BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Some Menlo Park Planning Commissioners are wondering whether it is time to tell the City Council to halt development on the city’s east side because of worsening traffic.
“Any new buildings with new employees are more vehicles on the road,” Commissioner Katherine Strehl said at Monday’s meeting where the commission was reviewing plans for a five-story R&D building at 1350 Adams Court, located just east of where Facebook plans to build its massive Willow Village.
While there was no formal vote on the project, Strehl and her fellow commissioners, Henry Riggs and John Onken, contemplated at what point the commission should tell the council to hold off on approving more buildings in the area east of Highway 101.
The commissioners’ concerns stem from the lack of a citywide plan to diminish traffic in the area. Riggs pointed out at the commission’s Feb. 26 meeting where it reviewed the Facebook Willow plan that there are no plans in the pipeline to improve the area’s streets or reduce traffic.
“It’s difficult to say if this (project) is what breaks the camels back,” said Onken. “At what point do we say we have reservations that because of the traffic situation we can’t support a project of this size?”
Trapped in driveways
Onken and Riggs both pointed out that residents of the Willows and Belle Haven neighborhoods are already speaking out about the traffic that traps them on their driveways at certain times of the day.
But despite the traffic concerns, the commission told Menlo Park-based developer John Tarlton and his Tarlton Properties that the building was well planned and would make a great addition to the area.
Strehl also mentioned that perhaps trip caps ought to be considered for this and other projects in the area.
Commissioner Larry Kahle also said the commission needs to really consider the traffic implications of a project when reviewing it.
But Commissioner Andrew Barnes didn’t express the same concern that development on the east side ought to be halted, saying the area’s zoning plan will hold developers accountable for creating and maintaining good transportation plans that cut down on single car trips.
Tarlton’s project will be 91 feet tall, have 371 parking spaces and 260,400 square feet of research and development space.
It’s one of a handful of projects for the area in Menlo Park east of Highway 101.
The biggest is Facebook’s Willow Village, which will replace the 54-acre former Prologis site with office space, housing, a grocery store and pharmacy. Biotech company CS Bio may be bringing revamped plans for its campus at 1075 O’Brien Drive.
In August the city’s planning commission told Jason Chang, chief operating officer of CS Bio, to go back to the drawing board and shrink his proposal for a 110-foot building. The building would house his growing company that specializes in producing peptides, which are used in researching and developing new pharmaceuticals, such as a Type 2 diabetes treatment.