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MP's Housing Element Fiasco

Original post made by wanting answers, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park, on May 21, 2012

Tomorrow night the Council will discuss an agreement to settle a lawsuit regarding the Housing Element, which is more than a decade out of date. The agreement includes payment of $114,000 to cover the other parties' attorney fees, commitments to a long list of tight milestones for creating a revised Housing Element as well as to overlays aimed at increasing residential density considerably.

The public deserves some answers to questions like:
1. Why was the update delayed this long when it was known in the 1990s that the "current" document would end in 1999?
2. How could it get to the point, discussed as a vulnerability for years, that the city got sued and has to pay for the insult?
3. How does this agreement fit with the proposed ECR/DT plan?
4. Why did the city proceed with the Menlo Gateway, ECR/DT plan, Facebook approvals with the full knowledge that the entire General plan is out of date and might provoke reactions like this suit?
5. Whose responsibility was it to keep the city out of such trouble and ensure plans are addressed when they should? Will the responsible parties be fired (planning head, city lawyer?)

see city website for details in the staff report for tomorrow evening's meeting

Comments (2)

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Posted by shocked
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

More insidious is the 'tail wagging the dog' outcome; agreeing to a housing count (1900 units) without first seeing what the city can sustain -- and where. It seems that approvals will be ministerial - meaning the public is cut out from comment of specific sites.

It also ignores the costs to the city, the fire department and the schools to absorb increased demand.

Another question is the ramming of approval tomorrow night of a $1.9 million loan with a 55 year term, 0% interest to purchase a 12 unit building on Willow. This plan doesn't increase housing stock. The 55 year term is dubious because in all likelihood the property will need another rehab loan before then.

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 21, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

The biggest unanswered question is why did the Council agree in secret to a settlement which will have profound impact of the city's future development without a single opportunity for public comment?

Yes it is legal to DISCUSS litigation in secret session but it is profoundly irresponsible to AGREE to settlement terms which will have such a big impact on the community without full public hearing.

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