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development along El Camino & partnership w/ Stanford

From: domainremoved <Drew>
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2017 12:22:10 -0700

Dear Menlo Park City Council,

I am grateful for your leadership in helping to best redevelop the tract of properties along El Camino Real. I am also heartened that Stanford et al. and Menlo Park are working together to realize a project and outcomes that make our community stronger and better. With these goals in mind I am writing to express concerns about aspects of what is being considered that may not address specific needs, or miss the forest for the trees so to speak.

First, the connection on El Camino between Menlo Park and Palo Alto is problematic.

For example, many cars now enter Menlo Park from Palo Alto simply to make a u-turn at the intersection of El Camino and Cambridge. These cars are forced to do so since the intersection of Sand Hill Road, El Camino, and Alma is heavily restricted. Larger vehicles (e.g., ambulances) typically need to make a three point U turn, since the width of El Camino is narrow at this location. All this creates useless traffic and various risks at the entrance to Menlo Park, and the intersection that is a primary entrance for the proposed Stanford Development. Solving these challenges will require partnering with Stanford, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto. I appreciate the difficulties in solving a puzzle that spans the Menlo Park and Palo Alto border, but with Stanford as a lead partner we may finally have a chance.

As another, related example, the sidewalk on the bridge spanning the creek (upstream side of El Camino) is incredibly narrow and the entrance onto the sidewalk is very dangerous and is immediately adjacent to rapidly moving El Camino traffic. A similar situation occurs at the intersection of El Camino and Cambridge due to the fact that the buildings there are developed 100% to the corner of the intersection and the narrow sidewalk has no buffer from three lanes of fast moving El Camino traffic. All these situations are again proximal to the proposed developments and additional traffic (of all forms — bike, pedestrian, cars) will create increase volume and increased hazards.

Second, having lived in Menlo Park for almost 10 years now, I have seen the nature of many of our neighborhoods change, from calm residential to a schizophrenic mix of intense pass through commuters competing with children-intense family neighborhoods. We and our neighbors are now scared to let our children outside without active and immediate supervision. The pass through cars on University Drive simply don’t care. At some times we have an unending brigade of Waze-directed drivers not paying much attention except to minimizing their commute time.

While it is tempting to simply try to route as much traffic as possible thru all Menlo Park surface streets, doing so will never make traffic go away, it will only make our family-friendly communities weaken as we struggle to accommodate ever increasing amounts of traffic. We might instead develop a much more aggressive strategy for solving traffic puzzles that is not simply projections and studies that produce recommendations that can never be implemented and end up getting ignored in response to the latest development pressures (see current puzzles in Stanford development). We could instead be leading our town and region by studying traffic mitigation solutions adopted across different communities (e.g., Telluride CO took ~90% of car traffic off the road by implementing a free gondola between two neighboring towns; what if we implemented a gondola between Sand Hill-280, Palo Alto Caltrain, and East Palo Alto — doing so might greatly reduce car traffic within the heart of our town’s transportation cor
ridor (i.e., El Camino) and allow us to recover much of El Camino for e-bikes and other smaller format e-assisted vehicles). Could we please make bolder long term plans for how people move about the peninsula while protecting what’s unique about our neighborhoods and keeping our children safe?

With thanks for your service and very best wishes,
Drew
Received on Tue Sep 26 2017 - 14:45:10 PDT

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