City Council chooses goals advancing housing, transportation, sustainability

Several items from MenloTogether’s priority list were advanced at the council’s goal-setting decision agenda item last week.

Housing study session. Council Member Taylor assertively asked for a housing study session,with a scope that could potentially address a variety of aspects of the city’s housing challenges.

Downtown parking and access. The City Council prioritized “parking and access” strategies to improve access to downtown in the near term. This description helps the city to think about a “pie chart” with slices that include driving, transit, walking, and biking. This language implies that while driving remains important, the city will focus on improving access to downtown with a variety of modes.

Providing a safe bicycle route from Burgess Park through a new crossing of the Caltrain tracks to Olive Street and Hillview Middle school. Mayor Mueller expressed eagerness for this project to get input from Complete Streets Commission and to move forward.

Environmental goals – electrifying buildings. Several council members expressed enthusiasm about the environmental goals including the REACH codes that would set more aggressive standards for new buildings to be installed all-electric (without polluting natural gas). Council referred the topic to the Environmental Quality Commission to scope the project with staff swiftly enough to meet REACH program deadlines.

A few other topics came up at the Goal-Setting meeting related to Menlo Together objectives for housing and transportation:

There is an upcoming study session on Tuesday March 12 on strategies to address longterm homelessness

Council Member Combs proposed removing funding from the parking garage project, rather than deferring the garage while taking short-term steps to improve parking management. A decision to remove funding from the parking garage would need to come back to Council as a study session. This is a complicated topic – considerations might include demonstrating the effectiveness of strategies to use parking more efficiently before making a final decision; and the potential value of shared parking to goals of encouraging more housing downtown. A parking garage study session hasn’t yet been scheduled.

The Council removed consideration of teacher housing on the Flood magnet school site because that project is in limbo due to ongoing change in the Ravenswood school district.

We’ll continue to keep you posted as these topics come up for review and decision at City Council.

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