Back in 2008, when the ECR/ downtown specific plan was being designed, the country was in the early stages of the Great Recession. Companies were holding on to their cash and the future was uncertain. Menlo Park’s economic consultants recommended that generous incentives for office development would be needed to attract big developers in the planning area. The City Council took the consultant’s advice and doubled the office density without requiring negotiation for public benefit.
Meanwhile, Stanford silently sat in on the city’s Outreach and Oversight Committee without mentioning that they were designing a project that would instantly match the maximum amount of office development analyzed in the 30-year specific plan EIR. Now we have Stanford’s proposal as well as another even bigger one from Greenheart, and with the economy improving, rents have reached $6.50 square feet per month, which for Stanford’s allowed 200,000 square feet means $15.6 million a year rent. That’s quite a profit and no under-crossing of the Caltrain tracks was offered.
Our elected officials relied on consultants (Perkins + Will) who were simultaneously working for Stanford and Menlo Park. Stanford concealed its project’s design until after the specific plan was approved on June 5, 2012. The university’s architect was designing the massive Arrillaga office complex and sending needed revisions to the specific plan long before the June 2012 approval by our council. Someone was asleep at the wheel, and in November all three incumbents have to go.
Steve Schmidt Former Menlo Park councilman