Being old...relatively...there are all sorts of things I don't think about. Such as the kid appeal in dinner from a van window, a melange of carnival-picnic-fast-food. To stay young...relatively...in spirit, I have to think about these things. So does Menlo Park.
While our fair suburb debates its future, let's consider the present not as I know it, but as younger people do. This from a new report by Oakland-based TransForm (formerly TALC, Transportation and Land Use Coalition):
"The next generation is rejecting car-centric lifestyles and moving to walkable
communities near public transportation. Young people are driving 23% less in the
past 9 years alone."
Older people may equate office construction with dark-toned photos of traffic-clogged El Camino. But the Valley's young workforce knows better. That's why Caltrain and the corporate shuttles that serve it are at capacity.
Menlo Park's downtown isn't. Talk to local retailers. Generally, business isn't bad. But it isn't booming. In theory, expanding retailers should boost tax revenues. But where is the demand? A few more professionals working in downtown Menlo Park would increase that. And yes, they would certainly need more housing.
For another vision of development, consider this from TransForm's GreenTRIP program. Funded by everyone from the Rockefeller Foundation to Bay Area Air Quality Management District, GreenTRIP targets exactly what we face in Menlo Park:
"Perhaps most insidious are outdated codes that overestimate how many cars people will own and how much they will drive in walkable communities near transit. Developments end up with expensive parking structures, community outcry over anticipated traffic, and no funding for affordable units or other community benefits. Luxury units are often all that pencil out."
When property values go up, so does population density. The real question about our future: will we be honking at each other, or merely yelling?