LettersStanford hiking trail
Several years ago Stanford University was given the right to develop its foothill properties in exchange for public-access amenities such as hiking trails through its property. On May 21 I saw the result: a trail to nowhere, an insult to the community with which it pretends to want good relations, an upraised middle finger to the residents of the Peninsula.
This 1.1-mile hiking trail parallels Page Mill Road. It is never out of site and sound of traffic. It is inaccessible from the central part of the campus. There is no parking at the trail head. There are no bicycle hitches and certainly no "facilities." There is no connection to the Arastradero preserve or any other foothill trail. It just ends.
This cannot go unchallenged. The Stanford Hospital expansion is up for final approval by the City Council. Tell Stanford that the approval is on hold until they come back with an access plan providing at least 20 miles of hiking trails north of Page Mill with connections to the local open space preserves. Tell them they must provide hikers with a way to walk from El Camino Real to the coast through Stanford property and connections to existing trails. Then demand a binding contract with severe penalties (e.g., the university's endowment) for non-performance.
There are a lot clever people at Stanford. Put some fear into the administration and I think they can come back with the above in a matter of days.
The recent creation of a hospital zone and approval of the massively oversized Stanford Hospital complex will be the catalyst for aggressive urbanization of the city of Palo Alto. More than any of the other large developments that have been flying through the approval process in the past years, this will be the bellwether project that will radically change the future density of Palo Alto and the look and feel of our community.
After approving this massive 2 million square-foot hospital complex it will be impossible to stop the call for the 12,000 housing units that ABAG insists on and the developers relish. From an outsider's viewpoint, why would the city of Palo Alto approve a massive medical complex that is larger than those in dense cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles and then not expect to provide the surrounding growth to support it? Developers are probably already drawing up plans for housing developments to complement the 130-foot-tall hospital towers. Approval of this project was a foregone conclusion. Early meetings about this project years ago were really presentations of what Stanford was going to build, complete with the breakdown in size for all the departments. There was never any debate about the scale of the project. It was clear that Stanford would get what they were asking for. All of the "close to a hundred" public meetings were mostly about how much Stanford would have to pay for what it wanted. Not one of our appointed or elected representatives was looking out for the future of Palo Alto residents.
This project is awful for the environment of the community. It is poorly placed for usage by the bulk of people who will drive to it. It will use millions of tons of natural resources to build and because of its size, will always use more resources. It will gridlock nearby streets and add to our population thousands of people that our inadequate infrastructure cannot support. This project hastens the destruction of the Palo Alto that we enjoy today and makes it impossible for this city to make any claims to wanting to be a "sustainable" community.
Palo Alto Avenue
There are three things that our elected officials can do to help the so-called "budget deficit" and help Americans.
1. Support work for common-sense ways to reduce health care costs, like cutting $200 billion by letting Medicare negotiate drug prices. Canada is allowed to negotiate prices, why can't we Americans?
2. If Congress has billions to spend on overseas wars, then either stop that sort of wasteful spending or put it into jobs here.
3. How about taxing the oil companies? California would be wise to start having Chevron pay property taxes instead of blaming Prop. 13 homeowners, but that's just exactly how the oil companies get out of paying their fair share of property taxes. Just exactly how does that work? Do the oil executives get to claim corporation property as their "personal homes" for the waiver of property taxes?