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Stanford drops medical offices from proposed mixed-use complex in Menlo Park

Original post made on Aug 6, 2013

Stanford has agreed to make several changes to its proposed eight-acre complex on El Camino Real, Menlo Park council subcommittee members announced on Monday (Aug. 5).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 6, 2013, 8:03 AM

Comments (69)

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Posted by Cindy Gori
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I'm a member of the greater Menlo Park community whose opinion about this project is in no way represented by Save Menlo. This development will be an enormous improvement on the urban blight we've all been living near for years. Shame on Save Menlo for needless stalling and their shakedown of Stanford.


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Posted by another community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm

To my knowledge, SaveMenlo wasn't even in the conversations with Stanford so there was no shakedown at all. This group of fellow residents is really concerned with traffic impacts, and you should be, too. Just agreeing to study the problem doesn't by any means solve it.

I don't agree that any project is just fine. Stanford has proposed an enormous office project with housing and a teeny bit of retail. The offices will put more pressure on all our neighborhoods to accommodate even more housing than is already being pushed into them. How does this help community vibrancy? How do huge office buildings promote a village character? What happens with all this new traffic other than clog up our main streets and jeopardize our children in our neighborhoods? I'd rather wait longer for a great project than one that causes more problems than it solves.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

The 'urban blight' is Stanford's way of the getting the community to accept something, anything that is better than what is current there.
That's a pretty low bar to cross, as demonstrated by their current development plan. There's nothing stopping Stanford from being a good neighbor and cleaning up their properties in the interim until development occurs.


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Posted by Not a surprise
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

This project, as currently configured, is increase the volume of cut-through traffic in Linfield Oaks tenfold. Even more if the tunnel is built and employees are encouraged to park in Linfield.

No residents other than the two council members were involved in the conversations with Stanford. The subcommittee ignored its own charter.

The Stanford proposal must be subjected to normal public process, just as most developments have been through the history of our city. Although the downtown El Camino plan is good for small businesses that want to upgrade their facilities, "by right" development should not apply to a mammoth project that will change the face of our city and the quality of life of residents.

Stanford had total control over the "urban blight." They chose not to exercise it because they didn't care if we had to see their weeds every day, and because they knew it would give them leverage with uninformed residents.


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Posted by Come Clean
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm

Stanford had a plan to let their El Camino Real properties deteriorate so that Menlo Park residents would be grateful for a proposal, no matter the architecture, the size or the lack of public benefits. Some residents in Menlo Park fell for this trick, while others know a bum deal when they see one. Of course there are supporters of Stanford's project. Some are those who fell for Stanford's blight trick and some are employees at Stanford who feel a loyalty towards the university. One such poster happens to be the Director of Development, in one of Stanford's University major departments Perhaps a disclosure is in order?


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Posted by Long time resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Save Menlo does not represent the entire community. Are these the same people that held up the renovation of the Safeway shopping center for years? Our city council needs to appreciate that Save Menlo most likely represents the minority of voices, not the majority.


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Posted by JK
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I welcome the proposal and end to the ugly vacant lots. It continues to astound me that--in this area of valuable property--we could have so much unsightly, unused lots.


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Posted by Come clean
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Long time resident: organize your supporters for the Stanford development. Count heads. Peel off the Stanford employees and then, count again. If you can get to 100, I'll be surprised. I'm not a member of save menlo but, they have asked the right questions. Any developer would be put through the same drill. Stanford knows how it works. Propose a turkey and then wait to see how exercised the opponents get and then sweeten the pie. That's where we are today. Counting the grains of sugar. As a resident, you should be thankful of the time and energy save menlo has contributed on your behalf. It's a travesty that our council gave Stanford an increased building size without getting something back in return. The council failed us.


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Posted by Get real
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 6, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I agree with Cindy Gori. Save Menlo's claim to represent the interests of Menlo Park is arrogant and presumptuous. The very name "SaveMenlo" is ridiculous. Menlo Park is doing quite well, is not destined for imminent destruction and does not need to be saved. Growth is inevitable and what is needed is enlightened guidance. Perhaps we need to be saved from the misconception of Menlo Park as a village.
Residents of one neighborhood feel their turf threatened and selfishly pretent to speak for Menlo Park. The streets of that neighborhood belong to all residents and are paid for by public funds. Yes, the new development, any new development - will impact all of Menlo Park but I believe it will be positiv and beneficial.
I have been disappointed by Stanford's calloused attitude towards his neighbors in the past and this project is no exception but Stanford has a right to develop its land. We should support – not try to defeat - the project but bargain hard for mutual benefits.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Now that Stanford has made almost every change 'demanded' by Save Menlo now Save Menlo says that they want even more - perhaps they want to have the automobile dealerships declared a historic monument and converted into a new kind of non-revenue generating park.
It would be the perfect place for the car campers who have now been banned from Palo Alto.

Seriously, enough is enough! The council should declare victory and let this very beneficial project proceed - quickly. And if Save Menlo succeeds it is misguided attempt to put this project on some distant future ballot then Stanford should just walk away and let the car campers occupy the site.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 6, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Long time resident,

Please don't presume that because someone is against a bad development, that they would be against the Safeway (I'm not) or the Artisan townhouse development at the end of College Ave (I'm not). Anyone who lives near this section of El Camino realizes that the land will be developed. That's not in question.

What is in question is the quality of the development that Stanford has proposed. Up to this point, Stanford has chosen to not work with the neighboring community to create a better outcome. We should continue to push back until they bring forward a proposal that is acceptable.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford has chosen to not work with the neighboring community to create a better outcome. "
Let's see - Stanford has met with the Planning Commission, with the City Council, with the Subcommittee and with neighborhood representatives and , based on those interactions, significantly modified the project three time. Save Menlo has also modified its demands - now that Stanford has made significant changes it wants even more; in fact, it wants to totally stop the project. Now, why under these circumstances would anybody in their right mind waste time with people whose only objective is to block your efforts?

It is time to move on.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Mike:

what proposal is that? Nothing? Stanford has given everything "savemenlo" has asked for yet now we see that is not enough. As far as I can tell savemenlo should be retitled "no, no, no, no." I hope you all enjoy the view.


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Posted by Old MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Judging by the above Linfield,comment about the bile/Pedro tunnel, it is,obvious that Save Menlo does not represent all residents. And they don't represent me either.


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Posted by Not a surprise
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 6, 2013 at 6:39 pm

So everyone who is opposed to this project as currently configured is a member of SaveMenlo? That is news to me. I'm just someone who pays attention to what's going on around town and tries to figure out the bigger picture, longer term, something our council seems unable to do. You can't look at one project in a vacuum. A project this size will affect traffic. It will affect safety. It will result in increased housing requirements (have you all forgotten all the housing element meetings and the angst over that? Sharon Heights, I'm talking to you too because as far as you're concerned, El Camino is another planet). More housing, more overcrowding in schools. It's the old kill-one-butterfly parable in real life.

Cone Clean is right. Stanford is going to build. It's their land. But it's OUR prerogative and in fact our responsibility as residents and as stewards for future generations to ensure that the project makes sense for our city. This one doesn't, and Stanford's ongoing refusal to incorporate resident input is appalling. Stanford has not "given SaveMenlo everything." What a joke. Stanford has scattered a few crumbs and declared that the hoi polloi in Menlo Park can eat cake. Nope. Sorry.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"to ensure that the project makes sense for our city."

That is exactly what the entire multi-year Specific Plan process was about - and guess what, the Specific Plan was reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

Just because you don't like the outcome please don't perpetuate the lie that the zoning for this project was not carefully reviewed or that the Stanford project, even before it was scaled down, does not comply with that zoning.


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Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm

Save Menlo clearly isn't in the loop - one of the 'representatives' has felt excluded from the process - I have felt excluded from the process. The Process isn't actually a process - it's two Pro-Stanford, Pro-Development Council members that don't live in the effected areas.

Peter is wrong, he doesn't even live in Menlo, [portion removed; be respectful of other posters.]

What I want is transparent, resident focused government. What we've got is lacking.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 6, 2013 at 7:57 pm

Elizabeth:

what specifically do you want? I mean aside from I don't like this and I don't like that. What Specifically would make you happy? As far as transparency, this process couldn't have been more transparent. If one was paying attention. Oh, I live in Menlo. Thanks


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Posted by come clean
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm

Transparent? Were you at the April 16 council meeting when council member Keith asked staff Thomas Rogers how the three lanes of cars in the Middle Ave plaza got inserted into the specific plan? Rogers responded that council was not given an opportunity to weigh in on that feature of the plaza. Huh? The visioning process that residents attended in 2007 - 2008 featured a plaza that had no cars but did have wide open spaces with benches. Who decided to squeeze three lanes of cars entering and exiting the underground garage? Stanford and the city staff made that decision but didn't allow the council to know about it until it was in the plan. This is not transparency. The specific plan is the Stanford plan and our staff greased the wheels and our council was asleep on the job.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 6, 2013 at 8:32 pm

come clean:

what specifically do you want? I mean aside from I don't like this and I don't like that. What Specifically would make you happy?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Come clean calls for transparency.

OK come clean - who are you?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The 16 April Staff Report states:
"As specified by the Specific Plan, the Burgess Park Linkage/Open Space Plaza is intended to create a welcoming, publicly-accessible open space that provides seating and shade and allows for small, informal gatherings, while ALSO providing vehicular access to the 500 El
Camino Real proposal. The 120-foot width was established in order to allow the break
to serve this wide variety of purposes, INCLUDING vehicle access." Emphasis added for those who may not have read the staff report or who slept through the discussion.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 6, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

This was what is in the Draft EIR:
"Burgess Park Linkage/Open Space Plaza
The design of the open space plaza and pedestrian/bicycle linkage should include the following:
D.4.12 Visually extend Middle Avenue.
D.4.13 Allow for seating and informal gatherings.
D.4.14 Provide green space and shaded areas.
D.4.15 Integrate with vehicular access needs and associated development.
D.4.16 Provide a pedestrian and bicycle linkage between El Camino Real, the new open space and Burgess Park at
Middle Avenue; this linkage would involve a grade separated crossing if tracks remain at grade.
D.4.17 Emphasize safety and comfort for all users."

And NOBODY raised a question or submitted a single comment about "D.4.15 Integrate with vehicular access needs and associated development.'

NOTHING was snuck into the process - it is just that some people were not paying attention and others don't like the outcome so NOW that are making false statements about what WAS in the Draft Specific Plan, in the Draft EIR, in the Final EIR and in the adopted Specific Plan.

Everybody is certainly entitled to their own opinions but the FACTS speak for themselves.


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Posted by Daniel
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:09 am

Like other Menlo Park residents, I don't like a vocal minority group pretending they represent the greater Menlo Park interests. I'd like to see our abandoned lots and buildings on El Camino be a thing of the past. SaveMenlo is a self-interested neighborhood group (which is fine on its own) - please just stop pretending to be more, it's misleading and disingenuous.

More importantly, the entire El Camino Passage through Menlo Park is an embarrassment. The number of abandoned or otherwise obvious eyesores go way beyond the Stanford lots (the former car dealerships are the least pathetic). Do we really cherish our abandoned theater? Do we love the random abandoned swimsuit store? I'm at a loss how residents are happy to look past the numerous problems and blindly attack attempts to develop.

Kudos to SaveMenlo for getting some of its agenda acknowledged. Fewer medical offices is likely a good thing. Now graciously move on. There are plenty of other neighborhoods who want to see this development happen.

Actually we NEED development to revitalize the commercial areas around Menlo Park. The City and interested residents spent a ton of time and money establishing a larger vision for the Downtown whether you like it or not. This Stanford project & the ECR corridor is part of it. People don't seem to understand the full equation. In order for local restaurants and stores to flourish you need critical mass in both local housing and local office space. Look at Palo Alto and RWC - they are solving for BOTH. If you don't want traffic then pressure City Council/Planning Commissions to work on solutions (this would truly benefit all residents). Stop this pipe dream that abandoned lots along El Camino is a viable solution to future traffic concerns.

Bottom line, I'd like to see enjoy a revitalized downtown Menlo Park and this is a step in the right direction.


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Posted by Not a surprise
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:55 am

Thanks for proving a point, Peter. The draft EIR did not mention using the public plaza as a driveway. Staff has acknowledged this omission in a public forum.

There are a few other gotchas in Stanford's proposal. Items that were never part of the downtown ECR plan sort of crept in without any oversight.

No one wants the eyesores to remain. But office space does not add vitality to downtown. And the Stanford complex is far enough from downtown Menlo Park that office employees who venture outdoors are just as likely to walk to the mall!

We would be well served by following Palo Alto's example and launching an initiative. Transparency and public input are essential for this project.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 7:14 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Thanks for proving a point, Not a surprise.

You stated:" The draft EIR did not mention using the public plaza as a driveway."

As noted above the Draft EIR, and all subsequent documents, included this statement:
""Burgess Park Linkage/Open Space Plaza

The design of the open space plaza and pedestrian/bicycle linkage should include the following:
D.4.15 Integrate with vehicular access needs and associated development."

How can you deny what is so clearly stated?

Opponents of this project, lacking facts to support their position, just merrily go about trying to create new facts, i.e. lies.

Everybody is certainly entitled to their own opinions but the FACTS speak for themselves.


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Posted by another community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:05 am

I am not a member of SaveMenlo, but I really appreciate that they have been pushing for less traffic from this enormous project. Stanford has improved that a little but not enough. The amount of traffic has always been SaveMenlo's primary focus. Contrary to what some have posted here, SaveMenlo acknowledges that traffic mitigation could merely move congestion and safety concerns to another neighborhood; that's why they want to reduce the amount in total.

The Council dropped the ball by giving away so much power to developers. We are lucky, simply lucky, that Stanford is negotiating at all because the Specific Plan doesn't require them to do so. Unless, that is, the missing-in-action required environmental assessment shows unanticipated problems. The Council wisely committed to reviewing the Specific Plan in one year but foolishly (or is it arrogantly) has allowed more than a year to pass by and still hasn't scheduled the review. That should be a topic of Almanac investigation.


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Posted by Not a surprise
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:46 am

The EIR is not a design document, and citing an opaque statement as "proof" is meaningless.

The specific plan that the council and planning commission (and the rest of us) saw included a drawing of the plaza. No driveways. No cars.

The specific plan is the document you need to consult, Peter. Not the EIR. And you won't find any substantiation for your stance in the plan, which is why you're ignoring it.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:19 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The specific plan that the council and planning commission (and the rest of us) saw included a drawing of the plaza. No driveways. No cars."

Here is what the Specific Plan states:
"E.3.4.1.08 In the ECR-SE zoning district, the breaks at Live Oak,
Roble, Middle, Partridge and Harvard Avenues may provide
vehicular access."

What is not clear about that Guideline???????


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:21 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The Council wisely committed to reviewing the Specific Plan in one year but foolishly (or is it arrogantly) has allowed more than a year to pass by and still hasn't scheduled the review."

Here is what the subcommittee report states:
"Review of the Specific Plan should be scheduled to coincide with the completion of the
Subcommittee's work on the 500 El Camino Project. Therefore, staff is currently
preparing to begin the Specific Plan review in September in order to provide the
Subcommittee to finish its work."

PLEASE take time to do your homework before making unsubstantiated statements.


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Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Aug 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm

"PLEASE take time to do your homework before making unsubstantiated statements."

That rule alone would eliminate more than half of the posts on this forum.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm

POGO -- great suggestion! And everyone would have healthier blood pressure!


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Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Peter, you are amazingly patient and have steadfastly stuck to the facts in the face of lot's of opinions, incorrect claims and personal attacks. I do not know how you do it! Menlo Park residents are blessed to have you in this forum - even though your non-resident status galls many who oppose Stanford's development. Keep it up! I bet most commenters would be more civil and rational if everyone had the courage to sign their contributions with their actual names. Agree?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I bet most commenters would be more civil and rational if everyone had the courage to sign their contributions with their actual names. Agree?"

Yes - I have long ago and continually and unsuccessfully asked the Editors to require that all posters at least be registered. I have given up on asking posters to identify themselves.

A perfect example is come clean who demands transparency but who refuses to identify himself/herself - rather inconsistent to say the least.

As for personal attacks - I hate them! I managed to resist responding to most of them but on from time to time I, unfortunately, lash back - sorry.


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Posted by another community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 7, 2013 at 2:55 pm

The facts about scheduling the review are in the Specific Plan and Council minutes from June 2012:
FInalSpecific Plan Page G16
"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."
Minutes from the Council's 6/5/12 meeting state the following actions taken "ACTION: By consensus the Council agreed to review the Plan after one year and then every two years after that."
"ACTION: Motion and second (Ohtaki/Cline) to approve the FAR as recommended in the Plan and to review in one year passes 3-1-1 (Ayes: Cline, Keith, Ohtaki; Noes: Fergusson; Abstain: Cohen)."
"ACTION: By consensus the Council retained the density/intensity thresholds as proposed but will review in one year."

The one year has come and gone, and no review is scheduled. It makes no sense to wait to conduct the review after the single largest site in the Specific Plan area has its project approved.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The one year has come and gone, and no review is scheduled. It makes no sense to wait to conduct the review after the single largest site in the Specific Plan area has its project approved."

PLEASE take time to do your homework before making unsubstantiated statements.

As posted above from the Subcommittee June report:
"Review of the Specific Plan should be scheduled to coincide with the completion of the

Subcommittee's work on the 500 El Camino Project. Therefore, staff is currently

preparing to begin the Specific Plan review in September in order to provide the

Subcommittee to finish its work."

What about that statement is not clear? The Specific Plan will be reviewed at the same time as the Subcommittee completes its work and THEN the Stanford will be reviewed.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is useful to see all of the things that the Subcommittee has gotten Stanford to do regarding this project:


"Date: Mon, 5 Aug 2013 16:28:21 -0700

Dear Mayor Ohtaki and Councilmembers,

Councilmember Carlton and I want to update you on the 500 El Camino Real Project after meetings with community members and Stanford.

In response to conversations with the city council subcommittee, Stanford has agreed to the following modifications to their proposed 500 El Camino Real project:

1. Stanford will eliminate ALL medical office. All office will be general office (this follows Stanford's previous reduction for all office to 199,500 s.f.)

2. Stanford will make a substantial contribution to the cost of design and construction of a pedestrian-bike undercrossing at Middle Avenue. The amount will be negotiated/determined through the project approval process with the goal of ensuring there will be sufficient funding to construct the undercrossing in timely manner.

3. Stanford will participate in a City working group regarding the design of the Middle Avenue plaza and vehicular access to the site.

4. Stanford will fund a neighborhood cut through traffic study as scoped by the City.

We will provide updates in the near future as more information is available.

Sincerely,

Councilmembers Keith and Carlton "

These are significant contributions by Stanford including the tunnel costs - which Stanford has NO legal responsibility to fund.


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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 7, 2013 at 6:47 pm

Mr Carpenter...

"NOBODY raised a question or submitted a single comment about "D.4.15 Integrate with vehicular access needs and associated development."

You are right, now one protested this, it never came up in any of the public meetings that I attended, certainly not at the planning commission, nor during the big public meetings that were run by the consultant.

What people saw was a pretty picture, with no cars. That was the expectation.

When the planning commission reviewed the first iteration of the 500 ECR project, I pointed out the discrepancy between the picture in the specific plan document and the triple driveway in Stanford's drawings. Thomas Rogers dug up the fine print from the specific plan to justify the difference. That did not go over well. No one stood up to defend this, and I can only assume that if this were a real public forum, where you had to stand up and face the audience, you would not defend this.

What you point out, is a failure of the process. This is why we have reviews.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"You are right, now one protested this, it never came up in any of the public meetings that I attended, certainly not at the planning commission, nor during the big public meetings that were run by the consultant.

What people saw was a pretty picture, with no cars. That was the expectation."

That is because they DID NOT READ the documents but only looked at the pictures. EIRs and ordinances like the Specific Plan are not comic books and people need to READ them. Rogers simply pointed out what WAS in the documents.

Folks - public policy making is not like looking at comic books and there was nothing wrong with the process - just a bunch of people who refused to do the work of citizenship.

"if this were a real public forum, where you had to stand up and face the audience, you would not defend this." I certainly would defend those who READ what was written as opposed to those who had 'expectations' from just Looking at the pictures.


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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 7, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Mr Carpenter...

"Folks - public policy making is not like looking at comic books and there was nothing wrong with the process - just a bunch of people who refused to do the work of citizenship."

This is a deeply cynical view. You should be careful what you wish for. The residents of Menlo Park pay for our city government to look after our best interest. If the residents come to believe that they are being duped, the logical reaction is to shut it all down.

It is better to spend time arguing the merits of something you believe in, not piling on kindling for a bonfire.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Mr. Bressler - What I wish for is concerned citizens who do their homework.

As is carefully noted above the vehicular component of the Burgess Park connection at the end of Middlefield was explicitly noted in the Draft EIR, the draft Specific Plan, the Final EIR and the council adopted Specific Plan. What was not clear about statements like:

""E.3.4.1.08 In the ECR-SE zoning district, the breaks at Live Oak,
Roble, Middle, Partridge and Harvard Avenues may provide
vehicular access."

The design of the open space plaza and pedestrian/bicycle linkage should include the following:

D.4.15 Integrate with vehicular access needs and associated development."

*********************
" If the residents come to believe that they are being duped, the logical reaction is to shut it (our government) all down." Sounds like the Tea Party. If you feeling duped after all of the pages of visioning, EIRs and plans and dozens of public hearings with the above language clearly on the table then the problem is yours not that of the planners or your elected officials. You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.


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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:11 pm

Mr Carpenter...

"What I wish for is concerned citizens who do their homework."

The specific plan document was something like 1500 pages long. Your contention is absurd. I had only 1/2 hour at the end of the 5 meeting series to discuss public benefit. The 500 ECR plaza is just one small, piece of the public benefit picture.

The public process pipe is narrow. Primary responsibility for looking after the public interest can only reside with the city staff. If we can not trust this process, if we can not review and adjust the outcome, then we must make big changes.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Sorry teacher, you gave me too much homework so I only looked at the pictures.

Grade F.

I was a Palo Alto Planning Commissioner for 4 1/2 years and I read every page of every document that came before the commission - that was my job. And if we had to stay until 1 AM every commissioner had the opportunity to ask every question that we wanted to ask. We redid the General Plan - a city wide plan that covered a lot more than the ECR Specific Plan and we discussed every single detail of the draft plan - that was our job.

"Primary responsibility for looking after the public interest can only reside with the city staff."
No, responsibility for looking after the public's interest in a democracy is the demos (the citizens themselves).


Repeat after me - I, an adult citizen of Menlo Park, did not take the many opportunities given to me to read the documents prepared at great public expense and therefore I am now unsatisfied with the outcome so everything that has been decided should be tossed out and done again. Sadly I won't read the next set of documents either.


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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Without my impetus, their would have been no series of 5 planning commission meetings for the specific plan. I was the chair during those meetings, and my goal was to have a thorough public airing. Most of the discussion was about the downtown area, not ECR. We barely scratched the surface, esp with regard to public benefit. The world that you construct here provides a mechanism whereby you can denigrate others, but that world does not exist.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:09 pm

The world I know is one where both planning commissioners and citizens do their homework. As I stated the Palo Alto General (city wide) Plan was a much more comprehensive document than is the ECR Soecific Plan. I would be ashamed if I had to admit that I did not read every word of it before I voted to recommend its adoption by the city council. You can set your own personal standard.


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Posted by Vincent Bressler
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 7, 2013 at 10:46 pm

In case I have not been clear. The planning commission had 1/2 hour to discuss public benefit. While I had read the lines that you point out, this was one small aspect of the whole public benefit topic. In fact, the specific plan does not have an adequately defined process to negotiate public benefit, it does not have a clear definition of what public benefit is. I had hoped to address these issues, but I had only 1/2 hour.

You have been a very effective foil for me to discuss this reality, and I think you for that.


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Posted by Not a surprise
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 8, 2013 at 12:00 am

So residents cannot trust paid staff to do what's in the best interest of the city. Instead, we all need to devote ourselves to reading, word by word, hundreds of pages of city documents each week. Never mind that many of us have full-time jobs, families to nurture, errands to run, houses to clean, and that maybe, maybe when we have a few spare moments, we'd rather read an actual book. We also must all have an infinite amount of time -- because we can't stop at the city documents but must scour county, state, and federal documents too so as to be informed citizens.

And when we're reading those documents, we have to be on the lookout for phrases that somehow got inserted without being properly vetted. Doesn't a vague term like "associated development" mean that a developer can build essentially anything? How about an amusement park with a roller coaster in the plaza? Or a helicopter landing pad. Or a petting zoo? Those all qualify as "associated development," don't they?

Posters who live in fantasy land and get their jollies from trashing people who are actually contributing to the community should never forget that old saying about glass houses. Or, even better, the slogan about being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 5:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Not a surprise - you are learning.


As for actually contributing to my community I have over 20 years of appointed and elected service to my communities - and all done with pleasure and while doing lots of other things.


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Posted by another community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 8, 2013 at 8:25 am

The reality is that the process for reviewing the extraordinarily complex and large Specific Plan, the first Menlo Park has ever considered, was relatively brief over a couple meetings. The consultants and staff spent several years creating many inches of documents but residents only got 3 minutes during Commission and Council meetings to point out issues. Neither the Commission nor the Council discussed every section in the documents, so obviously they did not have the time to discuss every page, every paragraph, every phrase in the documents (2 large EIR documents that referred to the initial draft EIR, the large final Plan). Many citizens provided input about issues in the documents, both orally and in writing. But the Commission and Council didn't discuss each item, ever.

That is one reason it's so important to conduct asap the one-year review they agreed they would, because it's more clear how the Specific Plan works and doesn't to fulfill the Vision and protect our neighborhoods. And it's important to do so before approving a project on the largest site in the Specific Plan area. It's absurd to think that the Plan was perfect or couldn't (or shouldn't) be improved. The Council should be held accountable for not living up to their word to conduct the review.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 8, 2013 at 10:26 am

Another community member is way off base. Four years of meetings and a bus tour and a speaker's series. I was one ridiculing the time but now I can see why council took that time, you all create a false reality if you don't like the outcome.

I really hope council fulfills the promise of the plan and takes the 40 comments here as what they are, ten angry residents sucking their thumbs again. Just like Menlo Gateway, Just like Facebook negotiations. Just like the Marriott and that parking strip near the tracks.

The same ten people and if they can scare new folks to come along, the new folks will until they realize the truth. No one is doing backdoor deals. No one is purposely selling out the city. No one is ignoring citizens.

Peter has lots of faults, but he is dead right here.

This decision was thorough and public and it is done.


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Posted by another community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

Oh, please. There's a good reason for the saying "the devil is in the details". The Council promised to hold a review that still isn't scheduled. They wisely decided that some tweaks might be in order once the city's first Specific Plan was adopted.

The SaveMenlo group, largely made up of younger residents who weren't around for earlier projects, gathered hundreds of signatures from concerned residents. None of us are trying to undo the entire Plan, but some parts need attention. In particular, about traffic impacts that still haven't been analyzed for the Stanford project.


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Posted by interested
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 8, 2013 at 12:45 pm

You said explicitly..."was relatively brief over a couple meetings". That is the oh please of the day.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 1:15 pm

"The Council should be held accountable for not living up to their word to conduct the review."

Please - you are not paying attention. See the subcommittee report noted above.

Please do your homework before posting more untruths.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm

@Interested - my compliments on your post, it states the history and the reality of the DSP process as clearly and simply as could be done and is right on. My only slight disagreement is, that while Peter has his flat spots as do we all, I wouldn't agree he has a lot :-). Yes, I have a lot of respect for Mr. Carpenter and his knowledge and passion-sorry folks. Anyway, again, I agree with Interested!


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 8, 2013 at 2:43 pm

The process was "brief"?!! I suggest you do a search on this site and you will find posts to this site from people bitching about how long and drawn out the process was. It wouldn't surprise me if some of them were from the very same people that are bitching about the Stanford project now. Give me a break. There was nothing "brief" about it.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm

Gone with the Wind was a 'brief' movie if you slept through everything except the credits. Ditto the ECR Specific Plan process.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 8, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Vincent Bressler,

Any citizen who is seriously interested in the public process would love to have the time to read every single word of every single document produced by the City of Menlo Park, but we all know that is completely unrealistic.

We then must leverage the expertise of our elected and appointed officials to assist us in this duty. Thank you for looking out for the public interest on behalf of the residents, and I appreciate your thoughtful postings in this forum.

Mike


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Aug 8, 2013 at 3:13 pm

I encourage Another Community Member, and for that matter anyone who is buying SaveMenlo's LOBS to go back about 4 years to the nexus of the DSP process and read up on the reasons why that huge task was taken on by the City in the first place. One of the primary drivers you will find was a recognition by City leaders at the time, representatives of the development community and residents that in order to attract development and refreshment to revitalize Menlo Park, the City needed to set in place a clear set of rules and perameters that people looking to invest in development projects could rely on in order to get projects approved. The zoning provisions contained in the DSP provide that rule set. Now, the 1-2% of MP residents who call themselves SaveMenlo are saying, oh no, we don't like the rule set that was adopted, so lets have a do over. I just can't imagine how such a position can be defended, much less supported. Stanford's plan conforms to the rule set and MP needs new development on ECR.


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Posted by another community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm

Peter conveniently dismisses the entire Council's decision of last year when they adopted the plan, to review in one year.
Discussions of the details of the Plan were at the end of the multi-year process. Just because it was approved doesn't mean it couldn't be better, and tweaked now. That's not too much to ask.

NO ONE is asking for a do-over. A lot of us are really concerned about traffic impacts and await how the subcommittee and Stanford will help our neighborhood address those concerns.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Please respect other posters and readers by reading the previous posts before posting false statements. If you had done so you would have noted that I did not dismiss the issue of council review of the ECR Specific Plan but rather attempted to inform those who were truly interested as to when that would take place in relations to the efforts of the subcommittee.

As I posted above here is an excerpt from the subcommittee's 21 June report:

"Review of the Specific Plan should be scheduled to coincide with the completion of the

Subcommittee's work on the 500 El Camino Project. Therefore, staff is currently

preparing to begin the Specific Plan review in September in order to provide the

Subcommittee to finish its work."

It is difficult to be a thoughtful gathering place if posters simply wander though and drop their trash on the table.


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Posted by JK
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 8, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Note to "not a surprise" regarding your comment: " Sharon Heights, I'm talking to you too because as far as you're concerned, El Camino is another planet). " It might surprise you to know that I drive on the same streets.

It seems that having a different opinion than you is cause for criticism.

"Save Menlo" does not speak for me and I am a long time Menlo Park resident. I would be happy to see the vacant lots developed.


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Posted by Sal
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2013 at 7:40 am

Menlo Park does need to be saved FROM SaveMenlo not by them. Perhaps SaveMenlo could be 'saved' by Menlo Pres...their answer lies within. But Stanford is bringing revenue to the city and eliminating blight within the confinds of the specific plan at the outskirts of the county line! Let those people...GO!

It will take strong council leadership to stop the micromanagement and get on with it! Which is worse, on going blight or new development?


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Posted by another community member
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:19 am

What revenue will Stanford project bring? Offices don't. Housing doesn't. 2% of the project is retail or restaurant.
The Specific Plan's financial analysis showed that the Plan would be a net drain on city coffers unless there were 2 new hotels. One was expected on Stanford's site. This project will be a drain to MP and guess who will have to pick up the tab? The taxpayers who live here.


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Posted by Linda C
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Aug 9, 2013 at 8:34 am

GET A ROCK SOLID CONTRACT SIGNED AND DELIVERED FROM STANFORD BEFORE YOU SAY YES. Study SM's past development promises and where they ended. Help fund (is vague), work with (vague outcome if any ), negotiate (nothing for sure so far), study (vague outcome); will pay for - get the money upfront and put in a holding account; Plaza - where ? next to a huge parking lot or busy blvd. This is to make money so community beware and wary of future "costs" to citizens who live, grow and invest here.
(Formerly i lived in Palo Alto).


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Specific Plan permits but does not require a hotel in the ECR-SE zone.
Hotels on Stanford property already provides over 90% of Menlo Park's hotel tax revenues.


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Posted by so what!
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm

So what is a "great" project??? Lots of complaints but few constructive comments on what is wanted. Stanford should agree to contribute to improved access to El Camino from 101 and 280. Backups every morning on Alpine Road and Sand Hill speak to that issue.
The new medical center will make that worse without any additional Traffic from El Camino projects.


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Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm

I'll be sorry to see Tesla leave Menlo Park. Thanks Stanford.

Web Link


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Posted by No Easy Solutions
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 9, 2013 at 9:24 pm

@Mike Keenly

Would love to have Tesla stay in Menlo Park, but can't blame Stanford completely for it. I'm assuming Tesla did their analysis and research and found Palo Alto more attractive (financially, demographically, infrastructure, zoning, etc) than Menlo Park. Did MP's business development office even try to convince Tesla to stay in town or assist them with securing a new spot in MP? Who knows.

Tesla dealership is one of MP's top 25 tax generators
Web Link


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Menlo Park could learn some lessons from Seattle:
"When Amazon executives showed up last year for the first meetings about their proposal to build a new headquarters here — three towers that would draw thousands of workers downtown — city officials were taken aback. Not by the scope of the plan, but by the simplicity of the discussion. The executives said they were ready to break ground immediately on what would be one of the biggest development projects in city history."

"It was not a hard-boiled negotiation," said Marshall Foster, the director of city planning. "They basically walked in and said, 'We think this is the site.' " A shovel-ready company that clear and confident, and with the cash to back it up, "doesn't happen very often," Mr. Foster added."

Web Link


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