Menlo Together Accomplishments in 2021

As Menlo Together, we are proud to share our work in the last year! To learn more about the efforts of each of our projects and committees, please read on.  Thanks to everyone who participated – if you read this and are inspired to learn more and participate, please sign up here.

Belle Haven Empowered has completed its first year goal of presenting Kitchen Table Chats, a 9-month long series of conversations designed to bring Belle Haven neighbors together to share information and discuss topics related to the community.  The Chats covered issues including housing, police and public safety, community amenities for the Belle Haven neighborhood and more. These chats helped Belle Haven residents engage in the city’s Housing Element and other decisions. The team has created “infomercials” on the nuts and bolts of participating in city decisions including reading agendas when published, reading staff reports, and making meaningful recommendations to the council.  

The Color of Law: Menlo Park Edition is an interactive workshop to explore together the history of how our government segregated America and Menlo Park. The information is presented from Richard Rothstein’s book, “The Color of Law” as well as history we dug up from local archives, and we share first-hand personal stories. By now, we’ve held 9 workshops, reached over 500 people, and most importantly, we’ve added new voices in support of racial equity and housing justice

The Housing Committee has advocated for a viable plan for the city to meet its state requirements to update the Housing Element of its general plan to prepare for housing at all income levels, especially homes for extremely low/very low affordable housing for people of all abilities; and supporting the city in addressing the requirements to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing. Recommendations included greater density at all levels of affordability near downtown and El Camino real and robust tenant protections to avoid further displacement. 

The Housing Element is a once every eight years process of planning for housing, and it’s a significant opportunity for us to plan for more homes and much greater affordability in a way that achieves Menlo Together’s vision of a city that is integrated and diverse, walkable and bikeable, and environmentally sustainable.

The Budget Watchdog Committee dove into the information about the City’s budget. As President Joe Biden stated as he quoted his father in 2008, “Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value”. With this in mind, the budget watchdog committee took a look at opportunities to make recommendations and help Menlo Park actions in the coming year be in line with our values of equity, sustainability, inclusion, health, racial and economic justice. The committee put together a blog post providing an overview of the budget and an update making further recommendations

The Climate Committee has conducted public outreach on Menlo Park’s Climate Action Plan, aiming for Zero Carbon by 2030. This goal supports the health and environmental benefits of helping homes and buildings transition to electric appliances and the benefits of expanding access to electric vehicle charging stations. During the Summer of 2021, the committee collaborated with Menlo Spark to host an in-person Climate Coalition Social to connect more with local residents. The committee also presented with Menlo Spark at the Bay Area Youth Climate Summit to showcase the City’s exceptional Climate Action Plan and how young people can build an effective and include climate coalitions in their localities. 

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