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Stanford Medical Center Expansion

Original post made by Hulkamania, Duveneck/St. Francis, on May 22, 2007

Thank you Diana Diamond for your latest opinion piece in the Weekly!

Web Link

My stepson was born with a laundry list of problems. He was moved to Lucille Packard Children's Hospital within hours of birth to save his life. Over the years the excellent doctors, nurses and staff at Packard and Stanford have done everything they could do improve his standard of living.

He's now twenty years old and has successfully been in a independent living situation for almost a year.

Anyone on the city council who throws roadblocks in the rebuilding and expansion of these extremely important facilities needs a wake up call and spend some time at the hospitals. They'll see the great work that's being done and the crying need for immediate expansion.

If they still don't get it they should find another line of work.

Comments (23)

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Posted by Kathy
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 22, 2007 at 8:39 pm

I agree with the previous poster, and I appreciate Diana's comments on this topic.

The sense of entitlement that pervades Palo Alto is clouding the minds of our councilmembers. I hope they read Diana's article and rethink.


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Posted by Noah
a resident of University South
on May 22, 2007 at 8:51 pm

I agree whole-heartedly with the original poster. Lucille Packard / Stanford took amazing care of our son who was born very early. Over our weeks practically living at LPCH, we met other families from around the state who came here out of necessity for their children's lives.

My parents up in Marin have visited Stanford for medical issues as it's (depending on specialty) the best in this half of the state.

Why on earth our council or city government would stand in the way of such an incredible resource is beyond me. Sure, they should contribute whatever taxes/fees/etc as is considered reasonable (I'm not too familiar with this part, be it land-use fees / traffic fees / etc). Aside from standard & reasonable fees, let's do whatever we can to keep this great resource in our backyard.

As to motive, I can't imagine why we regularly give money-driven real estate investors the green-light, but a hospital, nope...

Stanford Hospital planners / administrators, please know that the citizenry of Palo Alto are on your side.


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Posted by senioritis sufferer
a resident of Palo Verde
on May 22, 2007 at 10:25 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff].


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Posted by An Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 22, 2007 at 11:19 pm

We have on our council person(s) that feel that if it isn't benefiting me and or my friends/business associates it shouldn't be allowed to go forward.

We need new council members that are interested in homeowners and the quality of life in the city as a whole and not just in their own neighborhood or businesses. Also we don't need people from Portala Valley and Los Altos Hills working behind the scene to influence what happens in PALO ALTO.

I have heard that many of the "top-important" people in Palo Alto plan to move to the adjacent citys to excape the living conditions in Palo Alto.

Please excuse my spelling. I'm writing this as fast as I can and don't have spell check on this site.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 23, 2007 at 5:57 am

Great article, Diane.
Not surprising some of the comments coming from certain council members who have clear agendas that do not involve having a high quality medical center and hospitals at Stanford.
Perhaps now is the time for Stanford to consider re-locating the medical center and hospitals (if that is possible) to a different city. I am sure that many of our neighbors would love to have a world class hospital serving their city.
Many of you may remember a few years ago when Stanford proposed building a new cancer center (previously cancer patients had to sit in a small, dingy basement while awaiting treatment)--the same arguments were made (too much traffic etc etc). Stanford eventually built the cancer center. But the same mindset seems to prevail--to hell with the patients, we want housing, no traffic, parks etc in exchange for a hospital. It is a shame that some of our council members are so selfish.


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Posted by AnnoyedParent
a resident of Barron Park
on May 23, 2007 at 8:11 am

As a parent of a young child who has had in-patient treatment at LPCH / visited the emergency room in the middle of the night .. I have only good things to say about the staff at LPCH.

The council members should go to the emergency room a few times, should go around the hospital a few times before throwing out their judgemental comments .. they clearly are sitting in their plush offices with no touch with reality.

Traffic issues - yes, they can be dealt with. Often when you are on the Welch road, you hear sirens blaring and all drivers, without batting an eyelid, move to the side to make way to the ambulance; no one complains. Build underground / overhead roads for the hospital traffic .. deal with it one way or the other, but stopping the expansion for it .. cannot fathom


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Posted by Peter
a resident of Southgate
on May 23, 2007 at 9:20 am

I can understand the passion of the people who have posted here for preserving and expanding on the excellent services offered by the Stanford medical community. Most of us have either received care there or have relatives or friends who have.

That said, in my view the university often acts as if it were a sovereign country with no real responsibility to the neighboring cities on mitigating the impacts of its actions, particularly its explosive growth. From what I have read, Stanford often seems to feel that whatever they do is fine, and that any additional traffic, school children, pollution, what have you, is for Menlo Park and Palo Alto to deal with.

I have no problem with the university or any other entity being tough in negotiations with governmental bodies, after all, the land belongs to them. But in such a closely coupled area one would hope Stanford would approach its role as a community member more cooperatively than it sometimes seems.

I also expect my city council to bargain just as hard to stand up for the rights and needs of its citizens. I don't view that stance as "throwing roadblocks," I view it as doing its job to preserve and protect its community.

Stanford has done some wonderful things for the area, but it needs to respect its symbiotic relationship with Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and their respective counties -- which all have played a role in Stanford's growth and prosperity.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 23, 2007 at 9:51 am

Stanford has done plenty to "mitigate" the results of their growth. For example, Stanford adheres to strict guidelines with regard to the number of car trips allowed on campus during the day. Stanford has also built the Stanford West apartment complex, which provides housing for Stanford employees (and if I remember correctly, at the time, some members of the city council opposed this project!!).
I do not think that it is up to the Stanford Hospital and Medical Center (which is a separate entity from Stanford University) to have to build parks, libraries, bike routes etc. in order to get permission to rebuild a world class hospital and medical center (which provides services to not only Palo Alto, but the whole world, as others ahve pointed out) and BTW, this rebuild is mandated by California laws regarding seismic standards.
It is unfortunate that certain council members are using this opportunity to try to squeeze from Stanford concessions regarding their private property near the dish and for the building of infrastructure that the city itself has been lax in maintaining and upgrading over the years. Certain council members see Stanford as a cash cow that can be tapped for money whenever the city of PA runs out and/or mismanages their finances. A recent example of this is a certain city council member trying to get Stanford to build an underground water reservoir for the city. Fortunately in the near future said council member will have to recuse himself from all dealings with Stanford.
Finally, let me ask, if these council members are so eager for Stanford to build housing in Palo Alto, do they have locations in mind for this housing. Since one of the big complaints by many residents is that there is no more room for housing in Palo Alto--i.e. PA is built out.


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Posted by Palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 23, 2007 at 10:28 am

A hospital is a service, not a business - why should we expect a service to provide housing? When we expand the Mitchell Park library, will the city build housing for any additional employees? Will they submit a traffic mitigation plan?

Why are we asking anyone to build more housing in a community which has infrastructure issues and overcrowded schools?

Why are we asking for housing and open space in the same breath?

Space is just as open whether it belongs to Stanford, Palo Alto, Menlo Park or Connecticut.



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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on May 23, 2007 at 11:47 am

I think this points out how we really need to have a community discussion about what we want the character of Palo Alto to be going forward. And what are the key elements of our character that make this a unique and special place to live and work?

To my way of thinking, one of the six pillars of our community's character is our relationship with Stanford. (My others, for what it is worth, are our schools, our business environment, our services, our physical assets and infrastructure, and our high degreee of community involvement/participation.) This is my list, others may have other opinions, but here is the larger point:

when you know what you are all about, and what the most important elements are to maintaining and enahancing your character, you do everything you can to keep those elements at their best. They are the "enablers" that create the experiences and opportunities for those of us who value the community.

What you don't do is take a key pillar for granted, deal with it in an adversarial/zero sum game manner, or assume that how things were is how things will be. That is not a healthy way to manage a key asset, whether it is a person, property, or a relationship.

My opinion is that Stanford has a much clearer sense of its character, and what it implies for its future than does Palo Alto. They show time and again that they know what they are able to manage, and what circumstances they must "manage to," but over which they cannot directly exert control, only influence.

By contrast, much of the opinion I hear from various voices in town suggest a nostalgia for times past or a blind spot that prevents people from seeing how Palo Alto fits into the scheme of things around here today and going forward. Of course we should be concerned about traffic, of course we should be concerned about housing, of course we need to understand how developments affect the school district. But we are a built out community, surrounded by other built out communities that no longer rely on Palo Alto for many resources and services as they did in the past.

I don't treat my teenage and college age children the same way as I did when they were in pre-school. We all have gotten older, and they have gotten better. :+} Palo Alto sometimes behaves as if the family is still in the same spot as it was in the 1970's. We tend to lose sight of how things have changed all around us, and seem to be reluctant acknowledge we need some changes made ourselves.

What I am saying may come across as ethereal, but I am attempting to point out we need to get introspective about ourselves, our self-perception, and our attitude, particularly as it relates to our neighbors and stakeholders. I still believe that Palo Alto is one of the best communities one can live in just about anywhere, and I have had the good fortune to live in many different places. Those pillars I mentioned at the start are not something you can find in every community. We achieve what is best for Palo Alto only after we have a realistic view and understanding of where we truly stand and what the future waters in which we will navigate (not control) look like.


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Posted by Otto
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2007 at 9:17 am

I agree with Paul; Palo Alto does not have a sense of its future self; we seem to be stuck in a mantra of repeated themes that have little to do with what we or our neighbors are becoming. There's another thread Web Link in this forum about the VTA penalty Palo Alto and Stanford have paid for taking the initiative with privately run public transportation. There are many other examples that one can bring forward, of a city (Palo Alto) that has a great deal of possibility, but seems stuck in a reactive mode, acting out of fear, rather than taking hold of the great sense of possibility that is always open, but takes some vision to ferret out.


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Posted by eric
a resident of Mountain View
on May 24, 2007 at 9:23 am

When El Camino Hospital started talking about expansion in MV, the city and the residents shot down a tax revenue cash cow to accomodate them! It has created some traffic and other problems, but its for a HOSPITAL for crying out loud!!


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 24, 2007 at 11:01 am

Many great comments here. Thanks Paul Losch for your wonderfully appropriate analogy about your sons, relating to Palo Alto not being the same city it was in the 70s.

Frankly, I'm sick to death of our mayor talking about traffic. She's been focused on that topic since she pushed for roundabouts on Embarcadero years ago. And Peter Dreckmeier's comments about "no new car trips" is utterly ludicrous. I wonder sometimes if council members ever listen to themselves to hear how absurd their comments are.

How does Council expect us to get more tax revenue without new businesses, thus new buildings, thus more people, thus more traffic? Where's the logic?

Do I think traffic is an issue? Of course. And yes I care about the environment. But those issues have to be taken in the greater context of what we want our city to be. Either we put a moat around it or we get creative.

I'm all for the expansion of Stanford hospitals. We're lucky to have them and all the doctors they bring to this area. Instead of putting roadblocks in the way of this expansion, we should embrace the opportunity.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2007 at 11:09 am

Good points raised by Paul and Pat. I also agree that some of the comments from the council border on the absurd (add to the list Morton's comments that he was not happy that Stanford was trying to "blackmail" the council by pointing out that people are turned away from both hospitals).
i think that we, as concerned residents of Palo Alto, will need to monitor the progress of the hospital/medical center expansion carefully to insure that this does not fall into the usual city council blackhole (aka the Palo Alto process). I do not think that the council realize the gem that they have in their midst--world class hospital, children's hospital and cancer center staffed by superb doctors, nurses and other staff.
I think if the council plan to treat the hospital expansion like they treat every other project that comes before them, we, as citizens, may need to step in and "give them some guidance" on the matter.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on May 24, 2007 at 11:29 am

Not so fast: Yes, the city council needs a lot of guidance. You can email them at city.council@cityofpaloalto.org. Be aware that all letters to the council are made public. I just sent the following:

Council Members:
I wonder if you ever listen to yourselves, or watch re-plays of council meetings. If not, perhaps it would be a good idea to do so.

As Diana Diamond reports in her column yesterday, some of your comments regarding the Stanford Hospital expansion plan are nothing short of ludicrous. Mayor Kishimoto, do you really think we can have ANY growth in Palo Alto -- especially growth that brings tax revenue -- without traffic impacts? Frankly, I am sick to death of your tunnel focus on traffic. Of course traffic is a big issue. But you make it the ONLY issue and use it as a roadblock against every proposal. if we can't figure out how to solve our traffic problems, we might as well just stop ALL building in the city and build a moat around it.

And Councilman Drekmeier, your one-note focus is open space. Would you like to have all the hospital buildings torn down so we can gain more open space? Maybe all the businesses in town should be razed as well. That way we'd have lots of space and no traffic. No taxes either, but the utilities rates could be increased again to get more money in the general fund.

Thank you so much, Judy Kleinberg and Bern Beecham, for your common sense and logic about the Stanford Hospital proposal.

We are lucky to have the Stanford Hospitals in our community. They draw great doctors from all over the world to study, practice and do research. It's a huge benefit! We should not be throwing roadblocks in their way. A post on Town Square says, "When El Camino Hospital started talking about expansion in MV, the city and the residents shot down a tax revenue cash cow to accommodate them!"

I encourage you to read all the comments on this topic at
Web Link

Please open your minds to opportunities and creative solutions for the future of our city. Maybe you ought to attend some Mountain View city council meetings to see how they're able to accomplish so many things -- and still have a budget surplus!


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 24, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Nice letter, Pat. Whether certain members of the council will read it and/or are even interested in your opinion is another matter. But you hit the nail right on the head.
I remember when Stanford Stadium was remodeled a couple of years ago, Kishimoto was whining about the fact that there might be more traffic on Embarcadero Road during the 5 saturdays a year whne Stanford was playing at home--that is for a few hours on 5 days out of 365 days!!! Ignoring the fact that these people where going to a sporting event to enjoy themselves and that they would be spending money in Palo Alto.
Drekmeier for years has been one of those who a) cannot wait to bash Stanford at every opportunity and b) believes that Stanford is a cash cow to be milked everytime PA needs money.
I am sure he is planning to use the upcoming deliberations about the hospital/medical center remodel to try to get from Stanford concessions regarding the foothills. What Drekmeier and others seem to forget is that the foothills are the private property of Stanford University and becuase Palo Alto has frittered away all of it;s open space does not mean that Stanford needs to replace it (a variation on the cash cow view of Stanford).
Stanford should not put up with this sort of "blackmail" and should make it clear that the foothills are not part of the hospital/medical center remodel.
I hope that other council members that are siding with the above two council members wake up soon and realize exactly what Stanford hospital/medical center is providing to the community.


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Posted by Carol Gilbert
a resident of University South
on May 28, 2007 at 10:10 am

We are soooo lucky to have these outstanding hospitals in our midst. Obviously they need to update and expand. All parties involved need to cooperate on this expansion and not "shake down" Stanford for unreasonable concessions.


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Posted by just a mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 29, 2007 at 1:17 pm

I'm encouraged by reading so much common sense in support of Stanford Hospital. Many of us have had hair-raising life and death experiences that have turned into tears of joy through the incredible teams of doctors right at our back door. I watched the council meeting re: the hospital's plans for expansion and it's time for Palo Alto to grow up. We are not the sleepy little town of 100 years ago - and changing the urban landscape to support a modern, high-rise hospital does not mean we're changing the values that made this great community. A high-rise hospital preserves even better the open space we value by preventing more sprawl so common in the US. Who wants a hospital that requires a car (and that is what people will do) to get from one end to another? Isn't it more logical to have services as centralized as possible with multiple floors? Yes, a larger hospital will probably mean more people coming and going on a daily basis, but don't we need these people to also shop at our stores and eat at our cafes? This is not a housing development full of school children, who need to be schooled and then shuttled around town to afterschool activities during rush-hour. It's the hospital to where we hope we get taken when there's a medical emergency. And what about the extra/longer trips that will happen if Stanford can't meet our needs and they send patients farther away for care? When a person is critically ill, those trips are eternal compared to a hospital that's 10 mins. from home. We are geographically in the middle of some of the greatest innovations in the world in bio-tech/high-tech/etc. and the medical services in the area should reflect that, too. When (not if) the next disaster happens there will be howls of outrage when the medical emergency response system collapses and critically ill patients are turned away. Sometimes, location, location, location, is everything.


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Posted by AARP Man
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on May 29, 2007 at 2:16 pm

just a mom, Well spoken; this is a time when city leaders shuold be looking at this event as an opportunity to _improve_ relationships with Stanford, instead of reinforcing the current thinking on campus about Palo Alto being obstructionist and petty.

Every time Stanford seeks a major change should _not_ be seen by policy makers as an opportunity to extract concessions. Going down that road is petty, and shortsighted. Further, it does nothing in the long run toi build _trust_, something sorely lacking in Stanford/PA relations.

Wil this current crop of policy makers be able to trake the high road? We'll see. Certainly, one of the filters we should be applying to potential new Council members (candidates) is how they feel about the expansion, and how they intend to proceed on Council, if elected.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 29, 2007 at 7:13 pm

Very good point, AARP man. I think that, we as citizens concerned about the future of the Stanford Hospital complex, need to make sure we elect members to the council that will be willing to work with Stanford to ensure that this jewel in our midst is not diminished in any way.
To be frank, we need to make sure that we do not elect council members of the Kishimoto/Drekmeier mold.
In addition we should be active in our support of the Stanford Hospital rebuild by coming to council meetings and being vocal. If there is one thing thatthe council listens to every time it is a very vocal group of people pushing a point or view.


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Posted by Forum Reader
a resident of Stanford
on May 29, 2007 at 9:10 pm

Hey, Not so Fast your continued anger with the mayor is really strong. True, she isn't necessarily everyone's cup of tea, but you really have got a hate going there. What happened? did she vote against you or something?


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Posted by test
a resident of Meadow Park
on Apr 10, 2008 at 12:50 pm

>b<test>/b<


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Posted by test
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 10, 2008 at 12:52 pm

<b>test</b>


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