News

Menlo Park's office space growth exceeds that of similar small cities in state

 
Construction continues at the Station 1300 site on El Camino Real at Oak Grove Avenue. The development includes retail and restaurant space, 183 apartments and about 200,000 square feet of office space. The office space is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020 and the apartments in the fourth quarter, according to the project website. (Photo by Sammy Dallal/The Almanac.)

Menlo Park ranks fifth among small California cities for the amount of office space constructed over the last five years, according to a new report by the commercial real estate website commercialcafe.com, which used data from Yardi Matrix, a commercial real estate research and data platform.

But juxtapose that growth with the city's actual population and a stark picture emerges as to just how much developed space in the city is devoted to housing offices per capita.

According to the analysis, between 2014 and 2019, developers in Menlo Park constructed 2.45 million new square feet of office space at 13 projects of 25,000 square feet or larger citywide. This expanded the amount of rentable office space citywide by 38%, to 8.93 million square feet total.

Most of the top 10 small cities (defined as those with populations under 300,000 people) that have undergone dramatic growth in office space statewide over the last five years are in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. They include Sunnyvale (ranked number 1), Santa Clara (2), Cupertino (4), South San Francisco (6), Mountain View (7), San Mateo (8), and Foster City (9). Only two are in Southern California: Irvine, ranked third; and El Segundo, ranked 10th.

The eight cities on the list in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties have added a total of 25.7 million square feet of large office-space developments in the last five years.

The report's authors explained that they did not include square footage of other uses like retail or hotel spaces.

Diving into these numbers further, The Almanac compared the new and total office square footage of these cities with their populations.

Menlo Park stood out as the city with the largest increase in office space per capita compared with the other Bay Area communities on the list.

For each of the city's roughly 34,500 residents, as reported in the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, the city has added about 71 square feet of office space within the last five years, and now has a total of about 259 square feet of office space per resident. This ratio significantly surpasses the ratios in the other local job-heavy communities that made the list such as Santa Clara, Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Mountain View, which all had ratios of 200 square feet or less of total office space per resident.

Given the fact that a worker in Silicon Valley is estimated to take up between 75 square feet of space at a startup, and about 150 in a more typical work environment, that means there could be anywhere between 1.7 and 3.5 workers per resident housed in Menlo Park.

The explosion of office-space growth in small cities in the region spells traffic for an area already struggling with a skewed jobs-housing balance, a term to describe the ratio of the jobs located in a city compared with the number of homes, which has also come to be an indicator of sorts for commute-related traffic.

Some cities have somewhat mitigated the traffic impacts of expanded office space by imposing "trip caps" on some large companies, which limit how many vehicles can enter and exit an office park daily.

For instance, the city of Menlo Park maintains a trip cap with Facebook, allowing 15,673 trips per day to and from its east and west campuses in Menlo Park, with stricter limits on the maximum number of trips permitted during peak hours. Fines are imposed if the company surpasses those limits, up to $100 per trip per day.

However, as such companies expand their employee head counts in formerly suburban communities, they have to work increasingly hard to abide by trip caps. Facebook last year took steps to curb where Uber and Lyft can drop off and pick up employees to avoid triggering the trip cap, and last year got approval to build a permanent bus stop to better accommodate its bus and tram system to shuttle employees around its campuses.

But with another roughly half-million square feet of office currently under development in the city, more creativity by area employers to mitigate traffic may yet be called for.

Neither Mayor Ray Mueller nor Vice Mayor Cecilia Taylor could be reached for comment by press time.

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Comments

20 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2019 at 1:36 pm

pearl is a registered user.

This just makes me sick! Menlo Park is starting to look like San Francisco with all those multi-story buildings. Greedy commercial real estate people have taken over. They don't care in the least about the city of Menlo Park or its citizens. They care about one thing, and that's money!


13 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 3, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Blame it on past and present MP Planning Commission members and past and present MP City Council members and past and present MP City Planning Dept employees.


16 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2019 at 3:24 pm

pearl is a registered user.

To: Whatever

I moved from Menlo Park 25 years ago, after living there for 50 years. What I don't understand is why the present MP City Council members aren't voted out of office. Are Planning Commission members appointed by the City Council, and Planning Dept employees hired from an applicant pool? If City Council members were of a different mind, perhaps Planning Commission members and Planning Dept employees would follow suit, and the city of Menlo Park wouldn't have taken the very sad turn that it has.today.


19 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of another community
on Dec 3, 2019 at 4:41 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Still waiting to hear apologies from the council members who approved the last 10 year plan. Anyone remember their names?


9 people like this
Posted by Mark L
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2019 at 8:57 am

Menlo Park is hardly similar to other small cities in California. We've got Facebook and possibly the highest density of venture capitalists in the country. Comparisons based on size are silly.


6 people like this
Posted by Sue Kayton
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2019 at 2:05 pm

This article is misleading. The auto dealerships on El Camino sat empty for many years. So instead of this development being spread out over a decade or more, it was all concentrated into the past 5 years. If you look at development over the past 20 years, it will be much less than Palo Alto or Redwood City.


16 people like this
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 4, 2019 at 5:24 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

I feel badly we couldn’t help residents understand and support measure M, which would have reduced office space 100,000 sf in landlocked area on Stanford project between Stanford Court hotel and big 5 with only vehicle access being El Camino, middle and Cambridge.


Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 4, 2019 at 7:57 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

George:

Measure M lost BIG. It lost big for a reason. Nobody was interested in your "sky is falling" nonsense.


16 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2019 at 5:21 am

frugal is a registered user.

Menlo Voter: It seems to me "the sky has fallen".... at least over El Camino. BTW Measure M failed to pass because the developer over-spent the supporters by 10:1. And look where we are now.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 5, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"BTW Measure M failed to pass because the developer over-spent the supporters by 10:1. "

Uh, no, it failed because the majority of the voters in this city were sick and tired of looking at vacant buildings and vacant lots. Further, they knew the city had spent years coming up with the DSP which allowed this construction. And they were fine with it. The only folks whining now are the "no birds" that were whining before.


3 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of another community
on Dec 5, 2019 at 3:16 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Menlo Voter: "sick and tired"? You're right. Have you noticed the makeup of the new council?


13 people like this
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 6, 2019 at 12:16 pm

"Uh, no, it failed because the majority of the voters in this city were sick and tired of looking at vacant buildings and vacant lots...."

You keep telling yourself that, @Menlo Builder. Truth is the FUD you, Peter, Dana and others spread about M's "unintended consequences" coupled with the developer spending imbalance already highlighted scuttled the measure. Now we're living with the actual consequences of the failure to pass Measure M, and those consequences will only worsen as the Stanford and Greenheart projects become occupied. Thank you for your ... service to the community, as always.

Gern


10 people like this
Posted by Quality of life
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 6, 2019 at 1:00 pm

I and everyone else i know who supported M did so because it would have limited Office growth to the amount anticipated in the downtown plan.
They wanted rejuvenation consistent with the Plan. They supported growth of housing and other development that supports residents. Too much office does not.

Under the past city manager and council, Menlo Park was turned into a Jobs Center. The last election shifted to people who seem to care more about Menlo Park being a great residential community. Decision makers still need to address serious issues in the development rules that allow office growth to the detriment of residential quality of life.


Like this comment
Posted by progress
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 6, 2019 at 1:53 pm

Measure M lost because most MP owners aren’t NIMBYs and want to see a return for their investment. Menlo will keep growing, and if you don’t like find a small town somewhere.


6 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of another community
on Dec 6, 2019 at 2:04 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Hey Progress, Totally agree that the developers deserve a decent return on their investment but should the neighbors suffer gridlock because a developer payed too much for his/her land? What do you think?


15 people like this
Posted by Quality of life
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 6, 2019 at 4:00 pm

@ Progress
We want what the community Vision was and what the Plan described (balanced growth) not what has happened. - and still can. Ditch the labels. NIMBYism is not the same as opposing runaway office growth that brings hordes of commuters because there isn’t the housing or retail envisioned in the Plan. All forms of development could be profitable. We don't need more Offices here.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 6, 2019 at 7:15 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Gern:

you certainly give me a lot of credit for influencing people in this town. I don't think I have that much influence. As I said, people voted against M because they were tired of vacant lots and were fine with the years long process that created the DSP that allows the development that is going on.


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Boomer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Dec 8, 2019 at 5:16 pm

The worst part was when the nefarious staff and Council somehow hypnotized the voters into voluntarily approving the massive Menlo Gateway office/hotel project in 2010! That controversial development that no one liked somehow squeaked by with [checks notes]... barely 64% of the vote?


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