Ronald McDonald House expansion clears final hurdle

Palo Alto quickly approves proposed three-story addition to facility near Sand Hill Road

The Ronald McDonald House, which offers shelter to families of children with life-threatening illnesses, will roughly double in size and add 69 rooms under an expansion plan the Palo Alto City Council enthusiastically approved Monday night.

In a unanimous vote, the council swiftly green-lighted a proposal by Ronald McDonald House to build a three-story addition directly next to its existing facility near Sand Hill Road and El Camino Real. The current complex has 47 rooms and has seen a surge in demand in recent years – demand that is expected to climb even further because of the pending expansion of the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital. With space limited, the House has been forced to turn away between 40 and 50 families a day.

"We do a tremendous job of taking care of the 47 families that stay with us at the House every night," Annette Eros, chief executive officer at Ronald McDonald House, said in a statement. "However, we are deeply concerned about the 40-50 families on our waiting list every day. This approval moves us one critical step further to providing the solution for these families in crisis, which is a larger facility with more capacity."

The council had nothing but praise for the organization and for its proposed expansion, with Councilman Marc Berman calling the facility a "gem in the crown of the city" and Councilman Larry Klein calling its expansion a "great project."

Councilman Pat Burt said he "can't think of any mission of an organization in our community that is more admirable and more important than what you do." Councilwoman Liz Kniss was more concise.

"Only the Grinch would vote against this tonight," Kniss said.

Ronald McDonald House officials said the average length of stay has grown dramatically over the years, largely because of medical advances. In 2003, when the facility expanded from 24 to 47 rooms, the average stay was about six days. It has climbed by 500 percent since, according to Ronald McDonald House officials.

Work on the 52,000-square-foot addition is expected to begin next year.


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Posted by surfin' usa
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

never trust an authority. not even yourself.

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Posted by Not an issue
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 4, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Nice that council okayed tthis without their usual shenaningans.
However if you read the story it may cast a light on why council meetings drag on. You will notice that each council member has to weigh in with their self- congratulatory opinions. Why do they do this? Clearly it will be in the minutes of the meeting, but who reads that?
No, the council knows that a reporter from the personal newspaper of the council will be " reporting" on this and the story will almost certainly contain a portion of their " words of wisdom". Why nt have the reporter just report on the actual story and not include the quotations-- maybe then the council will not waste time pontificating and maybe meetings will end at a normal hour ( and wasn't the a push recently to scale back on length of meetings?-- weekly how about a follow up on that) .

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm

If average stay gets to 30 days, does this count toward our ABAG quota?

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Musical -- are you serious?

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 5, 2013 at 10:10 am

Like Kniss said, only the Grinch would be against this. I've known people who've used this facility and I have donated towards it. But development around here has turned into a vicious spiral. My curiosity was piqued by the final paragraph saying the average stay has climbed 500%. Beyond 30 days is no longer "transient occupancy" and if we're mandated 2000 more housing units, we should claim every credit legally conceivable. Though I often fail, I try to keep my comments from being entirely facetious.

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

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