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1704 El Camino Real - Plans For Large Hampton Inn

From: domainremoved <Scott>
Date: Sat, 29 Sep 2018 02:34:33 +0000

 City Council Members:

My wife and I are residents of the Park Forest Area, and I am writing to you, the Menlo Park City Council members (and separately to the City’s Planning Commission), in protest of the most current plans under consideration for the redevelopment of current Red Cottage Inn to be turned into a much larger Hampton Inn by developer/owner Sagar Patel at 1704 El Camino Real. I am a member of our homeowners’ association and have been closely following developments of this project for our family and our neighbors. While this project has not been through the entire review process, it will be very shortly. It is important that you are aware that there is a significant push back brewing on a commercial project that is impinging on a residential neighborhood.

Here are our key points for your consideration:

  * El Camino Real is already overloaded with traffic, commercial buildings, entrance/egress issues throughout Menlo Park to the Redwood City border. With all the new development planned, it is only going to get worse. You have testaments to this fact from traffic counts, many residents as well as the Menlo Park Fire Protection District. Why do we need even more high density commercial development to further overload an already bad and deteriorating situation, especially in low density neighborhoods. The most recent architectural design and scale is inappropriate and seems in conflict with what is generally designated as a “low-density” zone.

  * Mr. Patel’s plans have evolved materially from his original submission, some three years ago. He originally worked with us neighbors and we neighbors collaborated with him on design changes that were suitable to him and the neighborhood. However, he very recently changed those plans when he determined he could not “financially justify” underground parking. Among other issues, the above ground parking has pushed the height to three stories and much closer to the property boundaries, making it much more intrusive and invasive to the property’s neighbors on all three sides.

  * One could argue that the plan review process to date has been procedurally flawed, until the Planning Commission recently added the study session on the 8th. This gives the appearance that the Commission might be biased to moving forward with the project regardless of the ramifications to the neighboring community (light pollution, noise pollution, parking challenges, traffic impact, garbage pick-up/smells, privacy, public safety and visual commercial encroachment in a residential area, etc.) and that the commission is callous to neighborhood impact as long as building standards/regulations are met and occupancy taxes can be collected. The issues and impacts presented by the current plans for this hotel are material. I’m sure it is much easier for the Planning Commission, and the City Council for that matter, to approve plans when what is being approved is not located next to your home or even in your general neighborhood. Unfortunately, we live right next door, as do many others. We didn’t make a significant investment in real estate and pay very high state and local property taxes to live in a commercial – high density area. I would encourage any/all of you (and your Planning Commission members) to visit our neighborhood and talk to us, Mr. Patel’s neighbors, who will be affected by his most recent design. My wife and I will certainly volunteer to be interviewed. The obligation of outreach and due diligence goes both ways.

  * The “public benefit bonus” methodology that the Commission is using to approve the revised project appears to be discretionary, not mandatory. Further, and in light of the resultant impact of the most recent changes, we oppose the presumption that application of the public benefit bonus is justified here. In fact, it can be argued that this project is in the public’s disinterest as currently configured.

  * A prior agreement with Mr. Patel and his neighbors was based on the unaltered (prior version of) the plans. Mr. Patel has recently changed his plans and has gone back on most of the agreements on the plans he made with us, his neighbors. As a member of the residential neighborhood that will undoubtedly feel the greatest negative impact of this commercial development, I am firmly against the proposed most recent changes that are currently on file and strongly urge the Commission to re-evaluate the scope and scale of this project and mandate that the developer go back and renegotiate his plans with his neighbors.

I (and many of my neighbors) will be at the Planning Commission Study Session that is scheduled for October 8th to reinforce this communication and try to help the City understand that what is currently being proposed is NOT good, NOT fair and is certainly NOT in the public’s best interest. We have no issue with Mr. Patel’s interest in improving his property for his personal or commercial interest, just like we residential homeowners improve our own properties to improve livability and real estate value. However, any changes or improvements have to be made within the context of building codes, residential zoning laws, and the community - neighborhood impact.

Please keep all of this in mind as you evaluate the plans for this project and coordinate with the Planning Commission. Thank you for your consideration.

Scott and Deb Barnum
137 Stone Pine Lane
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(650-224-5671 (m)

Received on Fri Sep 28 2018 - 19:33:15 PDT

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