When the university builds 37 single-family homes along Stanford Avenue between El Camino Real and Harvard Street, driveways and access to the homes will come from Olmsted Road — not Stanford Avenue. The same will be true for the 29 townhouse-style rental homes for athletic coaches planned for a vacant lot at El Camino Real and Stanford Avenue, said Jean McCown, Stanford's director of community relations.
The university made the decision after meeting with board members of the College Terrace Residents Association last year, according to McCown.
The news is welcome to College Terrace residents, who say their neighborhood has been inundated with cars going to and from Stanford's Escondido Village housing development, Escondido Elementary School and neighboring daycare centers.
Residential side streets have also been clogged at all hours of the day and night with parked cars left by students and their guests who don't want to pay for a parking permit or who catch rides into campus on the Marguerite shuttle, according to residents.
"It's very good news and definitely a step in the right direction," College Terrace Residents Association President Greg Tanaka said. "I think the whole neighborhood appreciates that Stanford is listening to the community."
But Tanaka said more traffic restrictions would be needed to impede the overwhelming flow of traffic down Stanford Avenue. The association has asked the university to allow pedestrian access only to roads feeding into Olmsted from Stanford Avenue. The university could add new roads that would link the new residential areas to the inner Stanford campus from the Olmsted side, he said. McCown said she doesn't think it will be possible to close off existing streets.
Under the 2000 Stanford General Use Permit (GUP), the Stanford Avenue location could have up to 75 housing units. On Olmsted Road, up to 250 graduate-student housing units could have been added, according to McCown.
Stanford Avenue resident Karie Epstein said the university's plans to cut back on the number of units and to build single-family dwelling more in keeping with the adjacent neighborhood are "a step in the right direction."
But much work remains to fix the traffic and parking problems that have plagued the neighborhood for years.
"We've become a de facto parking lot for Stanford. ... While Stanford isn't all bad, I don't think they've stepped up to the plate in terms of transportation issues," she said.
As an unintended consequence of the university's "greening" by encouraging people to take the Marguerite shuttle into the campus, parking and traffic problems were exacerbated a year or so ago with a new shuttle route down Stanford Avenue. People began parking throughout College Terrace and taking Marguerite into campus, she said.
"It's about time for them to bite the bullet and have a satellite parking area," she added.
Even with the reduced number of housing units, Epstein still sees no plan for accommodating additional children at the already burgeoning Escondido Elementary School and daycare centers.
And Stanford must come up with a strategy for keeping construction traffic off Stanford Avenue and out of the neighborhood. That is something McCown acknowledges Stanford is trying to work on.
"One hope is to look at the sequence of which project comes first and to use one site for staging," she said.
Stanford plans to host a broader neighborhood meeting with a project-management team present to answer questions about the impact of construction sometime in February, she said. The projects should go through Santa Clara County's design-review process in six months, she added.