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Update on the Parkline project at SRI

On Monday, January 23, Menlo Park’s Planning Commission will study an update to the Parkline project at the SRI site in a central location in the city, walking distance from downtown shops and services, parks and transit.

The updated proposal incorporates feedback from numerous residents who advocated last spring for the Parkline proposal to include more housing and more deeply affordable housing and now includes:

  • 150 more homes (from 400 to 550)
  • An acre of land dedicated to a non-profit housing developer to produce 100 homes for people who are most impacted by housing insecurity, such as extremely low income people with special needs.  

To support these improvements, sign this letter to the Planning Commission. We encourage you to share why this is personally important to you. 

We offer these talking points, but you are the expert in your own life and experience, and your personal story is your power. 

  • Housing at all income levels keeps our community resilient, inclusive, and thriving.
  • Here’s a cool recent batch of data from Arlington VA who saw a net decrease in traffic despite adding more units to the city, because of how the units are smartly clustered around transit
  • We will not meet our Climate Action Plan goals without reducing the number of miles people commute to work in or near Menlo Park, simply because they cannot afford to live here.
  • I support local businesses and want them to have a robust, local workforce who are able to thrive and contribute to the community in which they work. 
  • I value equity and welcome people who have been discriminated against into all neighborhoods, parks and our schools.
  • Dedicating land in this prime location to a non-profit affordable housing developer is a great way to meet hard-to-meet housing needs: seniors, large families, single-women headed households, people with developmental and physical disabilities.
  • This site will be a strong applicant for federal, state, and county funds because of its proximity to transit and services.
  • The developer has shown that they are willing and open to building more housing for people of all incomes and abilities. We should take advantage of this opportunity and work with them.

This project offers an opportunity to help Menlo Park achieve our legal requirement to affirmatively further fair housing and to help shape the city we all deserve. 

Environmental Justice and the Case for a Stronger Housing Element

On Thursday, January 12, at 7pm, Menlo Park’s Planning and Housing Commissions will meet together to review the draft Housing Element before sending their recommendations to City Council. 

Menlo Park’s Housing Element is in its final stages–it will likely be adopted by City Council before the end of January. But there are two critical and related pieces of the Housing Element update that deserve attention and consideration. These three elements of the city’s General Plan are bound together by their goals for a more just and equitable community, and to achieve those goals, they need to be considered collectively. 

A draft Environmental Justice and Safety Element have been released and public meetings on these elements will be held in early February, 2023.

A home is the first line of defense from environmental hazards

The Environmental Justice Element in particular is centered on addressing environmental injustices in the General Plan; as such, it plays an equally vital role as the Housing Element in determining the quality of life where people live. 

By state mandate, localities must seek input from disadvantaged and marginalized communities to inform the Environmental Justice Element. State law (SB 1000) requires cities to identify and prioritize the needs of communities affected by historic systems of discrimination that disproportionately impose pollution and other health burdens onto low-income residents and people of color. 

The Environmental Justice Element is a tool to address a variety of past harms related to environmental inequities. One of the seven goals is to promote safe, stable, and affordable housing in high resource areas. The Environmental Justice Element references Housing Element programs to achieve these goals, so it’s imperative that we have a strong and equitable Housing Element.

Historic patterns of housing discrimination form a throughline between the HE and the EJE. 

Redlining and discriminatory mortgage lending practices were used to isolate low-income and non-white populations to the least desirable locations. 

Here in Menlo Park, the Belle Haven and Bayfront neighborhoods are overrepresented by lower incomes and people of color. They are also the most polluted, flood prone, and industrialized areas of the city. By their location as well as their history of being under-resourced, they find themselves particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. They’re also the most cost-burdened when it comes to housing. 

Housing Burden Indicator Results: In Belle Haven, 28% of residents contribute greater than 50% of their income to housing cost and over 70% of households are low income (EnviroScreen 4.0, 2013-2017). 

Menlo Park’s Belle Haven neighborhood sits in the FEMA flood plain (2022 map)

Zoning and permitting decisions have restricted the location and type of housing developments in Menlo Park, which has led to a severe local jobs/housing imbalance and a lack of affordable housing options. As land values continue to rise, home prices and rents have become increasingly out of reach and contributed to gentrification. Housing insecurity and displacement loom, exacerbating stress on residents’ everyday finances–and their health.

As part of the Environmental Justice and Safety Element planning process, Menlo Park did extensive outreach to the Belle Haven community about environmental harms, health challenges, and financial stressors. Chief among the community’s priorities was the need for safe, stable, and healthy housing. 

Safe & Sanitary Housing State Requirement: Location, Quality, Affordability, Stability

Housing site selection can exacerbate or mitigate inequities. To reverse our past patterns of segregation, we must equitably plan for a diversity of housing across the city, especially in high resource areas. 

To address housing insecurity and reduce cost burdens we need robust policies and programs to preserve and protect existing housing as well as enact strong measures to prevent displacement. 

The EJ element depends on the Housing Element to achieve safe and sanitary housing outcomes. To achieve the Environmental Justice goals, the Housing Element needs to be robust and equitable.  


Timely Call to Action – January 12th

Support Environmental Justice Goals through Housing Element Advocacy

A Housing Element that supports Environmental Justice will establish programs and policies to:

  • Reverse the trend by which marginalized communities have been overburdened with disproportionate housing and commercial development and the resulting traffic and emissions impacts
  • Create a robust, accelerated plan to produce 100% affordable housing on city-owned parking lots downtown
  • Offer protection from displacement for both renters and homeowners
  • Provide resources to help preserve and revitalize communities 

Thursday, January 12th at 7pm, the Planning Commission and Housing Commission will discuss the Housing Element. 

Take action now:

  1. Before 7pm on Jan 11th, please sign on to this Menlo Together/Housing Leadership Council letter in support of a rigorous and equitable Housing Element 
  2. Lend your voice even more powerfully:  Speak directly to your Planning and Housing Commissioners at tomorrow’s  joint meeting.

Here’s all the relevant meeting information you’ll need:

Agenda

When: January 12, 2023 at 7:00 pm

In Person: City Council Chambers, 751 Laurel St., 94025

Online Via Zoom: Meeting ID 862-5880-9056

Phone:

Dial 669-900-6833

Meeting ID 862-5880-9056

Press *9 to raise hand to speak

If you have any questions info@menlotogether.org or kchan@hlcsmc.org will be happy to help.

Our city needs a realistic and equitable plan for housing over the next decade

Every eight years, the state requires each city to update its plan for new housing at all income levels (this is called a “Housing Element”). Your personal story and input is a powerful way to influence the process to ensure Menlo Park’s housing plan is robust and fair.

It’s time to act together to shape a future for Menlo Park with homes for all. Please consider sending a personal email to Planning and Housing Commissioners by early afternoon, January 12th.

Need help? Have questions? Reach out to info@menlotogether.org.

You may want to highlight:

  • How the lack of housing at all income levels affects you and the people you care about. Be specific!
  • How more housing aligns with your values. At Menlo Together, we envision a city that is integrated and diverse, multi-generational, and environmentally sustainable. We envision an accessible and inviting downtown Menlo Park, with housing at all affordability levels, much less solo driving and with pedestrian and bike-friendly spaces, developed to produce zero net greenhouse gasses.
  • The importance of increasing the accessibility, vibrancy and climate-friendliness of downtown Menlo Park by building higher and denser housing near services and transit. (Note: removing some of the less realistic sites from the draft Housing Element would require the City to increase the amount of housing it plans for viable sites downtown, including city-owned parking lots and other locations in the downtown/El Camino area)
  • The benefits of building housing on city-owned land such as downtown parking lots include the potential for nonprofit housing developers to build homes for some of our most housing-insecure residents.
  • Why Menlo Park should plan for a variety of affordable housing options, including for seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, large families, and others with special needs.
  • The need for policies that prevent the displacement of our neighbors (42% of Menlo Park residents rent their homes), such as prohibiting unfair evictions and excessive rent increases, preventing discrimination and harassment, and preserving “naturally affordable housing” (such as homes in older buildings located in more affordable neighborhoods).
  • The opportunity to increase the viability of at least one potential housing site near highway 280 (such as the Sharon Heights Shopping Center). The city can incentivize housing at these sites by increasing the allowable height and density of buildings it allows on these properties.

More information:

Menlo Park voters soundly reject Measure V

As of November 17, with approximately 80% of the votes counted, No on V prevailed in every single council district and nearly every precinct citywide.

Menlo Together participated with multi-faceted coalition of local and regional stakeholders who organized, canvassed, phone-banked, educated friends and neighbors, hosted gatherings, recruited volunteers, delivered signs, wrote postcards, and knocked on doors all over the city to inform people about the bad measure that would have made affordable housing more difficult, and that proposed to have replaced the city’s deliberative process with more contentious ballot measures.

So, now what?

By defeating Measure V, Menlo Park residents chose to keep our public processes. This means there are important opportunities to engage in decisions about important issues like:

  • Housing at the Flood School Site
  • Housing at the SRI Site
  • Completing and implementing a Housing Element to provide housing for people of all income levels and meet fair housing requirements.

Now that the obstacle of Measure V is behind us, stay tuned for more opportunities to meet neighbors, engage, and improve housing affordability in Menlo Park.

Hear From Both Sides of Measure V

Join the Political Forum Webinar the Almanac is hosting this fall. Hear from both sides of the Measure V ballot measure via Zoon this upcoming Thursday, October 6, from 7 to 8 p.m. Almanac Editor Andrea Gemmet and Staff Writer Cameron Rebosio will pose questions to Nicole Chessari of Menlo Balance and Margarita Méndez of Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes.

What’s this all about? This November, Menlo Park neighbors will vote on a local ballot measure designed to stop the Ravenswood City School District from creating affordable homes for teachers and staff at its Flood School site. The measure would also block future homes from being created for your neighbors throughout Menlo Park. YOU can stop this! Learn more about the measure here. 

Kitchen Table Chat: Color of Law – Belle Haven and Education

Sunday, September 18th at 4:00 pm

Hybrid: Belle Haven Library and Zoom

Join us and Belle Haven Empowered for a chat this Sunday on the history of education in the Ravenswood City School District (RSCD) and Sequoia Union High School District (SUHS). We will discuss the impacts of segregation on the RCSD and decisions made that affected the district’s funding. We will also discuss SUHD’s decisions that segregated our high schools and their impact. 

The Belle Haven Empowered initiative hosts a series of conversations (chats) throughout the year designed to bring Belle Haven neighbors together to share information and discuss topics important to the community. By increasing community involvement in the city’s decision-making and working together for common goals, we can strengthen our voices and representation. 

Please invite your family and friends interested in learning more about the history of Belle Haven and the educational systems to register for this event.  We look forward to seeing you there.

More informational updates and events to be discussed during the chat include:

  • Belle Haven Community Development Fund 
  • Resource Fair
  • Climate topics and events highlighting Environmental Justice
  • New JobTrain Digital Literacy courses 

Join: Pam D Jones and Juanita Croft at the Belle Haven Library or on Zoom. 

When: Sunday, September 18th, 2022 at 4:00 pm

REGISTER HERE After registering, you will receive an email with information about how to join this Kitchen Table Chat.

Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes Ballot Measure Info Session

Join Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes and the Ravenswood City School District Community – teachers, staff, parents and neighbors, this Sunday August 28th, 3-4:30pm at Belle Haven School. You are invited!

This November, Menlo Park neighbors will vote on a local ballot measure designed to stop the Ravenswood City School District from creating affordable homes for teachers and staff at its Flood School site. The measure would also block future homes from being created for your neighbors throughout Menlo Park. YOU can stop thisLearn more about the measure here.

You’ll hear from Ravenswood district teachers, staff, and community members and learn how YOU can champion affordable homes by helping defeat the measure.

Staff housing for school districts can make a huge difference, not just in the lives of the teachers and other employees that serve our children, but for the entire community. This Associated Press video includes interviews with new residents of faculty housing completed this year in Daly City, very similar to what is being proposed in Menlo Park.

[1] The measure would require a regular-election vote of the public before changing zoning of low-density residential parcels, which include the vacant site of the former Flood School and several church parking lots where affordable housing could be created.

Independent Report finds that Ballot Measure would block affordable housing

Last month (June 28), your Menlo Park City Council Members commissioned an independent, objective impact analysis of a November 2022 Menlo Park ballot measure.

That report was released last Friday and the findings are clear – the ballot measure would create big barriers for affordable housing in Menlo Park and block teacher and staff housing for the Ravenswood City School District.

If the ballot measure passes in November 2022, it will:

  • Block affordable housing for teachers and school staff at the vacant site of the former Flood School site owned by Ravenswood City School District.
  • Lock in and exacerbate racial and economic segregation by blocking future homes in high opportunity neighborhoods which are predominantly upper income and white.
  • Limit the city’s ability to plan for housing for people at a variety of income levels, in conflict with the city’s General Plan
  • Put the city at risk of being sued by reducing our ability to affirmatively further fair housing (AFFH), as required by law (CA 2018 Assembly Bill 686)
  • Block Menlo Park Fire District from redeveloping their headquarters without a public vote.
  • Block Menlo Park religious organizations from redeveloping their properties without a public vote.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 26, council members will most likely vote to put this measure on the November ballot rather than enact it into law without a public vote, which is the only other option.  City Council measures can also express their opinions to the measure if they so choose.

To watch a presentation on the report and share your thoughts with the City Council, you can dial in by Zoom or phone.

Here’s the meeting information:

Agenda: Items J1 and J2
Zoom: https://zoom.us/join
Meeting ID: 831 3316 9409

Dial In: (669) 900-6833
Meeting ID: 831 3316 9409
Press *9 to raise hand to speak

The meeting starts at 5pm with a closed session.  The Ballot Measure item will likely get started some time after 7pm.  If you would like a text message or email when the item starts, rather than waiting, please send a message with your contact information to adina@menlotogether.org

Non-Single-Family Properties Affected by the Ballot Measure

Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes Campaign Kick-Off

Join a growing list of residents, organizations, and local leaders on
Sunday, July 31
from 3-4:30pm. We will meet at Flood Park in the Fir Group Picnic Area. We will provide light refreshments.

RSVP Endorse   Donate

Our vision at Menlo Together is of a city that is integrated and diverse, multi-generational, and environmentally sustainable and includes affordable homes throughout the city for people and families from all walks of life. That’s why we are proud to join Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes to OPPOSE an anti-affordable housing measure this November!

On November 8, Menlo Park voters will decide on a local ballot measure designed to stop the Ravenswood City School District (RCSD) from creating affordable homes for teachers and staff at its Flood School site1. The measure would also block future homes from being created for your neighbors throughout Menlo Park. If it passes, it will spread to other cities and make it that much harder for everyone you know to find quality affordable homes. YOU can stop this.

At the kick-off, you’ll hear from affordable housing champions, including a resident of the Jefferson Union High School District’s affordable workforce housing in Daly City, and talk about how YOU can champion affordable homes by helping defeat the measure.

Watch this this video to see for yourself how staff housing for school districts can make a huge difference, not just in the lives of the teachers and other employees that serve our children, but for the entire community.

Join Menlo Park Neighbors for Affordable Homes and learn how YOU can help defeat the anti-affordable housing measure, preserve the ability of Ravenswood City School District to use their land and resources to support their staff, and support affordable housing in all neighborhoods in Menlo Park. With YOUR help, we can do this! 

[1] The measure would require a regular-election vote of the public before changing zoning of low-density residential parcels, which include the vacant site of the former Flood School and several church parking lots where affordable housing could be created.

Community Meeting: 61 New Affordable Homes for Veteran Families in Menlo Park

Are you Invested in creating 100% affordable homes for veterans and their families in your community

Join your neighbors this upcoming Monday July 18, 2022 from 6:30 – 7:00 PM to chat with MidPen Housing Corp about the new Veterans Affairs affordable housing proposal

Veterans Affairs have selected MidPen Housing to create affordable, multi family homes on their Palo Alto Health Care System Campus (view map below). This is your opportunity to learn about the proposal and provide your feedback! 

This proposal will provide 61 of much needed affordable and supportive homes for Veterans and their families who are unhoused or at-risk in your community. The homes will be available to households earning 30-50% of the Area Median Income ($55,900-$93,200 for a family of four). The homes will be a part of a 2-3 story building – consisting of 54 one-bedroom, 4 two-bedroom, and 2 three-bedroom homes; an additional two-bedroom will be set aside for an on-site manager. The larger homes will be for Veterans with families and/or their in-home caregivers.