As cities plan for state-mandated housing production over the next decade, a Menlo Park councilmember is requesting a ballot measure that would prevent development in city parks.
In an email to Mayor Drew Combs and fellow councilmembers, Councilmember Ray Mueller requested that City Council adopt a Park Preservation Ordinance followed by a Park Preservation Measure on the next general election ballot. The measure would prohibit development in areas zoned as park space unless the development is approved by voters in a regularly scheduled general election.
Mueller wants Council to take up the matter prior to completing the city’s state-mandated Housing Element, which requires the city to add 2,946 housing units of varying income levels from 2023 to 2031.
The new housing units “will provide little in the way of recreational yards nor active space for residents to exercise, recreate and enjoy nature,” Mueller said in his email to council colleagues.
“As we learned during the Pandemic, our Park space is so incredibly valuable to the mental and physical health of our community,” he said. “As our population grows we must not cannibilize City park space that will support the public health of present and future generations.”
Representing District 5, Mueller said his constituents expressed “overwhelming support” at a recent community meeting for upzoning Sharon Heights Shopping Center to accommodate mixed-use residential, retail and commercial space as an alternative to rezoning a site at Sharon Park.
District residents also support upzoning existing apartment development rather than rezone land from any park, Mueller said. He believes a majority of residents throughout the city also support preventing development in parks.
The state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Determination calls for the Bay Area to plan for 441,176 new housing units from 2023 to 2031. Among those new units, 2,946 are required in Menlo Park, including 740 very low-income units (less than 50 percent of area median income), 426 low-income units (50 to 80 percent of area median income), 496 moderate income units (80 to 120 percent of area median income) and 1,284 above moderate income (greater than 120 percent of area median income).
Photo of Sharon Park courtesy of the City of Menlo Park