A developer who wants to convert a retirement home in Menlo Park to a Marriott Residence Inn has asked for permission to provide at least 56 fewer parking spaces than what the city says is required.
Although Menlo Park City Council members frowned on the request during a study session in October, developer Sand Hill Property Co. has indicated it'll press ahead with the same plan when it goes to the planning commission on March 4, Senior Planner Thomas Rogers said Thursday.
According to the city's new El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan, approved by the council in June, hotels are supposed to provide the equivalent of 1.25 parking spaces per room.
Because Sand Hill proposes a 138-room hotel at 555 Glenwood Ave., it would have to provide 173 parking spaces under the city's downtown plan. There are now 78 spaces on the property, which is occupied by Casa on the Peninsula.
Sand Hill argues that 173 spaces aren't needed because Residence Inn hotels are designed for extended-stay travelers who typically share rides with co-workers, rent cars or visit families that drive them around. Guests at the Los Altos Marriott Residence Inn use an average of 0.68 parking spaces per room, according to the developer's project documents.
Sand Hill contends the 78 spaces at 555 Glenwood Ave. plus 39 nearby street spaces on Garwood Way it has asked the city for exclusive use of should be enough to meet demand.
Rogers acknowledged that
As for the Garwood Way spaces, they were created on the dead-end street when Casa on the Peninsula was built in 1987, Rogers said. And though they never were designated as private spaces, they've been used almost exclusively by the building's employees, tenants and visitors ever since, he said.
"This is ultimately a policy question for the city council," Rogers said.
In making its request, Sand Hill has pointed out the hotel would contribute about $770,000 a year in room taxes.
But at the October study session, council members noted the city would be shortchanged by an extended-stay hotel because it can't collect room tax revenue from guests who lodge longer than 30 days.
Council Member Kirsten Keith said then she'd like to see a cap on the number of days guests could stay at the Marriott Residence Inn before she approves anything. In a phone interview Thursday, she stuck to that position and added that she'd also want the company to investigate shared parking opportunities with neighboring businesses.
Keith said she also opposes granting Sand Hill exclusive rights to the Garwood Way parking spaces. "I'm not that interested in giving away our public parking," she said.
Council members also expressed reservations about losing senior housing units during the study session.
If planning commissioners support the project, it could go to the city council on March 19 for final say, Rogers said.