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The Buck Stops at the Council

From: domainremoved <Brielle>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 2019 13:07:06 -0700

To: Menlo Park Council
From Brielle Johnck
Re: Planning Commission’s authority to Approve large Developments

Elections of City Council Members is the bedrock of Democracy. Representation of the voter’s concerns is the first obligation of those elected. Planning Commissioners are appointed and not elected. Sometimes these appointments are of a political nature and a thank you for support during a Council candidate’s political campaign.

The Mayor argues that any one council Member could bring back to the Council any Planning Commission decision for the council to “take a look or review.” Residents want their Council to do more than “take a look”. In the past 10 years Menlo Park has undergone changes that have permanently altered the character of our city. We have become a job center of thousands upon thousands of office workers. Belle Haven is facing gentrification and housing replacement in numbers that could fill Urban Planning textbooks as examples of wide scale degradation of small communities.

No appointed body of volunteers should be given the responsibility of making changes such as these. Until recently EIRs required final approval by the Council. Residents have no power to change the makeup of our city’s Planning Commission. We do, however, have the power to elect and remove City Council Members.

The policy that was proposed by Council Member Combs on July 15, 2019 deserves a second review as Mayor Pro Tem Taylor requested. The expression that the ‘buck stops here” fits perfectly in this discussion. It is surprising that the Council would not want their stamp of approval on every large office and residential development. To give the Planning Commission the authority you are proposing seems both passive and evasive.

I suggest that you create a policy in which developments over a specific square footage or height or number of housing units require council approval. What is the threshold? 20,000 sq ft or 5 stories or housing developments of 50 or more units? Figure it out and let the residents see your vote to approve or reject every large development proposal. No one is suggesting Council review and add their approval to every bathroom addition that the Planning Commission ruled on.

I want Council to stand up and take personal responsibility for the changes it is bringing to our city. This is why you all ran and why you are serving.

Brielle Johnck
Received on Fri Sep 13 2019 - 12:59:29 PDT

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