Uploaded: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 7 p.m.
On the eve of final county consideration of Stanford's quest to build up to 3,000 housing units and almost 2 million square feet of new academic development over the next 10 years, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian has weighed in with a package of proposals that reflect extraordinary effort and skill at balancing the needs of the university with the needs of the community.
Simitian's views should and will count for a lot when the Board of Supervisors holds its final deliberations next Tuesday, and not only because the board tends to defer to the local supervisor on matters of land-use policy.
Simitian has made the Stanford use permit application a major priority and has devoted countless hours to both understanding Stanford's position and to nudging the university to accept the inevitability of greater scrutiny and control in the future.
Now, as things begin to fall into place at the 11th hour, Simitian has put forth solutions to the remaining lingering issues that we believe shows great understanding and respect for Stanford's needs while at the same time constitute a sound, fair and defensible approach to regulating its development.
In a nutshell, here are his proposals:
As a condition for approving all of the development asked for by Stanford for the next 10 years, the university must complete a "build-out study" that addresses the question of what the ultimate capacity is of Stanford lands. Milestones for completing the study would be set to coincide with the timing of the new academic development.
Stanford should be required to construct the housing that is necessary to mitigate the new academic development in a "loose" lock-step with that development, with some flexibility for changes in the local housing market.
15 percent of the housing needed to accommodate the employees related to academic development should be set aside for lower-income wage-earners so that these individuals are not forced to commute long distances, or, in the alternative, a fund be established to provide affordable housing within six miles of the university.
Stanford should be required to commit one acre of its unincorporated land to open space for 99 years for every 2,000 square feet of academic development it undertakes, under a concept Simitian calls "Compact Urban Development (CUD) Commitment Credits."
The so-called CUD Credits are based on the notion that development on Stanford lands is being approved contingent on it being clustered intensely within the core campus area in order to avoid sprawl on outlying lands. In effect, we are evaluating Stanford's development needs for its entire 4,000 acres, but situating it in a compact manner desired both by the university and the community.
Should Stanford fully complete the proposed 2 million square feet of academic development over the next 10 years, it would be obligated to designate 1,000 acres, as determined in the next few weeks through negotiations between the county and Stanford, to set aside for 99 years.
We believe each of Simitian's proposals accomplishes key objectives for the surrounding community while at the same time allowing Stanford to fulfill its needs without unreasonable constraints.
Stanford will undoubtedly and understandably argue for as much flexibility as possible in how it develops over the next 10 years, and it deserves great credit for the steps taken in the plan and in recent agreements to respond to the regional housing crisis and the needs of the local schools.
But in the final analysis it is fair and appropriate for the county to insist upon the guidelines and limitations being proposed by Supervisor Simitian.
We have every confidence that Stanford, consistent with its stated goal of forging a stronger partnership with the community, will not only find that it can accept the plan as amended by Simitian's proposals, but can do so with the understanding that it is in the long-term best interests of both the university and the local community.