News

Menlo Park mayor paints vibrant future for city

 

"Who would want to live anywhere else?" asked Menlo Park Mayor Catherine Carlton during the mayor's annual "State of the City" talk Oct. 29.

The rhetorical question fell on the ears of those gathered in a full ballroom at the Rosewood Sand Hill Hotel in Menlo Park, where guests ate complimentary hors' d'oeuvres (flatbread topped with ricotta cheese and apple, fried bites of macaroni and cheese, etc.) and bellied-up to an open bar offering wine and beer.

The event, which was open to the public, cost the city at least $4,500, though the final bill has not been received, according to Clay Curtin, the city's interim finance director.

Mayor Carlton's talk, titled "Investing in Menlo Park," mentioned a wide range of initiatives and updates from the past year.

Two new developments in Menlo Park's downtown area promise sustainability, she said. A mixed-use project at 1295 El Camino Real will be LEED Silver certified and a development across the street, at 1300 El Camino Real, proposed by Greenheart Land Co., is planned to be LEED Platinum certified.

New hotels will give a boost to city revenue, she said. The planned Menlo Gateway hotel will generate about $3 million a year in hotel tax revenue, developer David Bohannon estimates.

Movie nights hosted in September on the city's pop-up "paseo" or mini park on Chestnut Street attracted people downtown, many of whom made purchases from merchants there, Ms. Carlton said.

Menlo Park is expanding its reach globally, she noted. The city has approved cultural exchanges with Xinbei, China, Kochi, India and Bizen, Japan. Mayor Carlton traveled to China over the summer as part of a cultural exchange program for mayors.

Representatives from Bizen, Japan, including that city's mayor, traveled to Menlo Park to visit and tour City Hall. Next year, Bizen will host 10 kids from Menlo Park, and the exchange is expected to continue on a biennial basis, Ms. Carlton said.

In 2014, the number of crimes committed in Belle Haven dropped 42 percent from 2013, and 12 percent city-wide, according to a city report.

Four city parks are undergoing a pesticide-free pilot study, and a class of pesticide called neonicotinoids plus some rat traps were banned across all parks.

A total of $6 million is budgeted this year for infrastructure and streetscape improvements, including plans to create safe bike and pedestrian routes to the schools.

As part of local efforts to combat bullying, the city will screen the documentary, "Bully," on Dec. 2 at Hillview Middle School. The director, Lee Hirsch, will participate in a discussion and question-and-answer session.

Mayor Carlton said she will lead a campaign to get Menlo Park kindergarteners from the Ravenswood Elementary School District enrolled in college savings accounts. According to research, she said, kids who have a college savings in kindergarten are seven times more likely to graduate from high school, and the amount of money in the fund had little effect on that outcome. Leveraging funds from Facebook and developers within the city, the first $50 invested in these accounts would be matched.

After spending the past year focused on water conservation, the city is now urging people to prepare for heavy rainfall in the coming months. The city will have free sandbags available for residents and is readying an emergency response team with representatives from community organizations, businesses, churches and nonprofits.

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

[Part removed.]

How much private business is transacted on these "city" trips?

Used to be that our council members were people committed to serving the city. Seems as though council members in 2015 are more concerned with self-promotion and globetrotting.


8 people like this
Posted by penny pincher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 4, 2015 at 2:18 pm

What was wrong with the old way of holding such an event in the council chambers, with cookies and beverages?

I expect the city to pinch pennies when it comes to shows like this presentation. My taxes should support city services, not show-off spectacles.


8 people like this
Posted by KP
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 4, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Of course she would pick the most upscale site in Menlo Park for her self-aggrandizing report. I've learned the hard way that you cannot trust anything she says to be the truth.


2 people like this
Posted by Side swipe with slander
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 4, 2015 at 7:39 pm

@followthemoney, unless you have some evidence that Councilmembers have used City money to travel and promote their own personal business, or used city money to the benefit of their family members, your "questions" are tantamount to libel. But of course if you had such evidence you wouldn't be asking the questions, you would be presenting it. So your comments are nothing more than the same old side snarky side swiping that occurs on town forum...only this time you have raised the bar by indirectly alleging crimes have been committed, just in the context of questions.. It's disgusting that something so twisted can be asserted from the signing of three friendship agreements.


12 people like this
Posted by Oralene
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 5, 2015 at 10:50 am

Why would I want to live anywhere else she asks? Well, not by my choice, but by the huge rent increases I have been getting, I am looking for a new rental NOT in Menlo Park. That also means looking for a new job, in spite of working at Stanford for 20 years, sadly. I'm heartbroken. My closest prospect is in Tracy, too much of a commute to come back to Stanford. I agree with the outrage of previous commenters that said Mayor Carlton having her function at Rosewood was a slap in our faces, and a waste of taxpayer money. If she came forward and said she paid for it herself, I will apologize for my latter comment, but I won't apologize for moving away, you have left me no options.


6 people like this
Posted by Poofine
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 5, 2015 at 10:54 am

Dear Side Swipe: The newspapers have reported that taxpayer money was used for the mayor's event, that is why we are upset. If you can prove otherwise, be my guest. We have aright to voice our concerns that money is being wasted when a perfectly good place for the event sat empty at the town center.


2 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Nov 5, 2015 at 12:37 pm

I see you deleted my comment.

Let me try to rephrase the question. Who will choose the ten children who get to travel to Japan at public expense? Will the children of city council members be automatically excluded from consideration (as would be appropriate)?


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 6, 2015 at 8:08 am

Yes - everyone would like to live in our great city but, unfortunately, here is why they can't.
www.milliondollarshack.com


Like this comment
Posted by six of nine
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2015 at 9:46 am

@penny_pincher asks, "What was wrong with the old way of holding such an event in the council chambers?"

Mayor Fergusson started this tradition (in council chambers) in 2007, and we assume Mayor Cohen did the same in 2008. The event was then held at the Stanford Park Hotel in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Mayor Mueller moved his event to a popup park in 2014. Including Mayor Carlton's event, the State of the City has been held at a hotel six times and in council chambers only twice.


Like this comment
Posted by Break Me Off a Piece of that Kit Kat Bar
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2015 at 2:06 pm

Does anyone doubt if Kelly Fergusson had not resigned from being Mayor in 2010 while under investigation by the District Attorney's office, that she also would have held her state of the city at the Stanford Park Hotel in conjunction with the Golden Acorn Awards that year?

Give me a break.



Like this comment
Posted by Break Me Off a Piece of that Kit Kat Bar
a resident of another community
on Nov 8, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Does anyone doubt if Andy Cohen had not been passed over by the City Council in favor of Rich Cline serving a second term as Mayor in 2010, after Kelly Fergusson resigned while under investigation by the District Attorney's office, that he also would have held his state of the city at the Stanford Park Hotel in conjunction with the Golden Acorn Awards that year?

Give me a break.


Like this comment
Posted by correction
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

In 2009, the Almanac reported (Web Link) that, "Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson delivered a similar speech when she took over as mayor in 2007, though Mr. Cohen did not give one in 2008." Andy Cohen never delivered a State of the City. Kelly Fergusson gave the first ever Menlo Park State of the City in 2007, and this was the only time it was delivered in council chambers.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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