News Column

Facebook Reaches $365K Deal With Atherton

July 5, 2012

Bonnie Eslinger

Facebook will pay Atherton as much as $365,000 in exchange for the town's promise not to sue when the social network company significantly expands its work force in Menlo Park, according to an agreement unveiled Tuesday.

The Menlo Park City Council on May 28 approved a deal allowing Facebook to employ up to 9,400 employees at its main campus on the corner of Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road and at a 22-acre site it bought nearby on the other side of Bayfront.

At that meeting, Atherton officials told the Menlo Park council they feared that thousands of additional Facebook employees would increase traffic at Marsh and Middlefield roads and that an environmental impact report doesn't adequately address their concern.

Facebook attorney Tim Tosta said although the company committed about $200,000 to add a left-turn lane from Middlefield Road to Marsh Road, it would continue to work with Atherton to resolve matters.

Since then, the two sides negotiated an agreement in which Atherton would receive a one-time payment of $350,000 to address its traffic concerns or use any other way it wants.

"The decision on whether or how to mitigate traffic impacts at the Marsh Road and Middlefield Road intersection, and to what extent, shall be in Atherton's sole and absolute discretion," according to the agreement.

"They're giving us money for traffic mitigation, but technically we don't have to use the money on that intersection," said

Acting City Manager Theresa DellaSanta.

The deal, signed July 2 by Atherton Mayor Bill Widmer and Facebook Director of Real Estate John Tenanes, also obligates the company to spend up to $10,000 for a consultant to review and recommend bike paths and routes along Middlefield Road, from Marsh Road to Glenwood Avenue and along Alameda de las Pulgas.

Facebook also agreed to spend as much as $5,000 for a consultant to work with the town's public works director on "other transportation initiatives," as well as work with the town to improve its information technology program and Facebook page.

Widmer said in a written statement that Facebook addressed Atherton's concerns and needs.

"As other communities have discovered, Facebook recognizes their role in the community and epitomizes corporate responsibility. We are excited to have them as a neighbor," Widmer said.

In separate deals negotiated earlier this year, Facebook agreed to provide more than $1 million in benefits to East Palo Alto and more than $14.5 million over 14 years to Menlo Park.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at; follow her at bonnieeslinger.

Source: (c)2012 the Palo Alto Daily News (Menlo Park, Calif.)

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