By Jacob Bourne
As of May, the drafts of the environmental impact report and fiscal impact analysis for the Facebook campus expansion project have been available. Hibiscus Properties, LLC, a subsidiary of Facebook, has applied for a redevelopment project mainly involving the construction of two new office buildings on Constitution Drive in Menlo Park. The site is about 1.7 miles west of Facebook’s main headquarters at 1 Hacker Way. June 1 marked the beginning of a series of public meetings, part of the environmental impact review process that will close on July 11, that are scheduled to collect a feedback from the community before final approval on the project is given.
“We haven’t received anything about the EIR yet,” said Kyle Perata, City of Menlo Park senior planner. “Staff and the consultant will review any comments, then the final EIR will be released with responses to the comments. The tentative schedule is September 13 for the council’s first review of it.”[contextly_sidebar id=”AzHgR3na0LxPO05i8EHkUnlYHKbStmEI”]The office buildings are planned to total 962,400 square feet with nearby open space planned as a resource for public use. The buildings, connected by an open-air bridge, will be 75 feet in height with landscaped roof decks featuring enclosed work areas. The adjacent Bayfront Expressway will gain a pedestrian and bicycle bridge crossing that will connect with a segment of the San Francisco Bay Trail, nestled in the Bedwell Bayfront Park, which borders Facebook’s main campus.
Rezoning from General Industrial to General Industrial, Conditional Development was required for the project to allow for changes in standards such as building heights and footprints, as well as the possible addition of a 200-room, 174,800 square foot hotel. Though detailed design plans for the hotel haven’t been released yet, preliminary plans describe the hotel as “limited-service,” which could mean that it won’t have a reservable conference facility. Current tenants of existing properties on the site including Pentair and TE Connectivity are in an extended relocation process as nine buildings are up for demolition.
Surface parking will be available for both the offices and hotel at a total of 4,055 spaces. To address potential traffic impacts, alternative transportation choices will be promoted for employees and the number of trips to and from campus on a daily basis and during peak times will be capped. The trip capping is comparable to current restrictions in place for other campus buildings relative to square footage, and camera counters will be utilized for enforcement.
One of the issues that will be addressed is the possible sea rise as a result of global warming around the globe. According to Laura Tam, sustainable development policy director for the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, California may see a rise in sea-level of about 16 inches by 2050. Given Facebook campus’ closeness to the Bay shoreline, some steps are being taken to address this possible situation.
“They’re raising the finished floor level of the lobby entrances to a certain extent, to address one of the projected scenarios of potential sea level rise,” Perata said. “There’s the compliance with FEMA that’s required.”
The next Planning Commission meeting regarding the project will be Monday, June 20, scheduled as a combined public hearing for the draft EIR and a study session for the draft FIA.
In a statement regarding the release of the draft EIR a Facebook spokesperson offered, “Facebook is committed to being a good neighbor. We understand that our growth affects the everyday lives of our neighbors, and we want to be respectful and thoughtful about how we approach our expansion. The future of Menlo Park is extremely important to us, which is why we work with city and community leaders to tackle local priorities, including transportation, housing and the environment.”