Saturday Jan 30 10am – City Council Goal-Setting

On Saturday, January 30, the Menlo Park City Council is holding a goal-setting workshop from 10am to 3pm. Read on for tips for encouraging City Council to strengthen goals for the coming year to make the city more equitable and sustainable.

The agenda is here. You can send your thoughts in advance by email to city.council@menlopark.org. And you can give public comment at the meeting. Public comment is slated to start around 10:25am, subject to change. You can dial in by zoom at Zoom.us/join with Meeting ID# 947 1320 5683 , or by phone at (669) 900-6833 Meeting ID# 947 1320 5683, press *9 to raise your hand to speak.

The coming fiscal year, from July 2021 through June 2022, will continue to be challenging and uncertain. Widespread vaccination will alleviate the health risks of Covid and the burden on people’s livelihoods, but the pace of vaccination and rise of new virus strains add uncertainty. Covid recovery will be an important theme. The City has urgent and important priorities to meet state legal requirements to plan for housing (called the Housing Element), and important goals to address climate change.

The city staff is starting the Council’s discussions with some good proposed priorities, including the 2022 Housing Element, rebuilding library and community services from service cuts driven by Covid, and the SAFER Bay Project, an opportunity to get federal grant funding to protect a power substation in the Belle Haven neighborhood from sea level rise.

Menlo Together has some recommendations for the City Council to enhance these good priorities:

The Housing Element is essential, as a legal requirement and as a process that can enable the city of Menlo Park to take steps to address housing unaffordability and the legacy of segregation. As part of this goal, the City Council should consider prioritizing related policies and programs to increase housing production, preserve affordable housing, and protect renters that do not strictly fall within the legally required scope of the Housing Element update.

The priority on “rebuilding library and community services” is important for a year in which we expect pandemic restrictions to lift.  We are very glad to see that the staff report highlights the need for assessment of “diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility in LCS department services and operations” as part of service restoration, and are eager to ensure that community outreach plays a big part in restoring services.  However, we believe this theme of rebuilding services should be reframed more broadly as “rebuilding city services to achieve an equitable COVID recovery,” allowing the city to consider a variety of recovery needs.

In advancing the Climate Action Plan, we strongly support  the strategies of building electrification and electric vehicle charging that have already been approved. However, the City Council should also consider prioritizing the city’s regular transportation planning in ways that reduce vehicle miles traveled.  For example, there will be opportunities coming forward in the existing program to advance a transportation management association that can help workers reduce car commuting, and there will be opportunities in the routine selection and design of bicycle and pedestrian projects,that can be oriented toward addressing our climate goals

Here is a copy of the comment letter that Menlo Together sent on January 12 regarding City Council goal-setting.

If you have some time, please share your thoughts with the City Council.

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