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Menlo Park will hire consultant to evaluate specific plan initiative

Original post made on Mar 19, 2014

"I want it to be unmerciful. I want the comparison to be unmerciful to the (specific) plan. And I want the comparison to be unmerciful to the initiative," Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller said while voicing his support on March 18 for the hiring of an independent consultant to evaluate a proposed ballot measure that would change the city's downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 10:41 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by Mike Lanza, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Wow - so the City spends $150K to defeat the initiative, and Stanford, with its $20 billion endowment, waits in the wings.

Talk about an unfair fight...


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Amazing how Save Menlo is so opposed to any evaluation of their proposed initiative - clearly ignorance is their chosen ally.


Posted by Got Hope?, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Mar 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm

"The community spent over 5 years going over details of the Specific Plan" is not true. The "community" participated in workshops where pretty pictures were shown and participant's ideas were written down on butcher paper, never to be seen again. The details were worked out between staff and Stanford in telephone conversations, meetings the public was not invited to and emails. Not even the council spent 5 years on details. The Stanford parcels took up very little public time compared to the downtown area. When the Stanford parcels came before the council, the staff reports represented what Stanford wanted and in almost every case, Stanford got what it wanted.

This was a typical developer/city staff story with Stanford having daily access to city staff and there was no "community" included. Even the traffic study was a behind close doors process with Stanford being given draft findings before the public saw the final product.

The devil that's in the details can be unraveled by only one community member and that is Patti Fry who had no choice but to sign the initiative just to get the council's attention. The draft and final specific plan were not documents that were reviewed by more than a handful of residents because these were not prepared for the average person. Neither had indexes and no redlined version were available to determine where the changes occurred. The consultant to be hired will probably spend hundreds of hours reviewing the plan and other reports before any analysis is possible.

The only good news so far is that the new subcommittee is made up of one council member who will come to the table without the baggage of having to defend his vote on any part of the Specific plan and the other subcommittee member has had the honesty to admit he got snookered by Stanford. This is a step forward towards a solution.

Whatever consultant get hired, they should not be allowed to speak with Thomas Rogers who was the planner who had a close working relationship with Stanford. Not one meeting or email or phone call should be allowed between our city staff and the $150,000 consultant.


Posted by Enuff, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

I agree completely with you, Got Hope. And what a great idea to keep Thomas Rogers out of the picture. In fact, other members of staff seemed to be pushing the Specific Plan as well. This should be a discussion between the Council and the residents, with the consultant providing unbiased analysis. Probably won't happen, though. Staff will likely select a consultant that specializes in high-density urbanized zoning. We'll see....

The best outcome we could possibly get would be to jettison the Specific Plan, or at least to remove the El Camino parcels from it; one way or another, we need to protect our suburban environment with sensible zoning that won't overcrowd our schools, overburden our infrastructure, or gridlock El Camino. This could be done either by amending the Specific Plan--with full community involvement now that people know what's at stake--or by reverting to our General Plan's zoning, which stood us in good stead for all these years.


Posted by Frugal, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

My Daily Post oversight comment was purged? Why?

That's ok I'll be calling Dave Price.

Editor's note: No comment on this thread was removed.


Posted by Sam Tyler, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 19, 2014 at 3:00 pm

"Got Hope" and "Enuff" have missed their calling in life. Their literary efforts are better served by writing conspiracy novels. Do they think that the staff and Stanford conspired to film hours and hours of public hearings AND used Pixar Studios to create exact replicas of various community representatives including the Planing Commission and the City Council? The specific plan did, in fact, go through an exhaustive review process. Just because you chose not to be involved during the ENTIRE process does not mean the meetings didn't occur. Perhaps Stanford and the City hired the same people who faked the moon landings.

I have taken the time to review the documents, and in some cases, gone back to the video from past meetings to hear what was or was not said. I am ashamed of people like "Got Hope" and "Enuff" who constantly spread tired old lies. If you have proof that something underhanded went on, put up or shut up. But to constantly belittle staff for doing their jobs in the glare of the public spotlight is disgusting. I, for one, can't understand why anyone would want to work for Menlo Park. Long hours, constant harassment and zero appreciation. I seriously doubt any of the opponents conduct their daily business where anyone can collect their e-mails by request, or perform their duties on live television and an audience full of people.

Better yet, instead of hosting a blog that allows all these allegations, perhaps our local paper can do some in depth impartial reporting instead of just publishing unsubstantiated statements. Did it occur to anyone that it because "statements" from people like "Enuff" and "Got Hope" and the rest of the SaveMenlo NIMBYs that the City is forced to spend the $150,000 in the first place?


Posted by Frugal, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm

GOT HOPE writes: Whatever consultant get hired, they should not be allowed to speak with Thomas Rogers who was the planner who had a close working relationship with Stanford. Not one meeting or email or phone call should be allowed between our city staff and the $150,000 consultant.

Fortunately using the Freedom of Information Act the Daily Post will have access to the Rogers/Stanford including logs of phone calls. I would encourage the Post to put in their request the day the consultant is hired.

Good that Ray Mueller will have an opportunity to be objective.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sam states -"If you have proof that something underhanded went on, put up or shut up.'

Unfortunately that is not the standard for the mostly anonymous posters on this Forum; they feel free to make up whatever suits their purpose. And when directly contradictory facts are posted then those posters either fade away or adopt a new anonymous name. ZERO accountability - and they love it!!

And those of us who post in our own name are then expected by the anonymous posters to disclose our family history and entire financial status.

Truth and fairness are not the standards that the opponents use.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 19, 2014 at 3:54 pm

"ZERO accountability - and they love it!!"


Has anyone held you or any of the other poster accountable for what you have said, true, false or inbetween? As I recall you are the one to post that you are an electied offical. To paraphrase Voltaire: I just disagree with your point of view, I don't disagree with your freedom to express it.


Posted by MP neighbor, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 19, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I am embarrassed that the city council is hiring yet another 'consultant' to do THEIR work. I would like to see an accounting of all the money spent on 'consultants' over the last 10 years. The problem is MP is 'rich' by most city standards. If we did not have the money, we would not spend the money and the council would be forced to do their job. Be brave council and do your job.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2014 at 6:23 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

MP neighbor:

The council already did their job. The problem is that Save Menlo and their ilk refuse to accept their decision. The council is damned if they do their job and damned if they do. If they do their job and don't decide in favor of SM then they're in league with Stanford and "developers." If they put it out for an independent analysis, they're damned by folks like you that insist they're not doing their job. THEY DID THEIR JOB. You and SM just don't like what they decided when they did their job. Just look at SM's reaction when the traffic study, WHICH THEY DEMANDED, didn't come back in their favor or to their expectations. What did they say? "The study is wrong." BS! SM is wrong and they're wrong in what they are trying to do. Hear, hear to the council for bringing in someone to do an independent analysis. What will SM have to say when the analysis doesn't meet their expectations? We've already heard it. "Staff will hire someone that is high density proponent." Again, BS. SM simply wants to stop any and all development.

Enjoy the view.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 1:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Has anyone held you or any of the other poster accountable for what you have said, true, false or inbetween? As I recall you are the one to post that you are an elected official"

I am held accountable every time I stand for election - three times so far and in all cases I received more votes than any other candidate.

I am also held accountable by being on a public board that has the highest standards for ensuring public comment of any public agency in California.

I also respond to every non-personal attack question that i am asked on this forum - including yours Brian - even though that accountability is not reciprocated by those who ask me questions.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 1:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

An essential element of accountability is that a poster have a known , fixed identity so that his/her credibility, reputation and behavior can be attributed to that known entity. This is best accomplished if the poster uses his/her own real name. For the purposes of this Forum it also works if an individual selects a forum name, as have Menlo Voter and POGO, and then they always post using that name. With these two methods of poster identification readers are then able to assign source credibility to such posters and to evaluate their postings in the context of their previous statements - neither is possible with posters who do not use their real names or who change their screen name constantly (frequently using a name intended to provide some wittiness to a specific posting).


Posted by Albert, a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Mar 20, 2014 at 12:36 pm

Has the number of signatures needed to get this on the ballot been obtained? If not, whose cousin was hired for this study?


Posted by Dana Hendrickson, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 20, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Peter. let's meet next week to discuss the website for the SP/Initiative/Projects?
What's times are best for you?


Posted by Website, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2014 at 7:38 am

What will the website be named?


Posted by Sam Sinnott, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 23, 2014 at 2:44 pm

This afternoon I visited the Save Menlo table in front of the farmers' market and was told by a signature gatherer that the 'city planning staff was not enforcing the specific plan for floor area' allowing development projects to exceed the regulations.

My knowledge of our staff is that they are extremely detail oriented and conservative and are not allowed to approve anything outside the regulations. That would require a variance through a public hearing process.

This type of falsehood is being used to convince people to sign the petition and casts doubt on the validity of the petition.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" was told by a signature gatherer that the 'city planning staff was not enforcing the specific plan for floor area' allowing development projects to exceed the regulations."

Save Menlo has not only chosen ignorance as their ally but deceit as their campaign manager.

No wonder they oppose an independent analysis of their proposed initiative.


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 23, 2014 at 6:07 pm

"Save Menlo has not only chosen ignorance as their ally but deceit as their campaign manager."

Based on one anecdotal account of misrepresentation, intentional or otherwise, Peter doubles down on his own campaign of misinformation and vilification. Sam, did you ask the person at the farmer's market to clarify their remarks, offer a possible correction of your own (these are your concerned neighbors, after all), or did you run straight to this forum to further inflame the Acolytes of the Downtown Specific Doctrine?

Peter, have you ever met a Save Menlo member or contacted the organization to discuss your views and to better understand theirs? You claim to be a member of this community but your only interaction with anyone opposed to a few narrow provisions of the DSP appears to be utter dismissal in this forum, with an imagined superior claim to representative government and democracy.

Please read the initiative. The text is short and straightforward and seeks to correct two of the chief flaws in the otherwise commendable DSP.

Gern


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 23, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

10 pages. Short? Please


Posted by Gern, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 23, 2014 at 7:52 pm

"10 pages. Short? Please"

As I've stated numerous times in this forum, the meat of the measure is barely five pages of heavily indented text. If you find that too great a challenge I don't know how you manage during a general election.

Gern


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 23, 2014 at 11:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, have you ever met a Save Menlo member or contacted the organization to discuss your views "

Time and time again on this Forum I have asked Save Menlo to discuss their views and to answer critical questions such as :

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?

No answers have been given.


Posted by Steve Schmidt, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Sam Sinnott should be upset that he overheard incorrect information being dispensed by a volunteer for SaveMenlo while gathering signatures for the Initiative. Remember, many of these folks are homeowners who for the first time are involved in a grassroots campaign.

The simplicity of the Initiative's content does not require distortion. I hope my posting clarifies what the Initiative, if approved by the voters, would do in modifying the Specific Plan:

It eliminates the counting of private balconies as required open space.
It limits the amount of office space in any single development to 100,000 square feet.
It limits within the Specific Plan area total office development to 240,820 square feet and total non-residential commercial development, such as retail, hotels, health clubs and including office to 474,000 square feet. These were the amounts analyzed by the Final Environmental Impact Report as the likely buildout during the 30-year life of the Plan.
None of the above revisions could be changed without voter approval.

We know that in just the first 2 years of the Specific Plan, the first two project submissions from Stanford and Greenheart will consume 170% of the office space and about 93% of the total non-residential development that was analyzed. SaveMenlo's modest measure seeks to correct this imbalance, preserve opportunities for other smaller developers well into the future, provide certainty for residents and encourage a diversity of uses consistent with the goals of the Specific Plan that were expressed by Menlo Park's residents during the 5-year planning process.

Steve Schmidt







Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Save Menlo should have had Steve Schmidt write their initiative. His 5 sentences are much clearer and much less likely to include unintentional errors than the Save Menlo 12 page document. Note that he does not include such things as freezing present day definitions forever as does the SM initiative.


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