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2131 Sand Hill Road; Concerns raised by a local resident

From: John D. Donahoe <"John>
Date: Mon, 21 Aug 2017 19:59:36 +0000

August 21, 2017
Kirsten Keith, Mayor
Menlo Park City Council
701 Laurel St.
Menlo Park, CA 94025

RE: 2131 Sand Hill Road

Menlo Park has received much correspondence from Janet Davis, a local resident of Weekend Acres on Alpine Road. This letter is provided to correct the public record.

Purpose of the annexation
The subject property is located in San Mateo County, and is in the R-E, S-9 (Residential Estates, Residential Density Number 9) district, which would allow approximately 7 large lot single-family detached homes. Stanford believes that the development of an office building at that location is compatible with the surrounding land uses along Sand Hill Road, and set out to develop an office building on the property. Starting in February, 2015, Stanford had a series of meetings with City staff, and later with San Mateo County LAFCO staff to discuss the proposed development. City staff stated that it was both the County and City policy to promote development within cities and not unincorporated areas, and when possible, to remove pockets of County jurisdiction when surrounded by a city jurisdiction. San Mateo County General Plan Policy 7.24 Urban Unincorporated Areas Within City Sphere of Influences states "encourage cities to annex urban unincorporated areas within designated city spheres of influence." Based on that direction, Stanford initiated the entitlement process that included an annexation.

The vacant portion of the Stanford Property proposed for development as part of the application before the City Council was never part of San Mateo Countyís prior action on PLN 1999-00331, therefore was not subject to the provisions of that permit. In fact, Stanford had originally intended to annex only the vacant portion of the property and to leave the Hewlett Foundation and the Buck Estate in the County. Instead, the City of Menlo Park and LAFCO staff required Stanford to bring the entire property in the city jurisdiction.

As part of the annexation process, the Buck Estate will be zoned R-1-S (Single Family Suburban Residential), and the existing Hewlett Foundation and the proposed office building at 2131 Sand Hill Road will be zoned C-1-C (Administrative, Professional and Research, Restrictive). Upon completion of the annexation and rezoning, the Hewlett Foundation will be a conforming use in the C-1-C zoning district.

Adequacy of Traffic Analysis
Ms. Davis has suggested that the applicant prepared the traffic analysis that is included as part of the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration of Environmental Impact prepared for this application. That is incorrect. The City of Menlo Park Planning and Public Works departments prepared the scope of work for the project, and all studies were conducted under the direction of City of Menlo Park staff.

The proposed office building project has no significant impact on traffic, nevertheless there is a condition to make pedestrian and bicycle improvements to the Sharon Park Drive/Sand Hill Road intersection.

Ms. Davis has suggested that since the traffic analysis did not look at accident rates, this somehow invalidates the traffic analysis. Project focused traffic analyses do not normally look at traffic accidents or accident rates. Traffic accidents typically come into play during roadway and intersection design studies, where changes in the road design might reduce or eliminate unsafe conditions.

Access on Alpine Road
The Hewlett Foundation building takes access from the signalized intersection at Sand Hill Road, and the private drive ends at the Hewlett Foundation. A fire lane was required from the Hewlett Foundation building to Alpine Road, but it would require employees to jump an existing curb to use the fire road out to Alpine Road. The proposed building at 2131 Sand Hill Road will utilize the Sand Hill Road exit, and there is no proposed change to the existing fire road to Alpine Road.

The existing Buck Estate, now used as the home of the Stanford Provost, has private gates that allow the residents to use either the Sand Hill Road signalized intersection, or to make right hand turns onto Alpine Road. There is no legal ability for those leaving the Provostís residence to make left-hand turns onto Alpine Road, nor is it legal for vehicles travelling north on Alpine Road to turn left onto the subject property.

Conformance with County Use Permit
Based on the various submitted comments, Ms. Davis seems to indicate that the existing Hewlett Foundation is not operating under the conditions of the County of San Mateo Use Permit. That is an incorrect assumption. On July 26, 2000, the San Mateo County Planning Commission approved Use Permit PLN 1999-00331, which granted (I) a Negative Declaration and (2) a Use Permit, pursuant to County Zoning Regulations Section 6500, to allow construction of the Hewlett Foundation headquarters office facility, consisting of 2 stories, a total of 48,000 sq. ft. of floor area, and 110 parking spaces at 2111 Sand Hill Road in the unincorporated West Menlo Park area. The Hewlett Foundation was at the time of approval, and remains a philanthropic use, and has been in conformance with the conditions of the approved use permit. The building was ultimately constructed and occupied, receiving all necessary permits and clearances from San Mateo County.

As stated previously, upon completion of the annexation and rezoning, the Hewlett Foundation will be a conforming use in the C-1-C zoning district.

Jobs/Housing Balance concerns
Unlike many communities, the City of Menlo Park has a Below Market Rate (BMR) Unit Ordinance that requires commercial and retail developments to either provide BMR units with the development or pay an in-lieu BMR fee to the City of Menlo Park. Because Stanford University has a mixed-use project under consideration elsewhere in Menlo Park, the Menlo Park Housing Commission recommended that the BMR units required by the 2131 Sand Hill Road project be provided as actual units and not pay the in-lieu fee. This is very unique in Menlo Park, since most projects the size of the 2131 Sand Hill Road project cannot provide actual BMR units and simply pay the in-lieu BMR fee to the City of Menlo Park.

Stanford University undertook the development of the vacant portion of our property at 2131 Sand Hill Road by first contacting San Mateo County, LAFCO, and the City of Menlo Park before undertaking any development application for the property. The review of application, including the traffic analysis, was conducted entirely by the City of Menlo Park. We request that the Menlo Park accept the recommendation of the Planning Commission, and approve the project as presented.


John D. Donahoe
Associate Director, Planning and Entitlement
Stanford University
Land, Buildings and Real Estate

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Received on Mon Aug 21 2017 - 13:02:05 PDT

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