Over the next few months the City of Menlo Park will be considering changes to El Camino Real and Downtown as a part of
the El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan.
The involvement of all interested parties - residents, property owners and business owners - will be critical to an
outcome that reflects the values of the community at large. A series of meetings have been held and will lead up
to the Final Specific Plan that will be placed before the City's Planning Commission and Council for approval.
The Plan itself can be viewed on the City's website at
One of the side effects of this Plan would be a zoning change (as described in greater detail under "About"
link above) which will permit significant changes to building heights along Santa Cruz Avenue and El Camino
and zoning changes for the eight surface parking plazas in Downtown, which would allow public parking plazas
to be converted to private use. The consequences of such changes for Downtown are laid out on the same page.
As becomes evident from examining this Draft Specific Plan, the underlying goal appears to be the removal of
over half of the current surface parking in the downtown, which will be replaced by parking structures to accommodate
the high-density buildout. What is particularly troubling as well is that the build-out will not be providing on-site
parking, which places more demand on already scarce resources while at the same time having to support a greater number
of downtown users. Through this website we will try to keep you informed about important meetings and developments as they
occur and welcome your feedback and help in spreading the word about these.
Our Alternative Vision
Menlo Park Downtown Alliance
Maintain Our Downtown Character
The vision of the Menlo Park Downtown Alliance is to maintain the character
of downtown Menlo Park and to ensure ongoing easy access to downtown businesses.
Specifically, the Menlo Park Downtown Alliance supports:
- The El Camino portion of the Draft Specific Plan that allows for mixed-use development and higher density (but not to exceed 4 stories);
- Preserving the surface parking plazas that provide easy, convenient parking for downtown Menlo Park shoppers, as well as the diagonal parking spaces along Santa Cruz Avenue;
- Constructing a modest parking structure on the Oak Grove Plaza (Plaza 2) between Oak Grove Avenue, Chestnut, and Crane Streets;
(A specific vision for such a parking structure is presented here.)
- Taking an incremental approach to building split-level parking structures (as found in Los Gatos) of no more than two levels with a six-foot maximum elevation above the surface;
- Relocating permit parkers to future parking structures, thereby creating additional parking for downtown merchants at front and rear entrances;
- Taller buildings downtown if these buildings provide dedicated on-site parking (an example is Menlo Center);
- Widening of downtown sidewalks for restaurants that are willing to lose street parking to accommodate them, and by requiring smaller building footprints or increased set-backs as a condition of increased building height limits;
- Maintaining the median trees on Santa Cruz Avenue;
- Landscaping and lighting improvements throughout the downtown; and
- Any incentives presented by the City of Menlo Park to encourage building owners to upgrade the front and back of buildings.