Housing study session. Council Member Taylor assertively asked for a housing study session,with a scope that could potentially address a variety of aspects of the city’s housing challenges.
Downtown parking and access. The City Council prioritized “parking and access” strategies to improve access to downtown in the near term. This description helps the city to think about a “pie chart” with slices that include driving, transit, walking, and biking. This language implies that while driving remains important, the city will focus on improving access to downtown with a variety of modes.
Providing a safe bicycle route from Burgess Park through a new crossing of the Caltrain tracks to Olive Street and Hillview Middle school. Mayor Mueller expressed eagerness for this project to get input from Complete Streets Commission and to move forward.
Environmental goals – electrifying buildings. Several council members expressed enthusiasm about the environmental goals including the REACH codes that would set more aggressive standards for new buildings to be installed all-electric (without polluting natural gas). Council referred the topic to the Environmental Quality Commission to scope the project with staff swiftly enough to meet REACH program deadlines.
A few other topics came up at the Goal-Setting meeting related to Menlo Together objectives for housing and transportation:
Council Member Combs proposed removing funding from the parking garage project, rather than deferring the garage while taking short-term steps to improve parking management. A decision to remove funding from the parking garage would need to come back to Council as a study session. This is a complicated topic – considerations might include demonstrating the effectiveness of strategies to use parking more efficiently before making a final decision; and the potential value of shared parking to goals of encouraging more housing downtown. A parking garage study session hasn’t yet been scheduled.
Last Tuesday, over 40 people came to the Menlo Park City Council meeting to ask them to pass the Housing Commission’s recommended Tenant Relocation Assistance ordinance. At the end of a long meeting, in a 3-2 vote with Vice Mayor Cecilia Taylor and Councilwoman Betsy Nash opposed, the Council approved a limited ordinance modeled on one passed in Redwood City last year.
The ordinance will apply only to low-income renters forced out of their homes because the landlord of a property of five or more units is opting to permanently remove the unit from the rental housing market and will require landlord to give qualifying tenants relocation assistance equal to three months of fair-market rent (currently $8,427 for a two-bedroom apartment). Recent news from Redwood City demonstrates why this is insufficient, as long-time renters receive no compensation when forced to move as their rents double. Click here to read a detailed summary from the Almanac.
The Menlo Park City Council decided to pair the Tenant Relocation Assistance ordinance with a community fund for renters not eligible for assistance through the ordinance. At this Tuesday’s City Council meeting Council will have the first discussion about the fund.
Menlo Together is a group of Menlo Park and Peninsula residents who envision a city that is integrated and diverse, multi-generational, and environmentally sustainable. We advocate for an accessible and inviting downtown Menlo Park with housing at all affordability levels, and with pedestrian and bike-friendly spaces, developed to be carbon free. We take a deep interest in the way local government shapes our communities, and encourage our neighbors to do the same.
We recently formed Menlo Together to elevate conversations about the future of housing, transportation, and sustainability in Menlo Park.
Our first event is a Menlo Park City Council Candidate forum to foster discussion on key issues in our community such as housing availability, transportation access, environmental sustainability, and equity. Join us for a robust and informative discussion about the future of our community.
Menlo Park City Council Candidate Forum hosted by Menlo Together
Monday, October 1st from 7:00pm – 9:30 PM
Juniper Room at the Arrillaga Family Recreation Center