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Tonight: Menlo Park commission reviews downtown/El Camino Real specific plan

Original post made on Sep 9, 2013

Tonight, the Menlo Park Planning Commission kicks off the city's review of its new downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.
● [Web Link ==B Click here==] to watch the meeting live online. It starts at 7 p.m. in the council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St. in Menlo Park.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 9, 2013, 10:17 AM

Comments (6)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 9, 2013 at 11:55 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Now is the time for those who have concerns with the current ECR Specific Plan to show up and make SPECIFIC suggestions as to how this plan might be improved. Remembering that the purpose of the plan (or any city general/specific plan) is to stimulate and guide appropriate development it would not be useful to simply be against some aspect. Instead concerned citizens should do their homework, review the extensive background material and then each propose one or two things that would make a positive difference.

Do you want more pedestrian space on Santa Cruz?
Do you want a bicycle and pedestrian connection to Alma at Middle?
Do you want the 500 ECR garage to link to both Alma and ECR to more fairly distribute the traffic load?
Do you want parking banned on ECR to improve the traffic flow?
Do you want the plaza at ECR and Middle to be only for pedestrians and bicycles?
Do You want a pedestrian and bicycle overpass across ECR at Middle?

And please don't waste people's time just saying NO.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Sep 9, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Sorry Peter,sound advice, but here is what we'll get:

• We don't want anything that Stanford wants to build; except a free
bike tunnel under the tracks.
• We still embrace the dogged and aged misconception that we can enjoy
economic growth with "no new net vehicle trips" thru our village.
• We want to remain a village even tho its smack in the middle of one
of the most crowded and developed peninsulas on the planet.

To borrow a quote from someone whom I respect a lot, "enjoy the view", and study on, Menlo Park, study on.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 9, 2013 at 3:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The staff report for tonight's meeting is well done and worth reading.

Some notable points:

1 - The proposed 500 ECR project will only add 181,568 sq ft above that of the existing structures.

2 - Re the 500 ECR project :"Staff believes that many issues/concerns with the project could be fully resolved through the standard architectural control and environmental review processes. For example, many initial comments have related to a concern with the perception of bulk and stylistic compatibility, which can be vetted through the discretionary Architectural Control review requirement. Similarly, a significant number of initial comments have stated that the project will have traffic impacts, but the required project-specific review has not yet occurred. Such project-specific traffic analysis may result in project changes, if the
results are inconsistent with the Specific Plan's program-level EIR. Overall, the Specific Plan clearly envisions the redevelopment of these sites with modulated, mixed-use buildings with façade (street side) heights of two to three stories and overall maximum heights of four to five stories, which staff believes makes it difficult to determine that this is an unanticipated outcome that alone justifies significant changes to the Specific Plan."

3 - And for those contemplating proposing changes:"As the Commission considers potential changes to the Specific Plan, staff recommends keeping in mind:
 What is the basis for the proposed change? In particular, based on the projects
that have been approved and/or proposed since the Specific Plan was adopted,
why is the change warranted?
 How would the change support the overall project objectives (Vision Plan Goals +
Specific Plan Guiding Principles)? A modification may appear to enhance one
goal/principle when viewed in isolation, but not when considered in relation to all
objectives.
 Within the Specific Plan itself, would the change have any ripple effects for other
aspects of the Plan? Many elements are interrelated, and what appears to be a
small positive change in one area could have negative consequences for another
part of the Specific Plan.
 Was the change previously considered during the Specific Plan development
process? If so, is there substantive new information justifying the change?
 Could the change affect the Housing Element, the pending General Plan update
or other City plans/projects?"


4 - regarding any major changes to the Specific Plan:"As noted previously, until any potential Specific Plan changes are completed, the current Specific Plan would remain in effect, and review of pending proposals would proceed. The estimated timeframe for major Plan modifications could conceptually allow for both smaller and larger projects to be reviewed and acted upon prior to the Plan changes being made. As a result, the Council could consider enacting a moratorium to preclude any action on subject applications. Moratoriums require a four-fifths vote by
the City Council and are subject to timing and other procedural requirements."

5 - And some great advice:", staff recommends keeping the proactive, positive spirit of the Vision Plan and Specific Plan processes in mind: at its core, the City asked the community what it wanted this part of Menlo Park to be. Discussions about potential negative impacts informed the discussion, but they didn't alone dictate outcomes, as positive effects and community values were also considered holistically. As the process shifts toward review of discrete projects, potential negative impacts can sometimes become more prominent in focus, in a way that doesn't necessarily address the core goals of creating an attractive, healthy, active, and sustainable place."

"As previously noted, Menlo Park is a community with diverse and deeply-held opinions regarding development, and as a result there will probably always be some amount of disagreement on these topics. However, by considering public input deliberately and carefully, thinking through the implications of potential changes, and by basing recommendations on fact, the Planning Commission can build on the success of the Vision Plan and Specific Plan."

Worth reading before standing up and shouting NO.


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Posted by Old MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 9, 2013 at 4:12 pm

"Do you want the 500 ECR garage to link to both Alma and ECR to more fairly distribute the traffic load?"

You're kidding, right? Fair for who?

Currently the Alma neighborhood has *no* commuter/destination traffic. It is a residential neighborhood.

I don't live anywhere near Alma --- but for me this is a non-starter. The residents of the neighborhood have purchased and/or rented their homes based upon a very quiet neighborhood with little, if any, traffic coming into their neighborhood.

Adding a garage entrance for a business(es) located on ECR would radically change the quiet ambiance and lifestyle for thousands of people.

Not going to happen. EIR would kill it as well.

ECR is a commercial corridor - that's where the traffic should stay. Not running through apartments and homes.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 9, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Old MP - I personally agree re a 500 ECR garage connection to Alma not being appropriate.

However, an EIR would not kill such a connection. EIR's simply identify the environmental impacts of a project and what mitigations would be required for any significant impacts. The required mitigation might be unacceptable to the applicant or the city and that would then kill any 500 ECR to Alma connection.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 9, 2013 at 5:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is how a wise and intelligent neighbor negotiated with Stanford for a great outcome on a 1.5M sq ft project:

"Staff, with guidance from the subcommittee, negotiated the Development Agreement based on Guiding Principles provided by the City Council: Positive Mutual Benefits, Community Based Benefits, Fiscal Balance, and Plan Integrity. These principles provide the City with the assurance that the benefits of the Stanford development are not merely financial, but are such as to truly integrate Stanford University into the fabric of the community."

WOW -"are such as to truly integrate Stanford University into the fabric of the community."


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