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Specific Plan DIstrict ECR-NE-R Greenheart Non Compliance

From: domainremoved <Steve>
Date: Sun, 20 Mar 2016 19:25:59 -0700

To: Menlo Park Planning Commission

cc: Menlo Park City Council

Re: Specific Plan DIstrict ECR-NE-R Greenheart Non Compliance


The Council and the Planning Commission now face a test. Pressure is
mounting for the Council to ignore the Specific Plan and once again give in
to the desires of a developer. The Greenheart Development site is in the
ECR-NE-R district that the Specific Plan designates as a district with a
residential emphasis. It differs from the ECR-SE district where Stanford’s
development sits, a distinction based on this district’s proximity to
existing residential streets & neighborhoods. That’s why the office FAR for
this district was set at 1.10 while the ECR-SE District FAR was set at 1.25.


Greenheart is waving $2.1 million as a Public Bonus and offering a pocket
park at the rear of the project but, the question remains: What was the
Specific Plan intention when assigning the designation “residential” to
this area? The Plan’s underlying purpose was to stop the ad hoc approval
process and to give both residents and developers certainty.


There is no reason now to piecemeal the approval criteria. It would be a
travesty for Greenheart to exceed the office limit in a development that is
in the ECR-NE-R district where housing has been codified as the focus. It
should make no difference that a bonus is offered by the developer. The
City has a plan. It was one that took 5 years and over a million dollars. The
plan was challenged. The Council defended it. Greenheart spent close to
$200,000 on campaign mailers that warned voters of the dangers of the plan
being changed.


This is an opportunity to keep office development at or below the base FAR
and build more housing. The traffic impacts cannot be mitigated. There are
no overriding considerations that can justify that this development go over
the Specific Plan’s base allowance. The Specific Plan’s intentions should
be honored. The CIty should not be swayed by money or affable promoters.
Menlo Park residents will have to live with the consequences of excessive
office construction for years to come. The alternative favoring residential
as identified in the DEIR is consistent with the Specific Plan goals. Menlo
Park should build housing now while the zoning and the appropriate sites
are available rather than being forced to do so later by ABAG or other
outside forces.

It is important to keep in mind that housing units for ownership produce
property taxes, part of which are parcel taxes per unit. Office building
pays less to the schools because they pay only per parcel. The school
district will benefit from more housing, not more office space.


Menlo Park suffers from a jobs/housing imbalance. The City was sued in 2012
and the settlement immediately reached forced the City to identify 1,900
sites for housing. The Specific Plan which was certified in August of 2012
identified the 1300 ECR and Derry sites to be a district where housing
would be the focus.

The jobs/housing ratio has been out of balance for years and with 2 million
sq ft of additional office development being proposed in Belle Haven, the
housing crisis will be pushed beyond any reasonable solutions. There is a
limit to the land available in the city.


The City of Menlo Park has an opportunity to uphold the fundamental
guidelines of the City’s million dollar Specific Plan. The Menlo Park
voters were repeatedly assured by the City Council incumbents who ran for
re-election in November of 2014 that they wanted to protect the Specific
Plan. These ultimately successful incumbents Richard Cline, Kirsten Keith
and Peter Ohtaki joined their colleagues Ray Mueller and Catherine Carlton
in a vigorous campaign to defeat Measure M so that the Specific Plan would
remain unchanged. We saw our Council’s photos on campaign mailers paid for
by the very developer now before the Council. Greenheart now wants a
deviation from the Specific Plan. The opposition to Measure M included
Greenheart’s warning that the Specific Plan was sacred and based on
community agreement that took years to reach. Promises were made by the
Council that the voters could rely on the Specific Plan. Let’s hope that
this council keeps its promise and follows the Specific Plan by holding
Greenheart to the objectives of the zoning.

Steve Schmidt

Brielle Johnck

Menlo Park
Received on Sun Mar 20 2016 - 19:30:44 PDT

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