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Comments on the General Plan Update for Menlo Park

From: domainremoved <Mary>
Date: Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:58:47 +0000

Dear Honorable Council Members,

Skip Hilton’s email says it all and I couldn’t agree more with everything he says. As a 27 year resident, I am so very thankful to the GPAC and all the residents who have stayed involved with making Menlo Park a better place. I hope the council will stay focused on the goal to revitalize MP in all sectors.


Mary N. Gilles, Realtor


Alain Pinel Realtors
1550 El Camino Real, Suite 100
Menlo Park, CA 94025

License # 01789710

From: Skip Hilton [mailto:skiphilton_at_(domainremoved)om]
Sent: Monday, August 24, 2015 8:07 AM
To: city.council_at_(domainremoved)
Cc: Skip Hilton <skiphilton_at_(domainremoved); steering_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Comments on the General Plan Update for Menlo Park

As a 22 year resident of Menlo Park - including 18 years as a homeowner in the Suburban Park neighborhood - I have followed the General Plan Update process closely, and participated in many of the community input sessions hosted by the ConnectMenlo project. I have also encouraged my neighbors and friends across the whole city to participate in this process. After reviewing the Notice of Preparation for draft EIR (June 18, 2015) I am happy to see that the project has included much of the feedback of the community. I commend the GPAC on the process and progress thus far.

I am also aware of the growing resistance by some residents to the rezoning and circulation plans for the M-2 that are proposed as part of the General Plan Update. The resistance seems to come from the same group of residents that have opposed any type of growth or progress in our City. Many of these people were behind the ill-fated Measure M proposition in the fall of 2014. I am sure they prefer to have vacant car lots behind chain link fencing on El Camino Real for as long as possible, since it means there will be no people living, working or shopping downtown, and therefore less traffic. But it also means our downtown will never become the vibrant city center we hope for, because we lack the foot traffic that creates economic opportunity for merchants. What the no-growthers lack is a vision of rational and progressive development that will actually reduce traffic by leveraging public transportation while increasing the vibrancy and amenities for our residents. I think we are now seeing that vision for the M-2 with the ConnectMenlo project.

It is clear that while the General Plan serves all of Menlo park, the focus in the Update is the M-2 district northeast of Hwy 101. Interestingly, most of the people that oppose these plans do not live in or near the project area. In fact the residents that live near or in the project area are generally in favor of increased development in the M-2 as long as it: (1) provides amenities not currently available to local residents; (2) creates a vibrant “second downtown” area with mixed-use retail, residential, office; (3) provides additional open spaces; and (4) offers increased public transportation options that will reduce car traffic. In my opinion the ConnectMenlo project achieves all of these objectives, and GPAC has my full support to move forward with the EIR.

As with any plan, there is always room for improvement. I would like to propose a few additional ideas that relate specifically to the Circulation options in and around the Dumbarton Rail corridor.

1. Please consider only allowing electric trains (light rail) on the Dumbarton Rail corridor. Many homeowners and businesses near the Dumbarton Rail line are very concerned about noisy, polluting diesel-electric locomotives running by their property multiple times a day. I am sure that Union-Pacific would like to run freight along this corridor if reopened – but that will kill a lot of support for M-2 improvements from these neighbors if comes with reopening the line.

2. Light rail will allow for more stations between Willow Road and Woodside Road that can serve many neighborhoods along the route. In particular, additional stations on the southwest side of 101 that can serve the Bohannon Drive office workers, as well additional stations at 5th Avenue that could serve both Redwood City and North Fair Oaks. Of course, this will require coordination and cooperation with both Caltrain and Redwood City officials.

3. Consider zoning for more retail and open space near the Dumbarton Rail transit centers. For some reason the proposed station locations do not include zoning for retail, which could be very successful as it serves commuters and residents alike.

4. Plan for multiple uses of the Dumbarton Rail corridor in addition to light rail. The proposed greenway / bicycle and running path running parallel to the tracks is a great idea. When combined with safe rail crossings and protected bicycle routes to office retail and residents, this can become an active commuter route as well as popular recreation route for workers and residents.

5. Ensure that Facebook, the new Life Sciences office park tenants, and the Hotel operators all offer free or heavily discounted transit passes for their workers that are wiling to get out of their cars (or even forgo the Facebook buses) to take the new, eco-friendly public transit.

Thank you for your continued efforts, and I look forward to watching ConnectMenlo and the M-2 improvements as they move forward. I will support the City and local agencies to make this new downtown a reality, and quickly. We need to move up the pace of change and progress in Menlo Park.


Skip Hilton
Resident of the Suburban Park neighborhood

Skip Hilton

(image/jpeg attachment: image001.jpg)

Received on Mon Aug 24 2015 - 10:57:19 PDT

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