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draft General Plan Guiding Principles

From: domainremoved <Patti>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 2014 13:41:18 -0800

Dear Honorable Mayor, Councilmembers, Planning Commissioners,

Some comments for your study session and Council meeting tonight:

1. Draft General Plan Guiding Principles - please consider the following

   - *Starting from scratch* A lot of community effort went into both the
   prior General Plan and ECR/D Specific Plan. It makes little sense to start
   from scratch with a completely new set. Please discuss explicitly why each
   of the principles from these documents are not worth keeping, combining, or
   modifying slightly as appropriate.

   - *Over-arching vision of Menlo Park.* The draft does not provide an
   overall vision for our community. Is our town going to remain a residential
   community with a high quality of life for residents, who also can meet
   their needs for goods and services locally?
   As worded, the new principles imply that Menlo Park is just a collection
   of stand-alone neighborhoods. A town is more than the sum of individual
   neighborhoods. A town that is a cohesive community ensures there are places
   for shoe repair, laundromats, car repair, nonprofits, mom&pop stores,
   stationery stores, daycare, workouts, community gatherings, etc.. Some of
   these don't need to be in every single neighborhood (or not necessarily in
   only one part of town), but we need to be able to count on them being part
   of our town, and not being crowded out by "market forces". They need to be
   zoned FOR, so they can and will exist here. None of the draft principles
   drive this.

   The current General Plan #1 principle should be adopted - or combined
   with the ECR/D SP principle - as an additional guiding principle for the
   updated General Plan, and expanded to include the above concepts. These are
   found on page 33 in Appendix H, and verbatim below:
      - GP: "Maintains and enhances the residential quality of life in the
      city by emphasizing development which has a human scale and is pedestrian
      friendly."
      - ECR/D SP: "Plan Area Character: Maintains a village character
      unique to Menlo Park."
      - Note that community input "Maintain Menlo Park's village-like
      character; preserve small town atmosphere"
      (top of page 24 of staff report) was dismissed as being covered by
      "Complete Commercial Corridors"

      - *Traffic congestion* is an extremely high concern of Menlo Park
   residents. The draft principles fall far short of establishing a goal as
   important and simple as current GP principle #5, which should be adopted as
   is:
      - "Minimizes traffic congestion on city streets and limits through
      traffic in residential neighborhoods through sound land use planning."

      - *East-west connectivity* - this critical principle of the ECR/D SP
   should be part of the overall city's General Plan, too, as it cannot exist
   without integration across the entire city. Please adopt ECR/D SP principle
   as is:
      - "East-West Connectivity: Provide greater east-west, town-wide
      connectivity."

      - *Public Benefit* - The guiding principle related to Belle Haven
   ("Corporate Contribution") falls short as a guiding principle for future
   development in the entire city. This is a General Plan for all of Menlo
   Park. This principle should be modified to encourage provision of public
   benefit for allowing additional commercial development.

   - *Competitive and Innovative Business Destination* - Again, the General
   Plan update is for the entire city, not just M-2. Doesn't Menlo Park want
   competitive retail and service providers, too, to serve our residents, at
   least? For a sustainable economic future, it's important to foster a
   variety of types of businesses, and to favor those that could provide
   direct sales or use tax revenue.
   From the Economic Development materials, it appears Menlo Park already
   has disproportionately greater office than retail per population than other
   cities. The City's zoning rules can ensure that there is balanced
   commercial growth. As worded, this principle implies that only offices will
   be favored. "Local economic activity" could be construed as indirect
   revenue whereas the city needs to ensure that there will be direct and
   sustainable revenue from a variety of sources.

   The current General Plan principle #10 is an important one, and it
   should be adopted.
      - "Maintains and enhances the city's economic vitality and fiscal
      health."

2.* Process and public information* - it is disappointing that something as
important as this effort has had numerous meetings scheduled during the
busy holiday season. It also is disappointing that the next step,
identifying "a" preferred development alternative is scheduled on December
18th and is scheduled only once in only one part of our town. All that
makes it difficult for community participation. So does scheduling back to
back meetings over the dinner hour on a school night.

Thank you for your consideration and incorporation of these comments

Respectfully submitted,
Patti Fry, Menlo Park resident and former Planning Commissioner
Received on Tue Dec 09 2014 - 13:35:46 PST

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