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Connect Menlo Needs Legal Review -- Please Halt Willows Village Pending Outcome

From: domainremoved <Lynne>
Date: Mon, 20 May 2019 17:46:10 -0700

Dear Council,



The Willows Village project appears to be fast-tracked. How odd, especially
when one considers the slow development time of other long-waited for
projects, such as an IT infrastructure project that would help to deliver
better transparency. What’s the rush?



I suggest that Council halt this project pending legal review of the
Connect Menlo zoning changes. Despite all the meetings, the EIR report
shows little evidence of addressing the public’s many serious concerns with
this project. The area’s residents cannot take on faith that the problems,
such as traffic, will be addressed later. Instead, the EIR needs to supply
ample details to show that this matter has been carefully thought out. The
public has also suggested that the project focus on Housing instead of more
massive office development. Let’s get creative with the possibilities for
this project. As the former Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, used
to say, “In God we trust; everyone else, bring data.”



Was Connect Menlo a Legal Update to the City’s General Plan?



Peter Carpenter, former Menlo Park Fire District Board member has stated
that Connect Menlo cannot be considered a legal update to MP's General
Plan. Peter pointed me to Chapter 2 of the 2017 California's General
Planning <http://www.opr.ca.gov/planning/general-plan/guidelines.html>
Guidelines
for his reasoning. After reading Chapter 2, I agree with Peter. I also note
that Peter is someone known for getting his facts right.



I believe that the *legal basis of Connect Menlo needs a complete legal
review. *As our current City Attorney was involved in the Connect Menlo
process, he may have a conflict of interest in evaluating this matter.
That’s why I think Council needs outside legal advice. Further, the clients
of the City Manager’s law firm may give another reason to seek outside
legal so as to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Legal Review of Connect Menlo



First, Connect Menlo was more of an area plan. Changes in the Bayside area
should have been applied to all parts of Menlo Park for “internal
consistency.” There are other problems. Even as an area plan, Connect Menlo
is problematic. Now that I know what I do, I’m surprised that the Connect
Menlo project was allowed to proceed and positioned as an update to the
General Plan. Tomorrow, I will write you with my understanding of the
reasons why Connect Menlo cannot be considered a legal update to MP's
General Plan.



 Pending legal review of Connect Menlo, will Council halt Willows Village?
There are other reasons to halt Willows Village, but that's not the focus
of this email.



Other Laws that Bear on Willows Village/Connect Menlo



I've learned of *multiple laws *that bear on development in the Bayside,
and by extension, Willows Village. Unfortunately, the Staff reports related
to Willows Village do not include mention of these laws, let alone
detailing how they might apply to Willows Village (and also the update to
the Downtown-specific plan. *What is Staff's process for learning about and
responding to new laws that might apply to the City's operations?* Do we
have a process? If so, is the process broken?



One key law is the *SB1000 Environmental Justice bill*. SB1000
<https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160SB1000>changes
the state's Planning and Zoning Law to incorporate environmental justice
into local land-use planning. As I understand this bill, when a City
updates its Housing Element, or two or more elements of its General Plan,
the requirements of SB1000 start.



It’s very possible that Belle Haven also directly qualifies as an *affected
community* for the purposes of SB1000. Other cities have already conducted
trainings on SB1000 so I wonder why MP has yet to hold trainings on this
law. The 2018 SB1000 Implementation
<https://caleja.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/SB1000_Toolkit_Final_rev_2018July_web.pdf?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email>
toolkit stresses the importance of the *affected community driving the
decision-making process. *


Other relevant laws include:



· SB 535 Disadvantaged Communitie
<https://oehha.ca.gov/calenviroscreen/sb535>s

· AB 1550 Greenhouse gasses
<https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201520160AB1550>
.

There may be others.

 Lynne Bramlett
Received on Mon May 20 2019 - 17:41:21 PDT

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