By Dana Hendrickson
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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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It's Time for the City of Menlo Park to "Get Off the Dime" And Help Downtown Restaurant Owners - Now!
Uploaded: Jun 8, 2020
The owners of Menlo Park “dine-in” restaurants are financially suffering from having had their on-premise dining services shutdown by the County of San Mateo for almost three months, and they desperately need help from our city NOW. Take-out business and skeleton crews can only enable them to barely survive.
On June 4, the County revised its shelter in place order “to allow outdoor dining
with safety measures and other restrictions to ensure social distancing.” These requirements will continue to severely constrain restaurant operations by reducing the density of table placement. A similar situation will occur when indoor dining
is again allowed. So, restaurants need more outdoor dining space as soon as possible.
Like Menlo Park, Palo Alto has recently been considering closing streets for this purpose. However, last week it approved the installation of temporary outside dining areas in parking spaces located in front of ROOH (University Avenue) and the Peninsula Creamery (On Emerson). The one at ROOH is already completed and the other one will be finished this week.
Menlo Park needs to adopt a similar approach now. Publish guidelines, adopt a streamlined permit and inspection process, waive fees, set-up a hotline for restaurant and property owners, and assign city responsibilities to an accountable staff member who is capable of keeping things moving forward rapidly. Anything less will create problems and slow progress.
Adding a substantial number of new outdoor dining areas in downtown Menlo Park represents a HUGE opportunity for the city council and staff to help local business owners and improve our primary retail district.
it would be a damn shame to squander it!
What is it worth to you?
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