Monday's "scoping" meeting raised questions about additional housing, water use, traffic and construction practices -- issues that were added to 128 items previously generated by the Planning and Transportation Commission and other reviewers.
The council did not vote on suggestions by council members, which were noted by EIR consultants.
Stanford Medical Center is proposing a complex project of new construction, retrofitting and demolition that would add a net 723,800 square feet to Stanford Hospital, add 401,500 square feet to the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital, completely replace 415,000 square feet of medical school buildings and add about 186,000 additional square feet of medical office space.
The new hospital would have three 130-foot towers (eight stories) and the Children's Hospital expansion would rise about 85 feet, well above the city's current 50-foot height limit.
The shopping center expansion will create a 120-room hotel and add 240,000 square feet of retail space, staffed by 185 additional employees, according to EIR consultant Trixie Martelino.
Several Palo Altans told the council Monday that saving lives is laudable, necessary work and is nearly all that should be expected of a top-notch research hospital and medical school, -- espousing a position that resonated with Councilwoman Judy Kleinberg.
"I am thrilled this opportunity is before us," Kleinberg said. "This is a jewel in the crown of our community."
While solidly supportive of Stanford's plans, Kleinberg acknowledged the project will affect Palo Alto.
Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto and several other council members focused on the effects of the hundreds of additional vehicles, more than 2,000 new employees and the other impacts of the 1.3 million-square-foot medical center expansion.
"It's a very large project, the impacts will be large," Kishimoto said. "Working with Stanford … we end up with an overall better community as a result of this project."
Fifteen members of the public commented on the project, many expressing support of Stanford's plans.
Councilman Peter Drekmeier said he wanted the EIR to examine the additional housing need generated by the project, as well as increased water use. He urged Stanford leaders to use environmentally friendly construction practices.
Councilman Jack Morton said he'd like to separate the project components needed to meet state seismic standards from those included to expand the facilities.
He emphasized the enormity of the project's effects.
"I hope that (Stanford) will get most of what it wants in a way that we want it," Morton said.
Public meetings on the projects are scheduled for Oct. 4, Oct. 18 and an unspecified date in November, with the issue returning to the council Nov. 19, Martelino said.
Comments on topics to be studied in the environmental document will be accepted until Oct. 1 and should be directed to Steven Turner, 250 Hamilton Ave., fifth floor, Palo Alto, CA 94302 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In other business:
* Delegates from one of Palo Alto's Sister Cities, Enschede, the Netherlands, attended the meeting to kick off a five-year economic alliance between the two cities.
The Palo Alto City Council unanimously approved the project, which will involve the cities, their business communities and Stanford University and Enschede's Twente University.
The groups will work together to improve their economic bases through exchanges of students, entrepreneurs and others, improved communication and additional efforts, the program description states.
Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto presented Enschede Mayor P.E.J. den Oudsten a golden key to Palo Alto. In exchange, the city received two photographs of innovative projects in Enschede.
The project is not expected to use City of Palo Alto funds, city staff members said.
* On a 7-1 vote, the council approved a letter to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission stressing the urgency of the proposed improvements to the massive Hetch Hetchy water system and urging the commission to minimize the additional use of water from the Tuolumne River. Drekmeier, an employee of the Tuolumne River Trust, did not vote on the letter and Kleinberg was opposed, because she interpreted the letter differently than her colleagues, saying it did not actually oppose additional use of the Tuolumne River.
The Hetch Hetchy upgrade includes a $4.3 billion series of projects to strengthen the system's ability to withstand and recover from an earthquake and to amplify the water supply, which currently serves 2.4 million Bay Area users.
A draft environmental report for the project is available at www.sfgov.org/site/planning_index.asp?id=37672. Comments are due by Oct. 1.