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Traffic Planning: Menlo Park weighs three options for separating roads from rail

Three options to separate the Caltrain rail line from the Menlo Park streets it crosses were presented by the city of Menlo Park and representatives of the construction engineering consulting firm, AECOM, at a community meeting on Oct. 4.

Grade separations are being studied as a way to improve traffic flow and safety around the railroad tracks.

One option is to run Ravenswood Avenue under the tracks, which would remain at their current grade. The underpass, expected to be 740 feet in length from El Camino Real to Noel Drive, would have a steep grade downhill, and would be 22 feet below the ground at its lowest point. It would also cut off access at Alma Street. Alma Street would continue across the intersection at grade level parallel to the tracks. A second option is to build two grade separations, at the Ravenswood and Oak Grove avenue crossings, that would both raise the tracks and lower the roadway considered a “hybrid” approach. At Ravenswood, the crossing would go 8 feet down while Caltrain would be elevated 14 feet up, and at Oak Grove, the crossing would go 15 feet down and the tracks 6 feet up. The project would cover a span of 5,400 feet, from East Creek Drive to Glenwood Avenue. The third option is a “hybrid” as well, but would add a grade separation at the Glenwood Avenue crossing. It would run 5,800 feet, from East Creek Drive to Encinal Avenue, and over the three intersections, would have a maximum added height of 10 feet and maximum depth of 15 feet.

Each would have bike and pedestrian crossings separate from the tracks. Each also has its pros and cons, presenter Etty Mercurio of AECOM said, and carries implications for the possibility of building future grade separations along the Caltrain line. For instance, if the city were to pick the first option, then it could be harder and more expensive to build grade separations at the other rail crossings later on, since the chance to raise the Caltrain line may have passed.

The Almanac – October 9, 2016


Commercial Development: Menlo Park: Council approves terms for Greenheart development

A project to build 420,000 square feet of residential, office and retail space on the large vacant lot along El Camino Real (between Glenwood and Oak Grove avenues) in Menlo Park cleared a major milestone on Tuesday, Sept. 13. The Menlo Park City Council unanimously approved the terms of an agreement between the city and the developer, Greenheart Land Co. Under terms of the agreement, the developer would be required to provide 14 below-market-rate housing units, pay $2.1 million in cash to a public amenity fund, guarantee $83,700 in sales tax payment per year, and build a dog park.

The Almanac – September 14, 2016

COMMENT: This is good news. Hopefully construction will start no later than mid-2017 and finish by mid-2019. I look forward to seeing the design for the Garwood Way and Oak Grove bike routes and lanes that will run between Encinal and Alma, providing safe and more convenient bike access to the train station, civic center and Burgess Park.


Commercial Development: Office-residential project approved for Live Oak.

Plans to build 17,000-square-feet of offices and 17 for-rent housing units at 650 and 660 Live Oak Ave. in Menlo Park were approved unanimously by the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Aug. 15. Staff Report.

Starting at the side of the property nearest El Camino Real, a three-story building would have offices at the front on all three floors, with four studios and a one-bedroom apartment at the back on the ground floor, each with a private entry. Separated by an outdoor courtyard, the next structure, the other three-story building, would contain five one-bedroom and five two-bedroom apartments. Each of those apartments would have a private roof deck. Moving further westward down Live Oak Avenue, there would be two two-story residences, one with three bedrooms and the other with four. Each would each have an outdoor patio. Those residences would be set back from Live Oak Avenue with a publicly accessible outdoor plaza in the front. The project would have a two-story underground parking garage with 84 parking spaces, plus short- and long-term bike parking facilities.

The Almanac – August 18, 2016


Downtown Vibrancy: Guest opinion: ‘Big ideas’ — and follow-through — needed for downtown Menlo Park

Four years ago Menlo Park residents identified a small number of bold civic projects they believed would greatly increase the vibrancy of our downtown business district, and these were included in the Downtown Specific Plan. Unfortunately, while the local economy remains strong, and the city is benefiting from an unexpectedly large budget surplus, no major new improvements have been made since 2012.

Overall progress is extremely disappointing. It’s time for the Menlo Park City Council to aggressively implement a few of the big ideas in the Specific Plan — for example: outdoor dining, appealing social spaces, and improved bike access. If the city cannot improve downtown during “good times,” why should residents be optimistic about our city’s future?

The Almanac – July 20, 2016


Bike Network – The Menlo Park City Council approved the next step in the feasibility analysis of a new Oak Grove Bike Boulevard.

“This scope would allow the project to advance forward with conceptual level-design and cost estimates before advancing to detailed engineering level design. Staff anticipates concept plans would include bicycle lanes in both directions along the route. Considering the limited roadway width available, Alta will determine if parking removal is required on one or both sides of the corridor as concept plans are developed. Community engagement is anticipated to include targeted meetings with affected stakeholders (e.g., Chamber of Commerce and downtown businesses, Menlo Park Fire Protection District, and Nativity School) and electronic communication and materials (including a video, concept plans, and project website to facilitate feedback). Staff anticipates Council review and approval of concept plans prior to advancing into detailed design. Adequate funds for this phase are incorporated into the 2016-17 budget. ” (City Staff Report)

COMMENT: This project does NOT address any of the big REAL problems in the Menlo Park Bike Network and is clearly unnecessary given the recent $400,000+ investment in a Valparaiso-Glenwood Bile Corridor. See our analysis.


Transportation: Bike, pedestrian study focuses on El Camino Real

Palo Alto and Redwood City were selected for study to improve ‘royal road’

Among cities that contain some part of the 43 miles of El Camino Real, two of them — Palo Alto and Redwood City — have been selected for a study on how to make the “royal road” better for all modes of transit.

Redwood City was selected by San Mateo County and Palo Alto by Santa Clara County. The concept is to try out ideas in those cities and see what might apply along the rest of El Camino.
Among the goals are to “calm” traffic, bolster pedestrian access, take bikes into consideration, and improve the streetscape, according to Will Reisman, spokesman for the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.

The study will cost $394,000, paid for by a state grant. Overseeing the study is the “Grand Boulevard Initiative,” a project made up of 19 cities and agencies that want El Camino to be more pedestrian-friendly and have more mixed-use development near public transit.

“The lessons learned from these case studies can be considered by Menlo Park and Atherton, as they make sense for their community needs,” Reisman said.

(The Almanac – June 30, 2016)


Downtown Parking: A parking garage for Menlo Park? Talks begin again

Building a parking structure in Menlo Park could cost from $4.6 million for a two-level garage to $9.3 million for a four-level garage, said commercial real estate consultants Alyce Rados and John Robbins during a City Council study session June 7.

The session was held to explore options, including a parking garage, to revitalize Menlo Park’s downtown area. About two-thirds of Menlo Park residents who responded to a city survey said they would support an above-ground parking structure, according to Godbe ResearchThe consultants used Danville, an affluent town near Walnut Creek in the East Bay, as a point of comparison and case study for Menlo Park. Like Menlo Park, Danville has a quaint downtown with not much bustle. Since Danville added more parking – not only for employees of local stores, but shoppers and restaurant-goers – the town has seen a resurgence in activity, they said. Consultants and council members agreed the consultants should meet with developers to see what could be feasible to build under a public-private partnership, rather than funding it all with taxpayer money.

(The Almanac – June 9, 2016)


Commercial Development: Guest Opinion: Greenheart project complies with the rules; let’s get on with it (John Boyle)

As I read the guest opinion in the May 4 Almanac criticizing the proposed Greenheart project on El Camino Real, I felt like perhaps I was stuck in a Menlo Park version of the classic movie, “Groundhog Day.” Didn’t we already have this debate, many times over?

(The Almanac – May 18, 2016)


Bike Network: City puts brakes on bike lane proposal

Menlo Park City Council wants bicycle lanes throughout the city, but has voted against putting such lanes on El Camino Real.

(Daily Post – May 5, 2016)


Commercial Development: Guest opinion: There’s still time to improve Greenheart project (Patti Fry)

The long-vacant Cadillac dealership site on El Camino Real is due to be revitalized. The location is central to Menlo Park and adjacent to downtown. Most residents would like to see the blight replaced by a great project, but Greenheart Land Company’s “Station 1300” falls far short of that ideal.

The proposed project, while attractive, significantly worsens Menlo Park’s traffic congestion and housing shortage. It is located on nearly 6.5 acres near the train station and downtown, on the stretch of El Camino Real that already has the worst downtown traffic jams.

(The Almanac – May 6, 2016)

Comment: See John Boyle’s above response.


Commercial Development: Menlo Park: Pollock boutique hotel approved

Menlo Park is closer to getting a new boutique hotel on El Camino Real.

The Menlo Park Planning Commission unanimously approved Monday night a 61-room hotel proposed by the Portola Valley-based Pollock Financial Group to be built at 1400 El Camino Real at Glenwood Avenue in Menlo Park, the former site of a Shell gas station.

(The Almanac – April 19, 2016)

COMMENT: This is good news!


Grade Separations: Ravenswood Avenue Railroad Crossing Project

On Monday, May 2, 2016, members of the Menlo Park community will have an opportunity to give input on the study to separate Ravenswood Avenue from the Caltrain railroad tracks. The first of three community meetings is set for Monday, May 2, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. in the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center’s Oak Room.

The project will evaluate the feasibility of replacing the existing at-grade crossing of the Caltrain tracks at Ravenswood Avenue and possibly at Oak Grove, Glenwood and Encinal Avenues with grade separations.

COMMENT: This is good news.


Downtown Parking: Guest Opinion: Should Menlo Park Build A Downtown Parking Garage?

As a regular visitor to downtown Menlo Park, I generally find a convenient parking space in just a few minutes, so for me, current downtown parking seems adequate. However, residents, visitors and workers with different needs, expectations and experiences would likely disagree with my assessment…

(The Almanac – March 23, 2016)

COMMENT: This was submitted by Re-Imagine Menlo Park


Commercial Development: Menlo Park OKs streamlined review of Stanford project

The Menlo Park City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday night to hire the consulting firm ICF International to conduct a streamlined environmental impact review on Stanford’s proposed [8.4-acre mixed-use development between 100 and 700 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

The review is expected to take 13 months and cost $225,660, to be paid by Stanford. ICF International has offices in San Francisco and San Jose.
The consultant will analyze whether the office, housing and retail project will have significant effects on transportation, traffic and traffic noise, and on air quality during construction.

Because the proposed project would comply with regulations in the city’s El Camino Real/downtown specific plan, a streamlined review is permitted, city staff said.

(The Almanac – March 16, 2016)

COMMENT: This is good news.


Commercial Development: Greenheart complex in Menlo Park has ‘significant and unavoidable’ traffic impacts

Greenheart Land Co.’s proposal for a 420,000-square-foot office, apartment and retail complex on El Camino Real in downtown Menlo Park would have a number of significant and unavoidable impacts on traffic, according to an environmental impact report released Feb. 17. The complex, which Greenheart is calling “Station 1300,” would have about 190,000 square feet of offices, up to 202 rental apartments, and up to 29,000 square feet of retail on 7.2 acres on El Camino at Oak Grove Avenue.
A public hearing on the draft environmental impact report — a mere 1,376 pages, including appendices — will be held by the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Monday, March 21. Greenheart Land Co. will host a community meeting on the project from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Performing Arts Center at Hillview Middle School, 1100 Elder Ave. in Menlo Park.

(Source: The Almanac – February 22, 2016)

Comment:  I feel this “alarming” headline is designed to simply attract attention. There is nothing unusual about an environmental impact report identifying “significant and unavoidable traffic impacts” according to Greenheart. The developer intends to address all concerns and the city will evaluate Greenhearts recommendations.


Bike Network: Menlo Park City Council Sets Its Priorities for 2016.

COMMENT:

The City continues to invest very little in its community bike network and still does not intend to update its 2004 Bike Master Plan until 2017/2018 making it a laggard among Peninsula cities. It continues to evaluate a potential bike lane field trial on El Camino even though its value remains suspect, the likely negative impacts on all users have not been studied, and the implementation cost could easily surpass $1 million. This project is listed under the generic title “El Camino Real Corridor Study” and more than $250,000 was already spent on feasibility studies in 2014 and 2015.

Funding has been received from BayOpenArea to improve bike facilities on Valparaiso but this project  will not create an east-west bike corridor unless improvements are also made at El Camino and on Glenwood between El Camino and Laurel. Also, while this bike corridor would serve the north end of Menlo Park it would do little for other residents. (Source: Menlo Park City Website.

(February 2016)


Bike Network: Menlo Park: Grant pays for safer routes to school

by Kate Bradshaw

The city of Menlo Park has received a $498,783 grant from OneBayArea, a transportation fund of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, to pay most of the cost of a project to increase bike and pedestrian safety for Menlo Park and Atherton students.

The project will create a continuous pedestrian pathway along Valparaiso Avenue that will be clear of vegetation or other obstacles, enhance bike lanes with a “green” road treatment to increase vehicle awareness, and improve pedestrian and bicycle crossings along Valparaiso Avenue.

Total cost of the project is expected to be about $564,000; the city will pay the remaining $65,000 or so.

Also, San Jose Mercury News- January 14, 2016.

The project, set to start in spring, will bring a continuous, unobstructed pedestrian walkway along Valparaiso; bicycle lanes enhanced with green treatments; and improved pedestrian and bike crossings at Valparaiso and El Camino.

The city received approval from Caldrons in November to begin sidewalk improvements and add bicycle safety signs along Valparaiso; install in-road warning light crosswalks at two Valparaiso intersections without signals; and install an audible pedestrian signal system at six signaled intersections along El Camino Real.

The city’s Safe Routes plan, crafted in September 2012, is intended to establish safe access for students and their families to Menlo, Sacred Heart, St. Raymond, Hillview, Nativity, Encinal and Oak Knoll schools.

COMMENT: Great news…after bike lanes on Valparaiso-Glenwood are extended from Elder to Laurel Menlo Park will have an excellent east-west bike corridor at the north end of our city.


Downtown Parking: Menlo Park survey: Most residents want above-ground parking facility

“According to a recent survey residents like Menlo Park, except for the traffic, and they give it low marks for shopping.” (The Almanac – January 14, 2016)

COMMENT: The preference for an above-grond parking garage is likely unrealistic due to cost.


Bike Network: New bike routes for Menlo Park proposed by city commissions

Proposed downtown bike lanes among project ideas to make Menlo Park more green, bike friendly. (The Almanac – October 12, 2015)


Bike Network: Guest opinion: Let’s build an effective east-west bike corridor

The Menlo Park Bicycle Commission has recently proposed the idea of adding bike lanes on Oak Grove Avenue. While I strongly favor a better east-west bike connection, an Oak Grove solution is suboptimal. Ravens wood and Menlo avenues are more convenient locations for an east-west bike corridor, as these streets are centrally located and close to popular destinations such as downtown, the Civic Center, various facilities at Burgess Park, the train station, and neighborhood schools. I have submitted a design proposal that illustrates how a combination of state-of-the-art bike facilities on Menlo and Ravenswood avenues and El Camino would offer bike riders an attractive, safe, convenient and comfortable way to travel between the east and west sides of our city. (The Almanac – October 12, 2016)


Bike Network: What to do about El Camino Real?

“The city recently released a lengthy report on a study of the 1.3 miles of El Camino Real that runs through Menlo Park and carries as many as 45,000 vehicles a day. The report looks at the current conditions of the state highway, the city’s main north/south corridor, and examines what might happen if certain changes were made to the road.”

“In the end, however, the opinions of the five elected City Council members will decide what to do about El Camino. What the council members seemed to agree on was that rather than making any permanent changes to El Camino, the city should conduct a trial of some kind of bike lanes to see how they work.” (The Almanac – September 2, 2015)


Commercial Development: Pollock Realty Submits Architectural Drawings for 63-Room Boutique Hotel

The drawing were submitted in June and a public review could be scheduled as early as October. (The Daily News – August 7, 2015)


Bike Network: Menlo Park commission recommends bike lanes, no third lane on El Camino Real

Given a choice of three options or leaving El Camino Real alone, the Menlo Park Planning Commission gave a unanimous thumbs up to one design that would create buffered bike lanes along the city’s main corridor – as long as trees at its intersection with Ravenswood Avenue are left alone. (The Almanac – April 10, 2015)


Commercial Development: BBC restaurant get permits to start construction work

Construction of a three-floor restaurant with rooftop dining at 1090 El Camino Real, site of the British Bankers Club, has kicked off, according to the city of Menlo Park. Rob Fischer, who owns the Palo Alto Creamery along with Reposado and, in Mountain View, Gravity and Scratch, added the BBC to his roster in July 2013. He received permits at the end of February to start the interior and exterior modifications to Menlo Park’s historic landmark. The new restaurant should be finished by December 2015, the city said. (The Almanac – March 10, 2015)


Commercial Development: Menlo Gateway unveils plan for 250-room hotel in Menlo Park

“The plan is to build three office buildings — still totaling 694,000 square feet — three parking garages and one hotel on the 16 acres along Independence and Constitution drives.” (The Almanac – Sandy Brundage – March 5, 2015)


Should Menlo Park Re-Configure El Camino to 6 Lanes Its Entire Length?

On Feburary 19, 2015 the City held its third workshop for its El Camino Real Corridor Study.


Commercial Development: A New Boutique Hotel Coming To El Camino Real In Menlo Park?

“The Portola Valley-based Pollock Financial Group wants to turn the former Shell gas station site at Glenwood Avenue, which now has a scattering of shrubs and a whole bunch of dirt, into a boutique hotel on the outskirts of downtown Menlo Park. The plan is to include a restaurant, bar and pool. The underground garage would accommodate an estimated 75 cars using “stack technology” – as a valet parks one car, a hydraulic lift carries it up to allow a second car to be parked underneath. (Sandy Brundage – The Almanac – February 19)


Downtown Vitality: More Outdoor Dining Coming To Menlo Park

A pilot program that tested an expanded outdoor dining area at Left Bank went so well that the Menlo Park City Council unanimously signed off Tuesday night on letting more restaurants — and potentially other types of businesses — put their outdoor space to greater use. (The Almanac – Sandy Brundage – January 28)


Downtown Parking: Menlo Park prepares to take on downtown parking garage issue

The Planning Commission signed off on its suggested capital improvement priorities on Jan. 12, and one recommendation is to move a study of the feasibility of building a parking garage downtown from the “unfunded” to the “funded” column. According to the draft capital improvement plan, a study of the cost, site, circulation, feasibility and construction of building one or more parking garages on parking plazas 1, 2, or 3 would cost approximately $200,000. (The Almanac – Sandy Brundage – January 22)


What Goals Should The Menlo Park City Council Set for 2015

All Menlo Park residents have a great opportunity to tell our City Council what we would like them to focus on this year so they can create their priorities. You can submit your wish list thru an online survey that will be available until noon January 26, 2014. Simply go to the City website http://www.menlopark.org/298/2120/Open-C… It’s important that our leaders know what you want and think. Please provide constructive ideas. View my submission.


Re-Imagine Menlo Park Joins The Nextdoor Neighborhood Social Network

Users of The Oaks area can now view links to regular Re-Imagine Menlo Park blog posts and a moderated group area enables members to exchange messages. While only members of the group can post messages, all can be viewed by the public. Request to join anytime.


Group Hopes To Jumpstart the Revitalization of Downtown Menlo Park.

January 15, 2015 Menlo Park is notorious for conducting endless studies of the same issues: Traffic. Downtown parking. Traffic. Downtown vibrancy. Some residents hope to break that cycle and move forward with actual change. Dana Hendrickson, coordinator of what he has dubbed “Re-Imagine Menlo Park,” said he’s hoping to capture the momentum raised during the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan debate in 2014 to revitalize the city’s downtown district. (The Almanac – Sandy Brundage)


Re-Imagine Menlo Park Website/Blog Launched January 1, 2015

Now that Measure M has been defeated it’s time to focus the city’s energies and resources on making Menlo Park’s central business districts Downtown and on El Camino Real much more vibrant places to live and work as envisioned in it’s Vision Plan. To support these efforts the Menlo Park Commercial Development website has been re-directed and renamed Re-Imagine Menlo Park. For too long Menlo Park residents have tolerated a mediocre downtown and ECR. Let’s aggressively move forward to create a clearer integrated vision and encourage transformative public and private investments.


Menlo Park Voters Defeat Measure That Would Have Limited Construction (i.e., Commercial Development)

(November 5, 2014) “Voters in Menlo Park decidedly rejected a controversial initiative that would have cut in half the amount of future office space allowed in the city’s downtown and El Camino Real areas. Sixty-two per cent of voters decided to keep current land use guidelines, and to continue the city council’s negotiations with two developers proposing to build hundreds of apartments and up to 409,500 square feet of offices.”(The Almanac)


Menlo Park City Manager Rebuts “Yes on M” 11th Hour Legal Complaint

(November 3, 2014) “A consultant’s proposal that Menlo Park take a proactive role in swaying public opinion with regard to the specific plan before the Measure M initiative qualified for the ballot was rejected, according to City Manager Alex McIntyre.” “The state attorney general “declined to get involved” after Heyward Robinson filed a complaint over the (Menlo Focus) newsletter, Mr. Robinson said, but he has also made complaints to the Fair Political Practices Commission, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and the grand jury.” (The Almanac)


Measure M Advocate Heyward Robinson Files A Legal Complaint Against Menlo Park

(October 30, 2014) “At issue is whether the information in the (City) website and (City) documents is purely informational or crosses the line into advocacy using public funds and resources.” Read the actual complaint against the City of Menlo Park


Menlo Park City Council Limits Medical Office Development Downtown and On El Camino Real.

(October 30, 2014) Menlo Park will now limit the amount of medical office space that can be developed within the boundaries of the Downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan, following a unanimous vote by the city council on Oct. 30.


Measure M Author Mike Lanza Accuses The Almanac Of Prostitution

(October 15, 2014) That’s how editor Richard Hine views Mike Lanza’s attack on his newspaper’s integrity


The Almanac Endorses No ON Measure M

(October 15, 2014) The Almanac joined other local newspapers in opposing Measure M


City Council to Study Public Benefits Threshold and Process For Commercial Developments

(October 14, 2014) A joint study session with the City Council and the Planning Commission will “discuss refining the public benefit process and the public benefit thresholds” within the city’s downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, Mayor Mueller said. Staff will also bring to the session information on the market value the extra square footage gives developers when public benefits are provided.


Menlo Park City Council Requires Stanford To Scale Back Its Development Plans

(October 1, 2014) The Menlo Park City council called a special meeting to review and discuss a just completed traffic study that examined the potential impact of Stanford’s current development plan for 500 El Camino Real. Because the conservative, worst case analysis indicated projected traffic levels and circulation were inconsistent with the city’s Specific Plan the council instructed Stanford to submit a new design BEFORE undertaking a project-specific, environmental impact report. Stanford will surely wait until Measure M is decided.


Menlo Park has released the impartial analysis and primary arguments both in favor of and against Measure M, the initiative which seeks to amend the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan.

(September 9, 2014)


City Clerk Releases the Impartial Analysis and Primary Arguments Pertaining to Measure M

(August 15, 2014) During public comment, former councilman Heyward Robinson offered his take on an analysis conducted by Lisa Wise Consulting, hired by the city to examine the impacts of the initiative. Part of a grassroots group that produced a lengthy critique of the analysis, he said he took “strong issue” with characterizations of the critique as political rather than substantive. Mayor Mueller, in return, took strong issue with the characterization of the critique as substantive rather than political. “I’ve reviewed those issues and I frankly believe that most of those 40 points, if not all of them, are argument,” he commented. A letter the city received on Wednesday from a law firm representing the pro-initiative coalition could only point to one purported deficiency, he said. “And we have spent consultant money following up on all 40 other items of argument. … I am extremely disappointed right now that we are wasting money chasing what I believe to be a PR effort.”


Menlo Park Council Works on Ballot Argument Opposing Measure M Changes To City’s Specific Plan

(August 7, 2014) A impartial analysisi and arguments for and against the measure must be submitted by August 15.


City Council Unanimously Votes to Place Proposed Initiative on Nov. 4th Ballot

(July 15, 2014) The City Council also directed Special Counsel Greg Stepanicich to prepare an impartial analysis of the measure showing the effect of the measure on existing law and the operation of the measure. Further, the City Council authorized Mayor Ray Mueller and Councilmember Rich Cline to form a subcommittee to prepare a written argument in opposition to the measure.


City Council Receives Ballot Measure Impact Report

(July 15, 2014) The City Council received and discussed the Ballot Measure Impact Analysis report prepared by the independent consultant. Following that review, the City Council voted unanimously to place the proposed initiative on the November 4, 2014, ballot. Nearly four months earlier, at its March 18, 2014, meeting, the City Council had authorized staff to contract with a consultant for an objective analysis of the effects of a resident-proposed ballot measure intended to revise the approved El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan (Specific Plan).


City Clerk Announces Sufficiency of Signatures on Proposed Specific Plan Ballot Initiative

(June 19, 2014) The State Elections Code provides that the City Council must take one of the following actions following the City Clerk’s transmittal of the Certificate of Sufficiency:

  1. Adopt the proposed ordinance without alteration; or
  2. Determine to place the ordinance on the ballot for the November 4, 2014, Statewide General Election.

Read More


California Fair Political Practices confirms that SaveMenlo is compliant with State and Local campaign disclosure laws.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission confirmed that SaveMenlo, a grassroots citizens group in Menlo Park, has been compliant in its campaign disclosure filings. In an email, Ms. Adrianne Korchmaros of the FPPC stated, “I’ve advised the complainant we will not be pursuing this matter any further.” Read press release (Save Menlo – June 2, 2014)


Request to Investigate Save Menlo for Violations of the Political Reform Act

(Peter Carpenter – May 16, 2014) To: Mr. Gary Winuk – Chief, Enforcement Division – Fair Political Practices Commission – 428 J Street, Suite 800 – Sacramento, CA 95814 I am writing to bring to your attention serious violations of the Act by Save Menlo, FPPC ID# 1357780, its current treasurer, Diane Patricia Hart, and its former treasurer, Stefan Petry. Specifically, my complaint alleges that… Read FPPC Complaint


Guest opinion: Ex-council member rejects specific plan petition

(The Almanac – May 14, 2014) A group calling themselves “Save Menlo” is promoting a petition that would dramatically alter the recently re-approved El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan (DTSP). As a former City Council member, I have had a number of people ask me about this issue. I strongly disagree with the petition for the several reasons. Read opinion.


Menlo Park: Initiative signatures submitted

(The Almanac – May 14, 2014) About a dozen people gathered outside Menlo Park City Hall on May 12 to listen to Save Menlo representatives announce that they’ve collected a lot more than the 1,780 registered voter signatures needed to get their downtown/El Camino Real specific plan initiative on the November ballot.” Read article.


The City of Menlo Park Responds to Filed SaveMenlo Initiative

(City of Menlo Park website – May 2014) The City of Menlo Park has created an online source of information for the community about a proposed ballot measure and its intended changes to the approved El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan, as well as facts about the Specific Plan and the currently proposed developments. Visit landing page.


Guest opinion: Former (menlo park) mayors endorse Plan initiative

(The Almanac – April 8, 2014) We the undersigned are former Menlo Park mayors who have served Menlo Park for a total of 64 years. We come together to answer the question posed by the Almanac on March 25 — whether to sign or not to sign the SaveMenlo initiative petition. Our response is an unreserved and wholehearted, “Yes, sign!” Read opinion.


City Releases Title and Summary of Specific Plan Ballot Initiative

(City of Menlo Park – February 19, 2014)

A New Boutique Hotel On El Camino Real In Menlo Park?

“The Portola Valley-based Pollock Financial Group wants to turn the former Shell gas station site at Glenwood Avenue, which now has a scattering of shrubs and a whole bunch of dirt, into a boutique hotel on the outskirts of downtown Menlo Park. The plan is to include a restaurant, bar and pool. The underground garage would accommodate an estimated 75 cars using “stack technology” – as a valet parks one car, a hydraulic lift carries it up to allow a second car to be parked underneath. (Sandy Brundage – The Almanac – February 19)

More Outdoor Dining Coming To Menlo Park

A pilot program that tested an expanded outdoor dining area at Left Bank went so well that the Menlo Park City Council unanimously signed off Tuesday night on letting more restaurants — and potentially other types of businesses — put their outdoor space to greater use. (The Almanac – Sandy Brundage – January 28)

Menlo Park prepares to take on downtown parking garage issue

The Planning Commission signed off on its suggested capital improvement priorities on Jan. 12, and one recommendation is to move a study of the feasibility of building a parking garage downtown from the “unfunded” to the “funded” column. According to the draft capital improvement plan, a study of the cost, site, circulation, feasibility and construction of building one or more parking garages on parking plazas 1, 2, or 3 would cost approximately $200,000. (The Almanac – Sandy Brundage – January 22)

What Goals Should The Menlo Park City Council Set for 2015

All Menlo Park residents have a great opportunity to tell our City Council what we would like them to focus on this year so they can create their priorities. You can submit your wish list thru an online survey that will be available until noon January 26, 2014. Simply go to the City website http://www.menlopark.org/298/2120/Open-C… It’s important that our leaders know what you want and think. Please provide constructive ideas. View my submission.


Re-Imagine Menlo Park Joins The Nextdoor Neighborhood Social Network

Users of The Oaks area can now view links to regular Re-Imagine Menlo Park blog posts and a moderated group area enables members to exchange messages. While only members of the group can post messages, all can be viewed by the public. Request to join anytime.


Group Hopes To Jumpstart the Revitalization of Downtown Menlo Park.

January 15, 2015 Menlo Park is notorious for conducting endless studies of the same issues: Traffic. Downtown parking. Traffic. Downtown vibrancy. Some residents hope to break that cycle and move forward with actual change. Dana Hendrickson, coordinator of what he has dubbed “Re-Imagine Menlo Park,” said he’s hoping to capture the momentum raised during the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan debate in 2014 to revitalize the city’s downtown district. (The Almanac – Sandy Brundage)


Re-Imagine Menlo Park Website/Blog Launched January 1, 2015

Now that Measure M has been defeated it’s time to focus the city’s energies and resources on making Menlo Park’s central business districts Downtown and on El Camino Real much more vibrant places to live and work as envisioned in it’s Vision Plan. To support these efforts the Menlo Park Commercial Development website has been re-directed and renamed Re-Imagine Menlo Park. For too long Menlo Park residents have tolerated a mediocre downtown and ECR. Let’s aggressively move forward to create a clearer integrated vision and encourage transformative public and private investments.


Menlo Park Voters Defeat Measure That Would Have Limited Construction (i.e., Commercial Development)

(November 5, 2014) “Voters in Menlo Park decidedly rejected a controversial initiative that would have cut in half the amount of future office space allowed in the city’s downtown and El Camino Real areas. Sixty-two per cent of voters decided to keep current land use guidelines, and to continue the city council’s negotiations with two developers proposing to build hundreds of apartments and up to 409,500 square feet of offices.”(The Almanac)


Menlo Park City Manager Rebuts “Yes on M” 11th Hour Legal Complaint

(November 3, 2014) “A consultant’s proposal that Menlo Park take a proactive role in swaying public opinion with regard to the specific plan before the Measure M initiative qualified for the ballot was rejected, according to City Manager Alex McIntyre.” “The state attorney general “declined to get involved” after Heyward Robinson filed a complaint over the (Menlo Focus) newsletter, Mr. Robinson said, but he has also made complaints to the Fair Political Practices Commission, the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and the grand jury.” (The Almanac)


Measure M Advocate Heyward Robinson Files A Legal Complaint Against Menlo Park

(October 30, 2014) “At issue is whether the information in the (City) website and (City) documents is purely informational or crosses the line into advocacy using public funds and resources.” Read the actual complaint against the City of Menlo Park


Menlo Park City Council Limits Medical Office Development Downtown and On El Camino Real.

(October 30, 2014) Menlo Park will now limit the amount of medical office space that can be developed within the boundaries of the Downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan, following a unanimous vote by the city council on Oct. 30.


Measure M Author Mike Lanza Accuses The Almanac Of Prostitution

(October 15, 2014) That’s how editor Richard Hine views Mike Lanza’s attack on his newspaper’s integrity


The Almanac Endorses No ON Measure M

(October 15, 2014) The Almanac joined other local newspapers in opposing Measure M


City Council to Study Public Benefits Threshold and Process For Commercial Developments

(October 14, 2014) A joint study session with the City Council and the Planning Commission will “discuss refining the public benefit process and the public benefit thresholds” within the city’s downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, Mayor Mueller said. Staff will also bring to the session information on the market value the extra square footage gives developers when public benefits are provided.


Menlo Park City Council Requires Stanford To Scale Back Its Development Plans

(October 1, 2014) The Menlo Park City council called a special meeting to review and discuss a just completed traffic study that examined the potential impact of Stanford’s current development plan for 500 El Camino Real. Because the conservative, worst case analysis indicated projected traffic levels and circulation were inconsistent with the city’s Specific Plan the council instructed Stanford to submit a new design BEFORE undertaking a project-specific, environmental impact report. Stanford will surely wait until Measure M is decided.


Menlo Park has released the impartial analysis and primary arguments both in favor of and against Measure M, the initiative which seeks to amend the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan.

(September 9, 2014)


City Clerk Releases the Impartial Analysis and Primary Arguments Pertaining to Measure M

(August 15, 2014) During public comment, former councilman Heyward Robinson offered his take on an analysis conducted by Lisa Wise Consulting, hired by the city to examine the impacts of the initiative. Part of a grassroots group that produced a lengthy critique of the analysis, he said he took “strong issue” with characterizations of the critique as political rather than substantive. Mayor Mueller, in return, took strong issue with the characterization of the critique as substantive rather than political. “I’ve reviewed those issues and I frankly believe that most of those 40 points, if not all of them, are argument,” he commented. A letter the city received on Wednesday from a law firm representing the pro-initiative coalition could only point to one purported deficiency, he said. “And we have spent consultant money following up on all 40 other items of argument. … I am extremely disappointed right now that we are wasting money chasing what I believe to be a PR effort.”


Menlo Park Council Works on Ballot Argument Opposing Measure M Changes To City’s Specific Plan

(August 7, 2014) A impartial analysisi and arguments for and against the measure must be submitted by August 15.


City Council Unanimously Votes to Place Proposed Initiative on Nov. 4th Ballot

(July 15, 2014) The City Council also directed Special Counsel Greg Stepanicich to prepare an impartial analysis of the measure showing the effect of the measure on existing law and the operation of the measure. Further, the City Council authorized Mayor Ray Mueller and Councilmember Rich Cline to form a subcommittee to prepare a written argument in opposition to the measure.


City Council Receives Ballot Measure Impact Report

(July 15, 2014) The City Council received and discussed the Ballot Measure Impact Analysis report prepared by the independent consultant. Following that review, the City Council voted unanimously to place the proposed initiative on the November 4, 2014, ballot. Nearly four months earlier, at its March 18, 2014, meeting, the City Council had authorized staff to contract with a consultant for an objective analysis of the effects of a resident-proposed ballot measure intended to revise the approved El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan (Specific Plan).


City Clerk Announces Sufficiency of Signatures on Proposed Specific Plan Ballot Initiative

(June 19, 2014) The State Elections Code provides that the City Council must take one of the following actions following the City Clerk’s transmittal of the Certificate of Sufficiency:

  1. Adopt the proposed ordinance without alteration; or
  2. Determine to place the ordinance on the ballot for the November 4, 2014, Statewide General Election.

Read More


California Fair Political Practices confirms that SaveMenlo is compliant with State and Local campaign disclosure laws.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission confirmed that SaveMenlo, a grassroots citizens group in Menlo Park, has been compliant in its campaign disclosure filings. In an email, Ms. Adrianne Korchmaros of the FPPC stated, “I’ve advised the complainant we will not be pursuing this matter any further.” Read press release (Save Menlo – June 2, 2014)


Request to Investigate Save Menlo for Violations of the Political Reform Act

(Peter Carpenter – May 16, 2014) To: Mr. Gary Winuk – Chief, Enforcement Division – Fair Political Practices Commission – 428 J Street, Suite 800 – Sacramento, CA 95814 I am writing to bring to your attention serious violations of the Act by Save Menlo, FPPC ID# 1357780, its current treasurer, Diane Patricia Hart, and its former treasurer, Stefan Petry. Specifically, my complaint alleges that… Read FPPC Complaint


Guest opinion: Ex-council member rejects specific plan petition

(The Almanac – May 14, 2014) A group calling themselves “Save Menlo” is promoting a petition that would dramatically alter the recently re-approved El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan (DTSP). As a former City Council member, I have had a number of people ask me about this issue. I strongly disagree with the petition for the several reasons. Read opinion.


Menlo Park: Initiative signatures submitted

(The Almanac – May 14, 2014) About a dozen people gathered outside Menlo Park City Hall on May 12 to listen to Save Menlo representatives announce that they’ve collected a lot more than the 1,780 registered voter signatures needed to get their downtown/El Camino Real specific plan initiative on the November ballot.” Read article.


The City of Menlo Park Responds to Filed SaveMenlo Initiative

(City of Menlo Park website – May 2014) The City of Menlo Park has created an online source of information for the community about a proposed ballot measure and its intended changes to the approved El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan, as well as facts about the Specific Plan and the currently proposed developments. Visit landing page.


Guest opinion: Former (menlo park) mayors endorse Plan initiative

(The Almanac – April 8, 2014) We the undersigned are former Menlo Park mayors who have served Menlo Park for a total of 64 years. We come together to answer the question posed by the Almanac on March 25 — whether to sign or not to sign the SaveMenlo initiative petition. Our response is an unreserved and wholehearted, “Yes, sign!” Read opinion.


City Releases Title and Summary of Specific Plan Ballot Initiative

(City of Menlo Park – February 19, 2014)

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