Menlo Park’s Divisive Measure M

If you’ve driven through Menlo Park these days, you’ve seen the colorful yard signs proclaiming ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on Measure M. What is Measure M and why has it become such a heated debate? By definition, Measure M amends the 2012 General Plan (created to encourage livable, walkable development) by imposing development standards which are more restrictive than the current standards, specifically on open space, office space and apartment buildings. The big divide among Menlo Park voters canvassing for ‘Yes’ versus ‘No’ runs deep.

The Yes on M voters would like to see the city’s General Plan changed in order to preserve the small town neighborhood feel of Menlo Park. They look for the Measure to cut down on growing local traffic congestion thus addressing safety issues as well. This recent grassroots movement counters the big developers and land owners that want to develop the El Camino corridor. “Yes for Measure M” received enough signatures from Menlo Park voters to place it on the November ballot, which indicates strong support.

The No on M voters claim that Measure M negatively impacts Menlo Park’s downtown revitalization and compromises the General Plan, which took 6 years and cost $1 million to develop. They state Measure M will handcuff the City with unworkable, inflexible rules, damaging the city, school, and fire district finances with lost tax dollars. Top developers could also be driven away by the restrictive limits.

As a long-time local realtor that lives in Menlo Park with young children I see both sides. Hopefully the final outcome is the best of both worlds. Yes the city is in need of more affordable housing and the downtown would do well with more relevant retail and restaurants, similar to downtown Palo Alto. But I would also like to see less traffic congestion on our streets and think the small town feel makes Menlo Park what it is today. The city of Burlingame just went through a huge revitalization project and would be a good comp for Menlo Park. In any case, the battle lines are drawn.

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