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Palo Alto v. Stanford: City demands are over the top

Uploaded: Dec 11, 2022
An undercurrent of antagonism between the city of Palo Alto and Stanford University has been in play for decades. It is seldomly discussed aloud, but it is there. And it has reoccurred again the past two weeks -- as the council has come up with brand new demands on this renowned university.

At issue is a revision to the 2000 Stanford Community Plan. Stanford wants to expand its academic space by 2,275 million sq. ft. and 2,600 more student beds by 2035. Palo Alto is saying the university first has to meet its new demands.

The city over the years has tried to control Stanford’s growth in many ways that, because it says the university infringes on this community –– and that its growth somehow needs to be tightly regulated. That attitude is shared in part by the county. Most of Stanford’s land is Santa Clara County land – the city oversees the Stanford Shopping Center and part of the medical center; the county the rest. Palo Alto gets significant sales tax revenues each year from the shopping center.

The university, on the other hand, feels that the city is always demanding something from it – too much, too many times.

I would describe what’s happening as the city trying to milk the $$ cow on “the farm,” and the city always need more milk.

This antagonism upsets me, to say the least. Town-gown relations can be troublesome at times, but Stanford University seems to have had more than its share. As full disclosure, I am not an alum of Stanford, but I did spend a year on campus with a journalism fellowship, and then a decade working for Stanford back in the 1980s.

The dialogue on this issue began at last week’s City Council study session with the county. Right now, they’re at the discussion level – but the demands have been raised and are in full play.

Here is a sampling of the items that Mayor Pat Burt and other council members have said they want:

• Any new growth (building, faculty, staff and students) will first require more housing development from Stanford.
• The university will be required to build that housing on its campus or on contiguous
Stanford-owned lands in Palo Alto. The city is concerned about Stanford buying land in this city or neighboring communities and then rent the housing only to Stanford affiliates.
• The city wants new construction to be on the campus. The lands in the foothills (where the Dish is and walking trails are) must remain open space, according to a previous county ruling.
• Palo Alto wants full disclosure of properties Sanford owns within the city, their status, and a calculation of tax revenues lost to the city because the university, by law, pays no property taxes.
• The city wants Stanford to make in-lieu payments taxes on properties that are, by law, tax-exempt.
• in October, Burt sent a letter to the county saying the city is concerned about the “prospect of Stanford-owned housing within the city being exempt from property taxes despite additional impacts of those residents on our public schools and services.” (The university is an educational non-profit and Stanford has a long-standing agreement to pay for its use of municipal services – fire, police, etc.)
• Stanford is being asked to expand its Marguerite shuttle system into East Palo Alto to provide transportation for Stanford employees living there.
• Stanford is being asked to address the overflow of parking on its campus and ensure that there are no additional cars as a result of constructing more academic buildings are not allowed on campus, i.e., no new commutes as a result of expansion.
• The city wants a more permanent and active role in county-Stanford meetings on the university’s land use negotiations. It wants to sit at the table and vote -- a three-party decision -(Santa Clara County, Stanford and Palo Alto) on land use.

But wait, there’s more!

• Burt asked that Stanford consider a bike path along El Camino that would allow children of Stanford employees to bike to Fletcher Middle School and Gunn High School.
• Palo Alto and neighboring communities are asking Stanford to provide sufficient funds to compensate for the additional growth and use of city services.
• The city council is considering asking Stanford to contribute to the cost of building four grade separations at rail crossings so t trains and cars are on different levels – a multi-million costly project.
• Council member Tom DuBois said it’s important that Stanford not build housing just for its students but also for anyone to live in.

I think these proposals are overwhelming and that the city is using Stanford for its own financial purposes.

These expenditure requests all coming from a city with nearly a $1 Billion annual budget that just found another $40 million more to spend because its annual revenue is on the upswing.

The Stanford housing problem is significant – just 7 percent of university staff, faculty and students live on campus. That means thousands of others must live in surrounding communities. Stanford has recently built about 4,400 new dorms for students and 1,023 new faculty and staff housing the last decade.

Of course Stanford must provide more housing, and the city and county must work cooperatively together. Easier said than done, I agree, but latent angers somehow must be sublimated.

I care about Stanford. It provides exception education for undergraduates and graduates in a variety of fields. It houses a hospital and medical services that many of us use. It conducts significant research in a wide array of fields, including some of the very recent high-teach discoveries. It helped develop Silicon Valley. The institution is a benefit to our society – nationally and locally.

It's wonderful (and advantageous) to live near Stanford. I’ve gone to their football and basketball games, concerts, adult classes, strolled through its grounds, walked The Dish, etc. The university and its 8,000 acres are an amazing playground for all of us locally.. And its intellectual value is also immense, and should be recognized by Palo Alto.

Don’t milk it, please. It’s a treasure.

Democracy.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by Dirk Roberts, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 1:04 pm

Dirk Roberts is a registered user.

While it might be advantageous for both Stanford University and the City of Palo Alto to address and resolve the local housing shortages in a concerted effort, Stanford University is not obligated to appease or acquiesce to Palo Alto's housing issues.

Palo Alto is already overpopulated and overbuilt and the best approach would be for the city to tear-down and reconfigure its vacant buildings to meet its growing housing needs.

Though Stanford University has a lot of open space, using its undeveloped land to accommodate more aspiring Palo Altans would be akin to creating a massive housing community at Foothills Park.

Newcomers to Palo Alto Alto should be discouraged to do so unless the PACC is determined to turn Palo Alto into another Sunnyvale.

The PACC is simply trying to pass the buck for their own shortcomings and lack of vision.


Posted by Eric Filseth, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 1:31 pm

Eric Filseth is a registered user.

"[the City] that just found another $40 million more to spend."


This is simply not true. It misinterprets the City's "changes in net position" figure. I argued about this with another newspaperman for the first couple years I was on council and the Finance Committee, then gave up. They really, really want to say the city is overflowing with cash every year. If only.


Posted by Cameron Beck, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 2:42 pm

Cameron Beck is a registered user.

> It misinterprets the City's "changes in net position" figure.

^ What exactly does "changes in net position" mean?

Is it a net gain (or loss) in the city's available coffers?

In any event, the overall responsibility for resolving the Palo Alto's 'housing crisis' sans any further overdevelopment rests solely on the shoulders of the PACC, not the current residents of Stanford or Palo Alto.

Why is the PACC always sleeping with developers? Is this a time-honored tradition dating back to a former regime?


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

I have one idea.

Why doesn't the City and Stanford work together on the Marguerite to bring public transport all over the city including to San Antonio centre? I know that it is a free shuttle, but perhaps for those without Stanford ID there could be a small fare. Then perhaps our schoolchildren could get to school, our seniors could get to healthcare, and we could all benefit by having transport for shopping, dinner, movies/theaters, Caltrain.

VTA don't care about this area of the county. We need some better options. Stanford/Palo Alto each need each other, we could all benefit if this were done better.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 3:21 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

No other employer provides as much employee housing as does Stanford.

No other institution provides as much housing for its customers(students) as does Stanford.

No other employer provides an area wide free shuttle as does Stanford.

No other institution provides a Level One Trauma Center as does Stanford.

No other institution provides free access to its private lands as does Stanford.

No other institution provides such a broad range of cultural offerings as does Stanford.

No other entity's properties generate more taxes for Palo Alto than does Stanford.

Perhaps someday the city council will realize that Palo Alto without Stanford would simply be Gilroy - without the garlic.



Posted by Florence Withrow, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 3:42 pm

Florence Withrow is a registered user.

For some reason, the PACC always fails to get the drift when it comes to being a pro-active advocate representing the best interests of Palo Alto residents.

Instead they cater to developers, promote overdevelopment, and hoard PA taxpayer dollars for future reasons unknown.

The PACC also seems to enjoy spending (aka wasting) PA taxpayer dollars on a bloated municipal infrastructure hopelessly devoted to hiring consultants and increasing PERS expenditures.

The PACC hasn't gotten any better (or worse) over the past decades. It is merely locked in a holding pattern of oversight and incompetence.




Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 5:05 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

Don't forget Lydia Kou's comment


Web Link
“ She said the city is not doing enough to get as much revenue from Stanford as possible."

Obviously her and the council feel that Stanford is a cow that can be milked anytime they want money.

Time to ban Palo Alto residents from the dish area.


Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 5:38 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

Significant growth at Stanford would do substantial damage, not just to Palo Alto, but to other nearby cities and parts of both Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. If you want to understand some of the ways that would happen, I recommend reading the Environmental Impact Report for Stanford's most-recently-proposed General Use Permit, which you can find here: Web Link

This is very much like the substantial harms that have been caused by unmanaged growth of large Silicon Valley corporations. I believe we're all familiar with the effects on traffic, housing, income inequality, displacement, and so on.

Because of this, I think it's both reasonable and fair to require that Stanford mitigate the impacts from its growth. For example, it could contribute more to housing (through land use and construction) and to transportation (through transit programs and helping fund grade separation). The specifics are negotiable, as they should be.


Posted by cvvhrn, a resident of Midtown,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 7:50 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

I'm sorry, but Stanford is a business and its "non profit" status is a joke. The medical center alone bring in tons of money. You do not have to take my word on it, simply look at the 990's they file with the IRS.
Web Link

Between the university, and the medical center To be clear they pay little to no taxes because of their "tax exempt" status despite the significant revenue and profits they generate

They employ 13000+ people so it is not unreasonable for the city to have them help mitigate the extensive impact they have on Palo Alto residents.

Allen Akin is spot on with his post. They need to help mitigate the damage they do.


Posted by cvvhrn, a resident of Midtown,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 7:53 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

Just wanted to add:

In 2021 Stanford University had a Net income of $332,301,434 and 40 BILLION yes BILLION in assess. Again this is what they filed WITH the IRS

Web Link


Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 8:19 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

Cvvhrn

You may not like Stanford tax exempt status, but they qualify as a tax exempt institution. However the Stanford shopping center provides Palo,alto with a nice chunk of tax revenue. Those are the only two parts of Stanford that fall under Palo Alto jurisdiction,

Allan
Perhaps the dish area should be looked into for housing- plenty of space there. And how can Stanford give money for the grade separation, if after so many years Stanford has not decided what they want done at the railroad crossings


Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, a resident of Adobe-Meadow,
on Dec 11, 2022 at 10:33 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

WE have read numersous articles in the local papers about the need to update our utility department - treatment of waste and the amount of harmful bacteria now going into the bay. The systems today do not support the existing population.

SU will be rquired to build housing on land that at this time has no infrastructure for waste treatment, water, electricity, and other required infractrucutre to support additional population. That all has to be worked out - who is paying for what. In a recent period SU lost all electricity - they appear to get is from source on the east side of the state.

Palo Alto and SU are ralistically limited in growth until they determine how to upgrade all of the infrastructure that we are currently sitting on. That has to happen at the state level for cooperation.


Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Dec 12, 2022 at 10:30 am

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Victor+Bishop: Apparently there's enough available Stanford-owned land to build millions of square feet of new academic space. That suggests there's enough available Stanford-owned land to build balancing amounts of housing, if Stanford had the incentive to do so. Where and what to build, and how to handle the resulting transportation problems, are open questions. That's what managing growth is all about.

The types of grade separations you can consider depend on the amount of money you have available, so Stanford's participation creates a kind of chicken-and-egg problem. That aside, I believe we're approaching pretty good consensus on the crossings at Charleston and Meadow; just a few viable options exist at Churchill and Embarcadero; only Alma is completely in the wind.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 12, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

A bike path along El Camino is sheer idiocy. Why is the city SO intent on destroying the hew surviving businesses?

And why did we only hear about the $40,000,000 surplus AFTER the vote on the two tax measures? Checked your utility bill lately? Did you notice the $50 monthly PA utility user tax? I noticed because I got my first ever 4-figure utility bill!

$50 x 12 = $600 x 24,000 households = $14,400,000 plus $20,000,000 in annual overcharges = $34,000,000

BOIH the city AND Stanford are milking us like cash cows


Posted by ALB, a resident of College Terrace,
on Dec 12, 2022 at 1:18 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Stanford needs to build housing in the Research Park. Stanford is buying up houses in College Terrace and other Palo Altan neighborhoods. Again, Stanford Real Estate needs to convert some of the Research Park into needed housing. One successful example was their demolishing of TAB, Alza and Hewlett Packard adjacent to College Terrace. The tract is called University Terrace. Yes two labs were demolished. Theranos was Stanford's tenant replacing the HP site before they moved to Page Mill. My point being that labs can be removed for housing. Stanford is nervous about pressure to build housing and is reluctant to provide lease expirations.

Stanford stopped negotiating with Supervisor Joe Simitian re: the GUP because IMO they want to delay any convenant because Simitian caught Stanford out in Stanford's private discussions with the school district. Stanford wanted to divide the city and the school district. I attended the packed city council chambers when Simitian deftly questioned Stanford about this ‘deal.'

I respect Diana Diamond on many issues but regarding Stanford her thesis statement is incorrect.


Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 12, 2022 at 1:41 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

The fact that Stanford is buying up,homes in Palo Alto is really not the business of the city council. These are transactions between 2 private entities. Or are pat and Lydia suggesting that these sales be regulated, by wait for it..... a realtor on the council????
Regarding g housing in research park, that may be feasible. But the question is , if this is proposed by Stanford will we hear the usual objections to any housing - too much traffic, too tall, not enough parking, doesn't match the color du jour etc. and to be taken seriously , Palo,alto needs to start meeting its commitment towards building housing as outline by State authorities. PACC has done a good job over the years delaying or outright stonewalling housing.
I mean the city couldn't even build a simple bike bridge over 101 for a decade +.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 12, 2022 at 2:05 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

@Eric Filseth, you said about the $40,000,000 surplus, "This is simply not true. It misinterprets the City's "changes in net position" figure. I argued about this with another newspaperman for the first couple years I was on council and the Finance Committee, then gave up. They really, really want to say the city is overflowing with cash every year. If only."

Isn't that $40M in the city's investment account which the city keeps rolling over / reinvesting that money rather than using it to hire more cops, librarians etc. while the city keeps spending money (Fiber $144M, etc) and raising our utility rates?


Posted by Bob Prescott, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Dec 12, 2022 at 3:07 pm

Bob Prescott is a registered user.

@Online Name...
Mr. Filseth's $40M 'surplus' is a euphemism (aka cloud cover) for the internal hoarding of available fiscal resources.


Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Dec 12, 2022 at 3:14 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

@Victor+Bishop: Housing is already allowed in small parts of Stanford Research Park. Palo Alto controls the zoning in SRP, and the City Council just voted to allow housing in more areas there as part of the new Housing Element.

I think this is a smart move. If you believe housing should be within walking distance of large concentrations of jobs, SRP is a great place to make that happen. If you believe developers want to build tall, they can do it in SRP without looming over existing neighborhoods. Transportation access is already decent thanks to the need to move lots of people into and out of the existing offices. I imagine there are opportunities to share existing parking, as well as build more if necessary.

I don't buy the story that Council obstruction is the reason for the low rate of housing construction. As the Terner Center and Century Urban studies have pointed out, materials and labor costs are so high that investors won't profit from anything other than modest amounts of expensive housing, and they'd prefer to build offices. That's exactly what's happened. You can see this playing out in real time in Ventura, where Council wanted more housing but the developer pushed back.


Posted by Rhonda Peters, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 8:34 am

Rhonda Peters is a registered user.

In 1876, Leland Stanford purchased 650 acres of what had been Rancho San Francisquito. He later bought the adjoining properties totaling more than 8,000 acres. About 60 percent of Stanford's land today remains open.

Isn't open space what many Palo Altans cherish? Foothills Park could provide the acreage for additional Palo Alto residential development but that idea is obviously off the table.

Why should Stanford University land be used to create residential subdivisions to meet the growing needs of Palo Alto?

Palo Alto has its own Palo Alto Hills neighborhood and that should suffice.

Maybe consider tearing down and redeveloping 90% of the commercial wasteland now occupying ECR in Barron Park.

What have you got to lose...a slew of mediocre motels, a couple of small automotive repair shops, Ernie's Liquors, a Hobees restaurant, a Budget car rental agency, along with some forgettable stores that nobody patronizes on a regular basis?

The Creekside redevelopment is a worthwhile starting point. Now take that same concept all the way to San Antonio Road and welcome all of the aspiring newcomers to Palo Alto.

We will watch from afar.


Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 9:07 am

Bystander is a registered user.

What seems to be forgotten in all these discussions is that Stanford and Palo Alto have a hand in glove symbiotic relationship and have done since the University was founded.

Most of Palo Alto is unlikely to have been built up if it wasn't for providing housing for faculty and blue collar workers in the early days of the University's growth. Most of the high tech industry would not have happened if it wasn't for Sanford people wanting to start their own businesses.

I'm not in any type of way trying to look like an expert on who should do what on this by any means, but the antagonism between the two is unwarranted. One cannot do without the other. Accepting this fact would be a smart thing for both bodies to do. Instead of squabbling, working together to provide services that meet the needs of both would make sense to me and in particular providing services that both can use would be an additional benefit to both. We all benefit from having both a strong university and a strong residential base as well as commercial enterprise. We are not rivals or enemies, so partnerships benefitting the two communities make sense.


Posted by Tyler Banks, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 11:18 am

Tyler Banks is a registered user.

Stanford University has no obligation to compensate for the incompetence and shortcomings of the PACC or the concerns of disgruntled Palo Alto residents.

The best case scenario would be for Stanford to become a town of its own and to establish a Stanford Unified School District to meet the needs of its K-6 student population.

As for high school, perhaps an arrangement could be established to subsidize the PAUSD for Stanford resident/students wishing to enrole at either Paly or Gunn.

Other than that, there is no reason for Stanford residents or the university to kow-tow to the likes of Mr. Filseth and the PACC.

Palo Alto PACC...solve your own internal problems and stop blaming others for your oversights. Be responsible.


Posted by George Felder, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 11:43 am

George Felder is a registered user.

> As for high school, perhaps an arrangement could be established to subsidize the PAUSD for Stanford resident/students wishing to enrole at either Paly or Gunn.

If I were Stanford, I'd work out an arrangement with Menlo School to accommodate its high school-aged students.

> ...there is no reason for Stanford residents or the university to kow-tow to the likes of Mr. Filseth and the PACC.

Precisely. Stanford University does not need Palo Alto or any of its inherent problems including housing demands and homelessness.


Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 12:10 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

"Stanford University does not need Palo Alto or any of its inherent problems including housing demands..."

The irony is thick here, since Stanford has about 42K students, faculty, and staff, and 93% of them (according to Diana above) depend on housing off-campus.

"The best case scenario would be for Stanford to become a town of its own..."

That would be interesting. A rough calculation shows that its RHNA requirement would be about 16000 units for faculty and staff.

I believe the points others have made about the interdependence of Stanford and the surrounding communities are well-taken.


Posted by stephen levy, a resident of University South,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 12:47 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

I agree with Bystander.

Stanford and Palo Alto are linked. Cooperation, not demands, is the best approach.

What can be done to encourage and allow Stanford to build housing at the shopping g center snd SRP?

For example, Stanford gave PA $millions for infrastructure in exchange for permission to upgrade the hospital facilities.

Stanford has both the right to maintain first class academic and research facilities. We residents lose if Stanford cannot compete and excel.

Stanford has an obligation to help mitigate its impact
Working together is the only win win solution.

Otherwise we continue the PA process of talk, delay and gridlock.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 1:55 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"For example, Stanford gave PA $millions for infrastructure in exchange for permission to upgrade the hospital facilities."

How much money?

I love how Stanford has been claiming that its ongoing massive expansion hasn't added a single car trip. Another Stanford miracle.


Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 2:38 pm

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

I completely disagree with this article, it seems very biased.

The housing problem in PA is extremely severe, and Stanford buying properties with corporate earnings, without paying property taxes is exasperating the situation.

And it seems Stanford found the loophole in system: declaring as non profit they are not paying the property taxes. But they're a big business corporation as many others.

I think the property tax exemption shall be removed. or an additional tax of equal amount shall be added when big corporations (not single families) are purchasing houses in Palo Alto. Threshold to be set.

Taxes are needed to support city services like schools, police, streets, park maintenance, etc. Everyone contribution is needed.
Not paying taxes means abusing PA resources, it is very simple. And prices will go up for the rest of Palo Altans.

Good PACC is pushing back in each way they can.


Posted by Green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 3:33 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

Peter Carpenter -

No OTHER institution charges their employees to park while working. CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP.


Posted by MyFeelz, a resident of JLS Middle School,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 7:01 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I don't see Stanford as a cash cow, but they are also not a church nor poor as church mice. They are a very influential and affluent community of like-minded people. In a way, they're like Mormons. They want to wield political clout, and direct assets to come to them tax free, and to disperse them within their own clan. They don't feel like they are a part of the "community at large" because I think if they had their way, they'd prefer everyone of their ilk keep segregated from the "common people". The only thing I see that separates them from Mormons is they probably don't think they're waiting for a space ship to take them to Planet Kolob or and if I had to guess, I'd surmise they mainly tithe to themselves and skip the middle man (City of Palo Alto, and County of Santa Clara). I have to wonder if they wear special underwear but not enough to risk getting arrested for asking such a ridiculous question of a professor or student or alumni.


Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 7:19 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

Green gables:

Actually some corporations are charging for parking

“ One of the most effective ways to ensure that fewer people are driving to work is to charge employees for parking. Companies are starting to use this to cut down on parking maintenance costs, which is terrible news for employees who need accessible parking. As little as $5 daily can be a piece of terrible news for this set of employees, although it's sure to reduce park usage. More so, businesses that wish to avoid being labelled as cash-hungry by their staff will consider using the new revenue to pay for their CSR projects."
Web Link

And I think all universities charge for,on campus parking


Posted by Green Gables, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 13, 2022 at 11:02 pm

Green Gables is a registered user.

Victor+Bishop

Stanford has been charging employees for parking MANY years. It's not anything new.

What corporations are now charging?


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Dec 14, 2022 at 9:46 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Due to a lot of foresight Stanford put its paid parking system in place almost 50 years ago and uses the proceeds to fund all of its automobile, bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure including the free shuttle. As a result Stanford transportation infrastructure is in much better shape than that of any of the neighboring communities and its solo car use is much lower. Too bad that almost 50 years later Palo Alto still does not have a similar self sufficient transportation infrastructure.


Posted by Bill Bucy, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 14, 2022 at 11:26 am

Bill Bucy is a registered user.

The council's demands include several throwaway items clearly intended for negotiating leverage.

If Stanford was to chip in for Caltrain grade separations it would surely demand a say in which ones were chosen. The city wouldn't buy that for a second so its gone right away.

Building housing for the general population? That's dumping PA's housing issues on the university to solve, a move that could be described with an 11-letter word. Another non-starter.

In addition to being unnecessary for several reasons, a bike path along El Camino would require permission and cooperation from Caltrans because it is a state highway. Forget about it.

Putting such silly demands alongside more reasonable requests merely demeans the council and makes it difficult for Stanford administrators to take the city seriously when it has legitimate issue.


Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Dec 14, 2022 at 11:32 am

Allen Akin is a registered user.

"Too bad that almost 50 years later Palo Alto still does not have a similar self sufficient transportation infrastructure."

Um, Stanford's system isn't anywhere near self-sufficient. Stanford depends heavily on Caltrain and on vehicle traffic through Palo Alto and other nearby cities. The EIR I mentioned earlier discusses this in more detail.

Like Stanford, most of the vehicle traffic in Palo Alto has an origin or destination in some other city. Only regional systems can address that problem. Caltrain's great for narrow-corridor commutes to and from SF or SJ, but Palo Alto hasn't received a lot of support from VTA or SamTrans that might cover a wider area. As we all know, this is an expensive and politically-challenging problem.


Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 14, 2022 at 1:22 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

Green gables

Yep, Stanford has been charging for parking for decades. When I went to college 40 years ago, I paid for,parking on campus, as did employees. Charging for parking by universities is not new.

Look no further than Valley Fair, for employees paying for parking

Web Link


Posted by Clara Downs, a resident of Community Center,
on Dec 14, 2022 at 1:43 pm

Clara Downs is a registered user.

Palo Alto annexed Mayfield back in the 1920s and the rest is history.

Maybe Palo Alto should consider annexing Stanford University and be done with it.

The lawyers would have a field day and regardless of the outcome, everyday life in Palo Alto would go on as usual.

Palo Alto's 'Golden Era' is long gone and ensuing generations are now stuck with the crumbs.

Nevertheless, residential property values in Palo Alto will remain high because there are still many wealthy folks from abroad who see Palo Alto as a mecca for modern life.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Dec 15, 2022 at 9:00 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Maybe Palo Alto should consider annexing Stanford University and be done with it."

Palo Alto would gain no new tax revenue because all of the tax generating portions of Stanford, Research Park, Shopping Center, Town and Country, have already been annexed to Palo Alto BUT Palo Alto would assume a huge infrastructure responsibility including roads, police, fire and thousands of students who would dominate any local election.

Not too smart an idea.


Posted by Sarah Cady, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 15, 2022 at 10:16 am

Sarah Cady is a registered user.

Annexing Stanford University would create way too many challenges & fiscal issues for the PACC and the city of Palo Alto.

The best case scenario is to leave things the way they are.

If the City of Palo Alto & the PACC needs more money to fund their various frivolities, they should increase taxes on Palo Alto residents and Palo Alto businesses.

Stanford is an academic community, not another Palo Alto.


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 16, 2022 at 10:36 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Maybe you could integrate the comments here under Blogs with the new comments under Town Talk??


Posted by William Reich, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 16, 2022 at 11:14 am

William Reich is a registered user.

Unlike the City of Palo Alto, Stanford University is very adept at managing both its fiscal and land resources.

Until the PACC can demonstrate and practice something other than its ongoing 'blank check policy', Palo Alto should not even try to seek a compromise with the university.

Stanford University does not need Palo Alto and/or any of the city's own problems including affordable housing shortages, homelessness, robberies, hate crimes, and traffic gridlock.


Posted by Millie Langford, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 16, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Millie Langford is a registered user.

It's too bad Barron Park and the former town of Mayfield cannot secede from Palo Alto.

Being a former unincorporated area, Barron Park is similar to Cupertino and Mayfield should run from the Ventura neighborhood to Embarcadero Road (including the Southgate and Evergreen neighborhoods).


Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 17, 2022 at 1:48 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

It's too bad we can't all secede from Palo Alto given the royal salaries the City Manager and his rapidly growing court, er office staff, are getting.

So thankful this holiday season to see so many of them making more than the president of the US while pleading poverty so they get even more $$$$ from us while giving us an even bigger unfunded pension liability.

So glad another "budget" expert will ascend to the Asst City Manager throne.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest,
on Dec 17, 2022 at 2:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Why not petition LAFCO to hold an election on Mountain View annexing Palo Alto?


Posted by Luther Banks, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 18, 2022 at 10:10 am

Luther Banks is a registered user.

Both Stanford University & Palo Alto have experienced huge increases in student, residential, & employee numbers over the past several decades.

Controlled population is the only way to curtail this massive growth and the detrimental impacts it imparts.

By working together, Stanford University & the City of Palo Alto should discourage new residents from resituating here.

Tell them to go find an apartment/condo/house in some other city like Sunnyvale which seems to have no issues with overdevelopment & population increases.

The last resort would be to build a wall around the borders of Stanford & Pali Alto to keep the newcomers out as most are unwelcomed contributors to added gridlock & strain on public services.

The homeless population should also be resituated which in turn will make downtown Palo Alto a more enjoyable venue for shopping & dining.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Dec 18, 2022 at 10:16 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"By working together, Stanford University & the City of Palo Alto should discourage new residents from resituating here."

Stanford is doing its part with its Redwood City campus, its Notre Dame campus and its new apartment complex on ECR in Menlo Park.

What is Palo Alto doing?????


Posted by Reese Kendall, a resident of Stanford,
on Dec 18, 2022 at 11:17 am

Reese Kendall is a registered user.

• What is Palo Alto doing?????

Passing the buck on this issue & paying exorbitant municipal salaries to city administrators who in turn hire consultants to inventory paper clips.

The PACC is also to blame as it is a toothless entity more concerned with conveying progressive (aka fake) appearances at the expense of its current long-suffering residents and Stanford University.

The problem with the City of Palo Alto and the PACC is that they want to have their cake and eat it too.


Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Dec 18, 2022 at 3:09 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

What is Palo Alto doing?

The usual- mayor pat Burt trying to squeeze money from Palo Alto. He's been on the council for 12 years and the same old song and dance from him.
And then Lydia stating that Palo Alto needs to get as much money as they can from Stanford.

Anyone notice how quickly and efficiently buildings are built at Stanford. Let's look at Palo Alto- how long and how much over budget did the library cost? How about the bike bridge over 101 ( let's have a design contest so we can have an iconic bridge so everyone will know they are in Palo Alto ) ? How long did that take ?

And now Palo,alto wants Stanford to provide housing for non affiliated people so that Palo Alto can avoid meeting their designated housing goals.


Posted by Allen Akin, a resident of Professorville,
on Dec 18, 2022 at 4:20 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

I agree with a number of the critical comments here, but two are worth correcting.

"Stanford is doing its part..." Stanford wants to build 2.275M sq ft of new academic space. That space would be occupied by a *lot* of new faculty and staff members. (Does anyone know exactly how many? If it were offices, it would be between 9000 and 15000.) And Stanford does not want to build balancing amounts of faculty/staff housing. So population would go up and competition for housing in surrounding cities would go up. Stanford is proposing to make the housing shortage worse, not doing its part to make it better.

"Palo,alto wants Stanford to provide housing for non affiliated people so that Palo Alto can avoid meeting their designated housing goals." I believe City Council wants Stanford to help provide housing for non-affiliated people in order to offset the shortage Stanford's unbalanced growth would cause off-campus. The new Housing Element, which meets Palo Alto's RHNA targets, already exists and has to be approved within a few months. Stanford's growth is proposed to take place over several years. You can see that these things are not related.


Posted by Marc Jensen, a resident of Atherton,
on Dec 19, 2022 at 10:54 am

Marc Jensen is a registered user.

Fortunately we are not facing the same housing dilemma in Atherton and thank goodness Atherton is not a part of deranged Santa Clara County.

In Atherton one must be able to afford the cost of its residential real estate...no ifs, and, or buts and the township has absolutely no moral obligation or responsibity to provide 'fair market' housing for those who do not belong here in the first place.

And the same applies to Portola Valley and Woodside where residents pay more for their privacy with fewer intrusions from outsiders and commute workers we don't ordinarily have to interact or socialize with on a regular basis.


Posted by Gerri Fleishman, a resident of Mountain View,
on Dec 20, 2022 at 8:52 am

Gerri Fleishman is a registered user.

Stanford is an academic community and Palo Alto is more along the lines of a commercial and residential community.

Both entities have different priorities and focal points with little in common and there is no reason for them to work together solving Palo Alto's problems.


Posted by Luke Taylor, a resident of another community,
on Dec 21, 2022 at 2:28 pm

Luke Taylor is a registered user.

Perhaps a qualified mediator could help resolve this contentious issue.

In lieu of an outside attorney/arbitrator, a respected man of the cloth with strong Christian/New Testament values might be of assistance in settling this matter.

During arbitration, the greedy and self-serving entities/individuals would be easily exposed by their avaricious proposals. Then they could be dispensed with and ignored as heretics to good local citizenship and cooperation.


Posted by Brian Lawton, a resident of another community,
on Dec 27, 2022 at 5:27 am

Brian Lawton is a registered user.

> Why doesn't the City and Stanford work together on the Marguerite to bring public transport all over the city including to San Antonio centre? I know that it is a free shuttle, but perhaps for those without Stanford ID there could be a small fare. Then perhaps our schoolchildren could get to school, our seniors could get to healthcare, and we could all benefit by having transport for shopping, dinner, movies/theaters, Caltrain.

Sounds good.


Posted by Crescent Park Rez, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Dec 27, 2022 at 4:34 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

I never ceased to be amazed by how completely out of touch PACC - and many Palo Alto residents - are with the rest of the United States. One of the wealthiest communities in the US complains about the neighboring university not paying taxes. Churches, museums, almost all non-profits are exempt from property taxes! It's absurd that the County calculates a perceived "loss" of taxes. One cannot lose what one never had! Here's a thought - Stanford should close its campus and put up gates at each entrance and people are allowed on campus only if they have business of some sort - attending a concert, etc. Close the foothills! I wonder how congested El Camino and Sand Hill would get if cars could no longer cut through campus to get to 280? And regarding paying for parking, it's one way that Stanford discourages people from driving to minimize traffic. Only in Palo Alto would people see having a world class university next to it as a negative!


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