by Ray Muller October 8, 2022
In July, I wrote the following column on InMenlo.com: It’s time to find a reasonable solution to the flooding school site. I write this column as a follow-up to that view.
Everything I share in this description comes from public meetings or my own personal interactions with the parties.
On the side of Measure V, supporters refused to accept more than 60 units as an official compromise position. Unofficially, Measure V proponents have indicated they might be willing to increase the number of units to 70, but that was the upper limit and the city or county must commit to a second entry to the site. , as well as certain processes in the future. city-wide zoning to ensure community interaction.
Opposing Measure V, the Ravenswood School District (RSD) refused to offer less than 90 units as an official compromise position. Unofficially, RSD indicated that they might be willing to reduce the number of units in the 80s, but would never consider anything below 80. RSD was, however, willing to allocate parking spaces on both sides of the field and to design the site for a second entrance. . Over time, both sides grew more confident that their own team would win.
Significantly, the city and county never formally committed to opening a second entrance to the site in a public meeting, nor did they commit in anything resembling a commitment. In addition, the City never considered setting a development limit on fewer than 90 units for the site. Thus, neither side was ever presented with a compelling reason to compromise.
I believe that if the city or county had committed to opening a second entrance and limiting development to about 75 units, give or take a few units, Measure V would not be on the ballot today. It’s unfortunate.
Ultimately though, I find myself in the position of voting against Measure V. Why?
First, there is already a remedy for voters. There is currently an election for City Council. Voters across the city can decide whether to support or oppose the incumbent based on how the city has handled this issue to date and weigh in on how the issue should be handled in the future. I believe this question is more appropriate in a city council election. Campaign contributions and volunteers fuel local campaigns and are not limited by district lines.
That being said, I understand residents’ complaints that those most affected by development cannot vote in elections, and that district elections have made it difficult to know whether council members from other districts are taking their concerns about development impacts. . These complaints resonate strongly with me and are not unique to this issue. I understand how these complaints can lead reasonable residents to vote for Measure V. And we have heard the same complaints from other districts over the past four years. There is no doubt that this concern led to the development of Measure V. However, I believe that the issue of representative government highlighted by this question is broader than development and affects all policy areas to which the city is confronted.
To address this, I think the city should consider moving to a hybrid district system and adding two citywide elected seats to the city council. In doing so, each vote of seven members of the city council would include at least three members of the city council elected by the district concerned. I would propose that one of these two citywide seats be an elected citywide mayor, as other jurisdictions on the peninsula have adopted.
Ultimately though, what shaped my personal vote in this matter was that unfortunately Measure V covers sites that I don’t think should require going to the ballot. One being the church site across from Menlo-Atherton High School. That being so, I cannot dispute that Measure V would make it more difficult to build affordable housing on otherwise suitable sites for infill.
Proponents of Measure V will argue that this unintended consequence affects a small amount of land city-wide. But the argument ignores the fact that the basis of comparison is not city-wide land, but the amount of land in the city that would ever be a candidate for affordable housing, given property values. Under such circumstances, we cannot leave the fate of affordable housing projects to the battle for resources.
I will continue to advocate strongly, in whatever service position I hold, for a second entry to this site, to mitigate future impacts of development on traffic.
City Council member Ray Mueller was elected at-large in 2012 and 2016. In 2020, he was elected to represent District 5.
Photo of the Flood School site as it is today by Linda Hubbard (c) 2022