Plus a report card on City progress
This is my wish list for making Downtown Menlo Park and our stretch of El Camino Real vibrant hubs for social, shopping, dining, working and entertainment activities. The items are NOT prioritized.
El Camino Vitality & Attractiveness. Ensure all new developments produce the maximum practical NET benefits for Menlo Park re: aesthetics, traffic impact, public benefits. Special focus on Middle Plaza (Stanford-500 ECR) and Station 1300 (Greenheart-1300 ECR) multi-use developments.
- Stanford has redesigned its entire complex, doubled the size of its public plaza, added more housing, and reduced office space.
- The environmental impact report for Station 1300 was published in February 2016.
- The City is re-evaluating its public benefits regulations.
- Mitigating neighborhood cut-thru vehicle traffic .
- EIR underway for 500 ECR
- Traffic impact and mitigation analysis included in Greenheart EIR.
- A boutique hotel was approved for 1400 ECR in April 2016
Downtown Vitality and Attractiveness. Transform the three-block section of Santa Cruz Avenue between Crane and Doyle into a pedestrian-friendly main street. Permit a single-lane of traffic in both directions, remove parking spaces, widen sidewalks on both sides and add permanent outside dining areas and other popular amenities. View post & download white paper.
- A field trial of street dining on Santa Cruz Avenue was approved in May 2014 and completed in January 2015. In spring of 2016 the City Council approved additional city funding for the initial seven businesses and the City announced construction would begin in August. This has taken way too long! And is still not in-place.
- Instead of pursuing the Central Downtown Plaza and Chestnut Street Paseo included in the Specific Plan, the city council has conducted two summer trials of a poorly conceived and designed parklet.
Downtown Vitality. Encourage a more appealing mix of retailers, in particular, attract an outdoor café, e.g. Café Barrone 2; one or two pubs/micro breweries; a delicatessen; and specialty retailers that cannot afford the rents in either downtown Palo Alto, the Stanford Shopping Center, or Palo Alto Town & Country. We do NOT need any more hair and nail salons, nor fast food restaurants.
- A new French Pastry shop, Mademoiselle Colette replaced the Candy Shack on Santa Cruz Ave in 2015.
- The opening of a new restaurant with rooftop dining, the transformed British Banker’s Club is expected in August 2016.
- Given the robust local economy the overall progress attracting in appealing new downtown consumer businesses remains disappointing.
Downtown Parking. Update the City’s parking management program and Initiate a feasibility study for Menlo Park’s first parking structure: scope the schedule and cost; create an implementation plan; identify likely potential funding sources; develop permit parking policies for downtown employees. View post & download white paper.
- It is not certain that a parking structure is needed or is affordable.
- Study funds are included in 2015/2016 Capital Improvement Budget and the study of potential private/public partnerships was started in June 2016.
- The City needs to determine its future parking needs and evaluate alternatives to a parking structure, e.g., satellite parking, fewer daily parking permits.
Alternative Transportation. Develop a long-term transportation vision and plan for El Camino Real that best serves the needs of Menlo Park residents. Includes motorists, cyclists, pedestrians, scooters, motorcycles, motorbikes, and public and private transit users.
- City continues to update its General Plan.
- No apparent focus on a comprehensive transportation plan.
Community Bike Network. Integrate Menlo Park’s east side and west side bike networks in order to improve access to downtown and all popular destinations on each side, e.g., schools, library, Burgess Park facilities, Safeway mall, city government. Create a new north-south bike corridor parallel to El Camino based on Alma and an extended Garwood Way.
- Upgraded bike lanes on Valparaiso and a Glenwood have created an excellent east-west bike corridor at the north-end of the city. (spring of 2016).
- The proposed Oak Grove east-west bike corridor seems misguided and has not been professionally evaluated; a study was kicked-off in June 2016.
- The addition of bike lanes on El Camino Real was deemed both unsafe and too stressful for most bicyclists.
- The city needs to complete a central Menlo-Ravenswood bike corridor but has NOT acknowledged the importance of this project.
- There are five other major trouble spots in the city bike network that the City Council has NOT acknowledged as needing short-term solutions.
- The design for the bike network connections between Garwood Way, Oak Grove, Merrill, Alma and Laurel are critical to the success of this new north-south bike corridor. The City must coordinate its work with Greenheart.
Traffic Management. Develop policy and programs that encourage alternatives to single passenger vehicle and mitigate neighborhood impacts.
- No apparent progress at the city level
- Greenheart will provide its residents Caltrain commuter passes.
- Stanford plans????
High-Speed Rail. Join other Peninsula cities in either preventing high-speed rail between San Jose and San Francisco OR ensuring it does not negatively impact our community.
Develop a grade separation plan for Ravenswood, Oak Grove, Glenwood and Encinal Avenues.
- Funds included in 2015/2016 Capital Improvement Budget.