By Elena Kadvany
Menlo Park Planning Commission gives green light to food truck eventUploaded: Jan 14, 2014
Amidst both strong opposition and support from local business owners and residents, the Menlo Park Planning Commission on Monday night granted Off the Grid a one-year use permit to operate a food truck gathering on Wednesday nights at the city's Caltrain station.
Commissioners decided that they will review the event after six months, in August.
"One of the issues we see in Menlo Park is we have high leakage," said Economic Development Manager Jim Cogan, "I hear it all the time from folks. They want to take their family out to eat; they go to Redwood City or Palo Alto. From the standpoint of bringing more people downtown, I think (Off the Grid is) a good thing."
A detailed staff report prepared by the city clarifies many questions posed by commenters on this blog and the Almanac's website regarding parking, safety, noise levels, Off the Grid's process of reaching out to neighboring residents and businesses. Read more about the report here.
Commissioners Vince Bressler, John Onken, Katie Ferrick, Chair John Kadvany and Vice Chair Ben Eiref voted in favor of issuing the one-year permit. Commissioners Henry Riggs and Katherine Strehl voted against it after the commission voted down their proposal for a six-month permit.
"I think any time that we can move the conversation from the realm of speculation to the realm of reality is going to be helpful for everybody to understand the more grandiose ideas of the peril associated with us," said Off the Grid Founder Matt Cohen. "I think fundamentally we're just excited to come and participate in the Menlo Park community and hopefully the people who initially had problems with or are skeptical about the benefits will see that it actually is a net positive for them."
Cohen said the permit should be issued in 14 days; after that it's another three weeks before they can officially start operating.
"Our goal is to launch somewhere around middle of February," he said.
Quite the timing: Off the Grid was on temporary hiatus from its Burlingame Caltrain market due to similar concerns raised by local business owners, but is resuming operations tonight, Jan. 14, after a stamp of approval from the Burlingame City Council.
Read the Almanac's coverage of Monday night's meeting here.
Disclosure: The chair of the Planning Commission, John Kadvany, is my father.