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Stanford offers Palo Alto $173 million in 'benefits' for hospital expansion

Original post made on Jan 19, 2011

Stanford University Medical Center has offered Palo Alto a $173 million package of community benefits -- including an aggressive traffic-reduction program and funds for the city's climate-protection efforts -- in hopes of obtaining the city's approval for its colossal expansion project.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 19, 2011, 4:40 PM

Comments (34)

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Posted by commuter
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2011 at 4:57 pm

So more than half of this proposal is simply buying Caltrain passes for employees? This whole thing sounds like funny math. I would like to see the whole thing broken down piece by piece.


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Posted by commuter
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2011 at 5:39 pm

There is more detail on the Stanford web site: Web Link
The Caltrain pass cost is so high because they added up 51 years worth of passes! Curious that PaloAltoOnline left the 51 year number out of their article. Dividing their proposal cost by 51 years makes the annual cost fairly trivial.


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Posted by bookfan
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Couldn't Stanford offer a public benefit such as reduced rates for access to some of their libraries? Anyone else like this idea?


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Posted by Render onto caEser
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Why is Stanford singled out for this extortion by the city? Do other entities in the city have to pay tribute to our city council in order to modernize a facility? Stanford needs to start playing hardball with city- cutting off access to the dish area is a start ( before everyone gets outraged remember that the city has a park open only to palo alto residents).


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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Well said, Render onto caEser!


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2011 at 8:27 pm

"Do other entities in the city have to pay tribute to our city council in order to modernize a facility? "

The answer is yes, and at all levels.

Go pull a building permit to do anything to your house and you will see what I mean.


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Posted by Use-The-Real-Numbers
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2011 at 8:35 pm

> more than half of this proposal is simply buying Caltrain
> passes for employees?

This money will not go to Palo Alto, so it really shouldn't be added into the "tribute" that is being piled before the Council for approval of this project.

There is no evidence that Stanford employees will actually start using Caltrain, if they are not, because of the "free passes". The impact of their cars on Palo Alto streets is not currently known, since the hospital runs 7/24, so the traffic load is spread out over the whole day.

Stanford can buy all the passes for its employees that it wants, but this should not be considered as a "benefit" to Palo Alto.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 12:05 am

Palo Altans should be ashamed -- extortion is what it is.
What a sad selfish sick community it is.
Now the editor will erase this comment.


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Posted by Marty
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2011 at 1:41 am

Sigh! Yet more Stanford construction. It is not just Palo Alto that is impacted by Stanford's never ending expansions. It won't end until there isn't a single piece of land that's not covered in concrete.

As for congestion--Stanford doesn't care about its neighbors; it never has and it never will.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2011 at 7:08 am

To: Caesar and Nora:

Let's set the record straight. Stanford students and residents can play golf at Palo Alto Muni Golf Course anduse the driving range. Palo Alto residents cannot play at Stanford's. Stanford students and residents can:
1) Use all of Palo Alto's tennis courts and play at night
2) Use all of Palo Alto's parks other than Foothill, and there are about 35 other parks including big ones e.g. Mitchell, Greer, Rinconada, Bol, and Eleanor.
3) Use Palo Alto's swimming pool. Palo Altans cannot swim at Stanford.
4) Use all of Palo Alto's libraries - free. Palo Altans cannot use Stanford libraries.
The campus does not suffer from suffocating traffic going TO Stanford. Palo Alto does. So quit your 'moaning'.


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Posted by Too much traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2011 at 7:41 am

Kate--you are confusing a city with a university. A university's goal is as an institution of higher learning-it's goal is to serve it's students and faculty. I think you will find that most universities restrict access to things like sports facilities, libraries etc. what Stanford is doing is not unique--but you can always access Stanford libraries--there are terminals where guests can sign up and get access. Palo Alto residents have access to all of Stanford's grounds including the dish area. Palo Alto residents are free to attend seminars, arts events, the museum on campus.
Second the claim that there is "suffocating" traffic in Palo alto and that it is all due to Stanford is a myth--one that has been bandied about for years by council members and unhappy residents. Rather than trying to work with Stanford to address these problems, people like yourself take an antagonistic attitude and see Stanford as some sort of evil empire, forgetting what Stanford has meant to Palo Alto and the Silicon Valley. Stanford injects plenty of money into Palo Alto's coffers, a fact that many people either seem to forget or choose to ignore.
I think you are the one who needs to quit "moaning".


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 8:51 am

Kate: Why not keep all neighbors out of Palo Alto?

I have a newsflash for you: Stanford students aren't interested in using PA parks and libraries -- all they care about is spending their entertainment $$$ at your stores, restaurants/bars. And, unlike other patrons from other towns who come to do that, they bike or walk to PA to spend their money.

And, excuse me, who are those folks who come onto campus to use Stanford's Museum (for free), have season tickets for sports events, and occupy the seats at Stanford's plays and concerts? AND..who are the people who want world-class medical care 5 minutes from their home and automatically look to Stanford Hospital to treat their ills and hopefully save their lives?


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Posted by bookfan
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2011 at 8:53 am

Too much Traffic, I think your post is right. I never attended Stanford and have very little contact there, but I think it is an excellent university and benefits the greater community.

For those of you who think "public benefits" is extortion -- all major construction projects go through this process in Palo Alto.

Access to the libraries is difficult and expensive. Why not reduce the cost of a pass to some of the libraries (or just the main one). Also, some universities offer lower fees to some courses for seniors. I think Duke has such a program. That's what I'd like to see Stanford do.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2011 at 9:23 am

I wonder what future traffic will look like with this project. There are current traffic impacts caused by Stanford, so please make sure you are not adding to the burden on Embarcadero Rd. It's already very heavy - a straight shot to/from 101 & Stanford and the speeders are not locals stopping along the way, but rather have the above goals in sight.


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Posted by we need a new expressway
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:00 am

Easy solution to all these traffic problems around Stanford. Convert Sand Hill Road and Alma Street to be expressways. They have the same traffic volumes as Page Mill Expressway and Oregon Expressway already.

Then remove that silly blockade that prevents cars from continuing straight from Alma to Sand Hill and vice versa. That just pushes more traffic into the surrounding neighborhoods.

If we want jobs in town, then we need the infrastructure to support those jobs. That means bigger and faster roads. Stanford has offered to pay $100+ million. That should be more than enough money for the road improvements.

No one in their right minds lives along Alma Street right now anyway.


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Posted by Get 'Er Done!
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:43 am

I agree 100% with we need a new expressway.

Let's plow a new expressway from east to west through north Palo Alto, either Professorville or North Downtown neighborhoods, clear from 101 to 280.

Then let's make Middlefield an expressway to intersect with this new expressway and with Oregon expressway too.

Lets do it the old fashioned way by eminent domain. We should suspend all the environmental regulations too and cut way way back on all the pbulic hearings. Just Get er done!


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Posted by Jane
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:48 am

Menlo Park is heavily impacted by the commuter traffic and construction vehicles going to and from the med center, the campus and the industrial parks but has no say so in what gets constructed.


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Posted by Menlo Parker
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Extortion is the right word for what Palo Alto does to Stanford. The city wouldn't exist without the university; neither would Silicon Valley's high-tech industries. Yet Palo Altans (and my fellow Menlo Parkers) try to treat the university as their private piggy bank. As for traffic: More than 50% of Stanford's people commute by train, bicycle, walking, or carpool. No other employer comes close--only 3.2% of Santa Clara County commuters do the same.


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Posted by Tina Peak
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2011 at 12:08 pm

The Stanford project is a disaster for quality of life in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities. Stanford tries to pass this massive edifice off as a "community hospital." The reality is that it will not serve the community much at all. As Stanford ramps up to over 2 million square feet of space it is mostly tied up in high end, cutting edge(read makes Stanford lots of money) medicine - cancer care, transplants, and the like. Real community care will be shuttled to multiple satellite facilities (as we have already seen happen) and local residents will be forced to visit multiple clinics through out the area for procedures that used to centralized at Stanford. This facility is designed to cater to people from all over the world not for local inhabitants.

So citizens of Palo Alto will no longer have a community hospital and in return we get a massive expansion of employees to our area that, as the traffic report in the EIR pointed out, will reduce most intersections to gridlock. And while our traffic gets worse, Palo Alto will also be forced to house many of these employees by ABAG (Association of Bay Area governments). Thus destroying our quality of life even more than just gridlocked streets, since now we have even more overcrowded and poorly supplied schools, libraries, and insufficient park and playing field space. Our pollution levels will soar and forget peace and quiet with ambulances and helicopters roaring through town all the time.

There is no up-side to this project at all for Palo Alto citizens. It is a massive give away to make Stanford richer and will drive Palo Alto towards high-rise urbanization. This facility belongs in a large urban center with appropriate transportation and housing facilities not in Palo Alto where we will be forced to build the infrastructure to support it.

Stanford has had years to rebuild this hospital for seismic stability. To try to ram this huge boondoggle down our throats and claim they have to do it because the state requires it is a joke. Modest expansion and seismic retrofitting is all that is required. Palo Alto should not be forced to support Stanford trying to become the Mayo Clinic of the west. There seem to be too many people at both Stanford and in our city who have visions of completing some sort of "signature facility" to pad their resumes with. They have lost sight of what is in the best interest of our city and the people who live here.


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Posted by Too much traffic
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm

"The Stanford project is a disaster for quality of life in Palo Alto and the surrounding communities. Stanford tries to pass this massive edifice off as a "community hospital." "
They are not trying to pass off anything--this is a community hospital

"The reality is that it will not serve the community much at all. As Stanford ramps up to over 2 million square feet of space it is mostly tied up in high end, cutting edge(read makes Stanford lots of money) medicine - cancer care, transplants, and the like."
Shouldn't one of the leading hospitals in the world be involved in "high end, cutting edge" medicine or do you see the Stanford Hospital as one of those clinics you find in the boondocks."


" Real community care will be shuttled to multiple satellite facilities (as we have already seen happen) and local residents will be forced to visit multiple clinics through out the area for procedures that used to centralized at Stanford. This facility is designed to cater to people from all over the world not for local inhabitants."
It is designed to treat people local and from around the world. Once again should Stanford Hospital cease to be world recognized leader in health care. The reason that there are satellite facilities now is that , for example, Redwood City greeted the opening of many of the clinics there withopen arms. This was also done to placate those, like Ms Peak, who constantly rail and rant against Stanford.


"So citizens of Palo Alto will no longer have a community hospital and in return we get a massive expansion of employees to our area that, as the traffic report in the EIR pointed out, will reduce most intersections to gridlock."
The above is pure fantasy--there is no basis to claim that Palo Alto will no longer have a community hospital. ALso the claim about traffic impacts is overly exaggerated. It seems to be that all traffic issues in the city are placed at STanford's feet.

" And while our traffic gets worse, Palo Alto will also be forced to house many of these employees by ABAG (Association of Bay Area governments). Thus destroying our quality of life even more than just gridlocked streets, since now we have even more overcrowded and poorly supplied schools, libraries, and insufficient park and playing field space."
Do not blame Stanford for the cities ABAG issues ( I know it is quite easy to make Stanford the punching bag in these matters)

"Our pollution levels will soar and forget peace and quiet with ambulances and helicopters roaring through town all the time."
How dare sick people expect to taken to the hospital at Stanford by ambulance and helicopter. Once again a blatant over exaggeration of a non-problem.

"There is no up-side to this project at all for Palo Alto citizens. It is a massive give away to make Stanford richer and will drive Palo Alto towards high-rise urbanization. This facility belongs in a large urban center with appropriate transportation and housing facilities not in Palo Alto where we will be forced to build the infrastructure to support it."
I am sorry you do not see any "upside" to this project. Perhaps some people think Palo Alto should exist in a quaint, bucolic 20th century bubble. To say that there is no upside is a another gross exaggeration.


"Stanford has had years to rebuild this hospital for seismic stability. To try to ram this huge boondoggle down our throats and claim they have to do it because the state requires it is a joke. Modest expansion and seismic retrofitting is all that is required."
This matter has been around for years because of the council and their inability to deal with matters in a timely manner. They are not trying to ram anything down our throats. If you have read the points that Stanford has made--hospital care has changed over the years and all facilities much change with the times. You clearly have no concept of what a modern, world class hospital should be if you state that "Modest expansion and seismic retrofitting is all that is required".


" Palo Alto should not be forced to support Stanford trying to become the Mayo Clinic of the west. There seem to be too many people at both Stanford and in our city who have visions of completing some sort of "signature facility" to pad their resumes with. They have lost sight of what is in the best interest of our city and the people who live here."
I think that you have lost sight of what is best for the city, Stanford and the region and have decided to not only attack Stanford, but those that support it's goals.
Jack Morton would be proud


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2011 at 2:13 pm

If this project in any way can help ensure that people in the Stanford ER no longer have to wait 16 hours to get admitted to a hospital ward due to lack of beds, then where do I sign?

I see lots of interesting other topics discussed in this thread, but for me this is the key local hospital and it needs expansion badly.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Our hospital is El Camino - brand new, excellent hospital. I can't be the only PA resident affiliated w/El Camino.

@we need a new expressway - I agree with correcting the ridiculous Alma/Stanford Shopping Ctr intersection. Minor corrections like this would move traffic more smoothly and provide more options.


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Posted by where the money always goes
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jan 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm

$173M? College Terrace residents must be salivating.


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Posted by Jim
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2011 at 4:01 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by John
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


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Posted by Proof please jim
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Jim-why don't you provide some proof for your allegations that stanford public affair employees are posting on this sites stanfords direction. It may be hard for you to belief e but ordinary palo alto residents support stanford s plans.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 20, 2011 at 5:37 pm

A world class hospital in our backyard is worth a little traffic. Ms. Peak has probably never had the pleasure of dealing with the current ER at Stanford (said with sarcasm) or had a family member ill with a serious disease that Stanford was able to cure (said with gratitude).

BTW - I am not affiliated with Stanford in any way.

And is is truly ridiculous that you can't get from Alma to Sand Hill Road.


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Posted by commuter
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I agree Jim that the obvious "too much traffic" shills really show how desperate Stanford is.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm

If you have ever done business on any side in a transaction involving the business part (not academic) of Stanford, you know that they are super sharp and not to ever be underestimated.

Whatever is going on in this potential transaction our town council and city employees are almost certainly over matched.


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Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 20, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Has anyone followed up on the public benefit provided by past projects in the city? Take a look at the High street housing project and the public benefit which was provided - additional public parking. Try using those spaces. One cannot walk out of the garage without going up the car ramp, pedestrian exits are locked to the public. Any developer, including Stanford, will promise the world to get a project approved. Is Stanford really serious about a public benefit or just trying to jump through the hoops?


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Posted by Proof please jim
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Commuter-why don't you provide proof as well for your claims about the "too much traffic shills" since you claim stanford is desperate.


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Posted by Spin M.D.
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Same day as Caltrain announces fiscal crisis with curtailed service imminent. So much for Stanford's "generous" Caltrain passes for trains that are idle, or overcrowded at commute times.
Has anyone noticed all the Stanford employee cars parked on ECR where "For sale" cars used to be before they were prohibited ?
Sure, they take the Marguerite and pocket the "public transit commute stipend".
This is not a simple hospital "seismic upgrade" but a massive expansion that will have long lasting significant impacts on PA and MP traffic corridors that are already gridlocked at evening rush hour. Stanford apparently wants to become a massive, centralized "body repair factory", far from it's iconic Jane Stanford "Farm" ad image in a suburban landscape.
Only way out with this gross expansion plan appears to be if Stanford builds thousands of affordable housing units for employees on its campus. But that won't happen.
Time for a downsizing of the proposed expansion proposal before we see further Manhattanization of PA and MP.


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Posted by Wow
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Wow, what a bunch of whiners. Traffic in Palo Alto? Sure, some in rush hour - where isn't there traffic at rush hour? The idea that this would be somehow catastrophic for Palo Alto shows the fevered imagination of some of our residents. Please calm down and be grateful we live in a town with world class institutions at our doorstep. Or, if you prefer, you can move to Morgan Hill or Watsonville, where is there no danger something like this will ever happen ;-)


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 23, 2011 at 5:56 pm

What is the likelihood of sand hill turning into expressway? I do live near it....


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