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Objections to Proposed Boarding House - 555 Willow Road

From: domainremoved <Maureen>
Date: Mon, 22 Aug 2016 17:18:02 +0000 (UTC)

Dear Menlo Park Planning Commission and City Council Members,








As a resident of 600 Willow Road (Pacific Parc development), I have several objections to the Boarding House currently proposed for the property at 555 Willow Road:




A Boarding House Out Of Character With The Surrounding Neighborhoods

As you know, this is an area of established neighborhoods with many young families. It's unclear what type of rentals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly) is being proposed or what type of tenants the property owner, Mr. Valiyee, is planning to attract - Stanford students, young tech workers, travelers? Placing either a hotel or college-type dormitory in the midst of a family-oriented neighborhood is certainly not appropriate.







Property Owner's Background

It's my understanding that the City of Menlo Park is aware of Mr.Valiyee's background with the City of Berkeley. Here's just one example of concerning information available on the internet:




Reza Valiyee is one of Berkeley’s largest landlords. Presently, he owns 23 properties in the City of Berkeley- the majority of these are large, multi-unit apartment buildings and boarding houses rented to students. Valiyee, who has been cited numerous times for failing to meet housing code, has been a significant drain on the city’s resources for many years. According to City Attorney Zachary Cowan, Valiyee has a “long history of stalling on city-mandated repair work.” In 2002, the city placed two of Valiyee’s properties, including a student boarding house, into receivership after they were declared a public nuisance because he had installed illegal bedrooms. Valiyee has even spent time in jail for failing to meet court cleanup orders.

http://www.tenantstogether.org/campaigns/berkeley-and-fresno-landlords-nominated-landlord-hall-shame




It's well known that the best predictor of future behavior, is past behavior. Given this, and the Mr. Valiyee's background, I think the City of Menlo Park owes its citizens a heightened level of due diligence, scrutiny and discernment regarding this boarding house proposal.




I think we can all agree that the city of Menlo Park should only accept proposals from property owners whose projects will add to the character, pride and safety of its neighborhood.







Nonconformitites

The initial public notice said, "The site would continue to be nonconforming with regard to the square footage requirements for landscaping and parking and open driveways, although these nonconformities would not be intensified."




I don't believe the city should accept any nonconformities for new buildings. If there are square footage requirements for landscaping, parking and open driveways, why would the city not mandate that a building meet these requirements?







Parking
The plan outlines 16 SRO units and 14 parking spaces, to be shared with the restaurant on the same property. There is also no allowance for guest parking. Given the current volume of cars parking at the restaurant on a daily basis, it seems that adding 16 residential units would almost inevitably result in overflow parking. This overflow problem would be borne by neighbors in the surrounding area - which is not acceptable.








Traffic

Each unit in the proposed boarding house will probably create multiple vehicle trips per day. I know the Planning Commission and City Council are aware that traffic on Willow Road is already problematic. Getting in and out of our development can be dangerous at any time of day - and almost impossible during rush hour. We're looking to you to help alleviate the traffic problem on Willow Road - not exacerbate it with high density housing on Willow Road.







Aesthetic Impact

All of the homes in the neighborhood are one or two stories high. Erecting a commercial-looking, three-story building (which does not confirm to landscaping requirements) does not fit with or enhance the residential character of the neighborhood.







It is my understanding that if and when a Planning Commission meeting is scheduled to address this proposal, an additional notice with the date and time of the meeting will be mailed to all addresses within 300 feet of the project site. Is this correct? If so, I feel that a 300-ft radius is way too small, and that all residences in the Willows, Vintage Oaks, and Menlo Oaks have the right be to be informed about the progress of this boarding house proposal. I request that all residents in at least these three surrounding neighborhoods be notified about the progress of this proposal. Please let me know if you will expand the notice coverage area to these neighborhoods.







Regards,





Maureen Holding


600 Willow Road


Unit 17


Menlo Park, CA 94025
Received on Mon Aug 22 2016 - 10:24:19 PDT

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