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Pope/Chaucer Meeting Tonight Jan 29th 2014

From: domainremoved <Steven>
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2014 08:50:45 -0800

Dear Mayor Mueller, Mayor Pro Tem Carlton, and Council Members Cline, Keith and Ohtaki,

I wanted to share my thoughts on the Pope Chaucer Bridge Replacement Project currently proposed for the creek in my neighborhood.

Menlo Park is a "Tree City USA community...a quiet yet vibrant city of pleasant, tree-lined neighborhoods..."(sourced from the Menlo Park Website Home Page). Any proposal that requires the removal or indirect destruction of multiple mature trees demands careful consideration because it strikes directly at one of the key features that comprise the character of the neighborhood.

While I'm a firm believer in emergency preparation, there seems to be an inherent asymmetry between a proposal to build flood walls along the creek in The Willows and the fact that we are in the midst of the driest period California has experienced in 400 years (see International Business Times, Jan 27, 2014 "Current California Drought is Driest in States History" by Philip Ross).

Current forecasts suggest the drought will worsen. In contrast, we live 8 miles from the San Andreas fault and the probability that a 6.7 magnitude earthquake will occur in Northern California is 93% within the next 20 years (Stanford University Dept of Emergency Services). Has a rational risk assessment and stratification analysis of all potential disasters been performed, or is a fixation error (unremitting focus on the performance of an intervention despite significant evidence that undermines the utility of pursuing that intervention) on one disaster/one solution occurring?

The current proposal would better resonate if it was, for example, oriented toward the facilitation of emergency vehicular access to Willows points of ingress/egress, or targeted potential zones of downed power lines/fire/gas explosions in the event of a natural disaster. Though I applaud the desire to prepare for one type of disaster - a flood - the current proposal does not adequately address the likelihood of risk from all potential disasters (natural or man made).
As a result, the proposal is not favorable to The Willows: the benefits are ambiguous and not guaranteed; the risks are significant and irreversible.
In short, the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

I respectfully vote to preserve our mature trees and their associated benefits (soil erosion mitigation, moisture sequestration, shade/mitigation of asphalt warming effect, habitat, neighborhood character/treescape, aesthetic, etc) and save the limited resources/funding/monies associated with tree removal and wall construction in favor of investing in a rational re-analysis of risk for all potential disasters (natural or man-made), the expected damage, the associated time horizon, and viable mitigation strategies/other options that identify most likely scenarios and more optimally balance pros and cons.

Finally, I do not have good insight into the main drivers pushing this initiative forward, but if their agenda is poorly aligned with that of The Willows, Groups like Surfrider (currently engaged in a legal effort against Vinod Khosla to reestablish public beach access to Martin's Beach in HMB), earthjustice.org, Peninsula Open Space Trust, etc may have experience/resources that could leveraged.

I look forward to more dialogue and the generation of a rational, fiscally responsible plan that triages risks and ultimately creates a win/win for all parties involved.
Thank you for your consideration.

Steve Lipman
417 Laurel Ave
Received on Wed Jan 29 2014 - 08:50:41 PST

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