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Stanford plan may mean big bump in traffic

Original post made on Aug 16, 2007

With a voluminous application submitted Monday to the city of Palo Alto, Stanford Medical Center officials revealed additional details about one of the biggest development projects ever proposed in Palo Alto.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, August 16, 2007, 3:24 PM

Comments (84)

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Posted by JL
a resident of Ventura
on Aug 16, 2007 at 4:05 pm

Another reason to get on the intra-regional mass transit horse, NOW. That, instead of attempting to extort Stanford for favors. The latter is doing everyone a favor by building this complex.

Palo Alto, Stanford, Mt. View, etc. need to begin WORKING TOGETHER to create COMPREHENSIVE regional mass transport. Failing to do that is going to muck up this region, and cause the necessary (and normal) incentive toward groeth to become even more politicized.

We will require vision and leadership to make this happen.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2007 at 4:08 pm

JL

I agree with you, unfortunately according to an article I read recently, VTA is not interested in improving, just saving money on dead end routes. Advertising and promotion is the only way to improve the present ridership levels, not reduction in services.


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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 16, 2007 at 8:05 pm

This confirms my view that Palo Alto should extract maximum concessions from Stanford before approving this project. The massive cost to the residents in the form of traffic and density can only be offset by extracting substantial concessions in the form of housing, shuttle buses, contributions to infrastructure, open space concessions, etc. The cost of these concessions will be transferred to the users of the hospital, contributors, the state, etc. Thus the costs are spread out and are not borne by Palo Alto alone.


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Posted by World Class Medical Center
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:14 am

As for Howard's comment: This confirms my view that Palo Alto should extract maximum concessions from Stanford before approving this project. Also: "Several Palo Alto City Council members have said they expect a housing contribution from Stanford as part of the project."

Why is there this view that upgrading a world class institution like the Stanford Medical Center should result in such extortion? Am I the only one that sees the benefits that such an upgrade brings to the community? How about working together on a project like this on issues such as transportation instead of having a hand out and creating a contentious situation?



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Posted by News Bias
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:20 am

"Stanford plan may mean big bump in traffic"

I question the Palo Alto Weekly's choice of headline for the story about the planned new Stanford Hospital development. How about the following:

Stanford Hospital to add 2,000 new jobs

Stanford Hospital to add over 1MM new square feet; increasing service capabilities and number of patients served

Stanford Hospital project to ensure it meets needs of 21st century and maintain its position as premier medical center.

Why cater instead to the anti-auto lobby? Haven't the anti-development forces done enough to scare off big box and auto retailers and damaged the tax base? Your choice of headlines provides 'red meat' to a fringe group and ensures a contentious approval process.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2007 at 7:16 am

Unfortunately too many people hold Howard's type of view--that Stanford is some kind of cash cow that is to be milked anytime Palo Alto feels the need. What Howard suggests is out and out extortion and Stanford should not have to put up with it. Unfortunately Howard's mindset is shared by some in the city council--we have already heard our mayor complaining that this project is like swallowing a bowling ball and whining, as usual, about too much traffic.
As other's have pointed out this attitude has driven off our tax revenue base--no big box stores, large hotels, auto dealerships want to deal with the "Palo Alto process" and our "city leaders" that kowtow to this process.
These so-called leaders and citizens like Howard have not given a moments thought to the fact that we will have a world class hospital and medical center on our doorstep.
Howard, come join us in the 21st century.


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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2007 at 7:39 am

I don't understand why you fall for the notion that Palo Alto should bear a disproporionate amount of the cost when the whole region, indeed the world, would share in the benefit. Only by insisting on concessions can the cost be spread out evenly to match the benfits.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2007 at 7:51 am

Howard--then why do you expect Stanford to make "concessions"--i.e. be extorted by Palo Alto, if it is the whole region shares in the benefit. I guess it is easier to try to extort concecssiosn from Stanford, then approach the neighboring cities and try to work out some kind of arrangement.
Also do not forget that Palo Alto has benefited the most from Stanford's presence here then other citie sin the region and that Stanford will benefit from the added tax base, shopping by new employees and hospital visitors, hotel taxes etc. It is not a one-way street.
Anyway, it seems that everytime some new development is proposed the naysayers in Palo Alto come out with predictions of doom, gloom and catastrophe--i.e. Sand Hill Road widening was suppose dto destroy Palo Alto, Ikea in EPA was supposed to create traffic nightmares Palo Alto and on and on. Always the same refrain from the chicken littles in town.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2007 at 8:13 am

Now that Mel Lane is gone, it is time to build the Willow Freeway so cross peninsula traffic is not dumped on city streets. This cure by constipation has run its course and it solves no problems.


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Posted by Becky Trout
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Aug 17, 2007 at 11:24 am

Becky Trout is a registered user.

I just wanted to chime in to respond to News Bias. The traffic numbers were new in Stanford's application this week. The overall project has been described and analyzed previously.

Thanks!


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Howard, your argument is moot...

Bystander, consider all the economic BENEFITS that Stanford will bring, and enter those into your computation. That will more than balance out any concern you might raise.
from another post:

One of the things that continues to confound, as presented in the arguments of those who want to focus on the _cost_ of Stanford's proposed health center projects, is the utter _lack_completely and accurately listing the _benefits_ of Stanford's proposed building.

So, right out of the gate, here are a few things that may already _more than offset_ the local costs that have been identifoed by _some_ Palo Alto policy makers and others, who give little more than lip service to Stanford's benefits:

1) How much is having nearly the best medical care on earth within 10 minutes drive?

2) 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?

There's a lot more; why aren't we hearing about this from those who are tralking about the _costs_ of the Stanford project. I'd wager the benefits above, _not including their local and regional multipliers_ FAR outweigh any of the so-far puny impacts (by comparison) that some Palo ALtans (and some of their representatives) are beginning to shout about.

Will we ever hear anything about these benefits from our Mayor, and a few others who are beginning to pander to those who shout the loudest about the _cost_ to Palo Alto of this facility? We'll see.

Will we see locals and some policy-makers taking credit for already-assumed environmental efficiencies and cost replacement planned by Stanford? We'll see.

Will the costs that Stanford have to bear from inordinate delay caused form our infamous inability to move _quickly_ on important measures be computed by Stanford, and made public? I hope so.

I'm looking for more from our policy-makers and administrators than grandstanding and pandering to noisy locals who are interested I'm looking for maturity in negotiations, and _absolute honesty_ when it comes to comuting the cost picture relative to this facility. The latter assumes that _benefits_ coming from Stanford must be computed and factored in as fiscal equivilants.


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Posted by Chris
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 17, 2007 at 1:39 pm

Give Stanford a connection to HWY 280, between Sand hill and Page Mill. Dig a tunnel under the sacred "Dish" foothills...empty the traffic into the defunct lake Lagunita. Let Stanford take it from there.

Stanford needs to grow, if it is to contine to stay at the front edge of technology and medicine. The benefits to Palo Alto far outwiegh traffic issues. However, traffic can me mitigated by offering each Stanford employee a $200/month bonus (on their paycheck) for signing up with verifiable car pools, van pools, CalTrain/bicycle/Marguerite, etc.


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Posted by Stanford Saved My Life
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2007 at 1:52 pm

5 years ago I was diagnosed and treated for cancer at Stanford. In the process I really got to know and appreciate the hospital. If you are truly sick, you can meet some of the most competent people on earth there. They are an asset to the community. The recently completed cancer center, in particular, is a wonderful place to be, if you have to have cancer.

The old main hospital, however, is a dump. (I'm only talking about the building!) It's also at a serious risk of falling down in a major earthquake.

Stuff happens. We should be actively assisting our local hospital in their efforts to improve and get ready. Sure the expansion will bring some increased traffic. The city should work with Stanford to make sure the traffic is routed sensibly.

Let's not obstruct this important and overdue renovation of the main hospital over petty things. They save lives for a living. If you are lucky enough to have never needed their expertise, at least show a little compassion for the seriously ill people who have to drive from far away place to get the care we have available in our back yard.

I'm all for bicycles and public transportation, but even Lance Armstrong was driven to his doctor's appointments when he was sick.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2007 at 2:20 pm

That is why this upcoming city council election is crucial--we need to make sure that we elect people that will be open and receptive to the Stanford Hospital/Med Center expansion and not representatives that kowtow to the naysayers, NIMBYists and "Stanford is evil" crowd in this city.
We do not want to elect clones of Yoriko "the project is like swallowing a bowling ball/too much traffic" Kishimoto and Peter "I'm salivating over concessions I can extort from Stanford" Drekmeier.


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Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2007 at 2:58 pm

The simple fact is that Stanford can not do this expansion unless Palo Alto says it can. This gives Palo Alto, meaning we the citizens of Palo Alto, the power to extract concessions from Stanford in exchange for that permission. We would be foolish not to extract as much as we can. Of course, this is a negotiation, and we are constrained by the possiblity that Stanford will just decide to build the hospital somewhere else. (They are building an outpatient facility in Redwood City.) Once there is a meeting of the minds, Stanford passes the expense on to the entire population of users of the facility. It all balances out, fair and square. This is a case where the "Palo Alto process" should be pushed to the max.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2007 at 3:05 pm

Howard, that isn't going to happen this time.

Swallowing a bowling ball will seem like an hors d'oeuvre, compared to the blowback this community receives if it trys to stonewall Stanford.

There are communities adjacent to Stanford that are ripe for development, and wanting to work with the university.

If certain of our policy makers are concerned with the future of this coty - in the long-term - they had better think twice about ratcheting this thing up.

Stanford has long-term internal strategy groups that we are not part of (for good reason). They will not sit idly by and watch the excellence that has taken generations to build is threatened by a minority of naysayers in our community.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2007 at 3:09 pm

Howard--what you are suggesting is out and out extortion. It is despicable and Stanford should have nothing to do with it. I really hope that people like you are a minority in Palo Alto.
If I were Stanford, I would stand tough and not allow itself to be extorted by the likes of people like you.


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Posted by Jamie
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Howard,

What prevents Stanford from building a new extension of its hospital in Salinas (buying in with Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, with which it already has a raltionship)? In fact, it is a very attractive area. Very sick people will go to wherever they need to go. Stanford hospital does not need Palo Alto. Palo Alto needs Stanford hospital.

Stanford has the chips, not PA. Think about it.


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Posted by Forum reader
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 17, 2007 at 3:41 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2007 at 4:32 pm

Stanford's new medical complex, nicknamed GRIDLOCK by anti-traffic activists -- includes Stanford Hospital, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and office buildings -- is expected to add nearly 1,100 vehicle trips during morning commute hours and 976 trips to the afternoon peak by 2020, according to a study by Walnut Creek-based Fehr & Peers produced for Stanford University.

Let's do the math: Existing facilities currently produce 1,671 morning trips, add 1,100 new trips, then you have 2,770 trips during morning commute; that's a 65% increase.

Now let's name each street, even a single block of a street in Stanford, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley and Woodside that will be widened by 65% between now and, say, 2030. Or double-decked so ANY street capacity goes up 65% ANY TIME from now to infinity.


None.

Uh Oh. FATAL FLAW, FATAL FLAW, FATAL FLAW.

The whole complex would require more than 3,000 new parking spaces. The good news is that most of those 3,000 additional parking spaces will not be needed for parking cars, but rather can be used by the hospital complex for Margarita buses, rehab, tennis and basketball courts SINCE THE TRAFFIC WILL BE GRIDLOCKED TRYING TO GET TO STANFORD.

Stanford, being the benevolent employer that it is, will have a hotline phone set up so that those trapped in GRIDLOCK trying to get to GRIDLOCK can call in after 4 hours, then turn around in place, and try to get home. They will, of course, be paid for a full day because they attempted to get to work.

Who was that guy who led the referendum 20 years ago stopping the high-rise hospital block from happening in Palo Alto? We may need him again.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Sylvia--you are using the same kind of hysterical, unproven arguments that people tried using to prevent Sand Hill Road from being widened and an Ikea beingbuilt in EPA. Furthermore your attempts at sarcasm are really falling flat as well.
Unfortunately you are one of the esteemed PA residents that seems to feel that Stanford is evil and that PA derives no benefit at all from the presence of Stanford as it's neighbor. There is not enough space to completely write about all the benefits that PA derives from Stanford. However, these benefits are ignored when the time comes to vilify Stanford for trying to improve upon a world class hospital (BTW some of these improvements are mandated by state law) by throwing out wild accusations, inproven theories by the Chickem Littles in our midst.
I guess for some of you the best thing that can happen is for Stanford to pull up stakes and move completely--then Palo Alto will become Gary, Indiana.
Just for the record Sylvia, who are some of these anti-traffic activists that call the new Stanford Hospital/Meidcal center gridlock?


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Posted by Penelope
a resident of Southgate
on Aug 17, 2007 at 5:35 pm

I am having a little problem getting past the fact that the new medical complex -- including Stanford Hospital, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and office buildings -- is expected to add nearly 1,100 vehicle trips during morning commute hours and 976 trips to the afternoon peak by 2020, that's just 12 years away.

Sylvia above did the math, and she said it comes out to a 65% traffic increase during the morning commute. She says we will all experience GRIDLOCK.

Mark Tortorich, Stanford hospitals' vice president for planning, design and construction, emphasized the traffic projection is long-term. He called it "proportional to our growth."

Here's the problem I'm experiencing; my long-term weight gain has been about 65%...it has been gradual over about 12 years. When I was 18, I was 5'5" and 118; now at 30, I'm 195. Admittedly, I'm not as pretty as I used to be.

I told my husband just what Mark Tortorich said, that my weight gain was "proportional to my growth" as a person. You see, over the last 12 years, I completed Stanford medical school with honors and have become a world class expert in psychoneuroses... world class.

My husband says, "World class, so what?" My circulatory system could fail because my arteries didn't expand 65% to carry the added blood I need to support my added weight. My husband says my 65% added weight is stressing my heart. My body could actually strangle itself and I could die; keel over and die.

Sylvia also talked about arteries not expanding. Could I have the dreaded malady GRIDLOCK?

While Stanford is expanding its world class medical complex, could they unwittingly spread GRIDLOCK to the entire mid-peninsula like a pandemic?


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 17, 2007 at 5:58 pm

This is beginning to get silly, and I don't mean Penny's analogy.

The reason the traffic survey has been done is to prepare for the future growth. If the future growth at the hospital was indeed done say overnight and the traffic expanded onto our existing roads, then it would indeed be gridlock. But, we have twelve years to prepare. During that time, even in Palo Alto, things will change dramatically. Yes, we need a specialised off ramp of 280 for Stanford. We probably need to turn Oregon into a true expressway with an extra lane. We probably need a tunnel or overpass at Sand Hill, Alma over both El Camino and the Caltrain.

With foresight, this can be accomplished. We have the foresight now we need to see what can be accomplished. Get it?


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Posted by Winslow Arbenaugh
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:08 pm

Oregon will never be turned into a "true" expressway, as it would further, and fatally, bifurcate neighborhoods. Intra-urban transit efficiencies will be accomplished via mass transit; that's the way of the future

It's amazing to see mid-20th century solutions proposed for mid-21st century scenarios.


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Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:16 pm

Dearest Not so fast,

Mommy warned me long ago not to talk to strangers. Or take candy, either, like a shinny new hospital...with a few hidden surprises. Pretty soon, I will be scooped up, crying, "Help, Mommy, the bad man has got me!"

Just for the record, who exactly are you?

Better yet, how about trotting out for a bow all three Stanford PR stooges writing endless retorts in their vain attempt to stop the growing groundswell of fear and negative feelings throughout our community about the way Stanford is attempting to slide THE BIG ONE by Palo Alto. Mommy always said, "Beware of THE BIG ONE."

With the massive Stanford expansion staring us straight in the eyes, (Mommy always said, 'Beware the massive expansion.') Stanford's strategy of stonewalling real discussion and negotiation right up to final acceptance of Stanford's terms by Council is just not going to fly.

As was proven 20 years ago, if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. The community knows a duck when they see one.

Should Stanford fail to move its terms to real fair real fast, Stanford is going to get real push-back from Council Members. Once Stanford permits that tipping point to occur; from there on out, only bad things can happen.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 17, 2007 at 6:35 pm

Sylvia,

100-1 says you're not a newcomer to Palo Alto.

200-1 says that you're one of the anti-growth zealots that I've been referring to.

500-1 says that Stanford isn't the "strenger" you make it out to be, or the bad man triggers your municipal nightmares.

Seriously, but with respect, yours is a rather paranoid-swounding analogy, referring to Palo Alto's CLOSEST neighbor.

Past City Councils used to listen to citizens with your fearful, sky-is-falling tone. That was before Palo Alto ran out of "Get out of debt" cards.

Just like the Sand Hill Road expansion crowd, out come the anti-development zealots every time Stanford, or anyone, propses a change leading to growth, Like you said, if it walks like a duck...

1000-1 says that if citizens who agree with you (clearly in the minority) have their way via Council representation, our city will lose untold 10's of millions of dollars of forward development opportunity from Stanford, and some of its affiliates.

I have personally spoken to some of the latter; I only wish i could quote them, and some of the Stanford higher ups they referred to in private session.

There is room for measured modification to any plan, but if this thing ratchets up to the paranoid - as your missive above would have it - all bets are off for Palo Alto's POSITIVE future with Stanford as a powerful commercial and cultural partner.

This may be - and probably is - Palo Alto's last chance to overcome the little voices of "no", while paying attention to a vision that will help make Palo Alto and the region far more attractive than it currently is.

It's frankly embarrassing as a Palo Altan to hear fellow residents (e.g. you) treating Stanford - a great institution - like a beggar that can be bullied for favors.

To be forewarned is to be forearmed.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 17, 2007 at 7:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 17, 2007 at 7:09 pm

It is time for Palo Alto to enter the 20th century. The horseless carriage is here to stay and any friction imposed on auto traffic is wasted effort. Stop pretending that the personal car is a toy or a hobby. Choking traffis is akin to reducing the size of sewers.


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Posted by Sad to hear the whining
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 18, 2007 at 12:13 am

To all those that oppose Stanford expansion,

To all those suffering from traffic paranoia,

To those that Mike, Walter et al are patiently trying to talk sense into,

Please just consider leaving Palo Alto, and let those who appreciate Stanford, world class medical care, and possess a basic understanding of economics, live here in Silicon Valley. I'm sure you'd be happier moving to a rural French village or something.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 18, 2007 at 7:03 am

While I enjoy opining on these threads from time to time, one common flaw I notice in many of them is that people tend to weigh in with reasons why or reasons why not XXX should take place. Seldom do I read balanced comments which account for the realities that anything we do or we don't do will have both positive and negative consequences. Even more seldom do such balanced comments net out with a conclusion that "overall" this course of action makes sense to me because these things outweigh those things.

I am leaving Stanford Sierra Camp today, and it always is enjoyable conversing with my fellow campers, many of whom are people who reside on campus. Consequently they have kids in the Palo Alto schools, but are not citizens of our fair city. One person I have known for some time commented to me that he thought it was time for Stanford to "push back" against both Palo Alto and Santa Clara County, as he perceives Stanford as bending over backwards compared to what other entities in the area have had to do to accomodate certain expectations from local government. It is his point of view, and merely that, but I think it points to the fact that within the Stanford community, some believe, as do some Palo Altans, that their "team" left to much on the table, and in the balance, did not do as well as it could have.

My own predelictions are generally favorable toward the Stanford proposal, given my understanding of it at this point. But, my strong bias is a desire that more people provide some thought that indicates an appreciation for the multitude implications this project presents, rather than honing in on one aspect of it and making it the basis for whether or not this is something that our community should work toward.

And BTW, other than traffic, I have noticed little else that people have expressed concern about. Am I missing it? It could affect the schools, senior services, maybe some other things, but traffic seems to be the topic that is getting the attention here. Fine and well, but there likely are other things which require attention.


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Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 18, 2007 at 7:16 am

Paul--Maybe that is the problem in PA--tunnel vision, with traffic always the point brought up. look at our mayor--everytime some project comes up her comments deal with traffic. People do not look at the big picture, in this case what Stanford has and will provide to Palo alto.
Anyway these traffic predictions, and they are predictions, are for 2020. that leaves Stanford and the neighboring cities time to deal with this issue.
Sylvia--we will see what happens in the end--however your doom and gloom scenarios really do not help this matter. As Paul pointed out above, you are one of the ones that focuses on the single Palo Alto hot button issue--traffic.


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Posted by Veritas
a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2007 at 8:34 am

News Bias is correct: why cater to the anti-auto lobby? We have a right to tool(or waddle) around in our behemouth SUVs, guzzling all the non-renewable foreign oil possible while our waistlines bulge, pocketbooks shrink, and trade imbalance baloons. After all, it's the American Way, circa 2007.


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Posted by ever the optimist
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 18, 2007 at 9:28 am

Traffic isn't the only issue: an expanded medical center will also necessitate the hiring of thousands of relatively unskilled, low paid workers who will need housing in this area.

Time to give the high rise public housing apartments another try, don't you think? Just because it didn't work the last time doesn't mean we can't achieve success. Or...how about establishing a houseboat community on the bay? At least we wouldn't have to worry about expanding the sewage system with that alternative.

Given the amount of money that medical services generate for the community, Palo Alto should be rolling in cash with this expansion. Why is anyone opposed?


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Posted by Bring it on
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2007 at 10:07 am

Right on, optimist! Here's another solution. Googling the fellow running the pseudo survey.

Steve Raney joins ATS Inc as Principal Consultant
Steve Raney, has joined Berkeley, California based Advanced Transport Systems Inc. as Principal Consultant.
He will take the lead in developing opportunities for the ULTra system in the USA.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 18, 2007 at 6:27 pm

Tell us about all the fine transit programs that serve more than 5 percent of the commuters. Complaining about accommodating autos is like complaining about indoor plumbing - even in Frisco, which is one of the better transited cities, most of the folk have to have cars or the patience to spend an hour each way commuting. There is a place for horizontal elevators to carry people within and between high density housing and jobs, but the car is here and only the fatuous hold hope that any transit will replace the car. Of course, no one is obliged to own or drive a car, but to use government coercion to make others stop driving is fascist.


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Posted by Mary Carlstead
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 18, 2007 at 9:48 pm

What amount of money will Stanford generate for Palo Alto? I heard that Stanford Hospitals and Clinics pay no property taxes, and there is no sales taxes on medical services - yet. (don't hold your breath). I am sure Stanford Hospitals has to pay sales taxes on supplies it brings in however. So those costs are factored into the fees. Other than perhaps sales tax on food in the cafeteria and items in the gift store, what will generate all this money coming in? Most of the 'workers' at Stanford Hospital now and in the future cannnot and will not be able to afford shopping at 'tony' Stanford Shopping Center and certainly now the expanded center as planned. . Maybe someone out there can enlighten us all on this money generating machine?


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Posted by steamrollered again
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 18, 2007 at 10:10 pm

It is hard to see much benefit to the community from this proposed expansion. Stanford will become yet richer, and we will bear the brunt of its growth.

I am tired of the "your community will shrivel up and die if [current project] is not approved" argument. That is one of the scare tactics that every developer uses. Stanford should at least be able to come up with something original and more frightening.

I guess the medical center is hoping to serve half the state at this one facility, but wouldn't it make a lot more sense to focus on building satellite facilities throughout the state?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 18, 2007 at 10:16 pm

II'm repeating this post because not one person has addressed the potential benefits of this expansion - excepting proximity to medial services.

So, naysayers, what say yuo about the benefits of this project?

consider all the economic BENEFITS that Stanford will bring, and enter those into your computation. That will more than balance out any concern you might raise.

from another post:

One of the things that continues to confound, as presented in the arguments of those who want to focus on the _cost_ of Stanford's proposed health center projects, is the utter _lack_completely and accurately listing the _benefits_ of Stanford's proposed building.

So, right out of the gate, here are a few things that may already _more than offset_ the local costs that have been identifoed by _some_ Palo Alto policy makers and others, who give little more than lip service to Stanford's benefits:

1) How much is having nearly the best medical care on earth within 10 minutes drive?

2) 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?

There's a lot more; why aren't we hearing about this from those who are tralking about the _costs_ of the Stanford project. I'd wager the benefits above, _not including their local and regional multipliers_ FAR outweigh any of the so-far puny impacts (by comparison) that some Palo ALtans (and some of their representatives) are beginning to shout about.

Will we ever hear anything about these benefits from our Mayor, and a few others who are beginning to pander to those who shout the loudest about the _cost_ to Palo Alto of this facility? We'll see.

Will we see locals and some policy-makers taking credit for already-assumed environmental efficiencies and cost replacement planned by Stanford? We'll see.

Will the costs that Stanford have to bear from inordinate delay caused form our infamous inability to move _quickly_ on important measures be computed by Stanford, and made public? I hope so.

I'm looking for more from our policy-makers and administrators than grandstanding and pandering to noisy locals who are interested I'm looking for maturity in negotiations, and _absolute honesty_ when it comes to comuting the cost picture relative to this facility. The latter assumes that _benefits_ coming from Stanford must be computed and factored in as fiscal equivilants.


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Posted by Forum reader
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 18, 2007 at 10:56 pm

There is no delay. Please stop making things up. The city council accepted their area plan. You really should check the facts before you issue diatribes. This is a city, not a dictatorship, and there are steps that have to be taken one after another. Clearly you are impatient with democratic processes, you know exactly what should happen and you call people names who have different opinions.
You dismiss facts and praise deception. Like the so called poll by Ramey. You said you don't see anything wrong with that deception.
There are probably people who read your stuff who think you know what you are talking about.


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Posted by alum
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2007 at 9:01 am

Yes, and if my goal were to live adjacent to "nearly the best medical care on earth" I would move to Rochester, Minnesota. There are plenty of health care professionals here already. The problem is not finding medical care but having adequate insurance.

I didn't think the proposal was focused on building a conference center (Mike's second point); guess I need to read it more carefully. Can't say I'm in favor of that either--we've got nearby conference centers in SF and Santa Clara, and don't doctors usually prefer places like Vegas, Anaheim, and Hawaii? Why would anyone choose to hold a major conference in Palo Alto? Straight face test, please! We love it, but it's not exactly a tourist destination. (For which I am grateful.)

And why can't students tour Stanford now? Couldn't the lifesaving research be performed in Zillow Pahrump, Nevada (I'm sure they'd welcome the facility)? And if patients are willing to travel a ways to seek cutting edge care, don't you think they'd rather go to a town where they can stay in a hotel or rent an apartment without going broke? Is "social diversity" Stanford-speak for "we're going to pay these unskilled workers about $10 an hour, and we expect Palo Alto and neighboring cities to build them homes they can afford."

I understand Stanford's frustration. It's a benevolent dictatorship, accustomed to making decisions without input from the hoi polloi and executing. Who else could have pulled off that stadium in under a year? Ten years+ anywhere else (after hours and hours of council meetings, bond elections, etc). Look at Stanford's transportation system? Excellent, and buses run on time. Then they have to deal with niggling bureaucrats and common people like us who just don't know what's best for us. Must be totally maddening for them.


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Posted by enoughalready
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:19 am

Stanford has been bullying Palo Alto for so long that Palo Alto doesn't realize it actually has the power to slow up Stanford perpetual lust for expansion. Practically all the expanded tax base created directly and indirectly by Stanford in the last 50 years have gone to service the infrastructure and people, while our quality of life, peace&quite, air quality, etc have gone down down. Clean air, quiet streets, less traffic and some tranquility are far more valuable than what we have now. If this is progress, count me out. Stanford was and is a world class university and doesn't to expand endlessly. I'm afraid that those who spport endless expansion and own the attitude 'Stanford right or wrong' are people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:23 am

Stanford growing is a given. Whether it be the university, hospital or shopping center, growth is something to be expected. All of us here and now in Palo Alto knew when we moved here that Stanford was on our doorstep. Whether we chose to live here due to Stanford's proximity is neither here nor there. Some of us are here because we work or have other ties with Stanford. Others of us chose to live here for other reasons. But the long and the short of it is that Stanford is part of the Palo Alto community, period.

For this reason, most of the arguments on this subject are worthless. We could just as easily argue the same about any project in Palo Alto. This city is not the same city as it was 50 years ago. Things have happened, most for the good. Society moves on and so does the bricks and mortar of the city. We no longer have a drive-in theatre. Drive-ins have gone the way of the dodo bird. We have different needs and different interests. Because of this, we should not be criticising Stanford for change and growth. We should not be criticising Palo Alto for change and growth. What we should be doing is accepting change and growth as a fact of life and adapting.

Ten years ago, few of us had cell phones, although they did exist. Nowadays we all say we can't live without them. If the cell towers were not built when they were, we would be without something we have come to depend on. This is exactly how we adapt to change. We embrace the benefits and dismiss the downside as a consequence of what we have come to expect as modern living. This is the same way we should look at what is happening to Stanford and indeed to all Palo Alto.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2007 at 12:02 pm

I would like to suggest we take an "asset based" look at this matter.

Clearly, it is difficult for some to review this from a "cost/benefit" perspective, and "zero sum game" opinions seem to prevail on both the positive and negative side of this and many other issues our community faces.

But Resident's comments directly above remind me that this asset we call Palo Alto, and the attending assets that make it up, including Stanford, among others, needs to be evaluated regularly to make sure that the asset is being put to its best use in the near, medium and long term.

Viewed from such a persepctive, I think a pretty compelling case can be made that Palo Alto's assets are underperforming on a number of measures, and we have several investment opportunities presenting themselves which can contribute to a stronger performance going forward. Taking this a step further, I do not see a compelling argument that our current course in managing our assets will lead to the type of superior performance we have become accustomed to living in this region.

To take an analogy from the car industry, we are acting these days more like GM and less like Toyota. We have some obsolete models which are out of step with where the market is going, and we are too often afraid to re-tool our "factories," such as our libraries, retail centers, hotels, Stanford assets, public schools, to create products which keep us ahead of the curve on the various measures which have made this in the past a highly desriable place to live.

Like GM, we were able to get away with this for a while. Just like I find GM's Chevy ads ("An American Revolution") to be complete unadulterated nonsense, so too do I find disingenuous assertions that our assets are being preserved, let alone enhanced, by turning down new infrastructure expenditure, modern state of the art facilities, and services and high intellectual capital enterprises that will be the bulwark of our competitive advantage in this region for the foreseeable future.

For those truly interested in urban environmental issues, I commend you to look at what the Stanford Woods Institute and its new building, nicknamed "Y2E2" is doing for building design for the future. If this current project at Stanford can serve as a precursor to the sort of thinking that will go into the approach the new medical facility will present, we would be fools to not account for this as part of the environmental impact this new proposed facility could have in concept, principal, and reality.


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2007 at 12:12 pm

When I first came to Palo Alto, in 1968, Stanford was in a slight state of decay. It had to weather the anti-Vietnam period, including a decidedly socialist/communist leftist leadership that truely hated Stanford, even if they were employed by the university (e.g. Bruce Franklin).

The air quality, back then, was terrible. It was difficult to detect Hoover Tower from the foothills on some bad air days.

Personal computers were non-existent. Powerful interest groups could keep democracy to themselves, because it was impossible to 'spread the word' quickly and widely (other than propaganda posters).

College Terrace was more of a highway than a neighborhood.

Downtown was slowly decaying.

Today, Stanford has expanded and cleaned itself up. It really has progressed, if only one painful step at a time.

The air quality is much better. It is truely impressive the progress that has been made.

There is more traffic, but I notice it less, because the cars are smaller (in general), quieter and cleaner. Speed bumps have worked to slow it down, too. Marguerite, and similar public transit efforts have also helped. There is less outrageous speeding than there used to be. Drinking and driving is less prevalent.

College Terrace is a neighborhood.

Palo Alto is more prosperous, in general. If Stanford is allowed to expand, we will be even more prosperous. On the other hand, Downtown has many more homeless than in the past. The churches and temples and various do-gooders have made PA a magnet for the homeless. Stanford cannot be blamed for this mistake, that one is all on PA.

Stanford can be blamed for the parking issue in College Terrace. It should be required to take care of its own demand for parking.

Stanford can also be blamed for a lousy football team, because it will not expand its standards to get top level athletes (like Cal does). I am being a bit light-hearted here, but it sure would be fun to go to another Rose Bowl!

It is a mixed bag, but things are better now, overall, compared to the late 60's and early 70's. I look forward to the Stanford medical center expansion.


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Posted by cosmos
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2007 at 12:28 pm

Stanford doesn't have to expand in order to remain a great university. Stanford hospital doesn't need a massive development in order to remain a good hospital. Stanford wants it rather than needs it, because the state of mind that has prevailed there for quite awhile is that bigger is always better and that expansion and growth should come at all cost and damn the neighbors. Change is sometime good and sometime bad. Change for the sake of change, just because one has the political and financial clout, disregarding the impact it would have on traffic, air quality and population density, is terrible. In this country, people often make the tragic mistake of assuming that growth is a value that needs to be admired. Growth usually benefits the very powerful at the expense of everybody else. Now, more than ever, slowing down growth and even reversing it, is the best thing for us, even if Stanford land and the Stanford groupies don't think so. We have been brutalized by Stanford Land long enough.


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Posted by Gerald
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2007 at 12:58 pm

This development will give us jobs. Environmental protection will hurt the economy. Growth is good for us.

If we've heard those arguments once, we've heard them a thousand times, stated with utmost certainty and without the slightest evidence. That's because there is no evidence. Or rather, there is plenty of evidence, most of which disproves these deeply held pro-growth beliefs.

Here is a short summary of some of the evidence.

Myth 1: Growth provides needed tax revenues. Check out the tax rates of cities larger than yours. There are a few exceptions but the general rule is: the larger the city, the higher the taxes. That's because development requires water, sewage treatment, road maintenance, police and fire protection, garbage pickup -- a host of public services. Almost never do the new taxes cover the new costs. Fodor says, "the bottom line on urban growth is that it rarely pays its own way."

Myth 2: We have to grow to provide jobs. But there's no guarantee that new jobs will go to local folks. In fact they rarely do. If you compare the 25 fastest growing cities in the U.S. to the 25 slowest growing, you find no significant difference in unemployment rates. Creating more local jobs ends up attracting more people, who require more jobs.

Myth 3: We must stimulate and subsidize business growth to have good jobs. A "good business climate" is one with little regulation, low business taxes, and various public subsidies to business. A study of areas with good and bad business climates (as ranked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the business press) showed that states with the best business ratings actually have lower growth in per capita incomes than those with the worst. This surprising outcome may be due to the emphasis placed by good-business-climate states on investing resources in businesses rather than directly in people."

Myth 4: If we try to limit growth, housing prices will shoot up. Sounds logical, but it isn't so. A 1992 study of 14 California cities, half with strong growth controls, half with none, showed no difference in average housing prices. Some of the cities with strong growth controls had the most affordable housing, because they had active low-cost housing programs.

Myth 5: Environmental protection hurts the economy. According to a Bank of America study the economies of states with high environmental standards grew consistently faster than those with weak regulations. The Institute of Southern Studies ranked all states according to 20 indicators of economic prosperity (gold) and environmental health (green) and found that they rise and fall together. Vermont ranked 3rd on the gold scale and first on the green, while Louisiana ranked 50th on both.

Myth 6: Growth is inevitable. There are constitutional limits to the ability of any community to put walls around itself. But dozens of municipalities have capped their population size or rate of growth by legal regulations based on real environmental limits and the real costs of growth to the community.

Myth 7: If you don't like growth, you're a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) or an ANTI (against everything) or a gangplank-puller (right after you get aboard). These accusations are meant more to shut people up than to examine their real motives. A NIMBY is more likely to be someone who cares enough about the future of his or her community to get out and protect it."

Myth 8: Most people don't support environmental protection. Polls and surveys have disproved this belief for decades; Examples from Oregon, Los Angeles, Colorado, and the U.S in general indicate that the fraction of respondents who say environmental quality is more important than further economic growth almost always tops 70 percent.

Myth 9: We have to grow or die. This statement is tossed around lightly and often, but if you hold it still and look at it, you wonder what it means. Several economic studies have fund out that many kinds of growth cost more than the benefits they bring. So the more growth, the poorer we get. That kind of growth will kill us.

Myth 10: Vacant land is just going to waste. Studies from all over show that open land pays far more -- often twice as much -- in property taxes than it costs in services. Cows don't put their kids in school; trees don't put potholes in the roads. Open land absorbs floods, recharges aquifers, cleans the air, harbors wildlife, and measurably increases the value of property nearby. We should pay it for to be there. This is for those misguided souls who believe that Stanford should just be allowed to develop their land while ignoring the impact on the surrounding communities

Myth 11: Beauty is no basis for policy. One of the saddest things about municipal meetings is their tendency to trivialize people who complain that a proposed development will be ugly. Dollars are not necessarily more real or important than beauty. In fact beauty can translate directly into dollars. For starters, undeveloped surroundings can add $100,000 to the price of a home.

Myth 12: Environmentalists are just another special interest. A developer who will directly profit from a project is a special interest. A citizen with no financial stake is fighting for the public interest, the long term, the good of the whole community.

Maybe one reason these myths are proclaimed so often and loudly is that they are so obviously doubtful. The only reason to keep repeating something over and over is to keep others from thinking about it. You don't have to keep telling people that the sun rises in the east.

There are reasons why some of us want other to believe the myths of urban growth.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2007 at 1:01 pm

From the 12th cenury to the 19th century there were few significant changes in hospitalization. Then came Ether, antiseptics, Xray, Sulfa, Penicillin et all. A hospital well fitted to care for a middle aged me is way behind one suited to today's medical practice. Neglect, if you will, schools because you will never need tham again, but never let jails and hospitals go bad lest you need one or the other.


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2007 at 1:11 pm

"Stanford doesn't have to expand in order to remain a great university."

Oh yes it does, cosmos! You are completely wrong about this. If Stanford got rid of tenure, there might be some validity to your argument, but that is not going to happen. Stanford needs to expand in order to provide reserach opportunities to the newest upcoming top level scientists in biomedical research (and other fields). The old tenured guys/gals take up space, thus new space must be created. A rising tide prevents old ships from becoming stuck in the mud, and blocking the harbor.

In a post above, by "Mike", the case was made for the benefit that an expanded (and expanding) Stanford provides to Palo Alto. In fact, it is Palo Alto that is on the line here, much more than Stanford. Stanford can expand elsewhere, and slowly remove itself from the yoke of PA. Palo Alto would atrophy if this was to occur.


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Posted by cosmos
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 19, 2007 at 3:07 pm

wrong julian. palo alto was a much better place all around before stanford decided to become exxonmobil like. let'em expand elsewhere, even better, stanford should incorporate and provide their own services. we don't need palo alto to become los angeles north. we were a much better place before oregon expwy and the sand hill project. the "benefit" stanford provides palo alto is polluted air,tremendous pressure on our utilities, traffic congestion and the lose of any rural character. people are buying into the myth that growth means better life. in palo alto it meant that we just have to spend more and more and more on road maintenance, sewage treatment, schools, garbage pickup, park&field repairs and maintenance and we don't even have enough to maintain all police and fire fighting service. we are the losers and stanford land is the winner. growth is our enemy.


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2007 at 3:32 pm

cosmos,

Palo Alto would not exist, but for the fact that the Stanfords decided to dedicate their farm to a university in memory of their dead son.

I'm just trying to follow your logic here, cosmos: Would you currently be complaining about the loss of the bucolic life if the Stanfords had decided to just keep their farm as a farm? Since there was no reason to have a Palo Alto, except for Stanford University, I doubt that you would be around to complain about Stanford expansion.

I have only been around here since 1968, so I don't have the big picture, based on peronal experience. I like history, though, so I try to picture the past. How long have you been here, cosmos?

I can say, with complete confidence, that Palo Alto benefits enormously from Stanford. If Stanford was allowed to incorporate, and forced to develop its own infrastructure (sewage, water, streets, etc.), from its own property values and tax base, Stanford would prosper, and Palo Alto would go into a tailspin.


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Posted by all hail Stanford
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 19, 2007 at 3:39 pm

Does anyone really believe that Palo Alto is going to wither away without this expansion? I can point to cities all over the country that are doing just fine without having a metamorphosing leviathan in their backyard.

Nope, it's about greed, it's about status, it's about money. Palo Alto needs to figure out what it wants its future to look like. Otherwise, Stanford is going to be calling the shots, and Palo Alto will have only itself to blame if it comes out riddled with bullet holes.


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2007 at 3:58 pm

all hail,

You tone is similar to those who said Detroit was in the driver's seat, vs. GM. Palo Alto could easily decline, in a serious way, if Stanford is not allowed to grow.

What supports Palo Alto, without Stanford and it's derivative jobs?

Stanford needs to expand, period. It will either expand here, or somewhere else. Palo Alto's economic vitality depends on Stanford expanding here, instead of somewhere else.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2007 at 4:18 pm

Interesting thread, with some very different viewpoints.

It is interesting, in the heart of Silicon Valley, California, to see an "anti-growth" contingent. I moved here in part because of the growth and change were part of the package. I like growth, even if it does come with some of the costs that Julian pointed out above.

The idea of a world-class hospital at Stanford is appealing to me. I do believe a world-class hospital needs to be large - in Boston, Mass General, for instance, is constantly expanding (mostly upward, given space constraints, but also footprint). The collateral benefits seem very great - attracting and keeping world-class doctors and researchers, as well as other high-quality staff, seems like an important contribution to what makes Palo Alto special; and of course, the quality of local care stays high (as Walter pointed out).

The push and pull of town-gown relations shall always be with us; and this issue is another to add to the equation, and hopefully the town will negotiate effectively to get what it needs to support infrastructure, etc., that expansion will require. But in general, letting Stanford pursue its mission seems like an important part of Palo Alto's civic strategy.

My two cents,
Fred


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Posted by skeptic
a resident of another community
on Aug 19, 2007 at 8:10 pm

Um, we've been told for years that Stanford IS a world class medical hospital and that it DOES attract the best and the brightest. So when were we hearing the truth, then or now?

We have a lot of hospitals in this area. For example, the VA has a huge medical complex just a mile down the road from Stanford, and I bet they're doing cutting edge work there too, using our tax dollars. Stanford wants to be the clear leader of the pack, but duplicating facilities and expensive equipment at hospitals throughout the area serves no one, certainly not the consumers of health care.


A lot of Stanford alums live in the area, but apart from that it's hard to see that Stanford has that much impact on the local economy. Sure, during the school year you see students on University Ave spending money, but to posit that Palo Alto is dependent on the university is ludicrous. Most people who work and live in the community don't have that much to do with Stanford (unless they live or work there).


But...just for a moment, let's pretend that Stanford does have a huge impact on the city--the kind of major impact that some of you suggest. If that were the case, my advice would be to diversify. Living in a one-company town is risky! Palo Alto should focus on bringing in and nurturing other industries that will thrive if Stanford isn't doing so well.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 19, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Skeptic,

Since my wife is a doctor at the VA, and my father gets his medical care there, I can vouch for its world class services--dedicated exculsively to veterans who come from all over the region to receive the outstanding medical care they so rightly deserve. I will note as an aside that their coming to the VA for medical care does generate some ancillary revenues to Palo Alto. I will further note that this facility is not open to the general public, so what Stanford thinks makes sense for its medical complex only ties in with the VA in Palo Alto insofar as training medical residents and the like and certain medical staff work at both facilities. It is not duplicative. Patients at the VA and outside the VA are not co-mingled.

I find your other assertion to be quite puzzling, that Stanford's impact on the local economy is neligible, if I understand you correctly. To that, I will mention Google, Yahoo and Cisco, to cite but 3 recent prominent examples that suggest you have an incorrrect perception that Stanford's impact on the local economy is "not much."


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2007 at 9:44 pm

skeptic...There are times when being skeptical just for sake of being skeptical is foolish. Your arguments are ludicrous.

Palo Alto is not a company town. It is a multiple company town, BASED on Stanford. Paul, above, provided a few examples. He left out HP, Varian and Syntex (now Roche). The spin off from Stanford is dizzying. Stanford is the economic engine of this region, without doubt. It is an amazing story.

If Stanford cannot expand (forever), Palo Alto will decline. This is a simple fact.


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Posted by Forum reader
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 19, 2007 at 9:46 pm

Stanford isn't moving. Get real. If they created a medical satellite somewhere, that would solve some of the problems they are creating. It would be an excellent solution.
The university isn't going anywhere. The expansion is for the hospitals and the shopping center.
They hired a former mayor of Palo Alto who knows how to work the system from the inside, to run the whole thing. Her ties to the council and the staff are strong. They were visible and operated in previous developments. Stanford isn't going away.


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Posted by Julian
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:00 pm

Forum reader,

Stanford could easily franchise out to Salinas/Monterey, Fresno, Merced, Reno, etc. It is alredy buildng facilities outside of Palo Alto. Stanford will not disappear overnight, but it could easily end its economic and intellectual vitality in PA. We could be left with the tenured greybeards that bring very little to table. We need the young bloods. That means expansion.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2007 at 11:09 pm

Gerald says:
"There are reasons why some of us want other to believe the myths of urban growth"
--------------
There sure are, your mythical list if "myths" prove your point.

There is a logical concept called "circular reasoning" - it's a subset of "begging the question" - much of your post is a perfect example of this kind of reasoning.

Seriously, you have failed in your deconstuction, and only shown what has been uttered about no-growth zealots o be closer to accurate, than not...



Let's look at Gerald's "myths" with a fast once-over (time constraint. prevent a detailed response, but this should do)

Gerald's - Myth 1: Growth provides needed tax revenues. Check out the tax rates of cities larger than yours. There are a few exceptions but the general rule is: the larger the city, the higher the taxes. That's because development requires water, sewage treatment, road maintenance, police and fire protection, garbage pickup -- a host of public services. Almost never do the new taxes cover the new costs. Fodor says, "the bottom line on urban growth is that it rarely pays its own way."
-----------
Then, how is it that larger, well-managed municipalities appear to excel in quality of life, public safety, opportunity (commercial and otherwise), and resident satisfaction?


Myth 2: We have to grow to provide jobs. But there's no guarantee that new jobs will go to local folks. In fact they rarely do. If you compare the 25 fastest growing cities in the U.S. to the 25 slowest growing, you find no significant difference in unemployment rates. Creating more local jobs ends up attracting more people, who require more jobs.
----------
How is it Gerald, that a new job going to a non-resident gets computed as a minus?

Myth 3: We must stimulate and subsidize business growth to have good jobs. A "good business climate" is one with little regulation, low business taxes, and various public subsidies to business. A study of areas with good and bad business climates (as ranked by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the business press) showed that states with the best business ratings actually have lower growth in per capita incomes than those with the worst. This surprising outcome may be due to the emphasis placed by good-business-climate states on investing resources in businesses rather than directly in people."
----------------
Please Gerald, provide a list of those states with the "best business climates". ::) I've seen these studies, and they list states like Mississippi and other backwards areas as great opportunities. Why? WOuld lower paid, uneducated populations have anything to do with it?

Myth 4: If we try to limit growth, housing prices will shoot up. Sounds logical, but it isn't so. A 1992 study of 14 California cities, half with strong growth controls, half with none, showed no difference in average housing prices. Some of the cities with strong growth controls had the most affordable housing, because they had active low-cost housing programs.
---------------
1992? Gerald, A 15-year-old study? Come on! What cities are you talking about? Please convince me that stangnating growth here will lead to lower cost housing, while MAINTAINING the price of current housing. I want to see that algorithm.

Myth 5: Environmental protection hurts the economy. According to a Bank of America study the economies of states with high environmental standards grew consistently faster than those with weak regulations. The Institute of Southern Studies ranked all states according to 20 indicators of economic prosperity (gold) and environmental health (green) and found that they rise and fall together. Vermont ranked 3rd on the gold scale and first on the green, while Louisiana ranked 50th on both.
----------------
Gerald, who here is arguing for less environmental safety, or protection? In fact, all I see from no-growth zealots is sky-is-falling projections about impacts that NEVER happen. This is a consistent losing point for the no-growthers here - time-after-time, project-after-project.

Myth 6: Growth is inevitable. There are constitutional limits to the ability of any community to put walls around itself. But dozens of municipalities have capped their population size or rate of growth by legal regulations based on real environmental limits and the real costs of growth to the community.
----------------
Gerald, please name those cities - even a few of them. This should be an iinteresting list.

Myth 7: If you don't like growth, you're a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) or an ANTI (against everything) or a gangplank-puller (right after you get aboard). These accusations are meant more to shut people up than to examine their real motives. A NIMBY is more likely to be someone who cares enough about the future of his or her community to get out and protect it."
----------------
Gerald, there IS a no growth lobby here that IS NIMBYist in its thinking. All no-growthers are not irrational people, but the ones that have dominated discussion on this topic in PA in recent years are near the extreme. Palo Alto has lost retail, housing, and other opportunities due to the diligent work of a few dozen no-growthers here. Funny, I rarely see newcomers to Palo Alto in the no-growth meetings. I mostly see people with "we've got ours, and we're gonna keep it" mentalities. They use every trick in the book to keep development from happening; they criticize facade design on projects to a faretheewell - it's absurd.

Myth 8: Most people don't support environmental protection. Polls and surveys have disproved this belief for decades; Examples from Oregon, Los Angeles, Colorado, and the U.S in general indicate that the fraction of respondents who say environmental quality is more important than further economic growth almost always tops 70 percent.
---------------
Who said that? Not one poster on this list has made this claim, that you're trying to disprove. Straw man, anyone?

Myth 9: We have to grow or die. This statement is tossed around lightly and often, but if you hold it still and look at it, you wonder what it means. Several economic studies have fund out that many kinds of growth cost more than the benefits they bring. So the more growth, the poorer we get. That kind of growth will kill us.
--------------------
Gerald, the kind of growth we're talking about in Palo Alto is a NECESSARY part of taking our city forward. What I see in this "myth" - and almost all the other "myths" you point out - are assumptions about growth that you MIS-ATTRIBUTE to those who are tired of hearing "no" everytime a promising development is proposed. So far, EVERY development that has been opposed, and eventually built, has ADDED quality to our community. Sand Hill Road, 800 High Street, etc. etc. Look at the CURRENT legacy of the no-growthers - Alma PLaza and Edgewood Plaza. Does that tell you anything.

Myth 10: Vacant land is just going to waste. Studies from all over show that open land pays far more -- often twice as much -- in property taxes than it costs in services. Cows don't put their kids in school; trees don't put potholes in the roads. Open land absorbs floods, recharges aquifers, cleans the air, harbors wildlife, and measurably increases the value of property nearby. We should pay it for to be there. This is for those misguided souls who believe that Stanford should just be allowed to develop their land while ignoring the impact on the surrounding communities.
---------------------
Gerald, please - you're making it sound as if Stanford wants to pave over the foothills. We should be GRATEFUL for the open space that Stanford has given us. If anything, Stanford's husbandry of its open space HAS BEEN a benefit to surrounding communities.

Myth 11: Beauty is no basis for policy. One of the saddest things about municipal meetings is their tendency to trivialize people who complain that a proposed development will be ugly. Dollars are not necessarily more real or important than beauty. In fact beauty can translate directly into dollars. For starters, undeveloped surroundings can add $100,000 to the price of a home.
-------------
Gerald, undeveloped surroundings can also **subtract** $100K from a home. This is a parsed "myth" if I ever saw one. It's also VERY selective parsing.

Myth 12: Environmentalists are just another special interest. A developer who will directly profit from a project is a special interest. A citizen with no financial stake is fighting for the public interest, the long term, the good of the whole community.
--------------
:) With one swipe you zero out those with special interests, and further assume that not having a special interest - unless is some "mythical" community interest - is somehow "sacred"? Very self-serving, indeed.

Like I said above, you have put forward a surfeit of circular reasoning here...






 +   Like this comment
Posted by sarla
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2007 at 7:34 pm

This is about greed and the ability to throw your weight around, because others are too intimidated to oppose you. The arguments on how Stanford must expand or face a deep decline is eerily reminiscent of 2002-03, when we just had to invade Iraq or face a mushroomed holocaust. There are neighboring communities with no Stanford connections and development and they are doing just fine, probably better. I'll be the first to admit that Stanford is a world class university, but the notion that without the constant expansion of Stanford we would become a backward hick community is silly demagoguery. Stanford has helped make us a sardine-like community, far too populated and congested. Right now, Stanford is largely responsible for reducing our quality of life. If not checked, the next generations wouldn't be able to distinguish this are from Los Angeles. Progress does not equate growth, not by a long shot.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 20, 2007 at 7:53 pm

Anyone who uses the term "greed" needs to present evidence they have declined to accept at least one paycheck.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Julian
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 20, 2007 at 7:58 pm

sarla, name a point in Stanford's history where it could have stopped growing, and still remained a world class instituion.

After the inner quad was completed in the 1890s?

After the reconstruction, following the 1906 earthquake?

After Hewlitt and Packard developed their fist device in a garage?

Before the hospital was moved to campus?

Before the Stanford Industrial Park was developed?

Before the physics tank was built?

Before the computer labs were built?

Before SLAC was built?

Exactly when, sarla?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by don't tread on me
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 20, 2007 at 8:37 pm

That's quite a mixed bag, Julian. Why not throw in the first Mrs. Field's cookie served on University Avenue? Stanford has been remodeling, evolving, tearing down old buildings, and erecting new structures as long as anyone can remember. Those projects don't engender the kind of attention that this one has. Why? Because they they have mostly been respectful of the community and have stayed within existing parameters.

This project seems to be a manifestation of megalomania rather than a thoughtful expansion that fits the community in which it's located. Not only are local resources already stretched to capacity, if the medical center plan is approved, Stanford may find--to its chagrin--that it has overbuilt this facility.

I think it would terrific for Stanford to build facilities in other California communities. That makes the most sense from an economic and social perspective, and I for one do not feel the slightest mote of fear that Palo Alto will waste away if the medical center doesn't grow. On the contrary, this project--any project of this magnitude--may push this community past the point of livability. Remember, we are not living in a big city where a huge medical complex might be appropriate.

Shouldn't the local cities have some say in their future?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2007 at 8:49 pm

I ask the question again. If you don't like living so close to this large University, why did you move here? Stanford has been here a long time, you knew what you were getting when you moved here. So, if you don't like it, it is your own problem from your own doing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by some people don't get it
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 20, 2007 at 10:04 pm

Um, Resident, the problem is that Stanford doesn't want to play by the rules with this project. If you moved next door to a convenience store, and that convenience store suddenly decided to expand into a WalMart, would you accept the argument that you knew what you were doing when you bought your house?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Reality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2007 at 10:20 pm

bad analogy

Stanford is a great university - world class...Palo Alto without Stanford's influence, multiplier effects, and proximity is...??????


 +   Like this comment
Posted by reality bites
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2007 at 10:51 pm

...a thriving small city with vibrant neighborhoods, good restaurants, a strong economy, and less traffic.

Give it up, sock puppets. We all know that there are lots of healthy cities with happy people all over the country, and not one of them has a 900 lb gorilla named Stanford in their backyard.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 21, 2007 at 4:47 am

Gol-dang whippersnappers!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 21, 2007 at 7:03 am

Rather then discussing this issue in a civilized manner, it seems that certain people feel the need to denigrate and impugn those that support Stanford in it's attempt to bring one of the great hospitals of the world into the 21st century.
People that come out in support of Stanford are seen as "Stanford PR stooges" or "sock puppets".
Very sad


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 21, 2007 at 7:49 am

reality bites, You are taking a lot for granted.

Stanford has been the driver of economic prosperity on this Peninsula. Without Stanford's adjacent presence, what special differentiation would Palo Alto have, relative to its neighbors.

Remember, it's the legacy of the Stanfords that has kept open space to the degree that we have now.

Can anyone imagine if Leland Stanford had not purchased his land, and no university was put in place? One can almost guarantee that the hills would be fully,developed by now, with FAR more population density in the area known as Palo Alto than we have today.

So, your imagining about what a bucolic little place this would be is largely mistaken. It's more likely that we would be living in a city very much like any other city on the Peninisula, without the benefit of nearby intellectual ferment; without the status of practically being home to Stanford; and, without all the perks that go along with that.

Stanford's presence and gifts are so embedded in our community that many have taken them for granted.

That some small group of our citizens have taken it upon themselves to pillory Stanford's growth is unfortunate.

Hopefully, that vocal minority - as well as other vocal minorities who weigh in on other issues like housing, retail development, infrastructure, etc - will be listened to, but in the end passed over for what mmost Palo Altans REALLY want - i.e. a city with a FUTURE.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Reality
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 7:54 am

reality bites, please go ask the citizens of the American cities of New Haven, Cambridge, Berkeley, Cornell, and Princeton if they would like to rid themselves of the universities that grace their borders.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by skeptic
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 21, 2007 at 8:38 am

Ha ha, that's a good one. Ever been to New Haven? The locals loathe Yale.

There's a big difference between vanquishing Stanford and giving it carte blanche to do whatever it wants. It's called playing by the rules. That's all that most of us are asking.

Last time I checked, none of the aforementioned universities was planning to stomp all over the residents of the adjoining community. If they tried, there would be a stink. Princeton doesn't even have a medical school and the lack hasn't zapped their stature one iota.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 21, 2007 at 8:54 am

Harvard has a HUGE project going on in Allston, across the Charles River from the main campus and Harvard Square, adjancent to the Business School. Largely medical and science oriented.

We are not the only community with a highly regarded university that is addressing this matter.

I saw a suggestion in this mornings Mercury News that San Jose is a better location for a new Stanford medical center, several valid reasons cited. Stanford's medical school originally was in San Francisco, and moved to campus, a very innovative move at the time, in order to foster greater collaboration between medicine and other disciplines at the University.

The Allston Campus at Harvard is being designed with that over-riding concept, and President John Hennesey has I believe it is 7 different cross-discipline initiatives under way at Stanford right now. Achieving these things becomes more difficult when a key element--the medical school and hospital--follow the traditional urban model of having the university teaching hospital located separately from the main university campus, which is commonly found around the country.

I think this points out that there is a great deal more to this than just adding a larger hosptial facility at the Farm. People may still not like the idea for various reasons, but since we lack a vision for what Palo Alto and its character should be in the coming decades, it is problematic to have a thoughtful discussion around the implications Stanford's vision for itself has with Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 21, 2007 at 8:55 am

Skeptic--do all the locals "loathe" Yale? or just some, like those locals in PA that "loathe" Stanford?
I fail to see how Stanford is going to "stomp all over the residents of the adjoining community" with this hospital expansion?
Stanford is playing by the rules--it is presenting what it want sto the city council, it is preparing and EIR, it is doing a traffic study and on and on. What rules are Stanford not playing by--the "rules" made up by those that "loathe" Stanford that say that Stanford is evil and everything it wants to do is considered "not playing by the rules"?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 21, 2007 at 9:06 am

Rules are made by people, and equity suggests they must bear some relationship to genuine issues rather than emotional one.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2007 at 9:14 am

You don't get it still.


Without Stanford, Silicon Valley would exist somewhere else. It was Stanford people, Fairchild, Hewlett, Fairchild, etc. etc. who started making Silicon Valley what it is today. If they had been elsewhere due to the fact that there was no Stanford University in Palo Alto, they would have started their little side businesses in garages in close proximity to wherever they were, whichever University town they lived in, but it wouldn't be on the Peninsula and may not have been in the SF Bay Area at all.

Remember the song "Do you know the way to San Jose". The lyrics in that song call San Jose a sleepy little town where everyone knows everyone else. That is what the whole of the Valley was like before the high tech companies started up. That is exactly what life would be like without Stanford, possibly not even a Palo Alto at all.

Yes, it might be an idyllic lifestyle, but I can guarantee that the majority of us would be living elsewhere as a result.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 21, 2007 at 9:18 am

skeptic, might I suggest a read of your namesake, Sextus Empiricus, to gain insight into the intentions suggest by the name yuo choose to use in this forum. Chicken Little would be laughed at by Sextus Empiricus; might I suggest you change your online identity to a name that does its founder justice.

Once you've done that, and learned a thing or two about what skepticism really is - in spirit, you might consider that calling what Stanford is proposing something other than "stomping" on Palo Alto. That's really a hoot.

Next, you might consider what the citizens of New haven would have going for them if Yale wasn't a part of their community. If you've been to New Haven, you might have a clue about what I'm referring to. Yes, people do tend to take their treasure for granted.

And, it's laughable that you would even hint that Stanford's med school is a fluff addition to our community, and region. Your statement well supports what I have continually said in other posts, namely, that there is a small, vocal, ascerbic minority in our community that will stop at nothing short of name-calling and other vociferous abuse, to keep the rest of us shaking our heads at missed opportunities, while Palo Alto gets to look like a chump for continually passing on great opportunities. Those days are over, and the very fine vintage whine (sic) that you and yours have brought to this city has finally ritted at the cork. Game over, fella.

Palo Alto has been controlled by this minority for too long. Our city is now at a crossroads, where it can no longer afford the luxry of seriously considering the rants of those who see every development as the potential ruin of our city.

I look forward to Stanford building a world class medical center; I further look forward to the next City Council becoming even more focused than this last one (with the last one being miles ahead of its predecessor), as it takes measure of the *results* of the delay and obfuscation cost by naysayers whose past warnings have - without exception - been shown to be no more than empty cries for attention to sky-is-falling nscenarios that NEVER happen.

This is what has always baffled me about Palo Alto politics, as small, determined groups of naysayers - who have a consistent, predictable theme of complaint about growth - are ALWAYS essentially wrong about their warnings, yet are still given the deference and attention by some policy makers that would make one think there was some merit in theor arguments.

Hopefully, this abberration in our city's politics will go away, and more measured, sane voices will begin to populate our city government's chambers. one can only hope, and pull the lever this autumn for those that aren't pandering to extremem no-growthers.

btw, I've just noticed that 195 Page Mill, that trash-heap of a gaggle of corrugated metal buildings, has finnaly been razed. A new construction is going to go up there, finally, after years of unnecessary delay.

Our city is growing, welcoming new residents. Stanford is thriving, continuing to drive invention and commerce to our borders. Life is good!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Blue
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 21, 2007 at 1:57 pm

I remember being lobbied by a Stanford high up before the vote on the Sand Hill Project. Vote for us he said, and that would be the last big expansion in decades. I didn't believe a word he said, I voted against it and I'm not in the least surprised that we keep facing one huge Stanford expansion plan after another. Living next to a great university shouldn't automatically mean a perpetual increase in traffic, congestion and foul air. This is pure bullying.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 21, 2007 at 2:04 pm

Palo Alto is consistently trying to lure businesses to town, as well as tourists and visitors. Won't these businesses and visitors bring an increase in traffic, congestion and foul air?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Aug 22, 2007 at 8:31 am

Who thinks the traffic and air are worse now than before the Sand Hill project?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walker
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2007 at 9:28 am

It's better now...cars aren't stalled waiting to move...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by murphstahoe
a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2007 at 2:09 pm

This project makes sense in so many ways, not only locally but regionally. It brings in medical expertise, jobs, etc... to Palo Alto. It is placing a hospital expansion right smack dab next to a major regional transit hub. That is exactly where you want those things to happen. Arguments that the "Car is here to stay and must be accommodated" make no sense. If you don't like the traffic - get out of your car. As a former Palo Alto resident now living in San Francisco, I appreciated the care I received at Stanford and still use that hospital for all but emergency situations. I do so without adding any car trips on Sand Hill or any other road, via Caltrain, Marguerite Shuttle, and my bike. The fact I do so contributes to the fact that I am healthy and fit and don't need hospital services for diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease. I will return to live in PA to raise my children in the shadow of Stanford University and appreciate being in a community built the way it is and growing as it is.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sarlat
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 22, 2007 at 2:41 pm

Stanford is essentially a large and very greedy corporation. Since when does the interest of such an entity commensurate with the interest of the public?
We didn't need the Sand Hill Project, it contributed nothing to Palo Alto but extra traffic, pollution and congestion. we need even less the new expansion scheme. We should have capped growth a long time ago. You can squeeze only so many sardines into a can.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walker
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 22, 2007 at 5:03 pm

sarlat, guess you're on your own in the next high tide with the canless sardines- - bye! Watch out for the seals!


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