News

Both sides debate Menlo Park's Measure V and the future of the Flood School housing at Almanac virtual forum

Menlo Park Measure V debate with Menlo Balance and Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Housing.

Representatives from both sides of the debate on Measure V, a ballot initiative facing Menlo Park voters in November, spoke at a forum hosted by the Almanac Thursday, Oct. 6 to make their case for and against the measure.

The proponents of Measure V were represented by Nicole Chessari, lawyer and co-founder of Menlo Balance, which authored the bill. The opposition was represented by Margarita Méndez, a member of Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes (MPNAH) and a public school teacher who lives in Menlo Park.

“Where are the teachers going to go?” Méndez said. “... We know how important schools are and teachers are and we know Ravenswood is underfunded.”

Measure V is a citizen-sponsored initiative on the November ballot that aims to restrict the Menlo Park City Council's ability to rezone single-family lots to higher densities. If it passes, the city will have to put any rezoning of lots zoned "R1" to a vote on a regularly scheduled election. Both sides have been claiming to support housing and teachers, but differ on the methods show that support.

“Measure V promotes quality housing in neighborhoods to prevent excess of traffic,” Chessari said. “And (it promotes) quality housing for affordable housing, multi-family housing in resource-rich areas where they’re supposed to be putting it anyways.”

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

Almanac Assistant Editor Kevin Forestieri and Reporter Cameron Rebosio asked Chessari and Méndez about the bill’s effect on low-income housing, flood school and a possible compromise at The Almanac's virtual forum, which ran for 45 minutes with nearly 150 viewers tuning in.

If you missed the forum, find out where both sides of Measure V stand on these issues and more, on The Almanac's YouTube page at almanacnews.com/youtube to watch a recording of the event

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox in our Express newsletter.

Cameron Rebosio
 
Cameron Rebosio joined the Almanac in 2022 as the Menlo Park reporter. She previously wrote for the Daily Californian and the Palo Alto Weekly. Read more >>

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Both sides debate Menlo Park's Measure V and the future of the Flood School housing at Almanac virtual forum

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 7, 2022, 11:48 am

Representatives from both sides of the debate on Measure V, a ballot initiative facing Menlo Park voters in November, spoke at a forum hosted by the Almanac Thursday, Oct. 6 to make their case for and against the measure.

The proponents of Measure V were represented by Nicole Chessari, lawyer and co-founder of Menlo Balance, which authored the bill. The opposition was represented by Margarita Méndez, a member of Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes (MPNAH) and a public school teacher who lives in Menlo Park.

“Where are the teachers going to go?” Méndez said. “... We know how important schools are and teachers are and we know Ravenswood is underfunded.”

Measure V is a citizen-sponsored initiative on the November ballot that aims to restrict the Menlo Park City Council's ability to rezone single-family lots to higher densities. If it passes, the city will have to put any rezoning of lots zoned "R1" to a vote on a regularly scheduled election. Both sides have been claiming to support housing and teachers, but differ on the methods show that support.

“Measure V promotes quality housing in neighborhoods to prevent excess of traffic,” Chessari said. “And (it promotes) quality housing for affordable housing, multi-family housing in resource-rich areas where they’re supposed to be putting it anyways.”

Almanac Assistant Editor Kevin Forestieri and Reporter Cameron Rebosio asked Chessari and Méndez about the bill’s effect on low-income housing, flood school and a possible compromise at The Almanac's virtual forum, which ran for 45 minutes with nearly 150 viewers tuning in.

If you missed the forum, find out where both sides of Measure V stand on these issues and more, on The Almanac's YouTube page at almanacnews.com/youtube to watch a recording of the event

Comments

Menlo Lifestyle
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 7, 2022 at 11:59 am
Menlo Lifestyle, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 11:59 am

I hope it’s finally clear to everyone that the only thing stopping new teacher housing are the business executives of the RCSD. The organizers of Measure V and surrounding community offered to compromise at 60 units reserved ALL for teachers, faculty, and staff and they refused citing lack of profits. Now AB2295 limits the property to 75 units and the RCSD has the same story - lack of profits. This was never about teachers. The only ones working against Ravenswood teachers is their own administration and their demand that they turn a profits off the backs of their own people.

If they wanted to truly house teachers they could be building 60 units for teachers TODAY. Ask the RCSD why that’s not happening.


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 7, 2022 at 2:40 pm
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 2:40 pm

Thanks to those involved in the video, very well done and moderated. After watching, I am not sure the downside for homeowners who live in single family neighborhoods of voting yes (other than virtue signaling). Interesting that the No side stated clearly that the flood site is the "last open parcel of land" available in Menlo Park. Other than rezoning, MP will not be able to build all the state demanded housing, which will be typical of most built out town in CA.


About that
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 7, 2022 at 5:04 pm
About that, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 5:04 pm

Interesting video on something that seems to have become overly confusing for voters.

- Why would it be a problem to have an orderly vote on something relatively drastic like changing a zoning from single family residential to high density or commercial? Why should this decision be in the hands of a few council members that most likely doesn't even live in the neighborhood in question?

- Rezoning should be hard, not easy. There are of course economic interests. If someone spends their hard earned money on the American dream and buys a house in a low density neighborhood, that they have carefully researched, doesn't it seem extremely unfair to then pull the rug and suddenly change the rules? Imagine if your neighbor suddenly became a multi level apartment unit with twice or three times the traffic? Talk about 'there goes the neighborhood'.

- Who really believes these projects would benefit teachers in real life? Subdividing a lot or change the zoning in central Menlo will still be way out of most teachers reach, but great business for developers. Common sense seems lost in this debate.

We all want teacher housing, that is not the issue, but it can't be by sacrificing our neighborhoods. High density housing should be concentrated to major arteries where there is adequate transport and shopping, and if is suggested that it might make sense somewhere else that decision should be carefully examined and not decided under the radar in a council meeting.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 8, 2022 at 8:47 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 8, 2022 at 8:47 am

"Why would it be a problem to have an orderly vote on something relatively drastic like changing a zoning from single family residential to high density or commercial?"

Because there is already a process in place to handle this that allows the input of everyone in the city AFTER review by PROFESSIONALS. A vote wouldn't be orderly. It asks uninformed, inexperienced voters to vote on a very complex issue. Not to mention, the majority is going to vote for upzoning as long as it's not in their neighborhood. Having voters decide is a recipe for disaster.

"Rezoning should be hard, not easy."

What makes you think it's not hard now? I suggest you do some research and see just what it takes to rezone. It is NOT a simple process. Measure V came about because a group of people heard about the possibility of denser housing being built in their neighborhood. There had been NO submission of any plans or any zoning changes, but [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment] they came up with this measure because they weren't "being listened to". Never mind the fact there was nothing submitted that was under review to which they were entitled to, and could have actually been listened to about.

This measure is unnecessary and, like most propositions and measures, will result in untold unintended consequences. If passed, I predict it will result in something being rezoned that the voters didn't expect and the stuff will hit the fan. All because some folks didn't want to let the process in place work as designed.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 10, 2022 at 10:00 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2022 at 10:00 am
Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 10, 2022 at 10:06 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 10, 2022 at 10:06 am

"Because there is already a process in place to handle this that allows the input of everyone in the city AFTER review by PROFESSIONALS."

That is just the problem, while people can give "input" the only decision is made by the majority (3) city council members who are not required to listen to any input or any professionals. Plans like allowing low income housing on our city park land has already gotten past the city council without putting a stop to it. That should be a red flag for anyone that thinks that the council has the interests of the neighborhoods at heart. I know you don't agree with letting voters make decisions, I do. I think that while democracy is not always pretty or orderly it is the best solution we have.

As for allowing the consideration of low income housing on park land like Sharon Heights and Burgess this was brought up in the Housing Elements plans, which the council reviewed before it was sent out. Then when Ray Mueller proposed officially taking that idea away and protecting parks he was unable to get the 3 votes necessary to pass that. There was a motion that eventually passed months later after outcry from the public but it has so many exceptions that even it did not pass unanimously. So I hope voters ask themselves "Is a city council that is willing to consider developing out city parks the same ones that should decide to rezone single family homes for high density housing? I know that I do not think so.

P.S. this is not about teacher housing, this is about for profit housing. No units are reserved for teachers and the developer is a "For Profit" developer. That is probably why Sobrato Developers have given $50,000 to the No on V campaign. A small investment against the profits they would gain through developments in Menlo Park.


About that
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 13, 2022 at 11:31 am
About that, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2022 at 11:31 am

"What makes you think it's not hard now? I suggest you do some research and see just what it takes to rezone. It is NOT a simple process."

You should speak to some of the home owners at our neighbor Atherton. They are having the same fight as we do, and the PROFESSIONALS were a outside consulting firm, recommending five scattered lots, two of them on Atherton Ave. At $8 million an acre those are clearly not going to teachers. Developers are cheering on though, building a multi family unit in the middle of Atherton Ave will obviously be great business.

Changing zoning by the council can be surprisingly stealth. One on my friends live in a small neighborhood in Atherton right between the schools, and they found out to their surprise that one of the lots adjacent to Menlo College had already turned in to school zoning. No one had any idea. Now there is really nothing stopping the school from either building a dorm on this lot or even move their fence outwards and absorb it.

When I first heard about measure V I felt this sounds important to stop this as we all want teachers to live here, but the measure is really only about stopping a few council members to make very far stretching decisions in your neighborhood without you having a chance to vote on it. I don't think people understand this vote, and only see those NO signs, which are completely misleading.


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Oct 13, 2022 at 3:40 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2022 at 3:40 pm

"Stealth" zoning changes? I find that hard to believe since things like that come before the council and have to be noticed to the voters along with the rest of the council meeting agendas and planning commission agendas. But that requires citizens to actually pay attention to what is going on in their town or city. Most people are not interested in putting forth that effort. They'd rather complain about it after it happens and they find out about it.


kbehroozi
Registered user
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Oct 13, 2022 at 4:08 pm
kbehroozi, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2022 at 4:08 pm

"This is not about teacher housing, this is about for profit housing. No units are reserved for teachers and the developer is a "For Profit" developer."

The developer is a for-profit developer, yes – but one that specializes in building below-market-rate housing using low-income housing tax credits. They are doing a presentation about this at a Housing Leadership Council event next Friday. Web Link

Ravenswood has said that income-eligible teachers and staff will get priority access to any units that become available, throughout the life of the 90-year lease. There may be other people who get to live there too, but only if teachers and staff don't need the housing (which apparently they do).

Web Link

"That is probably why Sobrato Developers have given $50,000 to the No on V campaign. A small investment against the profits they would gain through developments in Menlo Park."

The Sobrato organization doesn't do affordable housing development, nor do they do the kind of small-scale residential development that would theoretically be possible in R1 areas. Here's the kind of non-commercial development that they build: Web Link

I think if the Sobratos had been interested in developing sites like Flood School, they would have responded to the Ravenswood RFP. My guess is they didn't (or if they did, they weren't selected).

I also know individual members of the Sobrato family to be major contributors to local education and youth development nonprofits like the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula and the Ravenswood Education Foundation. A lot of other REF donors have contributed to the No on V campaign. Some are in development–others in tech. Not everything in this valley is pay-to-play.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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