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Opponents of Stanford project push for review of Menlo Park specific plan

Original post made on Mar 14, 2013

Save Menlo, a grassroots group opposed to Stanford University's proposal to build an eight-acre mixed use complex in Menlo Park, is calling for the council to review the new downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan that makes the development possible.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 14, 2013, 8:54 AM

Comments (71)

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Posted by Stanford Development Impacts
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2013 at 3:04 pm

As a Menlo Park resident here is what I would like to see from the Arrillaga-Stanford development on El Camino:

1) Keep densities down to (3)-stories or less to keep charm of MP City and to keep increased traffic congestion along El Camino in check.
2) Preserve city tax revenue-generating businesses and community-serving businesses such as cafes, restaurants, shops, small retail, etc on ground-floor of development.
3) Preserve "southern crossing" access for future bike/car/railroad under/over-crossings through site.
4) Encourage green/renewable energy development and improvement and lessening of strain/burden of city infrastructure(roads, railroad crossing, tunnels, water, sewer, electrical, waste, carpooling, traffic management/reduction, mass transit, car-sharing, bicycle storage, etc)
5) Encourage green innovations (green/cool roofs, wind, solar, energy efficiency, native landscaping, tree planting, water catchments, recycling of waste/water/runoff, etc).
6) Encourage underground parking, pedestrian plaza, outdoor areas for parks/open space/gathering


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Posted by Scott McMahon
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

I especially like the bike undercrossing idea. I'd like to see that project in the plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Great to see these ideas about revisions to the current Specific Plan and the realization that changing the Specific Plan in the future does not and cannot change the rules as they currently stand.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2013 at 5:07 pm

A specific plan can be revisited at any time. Any time. And changed. Those "rules" are far from immutable.

Re the undercrossing: it originally sounded like a good idea. But if Stanford adds a huge building to the property adjacent to the tunnel, what will happen is that office employees and others will avoid El Camino by parking at Burgess and using the tunnel. Parking is already tight at Burgess. Soon it may be nearly impossible to go watch your kid play basketball or check out a book at the library during the week.

Always a good idea to think through all the ramifications of any decision. Too bad the city council did not do so last May.


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Posted by Preserve Housing Sites
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Id like to see preservation of lands along denser areas of City preserved for meeting any "affordable housing" requirements that MP must meet instead of building on cherished parklands/open space. Keep densities matching in various places of City.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Any revisions to the Specific Plan will only apply AFTER those revisions have been adopted by the council - and that would probably take 3-4 years including public hearings, drafting the revisions, a new Draft EIR, public comments, a new Final EIR and then planning commission and council actions.

If you want to prevent any one development under the current Specific Plan that can ONLY be accomplished by a moratorium on ALL development in the entire Specific Plan area. Such a moratorium would be very costly to the city in terms of lost revenue and the spread of blight from properties that would be impacted. Not a smart move.


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Posted by George C. Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:10 pm

The Specific Plan will result in a net deficit to the city. Any increase in Property taxes is anticipated to pay less than half of Specific Plan city expenditures. Under present circumstances the Specific Plan will result in more taxes, more traffic, high density, and tall structures.

According to the Fiscal Impact Analysis (FIA) underlying the Specific Plan, the Net Fiscal Impact to the City General Fund at Build Out in 2009 dollars consisted of $3,886,000 Total Revenues, of which $2,337,000 was to come from the an anticipated Transient Occupancy Tax ("TOT") of $2,337,000, resulting from 380 new hotel rooms priced in excess of $200.00 per night. ( See FIA: City General Fund, prepared by Strategic Economics. summary on p. 5).

Stanford decided not to build any hotel. Other than conversion of the Glenwood property, there are no more hotel sites. Subtracting the $2,337,000 from the projected total revenues of $3,886,000 leaves only $1,549,000 of which only $741,000 is anticipated property tax. The Expenditures anticipated from build out of the Specific Plan are $1.773,000..

More taxes, more traffic, and 4 and 5 story buildings: What a deal!


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford decided not to build any hotel."

Staff report:
"At various points, the applicant provided detail-type critiques of some draft regulations and Draft EIR elements, but did not submit correspondence or make in-meeting remarks that committed to a particular type of future development proposal, nor did the Planning Commission or City Council make findings that their Plan-related actions were based on any particular assumption of what the applicant ultimately might propose on this site."


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Peter, you are simply, unequivocally incorrect. The plan can be changed. An EIR would not be required. The envelope for the SP could be reduced to exclude Stanford without any hassles at all. An EIR only would be needed if the plan area were increased.

Anyone who actually listened to the discussions last year should be aware that these questions were raised and addressed.

Please stop misinforming people.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wrong - you are wrong. IF changes to the Specific Plan are such that the impact of the resulting zoning ordinance is changed then a new EIR would be required. The IF can only be evaluated AFTER changes to the Specific Plan are proposed and evaluated.

"Subsequent EIR
When an EIR has been certified or a negative declaration adopted for a project, a subsequent EIR shall be prepared for that project if the lead agency determines, based on substantial evidence in the light of the whole record, one or more of the following:

Substantial changes are proposed in the project which will require major revisions of the previous EIR or ND due to the involvement of new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects;
Substantial changes occur with respect to the circumstances under which the project is undertaken which will require major revisions of the previous EIR or ND due to the involvement of new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects; or
New information of substantial importance, which was not known and could not have been known with the exercise of reasonable diligence at the time the previous EIR was certified as complete or the ND was adopted, shows any of the following:
The project will have one or more significant effects not discussed in the previous EIR or ND;
Significant effects previously examined will be substantially more severe than shown in the previous EIR;
Mitigation measures or alternatives previously found not to be feasible would in fact be feasible, and would substantially reduce one or more significant effects of the project, but the project proponents decline to adopt the mitigation measure or alternative; or
Mitigation measures or alternatives which are considerably different from those analyzed in the previous EIR would substantially reduce one or more significant effects on the environment, but the project proponents decline to adopt the mitigation measure or alternative."

And even in the absence of a requirement for a new EIR it would take at least two years to revise the current Specific Plan and adopt a new zoning ordinance. In the meantime the current zoning ordinance is, guess what, the LAW.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Peter, you can try to snow everyone with words, but you can't paper over your misinformation with verbiage.

Now, that doesn't mean the modification will happen -- lots of politics here. But, barring political considerations, modification could occur. Just like that.

Your next post may be twice as long as the last one, but that doesn't mean your "facts" are correct. You clearly don't know what you're talking about.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wrong - please be so kind as to point out the specific facts that I have presented - which come from CEQA and not from some unknown individual, that are wrong and provide citations to prove your assertions.

It is easy to say that something is wrong, it is much harder to provide the facts to support such a claim.

". But, barring political considerations, modification could occur. Just like that."

And, barring the laws of nature, the sun won't come up tomorrow. Just like that.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 14, 2013 at 7:13 pm

If you want to see how awful 5 story buildings look, just go down to San Antonio Ave. in Mountain View where the old Sear's store used to be. You will be shocked to see the towering 5 story buildings. We do NOT want that in Menlo Park.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 14, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Your information may not be wrong, it just has nothing to do with this situation!

Stanford could be removed from the DT/ECSP without too much ado. The SP wouldn't have to be redone, but it would no longer pertain to that property. Existing zoning would instead dictate the limits of Stanford development.

I suggest you review the transcripts from last year before you post again. The questions regarding revision were addressed, and the content therein is far more relevant than random CEQA codes.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 7:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" towering 5 story buildings"

Figure E26. Mixed Use Residential Projects in El Camino Real South-East (ECR SE) District addresses that issue by requiring a 45 degree setback for the upper stories of any 5 story building.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 14, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I suggest you review the transcripts from last year before you post again."

Please be so kind at to post "far more relevant" excerpts from those deliberations and any evidence that such excerpts resulted in the ability of the city to summarily change its zoning without due process.

" Existing zoning would instead dictate the limits of Stanford development." I agree and the existing zoning permits the proposed development without the need of any variances, exceptions or approvals.


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Posted by Gumby
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on Mar 14, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I think a "Hooters" would fit in just fine there.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 14, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Wrong:

clearly you're another one of those that wants to stick his/her fingers in his/her ears and go la la la, I'm not listening. Please provide some actual FACTS to support your position. [Portion removed. Please don't attack other posters.]


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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 15, 2013 at 11:09 am

During the last planning commission meeting on the specific plan, I floated a motion to remove the Stanford parcels from the plan. At that time I asked Thomas Rogers if this would invalidate the EIR: Anwser, NO, you can do anything you want to reduce impacts and that will not require a new EIR. When you increase impacts, then you need to revisit the EIR.

Also, the specific plan should be a reflection of the interests of the residents of Menlo Park. It is absurd to argue that the plan was developed as part of a legitimate public process, and also argue that the plan is a force that can be used to foist unpopular development on the residents.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Specific Plan was adopted with wide support and by a unanimous vote of the council.

The opposition to the Stanford plan is minuscule.

If ECR-SE were removed from the Specific Plan that property will remain vacant for at least a decade - why should Stanford bother if the city keeps changing the rules?


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 15, 2013 at 11:43 am

So, Peter, can you now acknowledge that you were mistaken? The SP can in fact be changed now, not in a few years. For political reasons it may not be, but that is a different issue.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 11:55 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

You can take entire zones out of the Specific Plan but you cannot take just certain parcels out - that would be spot zoning.

And if you take entire areas out each time a minuscule group of people object to a new project then no one will bother to submit a new project and ECR will continue to due.

Please stop your shortsighted stupidity.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Removing Stanford from the SP is not "spot zoning" (which, unfortunately, does occur in MP more often than it should). Rather, Stanford would be subject to the existing zoning.

It is simply foolish to suggest that Stanford will not develop. They are no longer getting rental money; they want to maximize the revenue from that property. If they need to do it conform to existing zoning, they will do so.

The opposition is hardly minuscule, but I wouldn't expect a non-resident to be aware of that fact. As Vincent Bressler says, the purpose of the SP was to create a downtown/El Camino area that was acceptable to residents. It was never meant to be a bludgeon that bullies could use to attack us.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"A.5 PLANNING PROCESS
The El Camino Real/Downtown Specifi c Plan is the result
of a multi-year process designed to evolve a community
judgment about the future of the plan area. Community
judgment, as opposed to public opinion, is a shared
conclusion based on beliefs, values and factual information
that results in a legitimate, lasting and implementable
outcome. Community judgment consists of a shared and
common sense of public priorities but is not the same
thing as consensus. This public judgment emerged
through a two-phase process involving thousands of
community members (over 950 on the regular email update
list alone); representatives of key stakeholder groups
such as downtown and El Camino Real business and
property owners; an Oversight and Outreach Committee
that included representatives of important stakeholder
groups such as residents and business/property owners;
City Commissions; and the Menlo Park City Council.
The process was supported by an extensive community
outreach campaign through both phases that included
project newsletters and postcards to every Menlo Park
postal address (including both residential and commercial
properties); stories in the Menlo Park quarterly newsletter
that also went to all households and businesses; news
releases, posters, fliers and an extensive email update
system; and one-on-one outreach to stakeholders by
Council Members, Oversight and Outreach Committee
Members and staff."

"The Specifi c Plan process included meetings, work
sessions and workshops at critical project milestones:
 Interviews with Project Stakeholders at the
beginning of the project;
 Meetings with the Oversight and Outreach
Committee;
 Meetings/work sessions with the Planning
Commission;
 Meetings/work sessions with the City Council; and
 Three Community Workshops.
 Detailed review of the Draft Specifi c Plan and EIR"


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Removing just the Stanford properties from the laboriously developed Specific Plan would indeed be spot zoning:

"Spot zoning is the application of zoning to a specific parcel of land within a larger zoned area when the rezoning is usually at odds with a city's master plan and current zoning restrictions. The rezoning may be for the benefit of a particular owner, and at odds with pre-existing adjacent property owners. The Standard State Zoning Enabling Act states "all such regulations shall be uniform for each class or kind of building throughout each district."[1] Courts may rule certain instances of spot zoning as illegal."

Stanford choose not to develop under the previous zoning and there is no reason to think that they would bother to develop if their property was spot zoned back to those earlier rules. ECR-SE would be a barren wasteland.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"a bludgeon that bullies could use to attack us."

Wow - you must be terrified by anything that involves change if you characterize the Specific Plan, developed with lots of citizen input and unanimously adopted by YOUR elected council, is a "bludgeon" being wielded by "bullies" "to attack us".


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Posted by community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 15, 2013 at 4:24 pm

The Vision for the Specific Plan was created through a process that involved many in the community and it was widely supported. The Specific Plan details were created by consultants and staff. Many in the community assumed it embodied the Vision and are now shocked to learn it does not. The assertion quoted by Peter C was written by the consultants and staff.
A new EIR is not required unless the impacts are considered to be greater than those in the SP's EIR. That is why there should be a new one for the proposed Stanford project. That also is why a new one would not be required if the Specific Plan were amended to allow less intense development.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 4:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"A new EIR is not required unless the impacts are considered to be greater than those in the SP's EIR. "

And what EXACTLY are those 'greater' impacts? Everything in the Stanford proposal falls within the rules of the Specific Plan and the Specific Plan EIR was certified by the council, after opportunity for public input, to be acceptable. And no one then, during the period allowed, challenged the certification of the EIR.

"CEQA applies to projects that require discretionary approval by a government agency. A discretionary approval requires the use of judgement or subjective criteria on the part of the approver. For example, if you wanted to have your property rezoned so that you could subdivide for housing, a discretionary action would need to be taken by the Board of Supervisors. This simply means that the Board of Supervisors could approve or disapprove your request. Your proposal would be considered a project and would need initial CEQA review.

CEQA does not apply to non-discretionary (ministerial) projects. A ministerial approval simply involves a comparison of a project with specific standards or checklists. For example, the County building department will check your house plans against electric and plumbing standards to make sure that the plan complied with adopted safety and sanitary regulations. This type of approval is not considered a "project" requiring CEQA review."

The burden of proof is on others, not the applicant or the city, to show that there ARE effects beyond those analyzed in the program EIR. Frankly I doubt that that would be possible given statements like those by Senior Planner Thomas Rogers "As such, the 500 El Camino Real proposal would represent between 20 and 23 percent of the residential uses and 45 percent of the non-residential uses."


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The Specific Plan details were created by consultants and staff."

But the Specific Plan was unanimously approved by the council after opportunity for public comment on its exact contents. Who wrote the words is irrelevant.


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Posted by community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 16, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Projects under the Specific Plan are subject to discretion - the Architectural Control - and the Specific Plan states that a project level EIR could be required.
Peter is mistaken


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

PLEASE do your homework.

There is NO Architectural Control; there is only an architectural review by the Planning Commission - which MAY NOT change the parameters of the proposed project.

The Specific Plan states:
"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."

The Stanford proposal is entirely within the parameters of the Specific Plan and there are NO substantive changes to the Specific Plan proposed by the Stanford project.

IF you want to make a claim then PLEASE document it.

I am sure that all of the readers of this Forum get as tired as I do of posters, mostly anonymous, claiming that the Specific Plan says this or that or that CEQA requires this or that when those individuals clearly have not read either the Specific Plan or CEQA.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 16, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the ordinance regarding architectural control:

"16.68.020 Architectural control. When an application is made for a building permit for the
construction, alteration or remodeling of any building other than a single family dwelling, duplex and
accessory building, or for any structure, dwelling or duplex on land designated as a historic landmark site,
it shall be accompanied by architectural drawings showing elevations of the proposed building or
structure, proposed landscaping or other treatment of the grounds around such building or structure, and
proposed design of, and access to, required parking facilities. Such drawings shall be considered by the
planning commission, architectural committee, or community development director which shall approve
said application if the following findings are made:
(1) That the general appearance of the structures is in keeping with character of the neighborhood;
(1) That the development will not be detrimental to the harmonious and orderly growth of the city;
(3) That the development will not impair the desirability of investment or occupation in the
neighborhood;
(4) That the development provides adequate parking as required in all applicable city ordinances and
has made adequate provisions for access to such parking.
(5) That the development is consistent with any applicable Specific Plan."

Since the Specific Plan already addresses items 1,2,3 and 4 and since the Stanford proposal already conforms to the Specific Plan there is NOTHING that the Planning Commission can change about this project.


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Posted by MP Planning & Future
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 17, 2013 at 12:33 pm

I agree that we seriously need to think about what is proposed for being built along El Camino in MP and see if that is what we really want! Do we really want 5-story monstrous buildings like Mountain View/Sunnyvale and all that comes along with it (traffic, congestion, pollution, crowding, etc)? Or, do we want to look more like downtown Los Altos and up in old Woodside? I prefer small, local, and charming! I also think it will lower property values in town the bigger and more congested the town gets.


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Posted by Peter The Rule Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 17, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Peter Carpenter, are you a lawyer or paid as a consultant by someone? Are you with Stanford-Arrillaga?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

MP Planning:

the time for "thinking" about what we want on El Camino has long since passed. There was a years long "visioning process" after which the city council decided on the zoning of the El Camino corridor. Maybe you heard about it? It was in The Almanac and several other local papers. As Peter and numerous others have repeatedly pointed out, the Stanford project complies with the approved zoning. Council blew it. We're stuck with it now.

I'll say it once again - it's far more important to pay attention to local politics and government as they have much more to do with your quality of life than do national elections or politics. If you don't, the Stanford project is what you end up with.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Nope, not passed. We can revisit any zoning in our city, any time we want. The residents did their part, but somewhere along the way -- we can blame the consultants, if we like -- that vision was corrupted.

The time to take action is now, before shovels hit dirt. Better late than not at all.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter, are you a lawyer" - NO

" or paid as a consultant by someone? " NO

"Are you with Stanford-Arrillaga?" NO

I post in my own real name and as a former elected official (elected by and representing among others the citizens of Menlo Park) I filed Form 700 every year from 2001 until 2012 so there are no secrets about who I am or who pays or does not pay me.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The residents did their part, but somewhere along the way -- we can blame the consultants, if we like -- that vision was corrupted."

What you mean to say was that somewhere along the way you feel asleep.

The FINAL EIR and the FINAL Specific Plan and the Final zoning ordinance were all debated at length with full opportunity for public comment before each was certified/adopted/passed.

If you want a redo then you have to start the process all over. That will take a lot of time, be very expensive and totally delay and discourage any potential new development or improvements in the area that you wish to rezone.

My reading of the local sentiment is that there are far more people who support the current Specific Plan and the Stanford project than there are who are opposed. And the opposition is classical NIMBY - 'don't put in a tunnel because people will park in MY backyard' etc.

I certainly don't think that those who are opposed have the time, patience, knowledge and money required to call for redoing the zoning process that has just been completed. Long before that process would be completed you will have fallen asleep again.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2013 at 2:05 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter Carpenter, are you a lawyer or paid as a consultant by someone? Are you with Stanford-Arrillaga?"

Having answered these questions I would ask that other posters please indicate your address in relation to that of the proposed project and to list your economic interests so that we may also be able to better evaluate your comments. Also please indicate all of the names under which you have posted on this Forum.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 17, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Wrong:

what an apt moniker. You are very clearly wrong. Please provide some factual basis for your statements. The zoning has been approved. The Stanford project complies. You can't change the zoning without major lawsuits and other huge impacts. Personally, I don't want my tax dollars going to fight a lawsuit that is a guaranteed loser. I also don't want to discourage further development which the city changing the rules after they approve them will most certainly do. You like the appearance of El Camino now? It will stay that way if the city tries to change the rules.


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Posted by community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 17, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Modifying the Specific Plan does not need to take many years as Peter scares us into believing.
Some of us did make comments but the Council and Planning Commission each spent only a few meetings each discussing the voluminous material that was created by staff and consultants during the long period between the Vision and the Plan. Be fair. Most community members don't have a development background and can't translate well what the Plan allows into pictures of what projects will look like. There were not community workshops to gain consensus on the details. Many in the community are just now becoming aware of what the Plan allows and are shocked that what they expected from the Vision workshops isn't what is starting to happen.
A specific plan can be changed anytime. Many of us think it needs to be modified, not thrown out, but definitely modified.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Modifying the Specific Plan does not need to take many years as Peter scares us into believing."

Please be so kind as to provide your timeline for each of the steps necessary to modify the Specific Plan including visioning meetings, new drafts, public comment on the drafts, planning commission meetings, revised drafts, and council 1st and 2nd readings of the revised zoning ordinance and revised Specific Plan. And that assumes the changes will all be less intensive and that there will be no new EIR.

Here are my timelines:

Best Case - assuming no new EIR and changing only ECR-SE
1 - visioning meetings - 3 months
2 - revised ECR-SE draft Specific Plan - 3 months
3 -public hearings on revised ECR-SE draft Specific Plan - 3 months
4 - Planning Commission review and approval - 3 months
5 - City Council review and approval - 3 months

total - 15 months at best

Worst Case which also includes a new General Plan, since some of you have insisted that the current General Plan is illegal because it is our of date, and a new EIR, since you cannot have anew general Plan without a new EIR.
1- the new zoning process begins

2 - in the interim nothing happens and all of the existing land uses are frozen

3 - a new draft General Plan is prepared - 2-3 years

4 - a draft EIR on the draft General Plan is prepared - 6 months

5 - comments on the Draft EIR and Draft General Plan are received - 3 months

6- Final EIR is prepared - 3 months

7- General Plan and EIR are approved - 3 months

8 - new Specific Plan is prepared - 1 year

9 - new Draft EIR on Specific Plan is prepared - 6 months

10 - comments received on new Draft EIR and new Specific Plan - 3 months

11 - new EIR and Specific Plan approved - 3 months

total elapsed time from court ruling on law suit - 4-6 years

Consequences:

1 - economic stagnation

2 - huge loss of city revenues from building permits and new construction

3 - big loss of increased property tax and sales taxes revenues

4 - $3-4 million for planning and EIR activities

5 - tremendous loss of confidence by investors/developers in the dependability of the city

Hopefully no one is so stupid as to go down this road.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 17, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Peter:

never underestimate the power of human stupidity.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Community member, Wrong and the Rule Man please indicate your address in relation to that of the proposed project and list your economic interests so that we may also be able to better evaluate your comments. Also please indicate all of the names under which you have posted on this Forum.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 18, 2013 at 12:41 pm

I believe that democracy accrues to all, not just to those who are intellectually gifted or economically fortunate. Those who believe that justice should be meted out according to IQ points might want to consider moving elsewhere, given that fascism has never really caught on in this country.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 18, 2013 at 12:45 pm

Again Wrong, do you have anything factual to add or just more platitudes? The zoning was granted via a democratic process. Very democratic. If you don't think so, you're just as your handle says, wrong.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wrong - please indicate your address in relation to that of the proposed project and list your economic interests so that we may also be able to better evaluate your comments. Also please indicate all of the names under which you have posted on this Forum.

Your comments about justice etc seem to have little to do with the topic at hand so please explain what is their relevance.

And sadly it appears that you are now reduced to name calling -" given that fascism has never really caught on in this country."


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Posted by community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:57 am

How about this timeline, starting now:
Council decides to discuss Specific Plan - 1 week
Council discussion of Specific Plan issues, with public comment, Council direction to staff about revisions to address issues - 2 weeks
Council Discussion of staff report regarding specific suggested changes to Plan, with public comment, Council direction to staff for any revisions to SP, zoning - 2 weeks
Council discussion of draft revisions to SP, zoning, General Plan - 2 weeks
Done in 2 months.

There isn't a need to re-do visioning or EIR. Just surgical revisions to the Plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 11:10 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This is a perfect example of where the experience of the poster is a critical variable.

Nobody with experience in local government would ever suggest that the Specific Plan could be modified in 2 months. For example the law requires two separate readings of changes to ordinances and that requires that those changes have already been reduced to final form. Also the Specific Plan cannot logically be changed without hearings and input by the Planning Commission.

I am remind of the saying "You want it bad, you get it bad."


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Peter, one more time.

The SP does not need to be modified, although modification could certainly happen fairly quickly, given the will to proceed expressed by many.

Stanford need only be removed from the SP, in which case it will revert to its pre-plan zoning.

Let's talk about what's best for Menlo Park and its residents, and what is realistic. We may be stupid, but it's our city!


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Posted by community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm

so double the time.

Still nothing like the years Peter C contends is required to modify a Specific Plan.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford need only be removed from the SP, in which case it will revert to its pre-plan zoning."

Wrong. The old zoning was abolished by the Specific Plan and it NO LONGER EXISTS. If ECR-SE or the Stanford property is removed from the Specific Plan then new zoning must be created for that property. Creating new zoning is simply a time consuming process even if everyone involved agrees with what should be the parameters of that new zoning - and such unanimity on this issue clearly does not exist. Zoning does not just drop out of the air and the adoption of new zoning, even after the language of that zoning has been finalized involves both Planning Commission and two separate Council actions.

Understanding the rules is important.

Plans and zoning have a purpose which is to establish the rules for development and if plans and zoning are simply discarded then they have no meaning or value. If every time a new development in proposed under the Specific Plan and a few people object and then the area involved is removed from the Specific Plan and rezoned then NO ONE will bother to propose anything.

Wrong - you forgot to indicate your address in relation to that of the proposed project and list your economic interests so that we may also be able to better evaluate your comments. Also please indicate all of the names under which you have posted on this Forum.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"so double the time."

Council decides to discuss Specific Plan - 2 weeks - You must be joking!

Council discussion of Specific Plan issues, with public comment, Council direction to staff about revisions to address issues - 4 weeks - when it took 24 months to do this the first time!!

Council Discussion of staff report regarding specific suggested changes to Plan, with public comment, Council direction to staff for any revisions to SP, zoning - 4 weeks - possible if no one disagrees

Council discussion of draft revisions to SP, zoning, General Plan - 4 weeks - possible if no one disagrees

Presentation of final new zoning to Planning Commission - 1 month

Two separate readings of proposed ordinance by Council - 2 months

Ergo, not possible to do in 4 months.

Community member - you forgot to indicate your address in relation to that of the proposed project and list your economic interests so that we may also be able to better evaluate your comments. Also please indicate all of the names under which you have posted on this Forum.


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Posted by community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Peter may be right that a process could take a little longer, but I still don't envision as many changes as he seems to. I'm not trying to start over but to fix some things that aren't working as expected, as is obvious now that some projects are starting to come forward.

I didn't forget to identify myself. See above Name and Neighborhood. Since Peter asks...My only posts on this topic have been using this name. I have no other economic interest in Menlo Park than my home and any city taxes.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 19, 2013 at 4:16 pm

Peter, I actually get my information from city staff and commissioners/council members. I don't just pull it out of random body orifices. You are, simply, wrong. Too bad there are no factcheckers on this board, but I think most readers are savvy enough to do the research themselves.

I have no special economic interest in this project, although it negatively affects all residents of Menlo Park in many ways, which is the reasonso many of us are objecting to it. I live about a mile away. But Menlo Park is a small city, and El Camino is our east-west lifeline. Why junk it up when there is no benefit to the city?

Thing is, Peter, you have to realize that a lot of us don't subscribe to the government-of-the-rich-and-elite that you seem to prefer. It's not about money. It's about trying to maintain a decent standard of living.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Wrong - please provide ANY evidence that the old zoning would automatically apply to ECR-SE if that zone is removed from the Specific Plan.
Hint - here is what the zoning ordinance states:
"Note: the text of the C-4 General Commercial District (applicable to El Camino Real) and the P-D District are currently part of the Zoning Ordinance, but these districts DO NOT APPLY TO ANY PARCELS. These districts are anticipated to be removed from the Zoning Ordinance for consistency in 2013."

"the government-of-the-rich-and-elite that you seem to prefer." I do not prefer that; what I prefer is a government of laws in which all the participants had the opportunity to participated and everyone knows the rules - rather than government which is dictated by a small minority of dissidents.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" I actually get my information from city staff and commissioners/council members."

Fine. Which specific city staff and which specific commissioners told you exactly what regarding this issue?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 19, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Peter:

"Wrong" [portion deleted} has yet to provide ONE SINGLE FACT to back up ANY of his assertions.

So, "wrong": any facts you can provide? Just one. NO? Didn't think so.


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Posted by that's simply "peterposterous" Watson
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Mar 19, 2013 at 8:44 pm

www.ceres.ca.gov/planning/specific_plans

STATE OF CALIFORNIA ...THE PLANNER'S GUIDE TO SPECIFIC PLANS
GOVERNOR'S OFFICE OF PLANNING AND RESEARCH

PART ONE: THE SPECIFIC PLAN

...all specific plans...must comply with Section 65450-65457 of the Government Code. These provisions require that a specific plan be consistent with the adopted general plan of the jurisdiction...

...THE ADOPTION OF A SPECIFIC PLAN DOES NOT VEST DEVELOPMENT BY STA
TUTE, BUT ITS ENTITLEMENTS MAY BE DEFINED BY DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS AND VESTING TENTATIVE MAPS. SPECIFIC PLANS ARE DYNAMIC DOCUMENTS AND MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. THERE ARE NO ASSURANCES TO RESIDENTS AND PROJECT PROPONENTS THAT THE PLAN WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO FUTURE REVISIONS"

...STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS
SEC. 65451 OF THE GOVERNMENT CODES MANDATES THAT A SPECIFIC PLAN BE STRUCTURED AS FOLLOWS:

...(4)(b) The Specific plan shall include a statement of the relationship of the specific plan to the general plan.

LEGAL ADEQUACY
...
...A detailed statement of the relationship of the specific plan to the general plan, including consistency between both plans and a comparison of goals, objectives and policies.
...A discussion of how the plan implements the policies of the general plan.


From (now outdated since it's 1994 adoption) General Plan,City of Menlo Park

GOAL 1E: "TO PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT AND RETENTION OF COMMERCIAL USES WHICH PROVIDE SIGNIFICANT REVENUE TO THE THE CITY AND/OR GOODS OR SERVICES NEEDED BY THE COMMUNITY AND WHICH HAVE LOW ENVIRONMENTAL AND TRAFFIC IMPACTS"

More importantly, the 1994 General Plan did not analyze a "proposed Sand Hill Extension to El Camino" which, as built,

1) is only 2 lanes from El Camino to Arboretum

2) has no direct connection with full turning movements to/from Alma Street in Palo Alto

3) Sand Hill has a dozen signals that do discourage peak hour from using it as a so called bypass from West Menlo Park residential neighborhoods, (which the Sand Hill EIR touted), while the City of Menlo Park has not provided adequate protection from cut through traffic in Allied Arts and West Menlo Park that the Arrillaga/Stanford project would only exacerbate.

It's simple...just google "specific plan conformance with general plan" and click on first hit, ceres.ca.gov to get a wealth of information on how legally vulnerable MP is if they try to ram this proposed project through.

The outdated 1994 General Plan is open to attack as it hasn't adequately addressed the infrastructure constraints of our 2013-23 city, and the NTMP is a lame, specious attempt to mollify the impacted residential neighborhoods, as it forces impacted residential streets assume the burden of figuring out how to deal with spillover, cut through traffic from runaway commercial development in a "No Win Scenario" of "Super Majority" consent.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 19, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" how legally vulnerable MP is if they try to ram this proposed project through."

"If the Specific Plan doesn't comply with the General Plan, then it's legally defective."

That is the city's problem, not Stanford's.

If someone sues the city on this point (possible) and wins (unlikely) then:

1- the new zoning process begins

2 - in the interim nothing happens and all of the existing land uses are frozen

3 - a new draft General Plan is prepared - 2-3 years

4 - a draft EIR on the draft General Plan is prepared - 6 months

5 - comments on the Draft EIR and Draft General Plan are received - 3 months

6- Final EIR is prepared - 3 months

7- General Plan and EIR are approved - 3 months

8 - new Specific Plan is prepared - 1 year

9 - new Draft EIR on Specific Plan is prepared - 6 months

10 - comments received on new Draft EIR and new Specific Plan - 3 months

11 - new EIR and Specific Plan approved - 3 months

total elapsed time from court ruling on law suit - 4-6 years

Consequences:

1 - economic stagnation

2 - huge loss of city revenues from building permits and new construction

3 - big loss of increased property tax and sales taxes revenues

4 - $3-4 million for planning and EIR activities

5 - tremendous loss of confidence by investors/developers in the dependability of the city

Hopefully no one is so stupid as to go down this road.


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Posted by Smarter than you
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 19, 2013 at 9:15 pm

[Post removed. Please discuss the issues. Don't attack others.]


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Posted by Smarter than you
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Peter's comments are simply incorrect. It leaves me thing he has nothing better to do. I don't even get why he is piping up on a non-atherton issue.


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Posted by Wrong
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 19, 2013 at 10:51 pm

I've provided plenty of facts. Just not ones that Peter and his shadow, MV, want to accept.

Fact: Stanford can be removed from the downtown/ECR specific plan with a modicum of fuss.

Fact: the Specific Plan is supposed to serve the needs of the community, not those of a rich developer.

Trying to attack those facts with a meaningless barrage of irrelevant verbiage is a stale and not particularly enlightening technique. In this case, it is likely to prove futile for our truculent twosome.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2013 at 6:26 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Fact: Stanford can be removed from the downtown/ECR specific plan with a modicum of fuss." On what basis is this a fact? There is no such mechanism established in the ordinance and how then would the new zoning be established for that property?

"Fact: the Specific Plan is supposed to serve the needs of the community, not those of a rich developer." That is an opinion not a fact as it is not so stated in the Specific Plan.

" I actually get my information from city staff and commissioners/council members."

Fine. Which specific city staff and which specific commissioners told you exactly what regarding this issue?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2013 at 6:31 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter's comments are simply incorrect."

Please indicate which of my statements are in error and provide the documentation that show them to be so.

Note that the majority of my posting are quoted extracts from the Specific Plan, MP zoning ordinance and CEQA guidelines plus a few of my own opinions.

You may disagree with my opinions but I challenge you to show that quoted source material is incorrect.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 20, 2013 at 7:34 am

Wrong states: "I've provided plenty of facts."

No, what you've provided are plenty of opinions with zero facts backing them up. Have you quoted a single document, code or ordinance to support your opinion? Nope. You claim you're getting your information from city staff, commissioners and council members. Which ones?


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Posted by MP's "Santana Row" Coming Soon!
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 20, 2013 at 9:45 am

It is funny I saw on tv last night a member of the Mountain View city council last night on tv saying the new towering buildings at the the "new" San Antonio Shopping center in Mountain View is Mountain View's "Santana Row" being built and said he was vastly concerned about the congestion, traffic, developmental impacts, and quality of life issues from this monstrous project. Wake up people. It's coming to Menlo Park soon if these 5-story buildings are approved! It's MP's "Santana Row" (mega-development) wolf in sheep's clothing disguised as a Stanford development.

Menlo's quality of life will change foreever. Speak up now or forever hold your peace.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 20, 2013 at 11:00 am

"Speak up now ...." Now was when the Specific Plan and its EIR were being developed, reviewed and adopted.

Once again - you were asleep and you don't get a redo.


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Posted by Censorship
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 20, 2013 at 7:48 pm

The Almanac censors public opinions here.

Numerous postings have been removed.


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Posted by Blasphemy
a resident of Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Mar 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm

{Post removed. Discuss the topic and avoid personal attacks.]


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Apr 1, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is fascinating that Wrong and others disappear without answering numerous questions that have been posed to them - why? Perhaps because now they have to be registered users which means coming out of the shadows and go on record to the Editor (but not to other users) as to who they really are.

Should we put any credibility in someone who has so much to hide that they won't register as a user?


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