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Support and Comment on the General Plan Update

From: domainremoved <Skip>
Date: Mon, 11 Jul 2016 17:43:36 -0700

Dear Members of the Planning Commission:

I would like to provide some input to your discussion of Draft EIR for the
General Plan Update taking place tonight. In general, I support the
General Plan. As I am out of town and unable to attend the town hall, I
want to make sure you are hearing from residents that support the proposals
for developing housing, shopping, and amenities in the Bayfront/M2 Area.

First off, I want to commend the City Council, Planning Commission, and
other Menlo Park officials for working with Facebook on these issues.
Rather than just fighting their desire to grow, they are tapping this hub
of economic investment and activity to solve other problems and improve our
city. This is a lot more than just mitigating traffic impacts. I believe
these officials deserve commendation for doing the hard work and taking
this collaborative approach. Keep it up.

I also commend Facebook for proposing to build housing that
will accommodate their growing employee base, and reduce the commute burden
and traffic impacts created by their organization as it continues to expand
and grow. My hope is that this housing stock will also serve non-Facebook
employees, and provide more affordable housing options to the limited
inventory of expensive housing up and down the peninsula.

My concern is that some residents and housing proponents will advocate
for higher requirements on Facebook and other developers in the M2 that are
so stringent and high as to stifle all efforts to build and improve the
area. We see the same problem with the Downtown Specific Plan - just
zoning for a specific number of units for housing does not mean that those
units will actually be built. The higher the burden we place on the
investors and developers interesting in improving the area through zoning,
the less likely these projects will come to fruition. As I read it, the
General Plan allows for 5500 new workers in the Bayfront/M2. We need to
make sure that the housing being proposed is actually built so that these
workers have the option of living nearby, so we start fixing our
jobs/housing imbalance rather than making it worse.

Menlo Park also sorely lacks housing that is accessible to low and
middle-income workers. We are unlikely to find the space to build
significant numbers of affordable housing units in our downtown corridor,
although this is an ideal location due to public transit access. The
second biggest "hub" for public transit should be, and could be the
Bayfront/M2. There is ample space to build high density, affordable
housing throughout the General Plan area. The best tool for this is to
require 15% of the units entitled by the General Plan be set aside as
affordable housing, and I encourage the Commission to make this
recommendation. This BRM rate is equal to Palo Alto's percentage and
higher than San Mateo's. As I understand it, Redwood City does not require
inclusionary zoning at all. At this BMR requirement level we could add nearly
700 units of affordable housing based on the 4500 total housing units
proposed - affordable housing which we desperately need.

Finally, there are some concerns that Facebook in particular may not be
able to develop all of the housing units with the current zoning.
I believe they would like to build the housing. However, given the amount
of housing we would like to see, it is foreseeable that a lack of FAR or
height allowance could hinder this housing development, and require a need
to ask for additional FAR and height exceptions on a project-by-project
basis. In that case there is a real possibility that the financial
incentives encourage them to build just SOME of the housing that is
entitled, but build ALL of the office space that is entitled - a result
which does not solve the jobs/housing imbalance. I would like to see a
mechanism for the city to push for this housing to be completed. One
approach would be to unlock the entitled office space in tranches as
housing is developed in kind.


Skip Hilton
148 Dunsmuir Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Suburban Park

Skip Hilton
Skip Hilton
Received on Mon Jul 11 2016 - 17:49:33 PDT

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