Menlo Park staff responds to commissioner's resignation | June 5, 2013 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - June 5, 2013

Menlo Park staff responds to commissioner's resignation

•Public works director says no Brown Act violations committed.

by Sandy Brundage

Former Transportation Commissioner Charlie Bourne, who resigned after nearly six years of service, and Menlo Park city staff aren't seeing eye to eye on what constitutes adequate public notice.

Mr. Bourne cited Brown Act violations by city staff and attempts to stop the commission from reviewing projects when he stepped down from the Transportation Commission on May 21.

His frustration boiled over on May 8, when the commission agenda stated that commissioners would discuss a report on the safe-routes-to-school project for Oak Knoll Elementary School, but did not state on the agenda's synopsis that they would be making recommendations and forwarding the plan to the council for review.

Transportation Commission staff liaison Rene Baile did not respond to requests for comment, but Public Works Director Chip Taylor told the Almanac that staff had reviewed the noticing of the Oak Knoll report item with the city attorney and found no Brown Act violations occurred.

Mr. Taylor said the report was agendized as a business item. "And if you look at the staff report, it's clear the commission was being asked to make recommendations," he said.

The Almanac reported last year that two commission meetings had to be canceled due to Brown Act violations; and that staff took steps to prevent it from happening again.

Mr. Bourne also took issue with the commission's limited involvement with large projects, such as the Stanford-Arrillaga proposal, Stanford Medical Center, and downtown/El Camino Real specific plan.

This may again be a difference of perspective, at least as far as the specific plan is concerned — the Transportation Commission reviewed the draft specific plan, according to city records, including the environmental impact report, during three meetings in 2011, and also received responses to a list of questions.

Mr. Taylor told the commission during its Aug. 10, 2011, meeting that the specific plan had been intended as an informational item during the draft environmental impact report review phase, but staff had placed it on the commission's agenda as a business item at Mr. Bourne's request.

The commission then voted to hold a special meeting on Aug. 18 to focus on the specific plan and provide recommendations to the Planning Commission and City Council.