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Please Do Not Allow BRE Properties (Sharon Green Apts Owner) to Exceed Development Limits and Destroy Heritage Trees to Build a New Leasing Office and Parking Lot.

From: domainremoved <Aruni>
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2014 08:10:35 -0800

Dear Council Members

Against unanimous public opposition over the course of 3 public hearings,
Planning Commissioners agreed to raise building coverage for Sharon Green
Apartments from 30% to 40%, a significant increase of 33.3%. They did
so despite
BRE already having developed the property beyond the conditions stipulated
in their Conditional Development Permit (CDP).

According to the city staff report, BRE is now occupying 38.75%, which
already exceeds the city's current development permit by 8.75% and city
staff is unclear as to why see city staff
report<http://content.govdelivery.com/attachments/topic_files/CAMENLO/CAMENLO_92/2014/02/06/file_attachments/268611/021014%2B-%2B350%2BSharon%2BPark%2BDrive%2B%2528CDP%2BAmendment%2529%2BSecond%2BReport__268611.pdf>.
 According to the Planning Chair, the new 40% permit would approve the
exceeded amount of 8.75%, additionally provide development space as
requested to build a new leasing area, and would further provide another
development allowance that is even bigger than that requested for the new
leasing area. Given that there are other apartments and properties within
the boundary of the CDP, wouldn't this set precedent for them to ask for
similar exceptions? *Why would the city grant BRE a new and significantly
increased CDP when they are already violating the terms of the current CDP,
issued by the City of Menlo Park, and approved by both its Planning
Commission and its City Council?*

City Planners also approved BRE's request to cut down 8 healthy Heritage
trees to be replaced by the new leasing office and parking lot, with the
10- space parking lot not counted as part of the increased building
coverage. Tenants, area residents, plus all 7 members of Menlo Park's
Environmental Quality Commission were all united in their request to
preserve healthy trees, especially as these trees are among a total of *125
trees* (mostly healthy) to be cut down. BRE said that although the property
already has a leasing office with a dedicated parking lot and enjoys over
96% occupancy, they need more parking dedicated to leasing and a new and
larger leasing center for offices and to receive packages. As the current
one-story leasing and recreation building is being torn down and rebuilt
into two stories, couldn't a new and expanded leasing office
be accommodated within the doubled space? *Why would the city of Menlo
Park, designated as a Tree City USA Community, allow BRE to destroy healthy
Heritage trees, protected by its own ordinances? * see
ordinance<http://www.menlopark.org/departments/pln/htree/tree_faqs.pdf>
.

Along with leasing related construction, BRE cited planned barbecue decks,
outdoor fireplaces and other hardscape as reasons for clearing a
significant number of healthy trees, and said that cut trees would be
replaced at a greater number. However, the new trees are smaller than those
they replace and so are also unprotected and vulnerable to future removal
until they reach Heritage height, which can take a great number of years.
The Public was untied in wanting to preserve open green space already
enjoyed by young and old alike.

Everyone agreed that existing buildings and apartment interiors do need to
be renovated. BRE said they hoped improvements would lead to increased
monthly rents (currently posted as $2400 to over
$8000<http://www.breproperties.com/search?beds=any&baths=any&city=44&state=2&min_rent=any&max_rent=any>).
There maybe tenants willing and able to pay higher rents for renovated
apartments
and buildings. As these improvements do not require the city to provide
exceptions to its ordinances and permits like the request to increase an
already exceeded CDP does, *p**lease reject the amendment to significantly
increase the CDP for Sharon Green Apartments and approve only the welcome
upgrades for all its buildings.*

Please take the transition of ownership also into consideration. BRE was
sold on Dec 19th, and with the new owners Essex expected to take over by
the end of March
link<http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-12-19/essex-to-buy-bre-for-4-dot-3-billion-in-u-dot-s-dot-apartment-reit-deal>,
I would be surprised if plans for the property and the proposed project
stayed the same despite the change of ownership.

Thank you for your consideration

Aruni Nanayakkara
Received on Mon Feb 17 2014 - 08:10:08 PST

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