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ECR/Downtown Plan review, parking and multi-modal transportation policies

From: domainremoved <Adina>
Date: Wed, 11 Nov 2015 15:24:15 -0800

Dear Council Members,

Thank you for providing periodic review of the El Camino Real/Downtown
Specific Plan to evaluate how well it is achieving the goals and to take
advantage of current information. Following is some new information that
has become available since the last plan review, and some suggestions for
using the information to achieve the city's goals with the plan.

*How much parking needed near Caltrain?*

Since the ECR/Downtown Plan was approved, we have more robust data about
the transportation behavior and preferences of Class A office tenants
nearby. The newer information suggests that Menlo Park's parking
requirements for new office buildings is substantially higher than the
amount that tenants are likely to demand.

As part of Palo Alto's planning for a Transportation Management Association
and TDM programs to reduce driving, the city conducted a robust survey of
downtown businesses, and also heard specific comments from mid-sized tech
companies downtown. Tech companies including SurveyMonkey, Palantir, and
RelateIQ reported driving rates under 40%, and utilize about 225 square
feet per employee. Among all downtown businesses, including retail and
restaurants, the driving rate overall is 55%, even before any additional
TDM programs. (see attached documents).

According to the Menlo Park Specific Plan, the requirement for office space
in the Menlo Park is 3.8 spaces per 1000 square feet. If we attract
tenants similar to those in Downtown Palo Alto, we are requiring *nearly
twice the amount of parking that will be needed*.

What we hear from employers who are attracted to locations near the
Caltrain - including SRI in Menlo Park - is that many of employees prefer
not to drive, and instead value transportation benefits that help them to
commute without driving, such as Caltrain GoPasses, secure bicycle parking
and showers, ZipCars to run errands mid-day, and other such benefits.

The El Camino Real/Downtown Plan should be updated to take into account
current information about the amount of parking likely to be needed for
office developments

*Parking and TDM updates*

To incorporate the new information about parking requirements for new
office developments, I would encourage the parking requirement be set for a
driving ratio of 50% or less based on information regarding comparable
sites (if staff and the city's transportation consultants agree with this
assessment of comparables); for developments to be required to implement
TDM to achieve that realistic level; and to contribute funding and
facilities for Downtown TDM programs.

Since the plan was passed, the City Council has called for a Transportation
Management Association, and the City is currently in the process of hiring
staff to be in charge of gathering the data and working on programs to
reduce the drivealone rate. This creates opportunities to step up
implementation of vehicle trip reduction programs.


*In lieu fees for multi-modal access*

While there are development plans for larger parcels in the plan area,
there are some challenges for smaller parcels. In order to be able to
redevelop smaller parcels in the Plan area, it will be helpful to have
in-lieu fees that allow developers to make shared contributions, rather
than to try and shoehorn parking into a small footprint.

Other nearby cities including San Mateo and Redwood City allow in lieu fees
to be used for vehicle trip reduction, in addition to creating new parking
supply. This makes sense because reducing parking demand reduces the
expense of creating parking structures. This can help jumpstart development
of smaller properties, and also help reduce traffic and parking demand.

When 50-60% of employees get to work without driving, they benefit from
transit, bike infrastructure, carshare, and other services that make it
easier to get to Menlo Park without driving. Developers who provide less
parking can and should also contribute in-lieu fees that help reduce
driving and traffic.

*How to mitigate risks and concerns: traffic and parking overflow*

Concerns that developers will promise strong TDM programs, and then neglect
to deliver, can be addressed with measurement and reporting requirements,
such as we have with Facebook, and such as the City of San Mateo requires
of developments in the Rail Corridor, and Mountain View requires in North
Bayshore.

A common community concern with the implementation of the Specific Plan is
traffic - the amount of traffic associated with new developments can be
reduced by addressing the current market demand for access benefits
supporting more multi-modal access and less driving.

Concerns about the risk of overflow parking in neighborhoods can (and will
eventually need to be) addressed with residential parking permits, if the
situation occurs.

Incorporating these policies into the El Camino Real / Downtown Specific
Plan can help the city achieve its goals of economic development and
vibrancy, while reducing environmental and traffic impacts.


Thanks for your consideration,

- Adina

Adina Levin
Menlo Park Resident
650-646-4344


Received on Wed Nov 11 2015 - 15:26:34 PST

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