Specific Plan

The Menlo Park El Camino Real And Downtown Specific Plan establishes a framework for private and public improvements on El Camino Real, in the Caltrain station area and in downtown Menlo Park for the next several decades. The plan’s focus is on the character and extent of enhanced public spaces,the character and intensity of private infill development and circulation and connectivity improvements. It includes a strategy for implementation of public space improvements, such as wider sidewalks and plazas, and other infrastructure improvements.The overall intent of the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan is to preserve and enhance community life, character and vitality through public space improvements, mixed use infill projects sensitive to the small-town character of Menlo Park and improved connectivity. The Specific Plan reflects the outcome of an extensive community outreach and engagement process.

Illustrative Plan And Development Program

The precise location of development and the precise types of non-residential development that will result from the Specific Plan are necessarily uncertain. The EIR analyzed the maximum development resulting from Plan adoption and has reviewed the development that is the most reasonably foreseeable, as based on studies of market demand, the location of opportunity sites, and assessment of the development potential of each property given the Guiding Principles, Urban Design Framework, land uses, development regulations, anddesign guidelines. The net new development that was analyzed includes:

  • Maximum of 474000 “non-residential” square footage
  • Residences 680 dwelling units
  • Retail Space 91,800 square feet
  • Commercial Space 240,820 square feet
  • Hotel 380 rooms
  • Parking Spaces 3,670 spaces (public and private)
  • Resident Population 1,537
  • Employment 1,357 jobs

No specific future development projects were identified at the time the EIR was prepared; rather, the analysis of potential physical environmental impacts is based on the maximum development permitted by the Specific Plan and on reasonable assumptions about where that future development could occur in the Specific Plan area.

Online Planning Documents

View the current version of the Menlo Park Specific Plan

View the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Specifc Plan

Minimum Open Space Requirements

The first image below displays the actual city areas and boundaries in the Specific Plan. The second is a Google map. (You can display a larger image by selecting it and using a browser “zoom-in” tool.)


Current Property Usage

View the existing property usage in the El Camino area of the Specific Plan.

Land Use And Building Character

The following topics are covered in Chapter E of the Specific Plan.

  • Land Use Designations, Use Regulations & Special Uses
  • Development Standards & Guidelines
  • Zoning Districts

Specific Plan Macro Calendar

Public Benefits Review – October 2014

The city council is planning a review of the current public benefits thresholds defined in the Specific Plan to see if they should be modified. A public benefit bonus is the additional development permitted beyond the base intensity (and/or height, if applicable) for a project in exchange for extra public benefit, above and beyond the inherent positive attributes of a project (such as increasing vibrancy and redeveloping vacant and underutilized parcels). The Specific Plan’s recommendation for the base level maximum has been crafted to achieve overall project goals and represent community preferences for building types/sizes.

October 2014 – Proposed Ammendments

The Planning Department is proposing a cap of 33000 square feet of medical office for individual developments due to the traffic impact of this type of usage.

The Planning Commission and City Council conducted an initial, one-year review of the Plan in 2013. This review was intended to ensure that the Plan is functioning as intended, as well as to consider the policy-related implications of various Plan aspects. Following the Planning Commission’s detailed, five-meeting review, the City Council on November 19, 2013, directed that staff prepare amendments to the Specific Plan, focusing on limits to medical office on El Camino Real, in addition to a few other minor text edits.

July 2014 – City Authorizes Measure M Ballot INitiative

November 2013 – One-year Council Review

June 2012 – Specific Plan and EIR are approved

The Specific Plan is to be reviewed in one year and every two years, thereafter.

April 2011 – Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR)