Dear Menlo Park City Council, John Hennessey, and John Arrillaga:
We are deeply concerned about the proposed Stanford/Arrillaga development on El Camino. The planned development at 300-550 El Camino Real comprises 443,200 sq.ft of offices, medical offices, and housing. 42% of this project's office building space is traffic-intensive medical office. Medical offices generate very high traffic compared to other types of developments.
This proposed development concentrates 51% of the Commercial space studied in the El Camino/Downtown Specific Plan on only 6% of the Plan’s land, focusing a substantial burden of traffic impact on a single neighborhood, and a corridor highlighted as a major pedestrian and bike crossing. The development does not include any public benefit such as the expected funding for a bike/pedestrian undercrossing of the train tracks near Middle.
The high proportion of offices increases the city’s jobs/housing imbalance and adds even more obligations to the Housing Element. Medical offices do not bring in any tax revenue for the city.
And with this plan and others already proposed, all the commercial development in the plan will be consumed. Relative to environmental impacts, office space proposed by this project and others already submitted, already exceeds 95% of the office development allowed in the EIR. That means that very shortly, all other new developments in Menlo Park, will need to conduct environmental impact reports, ending in the first year of the Specific Plan, the business benefits of predictability that the Specific Plan was supposed to provide for 20-30 years.
We are particularly concerned about:
1. Safety risks to pedestrians and cyclists crossing El Camino.
Increasing traffic on El Camino endangers our families and children who must cross El Camino daily to get to school. One of the chief goals of the Specific Plan was to make it easier for people and kids to cross El Camino. Middle schoolers from Linfield and the Willows must cross El Camino daily to get to Hillview school. High schoolers from Allied Arts must cross El Camino daily to get to MA Highschool. And preschoolers cross El Camino to get to Menlo Atherton Coop or to Menlo's Children's Center. In addition to the pedestrian traffic to get to school, there are a lot of families and children crossing El Camino Real daily to get to and from Burgess Pool, the new Arrillaga Gymnasium, and Arrillaga Family Rec Center.
Congested intersections at Middle, Cambridge, and even Ravenswood will worsen with the addition of considerable additional traffic concentrated in this area.
2. Safety risks to pedestrian and cyclists in the Allied Arts Neighborhood.
Allied Arts is a neighborhood with many families with young children walking and biking. Increased traffic on El Camino will lead to more cars cutting through neighboring Allied Arts. Increasing cut-through traffic within the Allied Arts neighborhood adds dangers to our children and family members. The residential streets are relatively narrow and few have sidewalks so both pedestrians and bikers must share the road with motor vehicles.
3. Traffic gridlock on El Camino.
The proposed medical office use is one of the most car-intensive uses. And it's the kind of use that has few mitigations - patients are going to drive to the doctor's office and are unlikely to carpool, take public transit or bike.
Stanford has two other projects nearby – the expansion of Stanford Hospital on Sandhill as well as the proposed Stanford development in Palo Alto at University Ave next to the train station are expected to generate 3000+ daily additional cars.
4. Lack of Public Benefit.
The above mentioned burdens are not off-set by public benefits. We looked forward to additional vibrancy from local retail, and low-impact senior housing that serve our community. We looked forward to a bike-pedestrian undercrossing of the tracks to make it much easier and safer to get to Burgess Park and the Library. We didn’t expect a traffic-intensive medical office park.
REQUEST TO MENLO PARK CITY COUNCIL:
With this petition Menlo Park citizens ask the Menlo Park City Council and Planning Commission to put a hold on the implementation of the Stanford/Arrillaga proposal until the following recommended actions are taken:
REQUEST to John Hennessey and John Arrillaga:
We appreciate Mr. Arrillaga for generously donating to the recreational centers at Burgess Park in the past several years.
We know that Stanford wants to have a good relationship with Menlo Park and the people here. Many Stanford alumni, donors, and employees live in Menlo Park. And the development creates a long-term relationship where Stanford will be using Menlo Park public services – schools, fire, police, water, and sewage.
We know that you both want to improve Menlo Park. With this development, you have an opportunity to improve Menlo Park and make it a safe and desirable place to work or live.
We ask Stanford to live up to the assurances which they made to some members of the Menlo Park City Council during the planning process of the El Camino/Downtown Specific Plan.
Stanford represented that if the city increased the allowable development size, Stanford would build mostly senior housing, which would cause less additional traffic – and therefore pose fewer risks to pedestrian and bicyclists crossing El Camino or travelling in the neighboring Allied Arts. And it would help Menlo Park meet its housing goals rather than increase them through an office project.
We want Stanford to live up to your previous assurances to Menlo Park - to build low-traffic causing development, and contribute to the city’s vision of safe crossings on El Camino.