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Council Tables Downtown Plan

The City Council requested more information about the El Camino Real/ Downtown Specific Plan last night, after hearing what community members said.

Further analysis is needed, said the the dozens of community members who stayed late at a City Council meeting Tuesday night to voice their concerns about the . 

For the second straight week, the plan was brought to council for and open for community members for .

A vibrant yet walkable Menlo Park is wanted by all involved, yet the needs are conflicting at times. The importance of bike and pedestrian access in downtown Menlo Pakr is "evident" says Adina Levin, who founded the .

“One of the real risks of transit development is people end up getting in their car to cross the street and you do not get the benefit of vibrancy and the same walkability,” Levin said.

The issue will be brought back to the council on October 4 after City Council members get a chance to review the questions posed of them,  according to Council Member Andy Cohen.

“I think we got a lot done last night but I also think some of the biggest issues are still unresolved," Cohen said. "One of them is public benefit, which is quite contentious and hopefully we’ve laid the ground work to finally get to a result on that,” he said.

Cohen added that at this point in time, there is not going to be a on El Camino Real.

“Other than that, I think the direction was given for staff and the consultant to come back again with a better or more explanation of the plan, as to higher density and commercial office, because there is quite an increase in commercial office under the plan. There was some question about whether that is really well-justified,” Cohen said.

Another concern was the fact that the plan recommends community services, a walkable downtown and retail, but community members such as John , who spoke last night, said that mandating retail is not “fair”.

“Retail should never be required or forced on an owner on El Camino, it should only be permitted,” Beltramo said. “Too much retail will inevitably compete with downtown stores.”

However, Cohen added that he is not ready to give up on encouraging retail. He said it is not required at this point, but maybe in the future it may be written, so that certain areas in town can only have retail stores placed on them.

City staff held four to discuss the plan and the efforts are continuing; The final meeting and vote is not projected to take place until November, said Mayor Richard Cline.

“I think there’s two or three more meetings coming in,” said Cline. “There’s no way around the work that needs to be done.”

The Council will consider the following items at the Oct. 4 meeting:

  1. Public Benefit
  2. Land Uses
  3. Public Safety Facilities
  4. Farmers Market concerns

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