Stanford trails dispute headed to Supreme Court

A dispute about trails Stanford University had agreed to build eight years ago as part of approval for a new general use permit from Santa Clara County is now heading for the state Supreme Court.

Palo Alto-based Committee for Green Foothills filed a lawsuit against the university and county in 2006 after a trails plan was approved by county supervisors in December 2005. The group claimed there was not adequate environmental review of the plan.

The Committee of Green Foothills lost the lawsuit when a Santa Clara County Superior Court judge ruled that the statute of limitations had expired on a legal challenge to the trails plan.

But a state appellate court has now reversed that ruling, allowing the Committee for Green Foothills to amend its case. The appellate court did not rule on the merits of the lawsuit itself, only that the case may be argued in court.

Stanford announced Wednesday that it will appeal the appellate court ruling to the state Supreme Court, as will Santa Clara County.

"We will join the county in an appeal to the California Supreme Court," Larry Horton, Stanford's senior associate vice president for public affairs, said. "The opportunity for public discussion has been extensive. Stanford has acted in good faith and is entitled to move forward on the basis of our agreements with the county."

The general use permit approved by Santa Clara County in 2000 allows Stanford to build an additional 2 million square feet of academic buildings and 3,000 new housing units. Stanford was to build two hiking trails as part of the plan.

Santa Clara County has approved the placement of a southern hiking trail but the location of the northern trail was unanimously rejected by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in February. If the northern trail is not built, the $8.4 million Stanford would have paid to build it would revert to Santa Clara County for other recreation programs by Dec. 31, 2011.

— Don Kazak


Posted by sally, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 11, 2008 at 12:25 pm

No one wants Stanford's fancy sidewalk. The existing sidewalk is fine. What the community really wants is a new bike path parallel to Page Mill Expressway, connecting Old Page Mill Road to Arastradero Road. The existing bike lane on the left side of Page Mill Expressway under I-280 is a death trap. Give us the cow tunnel, please!

Posted by Gary, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 11, 2008 at 5:30 pm

This Green Foothills is a protest organization, an anti-Stanford protest organization that offers nothing new. Maybe it's new head from the JPA will make it more rabid than it's been.

Posted by Walter E. Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2008 at 7:29 am

What a misnomer - the Committee for Green Foothills guarantees against the green. Only the populated hills are green year around. Life would be easier if we just bought blinders for those sensitive souls who cannot stand the sight of works of man.

Posted by flash, a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2008 at 2:16 pm

Maybe these Palo Alto folks should just use their own PRIVATE park in the Stanford Hills instead of seeking a path through the private University.

Better yet, how about if Palo Alto opens up their private park to use to university students and their neighbors in communities around Palo Alto?

Posted by trudy, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 13, 2008 at 12:22 am

flash, where were you and Stanford when PA residents paid for the private park?

Posted by flash, a resident of another community
on Apr 13, 2008 at 3:34 pm

We all pay for our own parks via taxes, but it's very rare for a city to establish private restricted parks to lock out other communities, as Palo Alto (the most open space rich town on the Peninsula) does. By your reasoning Stanford, a private property, could lock you out of the campus, but they don't.

Palo Alto citizens use campus open space (& other resources) without any restrictions whatsoever --- every single day. Palo Alto citizens are jogging, strolling and biking through campus right this minute, and always have been able to do so. No ID required, no guard gates.

So why does PA need a dedicated right of way set aside on the campus' private property? Will Palo Alto post guard gates on the campus walkway and require PA identification to use your piece of Stanford?

Palo Alto used the construction of a special path as a blackmail chip for opening Sand Hill access to El Camino years ago, then continued the bickering ever since. Whining children...the university doesn't owe you a dedicated path through the center of their campus any more than they have any right to have a dedicated path through your back yard.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2008 at 4:42 pm

I still don't know why Stanford stays connected. Where is the advantage to them of another layer of BS?

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