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RE: Is Office Capped in Connectmenlo?

From: Chow, Deanna M <"Chow,>
Date: Thu, 7 Nov 2019 23:35:56 +0000

Hi Brielle,

The answer to the question of whether there is a cap for office is nuanced. The general plan land use element broadly identifies a “cap” on nonresidential square footage in the Bayfront Area. Language regarding a “cap” appears on only one page in the land use element, page LU-11. This section regarding land use designations identifies the development potential from the 1994 general plan that is being carried forward (1.8 million nonresidential square feet citywide) plus new additional development potential “capped” at 2.3 million nonresidential square feet, all of which is in the Bayfront Area. Nonresidential square footage is inclusive of office, life science and commercial uses. There is no specific cap identified in the general plan for office, life science or commercial – only the broad category of an additional 2.3 million square feet of nonresidential development in the Bayfront Area. Therefore, the general plan land use element does not cap office development. However, to allow nonresidential development, which is inclusive of office, life science and commercial uses, to exceed an additional 2.3 million square feet over existing conditions in the Bayfront Area would require a general plan amendment, and as noted in the land use element, would require further environmental review.

The environmental impact report (EIR) for the general plan update was certified in November 2016. The EIR did not set a “cap” on development potential. The EIR identified the project as including specific amounts of office, life science and commercial square footage that make up the 2.3 million additional square feet of development potential in the Bayfront Area (see page 3-27 and Table 3-2 on page 3-29). The EIR studied the potential impacts of theses specific amounts of additional development on existing conditions. If the amounts as identified and studied in the certified EIR are exceeded, a project would be required to undergo additional environmental review (even if a general plan amendment relative to the total nonresidential square footage was not required). The EIR did not establish a cap, but a threshold to identify when more environmental review is required. It should be noted that many projects in the Bayfront Area are being required to undergo additional environmental review, even if they are within the project as defined in the certified EIR and do not require a general plan amendment, as a result of the settlement agreement with the City of East Palo Alto.

To determine whether a project’s impacts are significant, an EIR compares the impact of the project to the existing conditions, which are referred to as the baseline. The baseline normally consists of the physical conditions that exist in the area at the time the EIR process begins. For example, if you have an existing 100,000 square foot office building, that building and all the activity (such as employees driving to and from work) are part of the existing conditions. If an applicant then proposes to demolish the existing building and develop a 200,000 square foot office building, the EIR will compare the impact of a 200,000 square foot office to the existing condition that includes the 100,000 office building. In other words, it will look at the impact of the net new or additional 100,000 square feet. In the case of the certified EIR for the general plan update, it looked at 2.3 million additional nonresidential square feet beyond existing conditions. This is why when existing office square footage is demolished as part of the project, it is “credited” back because the amount of development studied in the certified EIR for the general plan was in addition to the existing square footage.

The potential impacts of the additional 2.3 million in nonresidential development on top of existing conditions (all existing square footage) is what was studied and mitigated for in the certified EIR. This crediting process is accurate even if nonresidential square footage is demolished and residential square footage is built. If the City Council desires to modify the policy direction approved with the 2016 general plan update, they may do so through legislative action by amending the general plan and/or zoning ordinance while complying with applicable State laws such as the Housing Accountability Act, SB 330, etc. However, until such time, the approach discussed above is what was anticipated by in the general plan and the certified EIR.

I hope this addresses your questions.

Regards,
Deanna



From: gabrielle johnck [mailto:gabriellejohnck_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Monday, November 4, 2019 7:29 PM
To: Chow, Deanna M <DMChow_at_(domainremoved)g>
Cc: _CCIN <city.council_at_(domainremoved)iam <wlm_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Re: Is Office Capped in Connectmenlo?


CAUTION: This email originated from outside of the organization. Unless you recognize the sender's email address and know the content is safe, DO NOT click links, open attachments or reply.
Thank you Deanna for your interpretation of caps in ConnectMenlo.

My Question: Is there a cap for office?

What I discovered: Staff takes the square footage of office demolished for new housing and hotel projects and places that number into the unused square footage to be distributed to the next office development application.

What’s wrong with this approach: This kind of internal accounting negates the City’s professed concern for the jobs/housing imbalance. It is a Council and community understanding that the housing deficit is not good and needs to be corrected. However, when the City’s good fortune is that an application for housing project has been filed, it makes little sense to transfer the removed office sf into a credit bank for more office. This approach is worse than treading water. Instead of the City minimizing impacts to community, we are instead adding impacts

A possible solution: Council needs to create a policy whereby housing is valued more than office and when office is demolished for housing, the amount of that sf is discarded, not added to the office allowed under the cap.

While your response did not clearly explain Staff’s accounting methods, this sentence was a hint. “The data is more refined than what was presented in 2018, which did not evaluate the existing square footage that would be credited towards the maximum development potential.”

An attachment to the March 26, 2019 Staff report shows three projects that involved the demolition of office for 2 housing projects and 1 hotel for a total of 137,211 sq. of office.


  * 111 Independence -15,100 sf
  * Menlo Uptown -108,411 sf
  * Hotel Moxy - 13,700 sf

Am I to understand that this amount extends the office cap by 137,211 sq ft. This accounting method is not mentioned in the March 26, 2019 Staff Report. Is it explained in Connectmenlo and if so, can you please give me the page number?


Brielle Johnck


On Nov 1, 2019, at 4:09 PM, Chow, Deanna M <DMChow_at_(domainremoved)

Hi Brielle,

Thank you for your patience. Hopefully, I can provide some clarity. The August 6, 2018 staff report was an information item, and as such, it did not require and the City Council did not take action or provide direction. As indicated in the staff report, the information was preliminary and staff anticipated bringing back a more detailed comprehensive discussion for Council feedback in the future. On March 26, 2019, the City Council initiated the General Plan two-year review and conducted a study session. For reference, the staff report is available at the following link: https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/21086/SS1-20190326-ConnectMenlo-review-CC?bidId= This report includes more detailed and updated information regarding the maximum allowable development potential. The data is more refined than what was presented in 2018, which did not evaluate the existing square footage that would be credited towards the maximum development potential. Table 2 in the March 26, 2019 staff report summarizes the proposed non-residential development square footage (at that time), and shows that it falls within the approximately 3.66 million square feet identified in the General Plan (inclusive of the reaffirmed development potential and the additional 2.3 million square feet of net new development in the Bayfront Area). The table also shows that the proposed non-residential development complies with the more refined land use square footages studied in the program EIR for the General Plan. An updated chart from August 2019 is provided in the following link: https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/23346/ConnectMenlo-Project-Summary-Table City staff continues to carefully monitor development applications to determine whether additional environmental review or a general plan amendment would be necessary to process any of the applications. My apologies for the delay in response. If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to reach out again.

Regards,
Deanna



<CMP_Email_Logo_100dpi_05d92d5b-e8e3-498f-93a6-d0da509bd602111111111.png>

  Deanna M. Chow
  Interim Community Development Director
  City Hall - 1st Floor
  701 Laurel St.
  tel 650-330-6733
  menlopark.org<http://www.menlopark.org/>



From: Brielle Johnck [mailto:gabriellejohnck_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Thursday, October 31, 2019 12:19 PM
To: _CCIN <city.council_at_(domainremoved)enlopark.org<mailto:city.council_at_(domainremoved)
Cc: McClure, William <wlm_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Is Office Capped in Connectmenlo?

CAUTION: This email originated from outside of the organization. Unless you recognize the sender's email address and know the content is safe, DO NOT click links, open attachments or reply.
Council,
Below is a thread of emails starting on October 9 with one to City Attorney William McClure, then to Assistant City Manager Justin Murphy and last to Senior Planner Deanna Chow inquiring as to how Council resolved the August 6, 2018 Staff alert regarding office caps in the General Plan being reached and soon to be exceeded.

I have not received a response from any to whom I wrote. There were 4 options suggested in the Staff Report and I am unable to find which of the 4 was chosen or if all were rejected for a 5th solution. Would one of you be so kind as to inform me as to on what basis the City is proceeding on the office proposed and in the queue as referenced in the Staff Report.

To refresh your memory:
https://www.almanacnews.com/news/2018/08/07/menlo-park-proposed-growth-along-bay-far-outpaces-expectations

I have heard that the office caps are now being treated as guidelines, which apparently can be redefined administratively. I’d appreciate a response.

Sincerely,
Brielle Johnck




Begin forwarded message:

From: gabrielle johnck <gabriellejohnck_at_(domainremoved)m<mailto:gabriellejohnck_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Fwd: Connectmenlo office cap problem
Date: October 22, 2019 at 12:57:40 PM PDT
To: dmchow_at_(domainremoved)rk.org>
Cc: "bnash_at_(domainremoved)org>" <bnash_at_(domainremoved)

Hello Deanna,
Below are two emails: one to Mr. McClure and the other to Mr Murphy on October 9, 2019. As you can read, I am trying to understand the handling of the caps in connectmenlo. I have attached the August 6, 2018 Staff Report which includes the 4 options presented to the Council regarding the non-residential caps reaching their limit.

I have followed this issue for over a year and cannot find which of the 4 options the Council chose. There are some City Council Members who believe that they were told by Staff and/or Mr. McClure that the caps are merely guidelines and all the developments in the chart in the August 6, 2018 Staff Report may go forward. Is this your understanding and can you point me to the council meeting when that opinion was made?

I appreciate any help you can give me regarding my question.

Brielle Johnck



Begin forwarded message:

From: gabrielle johnck <gabriellejohnck_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Connectmenlo office cap problem
Date: October 9, 2019 at 10:17:39 AM PDT
To: Justin I C Murphy <jicmurphy_at_(domainremoved)

Hi Justin,
Bill is out of the office today. Is there a Planner who can answer my question below? Or can you forward this inquiry to the authority on this issue.
Thank you,
Brielle



Begin forwarded message:

From: Brielle Johnck <gabriellejohnck_at_(domainremoved)
Subject: Connectmenlo CAP problem
Date: October 9, 2019 at 10:13:53 AM PDT
To: "William L. McClure" <wlm_at_(domainremoved)

Hi Bill,
I am at a loss to find out how the connectmenlo cap problem was resolved. Of the 4 options, which did the City take? I get a different answer from each person I ask. Did you find away around the need to amend the General Plan?
Any help would be great.
Brielle

https://www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/18265/I3---ConnectMenlo-Dev-Cap


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Received on Thu Nov 07 2019 - 15:27:17 PST

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