Town Square

Post a New Topic

Arrillaga protest gathers signatures in Menlo

Original post made on Dec 21, 2012

Save Menlo, a group of community members not thrilled with the massive eight-acre, mixed-use complex developer John Arrillaga wants to build on Stanford's car lots in Menlo Park, has been busy.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 20, 2012, 4:29 PM

Comments (29)

Posted by major traffic, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:40 am

I am with Menlo Park, where do we sign. Traffic is so bad going north on alma into Menlo Park now, it will only get worse

Posted by slow traffice choice, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:45 am

Menlo Park makes a choice to keep the traffic slow on El Camino. Timing the lights so that one stops at most of them. They have chosen similar traffic limitations on Willow road. So it is not clear what new impact the development will have. Perhaps by retiming the lights they will make traffic better.

Posted by hmm...., a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:46 am

Traffic, yes, obviously a problem, but haven't we been waiting for a decade or more to finally get the blighted empty lots redeveloped along El Camino Real in Menlo Park? It's long overdue.

Posted by traffic nightmare, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:53 am

The traffic is really horrible. Trying going from the border of Menlo Park (Valparaiso) to the Sand Hill Road turnoff into Palo Alto, it will take you 20 minutes. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] How many empty buildings and lots on the railroad side of El Camino? Straight up ghetto, thanks to Stanford and whoever is in charge of Menlo Park. So not an easy decision.

Posted by henri, a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Lets stop Arrillaga now

Posted by Tina Peak, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:00 am

Developers should be developing in San Jose or San Francisco where it is environmentally reasonable to add height and density. Turning the corridor between these two major cities into one giant row of development will be an environmental disaster, good only for the pockets of the developers and bad for residents who don't want to live in a large crowded spread out metropolis. If we limit developments to small appropriate sizes (2 stories) it lessons the pressure to build more housing, roads, schools and other infrastructure and preserves the quality of life that we have now. The only people who benefit from these massive developments being proposed in Menlo Park and Palo Alto are the developers and their employees not the cities or their residents.

Posted by susie, a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:08 am

hello folks.. look how trashy that whole area looks.. would you rather have nice new buildings or abandoned ugly buildings...
I agree the lights are timed so poorly that is why the traffic is so slow through that area.

Posted by Member, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:19 am

I live in Palo Alto but shop in Menlo Park. Having empty buildings on El Camino is a waste of valuable space and degrades the overall community. Same all the way through all cities. Question on the table is what is the tax package that is being floated for this development. If staged as medical or Stanford sponsored it could be classified as tax exempt which provides limited value to the city tax base. Suggest that the classification of tax status be part of the overall evaluation so the true benefit to the city can be evaluated.

Posted by MB, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:23 am

Why doesn't Menlo Park try to convince him to build housing for the increasing number of folks commuting to Menlo Park/Palo Alto/Stanford as a consequence of the hospital/shopping center/buisness expansion going on? That would help the environment (reduce CO2 emissions) and give workers the option of living close to their jobs. Or commute by train up and down the Peninsula.

Posted by g, a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:31 am

To Slow Traffic Choice: Menlo Park has no jurisdiction with respect to the traffic lights on El Camino Real. That road is a state road and the state has exclusive jurisdiction with respect to traffic control.

Posted by Nick, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:33 am

Which are the "Stanford car lots" on ECR? Map please. And btw what other lands does Stanford own around there? Map ditto

Posted by Soccer Dad, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 11:34 am

My preference would be to have artificial turf soccer fields like the ones at Page Mill and El Camino, but understand the approval of those fields was not an easy process.

I would also like to express my appreciation for everything John Arrillaga has done for the Palo Alto, Stanford and Menlo Park communities. He seems to receive a lot of negative comments in these postings. It is generous families like Arrillaga, Bing and Packard that help make this a great place to live.

Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Why would any person with any sense, suggest housing!?! We have already OVER HOUSED Palo Alto and Mtn. View, now people suggest housing for that area in Menlo...DUMB!
Maybe office/retail SET BACK from the street, but no housing.
It may not be the best looking area with the vacant lots, but at least it isn't causing more traffic jams! Look what the idiots had to do on Alma - add a traffic light just after you go through one on E. Meadow!! Now how stupid was that! It wasn't needed when Luckys was there. hmmm, the good ole days!

Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

@Soccer Dad
I like your idea of a soccer field or sports facility of some kind - I think we have enough kids in the area (thanks to our bountiful housing) to warrant such a facility.

Posted by curmudgeon, a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:16 pm

"Why doesn't Menlo Park try to convince him to build housing for the increasing number of folks commuting ... "

How do we ensure that the residents of those proposed warrens work exclusively in the area, instead of commuting by car to their jobs wherever they might be? Consider this: fully half of Palo Alto's working population commutes to jobs elsewhere, which means that "alleviating" our famous jobs-housing imbalance is a meaningless exercise in juggling numbers.

Commute by train? There has never been a survey of people who live near transit hubs to determine what percentage actually commute via transit. (I suspect nobody wants that answer; facts and ideology don't mix.)

Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I can understand the reasons against (may not agree, but understand). But I am not seeing anyone come up with any realistic and commercially viable options instead.

I see one person suggested housing --- but that too would provide more traffic and I would expect more protests.

Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm

@Crescent Park Dad...
So you don't see Soccer Dad's suggestion for a soccer field?
It may not bring an income, but Menlo isn't hurting for money - obviously since that area has been vacant, and absent of rents, for how many years!!

Posted by Greedy billionaires, a resident of another community
on Dec 21, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Palo Alto citizens just pushed back the Arrillaga-Stanford mammoth development and Menlo Park should do so as well.
The combination of multi billionaire Arrillaga and multi-multi-billionaire developers at Stanford has made them arrogant and greedy beyond our tolerance.
It seems billionaires are never satisfied. They do some good works and then overwhelm us with huge greedy moneymaking projects.
Naming projects after himself tells us where his heart or rather, ego, is.

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Good, I agree with limiting development everywhere around here ... and particularly in undeveloped areas.

Posted by Linda, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm

How about a shuttle station to help move people around ala Marquarite - so we don't all have to take our cars. Bike paths, walking paths from Menlo Park North thru Redwood City to and from the residential areas to the business districts is virtually non existent ! More density - I don't see how this area can handle it without traffic gridlock - honestly !

Posted by Perla Ni, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 22, 2012 at 9:38 am

You can sign the petition at

Some things to consider:

- Traffic: Medical office are the highest car-intensive use - think 20 minute doctor's appointments. One doctor = 24 patients per day. And they are not mitigatable - sick people don't carpool, take the bus, or bike to their doctor's offices.

- Safety: Every year someone gets hit in Menlo Park trying to cross El Camino. And increasingly Allied Arts has cars zipping through it because people detour from El Camino. Menlo Park has wanted to be one city - to have safe crossings from Willow, Linfield, West Menlo - for our kids to go to school or use Burgess park. This enormous megacomplex will irrevocably prevent that.

- No public benefit. Stanford doesn't want to provide any public benefit - no help to pay for the safe crossings of El Camino. Furthermore, Stanford pays no property taxes. So the extra burdens of a medical office - police, fire, water - are all on us tax-payers in Menlo Park.

No one during the Specific Plan ever wanted this enormous size of development of traffic-intensive medical offices on this congested section of El Camino.

Posted by Soccer mom, a resident of Menlo Park
on Dec 22, 2012 at 10:37 am

I tried to get the city to consider soccer fields for part of that land. Everyone laughed at me "it's too valuable." That kind of greed is the reason that Menlo Park has so many fewer soccer fields -- in fact, less green space overall -- than Palo Alto.

Our situation in Menlo Park vis a vis Arrillaga is not the same as Palo Alto's. The zoning decisions were cemented about six months ago. Some of us tried to push back, knowing well that Stanford would develop to the max allowed, but we were derided as NIMBYs and told that there had been years of public process culminating in this outcome.

Our council, like Palo Alto's, seems to be more closely aligned with rich developers than with residents. I don't know what can be done about that, as I appreciate that our council members are volunteers and are way too easily wowed by the opportunity to rub shoulders (and even have lunch!) with local tycoons.

The main tool we have at our disposal is embarrassing Stanford for its greed. You, Palo Alto, can help support that effort. And it is in your best interests to do so, because if our part of El Camino becomes a parking lot, the negative effects will radiate throughout the area.

Posted by Carlisle, a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

John Arrillaga has achieved multiple successful projects that have made a lasting and positive difference in local communities. Work with him and Stanford to constructively reconcile key issues and impacts that stand in the way of moving forward on this development project. One would hope that the focus is on how we get this done together and not on how to turn away from this substantial opportunity to improve the use of this site. And...a side note, the timing of lights on El Camino Real through Menlo Park has been at the heart of the traffic issue there for more years than any of us can count.

Posted by opportunity?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 22, 2012 at 6:20 pm


[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

You call it an "opportunity to improve the use of this site."


A bare sliver of undeveloped space that has some homeless people near transit. How many 100, 50?

Future if site is developed, per the "opportunity"

thousands of people and cars swarming around, concrete everywhere - another typical downtown anywhere - sell out to developers

thought there were smart people around here

Posted by Why Arrillaga, a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 22, 2012 at 11:28 pm

So quick to approve Arrillaga's plans, but if a Catholic school wants to expand, make them wait four years for a permit. WTF?

Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 23, 2012 at 1:43 pm

To Why Arrillaga - Menlo Park vs. the Palo Alto eternal process. I can't believe a preschool got held up by a handful of neighbors with fence issues. The school has been there for years...

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2012 at 11:59 pm

> "There has never been a survey of people who live near transit hubs to determine what percentage actually commute via transit. (I suspect nobody wants that answer; facts and ideology don't mix.)"

Palo Alto is going to do a transportation survey. Web Link

I sent an email to relevant staff and to the council suggesting that one or two questions be added to the survey to determine how far the respondent lives from a public transit stop, e.g., a RR station. I have no idea if they'll do this.

There's a theory that people who live in dense "transit-oriented" housing will take public transit, but so far there's no data to support that.

> "Allied Arts has cars zipping through it because people detour from El Camino."

True. Regardless of how the lights are timed, El Camino narrows through Menlo Park from 3 lanes to 2. The obvious way to avoid the traffic jams is to use residential streets. One possibility is to take Middlefield Road. Another is to drive through the neighborhoods between Valparaiso and Cambridge.

Whenever an artery is choked, people will find ways to avoid it and the neighborhoods pay the price. Consider the Arastradero "road diet." It caused traffic on Maybell to increase 24%!

Posted by steve, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm

i'm going to state something i heard on kgo this morning. it is 100 years for sf muni and they will be providing free ride for a 24 hour period. it was added after this that "unfortunately, muni will be cutting their services due to low ridership!" there is something wrong here, even in a bigger city than palo alto and menlo park has to cut services due to LOW ridership! do people understand that you can't build high density housing with expectation of people not driving and using public transportation. and,keep in mind that sf is convinced along with other cities down the peninsula that dedicating one lane of el camino for buses is a great idea--the grand boulevard... just look at palo alto, reducing lanes that doesn't need to be (it has to be for the money, don't know who or where but it is) not requiring to follow setback rules or height limit because "this is a unique project" phrase spoken through the lips of many city staff and council members over the years. i understand more when my fellow old palo altans has moved away from all this non-sense. palo alto is a micro political playground of the good old boys of washington.

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Dec 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm

I think Muni cut services just for the free ride day: "But though rides will be free Friday, passengers won't exactly get the full Muni experience. Since holiday ridership levels are typically low, Muni is reducing its service to reflect the lack of passengers. Several bus lines will start later in the day and run less frequently Friday, although light-rail, cable car and historic streetcar service will not change. By reducing service on its buses, Muni expects to save about $350,000 over the holiday week."

Web Link

If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

The dress code
By Jessica T | 19 comments | 1,805 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,188 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,175 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,137 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 389 views