Following six months of research — including a community survey, meetings and even a newsletter — Menlo Park officials have developed and approved a seven-point plan to address a range of ongoing grievances in the Belle Haven neighborhood east of U.S. Highway 101.
The city's plan endeavors to tackle perceptions of increased crime and weakening educational opportunities for youths — problems the report suggests have been exacerbated by the dissolution of redevelopment agencies in California. Forthcoming land-use changes, including plans for a second Facebook office on Willow Road West, present additional variables for the sometimes dangerous neighborhood.
To execute the plan, last week the council authorized $130,500 in spending and an additional $50,000 for a city-appointed consultant to perform the outlined objectives.
Two areas — public safety and education — received overwhelming attention from city officials and neighborhood residents. Those two sectors are allocated more than $30,000 of the overall plan budget.
The plan proposes an investigation into how to improve the Ravenswood School District that currently serves the neighborhood as well as studying its possible amalgamation with the Menlo Park School District.
The community's third-highest priority was job training and employment programs. To combat unemployment, the plan calls for about $20,000 in spending for job training, leadership development and resource referral. Another $41,000 will be set aside for internships, mentorships, learning opportunities and other educational opportunities related to youth employment.
According to the most recent available employment statistics — from 2010 — 8.4 percent of the neighborhood is unemployed. Overall Menlo Park unemployment was 6 percent during the same period.
The plan also includes a mini-grant program that will make $500 to $1,000 funding blocks available to neighborhood residents. Such grants can be used to improve neighborhood infrastructure and aesthetics.
According to the survey, 51 percent of respondent Belle Haven households earn less than $39,999 per year and 20 percent earn more than $100,000. Middle income earners — $40,000 to $99,999 — account for the other 28 percent.
The council's approval was contingent on receiving updates from city officials regarding progress made toward action plan goals.