By Dana Hendrickson
E-mail Dana Hendrickson
About this blog: I hope readers of my blog will join me and other members of the Menlo Park community in a collective effort to transform our downtown into a much more appealing place, one where residents enjoy a lot more positive experiences and ... (More)
About this blog: I hope readers of my blog will join me and other members of the Menlo Park community in a collective effort to transform our downtown into a much more appealing place, one where residents enjoy a lot more positive experiences and local businesses thrive. During the past decade, the vitality of our central retail district has continually declined, the victim of changing consumer behavior and negligible attention to economic development.
Fortunately, there are now promising signs this trend has ended. Attractive outdoor dining areas, a new community plaza on main street and a weekly gourmet food market are some examples. In this blog I discuss what is happening on this front including how residents, the City Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and downtown businesses can collectively make more progress.
Success will require new thinking, unprecedented commitments, and action-oriented experimentation. Our downtown is emerging from the pandemic with strong momentum. Let's not waste this wonderful opportunity.
My blog also covers what's happening in the El Camino and the train station business districts, as changes there are also important and can have huge impacts on downtown.
I have worked in many Silicon Valley companies, and after retiring shifted my focus to helping local and national nonprofits. I was raised in a small town in Maine and earned degrees at Brown University and the Stanford Business School. My family moved to central Menlo Park in 1985. (Hide)
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The Menlo Park City Council is currently setting its top strategic priorities for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts July 1. Since our five-person city leadership includes three new members, it’s especially important that this round they hear the views and preferences of a wide cross-section of residents and local businesses, way more than the small percentage of voters who attended a recent public workshop.
I encourage you to not only treat this blog post as an additional opportunity to share your ideas with others but also email them directly to the city council at [email protected]
What are your recommendations and the reasons for them?
I will start the ball rolling by offering mine.
1. Grade Separations – complete a study of fully elevated grade separations, select a final grade separation alternative and apply for county and state funding.
2. Transportation Master Plan – Complete this planning cycle.
3. Downtown Parking – Investigate and approve one or more alternative solutions.
4. El Camino Real/ Downtown Specific Plan – Measure actual progress on proposed civic improvements and establish a 5-year timetable for completing outstanding ones. Review and update building regulations.
5. Train Station Area Civic Plaza – Complete a design study of the public plaza proposed in the Specific Plan (coordinate with grade separation planning)
6. Comprehensive Bike Network Plan – Update existing (2004), set priorities and establish a 5-year implementation schedule
You can view the status of each of the existing city strategic priorities as of December 2018 here
1. Transportation Master Plan
2. Citywide Safe Routes to School Program (non-infrastructure)
3. Implement El Camino Real/ Downtown Specific Plan
4. Downtown Parking Structure
5. The Guild Theatre - Land Use Entitlement Approval
6. District Elections