Here are my concerns regarding the petition.
A - Process
1 - The petition was created in secret
2 - Without any opportunity for public review
3 - And hence without the opportunity to improve/clarify the initiative to reflect the concerns of those outside the small group that wrote it.
4 - Once the first signature is gathered the language cannot be changed without starting the entire filing process again.
5 - No effort has been or seems to be planned to ensure that potential signers of the petition have even read it.
B - Substance
1 - The initiative is lengthy and covers a number of different issues
2 - Therefore the opportunity for mistakes and conflict are significant
3 - The initiative is a 'forever' document which will, as intended, preclude some changes to the Specific Plan without another vote and will also, as an untended consequence, make it difficult to make any changes to the Specific Plan, particularly given the Priority Clause:
5.1. After this measure becomes effective, its provision shall prevail over and
supersede all provisions of the municipal code, ordinances, resolutions,
and administrative policies of the City of Menlo Park which are inferior to
the Planning Policy Documents and in conflict with any provisions of this
4 - Some of the language, as noted, does not and cannot accommodate changes in commerce such as banking and medical offices.
5- The initiative would force individuals with adjacent parcels to develop them separately thereby precluding integrated design and shared amenities.
C - Impact
1 - The initiative, even if not passed, will signal to any interested party that Menlo Park's planning process and established rules cannot be relied upon and they will make their investments elsewhere.
2 - The initiative, even if not passed, will delay moving forward with the Specific Plan.
3 - The initiative, even if not passed, will send a chilling message to the Planning Commissioners, the City Council and the planning staff that their efforts to have an open and inclusive process can be thwarted by a small group of disgruntled citizens.
And here are the unanswered questions:
1 – They say it is wrong to use up most of the office capacity allowed by the Specifc Plan in the first two years and that instead it should be spread out over a 30-year period. If you owned a parcel and wanted to build a totally conforming ten-room home should you be forced to build it one room each year for the next ten years ?
2 – Save Menlo got everything they asked for in its original petition and Stanford agreed to almost all of their demands. So why are you now asking for even more and how much will be enough to satisfy you?
3 – Would Save Menlo Park members be willing to say who they really are? How many members they actually have?
4 – Do you really believe that definitions written today:
""Financial institutions providing retail banking services.This classification includes only those institutions engaged in the on site circulation of money,including credit unions."The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is hereby adopted by the voters"
""Offices of firms or organizations providing professional,executive,management,or administrative services,such as accounting,advertising,architectural,computer software design,engineering,graphic design, insurance, interior design,investment,and legal offices. This classification excludes hospitals, banks,and savings and loan associations."The foregoing Commercial Use Classification is hereby adopted by the voters.
will still be appropriate even five years from now and if they are not that there should be an election to change even one word of such definitions? What about digital age banks that do not engage in the on site circulation of money? What about a firm that wants to design robots?
5 – Who is the lawyer who helped draft this initiative and what other interests does he represent?
6 – Who is funding this effort?
7 – Do Menlo Park citizens realize that under the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative small property owners on ECR will be restricted to 70% of their current footprint for any new/replacement construction and that the currently permitted construction to their the side lot lines would not be permitted?
8 – Do MP citizens realize that the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative will prevent the construction of a new fire station serving the downtown area?
9 – Do MP citizens know that signatures are being obtained using paid solicitors?
10 – Do MP citizens know that claims of 6 story buildings being either permitted or proposed under the Specific Plan are simply untrue and that the tallest building proposed by Stanford is only FOUR feet taller than the existing building at the corner of ECR and Live Oak Drive?
11 – Do MP citizens know that a major new hotel project decided not to locate in Menlo Park because of the uncertainties created by the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative?
12 – What are the other unknown and unintended (or perhaps deliberately intended) consequences of the totally unvetted Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative?
13 – Do MP citizens believe that Mike Lanza, Patti Fry and their anonymous lawyer, without any public comment, without multiple drafts, without a Draft and a Final EIR and without numerous public hearings, are really better able to define the future of your city than are your five elected city council members and your seven appointed planning commissioners and the superb city planning and transportation staff that have all worked diligently and totally in the open to produce the existing Specific Plan?
14 – Do MP citizens know that the traffic levels on ECR were significantly reduced from those permitted by the prior zoning when the Specific Plan was adopted?
15 – Do the MP citizens know that the original Stanford proposal would have produced less traffic than was was permitted by the Specific Plan?
16 – Do the MP citizens know that, as a consequence of the work of the Keith/Carlton subcommittee, that the traffic that would have been produced by the revised Stanford plan was even less than that of the original Stanford plan?
17 – What was the date and the time of the ECR traffic photo being used by Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative campaign?
18- What authority does the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative campaign have to use the City of Menlo Park's copyrighted logo?
19 – The Planning Commission and the City Council did a review of the Specific Plan last Fall so this raises the question: Which of the 20+ changes to the Specific Plan that are included in the Mike Lanza/Patti Fry Initiative were presented to the Planning Commission and the City Council for their public consideration during the 2013 review of the Specific Plan?
20 - Is this initiative process simply being used to gather names, support and name recognition for Lanza and/or Fry to run for the City Council this year? If it is, will Lanza and Fry reimburse the City for the cost of putting this issue on the ballot.?
21 - Why did Lanza/Fry include the words "or frustrate" in the initiative section 4.2?
"4.2. Consistent with the Planning and Zoning Law and applicable case law, the
City shall not adopt any other new provisions or amendments to the Policy
Planning Documents that would be inconsistent with or frustrate the
implementation of the voter-adopted development standards and
definitions set forth in Section 3, above, absent voter approval of a
conforming amendment to those voter-adopted provisions."
Clearly "would be inconsistent" would have been sufficient so why add "or frustrate"?
Is this simply a Trojan Horse that would allow Save Menlo to forever challenge any change to the DSP?
22 - Why won't Save Menlo correct the many factual errors on their web site regarding the Stanford project?
The voters of Menlo Park deserve answers to these questions.