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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
We had our first in-person General Meeting, at Flood Park. It was great to spend the time on a beautiful day, hearing about important housing, transportation, and environmental justice challenges in the context of our local history.
We heard from decades long Belle Haven residents and community leaders, Juanita Croft and Pam Jones, who shared their first-hand experience with, and analysis of, our local history and the legacy of residential segregation and environmental injustice.
We also heard from Cade Cannedy of Climate Resilient Communities and Marlene Santoyo of Menlo Together and Menlo Spark, about environmental justice and how we achieve it.
Folks were very interested in discussing the Housing Element and Environmental Justice Element process which is ongoing in our city right now, as well as ways to support new affordable housing at the former Flood School Site and the SRI Site Parkline Project.
Engage with us and our partners!
Environmental Justice & Safety Element
View the Environmental Justice and Safety Element slide deck
Soon to come – resources into Belle Haven’s history as presented by Juanita Croft and Pam D. Jones.
On May 26 we held a Zoom workshop about Menlo Park’s draft Housing Element: a planning process required by the state every eight years in order for cities and other municipalities to plan for homes at all income levels.
The purpose of the workshop was to share context and information to advocate for a Housing Element that supports our vision of an equitable, integrated, diverse, multi-generational, accessible and environmentally sustainable city.
We reviewed the draft Housing Element and discussed opportunities to advocate to the City Council at their June 6 meeting. Participation is critical – by both homeowners and renters. We must use our voices to ensure future housing that meets the needs of our community, now and over the next decade.
Thanks to everyone who attended the workshop and to those who wrote letters, made phone calls, or provided public comment at the City Council meeting.
Here are some helpful resources from the workshop:
The City of Menlo Park is pursuing a state grant through the Active Transportation Program (ATP) to fund pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along Willow Road between Bayfront Expressway and 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 City’s Willow Road Pedestrian and Bicycle Improvements project page.
Menlo Together supports the city’s mission to improve transportation alternatives, enhance safety for bikers and pedestrians, and eliminate gaps in the walking and biking network. Read our full letter of support.
Join Peninsula For Everyone, Menlo Together, Housing Leadership Council, Silicon Valley Bike Coalition and other housing advocates to see where Menlo Park is planning to build new homes. This event is part of Affordable Housing Month.
An expert group of speakers will be there, including:
State Senator Josh Becker
Affordable housing providers Alta Housing and MidPen Housing
Menlo Park Vice Mayor Jen Wolosin
San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley
The tour includes several “priority sites” for the next eight years. You can bicycle the route, or follow in a car. We’ll have scheduled stops for those who want to drive or do not wish to do the bike route.
What is a Housing Element? Check out our introduction to the Housing Element blog post.
Peninsula For Everyone is a group that works to create a more inclusive and sustainable Peninsula by advocating for building more housing, better transportation, and protecting renters.
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.
Housing Leadership Council works with communities and their leaders to create and preserve quality affordable homes. HLC envisions a San Mateo County that works together to build inclusive, equitable, and healthy communities where all people can access safe, affordable homes and the resources needed for their families to thrive.
Silicon Valley Bike Coalition’s purpose is to create a healthy community, environment, and economy through bicycling for people who live, work, or play in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. We envision a community that values, includes, and encourages bicycling for all purposes for all people.