Guest Opinion: Stanford hospitals rebuilding and expansion needs, deserves community support | November 14, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - November 14, 2007

Guest Opinion: Stanford hospitals rebuilding and expansion needs, deserves community support

by Charles "Chop" Keenan

When I had the honor of receiving a Tall Tree Award from the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce last April, I thought a great deal about what it means to me to be part of our community.

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Charles "Chop" Keenan is a lifelong resident of the Palo Alto area and president of the Palo Alto-based Keenan Land Co. development firm. He can be e-mailed at


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 15, 2007 at 9:50 am

These comments largely mirror what I wrote here last week,
Web Link

on the same subject - with additional points made to bolster the argument that we must truly *partner* with Stanford, instead of appraoching the current negotiation with a laundry list of obligations.

It's gratifying to see that other persons of substance agree.

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2007 at 9:56 am

Mike--I also agree that it is gratifying to have Mr Keenan put to paper what many people in this city feel.
As I and others have stated on this forum many times--some people see Stanford as a cash cow to be milked whenever Palo Alto needs/wants something.
It will be interesting to see how this negotiation proceeds and whether this issue will fall into the PA Process black hole.

Posted by Not again, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:04 am

Not another make-believe discussion between Mike and Not so fast, please.
Surely everyone sees through this sham by now.

Posted by Easy Money, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:17 am

Not again,

How much would you like to bet that Mike and NSF are not the same person? I'm putting up $2000.00, in cold hard cash. :0 You?

If you're serious, let me know, and I will set up a special Yahoo! account that you can contact me on, and we can have the Weekly hold the money (of not the Weekly, we can assign it to an online escrow company for payout to the winner)

NSF, if this is amenable to you, we can use this Forum to connect. We will need to prove that you and Mike are not the same person. This is easily shown.

Once we have established that, I will provide you with 50% of my take.

"Not again", it's your move. Put up, or shut up.

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2007 at 10:21 am

Easy Money--I am in. I know that I am not Mike. Anyway, I do not want the money--just being able to prove to these people that more than one person can disagree with the way our city is being run, will be payment enough.
It is amusing to read how some people trot out the "it's all one person making these statements" argument on these issues

Posted by More-Facts-Less-Hype, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2007 at 12:45 pm

Mr. Keenan is a smart, successful man. Sometimes, however, symbolism seems to nudge out rationality, as seems to be the case with Mr. Keenan's logic in his guest opinion.

Consider the following:

> As the hospitals' redevelopment project has been
> presented to community stakeholders

With is use of the word "stakeholders", Mr. Keenan seems to be admitting that not all of us will see the "benefit" of this expansion equally.

> The medical center provides 9,900 jobs, including
> high-quality entry-level and support positions.

One can only wonder how a property developer knows about the "quality" of entry-level jobs in a hospital (or any other industry for that matter). It would seem that Mr. Keenan is simply sprouting the "part line" here. Most of these job holders live outside Palo Alto, so their salaries probably do not help the local economy in any measurable way.

> When minutes can make the difference between life and death,
> or full recovery instead of permanent disability, the value of
> having an upgraded emergency resource is beyond measure.

It might be interesting to have Mr. Keenan provide us with statistics about the number of people who will die if the hospital were not to go through this expansion. Clearly, Mr. Keenan is without any facts here.

> Stanford deploys across the spectrum is creating light-speed
> changes in medical therapies

Wonder if Mr. Keenan could provide any discussion on this point.

> urgently needed hospital facilities

Says who?

> Keeping both hospitals fully functional while building an entirely
> new Stanford Hospital within the existing footprint of the
> medical center is exactly what we want.

Again, says who?

> Sports, hiking and biking on the Stanford campus were a
> central part of my life growing up in Palo Alto and they
> are still on my itinerary every weekend.

And what does this have to do with anything related to the hospital expansion?

While the Hospital has a right to make its case about its expansion--Mr. Keenan has not helped the Hospital's efforts with his less-than-convincing essay.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 16, 2007 at 9:59 pm

More-Facts-Less-Hype says "Mr. Keenan seems to be admitting that not all of us will see the "benefit" of this expansion equally."

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

How many physician, health administrator, and medical education conferences will the hospital's presence bring to Palo Alto? How many hotel room rentals, and long-term housing rentals, does that compute to; how many local restaurant meals; how many new, highly educated residents; how much of an inflation factor to our homes; how many supermarket, bookstore, Stanford Mall and other shopping visits; how much free word-of-mouth advertising about the wonders of the hospital, Palo Alto and the region, spread to potential visitors from all over the world; how many intangible intellectual and R&D add-ons to our community; how many medical service, medical device, and other medically-related business startups emanating from the university - soley due to the world class R&D efforts; how much national prestige, and all tthe benefit hat carries; how many altruistic non-profit startups; how many more foundation grants that will feed into the local economy; how much cutting edge research that _saves_ Palo Alans lives, not to mention the lives of potentially millions more; how many educational opportunities for our high school and other K-12 students, who will have opportunities to tour the facility and be inspired; how about the multiplier effects of Stanford's presence in the region, and how that feeds back to PA; how about the careful planning that has _already_ gone into this facility (with no charge to Palo Alto); how about the increase in badly-needed social diversity (from the perspective of socioeconomic status) that will accrue in Palo Alto, as Stanford's staffing needs increase?

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by More-Facts-Less-Hype, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Interesting that the previous poster didn't provide the answers to all of these questions? Certainly this would be the time to make all of this sort of information known to the public--rather than just blowing a lot of smoke in the wind.

Posted by More Facts, Less Innuendo, a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 17, 2007 at 8:35 pm

Interesting that in your post you have only asked leading questions about the implied negatives of the development. Another way of saying this is that your statements about Stanford leads one to see only the negative scenarios. You provided only questions, without balancing those questions with implied positives.

Mike has performed the latter task for you, with the above set of questions.

In fact, Mike admits there will be some negative impacts from the Stanford development, but that the latter will be FAR outweighed by positive benefits.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Proud Naysayer, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 17, 2007 at 8:54 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Howard, a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 18, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Keenan's article just shows that one big shot developer supports another. The Standford expansion can not proceed unless the city council allows them to. It has so many violations of the zoning rules and other limits that even Chop's past excesses pale by comparison. Standford's expansion will have tremondous adverse impact on the citizens of Palo Alto. The fact that, in return, we will get the benefit of the highest level of modical care is of course an offset to the adverse impact. But how significant is that? How many people actually use Stanford Hospital, as opposed to the many other outstanding options that are available? How does Stanford compare in what insurance programs they accept? Do ordinary people even have access to this elite insitution? The bottom line is that unless the city extracts unprecedented, significant concessions from Stanford, this project should not go forward.

Posted by across the creekers, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2007 at 9:17 pm

just wait till Menlo neighbors get mobilized. We are not going to let Stanford expand till Menlo gets some overdue recompense on Stanford's traffic that overwhelms our neighborhoods.
Stay tuned for some fireworks!
Long live CEQA!

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 18, 2007 at 10:55 pm

Howard, for your edification:

"Stanford Hospital served 2,100 Palo Alto residents as inpatients and 4,000 residents who came to the emergency room last year. LPCH served 1,123 children and pregnant women from Palo Alto as inpatients in the last fiscal year and 2,156 individual patients for outpatient visits. Over 5,000 babies are born at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital each year from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties."

Consider these numbers the tip of the iceberg, re: benefits derived.

See my other post, above, for more.

As for Menlo Park, I can only say that if there is one community on the entire peninsula that reminds me of the Dodo bird, it's Menlo Park. Seriously, policy wise, and in terms of municipal vision, it has to be the most retro place in the Bay Area. Whenever I hear the name "Menlo Park", the image of someone sleeping in a rocking chair comes immdediately to mind.

We all remember all too well the frightening prospects projected by the Menlo naysayers about the Sand Hill project. We all knowo how that turned out - a boon for the entire region.

Now that Stanford wants to expand, they're finally coming out of hibernation to shout to high heaven again. Oh, well, even Rip Van Winkle has to wake up once in a while.

Posted by Not again, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 18, 2007 at 11:03 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Nov 18, 2007 at 11:43 pm

Menlo Park residents in rocking chairs? Check out this article on the new hotel on Sand Hill Road.
Web Link

" . . . Menlo Park Mayor Kelly Fergusson, who got into the planning process about two years ago and looks forward to the day when the 10 percent hotel occupancy tax starts flowing into the city's general fund. . . The formula goes like this: Take the $465-a-night published rate and multiply by an estimated 60 percent occupancy rate; 10 percent of that total would go to the city."

Menlo Park helped this project instead of blocking it. Now East Palo Alto and Menlo Park have great new hotels generating taxes and visitors, while Palo Alto is trying to figure out how to be a tourist destination -- without any traffic!

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2007 at 7:44 am

I think what Howard is suggesting may constitute extortion. In fact what Howard is suggesting will cause the Stanford Hospital to be shut down b y the government because it will not meet earthquake standards.
Is that really what we want to see?
Others have posted figures on how many PA residents use the Stanford Hospital, but even if the number were less doesn't Stanford Hospital serve the entire Bay Area?
Is PA so selfish that they only think in terms of how it will benefit/disturb themselves? Hopefully Howard represents a minority with regard to how to deal with Stanford.

Posted by Not again, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 19, 2007 at 10:50 am

The government will shut down the hospital?
Anyway, this is a 1 BILLION dollar expansion, not just earthquake upgrades. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 19, 2007 at 11:25 am

Not again--So if the Stanford Hospital or any other hospital does not meet the new seismic retrofit laws what will be the consequences?
Couldn;t the government declare them unsafe and shut them down?
according to info in the below that could happen:

"What is SB 1953?
Senate Bill 1953 (SB 1953) was enacted by the California Legislature in 1994 and mandates all acute care medical facilities, including Stanford Hospital & Clinics and other Bay Area hospitals, to meet strict new seismic requirements by 2013 or risk loss of their license to operate."

What is so funny about that?

Maybe you should read and find out the reasons for the expansion. others have posted this link. i will post it again since you apparently have not read it:

Web Link

There is no disinformation. The fact that it is an expansion is addressed in the website above. FYI:

"Why does Stanford Hospital need to be rebuilt? Why can't Stanford Hospital undergo a retrofit?
Strict seismic safety standards required by Senate Bill 1953 mandate that Stanford Hospital must be rebuilt or risk loss of its license. Stanford Hospital was built in 1959 during the Eisenhower era. Retrofitting that structure to meet the strict new standards by the compliance date of 2013 is cost prohibitive and infeasible. In addition, the hospital is undersized and no longer meets the needs of the community. Stanford Hospital had to turn away 500 adult patients who were referred to the hospital for treatment because of capacity constraints last year and 950 visitors to the Emergency Department were referred to other emergency services due to capacity issues. Stanford needs larger modern facilities to meet capacity, accommodate new medical technologies and address the new standard of family-centered care."


"Why does Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital need to expand? How large is the expansion?
Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital has an acute shortage of beds; the hospital was forced to turn away 200 critically ill children and refer them to other healthcare facilities in 2005 due to lack of patient beds. As more routine cases are being treated through outpatient care, LPCH is taking care of more critically ill children who require longer stays at the hospital. LPCH also must accommodate the new standard of family-centered care, which would provide for individual patient rooms to allow for more privacy and for families to be a part of their child’s healing process. In addition, as medical technology changes rapidly, the equipment used by the Children’s Hospital has become more sophisticated, which requires more space and modern facilities to host that equipment. The preliminary needs assessment calls for building 401,500 sq ft of new facilities on the current site which will add 104 patient beds and feature individual rooms to further accommodate family-centered care; house new surgical, diagnostic and treatment rooms; nursing and support offices; clinics and administrative offices."

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 19, 2007 at 1:02 pm

pat, just because Stanford throws a gold-plated bone in Menlo Park's direction, and it doesn't compromise the 'arsy-varsy' and crablike anti-growth mentality that has plagued MP for years.

Did Menlo Park do anything *proactive* to make this happen, other than signing a permission agreement that was a no-brainer?

Go look at the Santa Cruz Ave. corrridor and it's parallel avenues, in MP. The whole place is an embarrassment.

Palo Alto has problems, but MP makes Palo Alto policy-making look like Speedy Gonzalez on 'roids.

Posted by Not again, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 19, 2007 at 2:32 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Not Forum reader Again, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2007 at 7:02 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by across the creekers, a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 19, 2007 at 11:56 pm

Mikey, ebb and flow Paly Menlo history lesson. For those of you who weren't around here in the '60's.
Stanford packs Paly city council , gets Oregon Expwy. with dozens of demod. houses, 60's. Stanford Industrial Park explodes with growth.
Menlo gets wise, stops Willows Freeway, 70's
Paly puts in College Terrace/Evergreen Pk. traffic barriers to stop cut through maniacs from Stanford Campus/ Industrial Park.
Menlo puts in speedbumps ,'80s', test of course, paly Fire Dept. tests out Menlo speedbumps.
Paly puts in speedbumps in Midtown, now that congested Oregon Expwy. is bypassed by impatient drivers, figures if it's okay for Menlo, should be okay for Paly.
So long story short, Stanford is a neighborhood gobbling, medical, industrial, institutional megalopolis that will stop at nothing to stay at the top of the heap in international presitige.
Easy for a so called College Terrace resident to pontificate when he doesn't have to endure the detritus from stanford's megalomanic expansion.
Neighbors should be vigilant, or they will be gobbled up too!
Menlo's not so stupid, just not so owned by Stanford as Paly.
happy thanksgiving?

Posted by PA Resident, a resident of Professorville
on Nov 20, 2007 at 4:30 am

When the congestion and crime get bad, people will slowly leave.
This is what happened to the once wealthy and affluent area around USC. My grandparents told me that the area around USC used to be fabulous, with grand homes.

Is this the future of our area? Yikes
The professors and staff commute for hours to work at that University. Housing is expensive in the safe enclaves that the professors live in, except you have to drive an hour each way to get to them.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 2:09 pm

PA resident, LA and Palo Alto are two entirely different places. Whynot bring Shanghai into your argument? Pretty weak.

"across the creekers", And Menlo Park has accomplished exactly what, in terms of municipal sustainability and forward dynamism? I guess it's OK to be proud of missing the benefits of the biggest commercial boom ever experienced by our region, and other little things like that. Maybe yuo're happy with all the low-rent secondf-hand furniture and antique stores in your main commercial district, and the reputation for being a community that sleeps through opportunity?

Vive la difference! Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 20, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Some red herrings in the guest opinion and clarifications below:

“The facts speak for themselves, if we take the time to understand them together.”

“ … Stanford has already made a substantial investment in the Sand Hill Road / Santa Cruz Avenue intersection improvements in the immediate vicinity of the medical center, creating greater capacity for handling traffic.”

-- The Sand Hill Road construction improvements, including additional approach lanes at the intersection of Sand Hill Road and Santa Cruz Avenue and the widening of a portion of Sand Hill Road were required of Stanford by the City of Palo Alto as traffic mitigation measures for the last expansion of Stanford Shopping Center based on impacts identified in the Environmental Impact Report (EIR).

-- These improvements are now in place as part of the existing infrastructure and to the extent that they ease the traffic load of the new Stanford projects, as evaluated in the forthcoming EIR, Stanford will receive the full benefit.

“ Santa Clara County’s General Use Permit (GUP) already provides for an additional 3,000 housing units, and the Mayfield Agreement provides for another 250.”

-- The construction of up to 3,000 units of housing on Stanford land in unincorporated Santa Clara County is tied directly to up to 2 million square feet of academic expansion permitted under the 2000 GUP. The GUP specifically details where the housing can be constructed and the trigger points of academic expansion at which new units must be added.

-- Among the entitlements Stanford received under Mayfield in return for the 250 units of housing they will build and for the soccer fields, already constructed on land leased to the city for 51 years, are the vested rights to relocate 300,000 square feet of office space to other locations in Research Park, to exceed the current floor area ratio by 25% on certain sites in the Park, and the city’s agreement to forgo requests for additional mitigations of community service impacts as allowed under the GUP.

-- These housing projects are tied to agreements in the past. They have no linkage to the forthcoming development agreements with regard to the new Stanford projects. They cannot be double-counted.

“The ‘no new net trips’ rallying cry by the mayor has never been city policy …”

-- The goal of no new trips is already a city policy as it relates to Stanford Research Park. It was incorporated into the Mayfield Development Agreement through a detailed agreed upon framework for Transportation Demand Management and those principles are in effect for future development within Research Park.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 21, 2007 at 5:52 am

Fred--Didn;t we vote on the Sand Hill widening project a few years back (i believe it was a Measure M)?

Posted by Not so fast, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2007 at 9:00 am

From today's eitorial in the PA Weekly

"Last week, consultant Marlene J. Berkoff of San Rafael (an architect/economist familiar with hospital planning, hired by the city to double-check Stanford's assumptions) reported that the plans are consistent with new-hospital standards common today. She said she has not found any "wants" or un-needed add-ons."

Web Link

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2007 at 4:16 pm

Marvin – The short answer is “yes.”

In 1997, following the Palo Alto City Council certification of the Sand Hill Road Projects EIR and its subsequent approval of a development agreement with Stanford, two initiatives relating to the agreement were placed on the November ballot.

One came from the city council (Measure O), seeking voter approval of the development agreement.

The other was a citizen’s initiative (Measure M), which called for restricting the widening of Sand Hill Road to two lanes with a third lane authorized for public vehicles; the preservation of open space adjacent to San Francisquito Creek, which was designated for housing in the development agreement; and a tie-in between shopping center expansion beyond a 49,000 square-foot cap and the development and implementation of traffic management plans.

Measure O passed; Measure M did not.

Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 21, 2007 at 8:23 pm

That's correct, and thank goodness that Measure M *did* fail.

Here's something from the Weekly's archive that explains why
Web Link

These same "Measure M" forces are gearing up again, and will do their best to gum this process up. I don't think they'll get to first base, this time. If they do, their names should be in the paper, attached to all the Stanford benefits that they're trying to kill, along with keeping Menlo Park the backwater that it has become.