Residents suing over office building

Publication Date: Wednesday Apr 8, 1998

MENLO PARK: Residents suing over office building

Traffic, heritage trees would be impacted by El Camino project

A group of Menlo Park residents calling themselves Menlo Park Tomorrow has filed a lawsuit protesting the construction of an office building on the corner of El Camino Real and Encinal Avenue.

The 52,000-square-foot office building would replace the existing Home Savings of America bank at the same location, which is less than one-fifth of the size of the proposed development.

"Homeowners who are close aren't pleased about having such a huge structure in their back yards," said Morris Brown, one of eight members of Menlo Park Tomorrow, whose Stone Pine Lane property abuts the proposed development.

Brown said that his main concern is the projected increase in traffic that the building will generate.

"Traffic is the No. 1 concern of Menlo Park residents," he said.

Another concern is the large number of trees that will be removed to make way for the development, Brown said. According to a staff report, 49 trees will be removed, including nine so-called heritage trees, which are protected under the city's Heritage Tree Ordinance. Another 133 trees are being retained.

The project, which was proposed by Palo Alto developer Laurie Shepard, was rejected by the Menlo Park Planning Commission in December. Shepard appealed the decision, and a revised proposal was approved by the city council by a 3-2 vote on Feb. 24. Mayor Chuck Kinney and Mayor Pro Tem Paul Collacchi voted against the development.

Menlo Park Tomorrow is demanding that an Environmental Impact Report be carried out to assess the potential impact that the project would have, according to Brown.

City Attorney Bill McClure said that the city council determined that an initial study on the project's impact did not determine any significant potential environmental impacts. Therefore, an EIR was not deemed necessary, he said.

McClure said that the residents' lawsuit will be handed over to the developer's attorneys. Shepard did not return phone calls Wednesday.

--Vicky Anning 

Back up to the Table of Contents Page