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RE: Concerns with new General Plan draft Guiding Principles

From: Mueller, Raymond <"Mueller,>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2014 08:40:33 -0800

Dear Kelly,

Perhaps I have been too curt in my responses. I apologize for that.

But you must understand, I often wish I would hear less posturing in your communications and more of a tone in the spirit of collaboration. As you know we often can find areas of agreement. But in this circumstance, where your criticism and posturing was not only directed at the work product of City Council - which I have grown accustomed to - but also at the work product of the residents, community volunteers, and the Planning Commission, who have attended meetings worked hard on these guiding principles in the General Plan, I grew defensive of the time they have donated and the thoughtfulness with which they have approached this task.

Nonetheless, last night upon reflection, I asked my colleagues to insert specific language into the draft guiding principles that specifically states the City wants to protect residents from unreasonable development with unreasonable traffic impacts and congestion, and language that also states the City is seeking a high quality of life for all Menlo Park residents with healthy living spaces. My colleagues were very welcoming of that language and added to it. I believe these clause are a reflection of the guiding principles that were already in place and describe the whole of the principles, but I also understand that for some in our community to have them specifically stated is reassuring. These clauses combined with the thoughtful work product all those who have contributed in this process in my view create a set of approporiate guidelines for consideration in the General Plan process.

Kelly, let's work together. Everyone wants a wonderful City for our children and future generations to grow up in.

With kind regards,
Ray Mueller


________________________________________
From: Kelly Fergusson [kj_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 4:53 PM
To: Mueller, Raymond; _CCIN; _Planning Commission
Subject: RE: Concerns with new General Plan draft Guiding Principles

Ray,

Setting aside your hyperbole and bizarre speculation about my motivation in providing public input, I simply would like to emphasize the content of my initial email, since you are poised to adopt new Guiding Principles tonight. You have the power to modify the document to demonstrate a clear commitment on the part of the council to protect our neighborhoods and key community values, if you choose.

Three key 1994 General Plan Principles are:

1. "Minimizes traffic congestion on city streets and limits through traffic in residential neighborhoods through sound land use planning."
2. "Maintains and enhances the residential quality of life in the city by emphasizing development which has a human scale and is pedestrian friendly."
3. "Minimizes the adverse impacts of development on the city's public facilities and services."

The new principles eliminate any mention of limiting through traffic (what is commonly called "cut through traffic") in our neighborhoods. I suggest adding Principal 1 above to the Multimodal access section. I am opposed to the statement "Menlo Park neighborhoods share the benefits and impacts of local growth..." This leaves neighborhoods wide open and vulnerable to excessive neighborhood cut-through traffic and the gridlock which diminishes our quality of life. This may be what the developers want, but it is NOT what the residents want!

The new principles eliminate the concepts of the special residential quality of life we enjoy, as well as human-scale development. I suggest adding these concepts back in.

Finally, we know from the specific plan's Fiscal Impact Analysis and EIR as well as basic land use economics that large offices are a significant drain on city resources, and they worsen the rush-hour gridlock that residents hate. Instead of limiting offices, the new Guiding Principles open the floodgates to offices with the statement, "Menlo Park embraces...development..." The word "development" should be eliminated.

Your email says: "Great efforts have been made to implement policies that protect residents quality of life." I understand that there have been great efforts, but they are not reflected in the new Guiding Principles document. As it reads now, instead of protecting residents and our neighborhoods, it leaves them wide open to the negative impacts of excessive development. Please modify the document before adopting it to ensure that our neighborhoods and residential quality of life are indeed protected.

Thank you,
-- Kelly Fergusson

-----Original Message-----
From: Mueller, Raymond [mailto:RDMueller_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Tuesday, December 16, 2014 2:13 PM
To: Kelly Fergusson; _CCIN; _Planning Commission
Subject: RE: Concerns with new General Plan draft Guiding Principles

Dear Ms. Fergusson:

Thank you for your reply.

First, please let me be very clear. I want public input in this General Plan process very badly. I am very open to public input and to criticism. In fact, at the last meeting I asked for questionnaires to be circulated to the public via nextdoor.com.

You seem to miss the point that my email was not directed to the public, Ms. Fergusson. It was directed to you. It addressed specifically your continuing inflammatory conduct, which I find to be more self serving for political reasons, than substantive.

Your email mis-characterizes the work of the group of residents who have volunteered their time on the General Plan Project, and the work of the Planning Commission, the City Council, and City staff, all whom have worked very hard to incorporate the principles of the 1994 General Plan that consider and protect our residents quality of life in the current draft version of the guiding principles. While the verbiage may not be exactly the same as the 1994 plan, the intent is clear. There are some modifications of course, but it has been 20 years since the General Plan was updated.

Unfortunately Ms. Fergusson, you have a habit of writing the last paragraph of your emails with a fictional rallying cry for what appears to be some imagined future political campaign. In your first email your last paragraph indicates:

"The newly-proposed General Plan Principles do not capture these values and protections of our residential quality of life. And a single community meeting on December 18 is not sufficient for adopting new development principles that will cause such a significant change to the character of Menlo Park."

This assertion of course is false. Great efforts have been made to implement policies that protect residents quality of life. And of course there has been more than one meeting on this subject.

In your second email of yesterday you end with the following paragraph:

"From watching the video of Tuesday's meeting it does not appear that my concerns about the new Principles were meaningfully addressed. I assure you they are not mine alone. As I stated above, many residents are put off by prior interactions with the council and now feel it is a waste of time and energy to give input. Many residents have countless commitments during the busy holiday season, and thus couldn't attend or write even if they wanted. It is surprising to me that the council would allow such an important issue to take on the appearance of being rushed through the process during December. Again, I urge you and the rest of the council to take the time to get this right."

Ms. Fergusson, again much like with your first email, this paragraph offers no suggestions as to what you find wrong with the work that was conducted by the group of residents volunteering their time on this project, the Planning Commission, the City Council, and City Staff. Rather, you intend to make an appeal to all those who might buy what you are selling.

Ms. Fergusson, I care deeply about the quality of life in Menlo Park. All of those involved in the General Plan process, volunteering their time do so as well. I just find it unfortunate you continue to want to criticize for personal political gain, than collaborate.

With best regards,
Ray Mueller





________________________________________
From: Kelly Fergusson [kj_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2014 5:57 PM
To: Mueller, Raymond; _CCIN; _Planning Commission
Subject: RE: Concerns with new General Plan draft Guiding Principles

Ray,

I was surprised at your response to my input related to the Guiding Principles for the General Plan update. It was my understanding that the council and Planning Commission were seeking public input on this important topic, whether in person or by email. A more productive response would have been your description of how the three important values I highlighted in my Tuesday email were or were not incorporated in the General Plan Principles the council is poised to adopt, and why. The new General Plan will irrevocably change our community, so it is imperative to get these principles right. The quality of life your young family enjoys today is a result in large part of the careful crafting of the 1994 General Plan and the Guiding Principles upon which it is based. It is not unreasonable for the community to expect that key principles from 1994 are carried forward to the council's and planning commission's current efforts and explicitly considered whether they stand the test of time or need to be modified
in some manner.

My suggestion to you is that you be gracious, open and accepting of public input, rather than to strike the scornful and dismissive tone displayed in your email below. Right now, the community's trust of city hall and the city council is at an all-time low. Many residents believe attending council meetings is a futile waste of time, because they perceive their concerns are given lip service and then ignored. Additionally, the mere fact that critical sessions were scheduled in the heart of the holiday season suggests that the meetings are intended to be perfunctory rather than sincere outreach for community participation.

One thing I did appreciate recently was your apparent willingness (which I gathered from a quote of yours in the press) to re-look at the issue of the by-right development level and the public benefit trigger in the Downtown/El Camino Real Specific Plan. Between Ben Eiref's excellent Almanac guest editorial, and other planning commissioners' public comments, it sounds like there may be support for this discussion. I offer you my 2012 proposal to my then fellow councilmembers as a potential starting point. Here is the link to that memo in the City's public document archives: http://ccin.menlopark.org/archive6/0491.html
Perhaps this is something we can work productively on together. Let me know if you are willing to sit down to review and discuss.

From watching the video of Tuesday's meeting it does not appear that my concerns about the new Principles were meaningfully addressed. I assure you they are not mine alone. As I stated above, many residents are put off by prior interactions with the council and now feel it is a waste of time and energy to give input. Many residents have countless commitments during the busy holiday season, and thus couldn't attend or write even if they wanted. It is surprising to me that the council would allow such an important issue to take on the appearance of being rushed through the process during December. Again, I urge you and the rest of the council to take the time to get this right.

Sincerely,
-- Kelly Fergusson
   (650) 704-5608

-----Original Message-----
From: Mueller, Raymond [mailto:RDMueller_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Wednesday, December 10, 2014 1:16 PM
To: Kelly Fergusson; _CCIN; _Planning Commission
Subject: RE: Concerns with new General Plan draft Guiding Principles

Dear Ms. Fergusson:

There you go again.

Instead of tossing inflammatory grenade emails, consider coming to join us at the meetings to collaborate. There have been numerous meetings occurring where the current principles under consideration were drafted by residents of Menlo Park. We spent quite a but of time refining the principles last evening. I really hope you will consider joining us, as opposed to mischaracterizing what is occurring for self serving political soundbites.

With best regards,
Ray Mueller

________________________________________
From: Kelly Fergusson [kj_at_(domainremoved)
Sent: Tuesday, December 09, 2014 7:06 PM
To: _CCIN; _Planning Commission
Subject: Concerns with new General Plan draft Guiding Principles

Dear City Council and Planning Commission,

Please allow more time for public input on the new proposed General Plan guiding principles. A lot of excellent community work went into the 1994 General Plan Principles, and they contain important community values and protections that are not captured in the newly-proposed General Plan Principles. For example, the 1994 Principles include the following:

"Minimizes traffic congestion on city streets and limits through traffic in residential neighborhoods through sound land use planning."

And:

"Maintains and enhances the residential quality of life in the city by emphasizing development which has a human scale and is pedestrian friendly."

And:

"Minimizes the adverse impacts of development on the city's public facilities and services."

The newly-proposed General Plan Principles do not capture these values and protections of our residential quality of life. And a single community meeting on December 18 is not sufficient for adopting new development principles that will cause such a significant change to the character of Menlo Park.

Thank you for your consideration.
-- Kelly Fergusson
    Former Mayor
Received on Wed Dec 17 2014 - 08:40:33 PST

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