To: Bohannon File 14June2010
From: Charlie Bourne
Re: 9 Arguments for a NO Vote on the Bohannon Gateway Project
1. It is in violation of the General Plan as amended. The General Plan Goal 1-F for Industrial
land use remains, “To promote the retention, development, and expansion of industrial
uses which provide significant revenue to the City, …, and have low environmental and
traffic impacts.” The proposed development is inconsistent with these two goals.
The related policy goal 1-F-2 remains, “Establishment and expansion of industrial uses that
generate sales and tax revenues to the City shall be encouraged.” The proposed
development is inconsistent with this goal.
Another goal is that the development, “…will not be detrimental to the health, safety, and
general welfare of the City or the region surrounding the City.” The EIR shows that there
would be significant adverse impacts that can not be fully mitigated. This includes traffic,
noise, GHG, and the need for additional housing. The proposed development is inconsistent
with this goal.
Another goal is that the development, “…will not adversely affect the orderly development
of property…within the City.” This development will adversely affect the development of
2. It is spot zoning by a developer, instead of a careful consideration and development of a
general M2/M3 plan by the City for the entire area. A better approach would be to fit the
Bohannon proposal into a previously developed and well-considered general scheme that
could be the host receptacle for any proposed project.
3. There has been insufficient time for a careful public review of the most recent set of
distributed documents. Regardless of the number of prior public meetings on this proposal,
the only documents that count now are the more than 20 (e.g., Development Agreement,
Conditional Development Permit, Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program) cited in,
and made available with the June 15th Staff Report No. 10-083.
These are complex, detailed documents, and there has not been sufficient time or
opportunity for public review and discussion of these most recent, and probably final
documents. There is the risk that a Council vote will be taken on this project without any
real public review and deliberation of the documents that really count. We are racing into a
patch of very poor public process. This end-game is being played with a blizzard of paper
that is subverting a proper public process.
4. It is way too big, and brings with it a massive adverse impact to the entire region --- Menlo
Park and its neighbors.
A significant and unavoidable adverse traffic impact on important regional streets
and intersections (e.g., Marsh, Middlefield, Willow)--- not just a nuisance, but a
significant public safety issue for emergency services vehicles getting from Menlo
Park locations to locations across Highway 101.
The traffic mitigation measures proposed for this project are weak. The Draft EIR
(Table 3.11-5) projected 11,113 net new vehicle trips /day to this area. The
developer recently committed to reduce that figure by 17% to 9,242 trips/day by
means of a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Program, but there is no
real assurance that such a reduction can really be achieved. And it appears that by
the terms of the Conditional Development Permit (8.73) this specified limit only
applies upon completion of project build-out in 2018 or later.
The developer is betting money that the daily traffic count will not exceed the 9,242
trips/day. An actual traffic count will be made after the Marriott complex is
completed, and periodically afterwards. A penalty fee will be charged for each
vehicle counted in excess of that target figure. That fee is now set on a sliding scale,
with $100/car for the 1st 500 cars, and a higher per car charge after that.
The penalty fee is so slight that an overage of 1000 cars/day may represent a
modest annual penalty ($125,000) for the developer, but this extra 1000 cars/day
makes a real problem for people living or driving on Willow or Marsh or Middlefield
Roads. Furthermore, the penalty is waived for a 2-yr. period after any year when the
annual count is below the annual limit.
A major housing burden is likely to be imposed upon the City by ABAG because of
this development. ABAG is expected soon to receive some enforcement tools to
permit it to strong-arm cities and counties to commit to add new housing units. A
significant amount of new housing brings with it the real possibility of changing the
“village” nature of the City as we know it. The number of required new housing
units is likely to be computed and levied on a regional basis, with the number of net
new jobs being one of the major determining parameters.
Thus we should expect to be hit regionally by ABAG with a quota that reflects all the
net new jobs associated with:
Project Net New Jobs
Stanford Med Center Expansion 2,200
Menlo Vision Specific Plan 930
Stanford Shopping Center 1,085
and many more units that could be triggered by the authorization of the Cargill
project. We can’t do anything about our housing hits from some of these projects,
but we can remove the burden placed on us by the Bohannon Project.
The developer has refused to provide any direct relief on this housing issue, offering
instead an empty offer to participate in any Citizen Panel to search for possible
locations for such housing.
The Draft Below Market Rate (BMR) Agreement calls for a one-time BMR in-lieu fee
for each parcel, payable when the building permits are issued. The fees are
estimated to amount to a total of $8,543,207 if the project is fully built out. Even
with this relatively large amount of money, it will not be sufficient to build the
number of housing units that ABAG is likely to impose on the City because of this
Any new housing growth will have an impact on the Menlo Park City School District
(MPCSD) by adding more students to a school population that is already stretched
beyond the capacity of the current school system, even with the $91 million
currently being spent on school infrastructure spending to expand the existing
And because this project is outside of the boundaries of the MPCSD system, no
property tax revenues will go to MPCSD to offset that student population growth.
5. City consultants have estimated (Draft FIA) that the project will provide a net $1.67
million/yr. revenue to the City ( a recent Gateway newspaper ad quoted $1.42 million/yr.
revenue). The current Draft DA currently calls for a revenue guarantee of $1.2 million/yr.
with a 2% inflation escalation factor from a base year of 2008.
However, the potential revenues to the City are elusive, very modest, far into the future,
and discounted in value because of the present net worth of such payments.
Marriott Complex. The revenues to the City from the Marriott complex will consist
primarily of the Transit Occupancy Tax and some sales tax. But the revenue
guarantee will only go into effect 3 years after the Marriott complex is first opened
for business, and stops after 20 years.
In the most optimistic situation, if work on the complex is started immediately, and
the complex is opened for business at the beginning of 2012, it will still be 2015
before the $1,382,199 guaranteed to the City for that year will be due. Thus, in the
most optimistic scenario, the guaranteed revenue will not start until at least 5 years
after the start of the agreement.
However, in a more pessimistic scenario, by the terms of the DA, it appears that the
developer does not have to even start building the Marriott complex for 8 years.
And since the guarantee doesn’t kick in until 3 years after the opening of the
complex, it could be 13 years before the City received the money that seems so
Office Buildings. Potential revenues to the City from the office buildings are
elusive and far into the future. Unless the office buildings hold a tenant with
significant sales tax revenues, or there is a sales tax in-lieu fee agreed to in the DA,
no significant revenues are likely to accrue to the City. The current DA does not
require the developer to bring in such an anchor tenant for a specified number of
years, and the developer has stated that he would not agree to any in-lieu fee
schedule or other revenue mechanism.
The developer can choose to defer the construction of the first office building, defer
the start of construction of the final office building for 20 years, and even defer the
completion of the entire office complex far into the future. Even now, the developer
states that, “Based on current market conditions, the entire project,…, would not be
completed until 2017 at the earliest.” (FEIR pg. 2-6 )
Some additional revenue for the City could be obtained if there were a re-
assessment of the existing land property value as part of the starting conditions of
the agreement. Unfortunately, the developer has reportedly refused to permit that
Given all the optional delays built in for the developer, and the developer’s
suggestion that things may not move very fast, why are we in such a hurry to
complete the agreement? Why not take the time to do it right by first doing a City
plan for this part of the City, or give sufficient time for a meaningful public review of
the latest set of documents?
6. The developer argues that, “The hotel is our contribution.” However, there is a potential for
a substitution of some other, and less-desirable, hotel complex for the Marriott, reducing
the quality of the project’s contribution to the City. The DA does not completely cover this
possibility for the City.
7. This project is a massive Green House Gas (GHG) emitter. The developer may be able to
deliver the promised carbon-neutrality buildings, but that’s a small part of the total GHG
contribution of this project. The transportation component is the largest part by far, and the
developer has not made any significant commitments to reduce them. This is particularly
true for emissions other than carbon dioxide.
The City Council recently pledged to commit to some specific future GHG targets for the City
as a whole. The City will never be able to keep those City-wide commitments if this project is
8. The City has no obligation to create jobs, certainly not 2,000 temporary ones, and more than
2,300 permanent ones. No such responsibility is stated in any of the City’s governing
9. If the major argument for approving this project is to obtain the guaranteed $1.4 million/yr.
benefit for the City, then there is another way to do it. There is another way to get that
annual contribution without bringing along all the adverse impact described above.
The same, or greater financial benefit can be obtained by City staff reductions and the
corresponding salary and benefits reductions. Just roll back the new positions created and
funded during the last 6 years; that is estimated to provide a direct salary savings of more
Staff Salary ($)
Assist. City Mgr.
Business Development Mgr.
Assist. to Bus. Dev. Mgr.
Dpy. City Clerk
Other unidentified positions _______
Add to that an estimated 100% overhead and a 10% salary reduction from all other City
senior management staff, and you are close to the value of the project’s guaranteed benefit.