Hospital expansion concerns neighboring officials

Menlo Park, Portola Valley and San Mateo County all have expressed concerns over traffic, housing, other impacts of Stanford plans

Officials from Portola Valley, Menlo Park and San Mateo County have expressed concerns over impacts that might not respect county boundaries if Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto expands facilities as outlined in a draft environmental impact report (EIR).

The hospital is proposing to increase its floor area by 1.3 million square feet, its staff by 23 percent and its parking by about 2,000 spaces, according to Steven Turner, an advance planning manager with the City of Palo Alto.

The expected completion date is 2025, with the main and children's hospital portions to be built first, perhaps by 2015, Turner said.

Stanford is requesting that Palo Alto approve a special hospital zone, thereby allowing buildings to exceed the city's structural height limit of 50 feet, Turner said. Four of the 10 proposed new buildings could reach 130 feet.

Aside from the visual impact from Sand Hill Road, a primary issue is traffic, according to letters from Portola Valley, Menlo Park and the San Mateo County Planning Department.

The public comment period for the draft EIR expired on July 27. The city of Palo Alto, not the hospital, is responsible for addressing all comments and will do so in the final EIR, Turner said.

Officials based in San Mateo County peppered their letters with complaints:

o Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline noted that in the draft EIR, construction workers would be prevented from leaving the work site during the heart of the evening commute, between 4:30 and 6 p.m., but appear to have no restrictions on morning arrival times.

o The draft EIR's proposal to reset traffic lights in Menlo Park to account for new construction traffic characterized this adjustment as mitigation, but that is incorrect because the lights are already set up that way, Cline said. And there is no mention of payment to Menlo Park for the impacts of heavy trucks on city streets, he added.

o The draft EIR uses pricing formulas other than Menlo Park's to estimate costs to improve Menlo Park intersections and to build a bike tunnel under El Camino Real at Middle Avenue, Cline said. The county Planning Department has similar complaints with respect to traffic-congestion formulas.

o The draft EIR does not consider housing for the hospital's new employees on hospital land, Cline said. Because Menlo Park is geographically nearer to the hospital than many Palo Alto neighborhoods, Stanford needs to consider how its new facilities would affect single- and multi-family housing availability and home prices in Menlo Park west of El Camino Real, he said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Takeurmeds
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 24, 2010 at 7:28 pm

So why is Portola Valley trying to get involved in this? The expansion doesn't affect them one bit, except maybe to provide improved medical facilities for their residents. Traffic certainly won't be an issue. The easiest and fastest routes to the hospital do not go through the town. Unless, of course, one wants make long detour to take the scenic route.

Portola Valley would do better to focus on issues that actually impact the town, such as the removal of Searsville dam.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 25, 2010 at 9:13 am

San Mateo cities have a point. If the increased traffic impacts their cities they will not be reimbursed because property taxes will go to Palo Alto and Santa Clara County.

If I lived in San Mateo county I'd complain too.

Like this comment
Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:20 pm

How many Stanford physicians live in Portola Valley?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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