Menlo Park Mayor Richard Cline (far right) is pictured here with SILVAR President Gene Lentz and Menlo Park/Atherton District Chair Penelope Huang.

At their first meeting of the new year, Menlo Park Mayor Richard Cline told members of SILVAR’s Menlo Park/Atherton District that there is significant amount of activity in the city and he expects it to pick up well into this year.

Cline said the Menlo Gateway Project has been given the green light by voters. The City of Menlo Park has approved amendments to the General Plan and Zoning Ordinance and map proposed by the Bohannon Development Company to construct three office and R&D buildings, a hotel, health club, cafe/restaurant, neighborhood-serving retail and community facilities and three parking structures. The development would take place on two sites located near the US101/Marsh Road interchange.

Cline is optimistic the project will provide a good revenue stream for the city. “It will also redevelop an area  (eastern Menlo Park) that needs redevelopment,” Cline said.

Last November, voters also overwhelmingly said yes to Measure L, which will reduce pension benefits for all new employees, except police. Measure L will raise the retirement age for new city employees from 55 to 60. It also will cap the pension benefits received.

So far, there is no change to the downtown plan, said Cline. He said more collaboration is needed in coming to an agreement and it could take a while. “Lots of things keep us from doing it; it’s planning by politics … It depends on who is in the city council,” he remarked.

He noted a major problem encountered downtown is many property owners are not residents and they don’t keep up the buildings. They need to place more amenities and upgrades, so the downtown can attract new businesses.

Cline expressed his frustration regarding the debate about the city’s growth – between those that believe there is a need to revitalize the city and develop a successful long-range strategy of growth for the city and those who believe by doing so they will be sacrificing the “quality of life” residents currently enjoy.

Cline stressed the city needs revenue or it will stagnate. Older buildings downtown need to be revitalized. The city needs a long-range plan regarding how it will get there.