Menlo Park City Seeks Grant Funds and Input for Willow Road ped/bike Improvements

The City of Menlo Park is pursuing a state grant, Active Transportation Program (ATP), to fund pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along Willow Road between Bayfront Expressway and U.S. Highway 101. This project includes a new pedestrian crossing at O’Brien Street and separated bikeways on both sides of Willow Road. For more information, visit the Willow Road Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements project page.

Menlo Together supports the City of Menlo Park in its mission of improving transportation alternatives, enhancing safety for people walking and bicycling, and eliminating gaps in the walking and bicycling network. Read our full letter of support here

We welcome you to take this short online survey to provide input on the improvements that can be made! 

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. 


Council Reviews new Proposal to Fully Electrify Buildings

It is widely known that climate change poses a great risk and requires mitigation measures to reduce environmental effects. In Menlo Park, we are already feeling the impacts of climate change with intensifying wildfires, heatwaves, poor air quality, flooding and sea level rise. Menlo Park has adopted a bold Climate Action Plan to reduce our carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. The plan includes six core measures to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions on a pathway to be carbon-neutral by 2030. 

Climate change is an issue of equity – those that contribute least to climate change, including low-income, racial minorities, marginalized ethnic groups and the elders will be adversely affected. Bold and equitable action is needed to mitigate these adverse effects from putting our community at risk, especially our most vulnerable members. 

In this bold Climate Action Plan, the 6 core measures are: 

  1. Transition 95% of existing buildings from gas to all electric
  2. Get electric vehicle (EV) use up to 100% and reduce gasoline sales
  3. Make EV chargers accessible for commercial and multifamily units 
  4. Decrease vehicle miles traveled by 25% 
  5. Electrify City Operations 
  6. Develop a climate adaptation plan to protect the community from sea level rise and flooding 

The first core measure to convert 95% of existing homes and commercial buildings from natural gas appliances to all-electric clean energy sources will eliminate almost 40% of Menlo Park’s greenhouse gas emissions. 

In the next City Council Meeting, the Council will make a decision using the new consultant’s cost effectiveness analysis and policy options draft report to move us beyond gas and onto clean electricity. Based on this draft report, the Environmental Quality Commission has made recommendations to help provide an equitable transition to electrification. Let’s show our support and encourage the Council to move forward with the climate actions that the EQC is recommending. Going all-electric and phasing out fossil fuels is important to not only mitigate climate change, but also to improve our health, air quality, and resilience. 

NATURAL GAS THREATENS HEALTH AND IS LESS EQUITABLE 

The burning of natural gas produces potent indoor air pollutants that pose serious threats to health, especially to our most vulnerable populations; young children, the elderly, and people with asthma. The air pollution is also substantially higher in Belle Haven, being in the top 82 percentile, almost double the level in the rest of Menlo Park. As a result, children in this neighborhood pose an even higher risk of asthma from continued exposure to natural gas stoves. 

NATURAL GAS IS DANGEROUS 

Gas leaks can cause fire and explosions, such as the 2010 accident in San Bruno, as well as carbon monoxide poisoning. 

COST TO GO ALL-ELECTRIC 

Based on the TRC and DNV consultant’s draft report, the cost for electrification can be several thousand dollars extra initially (but then pays back over time (looking at 30 years, with efficient product choices that give some utility bill savings). If buildings have rooftop solar, the utility bill savings with efficient electric appliances can be roughly $140 per month. 

KEY EQC RECOMMENDATIONS 

The Environmental Quality Commission has robust recommendations on this item, supported by research and actions to transition 95% of existing buildings from gas to all electric through an equitable approach. 

If these recommendations are approved by the City Council, it will provide support to low income residents through a special equity fund to fully electrify ~1,400 households in the city that are currently on bill assistance through PG&E. 

To provide protection to renters, the EQC recommends the City to pass new policies protecting renters from increased rent or “renovictions” due to electrification retrofit. 

Reduce the “hassle factor” of electrification policies for building owners by providing technical assistance, easing permitting, and making it more convenient to go electric. 

The City will decide whether and how to go forward with the first set of bold measures in the Climate Action Plan, with a focus on this electrification core measure. Let’s show our support and encourage the Council to move forward with the climate actions that the EQC is recommending. 350 Silicon Valley has prepared a letter that may be personalized! Send this quick letter  to the City Council endorsing EQCs recommendations. 

Replacing Gas with Clean Electric Appliances in our Homes and Buildings is a Key Climate Action for Menlo Park!

Eviction crisis looms: Take action now to prevent further evictions

SB 91’s eviction moratorium expires on June 30th. This puts at risk over 14,000 households in San Mateo County and over 1 million in California of being unhoused. Read on for a brief explanation of what’s happening and steps you can take right now to help.

California launched Housing Is Key, a rent relief program which reimburses landlords 80% of an eligible renter’s unpaid rent as long as they waive the remaining 20%. [Learn more here] Yet, once this moratorium expires, the program will also be lifted. 

Faith in Action Bay Area conducted phone calls to tenants and landlords who hold or owe rent debt in San Mateo County and found

  • There is not enough outreach about this rent relief program. To put into perspective, 49 phone calls out of 58 were not aware of the program, that’s 87%. 
  • The program is not accessible due to lack of access to technology and/or language support. 
  • Money is being dirbured too slowly. Pacific Tribune reported that only 1.6% of the money requested in San Mateo County has been paid out. 

Housing Leadership Council adds the following updates: 

  • There have been improvements with this debt relief program, but they are meaningless without the extension of the extinction moratorium. As perfectly stated by HLC, “The debt relief program needs to be improved AND given time to work”. To read HLC’s full newsletter, click here

Here is what you can do, reach out to your representative:  

  1. Contact your State Senator, Josh Becker by clicking here and Assemblymember, Marc Berman here, in support of a state-wide eviction moratorium extension. When asked to “Select an issue” choose COVID-19, Bill/Legislation, or what most closely relates to your comment.
  2. Ask the Menlo Park city council to prioritize rent relief and other covid financial assistance with a new grant to Samaritan House in the budget
  3. Ask the city to fund outreach by local organizations with trusting connection to hard-to-reach residents (BHA, BCDF) and legal services (CLSEPA, Legal Aid SMC)
  4. You may also contact Senate President Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, or Governor Newsom in support of a state-wide eviction moratorium extension. 

Need support putting together a comment? Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee has provided these great talking points:

  • Identify yourself as a leader in your organization (e.g. Marin Organizing Committee) and a member of your institution (e.g. your place of worship, nonprofit affiliation, etc.)
  • More than a million CA families are at risk of eviction if the state does not act now to expand and extend protections for renters.
  • We must extend the eviction moratorium until the end of 2021, or we will see an explosion in our state’s homelessness crisis.
  • Amend SB 91 to expand eligibility and allow more flexibility in distribution. Senate Bill 91 only provides relief to tenants who owe back rent directly to their landlords. Many renters borrowed from payday lenders, family, friends and others to keep their rent current, or sublease from others.
  • In order for families to get back to work and repay their debts, tenants need the flexibility to use rental relief funds to prepay rent for at least 6 months.
  • SB 91 must be expanded to include families who sublease.