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Specific Plan Needs Adjusted

From: domainremoved <Patti>
Date: Tue, 17 Apr 2018 13:43:22 -0700

Dear Council,

The stated purpose of tonight's meeting about the El Camino Real/Downtown
Specific Plan's Biennial Review is "to ensure that [the Plan] is
functioning as intended."

It may be tempting to think that it is functioning as intended, since the
vacant lots on El Camino will be filled soon with approved projects and
there even are some projects ahead downtown. But as shown in the attached
document, the reality of what is happening is a far cry from what the Plan
portrayed and what the community process intended.

Throughout the public process that created the Plan, our community asked
for revitalization, vibrancy, and a "mix of retail, residential and office
uses that complement and support one another and bring vitality, including
increased retail sales, to the area" (page C4 of the SP). The consultants
assured us numerous times that there was no market for office and that
retail and housing projects were likely to come forward at the Bonus level
to help pay for infrastructure improvements.

The reality is that the markets have shifted, but the Plan has not,
resulting in:
 1, Non-residential development that is nearing the 30-year maximum allowed
while housing development lags considerably
 2, The amount of office development is far above what was expected while
net new community serving uses are a small fraction of that. The office
market quickly materialized in a big way despite the consultants'
predictions.
 3. Retail is literally disappearing -- we all know about Roger Reynolds
Nursery, Beltramo's Wine store, Fosters Freeze, Iberia restaurant. The
likely loss of favorites like the Oasis is a bellwether. Others could fall
like dominoes because there are NO requirements for retail/restaurants in
any future project on El Camino -- including no protections for retail or
restaurants on either the Big 5/BevMo or Safeway shopping centers. Imagine
the loss if either decided to redevelop in the future and not replace the
much-needed retail they currently provide.
 4. Other community-serving uses are growing very slowly, and more are at
significant risk. Already gone are an animal hospital, tax business,
laundromat, etc. There are no protections for small businesses on El
Camino. Without some protection, we easily could lose the shops that repair
our cars, sewing machines, clocks, as well as lose the exercise studios and
salons that help keep us fit and looking kempt.
 5. Hotel rooms are being developed but there are few suitable sites left
to provide the revenue assumed to make the Plan have a neutral or positive
impact on the city's General Fund.
 6. Housing units are being developed far more slowly than non-residential
space. The Plan envisioned a jobs/housing ratio of 0.88:1 (1,537 new
residents:1,357 new jobs per page C20) With today's practices for worker
density at at least double what was assumed in the Plan, even more housing
would be needed to achieve that Plan's jobs:housing goal. No information
has been provided to evaluate the jobs:housing ratio resulting from
approved/proposed projects. You should find out before making big
decisions, and be sure the information reflects realistic worker densities,
not some outdated "planning number".

Recommendations:

You have the ability to adjust the Plan to encourage development that
results in a mix of development that serves our community.
  a. Put as the highest priority item the work item "Preserve small
businesses and retail uses". Set a deadline for this work and monitor
progress. The character of our daily lives is at stake if you do not attend
to this immediately.
A "fix" could be a community-serving overlay for development on El Camino,
requiring net new first-floor development to be retail or community-serving
uses (i.e., non-office) or housing, similar to the overlay for downtown.
Existing offices or hotels would not be affected.
  b. Maintain the MAD cap for non-residential development. Utilize modern
worker density ratios to evaluate housing requirements, and identify ways
to increase housing with minimal school impacts (e.g., promote senior
housing by allowing greater density, lower parking requirements).
  c. Above all, require - and act upon - better data about specific
non-residential uses. This should be provided quarterly so you can identify
what needs attention before it is too late.

Please adjust the Plan to support our residential quality of life. The Plan
"as is" will not do that without adjustment. Do not kick the can down the
road. It will be too late.

Respectfully submitted,
Patti Fry
former Menlo Park Planning Commissioner and participant throughout the
ECR/Downtown SP development process

PS Before making decisions about garages, you should ask for information
about the quantify and locations of new parking spaces already approved or
proposed in the Plan area. And compare that with the 3,670 net new spaces
that the Plan illustrated (page C20).


Received on Tue Apr 17 2018 - 13:45:39 PDT

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