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Facebook Project Amended

Atherton threatens litigation.

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.  

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commuter May 08, 2012 at 09:09 PM
East Palo Alto has a good case since University Ave is one of the main routes to Facebook. But Atherton? Come on. Are they worried that Facebook billionaires will buy up property in Atherton and gentrify the city?
TaiMac May 08, 2012 at 09:42 PM
Um, this isn't new.... the financial penalty based on the number of trips exceeding the cap was there when the council approved the development agreement a few weeks ago.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) May 08, 2012 at 11:00 PM
@commuter lol I doubt it. @TailMac That's what was said to the Planning Commission last night.
TaiMac May 09, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Then what was said last night was wrong. The staff report for the agreement from the 4/17 council meeting even has a table of financial penalties showing how the fines escalate as the number of violations do. http://service.govdelivery.com/docs/CAMENLO/CAMENLO_97/CAMENLO_97_20120417_en.pdf
TaiMac May 09, 2012 at 02:42 AM
I remember one of Facebook's execs commenting at the council meeting on how stiff the financial penalties were.
Gregory May 09, 2012 at 03:03 AM
This wouldn't be the first time city staff gave a commission questionable data.
Vanessa Castañeda (Editor) May 09, 2012 at 05:38 AM
I see. The data speaks for itself. Thanks for bringing this to my attention, TaiMac.
Earltini May 11, 2012 at 04:38 AM
I think atherton officials need permanent jobs before they start throwing around threats of lawsuits. Does every atherton official have "interim" in their title. Maybe they explains why they made no comment during the months and months leading up to this decision. Atherton and surrounding communities were certainly asked for input, where were these "interim" officials back then?

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