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An Important Issue of Density and Bonus, The Proposed 1704 ECR/Hampton Inn Project

From: domainremoved <FrederickB>
Date: Sun, 14 Jul 2019 17:39:06 -0700

To the Council and Fellow Menlo Park Residents:

I want to say first what a pleasure it is to see the Menlo Park City
Council considering vital steps to deal with density and planning. It
has been far too long in coming.

I'm writing today to raise a specific question of density and the
ECR/Downtown Specific Plan. This development plan, long in the making,
has given rise to an explosion of project approvals accounting for some
80% of all available space within the Plan area. In one such case, the
1704 ECR/Hampton Inn, a huge bonus has been proposed for developers in
return for odd concept that a bonus can be offered in return for paying
one's taxes.

At their last, June 22, meeting a majority of the Planning Commission
determined that the Hampton Inn's planned payment of?? the so-called
Transient Occupancy Tax was neither an appropriate nor sufficient Public
Benefit to grant a bonus Floor Area Ratio of 1.1 to the Project from the
0.75 Base FAR that prevailed in the Downtown/ECR Specific Plan area. On
that basis, a majority of the commissioners then present voted against
the proposed project.

To briefly consider the tax issue, the TOT is a tax that all hotels must
pay. It has been the absurd position of the hotel developer and indeed
Planning Commission staff that the project's payment of a TOT is a
Public Bonus meriting a 46% increase of allowable project density. Many
of us may wish that we got special credit for paying our taxes. It of
course isn't the case.

In the instance of the Hampton Inn, the hotel's prospective payment of
TOT does nothing for the affected low-density neighborhood surrounding
the hotel. Indeed, it is the neighborhood that pays the price of this
development with crowding and higher density. This concept of
neighborhood cost rather than benefit deserves the Council's attention
as it develops plans that will continue to guide the development of this
city. Payment of taxes should never be used in considering project
merits.?? Project developers should be compelled to provide amenities
that specifically benefit the surrounding neighborhood in order to be
granted a Public Benefit Bonus allowing for increase density.

Again, it is encouraging to see the City Council consider these topics
in ways that may improve all our futures.

Fred Rose, Menlo Park Resident
Received on Sun Jul 14 2019 - 17:32:49 PDT

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