Menlo park proposal for new office building causes alarm for willows residents news almanac online gas natural inc


The project is expected to generate 11 morning and evening peak-hour trips, and the developer proposes to encourage people to take alternate routes to work than driving solo by installing bike parking and showers, creating a guaranteed ride home program, participation in programs through and an info kiosk for commuters to learn about other options.

According to a staff report, the city has received at least 57 emails expressing opposition to the project. Most, the report summarizes, indicate people are worried about the parking reduction request, congestion, safety for cyclists and vehicle circulation.

Staff is recommending the commission require the developer to stick to the 12-space parking limit and not use any neighborhood or nearby parking lots. That would likely prevent the office from being used as a health care office or tech company, which tend to have more clients coming through or "a greater density of employees, respectively," the report says.

Joanie Giraudo said in an email that it is already "nearly impossible" to access the market from Middlefield coming south or to turn into the Willows neighborhood. "Traffic would be even more unsafe at that intersection than it is now. It would be so clogged we likely wouldn’t be able to make a left out of our neighborhood to head into Palo Alto either," she wrote.

that is not the issue. The problem as many of us see it is that by reducing the parking it is likely that if there is over flow it will either end up at the Willow Market or on neighborhood streets like Baywood. Also another turn off of Middlefield is likely to add confusion and more danger to bikes and pedestrians going to and from the market. It can also cause a back up on Middlefield Road when cars trying to make a left into the lot back up the left lane of the South bound traffic which already happens and will likely get worse. The intersections of Woodland and Middlefield and Willow and Middlefield were identified as two of the most problematic in the Willows, this will just make them worse.

Now the developer has a right to develop the lot, no one is saying that should nto happen, but they need to do it within the requirements and I think the city and the neighbors are justified in demanding that in addition to things like "encourage people to take alternate routes to work than driving solo by installing bike parking and showers, creating a guaranteed ride home program, participation in programs through and an info kiosk for commuters to learn about other options." Which is a carrot, they are required to sponsor a permit program for the surrounding streets, pay a penalty for exceeding the expected traffic volume in and out (Facebook does this) and be required to make sure they do not impact the Grocery store deliveries and parking as well as not impacting the Pre-school.

I sympathize with the Willows residents but I’m not sure their projections are accurate–and some of what they are asking for would make things much worse, not better. Adding parking means adding cars, which means more traffic. Adding another restaurant/public amenity would also result in higher traffic. There’s no reason the Willows Market can’t enforce no parking in their private lot–businesses do this all the time. Similarly, concerned residents of Clover Lane and other nearby streets could request that the city restrict on-street parking on their street (as they do in Downtown North, on Marcussen, and in Allied Arts). It’s not that hard to enforce one-way entrances and exits. And there’s no reason the developer and the Market couldn’t come to some agreement about sharing the alleyway spaces after hours/on weekends.

Short of not developing this property at all–which doesn’t seem like a fair or realistic expectation–this building looks like a reasonable compromise considering the space. The lower # of parking spaces means it won’t appeal to high turnover businesses. I would caution the city NOT to encourage this development to max out their parking–if you build it, they will come (by car).

I do not pretend to speak for the Willows. No one, including our elected officials, can claim to speak for everyone. I speak for myself, I am sorry if you thought otherwise. I do know, because I have discussed it with several of the near by neighbors that what I am saying is in alignment with their position.

People have posted all sorts of ideas about what to do with the lot. Parks and green area, while nice, are just not going to happen. The developers leased the land and they want to build something that will be profitable for them. I think most people agree with this. However the issue is: should they need to follow the zoning requirements or should they get special treatment? I think they should follow what the requirements are for that zoning. I also don’t want to see them build something that causes problems with the residential neighbors or locals businesses (Willow Market and Applebee’s pre-school) which I frequent. These issues have been brought up directly to them many months ago and were not addressed. They have continued to ignore the concerns of the neighbors and so the Planning Commission is one of the last opportunities to address these concerns

I am curious as to what illegal parking people are referring to. Parking on the access street is not illegal. There are no signs saying "No Parking" and I see many city vehicles as well as police from Menlo Park, Palo Alto and East Palo Alto, ambulances etc. parking on the access road when the market packing is full.