Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 14, 2013

Commissioner blasts Stanford over Mayfield traffic

City says there's little it can do in years-long dispute over traffic mitigation

by Sue Dremann

Stanford University officials received a fiery rebuke Wednesday night from the chair of Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission, who called the university "arrogant" for its resistance to add a road to the Mayfield housing project that would keep traffic from the new development out of neighborhood streets.

The College Terrace Residents Association and Stanford have been locked in a dispute over how traffic will be managed during the four years it will take to construct 180 housing units along the upper part of California Avenue. Residents want no construction traffic to enter from or exit onto California Avenue, which borders their neighborhood.

Stanford — which signed a land-use deal with the City of Palo Alto in 2005, known as the Mayfield Development Agreement — has offered a compromise to route heavy trucks through the former Facebook site at 1450 Page Mill Road. The buildings there will be demolished. But that compromise would only be good for the first 12 months of the Mayfield project, Stanford representatives said. The university plans to develop the property thereafter.

While members of the residents association said their request was reasonable given the magnitude of construction that will affect their neighborhood, Stanford officials told the commission it would not make further compromises and that it was not obligated to do so.

The university also rejected the association's proposal to make the Facebook access route a permanent road to Page Mill to decrease traffic from the new residents.

A traffic study and discussions regarding cut-through traffic into College Terrace had already been reviewed in 2005, Stanford Research Park Director Tiffany Griego told commissioners.

Palo Alto has little leeway to change the project. The Mayfield agreement specifically limits the city's ability to make changes, and it cannot reopen an environmental review unless there have been substantial environmental changes or a change of circumstances. Senior Assistant City Attorney Cara Silver told commissioners there have not been significant changes to trigger the reopening of the process.

But commission Chairman Eduardo Martinez rejected the notion that Stanford could not do more to work with residents.

"Our hands are tied, but Stanford, your hands are not," Martinez said. "Your response that 'It's incompatible to do this or that' strikes me as very arrogant.

"Go back to our community and to your neighbors and make it work better for them," he said.

There was no vote on the issue during Wednesday's study session, which was a refresher for many members who were not around when the Mayfield deal was inked. The agreement allows Stanford to build up to 250 units of homes and apartments on tracts it owns in the Stanford Research Park. Seventy of the units will be below-market-rate apartments for low-income residents near California Avenue and El Camino.

In exchange for the development, Stanford built and paid for soccer fields it leases to Palo Alto. The city pays $1 a year for 51 years for the fields, which are located at the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road.

But neighborhood leaders said the agreement would benefit the rest of Palo Alto to their detriment. While they said they aren't opposed to the housing, they are concerned about the permanent effects of new traffic on their quality of life.

Mayfield residents will have only one exit route, onto California Avenue. The lack of a second route could pose a danger during a fire, they said.

Commissioners struggled to find ways to ease the anticipated situation.

Commissioner Greg Tanaka asked if the commission has leeway to recommend altering the project's street plan. Staff said that was possible, but only when the commission reviews the tentative map Stanford will submit prior to development.

But the city cannot compel Stanford to add a permanent access road to the development as a condition of approval simply because the university owns adjacent land that is accessible from Page Mill Road, Silver said.

The commissioners concluded there is little they can do.

"We're in a very constrained situation. We're largely locked in by the development agreement. I am very sympathetic in terms of construction impacts. Stanford has done some things, but it's not clear they can be compelled to do more than they are doing," Commissioner Arthur Keller said.

Some College Terrace residents said they support the Stanford project as is.

Adrian Fine said the residents associations' demands amount to "obstructionism."

"Stanford has been a pretty good neighbor," he said.

Added another resident: "Stanford has been an excellent steward of the land."

Stanford plans to redevelop other parts of the research park, which could create opportunities for adding an internal road network that avoids College Terrace, some residents have argued.

As part of the agreement, the university will add 300,000 square feet of office/research space elsewhere within the research park to replace the buildings it is razing to make way for housing.

Residents association members have asked the city and Stanford to consider a "spine road" that would connect El Camino to Hanover Street. The road would solve part of the problem by running a road through the center of the research park's lower block, they said.

John Mark Agosta, another College Terrace resident, said the research park was originally developed into blocks that are 1,000 feet in depth with no internal circulation.

"That is perhaps a flaw that could be remedied by a better design," he said.

Stanford does not have complete control over the route of its construction traffic for the Mayfield project, however, commissioners and city staff noted. The university must submit a construction-traffic plan, subject to the city Utilities Department's approval.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by John Mark Agosta, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2013 at 11:55 am

Historically, Stanford, in its original subdivision of the Research Park, created a set of super-blocks 1000' wide, that did not contain internal public roads. We in College Terrace have been in discussion with Stanford that pre-dates the Mayfield agreement on adding "spine roads" to the super-blocks to create better traffic patterns, step-by-step as development which create more traffic procedes over the years, . Stanford made such a concession to spine road access in the layout of a previous development at 2745 Hanover. The discussion about an access corridor from Page Mill to the upper Mayfield development was raised with Stanford when the agreement was negotiated, but Stanford would not include it at the time.

The bottom line on this issue is that improving circulation in the Research Park by adding public road corridors would by a clear value - in safety and convenience - to the town and the public at large. Stanford's statement that this consists of an "inconsistent" use can be understood simply to mean that it is not willing to absorb the cost as a private entity of underwriting this public value.


Posted by Anne, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Residents are requesting additional access points to the proposed Mayfield Housing. Stanford seems to be saying either 'can't' or 'won't'. And are they saying 'You can't make us?'

But we all know, 'where there is a will there is way'. Stanford, please respond to the community! We all are trying to be good neighbors........


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:41 pm

If there's going to be four years of construction, that does make an impact. I am wondering if all the Stanford-related construction trucks will go on Page Mill Rd up to 280 (a section I am not up to speed about with regards to daily traffic) OR will they join the horrendous traffic we already have on Oregon Expresway and Oregon entrance/exit to 101?! The latter question concerns my region of the city.
- Perhaps there ought to be limited construction hours or other means to reduce impact to all of us Palo Altans. (Aside from this, I can see the concerns of the local neighborhood to this massive project - that's a different issue as described above that I am sympathetic about).
Who comes first in the tangle of priorities - residents of Palo Alto or.....?


Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I recently learned that Stanford teaches no classes in ethics to their MBA aspiring students (and have seen first hand just how very much they need to be).

Apparently that's the way the current "management" of the University is handled as well.

Whatever their goal (public or private) it clearly cares little for the community and its role in it.

After decades of hosting the Palo Alto Concours d'Elegance, an annual event that raises funds for many worthy organizations, they decided last year to end the relationship and left the Lions Club to scrounge until they settled finally on the only other location that could accommodate the show... all the way up at the San Mateo Event Center.

Stanford now seems to reflect the same heartless core that corporations and government in our country express.

I can't imagine we can look to Stanford to shape the lives of those who, in the future will lead, in a way that will be for the good of all concerned.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Not a very Palo Alto suggestion, but why not:

Have Stanford do a second entrance/exit --- make both entry points a gated entrance.

Solves two traffic concerns - CT residents get relief. The Stanford development won't pick any extra (or drive-through) traffic.

This could be a compromise...


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 13, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Elizabeth-- if you are going to make claims, you should avoid making ones that are so easily shown to be false
Web Link

GSBGEN 208 and GSBGEN 566
Ethics courses in the graduate school of business at Stanford.

Anything you care to claim?
BTW regarding the concours, maybe you should try to get Stanford's side of the issue


Posted by longtimeresident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Palo Altans need to realize that Stanford quit caring about Palo Alto many years ago. They treat Palo Alto like a senile poor relative that they will weasel around, one way or another. The only goals for Stanford are status and money.


Posted by alum, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 13, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Ethics classes have long been not just taught but REQUIRED for MBA students. But that's kind of irrelevant, isn't it? Stanford is a great academic institution but a terrible neighbor. It's big, it's rich, and it's greedy. Given how many alums live here, and the generous support provided by alums, Stanford may come to regret its callous disregard for its own community.


Posted by Old Steve, a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jun 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Before you complain about Stanford as a developer, please remember that without at least Fairchild, HP, Yahoo, and Google, Silicon Valley would be very different (if it existed at all). Every dollar Stanford spends on housing development comes from endowment or industrial leases. Palo Altans need to get over the fact that if you live in the center of innovation, your neighborhood may change from time to time. And without Stanford would University Avenue be anywhere near the destination street that it is? Or maybe everyone would just join the Googlers on Castro Street in Mountain View.


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comments were moved from a duplicate post.

Good for you, Planning Commissioners! The residents of Palo Alto and Stanford must simply find a way to cooperate better. Indeed this statement is not only correct but the right thing to do: "Our hands are tied, but Stanford, your hands are not," Commission Chairman Eduardo Martinez said. "Your response that it's incompatible to do this or that strikes me as very arrogant. Go back to our community and to your neighbors and make it work better for them."
by Marion Jun 13, 2013 at 10:22 am



Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post.

As a child I grew up in a housing development with only one access. At the time 14 homes were built. Then another 14, then more land was acquired and many, many more homes were built, all with the one access. As the development increased, traffic on that access became very difficult, aggravated even more that there was a divided highway and no cut through so for every trip each car had to make a U turn on either the outward or return trip. As far as I know while I lived there (15 or so years) there was never an emergency where the road was blocked. But it became a nightmare particularly as it was also the only legal access for pedestrians. Of course pedestrians started climbing fences, etc. to enable them to find another way through. I do not recommend any development of what may start out to be a small number of homes having only one access.
by Resident Jun 13, 2013 at 10:30 am


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post.

The arrogance lies with the city of Palo Alto and the Planning and Transportation Commission, especially Martinez. The city entered into an agreement with Stanford. The city benefited greatly from that agreement. Now it is time for the city to live up to their side of the agreement. Perhaps instead of stamping his foot and engaging in name calling, martinez should come up with an equitable solution to the problem. As usual, in these situations, Stanford is painted as the villain, while poor, hapless Palo Alto has been swindled again.
by city arrogance Jun 13, 2013 at 10:31 am


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:34 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post.

Good old College Terrace at its selfish best - we want all the benefits of Stanford and its Mayfield agreement but none of the costs - put the traffic in someone else's backyard.
by Peter Carpenter Registered user Jun 13, 2013 at 10:34 am


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post.

I'm shocked, shocked I say, that Martinez actually recognized a traffic problem. Look at the disaster he made of the Town & Country / Embarcadero / El Camino intersection. Good for him this once.
by Silly Jun 13, 2013 at 10:52 am


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post.

PA and Stanford worked out this agreement a decade ago. Stanford is building the project to the specs of the Mayfield Development Agreement ("as of right"). The city - specifically Commissioner Martinez - is admonishing Stanford for following an agreement the city itself made. It is wrong of the city and the community to go back on this agreement, and it sets a bad precedent for future development (eg - developers will not build in PA). Furthermore, at the meeting last night, Commissioner Martinez inferred that with future developments by Stanford (he specifically mentioned a 4-story senior home), the city might "not have it's hands tied", and will not be as receptive or flexible with Stanford. It sounded like grade-school bullying to me. Except by an elected official.
by Adrian Jun 13, 2013 at 10:56 am


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post.

As a 35-year resident of Stanford/Palo-Alto, I have rarely, if ever, heard anyone "dare" to criticize the Holy University, especially in public and in print. Good for you, sir! Of course Stanford is arrogant. They do want they want, when they want, how they want. I doubt this statement from a lone gentleman will change anything, but it is refreshing to have someone stand up.
by GrandmaKK Jun 13, 2013 at 11:02 am


Posted by Eric Van Susteren, online editor of Palo Alto Online
on Jun 13, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Eric Van Susteren is a registered user.

The following comment was moved from a duplicate post.

GrandmaKK--where were you when Kishimoto, Morton and Drekmeier would
regularly rip into the university? "They do want they want, when they want, how they want." At least they get things done--look at Palo Alto--years until anything is started and then you end up with ALma Plaza for example. Stanford abides by its agreements with the city and the county. It must be tough for Palo Alto to realize that their entire economy depends on Stanford.
by city arrogance Jun 13, 2013 at 11:15 am


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Can someone make a map of where these "spine roads" might be located? Perhps post it on Flickr, and provide a link to the map in a subsequent posting?


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Regarding martinezs comments about future Sanford projects and PA not having its hands tied--- is that what Martinez calls having to live up to your side of an agreement-- having your hands tied?????
And he s a city planning commissioner ? I guess that explains alma plaza and the traffic at town and country.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] But if he wants to play that game, Stanford can refuse entry to the dish area to palo all residents.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2013 at 5:51 pm

The Planning Commission demonstrates it's favortism with it's outrage over traffic with this housing development, yet they voted for the increased traffic on the Maybell project. Why the outrage on one project, but no outrage on the other.

In many regards the traffic situation on Maybell is much more serious, and the the potential downside much greater with the vastly greater number of kids using it as a bike route to 3 schools (total student population over 3000 kids).

I also sympathize with the College Terrace situation, but they don't have 3 schools that kids are trying to get to on that part of California Ave.

So we all are looking for an explanation Commissioner Martinez - why the outrage with this project, but not with Maybell?


Posted by Resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 13, 2013 at 5:53 pm

Bravo for Chair Martinez!! At least someone had the cajones to tell Stanford the truth. He did it with diplomacy and elegance. "Stanford can refuse entry to the dish to all Palo Alto residents." Puhleeze. Can only have been written by Stanford. Keep it.


Posted by Notan issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 13, 2013 at 6:10 pm

Common sense-- maybe Martinez feels that Stanford makes an easy scapegoat and can be used to distract attention from the points you make

CT resident-- the truths that palo alto signed an agreement and now is time to honor that agreement. The fact that CT is unhappy is irrelevant now. CT is always unhappy about something and they try to leverage that into concessions and perks for the neighborhood. As Peter stated abov, CT is selfish


Posted by John Doe, a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Palo Alto has always treated Stanford as a cash cow and this must come
to an end. Stanford has been an excellent neighbor with its never-ending patience for Palo Alto's incessant meddling about traffic and construction, plethora of restrictions and obstructionism, constant demands for this and that. At the end, Stanford doesn't even get a thank you, instead is berated by the greedy Palo Alto residents and is treated by Palo Alto officials with absolute arrogance.

The best way forward would be for Stanford to have its own city complete with mayor, city council, and departments. If Palo Alto is so unhappy having Stanford within its borders, perhaps they should seriously give some thought going their own way.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:21 pm

> Palo Alto has always treated Stanford as a cash cow

In what ways has PA always treated Stanford as a cash cow? Please keep in mind that Standord has a $7+B exemption from property taxes--so PA doesn't get anything from the thousands of acres of the Stanford lands that are dedicated to education. Those portions of the property that are dedicated to commerical use do generate property taxes--but these are paid by the leasee, not Standford.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 13, 2013 at 7:32 pm

The majority of Stanford property is in Santa clara county. The medical center, hospital and shopping center are in palo alto.
Is this property tax exemption that Wayne constantly brings up something unique to Stanford?
Has palo alto not derived any benefits from Stanford? This coming weekend is commencement. How much tax revenue will palo alto take in from visitors? Who is paying for the emergency water reservoir under the park across from the shopping center?
The city council is always trying to gt money from Stanford. John doe is correct


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:10 am

What the reporter, Commissioner Martinez and the residents claiming to represent College Terrace are forgetting is that the approx 17 acre site on upper California Avenue was zoned for commercial use before it was re-zoned for residential use at about 11 units per acre!

Had Stanford redeveloped that site under the existing zoning, it would have been much more intense in terms of daily traffic impact after all the construction trucks were gone. Instead of the old fashioned low intensity research labs, it would have been replaced by a hulking office for hundreds of intellectual property rights lawyers OR by the new Facebook style offices which sandwich in 3-4X as many employees per square foot. And no traffic impact study required since it's not a change in use.

You would think that the whiners, who had to live with Facebook 24/7 traffic and all the associated service trucks, shuttles etc for several years, might have realized by now that housing for faculty and high level staff would be a more compatible use of the site.

You would think that the Planning Commissioners might have pointed out that having the site reserved for professors and other high level staff would mean that most of them would either bike or walk to the Marguerite shuttle stop instead of pay exorbitant parking permit costs to park a long walk from where the actually work.

But no, this is Palo Alto, and entitled residents get to make up numbers and denounce the traffic engineers who use numbers based on actual data of similar developments. And when the actual numbers turn out to be about what the traffic engineer predicted, they never, ever admit they were mistaken.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 14, 2013 at 12:31 am

The land belongs to Stanford. As property owner they should be able to do or not do anything as they see fit. Anybody feels so strongly should raise money, buy the land, and build whatever road they want. Stop regarding American big enterprises and successful organizations as evil entities. Without those most resident of Palo Alto will not fair that well.

Somebody please give Martinez a spine so he can ask PA residents to come up with money to compensate Stanford.


Posted by Susan, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 14, 2013 at 2:50 am

Why is Stanford so resistant to creating a plan that works for both sides? One would think that Stanford might want to create a project that doesn't disturb the neighbors with construction truck and also create a way so cars can go directly to Page Mill. Come on Stanford lighten up and do the right thing. It benefits both sides.


Posted by resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 14, 2013 at 11:15 am

Brian
All land owners are subject to the allowable uses, etc... in the zone in which their property exists.

The Stanford research park and shopping center, unlike the rest of the campus, are under palo alto zoning, so therefore must comply with or get variances from the city of Palo Alto.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 14, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Historical note:
This agreement was negotiated in secret with Palo Alto represented by the City Manager and a subcommittee of Council members (the other Council members were kept in the dark). The rationale was that public negotiations would cause the parties to posture and dig in their heels.

The agreement was initial presented as a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, but there was enough opposition that some changes were made. However, the biggest mistakes were too deeply embedded into the agreement to be fixed at that late stage, most notably that Palo Alto was giving Stanford permanent concessions in exchange for a 51-year concession (lease) and that the City grossly over-valued Stanford's "public benefit" -- using Stanford's numbers rather than real estate comparables -- but this is something that staff routinely does for a wide range of applicants (and that Council has consistently supported until very recently).


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm

Plots water under the bridge now, Doug. The time has come for the city to honor it's part of the deal. Perhaps Martinez is looking for away out. Too bad for him.
Anyway, it looks like once again someone is claiming that Stanford got the better of the deal. This usually happens when those people are looking for excuses to try to explain a deal they entered n that they are.un happy with now.


Posted by Chuck Karish, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 14, 2013 at 9:02 pm

I think it's fine to complain about a decision that was made without adequate input from the affected residents. The city needs to be more transparent in its planning. Negotiations for this project and for the Arrillaga proposal for downtown were both breaches of the trust the citizens have in our city government.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 14, 2013 at 9:19 pm

Chuck-- agree with you about the arillaga project. However this agreement is years old. No comments until now, when the city has to honor its side of the agreement?
I think we all know how things work in the city--- the council works behind the scenes, hires consultants, appoints committees and panels-- all with one purpose-- further their own personal agendas and ensure their reelection to the council. When things get really hot, like the current maybell project, they differ a vote-- they do not want to go on record with a vote. And that is why it takes forever to get anything done here and when we do we have alma plaza. Just to be clear the Planning and Transportation, ARB share the blame for these shenanigans and then move onto the council ( I.e. Burt and Holman) . Maybe Martinez is planning a move next year


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 15, 2013 at 9:40 am

> Is this property tax exemption that Wayne constantly brings
> up something unique to Stanford?

I spent a day researching this property tax exemption--at least the first chapter of the story. A Constitutional Amendment was put before the people of California in the Fall election of 1900. This Amendment exempted Stanford, alone. There was also another ballot item that exempted Church property, too. Both passed, with about 400,000 people voting. Stanford's ballot item garnered about 330K for, and 67K against. The Church property exemption was not as favorably received by the electorate: 115K for, 102K against.

Although other institutions of higher education had objected to Stanford's being the only university to be tax exempt--their voices were ignored by the State Legislature, at the time.

Someone in the Santa Clara County Assessor's Office told me that in the early 1970s that this Constitutional Exemption was repealed, and replaced with Legislation that exempted all colleges and universities from property tax. I've not been able to find the history of that legislation, but will, one of these days.

The following article appeared in 1901, reporting on the taxable property in Santa Clara County:
--
San Francisco Call, Volume 87, Number 54, 24 July 1901

Santa Clara County's Wealth.
SAN JOSE, July 23.— The assessment roll just completed by Assessor Spitzer indicates the vast resources of Santa Clara County. All property in the county assessed foots up $50,643,985, against $50,725,593 last year. This reduction is caused by the tax being taken off church property and Stanford University. The assessment of church property was $177,915 and the Stanford University assessment $200,185, making a total of $378,020.
--


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 15, 2013 at 10:17 am

So based on your own research, Wayne, it is not unique to Stanford. So why bring it up? Why not mention all the churches in palo alto that do not pay?
Anyway, most of the educational area of Stanford is in Santa Clara county, so palo alto would Only get a fraction,if tax was collected. So what is your point, Wayne?


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jun 16, 2013 at 8:49 am

> What's the point?

Given the on-going discussions about Palo Alto's future (ABAG, Infrastructure, Traffic, HSR, etc.) it's a bit difficult to understand how anyone could participate in these discussions and not realize that everything revolves around MONEY! Property taxes are one of the sources of money for local governments. Stanford's exemption is costing us about $70M a year—which is about $700M every decade.

> Palo Alto won't get very much

This statement need a long response, but I've only time for a short one.

Palo Alto/the PAUSD are two of the most complicated government jurisdictions in the state, because there are so many overlapping jurisdictions that compete for funds. The PAUSD gets a whopping 46% of every property tax dollar—while the City gets only about 9%. All of the infrastructure for both the Schools and the City must currently be funded by the property owners alone, augmented occasionally by County/State grants. Stanford's very large student population, and Hospital, impose large demands for transportation, water, waste water disposal, public safety, and so on. While Stanford pays for many of these services (contracts with Santa Clara County Sheriff, and Palo Alto Fire Department), it contributes nothing directly (through property taxes) for all of the externalities that exist for supporting the University, and its many operations.

Stanford provides us the details of its on-campus operations:
Web Link

And also a nice map showing the various intersections with local government:
Web Link

The map shows intersects with: Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Woodside and Portola Valley. Stanford's tax avoidance impacts all of these communities/governments, which must fund the externalities (particularly roadways) that the Campus needs to move people, equipment, food, etc. to the Campus.

Money that goes to the County from Property taxes is mostly spent on salaries/benefits for the 20,000+ employees of Santa Clara County. But money frequently is allocated to the various cities directly. For instance, Oregon Expressway is a county road. Maintenance is paid for by county funds. Funds for the ill-considered downsizing of California Avenue was provided by VTA, a county-funded agency. Grants for various things are often made to Palo Alto (as with all SCC Cities). Palo Alto's need for at-grade separations of the Caltrain line at the Alma/Charleston crossing (at least) could be paid for with a grant from VTA, or other County funds. Money obtained from the County (or State) is to be spent for specific purposes, but nonetheless is a return of our property tax dollars to our city.

Clearly, the PAUSD should NOT receive 46% of the $70M that Stanford could be paying in property taxes. AB8 would need to be adjusted to deal with this specific situation—so that the PAUSD got a few million ($3M-$4M) and the rest went to the County/State.

Stanford's impact on the governments of Santa Clara County/San Mateo County (meaning the residents and taxpayers) has become so large that it should be expected to contribute to the funding of the governments that it depends on for its physical existence.


Posted by Chris, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2013 at 8:35 pm

Wayne, you are absolutely right. "Stanford's impact on the governments of Santa Clara County/San Mateo County (meaning the residents and taxpayers) has become so large that it should be expected to contribute to the funding of the governments that it depends on for its physical existence."

AS a Stanford neighbor, I am so weary of what feels like Stanford's constant construction and the traffic congestion it creates. Consequently, Stanford should be contributing to the surrounding area.


Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Well, Wayne, I suggest you have the law changed if you are unhappy with the tax exemption that universities enjoy.
Chris- just ignore the contributions that Stanford makes to,the area in financial terms. The only reason that palo alto and melo park is what it is today is because of Stanford.
Which traffic congestion are you talking about-- since only Stanford has employees that come to town for work. And let's ignore all the jobs all this construction provides. Let those people be unemployed as long as our little towns are disturbed by anything ( please feel free to mention how wonderful things were 10/20/30 years ago.


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