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Initiative re downtown and ECR

Original post made by Andy Cohen, Menlo Park: Downtown, on May 21, 2014

As stated previously in a letter, and in public comment last week, I feel there is a failure of our process in omitting public benefit from the equation, and, as in the Derry referendum, a failure in the result, to adequately consider the essential elements of a successful plan. City management (not rank and file employees) have condoned defeat of the original purpose of the plan by ignoring the size of development projects presented by the two proposals.

Menlo Park is home to 40000 people, and $2M spent by the city creating the plan, turns out to be a waste of money if this matter is placed on the ballot in November. Some will insist the Derry compromise with $2M in public benefit (instead of $100K) was not a success, but in view of the relatively minor down-sizing that the project underwent, it is an example of how this council could (if so inclined) modify the agreement with guidance from the initiative and still accommodate the need for new infrastructure without sacrificing the unique community we have become. Traffic mitigation, housing, and retail were basic concerns throughout the process, and the initiative indicates a clear preference that city leaders (elected and hired) make the plan conform to the community's desires.

It simply will not suffice to invoke principles of compromise or pragmatism to rationalize a plan that has lost the support of the electorate and the community. Unlike the Derry referendum, this initiative is clear indication of dissatisfaction, and there is more at stake than just public benefit. Menlo Park must pace its growth to preserve the unique quality of life we enjoy, and at the same time create new senior and affordable housing while controlling traffic and office space and encouraging retail business.

Menlo Park is a diverse city with a healthy mix of income levels. Our downtown serves all ages and income levels, and allowing development as is being proposed would transform our city and unbalance many relationships with other needs (schools and housing to mention just two). Council can and should implement the thrust of this initiative with all deliberate speed.

Comments (1)

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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 21, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Mr. Cohen:

It is my understanding that Savemenlo has filed their signatures. This means the council can either adopt it in its entirety or put it on the ballot. Are you suggesting that this initiative can be stopped by council adopting some of its provision. That is not possible. If the signatures are confirmed it is an all or nothing thing. I think even you would say that modification may be necessary, but total adoption of this initiative is extremely problematic. At this point modification of the DSP by council will not stop the initiative. The initiative is poorly written and poorly thought out, at least in terms of what Savemenlo CLAIMS their objective is. this initiative is a disaster for Menlo Park's future. Please note that Stanford has installed permanent fencing around their property. What does that tell you?

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