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My Menlo (Now and Next Generation)

From: domainremoved <Erin>
Date: Fri, 2 Sep 2016 12:28:25 -0700

Good afternoon esteemed Council Members and our City Manager -

I'm writing to share both complements of your staff/our City but also a few
questions on how to get better engaged to help usher in a new, greater
Menlo that I see pieces, but impermanence, of in our community.

Our family was lucky enough to find/buy a (wildly tiny) home in your
community (Allied Arts) last year. We've been busy with minor upgrades
since welcoming our 2nd kiddo so haven't engaged a great deal with the City
just yet. Our recent trips to City Hall (planning department - garage
demolition), visits from Code Enforcement (redwood tree - Eleanor by the
way, amazing!), and/or trips to the library make us ever so grateful to
have landed here for the long term (I'm convinced our 700 sq.ft. house will
be *perfect* for retirement). Your staff have been friendly, helpful,
courteous and all around great representatives for our City and I'm a firm
believer in sharing accolades vs. critiques, as they deserve just as much
time/emphasis.

We live across the street from teamLab and it's so wildly cool. When we
first moved into town, from SF by way of Palo Alto and Boston, we were so
disappointed by the "gateway" to our community via this "grand boulevard"
that seems more route 66ish circa 1960 in Menlo. It's such a disconnect -
this arterial being so maintained by Palo Alto, and even modestly in
Redwood City. You cross our boundary and it's abandoned car dealerships,
restaurants that may never open (Chum Ya what? BBC has literally be under
construction our entire time here). For me it's a reflection of our civic
pride - how can "this" be our "welcome" sign? With investment in our
downtown, adorable little parklets popping up, is there no "take back"
strategy for our main drag?

I recognize that these parcels are owned by unique developers who have
likely been delayed due to funding post-recession and now, via folks in the
community conflicted by change. Traffic, congestion, burdens on our
schools all roadblocks, referenced by some, for evolving our community.
But I am confident that we have amazing visionary leadership and planners
that can help with this transformation - as I'm seeing with teamLab - let's
try more pop-ups, more greenery, more parks, greater active mobility
options that can mitigate traffic, technology solutions that let civil
society interface with these options - let them design, choose, ideate -
let's not let the university town neighbor beat us here. We are just as
good as Palo Alto but for some reason we don't have the infrastructure,
aesthetic, businesses to prove it.

So how do we do better? You tell me - how can we engage? We the current
generation of Menlo-ians (so new I don't even know what to call "us" yet)
want more from our town and we know that requires us to get involved. I'm
a working mama with two kiddos so make it easy for me so that the
collective "voice" of our city isn't the same 7 people that show up to
council meetings.Our town is a composition of so many, retirees, families,
youth. Menlo is about families, about quality of life, about
opportunities, about more for our kiddos, and hopefully a little bit of fun
(please, please more than 1 bar downtown!). I don't want to shop in Palo
Alto, I don't want to eat in Palo Alto - I want my Friday night bike ride
to be to a restaurant in Menlo that's not a Left Bank, where my kids can
roam free, where I can be less buttoned up after a long day, and ride home
safely via our "grand boulevard" that screams - welcome to Menlo isn't this
place awesome!

I'm a government gal myself, so I'm not looking for a long-winded answer,
despite this long- winded email :) - please save your staff time. Just tell
me what meetings to attend or where to send my words. I will show up, but I
can't always before my 3yo goes to bed (can you help with that too?). I'm
most interested in our downtown and el camino's transition to something
great. Got the M-2 postcard and am hopeful that can be a reflection of what
folks living adjacent to FB want for that area (but also maybe some
community benefits funding to ensure that we're putting in great bikeways
to/from that areas and corridors that connect with downtown to get them to
these services/$ - maybe a shuttle?).

Thank you for reading and considering these comments and for all you to to
build a better Menlo - I see it - it's emergent - and I'm hopeful it will
become our new normal!

Erin Cooke
Cambridge Avenue
Received on Fri Sep 02 2016 - 12:34:24 PDT

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