Viewpoint: Measure V protects residential neighborhoods throughout Menlo Park
A few years ago, Menlo Park switched from holding citywide council elections to a district-by-district approach. Menlo Park was divided into five districts, and now voters in each district elect just one representative.
Increasing representation from various neighborhoods is no doubt a good thing, but it has some downsides. Most significantly, each council member now is accountable only to their district. Previously, council members knew that they’d have to answer to all voters from every neighborhood. It didn’t matter where they lived: each neighborhood held the potential to organize and vote out any council member.
I don’t mean to suggest that any of our current council members don’t care about the whole city. But it’s a big difference between caring versus being accountable to everyone.
Your neighborhood could be up-zoned tomorrow by just three council members, and you may not have the opportunity to vote for/against any of the three who made that decision. Even ignoring the potential impact of personal or political biases of individual council members, the lack of direct accountability is simply inconsistent with democratic principles.
The “No on V” advocates are trying to convince everyone that Measure V is somehow “anti-teacher” or “anti-housing” and will make development difficult throughout our city. That is a gross distortion. Measure V only addresses low density residential neighborhood up-zoning.
Given the lack of accountability on neighborhood issues, this simple “voter check” on up-zoning is needed. Vote yes on Measure V.
John Boyle is a former Menlo Park Vice Mayor and City Council member