Day care parents worried about hospital expansion

Stanford Arboretum Children's Center parents claim construction would impact children's health

Stanford University Medical Center officials scored a major victory two weeks ago, when Palo Alto approved a dramatic expansion of Stanford's hospital facilities.

These celebrations were temporarily halted Monday night, when Stanford found itself facing a protest from a nearby day care center -- an unexpected development that threatens to delay the historic project.

Dozens of parents and children from the Stanford Arboretum Children's Center gathered at City Hall Monday night to demand that the city reconsider its approval of the Renewal Project-- Stanford's $5 billion effort that includes reconstruction of Stanford Hospital & Clinics, an expansion of the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and renovations to various Stanford School of Medicine buildings.

After four years of negotiations and 97 public hearings, the City Council voted 8-0 on June 6 to approve the project, which would add about 1.3 million of new development to the city.

The day care center is located on Quarry Road near Hoover Pavilion, which is one of the first facilities scheduled for renovation, according to Stanford. A new parking garage is planned for the site.

The city planned to hold a "second reading" on the Stanford project Monday night -- a largely procedural vote that would officially grant the medical center the green light. But after day care parents railed about the noise and pollution from construction, Stanford asked the council to delay the vote so that it could address their concerns. After hearing from about a dozen parents (whose comments were punctuated by gurgling and crying from the younger audience members), the council agreed and postponed its vote to July 11.

City Manager James Keene characterized the latest hurdle to Project Renewal as a dispute between Stanford Hospital and the day care center. He said it would be "premature" for the city to take a stance on the dispute, though he said delaying the vote to allow for a resolution would be appropriate.

"The second reading of the ordinance has been postponed and until that takes place, there is no project and there is no ability to proceed on any of these matters," Keene said.

Mark Tortorich, Stanford Hospital's vice president for design and construction, told the council Monday that Stanford believes that the environmental analysis for the project is accurate but that hospital officials agreed to work with the parents to address their concerns.

"We made a commitment to them, if they give us some time, to work with them to work mutually with them to address their concerns," Tortorich said.

Tortorich said Stanford learned just last week that day care officials did not alert parents about the construction project. But some parents argued that the problem was not in outreach but in Stanford's environmental analysis.

"We don't believe this is a communication problem," said Melissa Michelson, one of many parents who attended. "We believe this is Stanford not taking adequate concern for our children.

"We have several parents willing to lie in front of bulldozers if necessary."

Stanford geophysics professor Simon Klemperer, whose child attends the day care, also argued that the hospital's construction could have negative impacts on Arboretum's children. Klemperer had issued a statement earlier in the day expressing anger at what Arboretum parents characterized as a "last-minute announcement of a Stanford Hospital construction project that endangers their children."

The planned parking garage would be located 38 feet from Arboretum Children's Center, he said.

Klemperer, who was one of many parents who attended the meeting, said that the Environmental Impact Report for the project failed to consider a number of serious construction impacts, including noise and pollution levels. Work on the parking lot, he said, could harm the day care center's 140 children, particularly those with asthma and allergies.

"Because these children are so young, their airways are still in development," he said in a statement. "They may not have adequate defenses against high concentration of toxic airborne substances."

Stanford Hospital countered with its own statement Monday maintaining that its environmental analysis is valid and that construction would not impact the children's health. It cited an independent consultant who "confirmed that project construction will not pose significant health risks to children at the Center."

"Based on breathing rates and other exposure factors specific to infants and children, and using the most conservative assumptions that the child care facilities would provide no air filtration, windows would be open, and children would spend substantial time outdoors, the risk assessors have determined that health risks to children would be less than 20 percent of the level that the Bay Area Air Quality Management District considers to be significant," hospital officials said in a statement.

Hospital officials are now considering various options for assuaging the parents' concerns, including providing off-site child-care facilities during construction and providing "opportunities for other child-care services." They are expected to hold meeting with parents in the next month.

Council members thanked the parents for attending the meeting and agreed that delaying the vote is the best way to bring forth a resolution.

"I think this is the clearest step we can take to show that we heard their concerns," Vice Mayor Yiaway Yeh said.

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Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm

There is always someone who fights progress ! Negative impacts on children is ridiculous ! Can anyone name them ?

Like this comment
Posted by DeAngelo
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Great. Let's protect children by fighting the expansion of one of the best pediatric treatment and research centers in the world.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Read the article 'citizen'. This is a group of faculty, staff and students at Stanford University, Stanford Hospital and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital whose kids attend the Stanford Arboretum Childcare Center.

They were directly informed only last week of the plans to build a 9-story parking garage located less than 60 feet from the nearest classroom. The construction site fence would be less than 20 feet away. How in the world can ANYONE imagine that two-year-olds will be able to sleep through the noise this project is going to create?

The Environmental Impact Report contains clear errors and omissions with respect to the daycare---and people are only speaking up now because before last week Stanford University has told the daycare operator to NOT discuss the planned construction with parents. Ridiculous!

I can only hope Stanford Hospital and Stanford University does the right thing by these parents and relocates the center en masse!

Like this comment
Posted by Laura Jean
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm

We do not want to delay the project. We want our children to be moved away from the construction site. The daycare center initially asked that of Stanford and were denied.

Like this comment
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm

DeAngelo - I agree it is ridiculous. Why on earth would hospitals not properly consider the health of kids sleeping and playing only 40-60 feet away from an enormous construction project! Oh---and did I forget to mention that half the parents there work at either Stanford Hospital or the Lucille Packard Children's Hospital? It's hard to argue with a pediatrician specializing in asthma treatment saying that it's insane to consider that the daycare center will be a safe environment for children while the building is going on!

C'mon Stanford, do the right thing and acknowledge you simply overlooked the daycare in your impact assessment and that it's really not safe for infants and children to be there during construction!

Like this comment
Posted by ShameOnStanford
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Stanford is expecting parents to send 140 children ages 8 weeks to 5 years old to a construction zone as a day care center, and the only mitigation offered is to keep the children indoors so that their exposure to the dust, asbestos and noise will be slightly less, though still incredibly harmful. Stanford Hospital deliberately withheld information about the known project from the parents until last week, and now 140 children are left without an alternative for a day care center, given that wait lists for day care centers in the area are at least 6 months long (and sometimes over 2 years)

Like this comment
Posted by citizen2
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 20, 2011 at 10:47 pm

let's move the kIds and build the hospital, everyone is happy

most of us parents of the day care center are working at the pinnacle of progress but to endanger young innocent bystanders in order to make a profit esp with a endowed childrens hospital cannot be something the palo alto citizens sign off

Like this comment
Posted by WhoWritesThisJunk
a resident of Southgate
on Jun 20, 2011 at 11:28 pm

When there's this much money involved, even the town reporter's on Stanford's dole. Probably half these snarky remarks are from the Stanford PR machine - wait, maybe this article was even penned by them.

Help sick children. Jeez, give me a break. New beds has nothing to do with how professional the physicians are at LPCH.

Bias, bias everywhere and what a crock of /;$t

Like this comment
Posted by Laura Jean
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm

There's a better article at

Last-minute delay for Stanford hospital expansion project
Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Do the right thing Stanford
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 20, 2011 at 11:51 pm

This article takes a very slanted view. This isn't some random daycare and a bunch of overzealous parents. Instead, it is a daycare that is about 30 feet away (about the length of 10 toddlers lined up from head to toe) from major construction that will involve the demolition of an existing building (which may contain asbestos), and the replacement of it with a nine-story parking garage. Construction workers will be wearing masks, ear plugs, and so on, while young infants and toddlers a handful of yards away will have no protection. Stanford hospital, who is running the project, has even advised its own staff to take significant precautions during this construction, and yet it has left the children of many of these staff hung out to dry.

The daycare is affiliated with Stanford and only children of current Stanford employees can enroll. The least Stanford could do now is relocate the daycare for the duration of the construction. The cost to do so barely amounts to a rounding error in the overall construction costs. Instead, Stanford intentionally withheld information from these parents, and only let them know last week that the construction was starting in August (and when you consider that it can take about 8-12 months to get off of a daycare waitlist, we're talking about pinning the backs of a 140 Stanford affiliated families to a wall).

Make no mistake - no one here is arguing about fighting progress. Expanding the hospital and research facility has an enormous set of benefits. Rather, the point is that Stanford should carry out this effort responsibly. Stanford has the financial means to do so and Stanford also has an obligation to its own faculty and staff who are being severely affected by this issue.

Like this comment
Posted by Just a guy in the crowd
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 20, 2011 at 11:53 pm

@ Citizen, yes I can name ~75 of the 140 children

@ DeAngelo, it is a requirement that you work at the hospital or Stanford to use the center in question. Did you attend the meeting and listen to the comments? The 'parents' have a vested interest in the project moving forward.

@ShameOnStanford, The Hospital and Stanford acknowledged there was a shortcoming in the planning process as it related to the daycare center. The project pulled the item from the council vote in an effort to resolve these issues.

@WhoWritesThisJunk, Gennady Sheyner is the listed author. The link in the by-line provides a contact email.

Like this comment
Posted by citizen3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2011 at 12:18 am

The Environmental Impact Report includes lengthy discussion on tree preservation. If the EIR recommends the relocation of trees from the construction zone, surely, these infants & toddlers (children of Stanford hospital pediatricians!) deserve the same consideration?

Agree with citizen 2. Move the kids then build the hospital.

Like this comment
Posted by Matt Richter
a resident of Woodside
on Jun 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

The more I learned of the project, the more surprised I was! Here's an example: three zip codes were searched for "sensitive receptor" sites, but 94305, the zip code of one of the buildings being renovated! Needless to say, Arboretum is in the 94305 zip code. Now we're seeing that for less work than is being planned at Arboretum, the hospital is taping doors closed, restricting access to balconies and taking other steps to protect the patients and staff of the hospital. Yet for the day care, none of this has been planned. Even if it is implemented similarly, then we are left with a day care that is buttoned up like a zip-loc baggie for the whole summer! 18 months actualy.... and the center doesn't have central air conditioning. The main "cool down" technique during the summer is "water play" outside....

I too see lots of vocal minorities gum up the works of things. I guess it depends on if one thinks that gross incopentence (not including 94305), will full deception (don't tell the parents, at least not till after they could actively participate in the formation of the plans), and insufficient mitigation are worth pointing out and asking for corrective action are extreme, or just reasonable requests.

I, for one, thinks Stanford dropped the ball here. I hope that we call can come to consensus on a path forward. The point isn't to stop the hospital project, it's to allow for the hospital project in a way that it's not at the expense of the kids at a day care center that was overlooked by the planning process.

Matt Richter

Like this comment
Posted by Arboretum parent
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2011 at 8:44 am

It seems like for $20,000 per year PER KID you should get to have your children play outside without respirators. Safe, high quality childcare is the biggest stress in every parents life. Stanford SHOULD mitigate this by providing subsidized care, but they don't. The LEAST they can do is not RUIN the costly care that they graciously allow us to pay for. And yes, I can move my kids but wait lists around here are much longer than the ~1 month notice we've all been given.

Like this comment
Posted by PA mom
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2011 at 8:48 am

The daycare situation in PA is already ridiculous. You need to get on a daycare waiting list before you're even pregnant if you want a space to open up by the time your baby is born. Peninsula Daycare just closed, so 300 PA daycare spots are gone. (The owner gave his parents 1 year notice, btw, to find alternate care for their kids.) Now 140 kids from the Arboretum are going to be displaced. PA childcare is already so impacted, we can't absorb 140 more kids into the system. Stanford better find a way to take care of these kids without dumping them into the PA daycare system. PA moms should be up in arms about this.

Like this comment
Posted by Laura Jean
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

page 8 of 6/21/11 Palo Alto Daily Post. They don't put their articles on the internet, so here it is.

Stanford Hospital vote postponed

The city of Palo Alto's approval of the $5 billion Stanford Hospital expansion project was put on hold yesterday over concerns raised by parents of children in a child care center next to the hospital.

The parents told City Council last night that they fear for the health of their children because of the nose and fumes from the construction of a nine-floor parking garage just 38 feet from the Stanford Arboretum Children's Center, 215 Quarry Road.

While most of parents said that they supported the expansion, the asked that the city put the project on hold until Stanford finds a new location for the child care center far away from the construction site.

A Stanford representative asked council to put the second reading of the hospital approval on hold until the university could return to the city with a solution for the parents.

The parents complained that when they examined the environmental impact report on the expansion, the child care center wasn't mentioned.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2011 at 9:42 am

Sounds more & more like Stanford screwed up royally because they know how hard daycare is. This, plus the stupid work-life balance center wanting CCLC to keep it hush hush, is disturbing. Daycare around here is like playing the lottery. I have witnessed otherwise serene, nice, thoughtful parents nearly desperate. Too bad Cubes&Crayons closed.

Parents, start looking for good babysitters - may not be idea for you, but there are lotsa teens looking for summer work. Sponsor their 1st aid/cpr class & hire them until something else is figured out, or go for a nanny share if you can.

BTW, this isn't just a MOMMY problem, as someone mentioned, it's a PARENT problem, & it's a CCLC - & the work-life balance office (lol!) ought to be ashamed. Yeah, am way less cynical towards the parents the more I read.

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:23 am

The day care has babies as young as 8 weeks old. At that age, babies need the opportunity to sleep at all times of the day. The construction noise alone would be damaging to their naps and their development.

Not to mention that the project recommended keeping the children indoors with the windows closed to protect them. If there was no risk, why would they suggest this?

The best answer is to temporarily relocate the center. The 20% below air quality standards that is quoted in the article refers to after construction is complete, not during construction.

Like this comment
Posted by Bad EIR
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:24 am

The EIR completely missed this major problem. The parents checked it, there was no mention of the childcare center in the EIR.
Not the first thing the EIR did wrong. Major, major incompetence. Stanford pushed the boundaries and bulldozed their way through in every way. But they have unlimited dollar$ so they can and will spend their way out of the corruption.

Like this comment
Posted by concerned
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:35 am

If you can't raise the bridge, lower the water !! Relocate the day care center !! Way too much time, effort and energy wasted on this issue..Yes,protect the children, but don't stall this great project,
it is way too important to the community and of course Stanford itself..C'mom people, compromise, group hug and move forward.

Like this comment
Posted by I want Stanford Daycare too!
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:39 am

Hello Stanford Daycare parents! Why not ask Stanford to make MORE daycare for their employees-- not just those professors and MD's who get preference on the wait list? You know all those faceless people who SUPPORT your work and help make Stanford the place it is? So rather then doing a big NIMBY attitude how about openning that backyard for the great hordes?

Like this comment
Posted by L. S.
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:40 am

In contrast to many other Silicon Valley companies who provide subsidized child care options for their employees, CCLC Arboretum is not an entitlement provided to Stanford parents. In fact, the tuition parents pay to keep a child there exceeds what many other nearby child care centers charge. In all fairness, multi-billion construction projects have lots of moving parts, so the impact to a child care center with 140 children that is actually located right in the middle of a construction zone may have been entirely overlooked. Keep in mind that these parents were just notified last week whereas the powers that be at Stanford and CCLC new about the construction project's timelines much earlier, but intentionally withheld this information from parents.

Fortunately, Stanford has an opportunity to rectify this oversight. I hope that Stanford will look after the "members of its own family" and relocate the center prior to the start of construction. Yes this adds some more costs to the project, but they are a negligible blip in the radar compared to the overall dollar amount being spent. And you know what? It would have been an even smaller blip had this issue been addressed up front rather than waiting until the 11th hour.

Like this comment
Posted by LovesKids
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:43 am

PA Mom

And we will lose another 200 precious infant/toddler and preschool spaces if the City Council is allowed to vote to sell its ownership interest in Cubberley next Monday night.

Like this comment
Posted by david MFA 90
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

It seems to me that if this activity continues, all the current day care kids will have entered college before the hospital project is allowed to start.

Like this comment
Posted by workthere
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:09 am

Stanford has an equivalent place to relocate this center to?

Like this comment
Posted by Feh
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

Glad someone's fighting it. Traffic will be even worse once this starts.

Like this comment
Posted by Oh come on
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:13 am


over 50 meetings and these brilliant Stanford employees didn't know there was a massive expansion coming. By the way what does it say for these self described (at the meeting) brilliant people who came off as better than everyone else around that they dump their kids at day care at only a few weeks old.

Like this comment
Posted by workthere
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:19 am

Oh come on, lots of us did not know Hoover Pavilion was involved.

Like this comment
Posted by Bad EIR
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

More accurately, what does it say that Stanford overlooked the existence of a daycare facility right next to its major construction. Highly paid architects and land use planners and land use attorneys, and millions of dollar public relations and they didn't look right next to the construction site?
Right on, blame the victims.

Like this comment
Posted by Please
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm

@ Oh come on, over 50 meetings and 7 years and the contractors didn't realize there was day care located just 30 feet away? Please.

Like this comment
Posted by AlcoholicsAnonymous
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Why does this community assume such a dramatic hospital expansion is going to serve our needs so well? I agree we need a new, larger ER and more children's beds, and maybe a few more adult beds, but guess what? Who's going to pay for all this with higher health insurance premiums - talk to any insurance broker for small business/individuals in San Mateo/Santa Clara and they'll tell you our community is already at the top of the list of CA counties in health insurance premiums. Stanford's going to get their $$ back for this little project, coming right outta our paychecks!

Can't wait! What fun! Sign me up to support more ineffective medical care, after all, more is better, right? And MORE EXPENSIVE is even better, no? Sort of like fine wine...

Like this comment
Posted by maggie
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 1:13 pm

so now, the traffic around stanford hospital and mall will be backed up! let's see fabin way, el camino near town and country/pamf, arastradero, stanford ave, and soon california of palo alto does it again! those city officials and staff care so much about our community. these parents should go find out about california ave plan and file a suit, sounds like similar eir again. maybe the city officials and staff will finally hear the frustration of the people of palo alto.

Like this comment
Posted by PDA
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm

@PA Mom - organize your mom's or parent's groups and do what the CCLC parents did - bring your kids and make comments during the Open Mic Session during Monday night's town hall meetings. Demand they take the child care issue their top priority if they want to get re-elected. Too many centers have closed recently, too many parents dumped upon by this community. They will listen and awareness that we are also a community of families (not just corporations, tech companies and adults/seniors) will be raised....

Like this comment
Posted by concernedStaff
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I work at the Medical Center and formerly had a child at Arboretum. I knew they were doing something at Hoover but had no idea they had not assessed and planned to properly mitigate the risks! It's not in the documentation anywhere and was never addressed in any of the press releases or media reports. I totally agree that we need new facilities, but I'm really taken aback that the risk to our own employees' children was not considered.

The online Environmental Impact statement is not searchable (unlike most if not all of the other documents!). Luckily for me, I have OCR capabilities so I ran the scan to create a searchable document. Anyway, there is NOTHING about the childcare centers although they do admit regional standards require they consider daycare centers.

The report assumes exposure risk is limited to indoor inhalation because the affected children are all supposed to be patients (they did not consider skin irritation, the risk of digestion by young and curious children, etc.). The max exposure time is also estimated at far less than the potential max exposure of children in these centers. And yes, it's plural: CCLC West is only a few blocks from the Welch Road construction zone and is within the defined impact zone, although Arboretum has a higher exposure.

In short, it's a big disappointment and concern. Stanford must take real steps to mitigate the risks and do so in a prompt and open manner.

Like this comment
Posted by Judith
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2011 at 3:46 pm

The architects and Stanford project managers absolutely knew about the day care center, because they discussed the architectural and planning impacts of the final buildings, not only on the existing daycare center, but on future housing planned for that area.

However, it's not the architects who write the EIR. Someone dropped the ball, and Stanford should relocate the kids.

Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 21, 2011 at 5:03 pm

It's not clear (to me at least) who operates and/or sponsors this day care center. What "Stanford" should do is certainly affected by the sponsorship. It also should be clear to all these letter writers that there may be a conflict between what Stanford, the university and Stanford, the hospital should do.

Like this comment
Posted by george
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 21, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Stanford and City knew the day care center is at Hoover Pavilion. It's listed in the Final EIR (responses to June 30, 2010 Planning Commission comments about the Draft EIR). City said the impacts would be less than significant.

Like this comment
Posted by Paul
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 22, 2011 at 12:04 pm

We need to get this hospital upgrade built as soon as possible as the current facilities are grievously unable to meet the demand. I think the best plan would be to close the day care and get the hospital project going as soon as possible. Then in 2018 when the construction is over, the University can revisit the idea of having a day care so close to a very busy academic medical center and shopping center. I agree with the parents that their children should not be exposed but the construction should not be further delayed.
Paul - Stanford

Like this comment
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm


I'm glad to hear that if you're ever the leader of a large organization, you will consider you have absolutely no responsibility to act ethically towards your employees and their families. Wait--maybe that's why you will NEVER be the leader of a large organization!

Yes, this is a huge blunder by whomever at the Stanford Hospitals and University should have been watching out for the impact on daycare kids who would be less than 30' from the excavation. It could be a terrible blow to the development timeline of the hospital project.

But I trust Stanford leadership have the integrity and moral values to recognize that their responsibility to the 140 kids and their parents (who are all Stanford affiliated) demands that they relocate the kids and teachers before beginning construction.

It's a tough choice---but it's the ONLY choice.

Like this comment
Posted by Outraged
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm


Like this comment
Posted by GEORGE
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm


Like this comment
Posted by Just another guy in the crowd
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 23, 2011 at 12:44 am

I'm glad there are so many experts working on this. Some have even provided useful comment. Others clearly have not.

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

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