Uploaded: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 7 p.m.
Simitian wants 1,000 acres in foothills protected
Supervisor wants community reaction
before final vote
by Don Kazak
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian
will recommend that a new general use permit for Stanford be approved
next week, but with some restrictions that Stanford officials may
have some difficulty with.
Simitian is recommending that up to 1,000 acres of Stanford foothills
be protected from development for the next 99 years, as long as
present campus development is contained to the core campus.
He also wants Stanford to begin a study to determine an ultimate
development limit, or "build-out," for the campus.
Simitian held a town hall meeting in Palo Alto last night to announce
his version of what should be in the Stanford plan. His idea was
to give residents, various interests groups and Stanford officials
a glimpse of his thinking before the county board takes final action
on Oct. 31.
On open space, Simitian wants to create something called a "clustering
credit" for Stanford's campus development, which would set aside
land in the foothills as open space for 99 years in return for Stanford
clustering development on its core campus. For the 2 million square
feet of academic buildings Stanford is proposing, this would equate
to about 1,000 acres of open space in the foothills for 99 years,
or the life of the new development.
The time limit of the proposal may cause significant problems for
Stanford. In a recent letter to county officials, Stanford's Larry
Horton wrote the university would not accept any commitment to not
build in the foothills that is longer than 25 years.
Regarding future development, Simitian will suggest that Stanford
begin a "build-out" study to begin to identify its future building
needs beyond the 10-year use permit now being considered.
Over the last year, the idea of determining an ultimate development
limit was suggested, but its not part of the current county planning
staff recommendations. Simitian wants to at least start the planning
process for that.
His statement, which he calls his preliminary thinking, would require
Stanford to start figuring out how much more square footage it can
eventually build, and would require the university to present such
a build-out study to the county before the current square footage
in the pending general use permit can be completed.
On housing, Simitian will also suggest that Stanford base its housing
plan on the demand actually created by new academic development,
and that it be timed to coincide, in part, with the new academic
development. This is the "linkage" issue that popped up late in
the planning process.
Stanford officials have said they are in favor of a linkage between
academic and housing construction, but they don't want their academic
development plans to be held up if a housing proposal runs into
political opposition and is delayed.
Simitian also plans to ask the county board to require Stanford
to make 15 percent of all new faculty and staff housing units affordable
to "very-low, low and moderate income" employees.
Simitian's remarks last night come on the heels of the latest county
staff recommendations earlier this month, Stanford's reaction, and
the final recommendations of the Palo Alto City Council, as determined
For almost a year and a half, the process has been a sometimes
intense planning process that has moved very quickly, albeit with
countless hours of public testimony and hundreds of pages of written
suggestions and recommendations.
All of that is scheduled to culminate early next week. The county
Board of Supervisors will hear public testimony at 7 p.m. Monday
night at the county government center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose,
and then is scheduled to take final action beginning at 2 p.m. Tuesday,
also in the Board of Supervisors Chambers in San Jose.
Along the way, Stanford has seemingly solved several problems,
including the creation of a third middle school in Palo Alto, relocation
of the Jewish Community from the Terman Community Center (the third
middle school site), and saving the first hole of the golf course
by moving proposed faculty housing to a different site.
And while the county planning staff is proposing a 25-year academic
growth boundary for the foothills, mostly along Junipero Serra Boulevard,
environmental groups are pushing for permanent open space protection
for the foothills.
Simitian's proposal goes further than the county planning staff's
proposal--and maybe too far, from Stanford's perspective--but may
fall short of what the environmental groups want.