On Saturday, October 3 at 5pm, Menlo Together will be co-hosting an online Candidates’ Forum for Menlo Park District 3, with candidates Chelsea Nguyen, Jen Wolosin and Max Fennel. Discussion will focus on the interrelated issues of housing affordability, transportation, environmental sustainability and racial justice.
Partner co-hosts include Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County, Menlo Spark, and Friends of Caltrain. Spanish interpretation will be provided. The event will be held via Zoom. Click here to pre-register
On September 24, community members gathered to teach and learn about “Turning Ranting into Advocacy.” Community leaders and journalist Kate Bradshaw told the story of how community members educated themselves, protested, and organized communication to City Council, and local journalism informed the public. As an outcome the city council alleviated potential drastic budget cuts to services at the Onetta Harris Community Center and childcare.
On Thursday 9/24 at 6pm, Menlo Together invites you to Civics 101: Turning Ranting into Advocacy. Come hear community members tell the story about how Belle Haven residents and allies organized this Spring to save Belle Haven services from Covid budget cuts – and what you can learn from this experience about how to engage and be heard by your city government.
On Tuesday, June 16, the Menlo Park City Council will be considering a resolution proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.” This is a welcome step, and an opportunity to go further to demand action.
Already, nearly 100 residents have signed a petition demanding that Menlo Park’s Police Open Data Portal track stops by neighborhood and race. Thanks to everyone who signed the petition. As promised, we are forwarding the names of petition signatures to City Council. If you have not yet signed, you can do so here.
In addition to the demand to track stops by race, Menlo Together’s letter is asking for several other steps to improve public safety – a Public Safety Commission with review and oversight capabilities, and to replace the upcoming “police strategic plan” with a “public safety strategic plan” that would consider more broadly what types of investments will improve community safety, and explore for which activities other community resources may be a better, such as social workers with mental health and substance abuse expertise.
You can share your own thoughts with City Council tonight – the public meeting is likely to start around 5pm, after a closed session starting at 4pm. If you are sending written comment, please send it before 3pm (see instructions below)
The Black Lives Matter agenda item is on what is called the “consent calendar” – items that Council will vote on without discussion. But the City Council will hear comments on the item and may choose to discuss if there are comments.
How to participate in the meeting • Submit a written comment online: menlopark.org/publiccommentJune16* • Record a comment or request a call-back when an agenda topic is under consideration: Dial 650-474-5071* • Access the special meeting real-time online at: joinwebinar.com – Special Meeting ID 987-314-579 *Written and recorded public comments and call-back requests are accepted up to 1 hour before the meeting start time. Written and recorded messages are provided to the City Council at the appropriate time in their meeting. Recorded messages may be transcribed using a voice-to-text tool.
Menlo Park City Council is working on recession budget cuts at tonight’s City Council meeting. There are some decisions in the hands of Menlo Park City Council that can advance or hamper racial and economic equity in the city.
The City is proposing to cut community services in Belle Haven for two years or more before a new community center is built. Belle Haven is a neighborhood that was formerly “redlined” (segregated by financial policy) and has historically been provided with lower quality services than the whiter and wealthier areas of Menlo Park. This budget decision would exacerbate those historical inequities.
Preserving childcare. The draft budget proposes to maintain childcare services. However, the proposed changes risk failure for the program – increasing fees above market rate, adding surcharges, and closing the program if it is undersubscribed with these uncompetitive rates. Closure of the childcare services will harm the livelihood of families who depend on childcare to hold paying jobs and those who make up the child care workforce (largely women of color).
Instead of cutting Belle Haven services and putting childcare at risk, Menlo Together is urging City Council to deferring capital projects that can wait, and using reserve funds the City saved for emergencies such as this.
For more details on the budget decisions and Menlo Together’s recommendations, see this letter to City Council. And share your thoughts by sending a message to City Council before 4pm.
Or you can participate in tonight’s online meeting. The meeting starts at 5pm with a “close session.” – the public section of the meeting will likely start between 6 and 7. • Record a comment or request a call-back when an agenda topic is under consideration: Dial 650-474-5071* • Access the special meeting real-time online at: joinwebinar.com – Special Meeting ID 932-476-515
On a June 3 teleconference with the Menlo Park Mayor Cecilia Taylor and Police Chief Dave Bertini, a woman called in and asked about how to explain to neighborhood teens about being stopped for no apparent reason by police. Studies show that youth who experience intrusive police stops are at risk of heightened emotional distress.
The City of Menlo Park has an Open Data Portal that provides information about local law enforcement activity. The portal provides statistics for citations, showing disparities by race. Of the citations between 2016 and 2018 that listed the individual’s race (all but 2%) 31% were given to white individuals while 69% were given to non-white individuals (40% for Black and Hispanic individuals alone). In contrast, the population of Menlo Park is exactly the opposite: 70% white and 30% non-white (according to the 2010 census).
If you want to see Menlo Park police track data about police stops by race and neighborhood, please sign this petition. If you sign this petition, Menlo Together will:
share your name with Menlo Park City Council
contact you with more opportunities to demand transparent data about police stops, and other opportunities for a more transparent and just city
On June 1, hundreds gathered at Burgess Park, at a rally in support of #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd and #BlackLivesMatter. Mayor Cecilia Taylor, the city’s first African-American Mayor, gave a moving talk where she shared with the crowd that she fears for her stepson and nephews’ lives. When she heard the news during a Council meeting she struggled with tears from the dais.
After the Mayor spoke, the group knelt for nine minutes, recalling how long the murderer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck. Then the group marched, chanting and holding signs, up Alma Street and across the Caltrain tracks to the Palo Alto Avenue soccer fields. The rally, like so many across the United States, was organized by high school students who demand a more just and equitable future where #BlackLivesMatter, where Black people do not fear police violence, and where the outcome of people’s lives – health, education. prosperity – can’t be predicted by skin color.
At the close of her talk Mayor Taylor, “There are policies we can put in place” to bring about a more just and equitable city. For those who share this vision, click here to join us at Menlo Together, a group of Menlo Park and Peninsula residents who envision a city that is integrated and diverse, multi-generational, and environmentally sustainable. We’ll keep you posted on opportunities to learn and take action at bringing about a just and sustainable Menlo Park.
Vulnerable members of our community need help – here are several ways you can help neighbors in and near Menlo Park at this time of need.
1. Serve as your neighborhood block captain. There is a volunteer effort underway to organize our neighborhoods, with support from the Menlo Park Fire District. Block captains help their neighbors, especially those living alone and those who are older and/or with medical conditions, to prepare for emergencies. For more information, please see the recruitment flyer. If interested, contact organizer Lynne Bramlett at email@example.com
2. Volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Demand for meals to be delivered to seniors is increasing. This is a critical service in our community during normal times, and it will be vital to keep it going during the weeks ahead. They usually require new volunteers to go to the DMV to get background checked, but they are modifying this requirement during this time. If you are able and interested in this important work, please fill out this form and say in the section on “Specific Jobs” at the end of the page that you’re interested in Covid-19 emergency volunteering.
3. Volunteer with Second Harvest. Second Harvest depends on an extensive network of volunteers to distribute groceries to those in need across Silicon Valley. Due to COVID-19 concerns and precautions, they are currently experiencing a volunteer shortage. If you are healthy and not immuno-compromised, please consider signing up for a shift or two here. Volunteers need to be 14 or older (minors must be supervised by a parent), healthy, and ideally able to lift 25 pounds.
4. Baby Basics of the Peninsula is a 100% volunteer organization based in East Palo that distributes diapers to needy families. To find out more about volunteering please call (650) 321-2193 or email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also donate here.
Studies show that escooters can help reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. A 2019 study by the City of Santa Monica, where Bird has a 750-scooter fleet, found that 49% of scooter rides would have otherwise been made in a passenger vehicle, whether privately-owned or for hire.
The Palo Alto and Mountain View programs include rules about where the devices can be parked, and require the operators to have a hotline to report problems.
Over the next few years, the major new developments, including 1300 El Camino and the Stanford development on El Camino near Safeway will be opening up. Caltrain will start electrified service with more frequent trains. Scooters could potentially provide a convenient way for people to get to nearby destinations that are a little far to walk.
Menlo Park has an opportunity to watch the results closely in nearby cities, to assess if it would be helpful to follow in their footsteps.