Menlo Park signs off on Facebook terms

City to gain annual payments, community improvements

One by one, the public speakers at the Tuesday night meeting told the council in no uncertain terms what they thought about the proposed agreement with Facebook. And what they thought was all good.

The council apparently shared those sentiments, as it voted 5-0 to approve the terms.

The agreement lets Facebook go ahead with plans to employ as many as 6,600 people at its new headquarters at 1 Hacker Way in Menlo Park.

Ten weeks of negotiations led to an agreement described as "so generous, so fair" by one speaker. The terms include:

• $8.5 million total in graduated payments during the next 10 years, and followed by $5 million during the subsequent four years as long as Facebook chooses to still exceed the former employee cap of 3,600 at the campus.

• Funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, including at the intersection of Willow Road and U.S. 101.

• Capital improvement funding, local internship and job training programs, and economic incentives for Facebook employees to shop locally.

• A vehicle trip cap of 15,000 per day, with no more than 2,600 during each commute period. The periods are from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

(View the staff report and complete term sheet).

Exceeding the trip cap carries stiff daily penalties of $500 to $100,000 depending on the number of violations, according to a table provided in the staff report. "That table was kinda scary to me," admitted David Ebersman, Facebook's chief financial officer, during the meeting. "I hadn't seen it presented that way before."

Since East Palo Alto would also be impacted by traffic, the agreement includes a clause that splits the trip cap fines between Menlo Park and the neighboring city, at a percentage to be determined in the future.

Councilman Rich Cline, who along with Mayor Kirsten Keith sat on the negotiations subcommittee, said he was grateful for Facebook's willingness to collaborate. "You back up the brand with what you do," he observed at the meeting.

He described going home during the last round of negotiations and wondering "if there's a mushroom cloud on the horizon. There was frustration on their part when they heard our final ask. They didn't express it, but came back and collaborated again" and said the agreement would lead to a better community.

The final environmental impact report for Facebook's planned campus expansion is expected to be released on April 23.


Like this comment
Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

I think I read pretty closely, but who is counting the "car trips"? And how?

And does the job come with health insurance benefits? Because I could really use health insurance.

As far as "Counting Blue Cars," I'd be happy to make them a subset of my tally. No extra charge.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm

Were there really people who didn't think this was a good thing for Menlo Park?

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Steve - no one thought it was a bad idea for Menlo. But Menlo has shown lousy leadership in FB dealings with regard to neighboring cities impacted by FB's presence & growth. Additionally, given the desire for the employees to cycle & reduce car trips, planning has certainly been needed to deal w/these issues, which are fairly complicated given FB's new location east of 101 & the lack of safe cycling routes.

Like this comment
Posted by Laura Caplan
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2012 at 7:56 pm

I find it interesting that no one asks the residents of North Fair Oaks (unincorporated Menlo Park) what we think. You don't even have it on your list of neighborhoods. But as we are just off Marsh Road at Middlefield, and area that already has huge traffic problems, we are likely to see more with FaceBook swelling the local work and commute population. Yet no one has come to us offering mitigation or traffic easement money.


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