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Dangerous Direction

From: domainremoved <Steve>
Date: Tue, 24 Sep 2019 11:25:14 -0700


I am concerned about the direction being proposed by the Council regarding
large project approvals.

It is time to instate a policy where by each Council Member must be in
their seat at the dais in order to vote. There has been an increase of
absences by Council Members with some calling in to participate and vote.
The last call in from Burning Man made Menlo Park look like a joke. This
kind of participation lacks authenticity, integrity and an insult to the
voters. Too often, calls are cut off or the audible quality is poor.
Serving as a Council Member should require that attendance at Council
Meetings is part of the job.

There should to be a full Council present to vote when issues that have
grave and far reaching impacts to the city are on the agenda. The city is
currently grappling with an updated General Plan that was approved with
only 3 Council Members voting. The Plan was rendered obsolete within 18
months of its approval. There has yet to be a solution identified to
correct the estimate of projected growth and actual numbers of office
buildings exceeding the General Plan’s office caps.

The Council Should have the final say as to how Menlo Park grows. Each
Council Member was elected to represent Menlo Park residents living in one
of the 5 Electoral Districts. The expectation has been that the Council has
the authority to hear development applications and process Environmental
Impact Reports, especially on projects that are required to undergo EIR
reviews. It is irresponsible to give this job to an appointed volunteer
group of residents who don’t have to answer to voters who cannot retain or
remove Planning Commissioners. Land use decisions facing Menlo Park today
deserve the full and close attention of those elected to the Council. The
city is transforming from a suburban town to an urban jobs center town and
it is only right that those elected sign off on and take full
responsibility for these changes.

The similarity of these three concerns is that streamlining how land use
decisions are made by the Council has become a high priority.

In 2002 when I was Mayor, Dave Bohannon had an office project before the
Council for final approval. Because Council Member and proud project
opponent Paul Collacchi was absent I moved the decision to the next
meeting. At that meeting Council Member and proud project proponent Chuck
Kinney was absent and again I moved the decision to the next meeting. By
delaying the agenda item I risked the anger of project proponents,
opponents and certainly Mr. Bohannon. However, both times I felt that the
project had far reaching impacts to the City and I wanted a full Council to
weigh in and vote. It was important to have full participation. Calling in
a vote was not allowed. It was a matter of principle: show up, take part in
a discussion and vote.

By willing to serve as Council Members, you have taken on a serious
responsibility; embrace this responsibility with full dedication.

Steve Schmidt
Received on Tue Sep 24 2019 - 11:17:35 PDT

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