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Stanford proposes more housing, less office space in Menlo Park development

Original post made on Sep 28, 2015

Stanford University proposes to increase housing and reduce office space in its latest development plan for its 8.4 acres of land along El Camino Real in Menlo Park. The plaza near Middle Avenue would occupy about half an acre, "over twice as big as the original proposal," said Steve Elliott, Stanford's managing director for development.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, September 28, 2015, 7:55 AM

Comments (57)

16 people like this
Posted by Bob McGrew
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 28, 2015 at 11:01 am

This is good news. The last proposal created space for twice as many jobs as homes at a time when Menlo Park and the Peninsula has a housing crisis. The new plan puts the two in rough balance.

It's good to see Stanford taking community feedback.


6 people like this
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 28, 2015 at 12:21 pm

"Village Character" - 5 stories?


8 people like this
Posted by Concerned for our Schools
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 28, 2015 at 12:23 pm

I love the idea of a mixed use development with a community plaza. However, I am really nervous about all of the housing being added as it relates to the capacity of our schools. Our schools are filled to the brim right now, and in recent years, even housing types (like apartments and condos) that have typically not sent students to the MPCSD have become appealing to families who are willing to sacrifice space for high quality public schooling.

Here's a crazy idea: Could a deal be struck by which the developers are asked acquire the Willow Oaks school site from Ravenswood? The acquisition could include annexing kids in the Willow Oaks attendance area (and/or Belle Haven) into the MPCSD.

A little "out of the box" but even w/ the new Laurel Upper School opening the MPCSD schools are at full+ capacity!


8 people like this
Posted by Zinnia
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 28, 2015 at 12:24 pm

Hooray! Let's be sure to include affordable housing along the ECR corridor, hopefully at least half of it. After all, why would someone want to live between ECR and the tracks if they could afford to live somewhere quieter? Please don't forget all our service workers!


6 people like this
Posted by gunste
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Sep 28, 2015 at 12:37 pm

It would be interesting to learn the estimated cost of the housing that Stanford proposes to build. I note that the new complexes on El Camino near San Antonio run in the range of $3500-4000 for a one bedroom apartment of around 700 sq.feet. That caters to people who make more than $100K, which leaves out a very large fraction of people who work in Menlo Park-Palo Alto with a median wage ($75,000 max).


14 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Woodside: other
on Sep 28, 2015 at 1:39 pm

I wonder how many people truly think of Menlo Park as having a "village character." A pleasant, small downtown, yes; a village, not really. The concern about protecting the "village character" seems to create a lot of non-village problems: long-term vacant spaces on El Camino, not wanting to address traffic that's already there (is it really better on Alameda de las Pulgas?), etc. Maybe redefining Menlo Park as a thriving, interesting town or suburb or something would help the city find its best path forward.


15 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 28, 2015 at 1:56 pm

really? is a registered user.

@Curious

That 'Village' word gets trotted out on regular occasions, but most of us ignore it, for just the points you make. Everyone knows that we're no more a village than Stanford is a junior college. We need visions forward, not wildly hanging on to empty icons (Su Hong, Foster Freeze, Village, etc.)


3 people like this
Posted by Victor
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 28, 2015 at 4:39 pm

This proposal sounds promising.


7 people like this
Posted by Jessica
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 28, 2015 at 10:07 pm

tunnel is crucial


Like this comment
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 29, 2015 at 8:46 am

Menlo Park's adopted Downtown Specific Plan calls for retention of the "village" character. One of the five Guiding Principles adopted in 2012 (page C2 of DSP) states "Sustain Menlo Park’s Village Character".
The Vision adopted in 2008 (page A17 of DSP) includes "Maintain a village character unique to Menlo Park." It is pointless to argue whether all this is appropriate. Retaining a "village character" is part of the adopted vision, guiding principles, and goal of the DSP.

Stanford is adhering to the language, if not the spirit, of the DSP.

The architectural styles they are proposing are not at all village-like. One is faux Spanish, the other is ticky tacky boxes that will not look good in 10 years. Why can't Stanford open their eyes and look for inspiration across the street at the new homes on El Camino, at the quaint Oasis building, or even at their own Stanford Park hotel?

Stanford is moving the project in the right direction but really put a stick in the eye of Menlo Park's Council and taxpayers by not committing to fund a tunnel. After all, their tenants will get the greatest value from easy access to Burgess library, pool, gym, and other park facilities.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 29, 2015 at 9:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" but really put a stick in the eye of Menlo Park's Council and taxpayers by not committing to fund a tunnel."

There is no tunnel to fund. The contemplated, discussed, referenced tunnel does not exist as a City of Menlo Park project so how exactly is anyone able to commit to funding something that both does not yet exist on the planning boards and which does not have a price tag?


1 person likes this
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 29, 2015 at 9:36 am

@ Peter C - you are right. the tunnel was an expected and highly touted benefit of the DSP but the council has never made it a project. They also never required anything from stanford even though the zoning for that site was upped the greatest of all zones in the DSP. No quid pro quo requirement for similar zoning for the Big 5 site owners, either, to provide access across their land or share in funding the tunnel. Nothing in writing about stanford's so-called commitment.

btw the council still haven't done their part with the DSP biennial review, or even with creating a funding plan for infrastructure, something last year's consultant pointed out.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 29, 2015 at 9:51 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The architectural styles they are proposing are not at all village-like. One is faux Spanish, the other is ticky tacky boxes that will not look good in 10 years."

Note:

'Two more open houses are planned for November to gather feedback on the revised proposal. The focus this time will be on the architectural design, which Elliot said is now a mix of mission revival and craftsman contemporary.'

"This is not a fully designed project," he added. "This will be an ongoing process as we move forward with the city and the community."


6 people like this
Posted by Play it Straight
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 29, 2015 at 11:06 am

Does anyone nor find the humor in all the fuss over the decisions regarding the design of the Stanford project? Why didn't these discussions take place in October of 2012 when Stanford sent its first proposal into the Menlo Park world? Three years have passed and Stanford wants to pat itself on the back for listening to and involving the community in its plans. Huh?

Another way to look at Stanford's current claim that they are riding a white horse is to think about the 2012 approval and certification of the Specific Plan that did not include a requirement that Stanford construct and pay for an undercrossing of the Caltrain tracks that would connect Stanford'sl tenants with Menlo Park's civic center, library and park. Any decent developer would not have missed such an opportunity. To leave the residential and office tenants high and dry in a massive development without such a feature shows architectural negligence. The City should not pay for the undercrossing for Stanford. This tunnel will benefit the residents who live and the office workers who work in this development. The benefit to the City does not compare to the benefit to Stanford. This will be a $10 million dollar project and Menlo Park is already facing the cost of 4 grade separations of the Caltrain tracks, each a $20 million dollar project.

So Steve Elliot of Stanford Land Management Co. says an undercrossing is not part of the Stanford project. This is huge! The City Council has the right and power to revise the Specific Plan now and require Stanford to build and pay for an undercrossing so as to make this project one that the University and the City can be proud of. No tunnel? Sounds like a clueless 1970 concept.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 29, 2015 at 11:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Note that neither Stanford or the City own all of the land that would be required for the much discussed tunnel.

Stanford has repeatedly told City leaders that they would help fund such a tunnel but so far the City has not even put a real tunnel project on the table - no design concept, no proposed budget, no agreement from the other property owners involved.

And Play wants to blame this on Stanford?????


2 people like this
Posted by Menloshopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 29, 2015 at 12:34 pm

The tunnel and its potential funding was discussed by both the Planning Commission and the City Council during the first Specific Plan review. My memory is that, while being advised that no legal 'nexus' existed for funding between development at 500 ECR and a tunnel, city council members indicated that development plans should include tunnel plans and strategy, even if financing and build-out would be uncertain. Included here would be the disposition of the long parking lot for Big 5/Staples which goes between Stanford's property and the Caltrain tracks at Middle Avenue -- right where the tunnel has to go. So there's a lot to discuss here regardless of financing or land use, and directly relevant to the new proposal. Peter C is right that the city has a major role here too, it's not up to Stanford alone.


10 people like this
Posted by Play it straight
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 29, 2015 at 12:59 pm

The City's major role was to have included in the Specific Plan the requirement that Stanford include an undercrossing somewhere in their project design. Middle Ave. was not the only place where a tunnel could work. The property that neither Stanford or Menlo Park owns is not the problem. Stanford should have been required to include an undercrossing and especially in exchange for the nearly tripled development rights menlo park gave the university. That Stanford can build almost three times as much as they could in the years before the Specific Plan was approved had to be worth something $$$. That gift to Stanford should have been acknowledged by the council and we would have a tunnel as part of Stanford's current project.

Stanford played our council like fools. There is time to correct this foolish mistake.

Is this Stanford's fault? No. It's the fault of four Council members who were at the wheel: Kirsten Keith, Peter Ohtaki, Rich Cline, John Boyle and did not listen to the warnings of council member Kelly fergusson who predicted that developers would find menlo park an attractive city to bring their projects without giving away the store. Our elected council members failed the city.



3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 29, 2015 at 1:10 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The Specific Plan allows what it allows - in spite of the failed Measure M to change that.

Stanford is not seeking a Public Benefit bonus and cannot legally be required to do anything except engage in endless discussion about architectural appearances. Any contributions that Stanford may make regarding contributing to a tunnel would be totally voluntary.

At some point Stanford will receive approval or it will just let the courts decide if their property rights, as defined by the Specific Plan, have been denied.


Like this comment
Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

Stanford was NOT granted triple the development rights. the entire STRIP of El Camino was given those rights as part of the specific plan.

ANY of the land owners could have put forward a plan IDENTICAL in density to Stanford. So please don't punish Stanford for doing what they did. They read the plan and complied with the requirements.......

Technically EVERY under sized lot in menlo park (and that is over 50% of the city) could be required to provide public benefit to build a house...and yet we don't require them to. Should we?

Roy Thiele-Sardina


4 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 29, 2015 at 3:22 pm

really? is a registered user.

@ Village:

I agree,'Village Character' is mentioned in the DSP. But please point me to a definition of it, or architectural examples of it in Menlo Park. It's a knee-jerk gesture with little to no real meaning in any planning context.


Like this comment
Posted by Menloshopper
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 29, 2015 at 4:17 pm

For what it's worth, at the Stanford open house a few months back showcasing the new Middle Ave plaza location and design, at least one Stanford representative was openly commenting on their study of tunnel designs. That doesn't mean they'll agree to total funding, as they keep saying, but they likely are ready to discuss design options, strategy and coordination with changes at Ravenswood . It must be obvious to them that it makes no sense to try to design and build a tunnel following their project, which would be unnecessarily costly and more involved. Menlo Park should be getting ready to be thinking in these terms. Oh, I forgot, we don't have enough staff to do that.


4 people like this
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 29, 2015 at 5:23 pm

@ Roy T-S -- the only strip that got the same zoning as Stanford is between Stanford's land and Ravenswood between the train tracks and El Camino. You are mistaken.

@really - maybe "village" wasn't defined but it is quite clear the DSP is supposed to retain that character. Sometimes it's easier to pin down what it's not; most people know that big office buildings that look like they belong in an office park do not fit with "village" character. During the visioning process, there were a lot of graphics and photos that were discussed by the community. Lots of trees and open space and bicyclists, and a tunnel. Is this going to be bait and switch?


4 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 29, 2015 at 5:33 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

it takes a village:

"A village is a clustered human settlement or community, larger than a hamlet but smaller than a town, with a population ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand."

Hardly describes Menlo Park does it?


5 people like this
Posted by Play it Striaght
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Sep 29, 2015 at 6:45 pm

No blame on Stanford. The blame, as I said, was on the Council that gave triple development rights and did not protect the city by making sure there would be benefits coming to the City. No business would have made this mistake. And yes, all the property owners in the Specific Plan area have had their properties increased in value, thanks to our council.

Stanford was smart. They kept their head down and watched the council fall all over themselves. Now, we have to take whatever, if anything, they offer us. If the City of Menlo Park were a business, it would be bankrupt.


Like this comment
Posted by Mike Keenly
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 29, 2015 at 11:08 pm

No matter that Stanford isn't required to build a tunnel, they should step up and offer to construct one. It's time for them to put their money where their talk is and demonstrate that they are actually concerned about our community.

As other posters have mentioned, the benefit of the tunnel will be as much to them and their development as it will be to the residents. Stop making ridiculous excuses for why it can't happen.


Like this comment
Posted by Carlos Jimenez
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Sep 30, 2015 at 2:48 am

What happened to John Arrillaga? This used to be known as his project and yet his name doesn't appear once in the Stanford press lease.

Editor's note: Stanford says John Arrillaga plans to be involved in building and donating to Stanford the office portion of the project.


8 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 30, 2015 at 9:27 am

For those of you who have problems with the definition of "village," I invited you to take a look at the city's own document and the renderings therein: Web Link

Residents said that maintaining the village character was the #1 priority. Since some of you seem to find this insanely funny, let me help you understand what we, the residents, meant to convey:

* Development on a human-sized scale. Maximum building height: four stories
* Walkable, bikeable streets
* Neighborhoods where our kids can play, we can walk our dogs, greet our neighbors
because there's high value associated with a community in which we know each other
* Lots of trees, green space

Check rendering 4 on page 11 of the aforementioned document. That's a depiction of Stanford's Middle plaza, the one they tried to turn into a driveway. We'll see what Stanford ultimately proposes, but history has shown that we need to pay attention lest we find ourselves paved over.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 30, 2015 at 10:29 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Although the above referenced Vision Plan was superseded by the Downtown ECR Specific Plan it looks like the most recent Stanford developments proposal meets all of these Vision plan objectives:

"Goal: Maintain a village character unique to Menlo Park.
Objectives:

Downtown accessible by all transportation modes, and particularly for pedestrians.
Expanded housing opportunities, particularly for seniors and all seg- ments of the workforce.
Well-designed and well-maintained buildings, plazas and streets.
Downtown storefronts that exhibit community pride and contribute to Menlo Park’s identity.
Development in the Downtown and on El Camino Real that is sensitive to the adjacent residential context.
A mix of uses, with upper floor uses ranging from residential to office and—under specific circumstances—
retail.
Specially-designed and strategically-placed gateways that mark the entry to Menlo Park as well as to
Downtown.
A rich tree canopy in Menlo Park.
A balance of hardscaped plaza spaces, and active and passive green spaces.
Development and open spaces on El Camino Real that support one another and provide a variety of uses, architectural styles and building scales."
*******************************
And here is what the Specific Plan states:
"Improve Stanford University-Owned Property.
Stanford University owns a large contiguous stretch of land of approximately 12.8 acres on the eastern side of El Camino Real just north of San Francisquito Creek. The land is suitable for multi-family residential, commercial and mixed use development. This single ownership allows for a comprehensive approach to redevelopment of this portion of El Camino Real, which is currently underutilized. It also provides an opportunity for an east-west pedestrian and bicycle linkage near Middle Avenue."

"El Camino Real South.
The southern part of El Camino Real offers substantial development opportunities as well as improved east-west connectivity. The concept for El Camino Real south of Menlo and Ravenswood Avenues recognizes the different conditions on the west and east side of the corridor. On the west side, development is compatible with the character of adjacent residential neighborhoods, both in scale of buildings and transition of building massing to adjacent areas.
On the east side, the concept for El Camino Real takes advantage of larger parcel sizes and fewer property owners (including Stanford University) by incorporating publicly- accessible open spaces and a grade-separated pedestrian/ bicycle linkage across the railroad tracks to Burgess Park and Alma Street. As part of the redevelopment of the parcels, a continuous, expansive pedestrian promenade fronts El Camino Real from Ravenswood Avenue south to the southern city limits. While allowing for higher intensity of development, including residential uses, standards and design guidelines modulate building massing, avoiding monolithic projects and complementing Menlo Park’s small- town character."

"Guidelines
The design of the (Middle) open space plaza and pedestrian/bicycle linkage should include the following:
D.4.12 Visually extend Middle Avenue.
D.4.13 Allow for seating and informal gatherings.
D.4.14 Provide green space and shaded areas.
D.4.15 Integrate with vehicular access needs and associated development.
D.4.16 Provide a pedestrian and bicycle linkage between El Camino Real, the new open space and Burgess Park at Middle Avenue; this linkage would involve a grade separated crossing if tracks remain at grade.
D.4.17 Emphasize safety and comfort for all users."


"El Camino Real Mixed Use
The El Camino Real Mixed Use designation allows
for a variety of retail, office, residential and public and semipublic uses. Building character in this land use designation relates to adjacent neighborhoods, with maximum building heights of two to three stories, except for buildings of up to three to four stories (with provision of public benefit) on part of northeast El Camino Real, and buildings of up to four to five stories permitted on the southeast end of El Camino Real. The allowed development intensities vary with the lowest intensity on the far northern end of El Camino Real, moderate intensities on the southwest end and highest intensities on the southeast end of El Camino Real, where parcels are separated from adjacent uses by El Camino Real (to the west) and the railroad right-of-way (to the east)."
***************************************
It certainly looks like Stanford has met ALL of the above objectives.
***************************************
With regard to the tunnel the Specific Plan states:
" a public benefit bonus could be considered for elements including but not limited to:

• Middle Avenue grade-separated rail crossing"

Since Stanford is NOT seeking any public benefit bonus there is no basis for requiring Stanford to contribute anything to a tunnel project.


Like this comment
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 30, 2015 at 4:18 pm

so it appears that the council has let us down big time if they assumed Stanford would fund the tunnel but didn't create the mechanism that would ensure it would happen. How could they have increased allowable development so much without requiring public benefit? Very disappointing.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 30, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Don't forget that the voters ratified the Specific Plan by their overwhelming rejection of Measure M.

And after Measure M failed the Council did its first review of the Specific Plan and made no changes regarding the tunnel being linked only to Public Benefits - which the Stanford proposal does not request or require.


Like this comment
Posted by Correction
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 30, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Menlo Park City Council has not reviewed the Specific Plan yet. But it s scheduled to do so this year.
Peter, are you suggesting the Menlo Park Council should amend the Specific Plan and require Stanford make a contribution to the bike tunnel.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 30, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Peter, are you suggesting the Menlo Park Council should amend the Specific Plan and require Stanford make a contribution to the bike tunnel."

Of course not nor does the Staff Report for the review of the Specific Plan include such a suggestion.

After years of preparing a Vision Plan, a Specific Plan and the repudiation of Measure M there is no logical basis for making such a change. And as Counsel advised the Council there is no legal nexus between a tunnel and the 500 ECR project.

Just because an applicant has money does not authorize the city to steal that money for its own purposes.

Fortunately we have a government of laws and, in this case, the Specific Plan is the law.


9 people like this
Posted by not bad but not quite
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 30, 2015 at 10:09 pm

Better - more housing good. Still too much office.

BUT: No bike tunnel? Wow - that makes this a non-starter. Hopefully Ray Mueller will stick to his guns and demand Stanford pony up to make the bike tunnel happen concurrently with this -- and get that agreement set in stone before agreeing to vote for this still-huge project.

Traffic analysis will tell all. ECR = parking lot?


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 1, 2015 at 7:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" No bike tunnel? Wow - that makes this a non-starter. "

First, as noted there is no tunnel to fund. The contemplated, discussed, referenced tunnel does not exist as a City of Menlo Park project so how exactly is anyone able to commit to funding something that both does not yet exist on the planning boards and which does not have a price tag?

Second, Stanford's proposal totally complies with the Specific Plan and Stanford is not requesting nor do they need any Public Benefit bonus hence the City cannot demand anything extra from Stanford as a condition of approving a conforming project.

Third, as Counsel advised the Council there is no legal nexus between a tunnel and the 500 ECR project.

Fourth, just because an applicant has money does not authorize the city to steal that money for its own purposes.

Stanford may well voluntarily contribute to a tunnel project when and IF the City gets off their duff and starts working on a plan for such a tunnel.


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Posted by Play it straight
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 1, 2015 at 9:18 am

Not Bad but not quite:
It was Kirsten Keith and Cat Carlton who were the sub-committee to work with Stanford and it is now again Kirsten Keith who is on the new subcommittee, along with Rich Cline. Keith: show us what you got from Stanford? Is there an amount Stanford is willing to contribute to a tunnel that this project needs badly for it to be considered a first rate development? Forget that it benefits Menlo Park residents. It does but only in a very minor way. A tunnel is needed for the hundreds of residential and office tenants renting from the university.

Menlo Park Council: Revise the Specific Plan now and require Stanford to include a tunnel from their project to the Civic Center or Burgess Drive or Willow Rd. Somewhere! You all ran on the theme that Menlo Park is a tree-lined, walkable, bicycle friendly town. There are plaques in CIty Hall that praise MP for it's bicycle-friendly streets. To let this project be approved with Stanford being required to i include a tunnel at their cost will be another screw up in a long line of council screw ups. Govern, for pete's sake.


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Posted by Play it Straight
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 1, 2015 at 9:22 am

ooops. "to let this project be approved WITHOUT Stanford being required to include a tunnel at their cost will be another screw up in a long line of screwups"


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 1, 2015 at 10:04 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

If you want a tunnel that has a legal nexus to this project then require Stanford, as a traffic mitigation effort, to provide a multi-purpose tunnel which has pedestrian and bicycle access from Alma to the plaza and automobile access from Alma to the project underground parking. This would do a great deal to mitigate any ECR and Ravenswood impact.


4 people like this
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 1, 2015 at 11:18 am

@ Peter C "Don't forget that the voters ratified the Specific Plan by their overwhelming rejection of Measure M."
Well that's a stretch and YOUR interpretation of why Measure M voters voted the way they did. Nearly all my friends were and remain appalled that private balconies can count as open space. (fortunately Stanford listened to that concern, apparently). But we wanted the Council to make decisions rather than making them go back to the voters. Others bought into the false argument that restricting would hurt schools even though the city's consultant said the otherwise. Who knows how many voted "no" because that's what they do for ballot initiatives when there are some good arguments on both sides.


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Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 1, 2015 at 12:47 pm

Peter, do you remember how much each party spent on Measure M?

"Don't forget that the voters ratified the Specific Plan by their overwhelming rejection of Measure M."


8 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm

The vote on Measure M was not a mandate in favor of the specific plan. Most residents don't know much about the plan, and even fewer were correctly informed on M. A lot of people thought they were voting No to development!

The opponents of Measure M, with much to gain, outspent the proponents -- actual residents -- by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Newspapers highly dependent on developer adveritising dollars endorsed a no on M vote.

The council members seem to believe that a "silent majority" supports them. If 200 people show up at a meeting to complain, that doesn't mean something is wrong -- it simply means that a tiny percentage of residents are unhappy and the other 30,000+ are thrilled with city government. Wrong! In fact, I expect a huge public outcry when the first project on El Camino gets underway. "We thought we voted against this."

Palo Alto residents are already aware of the behind-the-scenes tricks, but it will take a few really awful projects for MP residents to wake up.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 1, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Measure M was indeed an attempt to change the Specific Plan:
"This initiative measure enacts certain development definitions and standards within the City of Menlo Park General Plan and the Menlo Park El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan ("ECR Specific Plan")."

"IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF MEASURE M
Measure M (the “Measure”) was placed on the ballot by an initiative petition signed by the requisite number of voters. If approved by the voters, the Measure will amend the City of Menlo Park General Plan and Menlo Park El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan (“Downtown Specific Plan”) which the Menlo Park City Council adopted on July 12, 2012. The Measure imposes development standards which are more restrictive than the current standards in the area of the City governed by the Downtown Specific Plan."
*******************

Measure M was resoundingly rejected by the voters (61.35% against).

The Specific Plan IS the zoning law in Menlo Park and the City is obligated to approve any project which complies with the Specific Plan.

Also note that Stanford has not merged the six separate parcels which it owns on ECR and if the current project is not approved then Stanford has every right to develop those parcels separately - each with separate access to ECR. So be careful what you wish for.


2 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 1, 2015 at 5:32 pm

Peter, you remember the vote to the tenth of a percent. Do you remember the money spent for and against?

"Measure M was resoundingly rejected by the voters (61.35% against)."


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 1, 2015 at 7:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Most communities would fight to get a project like this:

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 1, 2015 at 7:53 pm

Really, Peter? You trying to get something like that built in Atherton? I thought not.

There may be communities somewhere that would fight (!) for this, but they aren't on the Peninsula.

Please note that is often the case with Stanford renderings, the pictures are deceptive. People won't be pushing their strollers past the buildings -- there will only be a narrow strip of sidewalk along El Camino. From El Camino, the buildings will appear to abut the street. And the retail is minimal, enough for one store, two if they are tiny. This is not going to look like Santana Row, but rather, like a regular boxy office building with a to-go sandwich shop at ground level.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 1, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"there will only be a narrow strip of sidewalk along El Camino."


The Specific Plan requires a 10 foot minimum and a 20 foot maximum setback in ECR SE.

E.3.3.01 Front setback areas shall be developed with
sidewalks, plazas, and/or landscaping as appropriate.

E.3.3.02 Parking shall not be permitted in front setback
areas.

Guidelines
The design of the sidewalks along El Camino Real, whether
within the El Camino Real corridor or within adjacent
setback areas, should include the following:
D.4.01 Take into consideration recommended criteria of the
Grand Boulevard Initiative’s Multi-Modal Access Strategy &
Context-Sensitive Design Guidelines.
D.4.02 Be 15 feet wide, at a minimum, on the east side of
El Camino Real, inclusive of a 10-foot-wide clear pedestrian
thru-zone, north of Oak Grove Avenue and south of Menlo
Avenue.
D.4.03 Be 12 feet wide, at a minimum, on the east of El
Camino Real, inclusive of an 8-foot-wide clear pedestrian
thru-zone, in the downtown area between Oak Grove
Avenue and Menlo Avenue.
D.4.04 Be 12 feet wide, at a minimum, on the west side of
El Camino Real, inclusive of an 8-foot-wide clear pedestrian
thru-zone."
***************
The Specific Plan is really a marvelous document - worth reading carefully.


14 people like this
Posted by Bike tunnel
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 3, 2015 at 5:39 am

Ask the council members if they favor a bike tunnel, regardless of where the money comes from. A simple YES or NO response. Good luck with that. And once they install bike lanes on El Camino and a bike 'crossing' at Oak Grove they will claim that a tunnel isn't necessary. it's all about sweetheart deals with the developers with little concern for the quality of life for the residents or even the commuters to this huge office complex. But it keeps more money in the developers pocket - YAY.


2 people like this
Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Oct 5, 2015 at 7:27 pm

Maybe you need to reread that marvelous document, Peter. You are wrong about the sidewalk by the Stanford property. Setback is only 10 feet. The sidewalk will be a sliver.

Make no mistake: these projects do not benefit Menlo Park, not unless you consider more traffic, more demand for limited parking, and more kids attending schools that are already at capacity a benefit. They do benefit a tiny number of people who don't live in this city and really don't care what happens to it once they pocket the money.

There is no relationship between the El Camino projects and the needs or desires of the people who live here.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 5, 2015 at 8:07 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

follow:

10 feet is a "sliver?" Ten feet is wider than a car. Hardly a "sliver." Maybe you should reread the document. It's quite clear: "D.4.02 Be 15 feet wide, at a minimum, on the east side of
El Camino Real, inclusive of a 10-foot-wide clear pedestrian
thru-zone, north of Oak Grove Avenue and south of Menlo
Avenue.
D.4.03 Be 12 feet wide, at a minimum, on the east of El
Camino Real, inclusive of an 8-foot-wide clear pedestrian
thru-zone, in the downtown area between Oak Grove
Avenue and Menlo Avenue.
D.4.04 Be 12 feet wide, at a minimum, on the west side of
El Camino Real, inclusive of an 8-foot-wide clear pedestrian
thru-zone."

Seems pretty clear. No "sliver" of a sidewalk. Care to add any more non-factual information to the discussion?


5 people like this
Posted by David Howard
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 5, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Oh, Menlo Voter- bless you for trying! "Facts" are not of interest to the crowd represented by Patti Fry, Perla Ni, George Fisher, etc. They eternally lose at the ballot box, and invent excuses as soon as the returns trickle in. I don't understand why the Almanac even gives them the time of day at this point.


7 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:46 am

really? is a registered user.

I really just don't get it with the Anti crowd. The Stanford lots could have been developed just like the rest of ECR south of us: car-heavy strip malls with junk retail. That's the model of how things work without the DSP. Now that Stanford's done an about face and is mostly residential with a large plaza and a small but reasonable size of commercial, they still want their pound of flesh.

Things don't change in Menlo Park. And they wonder why they feel ignored?


2 people like this
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 5:27 pm

@DH - you don't need to denigrate fellow citizens who actually helped make the Stanford project better. I'm fairly sure none of those you mentioned wanted to take on a ballot measure. What's your point other than to be negative? Stanford says they want feedback on their revised proposal. Doesn't that entail making suggestions?


5 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

village:

they want suggestions not non-factual statements such as a "sliver" of sidewalk when the facts are the sidewalk will be quite a bit larger than a "sliver." If one wants to be taken seriously they should dispense with the hyperbole.


4 people like this
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:18 am

@MV you seem to be attributing comments to individuals by name whereas there is no evidence who wrote those comments.
All - how about we focus on issues and not on hyperbole about motives and authors?


3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:37 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

village:

posted by follow the money: "You are wrong about the sidewalk by the Stanford property. Setback is only 10 feet. The sidewalk will be a sliver."

That's hyperbole.


3 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:03 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

D.4.02 Be 15 feet wide, at a minimum, on the east side of
El Camino Real, inclusive of a 10-foot-wide clear pedestrian
thru-zone, north of Oak Grove Avenue and south of Menlo
Avenue.



2 people like this
Posted by it takes a village
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:28 am

@MV - It appears the sidewalk must be 10 feet and setback at least 15 feet. I also wouldn't characterize 10 feet as a "sliver". Attributing that comment as "hyperbole" as if it were made by named individuals is totally inappropriate.
Frankly our village isn't very healthy with so many personal attacks. What about focusing on issues, not people.


2 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Oct 7, 2015 at 12:17 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

village:

I'm sorry, but i disagree. The comment was hyperbolic and did nothing to advance the discussion, nor will it if that person presents their opinion that way to council. That was my point.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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