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Another Willows Resident Opposed to the Parking Exemption (and other aspects) of the 40 Middlefield Project

From: domainremoved <Louise>
Date: Mon, 14 May 2018 22:20:04 -0700


I came to the meeting tonight, but because I have young children and a
sitter who could only stay until 8:30pm, I was not able to stay long enough
to make comments. I wanted to!

I sat shaking my head at some of the things the Hayes architect said in his
presentation. Oh, the building looks very nice. If they wanted to build
that very building with the big impressive glass windows, and there was 20
feet or so from the property line in every direction, I think all of us
would agree it looks very attractive--really better than the dirt lot and
the chain link fence.

But the fact that they are requesting an exemption to your parking
requirements is just ridiculous. First, when the architect spoke of the
acronym I can't remember that essentially said if you make less parking
spaces, fewer people will drive to work, I would have spit my coffee out if
I'd been drinking any. Really? I would love to, I don't know, just stop
coloring over my greys and believe that doing so would make them stop
growing in, but I don't see how in the world this kind of magical thinking
does anyone any good. Those greys are coming.

Guess what else? Venture Capital types......and the other business types
the Hayes architect mentioned.....they are not "public transport"
carpooling types of people. I know a handful - maybe 6. Two of them drive
Maseratis, two drive Teslas, one has a make I don't even know what it is,
something English and totally obscure, and one lives in San Francisco and
doesn't have a car, because he flies to Asia all the time. He is 29. I
think that a HUGE issue with the assumptions in the acronym I can't recall
is the age and type of businessperson who would be working here in Menlo
Park. If we were in SOMA, and the employees were mostly Millennials, then,
yes, maybe they'd happily take alternative means of transportation. But
look at the "About Us" section of Sequoia or any of the other VCs up and
down Middlefield he referenced in his presentation. If you have been around
any of them, I hate to say it, but there's a type. It's a hyper-masculine
industry and having a car and coming and going when one pleases--and not
feeling the least bit like it falls upon their successful rear-ends to save
Mother Earth--is the culture of that and other high flying industries. I
don't believe for a second that they will manage with the parking spots
laid out in Hayes' plan. Mention carpooling to them, and I think they would
laugh. ("Us? You can't be serious, Elon.") They don't wait around ten extra
minutes for their colleague to finish up work; they're too important.

I also have to be petty here, I suppose, and comment that as a resident of
the Willows who is about to embark on a large residential construction
project, I can only imagine what would happen if we applied to you without
1 of our 2 required parking spaces accounted for (which is close to 50%,
close to Hayes' 12 of 20). I'd be laughed right back to the drawing board.
And I have to tell you: my lot is set up with a weird geometry. It's only
50 feet of street frontage and 130' deep. We back to an alley. What we are
probably going to do, so as not to have a garage take up 2/3 of what faces
the street (We find that to lack curb appeal), is to have an uncovered spot
coming into our back yard from the alley. Will we ever use that spot? I
mean, it would be weird, wouldn't it? Hosting a BBQ in our back yard and
there's our car there?? We will probably park one car in the driveway, just
like everybody else in this area does. But, you know what, if we have
overnight guests, or if when our kids grow up they still use cars not just
all the time self-driving ubers, then we might be really glad we have that
back spot.

And that's kind of the point, isn't it? Contrast that with our next door
neighbor, who has lived here for 30 years. When they moved in, they had
very small kids. They had a jam-packed garage and room for baaaaaarely two
cars out front (parking slightly in our property, which we gave them
permission to do). Then, guess what, their two kids got to be in their
teens and started driving. They REALLY didn't have room for a teen's car.

It reminds me a lot of 40 Middlefield, and why the city requirements must
have been written the way they were in the first plae...for a reason. For
protection and enjoyment of all the surrounding neighbors and businesses.
What happens when the VCs get a college age intern or two for the summer?
What happens when the VC tenant gets too successful for such a small space,
and a new tenant comes in with more employees?

The city creates regulations to plan for longer-term realities and
contingencies. Why in the world are you guys considering being so lax on
this builder?

I thought that Cindy Hamilton's point about the tree planted at the upper
left corner in the drawing as it was shown on screen not allowing for
delivery trucks to turn around was excellent, as was another commenter's
point about angling the parking spaces so the hot shot VC's don't "cheat"
and turn the wrong way onto the alley--yes, even though there's a sign.
People do it all the time even now.

But even more feasible, in my opinion, would be to use AltSchool (930
Emerson in Palo Alto) as a model. AltSchool sought the use of a disused
building to start a school. That building was in no way suitable for the
traffic a school would bring. And the lot itself was SMALL for that purpose
(school for 80 kids). The lot at 40 Middlefield is even smaller (a lot
smaller) but for a lower-use type client. But you know how they got around
it? A lifted parking solution. The architect tonight made some flippant
comment about how "UNSIGHTLY" these are and how they didn't want to have to
"build around it." That sounds super whiny and irrelevant to me. First off,
the one at 930 Emerson isn't unsightly at all. It's kind of cool. It looks
modern industrial, and they totally fit it in with their architectural
theme overall. The kids were fascinated to see it in action. And those
teachers tolerated the slight inconvenience of the 5 minutes extra it took
them to get their cars in position when it was time to leave. Then again,
they were driving Toyota Corollas, not Maseratis.

If you wanted to see an example of this solution in action, I'd recommend
you go to the High Street side of the school (it covers the city block
narrowly between High and Emerson) and look in their parking lot.

Finally--I had a serious concern about this building's footprint coming too
close to Middlefield and blocking the visibility for cars turning out from
Woodland. I use Woodland all the time, as Willow is such a nightmare
especially around commuter hours. I regularly take Menalto (my street) onto
Woodland and take a right and then cross both Middlefield lanes to go left
on Willow to get to Burgess. It's already challenging enough. I really,
strongly ask that you make them adhere to the setback from Middlefield and
keep their landscaping very low there as well, as a major safety concern.

I thank you for taking the time to read this. I believe that my fellow
Willows residents and I are not categorically opposed to a building going
on this site, but please. It's tiny and odd-shaped enough, and placed in an
area that's already oversubscribed for parking (the excellent Willows
Market, with amazing sandwiches and 100's of wine and beers!). If anything,
make them put in MORE than the required number of spots. Certainly not
less. It's just ridiculous.

Lou Selchau-Hansen
1971 Menalto Ave
Received on Mon May 14 2018 - 22:21:17 PDT

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