Earlier this week, opponents of Measure M sent out an email with the title "Extraordinary Untruthful Information from the Yes on M campaign.” These are strong words. I’ll let you be the judge of whether they are merited.
In their email, Measure M opponents claim that I used drawings of Stanford University’s proposed plan’s for their 8.4 acre property at 500 El Camino Real that are more than a “year out-of-date” and that have "long since dropped by Stanford.” This implies of course that more recent, up-to-date plans would be more appealing to voters than the drawings that I shared, allaying any concerns voters might have over very large office buildings popping up on El Camino Real. Stanford’s most recent plans are from January 2013. The drawings in my email are taken from these plans. In April 2013, Stanford provided “updated drawings” of the building facades but no new plans. The drawings below show the differences.
The changes, according to Thomas Rogers from the Menlo Park Planning Department, were:
- Warmer stone materials that would establish a 2-story visual element
- Making the upper level resemble somewhat a roof screen
- A lot more color/material variation, generally
- The middle right building changes from a four stories to a three
Several large trees have also appeared in front of the buildings. But the overall size and mass of the office buildings, 199,000 SF, is the same. The new drawings don’t show where the area lost by removing the middle building’s fourth floor ends up. Overall, the changes are cosmetic and don’t affect the underlying fact these remain very large office buildings with only a token of retail space (<4%).
For comparison, Menlo Center, home of Cafe Barrone and Kepler’s Bookstore, has about 35% ground floor retail and 65% office, with a total floor area of about 61,000 SF on a lot that is 84,000 SF (for a floor to area ratio (FAR) of 0.73). Stanford’s FAR is 1.25 meaning that the 500 El Camino development will have 10.5 acres of floor space within the 8.4 acre property. Stanford is planning to construct a plaza near Middle Avenue (as required). But unlike Menlo Center, Stanford’s plaza will have a driveway through it.
To recap, Stanford’s most recent plans are from January 2013. The architecture was updated in April 2013. Nothing has changed since. Does my email rate the "Extraordinary Untruthful” label? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your verdict.
Want to know what problems are caused by having too much office? Find the answers here.