Menlo Park's new mayor has his hands full


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.

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10 people like this
Posted by Unbelievable
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Dec 2, 2015 at 5:07 pm

"Shovels in the ground" Really, Mr. Cline? Are you not the fellow who joined your colleagues to send the developers at the old Cadillac site and the Derry site packing? We would have today two modest developments with housing and below market housing too. Instead we will have huge development at those sites that are now merged. 400,000 sq ft of development instead of smaller scale developments at this site. Greenheart tenants will add to the growing traffic congestion we are experiencing in Menlo Park.

So Mr. Cline wants to expedite development. Has he seen the traffic? Does he understand that commuters are using what were once quiet residential streets so they can avoid arterial streets that lead to 101 and 280.

In his 9th year on the council and Cline is still clueless.

2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2015 at 10:02 am

really? is a registered user.

I'm ignorant of local property history, but weren't the folks fighting against the Derry Lane development the same who are now complaining about Greenheart. I don't think it's an either/or case.

Like this comment
Posted by factchecker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 5, 2015 at 3:23 pm

@really? - The original Derry project approval was overturned by a majority vote of the people of Menlo Park. The revised Derry project was supported by the folks who led the referendum. That project had more housing, more retail, less office. It was approved by the Planning Commission and the Derry project folks never took it to the City Council (remember there was a recession).
Wouldn't it seem quite consistent that the opponents of the original Derry project would oppose another office-intensive project that may not have any retail?

@unbelievable - The approval of the Specific Plan that allows significantly larger project and significantly more office on the Greenheart site (including prior Derry site) is the main reason shovels weren't put into the ground to build the prior projects. The Specific Plan allows much bigger projects with much more office, and much more commuter traffic, and without retail. Cline and the Council have had several opportunities to modify the Plan but have deClined to do so.

2 people like this
Posted by Just the facts
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2015 at 8:25 pm

The original Derry Project never went to voters. It's was withdrawn after signatures were collected qualifying the issue for the ballot.

The City Council is presently reviewing the Specific Plan.

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

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