Menlo Together D3 Candidate Forum – Video and Questions

Thanks to everyone who registered and attended the Menlo Together D3 City Council Candidates Forum.  Here a link to the video of the event. The list of questions is below.

Menlo Together’s goal was to enable voters to hear the perspectives and opinions of candidates on the interrelated issues of housing affordability, transportation, sustainability and racial justice.  Menlo Together provided questions to all candidates and the public in advance, on the day of the event.

On Saturday, candidates Fennell and Nguyen made short statements in lieu of participating in the forum. Nguyen made her statement at the beginning of the event. An event organizer read Fennell’s statement at the end.

All three candidates participated in the League of Women Voters forum on Wednesday, September 30, which can be viewed here.

Menlo Together Candidate Forum Questions

Question 1: 

California law requires cities to affirmatively further fair housing through zoning plans and policies that counteract and undo racially discriminatory laws and policies.

Examples of enduring discriminatory practices include concentrating affordable housing in under resourced neighborhoods and excluding affordable homes from other neighborhoods using single family zoning. 

What strategies to affirmatively further fair housing do you support, and which will you prioritize during your term?

Please be as specific as possible. 

Question 2:

During the Covid crisis, many tenants and some homeowners face financial challenges like never before and the challenges will persist for long after the pandemic ends.

What are the most important things you will do in your role on city council to prevent evictions and displacement of our most vulnerable residents?

(Note to Moderator – if they mention County and State solutions, ask how they will contribute to the desired outcome)?

Question 3

There is robust data showing a strong correlation between driving speed and the safety of streets for everyone – people driving, walking, and bicycling. The speed that drivers drive depends more on street design than on the posted speed limit.

Unfortunately, there is a state law that doesn’t allow the city to enforce a lower speed limit if most drivers are moving faster.  There are three parts to this question:
* Would you support setting speed limits to a max of 25mph citywide?
* Would you support setting design standards to gradually redesign streets to support 25mph speeds?
* Would you support the city joining other cities in advocating for changes to the state law?

Question 4

Meeting the Climate Action Plan goal depends on council direction and staff execution. Currently only 3 of 60+ steps to advance the Climate Action Plan are on the agenda for this year.  This is a two part question.
* What measures will you prioritize and how would they move the needle? 
* Given the unique and significant vulnerability to climate impact in Belle Haven, what measures would you advance to improve resilience?

Question 5:

We believe that racial equity is achieved when outcomes – in terms of housing, education, health and wealth – can no longer be predicted based on race and are improved for everyone.  What are two strategies you will prioritize to achieve racial equity in Menlo Park; and given the moment we are in, one of your strategies should be related to policing.  

Audience Question #1:
What does increasing housing affordability in Menlo Park look like to you?

Audience Question #2:

We received several questions about policing and public safety, so we will batch them into our first audience question:
* Do you support reallocation of police funding to alternative, community-based emergency responders? If yes, how will you achieve this change?
* Regarding city funding received by Facebook and allocated to the Facebook Community Response Team, (or Beat 4 of MPPD), do you support this allocation of funds?  If not, how will you achieve this change?

Audience Question #3
When the Housing Element is updated again, what will be the candidate’s preferred make up of the advisory committee steering the effort?

Audience Question #4
We have a lot of housing and retail projects going on right now, on El Camino. How many of those units are “affordable-15% less” and is it true that after a set time period, those rents at the “affordable range”, will be go back to fair market housing and those occupants will be forced out.  How will you work to control this.


Lightning Round short answer questions

– Do you support Measure RR, which provides dedicated funding to Caltrain, would prevent a shutdown because of Covid, improve affordability and improve service in the future? (C, J, M)

– Do you support Schools and Community First Prop 15, which will assess commercial property at market value and reclaim $11-12B in revenue for local government and public schools? (J, M, C)

– Do you support ending Menlo Park Police Department’s participation in the federal 1122 program which provides surplus military equipment to cities? (M, C, J)

– Would you support assigning resources to Caltrain grade separations – this was postponed to cut costs in the last budget cycle (C, J, M)

– When we redraw city council districts, will you support an independent redistricting commission? (J, M, C)

New addition from audience member – make it a simple Y/N/don’t know – Do you support Prop 16, 17, or 18?


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