The new mayor of Menlo Park says the city is at a unique moment, when community processes, such as the city's general plan update, and development projects, including those proposed by Stanford University and Greenheart Land Co., are on the verge of being implemented.
"The community process works," said Councilman Rich Cline, elected by his fellow council members Dec. 1 to a one-year term with the title of mayor.
The time it took to go through the bottom-up process in generating the city's El Camino Real/downtown specific plan has enabled Menlo Park to think "boldly" about what the city's future should look like, he said.
With so much on the city's plate, Mr. Cline said he will focus on moving ahead with projects that are in the works including a revision of the city's general plan rather than launching new initiatives.
The general plan review includes revising zoning in the city industrial M-2 zone, located east of U.S. 101. Among his top concerns for that area are planning for flooding and handling emergency response. As for drought concerns, he said he would support using grey or recycled water where possible, especially for commercial purposes.
Referring to the traffic that paralyzes the city's arteries during peak hours, he spoke optimistically of partnerships with local companies and institutions such as Facebook, SRI and Stanford to share ideas about how to create more effective alternatives to commuting by single-occupancy vehicles, including the possibility of an electric trolley, such as the city of Monterey has.
He said he favors "smart" traffic signals that can better coordinate traffic, and apps and technology to more effectively monitor and measure traffic.
Acknowledging that the city has no control over schools, he said one of his concerns is that Menlo Park children "do not share the same educational opportunities."
He said he'd like to see Belle Haven Elementary School and Willow Oaks School incorporated into the Menlo Park City School District, but recognizes the obstacles that would have to be overcome: sacrifices on both sides, short-term dilution of services, and even potential short-term impact on home values.
This is the third term as mayor for Mr. Cline, who has been on the council since 2006. As mayor, he will represent the city of Menlo Park at ceremonial and public functions and preside over council meetings. He said he hopes to make council meetings more efficient.
The council followed its tradition of rotating the title of mayor among council members who have served at least one year, with priority going to whoever has not been mayor for the longest time.
Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who was elected vice mayor for a year by her fellow council members, will serve as mayor in Mr. Cline's absence.