Publication Date: Wednesday Oct 22, 1997

Reject Measure M

Measure M is not an alternative. It would effectively kill the Stanford project and then lock the city into vague goals for the corridor without identifying who will pay for these projects and what they will look like.

Opponents of Measure O have been very effective at painting this campaign as an environmental issue pitting a pro-growth university against environmentalists who are proposing a more reasonable, scaled-down alternative. They portray members of the City Council and other community leaders as having been "seduced" into supporting the university's desires.

We believe the facts are otherwise.

Among our City Council and the major supporters of Measure O are some of this community's most committed and hard-working environmentalists, and it is a tragedy that opponents, also consisting of committed and hard-working environmentalists, have chosen to create an open space divide over this issue. It is particularly unfair to those Measure O supporters, such as former mayors Jean McCown, Larry Klein and Alan Henderson, who have been leaders in the environmental movement and in supporting open space for the region.

Measure O finally offers the community a sound, well-debated compromise solution to a decades-old problem. Measure M is not an alternative. Its passage would result in no approved Sand Hill project, would leave it up to Stanford to return with another plan and to finance a whole new round of environmental studies and would put the City Council into a position of having to maneuver around Measure M's vague requirements.

Measure M proponents predict that a new, revised Stanford proposal would be back to the city for consideration within a couple of years. Based on the history of Sand Hill Road proposals over the past 40 years and the environmental review requirements we see no possibility whatsoever of that happening.

Stanford has clearly indicated it cannot and will not work with the Measure M proposals if they are adopted.

While we embrace many of the stated goals of Measure M proponents--such as preservation of open space and encouragement of public transportation programs--we do not believe Measure M will result in any realistic advancement of these concerns.

Measure M would:

require Palo Alto to extend Sand Hill Road to El Camino without identifying how it would be paid for, what the connection will look like, etc.

require Palo Alto to work with Stanford to come up with a different place to build the Stanford West housing, but, unlike it is being portrayed, would not prevent development from occurring on that 47-acre site.

require the extension to El Camino Real but prohibit Sand Hill from being widened beyond two lanes (except for an emergency vehicle and bus lane). The Sand Hill EIR has stated that a two-lane Sand Hill with an extension would result in greater traffic congestion in that area and would not relieve the problem of cut-through traffic in West Menlo streets.

allow the city to create a third lane in the middle of Sand Hill of use only by buses and emergency vehicles. Yet studies and public safety officials including firefighters and paramedics have noted that such a configuration would be far more of a hazard than a help.

prohibit the city from making the connection or allowing any development in the corridor without making sure that all of the concerns of Menlo Park and neighboring communities about traffic impacts are eliminated or "significantly reduced."

This creates a governmental quagmire for city officials. As Mayor Joe Huber has said, this would handcuff city planning in the Sand Hill corridor. "If you don't like this, vote Measure O down. But don't give me Measure M, because I can't do anything with it," he said.

Supporters of Measure M represent a coalition of people, ranging from those who are simply frustrated with the increased congestion of our area to those, such as the immediate Menlo Park neighbors across the creek, who have a personal interest in stopping development along the Sand Hill corridor. Some environmentalists and public transportation advocates supporting Measure M believe the City Council didn't negotiate as good a deal as was possible. And some Measure M supporters are clear they wouldn't mind if the entire project died and nothing happened.

Almost everyone can relate to each of these sentiments, but in the end, balances must be struck and benefits weighed against impacts.

Consistent with our many past editorials in support of proposals to extend Sand Hill Road, we strongly encourage a "no" vote on Measure M.