On March 18, Menlo Park City Council held its first priority-setting session since before the Covid pandemic.
The top priorities, according to dots allocated by Councilmembers, were Housing (with 4 dots), and in no special order, Emergency Preparedness, Climate Action, Activating Downtown and Economic Development, and Safe Streets with three dots each (apologies for a photo that cut off the 4th Housing dot.)
The City Council’s priorities affirm several of the top priorities recommended by Menlo Together, in a letter that highlighted the importance of implementing the city’s plans for Housing; Environmental Justice and Equitable Electrification; and Sustainable Transportation. These are all areas where the City has completed, or is finishing major plans, and it is good to see the council focusing on implementation.
While the topics of Advancing Equity and Community Engagement got two dots each (lower than the threshold to become a top priority), we hope that these practices can be woven into the way that the city goes about its business, so that when issues are brought to City Council for review, that city staff will highlight the steps toward equity and the community engagement as a matter of course. The topics of Housing, Climate Action and
Environmental Justice, and Street Safety had received input from many hundreds of residents over the last year and in recent years. The City Council reviewed input from residents solicited specifically for the priority setting session. Items that received the most feedback include advancing a Quiet Zone to reduce train horn noise, a project which is currently in progress with a community outreach meeting coming up on March 23, and residents wanting space for pickle ball and tennis, a topic which is being addressed in an ongoing update to the city’s Parks Master Plan.
The draft priorities will be brought back for City Council review and approval, along with a Work Plan and Budget to implement the priorities.
Thanks to everyone whose voice over time has contributed to the prioritization of Housing, Climate and Safe Streets. It will take ongoing attention to encourage the Council and the City to infuse equity in the way it does work.