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need for outreach about General Plan Update

From: domainremoved <Patti>
Date: Fri, 1 Jul 2016 09:50:18 -0700

Dear Council -

Out of all the many public meetings about ConnectMenlo (the city's General
Plan update), not a single one has included explicit discussions about the
IMPACTS of 50% growth in population and 70% growth in employment by 2040. Our
entire community will be affected.There should be extensive public outreach
throughout Menlo Park. None is planned. Well, apparently a one-hour
presentation and Q&A at 6pm 7/11 is newly scheduled, but that hardly counts
as outreach and discussion, especially when the public only gets 3 minutes
each and there is no 2-way conversation.

The only public meetings are the required minimum regarding approval of the
Environmental Impact Report and Zoning Ordinance changes.

Because the only zoning changes that were contemplated are in a part of the
Bayfront area, most people I know outside of Belle Haven and the General
Plan Advisory Committee think that ConnectMenlo is akin to a specific plan
for M-2. In other words, they think the Update is only about some zoning
changes that will affect a small area of Menlo Park "way over there".

Well, nothing is further from the truth. Those zoning changes represent
only 1/4 of the growth projected from now through 2040. There is land
available in the rest of the city that is zoned to allow more than three
times that amount of additional growth. Some of that already is proposed
projects that have been looked at in isolation. The new General Plan
codifies at least 50% more housing and 70% more non-residential growth
throughout Menlo Park.

Residents are not aware that there could be 16,000 more commuters coming
our way - and even more than that if the projected housing doesn't get
built or if companies pack in their workers like Facebook does? Residents
are not aware that each of the local school districts say they are
concerned with population growth of 50%.

Residents are not aware that the Facebook expansion project alone - despite
being way over by the bay - will cause significant traffic impacts
throughout Menlo Park as far as Alpine, Alameda de las Pulgas, Sand Hill
Road, Cambridge, Middlefield, the Willows and all over Belle Haven. The
rest of the growth outside of the small area being rezoned will cause even
more congestion citywide. Who knows all this?

The General Plan is a critically important guide for our community's
future. After all this time since it was last comprehensively updated in
1994, and with the update about 12 years overdue, the integrity of the
process requires the deliberate inclusion of the entire community in
discussions about impacts, adequacy of our infrastructure to support
massive growth, and ways to address them. Our quality of life and the
safety of our families are concerns that are too important to move forward
without these conversations. We have a very innovative community that might
have good ideas, but they need the opportunity to learn more about the
impacts before they can engage in addressing them creatively.

Extending the public comment period for the Facebook Expansion and General
Plan Update DEIRs is THE LEAST that should be done. Reading the documents
alone is a herculean task (well over 9,000 pages, combined). Add to that
the need to put into words (ideally into writing) comments and ideas in a
thoughtful and constructive way. This takes time.

There should be outreach discussions, both about the impacts and about what
our community and the City could do to minimize them. For example, putting
plans to modify our circulation system in a major way, or figuring out a
way to better support our schools' ability to handle growth.

Instead, the schedule is to have the bare minimum period for public
involvement, over the summer. We, as a city, can do better than this.

Respectfully submitted,
Patti Fry
Menlo Park resident and former Planning Commissioner
Received on Fri Jul 01 2016 - 09:56:07 PDT

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