Menlo Park City Council Gives Thumbs Up To Facebook’s Expansion Plans

By David Cohen 

The Menlo Park City Council voted unanimously to allow Facebook to expand its headquarters, which will allow the social network to triple its work force there, currently totaling around 2,200.

The Palo Alto Daily News reported that Facebook’s plans include constructing additional buildings on the nine-building, 57-acre former Sun Microsystems site, which was limited to a maximum of 3,600 employees prior to Tuesday night’s vote.

According to the Daily News, the social network agreed to limit vehicle trips to and from its campus to 15,000 in exchange for permission to boost that maximum employee figure to 6,600.

The council also, as reported by the Daily News:

  • Approved an environmental impact report that addressed the expansion on Facebook’s campus, as well as its plan to add a second cluster of buildings to the 22-acre “West Campus” across the Bayfront Expressway, which had been the site of Tyco Electronics.
  • Approved a “statement of overriding considerations,” saying that the benefits of the main expansion project outweigh the negative impacts.
  • Issued a permit to remove eight heritage trees.
  • Approved an agreement Facebook negotiated with the city that will see Menlo Park receive more than $15 million in fees and public benefits within the next 15 years, including internship and job training programs, backing for affordable housing, and improvements to bike and pedestrian pathways.

Menlo Park Mayor Kirsten Keith told the Daily News:

We’re very lucky that we have Facebook. I feel like we’ve had a very open process and we’ve utilized it well, and I’m happy with the conclusions and process.

However, not everyone clicked like on the proceedings Tuesday night, as officials from the town of Atherton claimed that Facebook did not adequately demonstrate how traffic congestion on Marsh and Middlefield roads will be contained, even with the social network’s pledge to encourage employees to use transportation alternatives such as shuttles, ride shares, bikes, or walking.

According to the newspaper, Atherton Council Member Jim Dobbie told the Menlo Park City Council:

We want to continue these discussions, but we have to do what is right for Atherton, just as you have to do what’s right for Menlo Park.

Readers: Considering the performance of Facebook’s stock since its initial public offering, are these expansion plans too grandiose?