Half of new Stanford housing would abut College Terrace neighborhood | News | Palo Alto Online |


Half of new Stanford housing would abut College Terrace neighborhood

Growth proposed for east side of campus under application for updated general-use permit

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Eyeing future growth on its campus, Stanford University is asking for the county's permission to add 1,600 new housing units or beds for students along its border with the College Terrace neighborhood, university officials told members of the College Terrace Residents Association last week. The units would comprise more than half of the university's total proposed new housing under its 2018 general use permit (GUP) application.

But residents of College Terrace, which lies west of El Camino Real and north of Page Mill Road, say they have borne the brunt of traffic and parking generated by Stanford and raised concerns about the proposed housing. They said that despite Stanford's existing traffic-management program, which has cut traffic by 22 percent since 2000, and a City of Palo Alto-run residential parking permit program, the neighborhood still experiences parking problems and noise late at night from Stanford visitors and residents.

Stanford's application to the County of Santa Clara is asking for permission to build 2.275 million square feet of academic and academic-related facilities and 40,000 square feet of child care space or facilities to support transportation management, such as a transit hub. To balance that academic growth, Stanford proposes to add 2,600 units or new beds of student housing and 550 faculty and staff housing units through the year 2035. The university proposes to place the faculty and staff housing adjacent to the south side of Quarry Road. Eight hundred student beds would be located by Junipero Serra Boulevard and Campus Drive and 200 would be in the center of the campus; the rest would be located to the east, adjacent to College Terrace. About 200,000 square feet of academic buildings would be added next to the new housing in an area fronted by El Camino Real.

The number of housing units or beds is tied to a ratio of housing units per square feet of academic development, said Catherine Palter, associate vice president of land use and environmental planning. For every 500,000 square feet of academic construction, Stanford must build 605 housing units.

The growth stems from Stanford's likely plan to increase its undergraduate admissions by 1,700 students over 17 years, officials said.

The 2018 GUP request to build a total of 3,510 units would be roughly 500 units greater than the county allowed under the 2000 general-use permit. But even then, the housing cap might not be a hard number. The university is also requesting a clause that would allow it to ask the county Planning Commission to approve additional housing if needed without having to go through another GUP process.

The university is currently adding 1,450 units of graduate-student housing over the 2000 GUP limit within the Escondido Village complex, which is adjacent to College Terrace, after the planning commission approved the application in 2016.

To address neighborhood concerns about increased traffic and parking, the application establishes a goal to achieve "no new net commute" trips, meaning that it keep commuter traffic from students and staff at the same level as it is now.

Palter noted the university's transportation-demand management program has reduced commuter traffic from 72 percent in 2000 to 50 percent today. The university is proposing additional measures to control and reduce traffic, including adding automated monitoring of vehicle trips into and out of campus; expanding its commuter bus service; possible expansion of its Marguerite shuttles for connections to and from transit hubs; and identifying key bicycle improvements.

The university does not plan to increase parking beyond the 2,300 spaces allowed in the 2000 general use permit, in keeping with its "no net new commuter trips" goal, but it will propose that the 2018 permit allows the university to seek approval from the county planning commission for additional parking under certain circumstances.

But College Terrace residents pointed out that traffic-management planning doesn't include what happens on weekends and nighttime parking. The traffic-reduction achievements the university claims also do not include trips to and from Escondido Elementary School; traffic management only covers "commuter activity," but not school traffic.

Mary Fitzgerald, a Stanford Avenue resident, said graduate students park on Wellesley Street at all hours of the night. The parking-permit program is in effect only during weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"It's a nightmare. Our street is packed all of the time," she said, noting the sound of car doors slamming and loud voices that continue to awaken her at 3 a.m. Students are foregoing buying parking permits on campus, she said.

Jean McCown, associate vice president of public affairs, admitted that campus residents who live in Escondido Village and who skirt parking-permit fees are a problem the university hasn't managed. She said that perhaps the City of Palo Alto could restrict nighttime parking in the neighborhood.

College Terrace resident Fred Balin said he has concerns that Stanford won't be able to meet its net-neutral traffic goals.

"Stanford has not yet identified any ways in which they will increase the scope of their transportation demand management; at present it appears to be a future suite of concepts to be accepted on faith," he said.

He was also not comfortable with a proposal to fine the university for increased traffic by having it give money to the county for traffic programs rather than the university taking responsibility for traffic improvements itself, as it does currently.

Balin also cautioned Stanford officials at the meeting that residents felt short-changed during a prior process -- the Mayfield development, which added 180 units of faculty housing along California Avenue -- because residents did not feel they had much warning to respond to the legally required comment period on environmental impacts, a period that also fell during the holidays.

McCown took note of the residents' concerns.

Stanford's GUP must go through multiple steps before it can be approved by the county, and the public will have multiple opportunities to comment.

Palter said the county anticipates publishing a Draft Environmental Impact Report in mid-September, beginning a 60-day public comment period. A final EIR that addresses public comment would be published in spring 2018.

As part of the process, the permit must undergo a county planning commission hearing and recommendation and the county Board of Supervisors will hold a hearing and vote on approving the permit.

Related content:

Stanford University to renovate east side of campus


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Like this comment
Posted by Scotty the Boot
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2017 at 9:35 am

[Post removed.]

45 people like this
Posted by Remembering
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 6, 2017 at 11:02 am

Jean McCown, associate vice president of public affairs, admitted that campus residents who live in Escondido Village and who skirt parking-permit fees are a problem the university hasn't managed. She said that perhaps the City of Palo Alto could restrict nighttime parking in the neighborhood.

In other words, let Palo Alto solve a Stanford-created problem. Very reminiscent of McCown's work when she was the developer's attorney for 800 High Street.

46 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 6, 2017 at 11:32 am

What a crazy idea - build units for 2000 people who would otherwise drive here. No way, we need more cars on the road. And, these huge buildings will create shadows! Can you believe it? Shadows! They will block our views!

Cheers to a project that actually addresses our housing shortage and ignores ludicrous height limits. Go Stanford, the foundation of Palo Alto.

7 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 6, 2017 at 11:42 am

And whose Fire Department will be responsible?

50 people like this
Posted by Grumpy Old Guy
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jun 6, 2017 at 11:52 am

And when Todd Collins of the Palo Alto School Board spoke at a City Council meeting to explain the fact that these homes might require new schools for these homes, our mayor cut him off with the standard time limit. I would imagine that a School Board Member, giving a warning about this development, be granted the courtesy of additional time. But that's not how the mayor shut him down.

That said, aside from Fire, Police, Power, Sewer, Water and other basic services, Todd Collins waved a very important flag. That flag says we'll have to build schools to support all the young children that come with that development - and it'll increase the crowding at the current elementary/junior and high schools.

Long term, this development will hurt Palo Alto besides parking and traffic congestion. The business arm of Palo Alto (re: the Chamber) will think its a great idea to benefit the local business property owners at the expense of the quality of life for the residents of Palo Alto.

5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 6, 2017 at 11:53 am

@ Musical: PAFD. Stanford has a contract w/ PAFD and they pay an annual fee for such. Relax.

49 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Fred Balin brought up a very good point in that Stanford's transportation management plan only covers commute traffic and only 8-5. Unless Stanford addresses traffic 24/7, this development could be a nightmare. I stopped taking continuing ed classes at Stanford because they tend to end at 9 and the Marguerite stops at 8. Parking on campus was a nightmare and at 65+, I'm not riding a bike at night to Stanford. The logical thing would have been to park at the train station, just as the commuters were leaving and take the Marguerite.

I favor more housing built by Stanford but only if they provide the infrastructure to support that housing: i.e. mandatory child care facility, neighborhood shopping within walking distance, additional support for shuttles, Caltrain passes for all, contributing land for schools as they have been required to do in the past, and and sufficient parking especially for families and ride-sharing pickups.

Stanford never does more than the minimum - even in fire prevention. They recently negotiated a reduction in fees even though they are planning much more development which will require more EMT service etc. They are very savvy negotiators. The city must think of all the implications of Stanford development and require all possible mitigations. There is a lot they can do to make this a win-win for Palo Alto and Stanford, but I guarantee Stanford officials are only looking out for Stanford. I hope the city council will pay more attention to Todd Collins and Fred Balin and other longtime activists who can help look out for the city's interests.

68 people like this
Posted by No, No, No
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2017 at 1:05 pm

Stanford has imposed on Palo Alto, and the bordering neighborhoods, for far too long.

The refuse to deal with these encroachment and trespassing issues that their students and residents cause.

Their is plenty of land, still undeveloped, that is closer to the center of the campus. Let Stanford put housing there, not next to a residential neighborhood ( again).

Failing that, let Stanford buy the neighboring houses for double the market rate, so we can move further away!

No one could foresee how much Stanford would infringe on our lives when we bought our homes!

15 people like this
Posted by Stanford rules
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 6, 2017 at 1:28 pm

People complain that Stanford dors not provide enough housing. They try to address the issues and we get the usually negativity and insults.
No no no- there is no trespassing. College terrace streets are public property. And your home is worth what it is because of Stanford.
But I agreed. Stanford needs to build one other land. I suggest they start using the foothills after they close it off to non Stanford residents and employees

Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View

on Jun 6, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

13 people like this
Posted by Diego A.
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

What an awful gated community. Palo Alto would be nothing without Stanford. [Portion removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Stanford came to college Terrace and briefed us on their GUP. Well articulated.

College Terrace residents have concern about traffic on stanford avenue and some parking issues next to Wellesley.

Hope stanford will address them soon in their


49 people like this
Posted by Stanford is a Greedy Development Machine not a university
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 6, 2017 at 6:46 pm

How crowded do we want to be in this city? Stanford has grown by over 5 million square feet from the last general use permit and that doesn't count the massive hospital expansion.

Stanford is not some cute little university. They are a massive real estate and development conglomeration that happens to run a small school. The university is not their main focus or what they really care about. The are one of the valley's largest developers but they don't pay any taxes to the county.

I don't know why they are continually allowed massive development rights that make this area more crowded, more polluted and make the quality of life here less each year.

The Santa Clara board of supervisors should tell them that they are big enough but the Supervisors don't really care about this area since it is right on the edge of the county and they love to be part of the fantasy that Stanford is a wonderful university doing good things rather than seeing them as a greedy development machine destroying this area.

37 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 6, 2017 at 9:33 pm

They hired a developers land use attorney who had been on the PA City Council. She is one of the forces behind Stanford's development. Now she has a fancy title that disguises her real responsibilities (land development and making money).
She is called something like Director of Community Relations.
Rough translation - use your inside contacts to squeeze what you can out of Palo Alto.

It is true, the academic university has become a small part of the voracious money machine.

28 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 6, 2017 at 9:42 pm

[Portion removed.]

@Stanford is... thanks for remind us about Stanford's tax exempt status but be prepared for the PAF crowd to suddenly descend to "correct" your statement even though simple searches prove that YOUR are right.

2 people like this
Posted by College Terrace resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 6, 2017 at 11:09 pm

I think having a large number of people here will be great for California Ave and our neighborhoods. I would just suggest they are designed with a fluid relationship - so perhaps we can use their spaces sometimes (like a cafe) adn they can join ours. I know the Stanford Ave homes have felt a bit on their own - not their own neighborhood but not officially part of college terrace.

13 people like this
Posted by Pops
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2017 at 7:13 am

1700 undergrads. Last I checked, undergrads at Stanford weren't having too many babies that needed to go to school while they were on campus.

And those of you in College Terrace should familiarize yourself with the legal concept of moving to a nuisance. Stanford students used to live all over College Terrace when off campus housing was more affordable. You bought houses on the Terrace of a college. What do you expect? You moved to a nuisance, it will never be perfect, its better for you than it used to be, and all of it's reflected in the price of your house or your rent vs other neighborhoods.

17 people like this
Posted by Former College Terrace resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2017 at 9:49 am

Long ago when I was a student at Stanford I rented in college terrace. I could never understand the neighbor who complained about the number of students in the neighborhood. Why buy 3 door down from Stanford Ave and then complain about there being people from Stanford next door?

8 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2017 at 9:55 am

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

A couple of historical comments:
(1) One of the first maps drawn of Palo Alto (not Mayfield) is titled "Palo Alto, The town of the Leland Stanford Junior University" - see Web Link
(2) I was told that the reason Stanford Terrace exists in its current form is that it originally belonged to someone who hated Stanford and refused to sell his property to Stanford.That is why Stanford lands surround Stanford Terrace on 3 sides.
(3) re schools: Please note that 4 schools (Paly, Gunn, Nixon, and Escondido) are all on Stanford land. Moreover, I think Pops got it right - Stanford undergrads have nearly zero children whereas the numbers are also pretty small for Stanford grad students (although for these better and free childcare would be a godsend).

10 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 7, 2017 at 10:03 am

"Refused to sell his property to Stanford" is not valid criticism, Stanford does not own all property in the world by default! I suppose we should all just thank Stanford for not seizing the entire city?

3 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2017 at 12:52 pm

To Juan: "refused to sell" = "declined offer to buy property," nothing more. You might find interesting the PAW story about the founder of Palo Alto (as opposed to Mayfield = the area around Cal Ave. including College terrace) - Web Link

13 people like this
Posted by Ms. McGown, meet Miss Manners.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Stanford wants to build 200,000 square feet per year moving forward. Jean McGowan admits they are currently "not managing" their spillover parking. What plan do they have to manage the various inevitable impacts of their planned additional growth (Not all of it will be housing. Much of it will create more demand for housing.) if it is approved?

I wonder when will Stanford reach"big enough"? Don't get me wrong. I appreciate Stanford. I wonder if Stanford appreciates Palo Alto and all we do for them. Their behavior, like that of Ms. McGowan in this instance, often does not express it if they do.

It would be nice if Stanford made an effort to be neighborly--or, at least, well-mannered.

21 people like this
Posted by Cal Grad
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

Palo Altans act as if Stanford does nothing for this community. Does anyone here know that Stanford owns and basically has given the land for Paly, Gunn, Escondido, Nixon, The PAUSD, the area around the train?

Members of our community benefit from all the cultural/community events offered at the University. Night-time classes on campus are regularly filled with Palo Alto adults, so much so that kids at Stanford can't get into some of them. We go to football games, basketball games, interesting lectures with world renowned academics, journalists and government officials. We have Bing Hall with outstanding performances. We have a beautiful campus to walk around and lots of open space -- including the dish -- that we are all allowed to walk through, at Stanford expense.

Kids in Palo Alto are enrolled in Stanford youth programs, swimming, diving, gymnastics, debate.

We have an incredible shopping center with beautiful stores, all on Stanford land.

We regularly use its world-class teaching hospital when we need it.

It's time for Palo Altans to see all the good this university offers instead of focusing on the negative.

I'm a Cal grad, so hard for me to list all of these wonderful things about Stanford, but I'm tired of hearing the complaints.

20 people like this
Posted by yes, please
a resident of Los Altos
on Jun 8, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Stanford currently leases apartment complexes between Redwood City and Mountain View to house graduate students. Part of the reason that traffic is so bad, that parking spills over, and that rents are so high in this area is that Stanford cannot house all of its graduate students on campus. Allowing Stanford to house more grad students on or very near campus means that fewer students will need to drive to and from campus, and that more housing will be freed up in the surrounding community for non-Stanford residents. More Stanford housing on and very near the Stanford campus should be a top priority for Palo Alto.

9 people like this
Posted by macbaldy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

When I arrived at Stanford for grad school 46 years ago, College Terrace was still Stanford campus property; it was relegated to Palo Alto for civil and civic services around 1973. That is still Stanford land--since it can't be fully separated, per Stanford's Charter. That's why CT sits between Escondido Village and Stanford's Industrial Park...contiguously original Stanford lands.
PA and Gunn high schools are on lands dedicated by Stanford.

Most complainers of Stanford's consolidation efforts misconstrue and misrepresent the remedies that the University is undertaking--again. That huge infill grad housing project is for single grads and married grads without children. Stanford's grad family population has been declining for many years. An adjacent new parking structure is included with this infill housing expansion.

As "Cal Grad" astutely suggests above, most complainers would bite their own nose off to spite their face...they'd rather pluck the Golden Goose than admit that they benefit profoundly from Stanford's existence. We should work with Stanford and our property values will become more exorbitant...but the continuing rise of regional living costs should get much more attention from us than Stanford's rational approach to their part of that syndrome.

11 people like this
Posted by Farm Born
a resident of Nixon School
on Jun 9, 2017 at 12:33 pm

I can't believe all the negative comments.
Stanford is a national treasure, and College Terrace was built to house people who worked at the University. Saying "no more homes" isn't really practical it seems. I welcome the new development and the vitality that Stanford brings to Palo Alto.

38 people like this
Posted by Company Town
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2017 at 11:47 am

Farm Boy,

College Terrace was NOT built to house people who worked at the University. College Terrace was not built by Stanford. It was built by individuals, some of whom may, or may not, have worked at Stanford.

As Stanford builds more housing, fewer and fewer College Terrace residents actually work at Stanford. College Terrace is a neighborhood like any other in Palo Alto. College Terrace is part of Palo Alto. It is not a colony of Stanford University's real-estate empire.

17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 10, 2017 at 4:40 pm

Evidently Stanford is confident enough of getting approval this time around that it dispenses with its usual annual laughable phone survey about which argument is the most convincing that its expansion plans won't contribute to traffic and parking problems.

Like this comment
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 12, 2017 at 5:18 pm

So, basically, this all comes down to parking, right? Because if the housing is for undergrads, the impact on the schools is negligible.

So, Stanford needs to be proactive in offering a parking solution. Maybe a combination of parking garage, bicycles and zip cars.

10 people like this
Posted by Cars
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm

Lots of wealthy kids attend Stanford and may choose - if convenient - to bring their cars out.
The population fluctuates with any school, but I've known students at Paly and Stanford to drive upscale vehicles. I refer to mostly undergrads at Stanford.
When Stanford leased the entire brand new apartment building in Los Altos (near ECR and San Antonio on Los Altos side, to my recollection) about a year or two ago, then leased it exclusively to Stanford students, don't you suppose all these drive over to campus in his/her own cars?

5 people like this
Posted by What goes around
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 13, 2017 at 7:12 am


It's also about traffic. Fortunately Stanford already has a parking permit program to prevent College Terrace residents parking in the development. They will need to add barriers to prevent College Terrace residents using the roads as cut throughs. Then add some " College Residents Not Welcome" signs.

That should get the message across.

6 people like this
Posted by Malcolm
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 23, 2017 at 11:17 am

I'm glad Stanford is part of our community. And I'm glad that they are sensitive to traffic.

But Stanford is exporting their cars to our neighborhood, and we pay the price. Literally. Stanford charges its employees students hundreds of dollars to park on campus. The drivers (natural) reaction is to park in our neighborhood, and Stanford was quite accommodating by providing a bus stop for them at the edge of our neighborhood. Now we have to pay to for parking licenses.

If Stanford was serious about being a good neighborhood, they would fund the CT parking program. Why must we pay to protect ourselves from the Stanford hordes that descend on our neighborhood to escape the high Stanford costs?

3 people like this
Posted by 101 access a bottleneck
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 1, 2017 at 8:49 am

Additional housing on Stanford is good, but not if it is soon offset/ outpaced by increased enrollment and accompanying traffic. Stanford has set itself up to have all of its 101 freeway connections to go on neighborhood streets (Embarcadero, University, Willow, Oregon) and it is a huge imposition on us neighbors to bear the traffic costs of Stanford's continual desire to expand. Perhaps a reasonable compromise would be to require Stanford to invest in faster links to 280 on Page Mill/ Sand Hill on land that they control and to exert their soft power to hasten Caltrain electrification and increased frequency. A third, more expensive option would be an engineering solution (big dig style) to get direct freeway access from Stanford to 101.. that way Stanford employees can get in and out quickly and we get the bulk of commuter traffic off our little streets. Thoughts?

2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2017 at 9:15 am

What would help are large park and ride lots at freeway offramps with dedicated shuttles to downtown, Stanford, and other employment centers. Stanford does a good job with the Marguerite, but it needs to be expanded to the freeways off ramps.

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