According to plans submitted to Menlo Park on Thursday, Facebook hopes to build nine new office buildings that would someday bring at least 10,000 workers to its proposed Willow Campus – and only 1,500 units of housing. The social networking giant would double the office space it commands on the Baylands in Menlo Park with 1.75 million square feet of additional office space, 125,000 square feet of retail space, and three car parking garages with a total of 3,000 car parking spaces.
Because the proposal includes so few housing units, its development on the existing 56-acre Menlo Science & Technology Park at Willow Road and Hamilton Avenue would worsen Menlo Park’s current jobs-housing imbalance and exert even more pressure on skyrocketing local rents resulting from the massive influx of highly-paid tech workers. Facebook’s workforce in Menlo Park has ballooned to 9,350, up from 2,200 when the company relocated from Palo Alto in 2012. Facebook is by far the largest employer in the city, with over seven times as many workers as the next largest employer, SRI International.
Facebook is pitching this giant mixed-use development as a transit-oriented amenity, as it lies on the defunct Dumbarton rail line that runs to downtown Redwood City. Efforts to restart passenger rail service along the line have failed to gain traction, and Facebook has offered no financial support for the concept. The company also envisions a bicycle and pedestrian path running along the rail from Redwood City to Willow Road, but details on such a path’s feasibility won’t be available until a study by SamTrans on the Dumbarton Corridor is finished later this year.
All of Facebook’s properties in Menlo Park, including the proposed Willow Campus, will be flooded under four feet of sea level rise, according to a 2016 analysis by the San Francisco Bay Conservation & Development Commission.