Facebook is here! As a result, Menlo Park has been placed in the difficult position of creating a new housing element in 8 months, rather than a longer multi-year time frame. Behind this task is the concern that the area around Facebook, and perhaps all of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, will lose their limited affordable rental housing stock through gentrification.
To do its job well, this must increase affordable rental housing to compensate not only for 7,000 new workers at Facebook, but for Menlo Gateway as well, which hasn't even begun construction. Both Facebook and Menlo Gateway will cause more housing demand in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto.
I envision a great surge in demand for rental housing to accomodate "20 somethings" who prefer San Francisco as a primary residence, but 4 days a week pied-à-terre in Menlo Park or East Palo Alto for Monday through Thursday night. I believe these workers would prefer to bike to Caltrain and to their jobs in the area from a smaller secondary dwelling and then take Caltrain back to SF on Friday.
One problem is the state will not allow cities to count in the housing element withought past success, and Menlo Park has discouraged such projects in the past. Meanwhile, are primarily focused on 30 units per acre and and large parcels. The result is an emphasis on larger develoments needing more land. We took a bus tour Saturday to see examples.
The Sharon Park plan for senior housing is a red flag that the city didn't need, but at least we know neighborhood parks are appreciated.
Can we meet our quota with large parcel projects? Perhaps, but economically, secondary dwellings are better for residents. The home owner benefits from income or enhanced value.
Menlo Park City Council Member and Housing Element Update Steering Committee Member
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