Letter: Specific plan initiative is a poison pill | July 2, 2014 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Viewpoint - July 2, 2014

Letter: Specific plan initiative is a poison pill

The proponents of the ill-conceived Lanza/Fry initiative claim that only "modest changes" are being proposed to Menlo Park's downtown specific plan. That is patently false.

Aside from turning the specific plan on its head, the Lanza/Fry initiative states that without a (costly) citywide vote of Menlo Park residents, the City Council cannot make changes, no matter how small, in the definitions and development standards contained in the initiative. It further states that no new "inconsistent" zoning can be introduced or passed and prescribes exactly how voter approval for change can occur ... for 30 years.

The requirement calling for a citywide election is the initiative's ultimate poison pill and it is not insignificant or modest.

No matter what you think of the downtown specific plan, it allows for citizen input and revision by the City Council, and requires review on a timely basis, adjusting to Menlo Park's needs.

The initiative's voter requirement emasculates the Planning Commission and the City Council, freezes unintended consequences, some of which have been reported, and freezes the definitions of banking and office and medical in a rapidly changing world.

Finally, this initiative freezes unvetted zoning rules, which most assuredly contain mistakes. Imagine the time, the money and the energy required to overturn those high barriers to change.

We hope that our city's leaders will denounce the initiative and warn their constituents not to swallow this poison pill.

John A. O'Malley, former Menlo Park planning commissioner Katherine A. Strehl, current Menlo Park planning commissioner


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