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Stanford 'rethinking' parts of El Camino plan

Original post made on Feb 19, 2013

Stanford University and developer John Arrillaga are revising their plans for Menlo Park's empty car lots for a third time, according to project representatives.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 19, 2013, 7:59 AM

Comments (61)

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Posted by Bias
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2013 at 9:07 am

It really should have been possible to write an article that was a little less biased. The council chambers were SRO -- I know, because I was standing -- during that Planning Commission study session. Every single speaker expressed concerns about the project. Many are not part of Perla Ni's group, so it is inappropriate to characterize the opposition as emanating from one source.

The Planning Commission's authority extends beyond mere architectural comments, as was demonstrated at the study session.

Poor Stanford, having to revise its massive plan three times! I realize that it is so hard to criticize the almighty gorilla, but a little balance in reporting would be nice.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 10:06 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Be careful what you wish/push for.

The only Conditional Uses in the current Stanford proposal in the are (1) Cafes and restaurants where alcohol is served, but not drive-in or fast food restaurants;(2) Cafes and restaurants with outdoor seating, but not drive-in or fast food restaurants;(3) Residential dwelling units.

At some point Stanford will understandably tire of the opposition from a miniscule portion of the community and simply eliminate these Conditional items from its plans. The loss of those elements would be a real blow to what the vast majority of the community wants.


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Posted by reality check
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

It's a good thing if Stanford is reconsidering Medical Offices there.

Although Stanford as an educational institution may have achieved some Transportation Demand Manegement success, the nature of traffic for medical offices is heavily dependent on many many patients a day comeing to each office. Patients are not likely be a population what they can address TDM to, as their trips are intermittent, not regular like employees' trips.

El Camino is bad enough as it is.

The Sierra Club's 2:1 jobs to housing proposal would be most desirable. Senior housing would be very well suited to these sites, and would have less traffic impact and would not add to school capacity issues.

Good for Stanford for being willing to make amendments. It is not uncommon for smart project proponents to do so as they receive legitimate feedback and see significant broadbased community pushback like this.


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Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Traffic Mitigation is a JOKE.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"significant broadbased community pushback "

broad-based:"involving participation or support by a broad spectrum of things or people"

"32 people sat through the most recent four-hour Planning Commission meeting "

The 2010 United States Census[8] reported that Menlo Park had a population of 32,026.

32 is exactly 0.1% of the population of Menlo Park = miniscule.

"500 people have signed the savemenlo.org petition opposing the project"

500 is 1.56% of the population of Menlo Park = miniscule

The vast majority of the citizens of Menlo Park have NOT spoken out or pushed back against this project. A small number have repeatedly stated their opposition by repetition by the same people does not increase their number.


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Posted by Stefan P.
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 19, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I think the Specific Plan needs some surgical amendments so developers can't abuse the zoning "largesse" that was bestowed upon them in the current version. The current version certainly allows for very suitable and smart development but it also permits projects that are too large, concentrated and traffic-intensive. For reference, a typical Walmart is 102,000 sq.ft. Stanford's proposed project is more than 4 times that. I doubt El Camino can handle that amount of extra traffic in such a small area.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"I think the Specific Plan needs some surgical amendments so developers can't...."

That is certainly possible to do BUT it would not/ CANNOT change Stanford's vested rights under the current zoning.


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Posted by Commitment
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm

Good thing we're not all complete pessimists, or nothing would ever get accomplished! But then, most of us don't live on Town Square.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:33 pm

Peter Carpenter regurgitated his comment from a previous discussion on the Stanford project:

"The 2010 United States Census[8] reported that Menlo Park had a population of 32,026. 32 is exactly 0.1% of the population of Menlo Park = miniscule."

Ratcheting up the nonsense and stealing a lemon from the NRA's playbook, I see, as I don't believe Menlo Park's children should be expected to show much interest in, much less attend meetings and comment on, development matters in our city. The fact remains: 32 of 32 public commenters at the most recent Planning Commission meeting spoke against the traffic and other impacts of Stanford's proposed medical offices on El Camino Real. The number of public comments showing unequivocal support for the project? [Portion deleted. Please discuss issue without attacking posters.] ... there were zero such public comments.

And the question Peter continues to dodge? Where is the chorus of voices supporting Stanford's project on El Camino Real? He belittles the miniscule [sic] 500+ who have signed the petition opposing the project and pretends (or deludes himself) there is a substantial majority eagerly if silently supporting same, but other than Peter and one or two anonymous people in these forums his is a very secretive, mute majority, indeed.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Where is the chorus of voices supporting Stanford's project on El Camino Real? "

There don't need to be any because what is proposed is exactly what is permitted in the zoning that resulted from the Specific Plan and its EIR - all of which had public comment.

Just like you would not need public support to remodel or rebuild your home in conformance with its zoning.

What about the rules don't you understand???????


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Peter Carpenter wrote:

"What about the rules don't you understand???????"

That's the crux of the problem here, Peter: this project may have legal standing but it has no community standing -- never mind the flawed "visioning" process which led to where we are -- and you are simply unwilling or unable to acknowledge that fact. Oddly, Stanford appears to have heard the community, even over the beating of your drums.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:06 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Legal standing trumps mob mentality any time - particularly when there is no mob.

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of the Atherton: Lindenwood neighborhood, on Feb 7, 2013 at 7:40 am
Peter Carpenter is a member (registered user) of Almanac Online

"you know that Stanford/Arrillaga proposal was soundly rejected and sent back to the drawing board."

Don't confuse your sound and fury with real change.

Stanford will politely listen, make cosmetic changes and then, as is its right, build the proposed project without any change in scope or scale.


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Posted by facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:22 pm

How about an attorney's opinion about Peter's assertions?

According to the Specific Plan, there are 2 discretionary reviews that the Stanford project must undergo: environmental and architectural control. Certain findings must be made for each. If they aren't made, couldn't that stop the project?

The project can't move forward with just ministerial (i.e., non-discretionary) review.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Certain findings must be made for each. If they aren't made, couldn't that stop the project?"

As noted previously, an environmental review can only indicate what are the possible impacts of the project; such environmental reviews cannot dictate specific mitigations. Given that there was an EIR on the Specific Plan and the resultant zoning, with which this project complies, it is not clear what new environmental findings of any significance could emerge.

As noted previously, architectural review can suggest that the applicant make aesthetic changes but cannot require that the scale or scope of the project be changed.

I welcome legal opinions to the contrary.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Gern:

nice to hear you finally acknowledging the projects legal standing. It matters not that the process was flawed (I agree it was). It matters not that it doesn't have "community standing", whatever that means. It matters not that no one thought they were going to get a project this big. It matters not what we think aside from the architectural aspects of this project and any parts of the project that require a variance or special use permit.

The time to get all pi**y about this has come and gone. You all are starting to sound like a bunch of children who are threatening to hold you breath until you turn blue. Go ahead. Knock yourself out. It won't change the zoning or the law.

Stanford can do whatever it wants with this project that complies with the granted zoning. That is exactly what Stanford will do. If you don't like it, complain to the city council that granted the zoning in the first place. You'll have to go find some of them as they're no longer in office.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It is always useful to go to the source documents:

"Requests for administratively-permitted

uses are reviewed and acted on by the Community

Development Director in accordance with Zoning Ordinance

Chapter 16.82, Section VII (Administrative Permits), and

requests for conditionally-permitted uses are reviewed and

acted on by the Planning Commission in accordance with

Zoning Ordinance Chapter 16.82, Section I (Use Permits).

Both action types have appeal processes, culminating in

City Council review and action."

MENLO PARK EL CAMINO REAL/

DOWNTOWN SPECIFIC PLAN

p.E 5
***************
"CEQA applies to projects that require discretionary approval by a government agency. A discretionary approval requires the use of judgement or subjective criteria on the part of the approver. For example, if you wanted to have your property rezoned so that you could subdivide for housing, a discretionary action would need to be taken by the Board of Supervisors. This simply means that the Board of Supervisors could approve or disapprove your request. Your proposal would be considered a project and would need initial CEQA review.

CEQA does not apply to non-discretionary (ministerial) projects. A ministerial approval simply involves a comparison of a project with specific standards or checklists. For example, the County building department will check your house plans against electric and plumbing standards to make sure that the plan complied with adopted safety and sanitary regulations. This type of approval is not considered a "project" requiring CEQA review."

The burden of proof is on others, not the applicant or the city, to show that there ARE effects beyond those analyzed in the program EIR. Frankly I doubt that that would be possible given statements like those by Senior Planner Thomas Rogers "As such, the 500 El Camino Real proposal would represent between 20 and 23 percent of the residential uses and 45 percent of the non-residential uses."


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 19, 2013 at 4:55 pm

I understand that our community -- our small "mob" of 500 or more vocal miscreants, as you would have us -- is shirking the "rules," ordinance, specific plan, EIR, visioning, sanctity of property, census data, and all the other "facts" and rubber stamps which are the stock-in-trade of the lifelong petty bureaucrat, Peter, but that's the only avenue left us after the visioning foibles and Stanford's project shell game have landed us where we are. You, however, appear to be a community of one in your conviction that this project should and will be built exactly as currently scoped. Again I ask: Where is the chorus of voices supporting Stanford's project on El Camino Real?

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Again I ask: Where is the chorus of voices supporting Stanford's project on El Camino Real?"

There don't need to be any because what is proposed is exactly what is permitted in the zoning that resulted from the Specific Plan and its EIR - all of which had public comment.

Just like you would not need public support to remodel or rebuild your home in conformance with its zoning.

"I understand that our community -- our small "mob" of 500 or more vocal miscreants, as you would have us -- is shirking the "rules," ordinance, specific plan, EIR, visioning, sanctity of property, census data, and all the other "facts" "

True. But please don't try to make others believe that you have the "rules," ordinance, specific plan, EIR, visioning, sanctity of property, census data, and all the other "facts on your side.


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Posted by Stanford's project supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Gern, I support it. It complies to the letter with the specific plan, which we have been watching like paint dry come together over the past half decade. I don't mean to sound holier than thou, but that massive piece of land that is stanford's project area stared us in the face as a single districting "color" for the entire SP developement process, and what we have is the result.

It's ok if you, Ms. Ni, and the 500 others were busy during the 5 years of specific plan development, but don't punish the property owner for waiting patiently while your elected and appointed officials, city staff, and fellow community members paid attention and made important changes and final decisions on the specific plan. Believe it or not, the development standards for that specific project area did see a reduction between the publication of the draft plan in April 2010 and the adoption of the final plan over two years later.


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Peter and Stanford supporter(s):

Would you characterize the project put forth by Stanford during the visioning process (the project most residents saw if and when they were involved in the specific plan development) as the same as or similar to the project now before us? If you can answer that question honestly is there any doubt why 500 or more residents are trying to bring Stanford back to the drawing board?

Gern


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Posted by Commitment
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:48 pm

"Waiting patiently..."

No. Stanford wasn't patient at all. Rather, they were continuing to collect rents while letting their property become an eyesore. Behind the scenes, they were pulling political strings to ensure the zoning would fall their way.

They got their way through duplicity and a bait-and-switch approach. If anyone else in town had pulled such a dirty deal, the Stanford bootlickers would be lining up with the tar & feathers. Stanford the university has about as much integrity as did its founder.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Would you characterize the project put forth by Stanford during the visioning process (the project most residents saw if and when they were involved in the specific plan development) as the same as or similar to the project now before us?"

Irrelevant - that process lead to the Specific Plan and that lead to the zoning ordinance.

There were lots of discussions which preceded the ratification of the US Constitution but none of them change the Constitution, only constitutional amendments can do that.

Perhaps next time you will pay more attention to the details of the review and approval of draft EIRs and Final EIRs and zoning ordinances.


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Posted by the Butler did it!
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

Watson....Me thinks Lady Jane was given a dram of strychnine!

Specific Plan must comply with General Plan...
Specific Plan fatally defective on that front...
1994 General Plan outdated and vulnerable to legal attack, just like the Housing Element.
No mandate from our so called "Constitution for Orderly Land Use, Circulation and Growth",
so it's laissez faire.

Land Use and General Plan lawyers will have a field day!

Elementary, Watson!


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Posted by Gern
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 19, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Peter's latest non-sequitur:

"There were lots of discussions which preceded the ratification of the US Constitution but none of them change the Constitution, only constitutional amendments can do that."

Using your awkward analogy, Stanford presented the Constitution for ratification but gathered signatures on a Three Stooges screenplay at the end of the convention.

Apparently good-faith bargaining in business, civic planning, or any other endeavor is "irrelevant" in your world, Peter -- it certainly isn't in mine.

Gern


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Discussions which precede the adoption of a law or ordinance may shape or influence that law or ordinance but it is the law or the ordinance which prevails. Bargaining precedes a contract but don't ever rely on the various comments made during bargaining to trump what is in the contract.

Gern - Stop trying to shot the messenger; there is no need to try to impune my personal beliefs or values.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 19, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Gern:

if you don't like the law, work to change the law, not the outcome. The Stanford project is the outcome. You needed to work on the law to prevent the outcome. You didn't work against the law did you? Weren't paying attention then were you?

As I've said before - the people in our community need to pay more attention to local politics vs national or state politics. Local politics have far more to do with our quality of living than the other two.

The citizens that are up in arms about this project, were not, I'll guarantee, paying attention to what was happening with this project. One of the planning commissioners tried to warn the citizens of the problem. Did they listen? No! Now they want to throw a tantrum and change what they could have changed before if they'd bothered to voice their concerns. Ultimately, even if they did voice their concerns, they had to rely on their city council to listen and do the right thing. Clearly the council didn't. That goes back to whether those same people paid attention to who they were voting into office and what those people stood for.

Bottom line - trying to whine and moan about this project now is a day late and a dollar short.

You've already acknowledged the legality. Why do you insist that you can somehow change it outside of the law?


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Posted by Stefan P.
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:10 am

Regarding vested rights and zoning: I asked a Palo Alto land use attorney when a property owner has a vested right in the zoning of his/her property. His reply was: either when you get your building permit or break ground.
Of course, Stanford may sue the city anyway but I really doubt they would do that.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:17 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is another perspective:
Wikipedia
"Vested rights doctrine in zoning law

The vested rights doctrine is the rule of zoning law by which an owner/developer is entitled to proceed in accordance with the prior zoning provision where there has been a substantial change of position, expenditures or incurrence of obligations made in good faith by an innocent party under a building permit or in reliance upon the probability of its issuance."

I think it is clear that Stanford has made a substantial expenditures in good faith in reliance upon the probability of the issuance of a building permit given the city's adoption of the Specific plan and the new zoning ordinance.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:25 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is the case law:

"In Cribbin, the court found that the landowners had owned the property for several years, exhibited a consistent desire to develop the property and made various substantial expenditures, including the purchase of the land, in pursuit of their plans. Therefore, the court concluded that the landowners had a vested right to proceed with their original development plans despite the change in zoning."


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Posted by Stefan P.
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:16 am

Peter, you are correct, he did mention the "substantial expenditure" provision but drawing up plans is not considered "substantial" according to this attorney. Buying the land (as in the case you cite) or making significant changes to it (I think he mention excavations as an example) would count on the other hand.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I suspect that Stanford can show that it has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on doing the plans for this project - I certainly think that would meet the test.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:34 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Another perspective:
"Nearly all commentators and cases are agreed that there must be some governmental act or
omission upon which a landowner relies to his detriment in order for there to be a
legitimate claim for vested rights, and the more recent that act or omission the better. It
is, therefore, generally considered to be a matter of black letter law in this area that a
landowner has no vested right in an existing zoning classification
unless the classification is either relatively recent, passed at the request of the landowner, or the new classification was passed or created principally to frustrate a land development project permitted in the "old" classification."

Certainly the current zoning was very recently established and changing that zoning now would ' to frustrate a land development project permitted in the "old" classification."


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Let's consider the alternative scenario:
1 - Menlo Park denies Stanford a building permit
2 - since that cannot be done only with regard to one property the city declares a moratorium on all building permits in the ECR area pending the development of new zoning
3- the new zoning process begins
4 - in the interim nothing happens and all of the existing land uses are frozen
5 - the city incurs substantial expense in the rezoning effort
6 - the rezoning takes years to complete

Consequences:
1 - economic stagnation
2 - loss of city revenues from building permits and new construction
3 - loss of increased property tax and sales taxes revenues
4 - loss of confidence by investors in the dependability of the city

And that assumes that none of the current property owners sue the city for placing a moratorium on a brand new zoning ordinance.


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Posted by facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 12:16 pm

In checking the source document, in section 3.3.7, the EIR for the Specific Plan evaluated the impacts of the following:
"The net new development analyzed includes:
Residences 680 dwelling units
Retail Space 91,800 square feet
Commercial Space 240,820 square feet
Hotel 380 rooms
Parking Spaces 3,670 spaces (public and private)
Resident Population 1,537
Employment 1,357 jobs"

This is justification for a project level EIR for medical office and neighborhood impacts, at a minimum. Neither medical office nor neighborhood cut-through traffic, the concern of savemenlo, was studied. The Specific Plan EIR also assumed that the office that was studied would be spread across the Specific Plan area, not with 95% of it concentrated on the Stanford property.


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Posted by Janet
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Feb 20, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Is anyone else sick to death of Peter Carpenter's belabored comments on everything under the sun?


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Janet - please feel free to add something to the discussion so that the Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion.

Also feel free to not read my or anyone else's postings.


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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

I have been following this forum closely, but have purposely fought the urge to participate-(1) because between Peter and MV I really could not come close to providing as meaningful and accurate advice to those MP residents involved in the discourse as the two of them already have, (2) Mom always said if you don't have something nice to say.....and (3)I find it sad that no one can say anything in favor of the property owners rights if that property owner happens to be named Stanford rather than an old MP land barron (no not an alumni or an employee). But I do have to comment on Janet's post--Madam, we and you are fortunate to have a person with Peter's obvious knowledge, sincere interest in the issues he weighs in on, and his unbelievable "thick skin" to put up with post such as yours willing to participate in meaningful (and useful) debate on issues affecting your town. I don't always agree with Peter, but I never tire of the opportunity to interact with him here.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Janet....Nope, just "sick to death" about the local carping.

Peter's comments on this topic's legalities and potential future scenarios provide a good counterpoint to the irrational commentary of some writers. Given his background in public service, he is more credible.


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Posted by john h
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 20, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Since he doesn't even live in menlo park Peter is a bit of a troll. And he surely likes to have the last word on everything.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Feb 20, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Peter Carpenter has a long public service record in our community. Menlo Park didn't think they hired an outsider when they appointed him to the Menlo Fire Protection District....twice.

Google him and see that he has impressive local and national public service credentials. Maybe the reason he often gets the last word on these pages is that he makes thoughtful arguments.

I may not agree with some of Carpenter's specific positions, but given his record of participation on these pages I'd bet that he'd love to engage in reasoned debate --- but the "troll" charge from "john h" just plain silly.


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Posted by Commitment
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Not only is he a troll, he has to be the center of attention on these boards. I wish this forum came equipped with an "ignore" button as so many others do.

By the way, characterizing the opposition to this project as "irrational" suggests that some of you haven't thought through the consequences of overbuilding and unmitigated traffic. Yes, Stanford pulled a fast one, and to the victor belong the spoils. Not that it was ever a fair playing field, given what Stanford spends on legal talent and our very small town lawyers. Shiny beads, anyone?


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm

When the ad hominem attacks start on Peter and the "you don't even live here" statements, in my experience, it generally means those that are attacking have realized that their "arguments" have been shot down by FACTS. Go back and read this thread and I think you'll find that with one or two exceptions the only person posting actual facts was Peter. Everyone else was stamping their feet, holding their breath until they turned blue or sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "I can't hear you." To those folks I say, grow up.


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Posted by Stefan P.
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Let's all try to get along.
Stanford will not sue the city and the project will not get built as it was originally proposed. We'll get a compromise which is what this process is all about.


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 20, 2013 at 8:17 pm

Stefan P:

Dream on.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It will be built. The size and scope will not change but there will be cosmetic changes as suggested by the ARB. And there may be some win-win mitigations as suggested by those who understand the process.

If pressed too hard Stanford will simply remove the two Conditional items - housing and restaurants - which would be a loss to the city. Permitted uses include Professional and administrative offices and that covers medical offices.

Where medical office are not permitted, as in the M-1 zone, they are specifically mentioned as in 16.44.030 Conditional uses.
Conditional uses allowed in the M-1 district, subject to obtaining a use permit, are as follows:
(1) Offices, excluding medical and dental offices;


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Posted by Hit the Books
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Gov. Code 65300 et seq. Google it up and read it along with State Office of Planning Reference Works. It's all right there.
CEQA schmeeqa!
It's all about the "we'll work out the details later..Mayor Cline" Specific Plan being vague and ambiguous, it's supposed to be "specific" enough so Mp doesn't feel that $1.5mm and 5 years of work results in "specifically" what all the public comments said "we don't want this kind of project". "We want to maintain a Village character".
That's why the Specific Plan has a "revisit" provision.
If the Specific Plan doesn't comply with the General Plan, then it's legally defective.
Problem is, the General Plan Land Use and Circulation Elements were adopted over 20 years ago, and State Law requires updates every 10 years.
Zoning must follow the General Plan, not the other way around, and the General Plan is legally deficient and contradictory.
Just read the 1994 General Plan on the city website.
Says maintain car dealerships and Retail Tax revenue on ECR.
Doesn't even acknowledge a half baked Sand Hill extension with no Alma St. connection to Palo Alto!
T.Rogers of Planning and Planning Commission know that MP's been approving projects without the State mandated updated General Plan.
That's why the former council caved on the EPA Church lawsuit on MP Housing Element being outdated and not complying with ever growing jobs/housing imbalance.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"If the Specific Plan doesn't comply with the General Plan, then it's legally defective."

That is the city's problem, not Stanford's.

If someone sues the city on this point (possible) and wins (unlikely) then:

1- the new zoning process begins

2 - in the interim nothing happens and all of the existing land uses are frozen

3 - a new draft General Plan is prepared - 2-3 years

4 - a draft EIR on the draft General Plan is prepared - 6 months

5 - comments on the Draft EIR and Draft General Plan are received - 3 months

6- Final EIR is prepared - 3 months

7- General Plan and EIR are approved - 3 months

8 - new Specific Plan is prepared - 1 year

9 - new Draft EIR on Specific Plan is prepared - 6 months

10 - comments received on new Draft EIR and new Specific Plan - 3 months

11 - new EIR and Specific Plan approved - 3 months

total elapsed time from court ruling on law suit - 4-6 years

Consequences:

1 - economic stagnation

2 - huge loss of city revenues from building permits and new construction

3 - big loss of increased property tax and sales taxes revenues

4 - $3-4 million for planning and EIR activities

5 - tremendous loss of confidence by investors/developers in the dependability of the city

Hopefully no one is so stupid as to go down this road.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hit The Books II
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:25 pm

actually Gov. Code sec 65450-65457.
This from the State of Calif. Office of Planning and Research

"THE ADOPTION OF A SPECIFIC PLAN DOES NOT VEST DEVELOPMENT BY STATUTE, BUT ITS ENTITLEMENTS MAY BE DEFINED BY DEVELOPMENT AGREEEMENTS AND VESTING TENTATIVE MAPS. SPECIFIC PLANS THEMSELVES ARE DYNAMIC DOCUMENTS MAY BE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. THERE ARE NO ASSURANCES TO RESIDENTS AND PROJECT PROPONENTS THAT THE PLAN WILL NOT BE SUBJECT TO FUTURE REVISIOINS"

"SPECIFIC PLANS ARE REQUIRED S.65451(a)(2) TO IDENTIFY PROPOSED MAJOR COOMPONENTS OF INFRASTRUCTURE NEEDED TO SUPPORT PLANNED LAND USES"

"LEGAL ADEQUACY"....
"A DETAILED STATEMENT OF THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE SPECIFIC PLAN TO THE GENERAL PLAN, INCLUDING CONSISTENCY BETWEEN BOTH PLANS AND AN A COMPARISON OF GOALS, OBJECTIVES, AND POLICIES"
"A DISCUSSION OF HOW THE PLAN IMPLEMENTS THE POLICIES OF THE GENERAL PLAN"

READ THE ADOPTED 1994 MP GENERAL PLAN ON THE CITY COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT WEBSITE
GOAL 1E: "TO PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT AND RETENTION OF COMMERCIAL USES WHICH PROVIDE SIGNIFICANT REVENUE TO THE CITY AND/OR GOODS OR SERVICES NEEDED BY THE THE COMMUNITY AND WHICH HAVE LOW ENVIRONMENTAL AND TRAFFIC IMPACTS"
THERE ARE 6 POLICIES IN THE ADOPTED 1994 GENERAL PLAN IN THIS SECTION.
IT'S ALL RIGHT THERE TO SHOW HOW THE STANFORD PROPOSAL BOTH DOESN'T COMPLY WITH THE GOALS OF THE SPECIFIC PLAN, NOR, MORE IMPORTANTLY, OF THE ADOPTED 1994 GENERAL PLAN, WHICH ITSELF, IS OVER 20 YEARS OLD!!




 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Go ahead and sue - it will cost you big bucks and you will lose. And the citizens of MP will will not think kindly of you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Lawyers Trick
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 20, 2013 at 9:57 pm

Bluster like Peter in his "Stanford has vested development rights under zoning and will sue you into submission "
Then on further reflection and confronted by Governing Law, he offers Stanford's "deep pockets" to us poor ignorant townsfolk as salve to our "wounded economy"
Then challenges us poor townsfolk to sue them first

As OSKI would bellow back "Give em the Axe"


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 21, 2013 at 4:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I did not suggest suing Stanford - please read the postings more carefully:

Hit the Books posted:
""If the Specific Plan doesn't comply with the General Plan, then it's legally defective."

To which I replied:
That is the city's problem, not Stanford's.
If someone sues the city on this point (possible) and wins (unlikely) then:


 +   Like this comment
Posted by facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 21, 2013 at 10:09 am

We should welcome discussions like this. But we also should be wary of people who aren't lawyers pronouncing what is legal. Even lawyers can disagree.
I happen to disagree with Peter's conclusions because I interpret the Plan and EIR differently, and suspect opposing lawyers would.

We can only hope that the savemenlo people can change Stanford's project or persuade our Council that they must act. The Council has considerable power that includes changing zoning rules and the Specific Plan.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Anonymouse
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 21, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Peter-

You say medical offices are "allowed in the M-1 district, subject to obtaining a use permit"

Why does a permit have to be granted?

It would be easy to argue that the medical office use would be detrimental to "health, safety, ... comfort and general welfare" of the surrounding neighborhoods. And the planning commission is require to take this into consideration (see below).

16.82.030 Granting. In considering an application, the planning commission shall consider and give due regard to the nature and condition of all adjacent uses and structures, and to general and specific plans for the area in question and surrounding areas, and the impact of the application thereon.

The planning commission shall determine whether or not the establishment, maintenance, or operation of the use applied for will, under the circumstances of the particular case, be detrimental to the health, safety, morals, comfort and general welfare of the persons residing or working in the neighborhood of such proposed use, or whether it will be injurious or detrimental to property and improvements in the neighborhood or the general welfare of the city


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 21, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As noted, medical offices are PERMITTED in the ECR zone under the category of professional offices so a use permit for them is not required. The planning commission has no discretion in this matter.

In M-1 zones a use permit is specifically required for medical offices. The planning commission does have discretion in this matter.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here are the uses permitted under the current ECR zoning:

16.43.010 Permitted uses. Permitted uses in the C-4 district, all within a building and not requiring new construction therefor, are as follows:

(1) Retail stores;

(2) Financial establishments, unless an administrative permit is required pursuant to Section 16.43.015;

(3) Professional and administrative offices, unless an administrative permit is required pursuant to Section 16.43.015;

(4) Personal services;

(5) Cafes and restaurants not serving beer, wine or liquor and not providing live entertainment but not drive-in or fast food restaurants.


However, in an M-1 district the rules are different:

16.44.030 Conditional uses.

Conditional uses allowed in the M-1 district, subject to obtaining a use permit, are as follows:

(1) Offices, excluding medical and dental offices;


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 21, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I just reread the zoning ordinance - I was wrong.

Medical offices are NOT permitted in the M-1 zone even as a conditional use.

Had the city intended to restrict medical office in the ECR zone they would have specifically mentioned them as they did in the M-1 zone. Instead 'professional and administrative offices' without further definition or limitation are permitted n the ECR zone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is a perfect example of where the zoning ordinance specifically differentiates medical offices as a subset of administrative and professional offices:

16.47.020 Permitted Uses. Permitted uses in the M-3 district are as follows:
(1) Administrative and Professional Offices, excluding medical/dental offices;
(2) Research & Development;
(3) Light Industrial;

That was not done in the ECR zone.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2013 at 10:57 am

The El Camino C-4 district doesn't exist anymore. M-1 and M-3 don't apply to El Camino.
The EIR did not study medical office, which has very different impacts than general office. Those impacts are much more difficult to mitigate.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 22, 2013 at 11:05 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The EIR did not study medical office..."

You keep repeating this false claims.

PLEASE do your homework:

Here are just some of the mentions of MOBs (medical office buildings) in the EIR:

"Office Market

The Plan states that Menlo Park is a desirable location for office uses due to its central location on

the Peninsula and good access to major highways and bridges. Stanford University, the venture

capital industry and the local residential population base are the primary source of demand for

office space, attracting small and mid-size companies in real estate, venture capital, attorneys, and

medical/dental, as well as high-tech and internet companies.

In the short-term, there is demand for additional medical office space in the Plan area because some

medical buildings would be demolished as part of the new Stanford Medical Center. Demand for

medical office space is slightly higher in the downtown area than El Camino Real due to the

pedestrian environment and retail amenities. However, there is some community concern with

medical office uses in the Plan area since they can generate a higher number of trips than non-medical

offices, but typically do not have the same potential for revenue. In the mid- to long-term, there would

likely be demand for additional office space in the Plan area. Proximity to Caltrain and the

walkability and amenities of downtown are significant draws for office tenants."

3.5.4 Special Land Use Topics

Uses Permitted with Limits: A guiding principle is that limiting uses should relate to specific

concerns of the community. Community members have expressed interest in limiting certain

types of uses for a variety of reasons, including limiting uses that could generate higher amounts

of traffic, such as medical and dental offices;

TABLE 3-1

MINIMUM PARKING RATES lists MOBs

E.3.1 Development Intensity

Standard

E.3.1.01

Business and Professional office (inclusive of medical and dental office) shall not exceed one half of the base FAR

or public benefit bonus FAR, whichever is applicable.

Standard

E.3.1.02

Medical and Dental office shall not exceed one third of the base FAR or public benefit bonus FAR, whichever is

applicable.

***************


Some more from the EIR that additional factless missed/ignored/or lied about not being in the EIR:

"The downtown area of the Plan area is characterized by local retail, medical, commercial office, and restaurant uses, including one active movie theater"

"The project

FARs are close to the base FAR allowed for general office uses at 0.375 but would be higher than

the base FAR of 0.25 allowed for medical office use."

"To address potential changes in medical office demand in downtown

Menlo Park, the Specific Plan limits medical office uses to one-third of the floor area that would

otherwise be allowed. This provision would further reduce potential impacts to land use

character.

"The Specific Plan has also been drafted to minimize the impacts of certain uses. In particular,

medical offices are limited to one-third of maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR), while other offices

are limited to one-half of maximum FAR."

******
Please do your homework before repeating false claims and lies.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by facts please
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

I did not lie. The EIR statement about what it studied is quoted verbatim earlier in this thread.
The EIR evaluates potential impacts and potential mitigation measures. Medical office was not a use that was studied. Its characteristics are not the same as general office that was studied.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 22, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Let's take this in baby steps:

1 - The Draft EIR discussed both Business and Professional office (inclusive of medical and dental office)

2 - all public comments on the Draft EIR were adressed in the Final EIR

3 - the Final EIR states:
a) section 3.3.7, the EIR for the Specific Plan evaluated the impacts of the following:

"The net new development analyzed includes:

Residences 680 dwelling units

Retail Space 91,800 square feet

Commercial Space 240,820 square feet

b) "The Specific Plan has also been drafted to minimize the impacts of certain uses. In particular, medical offices are limited to one-third of maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR), while other offices are limited to one-half of maximum FAR."

4 - The Final EIR was certified by the City Council as being complete after receiving public comments.

So medical offices were addressed in the EIR to the satisfaction of the City Council and NO appeal to that finding was filed within the specified time limit:
"Statute of Limitations: Filing a Notice of Determination triggers a 30-day statute of limitations for CEQA litigation. If the notice is not filed with the County Clerk or OPR, the statute of limitations becomes 180 days from the date the decision is made to carry out or approve a project, or where no formal decision is required, 180 days from the date the project is commenced (PRC Section 21167 and Guidelines Section 15112)."

In this case the project and its EIR was for the Specific Plan and its zoning.

facts please may not agree with the EIR or the City Council's certification of that EIR but he/her failed to properly appeal that decision.

It is over and done with. You do not get do overs in this process.


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