the project significantly. Now the retail isn't as viable because you don't have the daytime population of the office."

Reality bears its ugly head.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 22, 2014 at 12:37 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

" especially when the proposed mini-skyscrapers would likely run afoul of citizen-led initiatives and referendums of their own."

This is exactly why we know Save Menlo is anti-growth. That and the fact they want to make changes in development rules all but impossible to make in the future. Anti-growth is a very apt description of Save Menlo.


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Posted by Cmon
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Gern -- Have you paid the slightest attention to the tactics of this organization? if it were ligit, they would have had reasonable proposals made to reasonable business people over the past two years. it has not happened. What they want is what you read above -- for developers to go elsewhere. And they will. The facts are that the owners of this property have a right to a reasonable/market return on their investment. If they do so in bad faith, that harms their reputation in a region where they have a significant presence. Do you think that they are not aware of this? The SaveMenlo mindset is what preserves our struggling downtown and empty car dealers. Progress will happen and if we continue to build on our reputation as unfriendly to development and capital, both will go elsewhere. Give it some thought. Note how SM is totally absent on these recent threads -- no argument from their side.


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Posted by miniskyscraper?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2014 at 4:24 pm

The buildings on the proposed developments are 3-5 stories tall. The Empire State Building is 103 stories tall. The TransAmerica building has 48 stories of offices. This web page on a skyscraper website says that a skyscraper is defined as at least 12 stories tall. A building between 4 and 12 stories is described as midrise.

Web Link
Web Link

Some people don't like buildings that are taller than 2 stories, but that doesn't make them skyscrapers.


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Posted by The weeds
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2014 at 7:43 am

This whole affair is hard to follow.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2014 at 10:01 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"This whole affair is hard to follow." - then don't sign the petition or vote if the initiative reaches the ballot.


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Posted by Another View
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 23, 2014 at 11:26 am

Menlo voter: There are only three property owners who will be affected by the 100,000 square feet office limit. Stanford is one. Yes Stanford has several parcels but the university asked repeatedly to merge the parcels and that has been done. One parcel! This was done so that each parcel wouldn't have to each provide the 10,000 square feet of retail required. Also, Stanford wanted large buildings.

Just because Peter Carpenter has written it, does not make the information correct and repetition does not give the information more credibility.

Giving the vote to Menlo Park residents if the Specific Plan were to exceed the optimal build out projected for a vibrant downtown and el camino real area seems absolutely reasonable. The residents are the tax payers and employers of both the council and the city staff. It's not the other way around. I have never seen a council and staff so dismissive of the very people who have elected and hired them. Stanford University and the investors in the Greenheart Partnership should not be making decisions about a town in which they are not residents.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2014 at 11:31 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"Stanford University and the investors in the Greenheart Partnership should not be making decisions about a town in which they are not residents."

Do you have one iota of PROOF that this is the case? Please present it. I would be very interested to see it. Nothing in what I have read or witnessed supports that statement. In fact, it totally disputes that statement. The DSP was a years long public process with much public input. The fact it doesn't satisfy everyone, especially no-growthers, doesn't mean Stanford and Greenheart are "making decisions" about our town. That's just more unsupported spin by SaveMenlo.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2014 at 11:41 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford has several parcels but the university asked repeatedly to merge the parcels and that has been done. One parcel! ."

Please document this assertion.


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Posted by miniskyscraper?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 24, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Absolutely, it should be prohibited for people to do business in Menlo Park if they don't live here. Menlo Park should impose a steep tax on business owners who locate here in Menlo Park but are non-residents. And for that matter, employees too! We don't want outsiders coming in, operating businesses and working at jobs. For that matter, what's with people living here and working elsewhere? That should be discouraged also.

We want a village, right? One of the best qualities of a village is that it is by and for the villagers. No strangers welcome. The medieval feudal system had it right! This new-fangled economy, where people can set up businesses in any old city they feel like, and work in other cities - not for us!


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Posted by Another View
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 24, 2014 at 12:45 pm

Page 2 of Stanford's letter to MP June 4, the day before the council approved the specific plan, reminding council as to the university's desire to merge parcels.

Web Link


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" reminding council as to the university's desire to merge parcels."

That is very different than "Stanford has several parcels but the university asked repeatedly to merge the parcels and that has been done."

It has not been done.

This is exactly why the Save Menlo proponents are constantly asked to document their statements and why they almost never can.


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