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Opposition to Fire Station 77 Expansion Project

From: domainremoved <Sheryl>
Date: Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:20:57 -0700

Dear Menlo Park Fire District and City of Menlo Park Officials:

This message is written to strongly oppose the proposed expansion of Fire Station 77 and to oppose the adoption of a mitigated negative declaration as outlined in your report entitled Fire Station 77 Replacement Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration.

Credibility is closely tied to not only the accuracy of the message you communicate, but also the way in which you communicate your message. The way the community has been notified of this project and the way in which you describe the scope, nature and impacts of your proposed project, demonstrates a blatant disregard for the residents who would have to live near your proposed project. The fact that you did not even attempt to share your proposed project with the Belle Haven Neighborhood Association further demonstrates your lack of concern about how residents feel about the proposed project.

 I ask you to imagine for just one moment what it must have been like for residents who live within a 300 foot radius of your proposed project to receive a notice via U.S. mail some days after February 17, 2017, that indicated your desire to acquire their properties in order to expand your station. Do you really believe that you are only affecting people within a 300 foot radius? What prevented you from expanding the direct notification radius to 500 feet or even 1,000 feet? Furthermore, if you are successful at acquiring the residential properties that you wish to exploit, there will be a multiplier effect of the negative impact on surrounding property values and the quality of life for residents near the station and in the pathway of your firetrucks. In short, the homes you are targeting are not the only ones that will be adversely affected by your plan.

On Page 104 of your report, under the topic of Transportation/Traffic, you indicate that impacts from this project would be either Less Than Significant Impact or No Impact. This assessment is a gross misrepresentation of the impact of your proposed project. Our residential community cannot accommodate any additional traffic, especially the type generated by large emergency vehicles that are deployed multiple times throughout the day. The thought of dumping more traffic, especially emergency vehicle traffic on Terminal Avenue is laughable at best. As you may be aware, Terminal Avenue is one of the busiest streets in our residential community. It is the main artery to Kelley Park, The Senior Center, The Onettta Harris Community Center and Beechwood School. Cars park on both sides of the street and the street is too narrow for two cars to easily pass at one time let alone accommodate your large emergency vehicles. Belle Haven has become one of the busiest areas for cut through traffic. The traffic is so heavy that often the exit for your fire station is blocked by cars during the evening commute hours. Why would you add emergency vehicles to a residential neighborhood instead of locating your additional fleet closer to the area where growth is occurring. If you know you will need aerial ladder trucks to fight possible fires at the new multi story buildings that are being built, then locate those trucks closer to the place you will need to deploy them. Furthermore, you store a lot of equipment and supplies on the current site. Have you ever considered storing your less frequently used equipment and supplies in another location? The additional space could provide more room for you to maneuver your trucks and accommodate your employees.

You are considered and compensated as one of the best Fire Districts in the country. It’s time to do the heavy lifting required to locate your additional vehicles and employees in a more suitable area.

I want to thank Mr. Jon Hitchcock for replying to my inquires in a prompt manner. For the purposes of the public record, I will include my email message and the responses received below:

> From: "Hitchcock, Jon" <jonh_at_(domainremoved)
> Date: March 7, 2017 at 9:51:19 AM PST
> To: 'Sheryl Bims' <sherylbims_at_(domainremoved)
> Cc: Alex D McIntyre <admcintyre_at_(domainremoved)
> Subject: RE: Fire Station 77 Redevelopment Project
>
> Sheryl,
>
> Below are the responses to your questions. Hopefully these responses assist you in drafting your comment letter which can be provided to the Board at the March 21st meeting.
>
> 1. Is it true that residents who live within a 300’ radius of the proposed project are the only ones who were notified about the project via U.S. Mail?
>
> No, the mailing also included noticing to City of Menlo Park, nearby schools, the Menlo Park City Library and agencies responsible for making approvals on the project.
>
> 2. Which if any members of the Menlo Park City Staff or Menlo Park City Council have been made aware of the details of the proposed project? If they have been informed, when were they informed in writing?
>
> The City Manager, Assistant City Manager and the Council were aware of our plans to rebuild the undersized fire station and the City was provided the draft report to comment prior to publication.
>
> 3. Where might the public go to find more information about all of the alternative sites that the Fire Protection District has considered to date for such an expansion? As you are aware the majority of the growth is happening in the commercial areas and many residents feel that the expansion is much better suited for location in such an area.
>
> District Staff reviewed Station 77’s response area and identified areas in which a relocated station could work. Unfortunately there were no properties for sale that provided sufficient space and allowed for quick access to a primary response route. The District did identify properties that were for sale and were sufficient in size however they were not centrally located and therefore were not suitable.
>
> In addition the entire complex is not being rebuilt and it is an essential services facility with multiple uses. The Fire District was focused on maintaining its presence in Belle Haven based upon its long term commitment to the community. The 2015 Standards of coverage report identifies that Station 77 should be rebuilt to address increasing residential and commercial growth and also indicates that station location is appropriate.
>
> 4. What was the cost of the 800+ page report dated February 17, 2017, entitled DRAFT Fire Station77 Replacement Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration/Menlo Park Fire Protection District, San Mateo County California?
> Approximately $58,000
>
> 5. Is it true that the land currently occupied by Fire Station 77 is leased from the City of Menlo Park? If the land is leased, what is the cost of the lease?
> The land is currently leased by the City to the District in the amount of $1 per year.
>
> 6. What other methods have been used to notify the public about this proposed project?
> In addition to the mailings the notice was publicized in the San Mateo County Times as well as on the District’s website and the District’s Chief Officers made prior contact with several of the residents prior to this occurring.
>
> Thank you,
> Jon
>
> <image001.gif>
> Jonathan Hitchcock
> Senior Management Analyst
> Menlo Park Fire Protection District | 170 Middlefield Road | Menlo Park, CA 94025
> (650) 688-8577 | (650) 323-9129 FAX
> JonH_at_(domainremoved)
> Mission Statement: To protect and preserve life and property from the impact of fire, disaster, injury and illness.
  

Additional questions and concerns that were generated based on the responses I received from Mr. Hitchcock. The additional questions and concerns are as follows:

1. By only notifying in writing the residents who live within a 300’ radius, it seems that you are intentionally suppressing information. Even the City of Menlo Park usually notifies residents within a 500’ radius for many development projects. The fact of the matter is the entire community should be made aware of this expansion. As a resident of Chilco Street I often hear the impacts of your sirens and horns as you speed down Chilco Street and turn down Newbridge Street in order to reach Willow Road and other destinations. I mention this to say that your daily operations impact the entire community in the areas of noise and safety.

2. Did our City comment prior to publication and if so what comments did you receive? Somehow I want to believe that either City Staff or City Council raised concerns about your plan as presented and encouraged you to work a little harder with the major commercial property owners to find a better solution.

3. Your statement that unfortunately there were no properties for sale really shows how much your proposal is marginalizing all of the property owners around the current station. Am I to believe that the homes you wish to acquire were for sale? Absolutely not. We all know that the cost of land in the Peninsula is at a premium. You are essentially choosing to pursue the small guy and allowing the major property owners to benefit from their developments while minimizing the inconvenience to their bottom lines. Do you see any eight story buildings in Belle Haven neighborhood? I would assume there are written records of all of the work you have done to date to attempt to acquire other properties. I will not list the names of the major commercial property owners in this area because I am assuming you know who they are. Again I ask where might I go to find written record of the other attempts to acquire property for your fire fighting needs in this area? You pulled out all the stops on this proposal, so I look forward to seeing more about your efforts in the commercial areas located on the bayside of highway 101.

4. I find it interesting that you spent approximately $58,000 on your report, however all of the residents that I have asked said they were blindsided by your proposal and for most of them, the two page letter sent to their homes was their first indication of the scope of your project.

5. Land leased for $1 per year? How much you have been able to save by not leasing the land at market rate? Perhaps you will be able to use that savings toward a lease that you negotiate with another major commercial property owner.

6. While it is up to you to determine how you want to publicize this project, I am baffled that you did not consider other publications that are widely read in this area such as the Almanac or the Mercury News. While I commend you for posting the project on your website, the reality is that usually some other form of media is necessary to drive people to your website. I wonder about the nature of the prior contact that the District’s Chief Officers made and with whom they made the contact. People would not have been blindsided if they truly knew true scope of your plan.


Your plan as proposed will be the catalyst for too many significant safety and traffic impacts. Not conducting an EIR for a project of this magnitude is a travesty. This proposal appears to be an intimidating land grab at the expense of residents who are not willing to surrender their property and remaining quality of life to you. While many of the traffic issues are reflective of the negligence of the City to to anything substantive to mitigate traffic impacts in the Belle Haven neighborhood, your proposed project will cause irreversible damage to this residential community. As Fire District Members and as Elected and Hired Officers of the City of Menlo Park, I implore you to reject the current proposal and do the work necessary to locate these aerial ladder trucks and other equipment closer to the direct path of growth. Anything else is merely scapegoating the Belle Haven Neighborhood and unfortunately that tactic has been used too many times.

Thank you for the service you provide as firefighters. Your work is appreciated. Right now however you must do the hard work necessary to locate your additional equipment and staff in the commercial areas that will require your services.

Respectfully,


Sheryl Bims
 
Received on Tue Mar 21 2017 - 15:23:17 PDT

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