By Martin Lamarque
At the mercy of developers and their allies in City HallUploaded: Jul 20, 2015
Facebook just announced bigger plans for their properties on the edge of Belle Haven that include a hotel and more office buildings. Buildings that could reach heights of 75 feet. This means that, among many other important details, the 35 height limit in the M-2 district would have to be revised, and likely end up discarded.
Unfortunately, in schemes in which big-money-makes-even-more-money, our City Council's approval is nothing but a mere formality developers have grown accustomed to counting on.
To be fair to my local representatives, are not alone. Ever since urban development was deemed the cure for every social ill, just about every elected official up and down the Peninsula has abdicated their responsibility to consider new projects with the impartiality and long-term vision that using up finite resources would require.
That is if, God forbids, these individuals saw their job as an opportunity to work for the common good, and not just as a stepping stone to bigger opportunities for themselves and their deep-pocket friends.
In my previous post, someone argued that I could not assume our that our honorable Council members solely look after the interests of big developers because, although Greenheart and Bohannon contributed generously to their last campaigns, up until now, their approval of everything Facebook asked for had not seen any favors or money change hands (visibly or otherwise). Therefore--the anonymous commenter reasoned--I was being unfair to such dedicated public servants in general--and to one of them in particular.
To be fair, councilmembers could not indulge in such largesse without the groundwork of planning commissioners whose interests--by sheer coincidence, I am sure--invariably happen to lie on the same side as of those with the money to get what they want.
I have never been into gambling, but I am willing to bet Dear Reader, that what we are seeing in Facebook's announcement is nothing but the approval process getting a head start.
According to the Mercury News, the Menlo Park Planning Commission "cheered the notion that, as part of the project, the gravel pile along Chilco would go away."
Do I need to say more? Such lofty goal brings tears to my eyes.
About helping move the Dumbarton rail project forward? That would also get rid of that evil pile of gravel, and in the process help alleviate the traffic nightmare this area has become.
In touting the project to those naïve enough to believe in its good intentions, Facebook's director of campus facilities assures us that "last year alone, we took a million cars off the road."
Oh yeah? It sure wasn't any of the cars paralyzing Belle Haven during rush hours.