What should city ask of Facebook?

Negotiations for west campus begin

"Please don't put the squeeze on (Facebook)," one woman told the Menlo Park City Council. She echoed prevailing public sentiment as the council set the broad parameters for negotiations over Facebook's development of its west campus on Constitution Drive.

David Ebersman, the social networking company's chief financial officer, shared some thoughts on how negotiations should go. The new project differs from the east campus in important ways, he told the council. While "generous public benefits" were reasonable for the east campus, the west campus presents a lasting benefit to Menlo Park with only a modest impact on infrastructure, he said.

The east campus development agreement netted the city millions of dollars as well as infrastructure improvements and other benefits that include a recently launched foundation with a $500,000 seed fund for local nonprofit grants.

Public speakers at the Oct. 30 council meeting agreed that there may be such a thing as asking too much.

"Menlo Park is now branded as Facebook's home, and that brand is priceless," said Chamber of Commerce CEO Fran Dehn.

Speakers from JobTrain shared how the company's efforts have already helped clients find work. One resident said that they wanted to click "a superlike" button to convey their appreciation for what Facebook has brought to Menlo Park.

This new round of negotiations centers on Facebook's proposal to build a sprawling office in a forest designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry.

The 433,555-square-foot, single-room building would perch on top of approximately 1,540 parking spaces, and blend into the landscape with gardens that wind their way up from the ground to a rooftop terrace. Garden pavilions would mark the entrances at ground level off Constitution Drive. Facebook plans to have about 2,800 engineers work at the site.

The council agreed with the general negotiating goals laid out by staff: an ongoing source of direct revenue, a way to keep benefits associated with the headquarters even if Facebook leaves that campus, and penalties for violating negotiated traffic caps. The east campus agreement carries stiff daily penalties of $500 to $100,000, depending on the number of violations.

Councilman Rich Cline encouraged the city to evaluate the development's impact over time. Local school district representatives have raised concerns that an influx of Facebook employees will eventually lead to more students in already-crowded schools.

Negotiating on behalf of Menlo park are City Attorney Bill McClure, Public Works Director Chip Taylor, Development Services Manager Justin Murphy, and City Manager Alex McIntyre. Mayor Kirsten Keith and Mr. Cline serve as liaisons between the team and council. A draft of the new development agreement should be presented for public review sometime in February, according to staff.


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Posted by traffic
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 8, 2012 at 10:51 am

Clearly, the city needs to ask for funds to increase the capacity of roads around that area.

The article is misleading. Facebook may have 2800 employees right now, but they are planning on expanding to 10,000 employees in the near future. A huge jump in the number of commuters will require a huge jump in the amount of public infrastructure to support them.

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Posted by bob
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 8, 2012 at 12:39 pm

I wouldn't worry the way facebook's business is heading they won't get to 10,000 employees quickly.

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Posted by repeat a lie enough and
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Re COC lackey ""Menlo Park is now branded as Facebook's home, and that brand is priceless," Please explain the tangible benefits to Menlo Park and how that fits in with Menlo Park's needs. I get all squeamish when people tell me my town needs to be "branded", as they keep repeating in Palo Alto. Menlo Park's budget is about $36M per year or about $1000 per resident, you can see revenue sources and expenses here:
Web Link
How is facebook's planned growth beyond current zoning going to help revenue or increase expense? If it is a net loss then it is appropriate for the City to "squeeze" Facebook for the value FB will receive.

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Posted by Sensible
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Nov 8, 2012 at 10:14 pm

@repeat a lie
I'm not sure how much the Facebook brand will help directly the city, but Facebook has certainly had a tangible benefit for Menlo homeowners in terms of home values. There's certainly a knock-on effect for the city via property taxes. And I guess more employees eating and shopping in Menlo Park might enhance sales taxes to some degree.

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Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 11:34 am

Uh, no, my home values have not gone up as a result of Facebook's presence. Why would they? Most Facebook employees, according to their own data, do not live in the immediate area. A few of the lowest paid employees are squeezing out tenants in East Palo Alto/East Menlo Park.

On the flipside, Facebook's presence in our community motivated a lawsuit that has already cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars. And even if Facebook disappears tomorrow, we will continue to bear the burdens imposed as a result of that lawsuit.

Net net: a negative.

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Posted by follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 11:37 am

P.S. Our housing values are probably at their peak, mostly because of the prevailing local economy. However, because of the lawsuit that resulted because of Facebook's move to our city, our schools will soon be stuffed beyond capacity. Since home values are strongly correlated with the excellence (or lack thereof) of the local schools, this might be a great time to sell.

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Posted by facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Unfortunately, follow the money is spot on. Menlo Park totally whiffed for years on managing down the housing element requirement that is being imposed on us, leaving our town open to being sued by housing advocates. Facebook's arrival made us a target for housing groups to sue, and the City's fear of losing Facebook over this lawsuit motivated the City to settle it quick. This is not Facebook's fault, but now Menlo Park is apparently stuck with a requirement to add way more housing than we can handle. We need MORE public space for schools, parks, etc. We should be figuring out ways to do this instead of building more housing! Isn't there anything that can be done to stop this madness? The way we are headed now, Joni Mitchell's song is becoming a description of Menlo Park -- "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

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Posted by Grateful
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.
~Eileen Caddy

Are you grateful for what you have in your life? Do you acknowledge that which you are grateful for everyday when you wake up? This attitude of gratitude is the catalyst for the abundance you have, or possibly don’t have, in your life. If you find yourself living in a state of lack and limitation, it is likely because you have not focused on what you are grateful for.

I am grateful that we have facebook in our community! Give them a chance to perform, but be grateful for what they have already done!

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Posted by facts
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Grateful -- My point is not that this is Facebook's fault. I'm glad to have Facebook in Menlo Park. My point is that our city is headed down the track to wreck our community by building too much housing and overcrowding our schools. I'd like to see a plan for how we can maintain (let alone improve) the quality of life that is being degraded by all the overcrowding that has already occurred, let along all the additional overcrowding that will be coming our way with additional housing development.

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Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Help fund a new Belle Haven police substation on Ivy Drive. That will help Facebook; that will help Belle Haven.

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 12, 2012 at 5:32 pm


Belle Haven already has a substation.

Belle Haven Community Police Station, located on the corner of Willow Rd. and Newbridge St., (650) 330-6370

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Posted by What substation
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 13, 2012 at 12:45 pm

There is no Police substation in Belle Haven! There is an office which you may sometime see officers entering and leaving put no set hours of operations is posted, residents can not go there for any type of service. As a matter of fact there is no mention of a substation on the City of Menlo Park's web-site.

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Posted by Alan
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 13, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I know of the tiny station in Belle Haven. The city has purchased land on Ivy Drive for a full station - not very far from Facebook. There have been a rash of shootings in Belle Haven recently, and while I have found the police to be helpful, a more significant presence would be better. Within a few blocks, there have been 5 shootings in the past couple months. This is a big problem. This would help make things safer for Facebook employees, particularly those who commute by bicycle.

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