New Marketplace Would Take Away Parking Spaces

Perspective about the city's plan for downtown from Nancy Couperus, co founder of the Sunday Farmers Market.

Our last opportunity, prior to the Council’s review, to influence the occurs this coming MondayApril 30 when the Planning Commission will review the Final Specific Plan and EIR. A follow-up meeting, if needed, will be held the next evening on Tuesday, May 1.

Once the Planning Commission has approved the Plan (which it will), and once it forwards its recommendations (if any) to the City Council, the time to change any parts of the Plan will have passed. The City Council will probably vote approval on June 5.  

If you are a patron of ’s, the - if you shop at and the or bank at - the access and convenient parking you now enjoy will be severely compromised if the Market Place/Paseo is approved.

It’s not just a matter of the numbers of being displaced: 60 to 68 in the two plazas for the Market Place and walkways; 48 spaces along Santa Cruz Avenue for the Central Plaza in front of Wells Fargo, and 11 more along south Chestnut resulting from partial closure of the street. It’s a matter of the quality of the . (And, these spaces might be lost well before any garage is built.)

The new development planned to accommodate food vendors for the Market Place will not provide any new parking. It will take away the most convenient parking – close to where you want to shop.

Parking two plazas away or across Santa Cruz Avenue in a parking garage when you are carrying groceries from Trader Joe’s, produce from the Sunday Market, or a bag of dog food from the Pet Place is not convenient. The staff contends that permit parkers will be moved to other plazas, freeing up spaces. But, the numbers don’t add up and underused space now found in other plazas will begin filling up as the economy continues to improve.

Additionally, how does the City justify bringing in private food vendors to compete against our existing brick and mortar food businesses, allowing them to locate on public land every day of the week? This is not a four-hour market once a week on a day when offices and many businesses are closed.

Then there are the two planned pocket parks on Crane and Chestnut, which take away another 37 parking spaces. Restaurants, like Carpaccio’s, will suffer from loss of convenient parking and rightfully worry about who will be attracted to these pocket parks. San Francisco has suffered real enforcement problems for similar features. Quoting from a newspaper article from last year about the parklets:

Out on one of his downtown strolls recently, Willie (Brown) decided to experience this whole parking space-turned-public space, parklet trend for himself. Judging by his grumpy harumph of a review, he's not a fan: "They look like overgrown flower boxes," he says and besides "they take up a lot of parking spaces." (Which: yes, Willie, that's kind of the point.) But he can't deny they are serving their function as parks: the first one he visited "had obviously been used as a bathroom" and in the second he spotted a guy and a gal (ahem) 'socializing' in the bushes.

You are strongly encouraged to submit written comments to the Planning Commission at planning.commission@menlopark.org prior to 5:30 pm Monday, April 30 or to comment at the public hearing itself Monday evening at 7 pm, on any aspect of the Specific Plan. 

To view the Final Specific Plan and EIR click on the following http://www.menlopark.org/projects/comdev_ecrdowntown.htm

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