Letter: Watch out for buses on the Grand Boulevard | May 8, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



Viewpoint - May 8, 2013

Letter: Watch out for buses on the Grand Boulevard

At a recent Menlo Park City Council meeting, though residents protested the horrendous traffic impacts expected from Stanford's proposed 8-acre development, no one mentioned a scheme just as calamitous for our main thoroughfare.

In fact, few may realize there's a devilish plan afoot to get us out of our cars once and for all: the Grand Boulevard Initiative (GBI) — a euphemism for, among other things, two permanent bus-only lanes on El Camino Real.

Interestingly, however, both Stanford's Steve Elliott and city staff cited the Stanford project's "fit" with the Grand Boulevard Initiative as a "benefit." Really?

Consider, if the GBI folks really wanted to improve Peninsula transit, they'd be focusing on our east-west connectivity. After all, in addition to Caltrain, we have buses running north/south on El Camino.

But this plan is not primarily about transportation, it is about changing our lives, both by urbanizing our suburbs, and by making driving practically unfeasible. Otherwise, why is the plan also espousing high-density zoning for one quarter mile on either side of El Camino?

Here's a quote from the GBI Principles: "Amend General Plans and implement zoning and Specific Plans that facilitate increases in density, particularly around transit stations and key intersections." In GBI logic, more people crammed into tight spaces near bus routes means more riders. So, instead of the buses serving the needs of the community, the community is being reconfigured to serve the needs of the buses!

That is, of VTA and SamTrans under the umbrella of the GBI, partnering with the usual suspects: special interests, developers, and bureaucrats who relish the opportunity to foist their pipe-dreams on an unsuspecting public. Peninsula cities have representatives at the GBI table. Mayor Ohtaki represents Menlo Park on the GBI Task Force. Maybe it is time to tell him what you think of the plan. Otherwise, get ready to queue up and wait for the bus.

Cherie Zaslawsky, Menlo Park downtown


Posted by Dharma, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 8, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Don't often agree w Cherie Z but she's right about the Grand Boulevard - what Menlo and other towns need to make transit work is east-west connectivity to CalTrain stations. The idea of the peninsula's only north-south arterial becoming the Champs Elysee (honest, it says that in the Grand Boul lit) is laughable, except that they mean it. That was the goal in SF on Market St - that hasn't worked, but buses and trolleys (and homeless) own Market St because Mission St runs parallel and takes the traffic - along with another five parallel six lane streets. When the "express buses" take a lane off of El Camino, where do the cars go? Maybe they go to the planet where these "grand planners" come from.