The Planning Commission unanimously approved an amendment to Facebook Inc.’s conditional development permit with the city on Monday that creates financial punishments for exceeding traffic limits on the new headquarters in Menlo Park.
“The only thing that changed was that a penalty was put forward,” said Chip Taylor, transportation manager for the city of Menlo Park.
Facebook with the city of Menlo Park to exchange a limit on the amount of employees that the company can have on the property for a vehicle trip limit. The land use permit for the previous tenant of the property, Sun Microsystems, restricted tenants of 1601 Willow Road to 3,600 employees.
Menlo Park’s City Council approved a permit on April 28 that allows Facebook to expand to approximately 6,600 employees on the east campus, as long as the company adheres to a . Staff reports prepared for Monday’s planning commission meeting state that Facebook’s plan is to reduce vehicle trips to and from the campus by 25 percent.
To enforce the vehicle trip limit, will be installing tracking devices at the entrances to the campus that monitor how often cars go in and out. If the device registers more than 2,600 trips between the hours of 7-9 a.m. or 4-6 p.m. the company will be fined. The company is allowed to have 15,000 daily trips.
The amendment approved Monday states that the company could be fined anywhere from $50-$200 per trip if that limit is exceeded. The amount depends on whether or not it was the first time it had happened.
Some say this is not enough. Neighbors to the campus in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Atherton anticipate that the company’s employees will generate an uncomfortable amount of traffic. and Atherton have threatened litigation.
Theresa DellaSanta, Atherton’s interim city manager, sent a letter to Menlo Park’s City Manager Alex McIntyre and Mayor Kirsten Keith on April 26 to say that the suggested traffic mitigation plan at the intersection of Marsh and Middlefield Road is inadequate.
“In summary, we believe the Draft Environmental Impact Report did not adequately address traffic impacts at this location due to assumptions and methodologies that understated traffic volumes generated by the Facebook Project,” writes DellaSanta. Primarily, Atherton government officials are concerned that drivers will cut through residential neighborhoods on Fair Oaks Avenue, Holbrook Lane, and Palmer Lane to avoid traffic on Middlefield Road. DellaSanta writes in the letter that the city is ready to explore litigation.
Menlo Park Planning Commissioner Henry Riggs questioned whether a lawsuit about the Environmental Impact Report could halt progress on the development.
Erin Efner, the city's Facebook project consultant, said, “It would go on hold were there to be litigation that comes forward.”
The greenlit the amendment, voting 6-0, with Commissioner PeiPei Yu absent.