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Re: 300-550 El Camino Project Architectural Review, January 28, 2012 Meeting Agenda Item E1

From: domainremoved <George>
Date: Sun, 27 Jan 2013 22:06:26 -0800

Re: 300-550 El Camino Project Architectural Review, January 28, 2012
Meeting Agenda Item E1

Dear Menlo Park Planning Commission Members and Staff:
 The 300-550 El Camino Project (“Project”) is only a portion of the area
covered by the Menlo Park El Camino Real and Downtown Specific Plan (SP).
 However, the Project creates a microcosm of specific issues applicable to
the micro area and calls out for a detailed project specific review that
includes impacts to the nearby neighborhoods and the city at large. Note
the following individual specific characteristics of the Stanford Proposal
compared to the entire SP:

(1) Project magnitude and density: 443,200 square feet of floor space,
requiring 1,224 parking sites, on a 367, 210 square foot parcel.
(2) Project Lack of access: landlocked on three sides with only El Camino
Real (ECR) access.
(3) Project requirement of a welcoming, publicly accessible open space:
 provision of seating and shade for small, informal gatherings in the
Middle Ave extension,
(4) Project imited Cross Streets: Only two ECR cross streets at Middle
and Cambridge, and
(5) Project impact upon Neighborhood: The adjacent residential areas of
Stanford Park and Allied Arts (“Neighborhood”) are directly affected by
specific Project density, the ECR bottleneck and limited cross streets of
the Project, as well as other city neighborhoods and residential areas.

        This microcosm of issues generated by these unique and individual
conditions, has not been specifically dealt with , and, certainly not with
an eye for the impacts on the Neighborhood. The SP EIR studied the entire
plan area including El Camino North and South and Downtown generally with
no scenario resembling the current Stanford proposal. A more specific
detailed study of the environmental impacts is needed in advance of
consideration of final project actions, including final findings stated in
the January 28, 2012 Planning Commission Staff Report (Staff Report)
required by the Planning Commission Architectural Review, that the Project:

1. “Will not impair the desirability of . . . occupation in the
2. "Will not be detrimental to harmonious and orderly growth of the city”
3. "Will be consistent with the SP, including its goal and visions to
“improve circulation . . . on ECR,
4. “Is sensitive to and compatible with adjacent neighborhoods” and
5. Provides an “integrated, safe and well designed pedestrian and
bicycle network”.

The Staff Report expressly stated that an additional Project specific
environmental and CEQUA review may be required by the Planning Commission
as part of the Planning Commission Architectural Review of the Project.
 That study, including review by the Transportation Commission is
        My letter to Planning Commission, City Council and Staff of January
17, 2013, with exhibits, described the significant traffic issues needing
individual detailed study related to the specific bottleneck of ECR
accessed by the landlocked Project, and is incorporated herein by
reference. The Project location immediately adjacent to ECR’s entry into
Menlo Park across the San Francisquito Creek needs specific detailed study
as well. In addition to a study of the circulation of ECR traffic
generated by the impact of an additional 6, 400 project trips , the issue
of cut-throughs in the Neighborhood attempting a to avoid the bottleneck
yet access the project, demands significant detailed attention.

The Staff Report also states that the Project Applicant is exploring
additional southbound left-turn lanes or pockets at Middle and Partridge
Avenues. These changes sought by Applicant to increase egress to the
Project site would impede ECR circulation and would not provide any relief
to the Neighborhoods from either ECR or cut-throughs Detailed study is
needed of the Project proposals as well and proposals to protect the

The Staff Report admits: “the subject applicant Stanford University,
participated throughout the entire planning process . . .. At various
points the applicant provided detail-type critiques of some draft
regulations and Draft EIR elements.” This admission mandates specific
review and public disclosure of the specific detail-type critiques, and
whether those critiques were included in the plan applicable to the Project
and to the Project effect on the Neighborhood. The Staff report noted that
the applicant served as “a City Council- designated representative on the
Oversight and Outreach Committee as well. The Neighborhood should be
allowed to consider and reply to the “detail-type critiques” which I am
sure were in applicant’s favor and possibly against the Neighborhood
interest. At a minimum residents have a right to know what they were and
what changes may have been made in response to them.

The Staff Report also refers to the “unique requirement of this applicant .
. . to create a welcoming, publicly-accessible open space that provides
seating and shade and allows for small informal gatherings” in the 120 foot
wide access amenity leading to the railroad crossing at that location for
bicycle and pedestrian access to the Menlo Park Civic center and
recreational areas. That requirement’s compatibility with a major access,
with potential additional left turn lanes at ECR at Middle, and with three
lanes of traffic as shown on the current plan down the middle of the
required open space needs specific study.

The Staff recommends the January 28, 2013 meeting be conducted with Project
introductions, by city Staff and Applicant and commission questions prior
to any public comment. I believe the meeting Agenda lists the Project as
last. Placing this item at the end of the agenda with public comments last
puts the residents at a great disadvantage. The Stanford project will be
the largest development in the heart of our city. This item deserves a
meeting with no other items included. Unfortunately many residents of the
Neighborhood, and voters signing the SaveMenloPark.org petition have small
children and may not be able to attend the late hour projected. Perhaps
the Planning commission, with adequate notice, should change the order of
the agenda so that the required detailed, specific review be held first so
that residents and parents can participate. In any event, a detailed
project specific review, including CEQA, is needed and required well in
advance of consideration of final project actions, including necessary

A copy of my letter including the above is attached for your reference

cc City Council, Transportation Committee and Staff

> --
> George C. Fisher
> 1121 Cotton Street,
> Menlo Park, CA, 94025
> (650) 799 5480
> Fax (650) 475 1849
> georgecfisher_at_(domainremoved)
> http://www.gfisherlaw.com

Received on Sun Jan 27 2013 - 22:07:13 PST

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