News

Study warns Facebook expansion would affect traffic

Bayfront Expressway and University Avenue is on the list of intersections where traffic would be delayed

If Facebook builds two large office buildings and a hotel as it has proposed, an estimated 14,000 people could be commuting to and from the Menlo Park campus each day, 6,550 of whom would be new employees, according to the draft of an environmental-impact report (EIR) on the plans.

Those new workers would add to the already clogged roadways in and around Menlo Park, the draft report states.

Intersections in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto that are expected to be impacted by the added traffic in a "significant, unavoidable" way are:

● Willow Road and Hamilton Avenue

● Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road

● Bayfront Expressway and University Avenue

● University Avenue and Adams Drive

● Chilco Street and Hamilton Avenue

● Bayfront Expressway and the Facebook entrances for Buildings 20 and 21.

Not only is traffic expected to worsen at those locations, but there are no feasible or sufficiently effective measures that would keep traffic wait times from increasing past a certain level or prevent added delays, the report states.

Already, about half of Facebook's employees use forms of alternative transportation, such as a bike, Caltrain or a shuttle bus; the rest drive to work. Only about 4 percent of Facebook employees live Menlo Park.

To address potential traffic issues, Facebook is proposing to set a maximum number of trips for all vehicles coming and going from the proposed buildings and many of its existing ones, according to the EIR. Facebook would allow 438 additional morning rush-hour trips and 123 more evening rush-hour trips. That's only 24 percent of the new morning trips and 9 percent of the new evening trips that could otherwise occur.

In total, the cap would limit to 72 percent the number of vehicles that would otherwise enter or leave the Bayfront campus during peak traffic hours.

The environmental report contains ideas by consultants to deal with the traffic at a number of intersections, some addressed below, but the consultants note that some of the ideas may have limited feasibility.

Minimizing traffic

To help with car traffic, adding through-lanes or turning lanes was recommended at several locations on Chilco Street, along with a traffic signal at the Chilco Street and Constitution Drive intersection.

Changes that could be made to Bayfront Expressway and its connecting intersections would have limited impacts, the report says. About 70 percent of all cars that cross the Dumbarton Bridge cross the Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road intersection. During the morning commute hour, Facebook's expansion could increase wait times at that intersection by 80 seconds, and in the evening, by more than 20 seconds. Consultants said Facebook could be required to build a longer eastbound right-turn lane and a receiving lane to turn onto Bayfront Expressway going northbound.

At the Bayfront Expressway and University Avenue intersection, building a grade separation could help with traffic, consultants say, but the power to do that belongs to Caltrans, not Menlo Park.

Adding signals at several intersections was discussed, but where those are in Belle Haven residential areas, such as at Chilco Street and Hamilton Avenue, and University and Woodland avenues, doing so is not being recommended because consultants say that it could encourage cut-through traffic there.

Bikes and pedestrians

With a large number of employees who don't drive to work, demand for safe biking and pedestrian facilities could increase. Consultants said that Facebook could build sidewalks along one side of Constitution Drive between Chilco Street and Chrysler Drive, and add pedestrian crosswalks and curb ramps at the intersections of Chilco Street and Constitution Drive and at Jefferson Drive and Constitution Drive.

A bike boulevard could be built on Hamilton Avenue between Chilco Street and the U.S. 101 bike/pedestrian overcrossing. A crossing of Willow Road for northbound bikes could also be built and a left-turn box for bikers added.

Comment deadline

The deadline to submit comments on the draft environmental impact report is Monday, July 11, at 5:30 p.m. Comments may be submitted to Kyle Perata, city senior planner, by email (ktperata@menlopark.org) or by regular mail to: City of Menlo Park, Community Development Department, Planning Division, 701 Laurel St., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

Comments

10 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:30 am

We need more housing in Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View and all of the Peninsula, so that people don't have to commute as far and bike to work more easily.


71 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:37 am

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:48 am

Facebook is hiring people. Telling them to stop hiring is obviously going to be ignored. The real question should be can we give them advice about where would be a better location for these employees.


56 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Facebook is bringing young people and families to the Peninsula. They are contributing to jobs and city revenue here and supporting local business and schools. I think that's great and I want them to be in our area!


51 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 12:16 pm

What would really make sense to me is the VTA light rail continuing from Castro Street, to Google then along the Baylands to Menlo Park and up to Redwood City, San Carlos, etc. The light rail is an ideal method of commuting but it needs to have a better speed and also needs shuttles to get commuters from where they work to the tracks and shuttles to residential areas where they live.

Of course, VTA doesn't go beyond Santa Clara County. Amazing really, because people live in SCC and work elsewhere but transport stops at county borders.

Pathetic that in the 21st century we don't have efficient public transportation in the Bay Area that is run by one agency with wonderful connections, transfers, ticketing and payment options.

Absolutely pathetic.


23 people like this
Posted by Question
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 6, 2016 at 12:43 pm

The article didn't mention what percentage of employees live in East Palo Alto and Palo Alto, which are also adacent to the location. Newark is quite nearby.


30 people like this
Posted by FB bus?
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 6, 2016 at 3:29 pm

Doesn't FB, like Google, use special buses to transport its workers from SF, SJ and the East Bay? If so, that should reduce traffic substantially.


8 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 6, 2016 at 5:48 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

FB bus , from the article, "Already, about half of Facebook's employees use forms of alternative transportation, such as a bike, Caltrain or a shuttle bus."


42 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2016 at 6:16 pm

@john_alderman

Apparently that's not enough, as many here find that wishing tech companies would just go away is a better solution. Be thankful that they don't all drive to work alone, which some forget they have every right to do.


56 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2016 at 6:46 pm

The issue is a lot more complicated than how Facebook employees get to work. Where are the employees going to live? Do we have enough housing and infrastructure for them? If current city residents are forced to move because of soaring rents, will they now be driving long distances to their jobs/schools in town and causing more traffic?


92 people like this
Posted by Listen
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Companies like FB, Google, Apple, VMWare, etc, that pay DOUBLE what the average Silicon Valley/ SF Bay Area employee makes are causing huge economic problems.

Let those companies figure out how to mitigate the high rents and housing prices, pollution, water shortages, and excess crowding and traffic they cause.

They cause problems, they can very well solve them!!!


79 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2016 at 7:38 pm

@Listen - these companies have proposed many things, including regular shuttle bus service through residential neighborhoods, high density housing near their corporate campuses, ferries along the bayshore, other expanded public transit services, etc. The companies are willing to pay for most of this. They are still getting a lot of complaints.

A big part of the problem is that the Bay Area has a regional economy, but each city tries to manage its little piece without enough coordination with other cities.


64 people like this
Posted by @jane
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:10 pm

@jane is a registered user.

Facebook has few married people working for them, even fewer people with children working there. The average age of the FB employee is 26. Google, 29. In fact, Both Google and Facebook have multiple lawsuits against them for age discrimination. The average age of tech workers in the rest of Silicon Valley is 43.

So it is a fallacy that Facebook is bringing young families to this area. Most of their employees live in SF because they like the nightclub scene there.


35 people like this
Posted by EPA
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:12 pm

An obvious solution is for FB employees to move to EPA, where housing costs are relatively affordable. Zuck's donations have improved the Ravenswood schools and healthcare facility. The schools would improve further if more techies would take the plunge and send their kids there. I'd suggest not making it convenient for FB employees to drive solo in the hope that more would take alternative transportation to work.


34 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:33 pm

If Facebook employees buy up a large portion of the housing in EPA, where would the current EPA residents move to? There are a lot of young families there with the parents living in Menlo Park or Palo Alto. Net traffic will increase a lot of those workers move 50 miles away from their jobs instead of the current 2 or 5 miles.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Correction to the previous post: There are a lot of young families in EPA with the parents working in Menlo Park or Palo Alto.


78 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:52 pm

Facebook chose to plan itself in the middle of an overcrowded metropolis where housing is absurdly expensive and in short supply, and awful commutes to work are sadly routine. Repeatedly, Facebook has grown, and plans to grow some more. As far as I can tell, the burden of finding housing and dealing with the awful commute has been left to the employees. By extension, everyone who lives within miles of Facebook HQ suffers as a result.

Instead of ABAG and Facebook asking how Menlo Park and Palo Alto are going to accommodate more new employees and the increased congestion and even more demands on housing, I would like to hear what Facebook plans to do. Sorry, while shuttle buses do help, they do not solve the problem. Where are the hundreds if not thousands of housing units on the FB campus to house their employees, whom even though they are mostly well paid, probably have just as much sticker shock as the rest of us when looking for housing?


5 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 6, 2016 at 8:59 pm

@Ed

Interesting perspective, how did your employer descide to mitigate all those issues?


22 people like this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 6, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

High density housing in EPA would be most welcome. Make it a short bike ride from FB HQ, and include below market units to provide affordable housing. Problem solved! Having a thriving business on the peninsula should be a fantastic opportunity, not a threat.


25 people like this
Posted by EPA
a resident of Mayfield
on Jul 6, 2016 at 11:24 pm

EPA, unlike PA and MP, has rent control. This means that current residents are unlikely to be priced out of their rentals if there is an influx of highly paid tech workers.


77 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2016 at 7:54 am

Before Facebook, there was Sun Quentin!

The point being is that there was a building with large number of employees there. If Facebook hadn't acquired the campus, somebody else would. Menlo Park happily granted development first by Sun then by Facebook. Fremont and Union City started building homes 30 years ago the opposite side of the Dumbarton Bridge. The commute across that bridge started back then. There is the old rail bridge rusting away and in those 30 years the Powers That Be could have renovated the bridge for commuting.

The bigger problem as far as I see it is that the infrastructure was ignored for so long. Silicon Valley has been growing since the 50s. Highway 85, the 287 and other roadway improvements have barely kept up with the increasing commute traffic. Caltrain can barely keep up with the increasing numbers of passengers but have done very little to bring their service into 21st century modern commuter rail services.

Don't blame the tech companies, blame last century infrastructure that doggedly lagged behind what was happening.

We need to get a modern aspect to public transportation with one Bay Area Agency taking oversight. Until that happens, we will have traffic gridlock everywhere.


21 people like this
Posted by Ride a Train
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 7, 2016 at 8:35 am

Facebook should pitch in towards getting the Dumbarton Rail Line from the east bay up and running!


52 people like this
Posted by They should solve it
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2016 at 9:26 am

Ed put it well: Instead of ABAG and Facebook asking how Menlo Park and Palo Alto are going to accommodate more new employees and the increased congestion and even more demands on housing, I would like to hear what Facebook plans to do.

Their young employees will mature and many will marry and have children. Where will the population explosion live and where will the children go to school?

I wish I had more respect for the crap they produce. Mostly easier ways to spend money.


2 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 7, 2016 at 12:16 pm

I completely disagree with Midtown Resident that most FB and Google employees are young party-goers from SF. Both my partner and I work for startups and we are planning to raise a family in Palo Alto. We are committed to this community. Many of our friends are in the same situation. Not everyone wants to or can live in SF. Even the 26 and 29 year-olds need some place to live. Many already live in EPA, Newark, Fremont, San Jose. Redwood City is building housing. Why can't Palo Alto and Menlo Park do the same?


54 people like this
Posted by cm
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm

The real issue that needs to be discussed is how dense do the residents of the peninsula want this area to become. Zoning laws should keep large employers like Facebook and Google from building in local areas without appropriate transportation and housing. We should not be forced by the state and ABAG to build infrastructure for their needs, they should be forced to locate in high rise towers in the two local cities - SF or SJ. Then people could either live in the city and work there or live in the suburb and commute via train, tram, bus or car to a central location. Large employers should not be allowed to overcrowd local city's streets, schools and demand that we take on an urban lifestyle so they can have a massive campus designed by some honcho with a swoopy facade and green roof. Plus why are they being allowed to build these massive campuses when we know their location will be affected by flooding and water rising in the next decades. Are we suppose to build sea walls for them also? Very poor planning from local city planning departments who only seem to want to cater to the rich and powerful, not the residents who pay their salaries. It is time to demand that the state regulate population density overall in the state and further that they regulate where large businesses can be located so that they don't damage local communities.


10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 7, 2016 at 1:19 pm

Blaming Facebook or any other high tech company for the wealth and vibrancy to the area is completely misguided, in my opinion.

Silicon Valley started in the 50s and without the high tech community, this would still be an agricultural valley, very much the area of Do you know the way to San Jose, where it would still be somewhere not many people had heard of.

Silicon Valley is a success unlike anywhere else that I can think of in America. It has grown up and out because of the high tech industry. Any of us who moved here since the 50s are here because of it, either directly or indirectly. It is the requirement for all the other service industries in the area with perhaps the exception of Stanford and Moffett, the latter of course no longer what it was.

The Valley is also populated with a completely different demographic to any other area that I can think of in America. We have people here who have moved here not just from other parts of the US, but from all over the world. These people, unlike most Americans, probably didn't grow up with the car culture that typifies America. Therefore, the population is not as concerned with the car culture - or wouldn't be if they were offered an efficient alternative.

Getting an efficient transportation system should have been done years ago. BART around the Bay should have happened years ago. Blaming Facebook because of growth in the Valley is like blaming your children for the fact that you are growing old. The growth has happened and is continuing to happen so we have to adjust. This doesn't mean getting rid of the things that make life pleasant, but it does mean that we need to innovate with ideas to get people to where they need to go to do their work efficiently. Putting stumbling blocks in the way or blaming the industry is not the way to do it. Asking for innovative modern methods to achieve this is a good place to start.


44 people like this
Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm

I work at Belle Haven School, just a few blocks from FB in the the neighborhood northwest of Willow Road. If I leave school at 6 pm, the intersection of 101 and Willow is absolute gridlock. It has taken me 30 minutes to go less than a mile. Cars trying to get off 101 to go to the Dumbarton bridge are backed up both north and southbound on 101, so cars trying to get on 101 from Willow can't get to 101. The big white buses don't want to wait in the long line from NB 101 to EB Willow, so they do the 3 sides of the cloverleaf thinking it will be faster. They are easiest to identify. I don't know how many other regular cars are doing this. I've seen it happen on several occasions. The short merge under the overpass on SB 101 is a huge problem. FB should rebuild this total intersection to handle all their employees leaving FB in the evening and trying to get onto 101.


37 people like this
Posted by maggie
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 7, 2016 at 5:17 pm

maggie is a registered user.

Because jobs and housing are a regional problem, it's about time Atherton was asked to step up and do some rezoning to allow smaller lots with condos, apartments, houses on smaller lots.

As it is Atherton has zoning restrictions that require large residential lots only. Yes, I know they conveniently zoned themselves residential only, so no jobs means no housing responsibility/ABAG requirements. But, bet many, if not the majority, of Atherton residents are connected to the silicon valley dynamo one way or the other, and for generating jobs in the surrounding cities.


21 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 7, 2016 at 9:39 pm

@ Robert

My employer can not afford to pay what Palo Alto may eventually consider to be a sufficient wage, $250,000, to be able to buy a home around here Web Link Accordingly, prospective employees mostly opt to work for the company elsewhere, as in in another state. The number of employees here has dwindled significantly in the past 10 years, and the number of employees is tiny compared to what Facebook is, or wants to become.

If Facebook wants to attract literally thousands of new employees into an area already suffering from massive congestion and a clear lack of housing of any type, then yes, I think Facebook needs to help mitigate the problem because they are clearly going to make the problem significantly worse.


13 people like this
Posted by BelleHaven
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 7, 2016 at 11:27 pm

Improvements need to be improved by the VTA transit system. At present Bus 281 travels from Belle Haven area , through EPA, Palo Alto, and the finally to the Palo Alto CalTrain Station. The Atherton CalTrain station is closer to the Belle Haven residents. A shuttle system and/or bus system to Atherton would benefit the Belle Haven residents. Also, Belle Haven needs a pedestrian and bicycle friendly neighborhood. We are being boxed in by commuters.


21 people like this
Posted by @BelleHaven
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2016 at 12:05 am

@BelleHaven - Menlo Park and EPA are in San Mateo County. Bus route 281 is operated by SamTrans, not VTA. I suppose part of the problem with public transit in Belle Haven and EPA is that they are at the southern tip of the SamTrans service area and thus get pretty poor service from SamTrans.


26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 8, 2016 at 6:05 am

So here we have it folks. We are on the border between SamTrans and VTA and nobody understands which is which. We are at the north end of VTA and they don't care about us and we are at the south end of SamTrans and they don't care about us.

We need to get rid of separate agencies because they are crippling this area as not providing adequate public transportation. People want to cross county borders for lots of reasons and the county border is a barrier to efficient route planning.

Please can we get one Bay Area Transport Agency who can sort out this mess.


2 people like this
Posted by dennis
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jul 8, 2016 at 12:20 pm

[Post removed.]


15 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 8, 2016 at 5:19 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Palo Alto and Menlo Park don't need to accommodate any FB employees housing issues. If FB, and other tech companies, insist on being located in this astronomically expensive area, they, and they alone need to take care of this problem. Being based in the Bay area while hiring more and more employees makes less and less sense. Actually, it stopped making sense years ago.


15 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 8, 2016 at 6:28 pm

"...it's about time Atherton was asked to step up and do some rezoning to allow smaller lots with condos, apartments, houses on smaller lots."

[Portion removed.]

Along with Woodside, Portola Valley, and Los Altos Hills, where most of the creators of the problems that plague the rest of the area dwell in their cocooned splendor, Atherton prefers vineyards and other faux-rural amenities over its moral obligations to participate in the solutions its vocal residents urge on the rest of us. Keep up the drumbeat.


4 people like this
Posted by @Resident
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 9, 2016 at 11:04 pm

@Resident, as a multi-generation native of Palo Alto, I can tell you that you are flat-out wrong. Palo Alto was a sought-after place to live well before there was a Silicon Valley, and we owe that to many factors, but most importantly to Stanford University, early residents who had strong values, and a wonderful climate. It's completely ridiculous to claim that Palo Alto would have remained a farming town if not for Silicon Valley, because Palo Alto evolved intellectually while most of the neighboring towns continued to farm (and there is no shame in that!).

Silicon Valley did not make Palo Alto great, Palo Alto and Stanford birthed Silicon Valley.


2 people like this
Posted by neighborbor
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 10, 2016 at 12:01 am

I completely agree with @resident. I've lived here for 50 years and Palo Alto was an interesting sought after town long before then. My grandparents had wanted to live here because they considered it so livable and attractive but needed to be closer to S.F. Communities change and that's generally inevitable, but at times it can be very disheartening how much Palo Alto and the entire Peninsula has changed.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 10, 2016 at 7:27 am

I said the area would still be agricultural without high tech not Palo Alto. I happen to look beyond the artificial boundaries of the town and speak for the region as a whole. And yes I do realise that the high tech influence started mainly as Stanfird driven.


18 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 10, 2016 at 10:25 am

mauricio is a registered user.

I am student of Palo Alto's history, and Palo Alto was indeed a highly sought after, upscale and expensive town long before Silicon Valley. PA residents were highly educated. They were college professors, scientists, lawyers, economists, artists and entrepreneurs. The various comments on how PA would be a backward, insignificant small town without the Valley are nonsensical and a ploy to convince residents who might not be familiar with our history that we need massive development and urbanization to survive. Nothing could be further from the truth. We used to be a prosperous town with much higher quality of life and better values, and we absolutely don't need destructive and corrupting urbanization and density to remain a great place, quite the opposite.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 10, 2016 at 5:41 pm

"I said the area would still be agricultural without high tech not Palo Alto."

Wrong statement. The orchards were cut down and the fields built over to cheap houses and tacky commercial structures years before anybody thought of the term Silicon Valley or began crowing about high tech (mostly with no personal knowledge of technology). Then, as now, the real estate industry ruled.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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