Board votes to work directly with developers on growth impacts, takes Belle Haven station rebuild off books
The Menlo Park Fire Protection District has abandoned a year-long effort to work with the jurisdictions it serves to enact an impact fee on new development.
The president of the district’s governing board at its May 16 meeting said the board miscalculated when it approved a plan in February 2016 to work directly with the town of Atherton, the cities of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto and San Mateo County to implement the fee.
“We made the mistake as a board of passing a resolution that we were going to submit this impact fee proposal to these jurisdictions, and rather than acting in good faith and putting it on the agenda for their elected leaders, they’ ve refused to do so, ” board President Peter Carpenter said. “This takes that off the table and says, fine, we’ ll do our own thing.”
Now, the district will work directly with developers to enact the fee, as it has in past years with Facebook and Bohannon Development Co., which owns Menlo Gateway.
“We’ ve been more successful by going directly to the developers and talking to them, ” said board Vice President Rex Ianson. “They’ re business people, they understand that they’ re going to have an impact on the citizens here.”
The fee would be implemented on new commercial and multi-residential construction, but waived for most redevelopments that don’ t build to a larger footprint, and the money would be spent toward the purchase of new vehicles and equipment, and station improvements, according to the district. The fee would be assessed on new construction at $655 per dwelling unit in multi-family developments; $572 per 1,000 square feet for offices; $347 per 1,000 square feet for hotels; and $217 per 1,000 square feet for industrial projects.
At the meeting, the board also directed staff to take eminent domain off the table for fire Station 77 in the Belle Haven neighborhood. That decision came out of a recent community meeting, at which residents were emphatic that they didn’ t want any residences demolished to make way for a larger station, they didn’ t want a larger station in the neighborhood and they want the site cleaned up. The district earlier issued eminent domain notices to three residences.
As the district now plans to work with Facebook and Menlo Park officials to install a new fire station along the bayfront, Carpenter suggested no longer pursuing buying Station 77 land from the city, and the board will bring that back for discussion in June. The district last year signed a new 55-year lease with the city at $1 a year.
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