Construction halted in Menlo Park amid COVID-19 shelter-at-home order | News | Almanac Online |


Construction halted in Menlo Park amid COVID-19 shelter-at-home order

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Construction projects in Menlo Park must stop immediately, a March 19 statement from the city said following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s statewide shelter-at-home order that took effect March 17 in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Exceptions will be made for construction projects deemed “essential” by City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson, the city’s statement said.

“Active construction sites are instructed to secure their site and cease all further work immediately,” the city said. “Only activities necessary to address immediate health and safety concerns, as determined by the City Manager/Emergency Services Director, are allowed. This action is not taken lightly and is out of extreme concern for the health and safety of construction workers and city employees.”

The governor's shelter-at-home order last week called on all individuals to stay home as much as possible, with the exception of performing basic or essential functions.

Menlo Park's March 13 ongoing construction newsletter listed 21 construction project descriptions, including developments by Menlo Park-based tech company Facebook and Stanford University, among others. The city's most recent construction newsletter, released March 20, had no project descriptions, saying, "Only essential infrastructure construction is proceeding."

In a statement released Tuesday, March 24, the city provided further detail on the construction suspension. The statement described special regard for government water and wastewater projects, saying that they may be allowed but only after approval by the city manager and when done with proper social distancing.

Jerome-Robinson will regularly review the construction halt order, the statement said, and she may modify it as the rapidly changing coronavirus response unfolds over the coming weeks.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.


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16 people like this
Posted by Really?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Mar 24, 2020 at 2:29 pm

I get it for large jobs with lots of workers, but what about homes? That seems a bit extreme.

18 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 24, 2020 at 7:29 pm

" That seems a bit extreme."

It is. Most other cities and towns are allowing residential projects to proceed. Most of them have ten or fewer workers on site which is allowed.

18 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 24, 2020 at 7:48 pm

So the other day at least 75 people on the Hillview playground and "the dish" is a traffic jamb. But a residential project with a few workers who cant work from home are now unemployed. These are the folks who will suffer the most in this disaster. All so the plantation owners of Menlo Park feel more comfortable. Shame on you Menlo Park, I'm embarrassed by your action. T

25 people like this
Posted by Agree
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 24, 2020 at 8:13 pm

This controversy is playing out in Atherton now, with political/real estate forces trying to get the civic center project to resume, as well as residential projects.

Let me say, the damage to the economy we are all enduring is horrible. Many important industries, from restaurant, hospitality, entertainment, have been decimated.

The more exceptions that are made to the shelter at home, the longer this pandemic is going to last. The more shelter at home will be required. The more likely it is we have to stop it because the damage to the economy is too great. People are going to die as a result of these exceptions, plain and simple.

Allowing residential construction to continue will add to this problem. I agree, construction workers are typically not working in tight-knit quarters. But they will come into contact with each other, and spread the virus somewhat. Because of the exponential growth, even some spread will turn into lots.

Easy call on this one. Everyone needs to take the hit. The bailouts are coming. No exceptions. We should have done the 100% crackdown China did, taken the medicine, and come out from it not having to do more or still have a virus problem. Unfortunately, I don't believe that will be the case.

28 people like this
Posted by New York
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:02 am

There goes the conservative free marketers throwing eggs when the data shows the only thing that slows done this virus is shutting everything down and then slowly reopening up. You make a mistake, people die. New York waited too long thinking social distancing would work. Watch what unfolds there this week.

Here's a challenge. Use your real name and go volunteer to work all day with a group of ten construction workers every day for a week during this crisis, then send a link to the pictures of you doing it. Bet no one does it.

21 people like this
Posted by New York
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:05 am

Actually challenge rescinded. I take the challenge back. I don't want what happens on my head if someone actually does it. It was a rhetorical.

8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 25, 2020 at 8:51 pm

New York:

Challenge accepted. It's what I do for a living. Post an email and I'll send you photos. I was on site today with 5 iron workers. They'll be there tomorrow as well and Monday I'll have a framing crew on site for the next three months.

11 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 27, 2020 at 7:25 am

Since I am confined to home I like the quietness in my neighborhood. I do feel sorry for those temporarily out of work also - but since I am home I want to enjoy being home - no tat tat of hammering, buzzing of saws. Etc

10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 27, 2020 at 8:54 am


while you're enjoying your peace and quiet think about the construction workers that have no way to feed their families. Hope you enjoy your quiet. smh

16 people like this
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:20 pm

@Menlo Voter, and if those construction workers contract the virus while on the job, share it with family members and someone dies there will be one less mouth to feed, regrettably. Seriously, remaining separated for another month or two is far more important than any construction project you or anyone else happens to be managing, unless that project is directly related to fighting COVID-19. More than a little alarming that you are so willing to risk the health and wellbeing of your iron workers, framing crews and their families--were they offered time away from work with pay!?

8 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 27, 2020 at 12:47 pm


Time away with pay isn't up to me, it's up to their employer. I doubt it was offered. All of these crews have returned voluntarily. Distancing and sanitation are being observed while they are on the job. Transmittal risk is less than standing in line at the grocery store.

It's not about the project. It's about these workers feeding their families. That isn't going to happen if they don't work. They are all living pay check to pay check.

14 people like this
Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 27, 2020 at 1:29 pm

@Menlo Voter, you've as much said this yourself: The "employer" places more value in his or her economic activity than in the health and wellbeing of the workers and families involved, no matter the precautions taken (real or imagined). People need to eat, to stand in grocery lines, but all of us will easily survive a two-month delay in the tenancy of your office complex or the like. I'm not downplaying the hardship this brings to everyone involved in construction--it merely highlights the uglier side of capitalism: either show up for non-essential work during a pandemic, putting self and loved ones at risk of death, or go hungry (your use of "voluntarily" is more than a little ironic).

10 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 27, 2020 at 5:59 pm


it's obvious a lack of income is not likely to be a problem for you.

5 people like this
Posted by Must be nice
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2020 at 2:23 pm

I am amazed that some people are in such a bubble that they don't realize what LIVING PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK means. Hey more power to you if that's the way you have it, BUT a majority of the population DOES NOT have it like that and have their bills precariously balanced in order to be able to pay them and to do so they need to work. Any missed hours what so ever and it becomes a crisis as to, "Hmmm, well what can I afford NOT to pay this month?" Well, sure I can hope the landlord will cut me some slack on my rent and if not well there's supposed to be a moratorium on evictions but that just means for right now. Eventually when this whole pandemic is over that doesn't wipe the slate clean! I am still going to owe the landlord that rent or the bank that mortgage payment and whatever late fees have accrued as well. Sure the internet and the power won't get turned off right now if I don't pay those but again the slates not wiped clean I'm still going to owe that plus whatever late fees they deem necessary. And how long is this going to last? Does anyone know? I know I don't! Is there anyone out there that is willing to cover some of these workers incomes? I mean for some it sounds like you are so well off that you don't want to be bothered with the noise of construction while your stuck at your house because it might BOTHER you and you would rather have peace and quiet. Your reason was not for health or safety purposes but lets but real here, it was for selfish, self serving purposes! Lets be honest here, do you think these workers want to come to work while others are staying home? Do you think they don't have a little kernel of fear in their mind worried that because they are out and they are working that they might get this virus and put their loved ones at risk? They're doing it despite the risk because the alternative is that at the end of this they might possibly be able to still have a roof over their heads and food in theirs and their loved ones stomachs. The alternative unfortunately is to use this moratorium on their rent and bills and at the end of this they'll owe thousands upon thousands of dollars with no way to pay it. Then what? House and everything gone! Oh, and someone said that it shouldn't be that hard to just be a little bit hungry? Are you serious? I bet you wrote that little jem after returning from your leisurely morning bike ride while practicing the proper amount of social distancing and mentally condemning all of those people you saw that weren't. You then had a nice healthy breakfast and then sat down at your nice big partners desk in your home office and thought that you could put some perspective on what it means to go a little hungry for those out there that don't have that money socked away in stocks, bonds and mutual funds for a rainy day. You have no idea what living paycheck to paycheck means nor should you offer the suggestion that people should just go a little hungry when in your sheltered cocoon you have no idea what that means. I'm just amazed at how oblivious people are to what's going on around them.

5 people like this
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2020 at 5:44 pm

The virus risk of working is real. Residential homeowners or developers should make up their workers lost wages, similar to most homeowners continuing to pay cleaners and gardeners, who can’t work. If you have the means this is a much better option than putting workers desperate for current income to take a virus risk for residentialists,or developers convenience.

7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 30, 2020 at 6:42 pm


I'm always amazed at some peoples' willingness to spend other peoples' money.

While nice and generous for people to pay their housekeeper and gardeners even though they aren't doing the work, the reality is that those people would be paying the gardener and housekeeper anyway. So, it's really no big sacrifice. That money was going out the door before and it isn't going to cost them anything extra.

Home construction for an owner is a one time thing. Paying wages for the construction workers not working, ADDS to the cost of their project. So, unlike those that would be paying their gardeners and housekeepers anyway, homeowners doing construction will be paying more than they normally would have for their project. The work still has to get done and those workers aren't going to do it for free when they are able to get back to work.

Not to mention the fact there could be 5 or more people normally working on a single family home. That's 200 man hours a week at $30/hr, conservatively. $6,000 per week. I don't know about you but, I don't have that kind of money to just pull out of my rear end.

Go spend your own money George.

3 people like this
Posted by Cultists On The Loose Again
a resident of another community
22 hours ago

Given your sneering responses to everyone here who has expressed serious concerns about the current situation, "Voter" -- maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't be hired for any construction contracts. After all, with that attitude, how can any one trust you to do a decent job?

7 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
11 hours ago


Pot this is kettle. You're black. Talk about someone that makes "sneering" responses.

Not to mention you're comparing apples to oranges. I build luxury homes for a living. People don't pay me to do a less than "decent" job. Our work is superior to 95% of other area contractors.

I "sneer" because of the self righteous virtue signalling that most of those expressing "concern" for the construction workers display. If they were truly concerned they'd be reaching in THEIR pockets and paying these workers' rent and buying their families food, NOT suggesting OTHER PEOPLE do it. That's why the workers are working. They can't just sit at home like many in this area can. They live check to check. I actually care about the people that work for me and I understand why they take the risk. They can't afford not to and no one else is going to do it for them. I'm not happy about it, but I'd be even less happy to see their families in the street starving.

How about you cultist? You going to go find a construction worker and pay him so he can go home?

7 people like this
Posted by New York
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
5 hours ago

All of the Bay Area counties just halted home construction for the next month.
Looks like Menlo Park was ahead of the curve.

1 person likes this
Posted by Herb
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
4 hours ago

The cost to pay these people is the responsibility of the homeowner, who hired the architect, who then hired the contractor, who then hired the workers, imo. And when does Workmen's Comp kick in?

I'm sure something could be worked out. Now, let's talk about the homeless and their needs.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
3 hours ago


workmen's comp only kicks in when someone is injured on the job. Now if someone gets sick and has been working I can see they might be able to make an argument for a workers comp claim. Otherwise, no.

It is decidedly not the responsibility of the homeowner to pay workers that aren't working. The owner's contract is with the contractor not his workers.

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