With multiple major city policies requiring resolution this fiscal year, Alex McIntyre is modifying the workload of Menlo Park government officials by spreading it out among multiple meetings instead of just one as originally planned.
A 10-hour meeting would have been “unmanageable” McIntyre said, during a special meeting called Monday to decide when critical land use regulations would be approved.
The two most heavily discussed were the Conditional Development Agreement and the Environmental Impact Report.
City Council was scheduled to discuss and resolve both on June 5.
After reviewing the time required to process public testimony, staff presentations and council deliberation, McIntyre wrote a letter to City Council and staff, calling for a schedule alteration.
“Each item could take as long as five hours," McIntyre said. “A 10-hour meeting would have been unreasonable.”
The Planning Commission also needs to review these items in advance of Council, so they can make recommendations for Council Action.
These items are not the only ones on government officials' dockets. The city must also resolve the budget, update the , the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan, the Facebook East Campus Development Agreement and the associated Environmental Impact Report by the end of June.
Most of the City Councilmembers were pleased with the new city manager's proposal.
"I am in full support of the plans laid out for the Planning Commission schedule,” Mayor Kirsten Keith said.
Not all Menlo Park residents were as enthusiastic. Patti Fry, who is a former planning commissioner, said it didn’t sound right to make all of these decisions in such a short time frame.
“It makes me feel as if the decisions are already made," Fry said. “Why all of a sudden such a rush?”
City Attorney Bill McClure said the reason is that City Council approved a schedule in February that requires that final action be made on the Facebook project by June.
“The Specific Plan is eight months to a year behind schedule, so we’re less concerned about transparency there. The challenge is with Facebook,” McClure said Monday.
Former Menlo Park Mayor Jack Morris said he would prefer to extend the legal deadlines to provide more time to have a rational review of the city’s housing element and the budget in the context of the El Camino Real/ Downtown Specific Plan EIR.
“I don’t see any reason other than a desire by incumbents who want to run again and don’t want that issue coming up during their campaigning,” Morris said.
Council Member Rich Cline responded to this comment, saying that it’s inefficient to "saw through" meetings week after week.
“The idea that we’re forcing a timeline on the Downtown Plan,” he said, pausing to shake his head in disagreement. “At some point we have to get this thing to a decision. We have a ton of data; I’m not sure what we’d learn by having more hearings.”
The Environmental Impact Reports for both the and the will be released next week, according to Alex McIntyre.
motioned to approve the calendar; Fergusson seconded with an amendment that city staff release the documents associated with the meetings a week in advance of the hearing date. Normally staff releases the documents 72 hours in advance.
The schedule was unanimously approved with those conditions. The city has one addtional meeting date pencilled in on April 19 to reserve time. You can peruse the new hearing schedule in the screenshot above these words. Click on the picture of the City Administration building to view it.
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