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Greenheart project EIR Scoping

From: domainremoved <Patti>
Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2014 16:55:31 -0700

Dear City -
Following are comments regarding the Greenheart project EIR Scope. These
are in addition to my prior comments sent to the Planning Commission before
their Study Session and discussion about the EIR Scope. Those comments are
appended below.

*Definition of Project* - The project itself needs additional definition.
Even the ECR/D Specific Plan had definite amounts of various types of uses.
No such thing has been identified for this project. Instead, ranges for the
total FAR and for the SF of different uses have been provided for this
Greenheart project. That is not acceptable for EIR purposes, as the EIR
must study a specific project. An evaluation of both the environmental
impacts and potential project benefits depend on exactly what is defined as
"the project".

In the August 4, 2014 Planning Commission staff report page 8 is a
statement of how unclear the actual project is "Each of these buildings
would feature potential retail/restaurant space in the western frontages
along El Camino Real. This would be “flex” space that could be either
retail/restaurant or non-medical office at any particular time, depending
on market interest and developer preference."

Further adding to confusion about what this project is: different numbers
are used in different documents about the quantity of residential units,
the amount of retail, the number of parking spaces. Examples:

   - The *1300 El Camino Real Greenheart Project Infill Environmental
   Checklist* page 1-1 "The uses at the Project site would include a range
   of approximately 195,000 sf to 210,000 sf of non-medical office space in
   two buildings; approximately 203,000 sf to 210,000 sf of residential space
   (220 housing units) in one building; and up to 22,000 sf of
   retail/restaurant space throughout proposed office and residential
   buildings. The Project would provide approximately 1,071 parking spaces."
   - Page 7 of the August 4, 2014 Planning Commission staff report lists
   "up to 220" residential units with 203,000 SF; Retail/Restaurant of 7,000
   SF, and “Flex” Space (Non-Medical Office or Retail/Restaurant) of 22,000
   SF, and Non-Medical Office of 188,000 SF. 1,145 parking spaces.
   - Page C2 of the August 4, 2014 Planning Commission staff report lists
   Retail of 7, 000 SF in the residential buildings and 22,00 SF in the
   commercial building [total 29,000 SF] and "200 rental units". The same
   29,000 SF of retail is listed on page C4 where it lists 1,158 parking
   spaces. The calculations for parking suggest that there are 216 residential
   units (270 divided by 1.25).
   - Page D2 of the August 4, 2014 (the July 14, 2014 Notice of
   Preparation) states there is 195,000 to 210,000 SF of non-medical office,
   203,000 to 210,000 SF of residential space (up to 220 units), up to 22,000
   SF retail/restaurant, and 1,071 parking spaces.
   - Page 2-5 of the 1*300 El Camino Real Greenheart Project Infill
   Environmental Checklist* Table 2.3 states that the project is 105,000 SF
   of non-medical office in each of two buildings, and 210,000 SF of
   residential.
   - Page 2-6 of the same Infill Checklist Table 2-4 states that
   Non-medical Office 195,000 – 210,000 SF, Retail 15,000 – 22,000 SF and
   Residential 203,000 – 210,000 SF (220 units)
   - Page 2-8 of the Infill Checklist describes "Office and retail uses
   would be allocated 3.8 parking stalls per 1,000 sf of building space for a
   total of 798 spaces. The other parking garage would be located under the
   residential buildings and would provide one level of parking for exclusive
   use by onsite residents. This parking garage would have 1.3 spaces per unit
   for a total of 273 spaces. Combined, the Project site would include 1,071
   parking spaces." Note that the parking rates are not the same as in other
   documents listed above.

These numbers are inconsistent. There must be a single set of numbers for
specific uses; not ranges, and not different numbers for the project to be
evaluated in the EIR.

If there is uncertainty about potential uses, create Alternatives for study
of the different options for each, including total project size and amounts
of the different types of uses included, and parking.

*Plans* - The plans available for this project are incomplete, making it
difficult to evaluate the project. There are no interior elevations, and no
northside elevations (non-street). Plans are important for evaluation of
potential impacts and for understanding the project benefits.

*Comparison of Impacts* and *Determination of Net New Developmen*t - There
was a third EIR done regarding a portion of this project site -- that for
the original Derry Lane Mixed Use Project, certified in 2006.

There is no clear rationale for netting out only one of these two prior
projects (i.e., 1300 El Camino Real and Derry Lane Mixed Use), each of
which was supposedly in the background of the EIR for the ECR/D Specific
Plan. It seems more appropriate that both are netted against the project or
neither is netted against the Greenheart project.
As indicated in the previous communication, any calculation of "net"
development needs to use today's FAR yardstick, with prior SF adjusted
accordingly, and "net" of active uses only once. Regarding the latter, the
prior project impacts in the background for the ECR/D Specific Plan were
considered as "net" of then-active uses. So the gross SF of those projects
cannot be netted against the Greenheart project now. It appears that there
is an attempt to deduct active uses multiple times (previously for the
prior EIR's, and now for the Greenheart project).


EIR Scope - It is not appropriate to exclude Population/Housing from the
EIR study. Using the same analytical assumptions as used by the City's
consultant Lisa Wise Consulting, Inc., the Greenheart project could
generate more than 2.5 jobs/housing unit. This worsens the assumed average
in the Specific Plan of 1.56. Since the Specific Plan did not assume the
Greenheart site was an "opportunity site", this impact is potentially
signficant and adverse because the project adds disproportionately more
jobs than housing. Given the previously announced proposal at 500 El Camino
Real, it may not be possible for development within the Specific Plan's
Maximum Buildout to make up for the additional jobs represented by the
Greenheart project in addition to other approved and pending projects in
order to achieve the Specific Plan's average.

Because incremental traffic impacts can be directly related to GHG
emissions, it is inappropriate to exclude study of Greenhouse gases in the
EIR for the Greenheart project.

Respectfully submitted,
Patti Fry
Menlo Park resident and former Planning Commissioner


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Patti L Fry <pattilfry_at_(domainremoved)
Date: Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 1:05 PM
Subject: Greenheart project EIR Scoping and Study Session
To: "planning.commission_at_(domainremoved)

Dear Planning Commission - this evening you will be discussing two topics
about the Greenheart project at 1300 El Camino Real (ECR) and related
parcels -- its EIR scope and a study session about the project. Below are
comments for consideration during both of your discussions.

As you may know, this project is being proposed using the Specific Plan's
rules on a combination of parcels where there used to be

   - an approved project that had its own EIR (1300 ECR) AND that was
   considered in the long-term background of the Specific Plan EIR,
   - another project (Derry site) that was the subject of a successful
   referendum. A revised project was approved by the PC March 2008 but not
   taken forward by the applicant to the CC (combination of strife amongst
   Derry family members and with developer, and recession). This may also have
   been in the long-term background of the Specific Plan EIR.
   - 3rd smaller site at 1258 El Camino that was not part of either of the
   above


*Regarding the EIR scoping* - the *scope* of the EIR is very critical to
get right because that, and only that, is what will be studied in the EIR.
*Definition of Project* - it appears that there is uncertainty about how
much retail the Greenheart project will contain. It is too ambiguous for
EIR purposes to call potential Retail space "flex space" since different
uses could have different environmental and financial (for FIA)
characteristics. The Project for the purposes of the EIR needs to pick a
certain amount of each type of use for its study. Alternative(s) could
study the other option(s) for types and amounts of uses..
*Identification of Alternatives* - be sure that at least one of the
Alternatives studied is a reasonable and realistic (and ideally desirable)
scenario with no more than 100K SF of office. Assuming the Initiative is
approved this fall, having such an Alternative pre-identified should help
speed up pursuit of it. As we know, often times the Alternatives are
virtual throw-aways but it's good information for you/community to see a
contrast of the proposal with the Alternative, and good for developer to
have EIR already underway for what could be built when initiative is
approved..
Another Alternative should be a combination of the 2 prior projects and
something similar added for the new parcel that was not part of either
prior site.

*Comparison of impacts* - the previously approved 1300 ECR project was
included in 2 different EIRs - its own (in 2009), and that of the Specific
Plan (DEIR in 2011, FEIR 2012). The issue at hand is whether the Greenheart
project exceeds the impacts studied in the Specific Plan, as it followed
the original 1300 ECR proposal and its EIR.

The previously approved grocery store project EIR may contain some useful
information, however. Do bear in mind that the project was accepted despite
"significant and unavoidable traffic impacts". The project was approved
despite those impacts because the Council made a finding of "overriding
considerations" based on the benefits of *that project*. It's a project
that doesn't exist and never was built, and the benefits never realized.
The grocery and a health club were among the benefits. In contrast, the
Greenheart contains no health club, and *promises* no retail.
For that EIR decision see page 25 of the Council 10/06/09 action:
http://service.govdelivery.com/docs/CAMENLO/CAMENLO_97/CAMENLO_97_20091006_020000_en.pdf


*Definition of Net New project *- be sure that consideration (and
subtraction from the gross new SF and uses of the Greenheart project) of
the previously approved/studied 1300 ECR impacts are based on its 2009 "net
new" development SF, not its 2009 gross SF. I think the City is using the
wrong number for that (110,065 SF) that was the 2009 gross SF..

Be sure to also consider that since August 2009 the City redefined what is
considered FAR. When that decision was made, the staff report indicates
what the 2009 project would be counted as in the new definition of SF. See
attached for more details about all of this. A similar adjustment would
need to be made for the Derry Lane project that was assumed as background
for the Specific Plan EIR.

It is important when discussing "net new" development to know what both the
gross SF by use is and what is to be netted against it, using the same
ruler. Use of the spring 2009 *gross* SF for the 1300 ECR grocery project
(2008 Derry project, too) and is not appropriate when comparing "net new"
to what was studied in the Specific Plan EIR, which used a different
definition of what is FAR.
The active uses should be netted, not total structures including vacant
ones. For Derry site, page 2-2 lists 22,300 SF of existing structures but
at least 8,300 SF is vacant (inactive).

*Impacts* - Impacts studied should take into account the lost opportunity
of the prior projects. Analysis of net new impacts of the Greenheart
project, for example, must take into account the loss of retail, office,
housing units, health club etc. from both of the prior projects. When the
Financial Impact Analysis (FIA) is done, the same needs to be taken into
account. Similarly, when potential benefits are considered when evaluating
the possibility of Overriding Considerations for accepting the EIR and when
evaluating Public Benefit for a Public Benefit Bonus, the loss of the
benefits of the prior projects has to be taken into account while the
incremental benefits of the new project are evaluated.

*Specific Plan assumptions for El Camino North quadrant*
Ensure that this new EIR considers not only total impacts expected from the
Specific Plan but also the impacts the Plan's EIR assumed would occur in
the north El Camino area where the Greenheart site is located. See attached
table from the Specific Plan Transportation Appendices, bearing in mind
that the previously approved projects were assumed in the long-term
background. In other words, the new, and removed uses shown do not include
the 2009 project or the 2008 Derry Lane project. They were assumed to be
"built" at the time.

The differences between the Greenheart project and the 2009 approved
project (e.g., in terms of uses and square footage) are ALL incremental
above and beyond what the Specific Plan EIR assumed. After all, other
"opportunity" sites in El Camino North quadrant, including the former Roger
Reynolds site, were assumed to be represented by the changes in the
attached table; nothing in the table was assumed for the Greenheart site
except for the 1258 ECR parcel.

*for the study session -*- The session should include the approved plans of
the prior projects at 1300 ECR and at Derry sites. There are a few
elevations on the city website for the former 1300 ECR project EIR
www.menlopark.org/DocumentCenter/View/2189 but none about the revised
project for the Derry site.
The revised Derry project was approved by the PC, and elevations shown to
the PC at that time, but the project was not taken by the applicant to the
CC The comparisons of the scopes of those projects, their uses, and their
look & feel might be helpful.
Additionally, it would be helpful to compare the project to the Specific
Plan Vision, and re-examine the Nov 2013 Sierra Club letter about larger
sites being very important to the City's ability to achieve its housing
goals. The CCIN link to that letter is broken so I've attached the letter,
too.

Respectfully submitted,
Patti Fry, former Planning Commissioner (2000-2004)


Received on Wed Aug 13 2014 - 16:52:10 PDT

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