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Response to Letter: " Item D3 7/21 Economic Development Plan"

From: domainremoved <Andrew>
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:01:18 -0700

Dear Council:


I would like to both agree, and respectfully disagree, with a letter
submitted by my esteemed and thoughtful fellow resident, Patti Fry on July
19, 2015


My area of agreement is this: we share the goal of increasing retail
vibrancy in Menlo Park. I love the vision of "live-work-play-shop".


My area of disagreement is this: the assertion that the Economic
Development Pan "falls short" because it fails to "establish explicit goals
for the amount of and the general locations for retail, creating strategies
and clear implementation plans to establish this..".


An effective strategy for a retail vibrancy in Menlo Park looks different to


When I talk with existing retailers in Menlo Park, on Santa Cruz or El
Camino for instance, they talk about wanting increased foot traffic to drive
customers into their businesses. They are not worried that commercial space
is going to be converted into office, or that new office or housing would be
built nearby. Conversely, they talk desirously of wanting a steady stream
of office workers generating daytime foot traffic, and local residents
living "upstairs" in apartments or condos for evening foot traffic.


To this end, solving for retail vibrancy is rooted in demand generation. And
this is done through combining office - housing - retail land use, all in
the same area. Feeding off of one another. That is the basis for


To accomplish this end, it is not only wholly sufficient, but absolutely
imperative that Menlo Park support "flexible" commercial uses so that smart
city planning can converge with market forces to create vibrant areas in
Menlo Park. "Wishing-in" or "force-zoning" in retail, where retail cannot
organically support itself, never goes well. Market forces win over time.
Retail tenants / operators end up not surviving and space sits vacant, or
poorly utilized, to the detriment of all.


I also think it is appropriate to further refine the use of the word
"retail". There are many different forms of retail from food & beverage to
soft goods to hard goods to service locations. The retail landscape is
continually changing, and changing rapidly. Operators know their business
best, and operators have a sense of whether their retail business has a
fighting chance of making it in a certain area of Menlo Park.


No amount of well-intentioned city direction can force the market to accept
a "clear implementation plans that accomplish this" where and when demand
generation is lagging, and it is not economically sustainable for the
independent operator.


I believe the city is taking the correct path by looking at employment and
housing opportunities to create demand that can support vibrant retail


We need put our effort into attracting new potential operators, and retain
or existing successful operators, by helping their businesses to thrive in
Menlo Park. We can do this through allowing flexibility of commercial uses
and encouraging mixed office - housing - retail land use.



Andrew Barnes

Willows neighborhood resident

Environmental Quality Commissioner

Received on Wed Jul 29 2015 - 18:59:22 PDT

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