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General Plan Update

From: David D. Bohannon II <"David>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2016 23:56:10 +0000

Mayor Cline and Members of the City Council,

As a member of the GPAC and a long-standing stakeholder within Menlo Park, I wanted to share my thoughts with you in advance of tonight's hearing on the General Plan Update.

We are now in an era of regional traffic, largely due to the enormous economic growth that the Bay Area has experienced over the past decade. We need to give up the illusion that managing congestion can be fixed at a local level. The problem is regional, and so must be the solution.

Until now, communities throughout the region have taken advantage of the situation. No one has really looked at the big picture. Instead, the focus has been on incremental improvements that put more cars on the road.

What we need now is greater collaboration between local government, regional agencies and the private sector to look at long-term solutions to change behavior, enable transit, and get more people out of their cars. That process is already beginning, but much more work remains to be done.

The General Plan Update process has been underway for more than two years, and undergone significant improvement as a result of the community's involvement. While I can understand the inclination to delay the process further and ask the Planning Commission to look at the plan again, I would ask the Council to resist that impulse for two reasons.

First, the General Plan Update will ultimately result in fewer trips and a better outcome for Menlo Park. It's a good plan that balances growth with community benefits and cutting-edge sustainability policies. It accomplishes what a General Plan should accomplish in 2016. It was prepared with a tremendous amount of community outreach, and staff should be proud of the result.

Second, delaying the process will send the wrong message, and encourage surrounding communities to take advantage of the existing capacity in the system. That may sound controversial, but the reality is that there is still currently room to grow. We are not yet at the same level of congestion we experienced prior to the Dot.Com crisis in the late 1990's. But that window is closing, and delaying the plan further is an invitation for surrounding communities to take advantage - all to Menlo Park's detriment.

For these reasons, I respectfully urge the Council to approve the General Plan Update. It is time to put this multi-year process to a close, and set the stage for a productive new year focused on implementation and developing collaborative strategies for regional solutions.

David Bohannon
Received on Tue Nov 29 2016 - 16:00:50 PST

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