News

Stanford buys homes in College Terrace, raising questions

University invests in off-campus housing in Palo Alto, multiple cities

In order to meet the housing needs of its faculty, Stanford University has stepped up buying single-family homes throughout Palo Alto and other nearby cities in the last two years, with the lion's share appearing to be in the College Terrace neighborhood, according to county records.

"Single-family homes in neighborhoods is what a lot of faculty want," Stanford spokeswoman Jean McCown told the College Terrace Residents Association board during a May 31 meeting.

"There is demand for a diversity of housing types that Stanford wants to have available to respond to differing circumstances and needs of faculty owners and renters. This includes some neighborhood-based single-family homes to supplement the much greater amount of housing we have been constructing on Stanford lands," she said. "There have been a limited number of purchases as a part of a multi-pronged approach to providing housing in a challenging environment."

Some College Terrace residents expressed concern that their neighborhood could become increasingly owned by Stanford.

"College Terrace is surrounded on three sides by housing for Stanford: Peter Coutts, the Research Park and Escondido Village. It would be a logical step for them to buy up the neighborhood," a resident who lives next to one of the Stanford-owned homes and asked not to be named, said this week.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Palo Alto Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

But McCown said there is no long-term goal for buying up College Terrace.

According to the Santa Clara County Clerk Recorder's office, Stanford is the recorded owner on deeds of at least 23 properties in College Terrace. The university purchased two of the homes in 1977; one in 2000; five during the 2008 housing crisis; two in 2015; nine in 2016 and four so far in 2017.

In an email Wednesday, McCown said seven of the homes and two vacant parcels are slated for redevelopment.

Throughout Palo Alto, the university owns 30 homes, according to McCown. It owns 12 in Menlo Park.

But county records indicate that number could be higher. Stanford uses ground leases, by which the university retains ownership of a property while the "buyer" can build on it or purchase the existing residence. Under such leases, the university can claim it "owns" fewer properties than it does.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

In addition to College Terrace, Stanford owns several other single-family homes throughout Palo Alto, including at least three out of 10 homes at the recently built Edgewood Plaza in the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood and some on Hawthorne Avenue in the Downtown North neighborhood, county records show.

There are also 120 homes in Menlo Park in the Stanford Hills and near Stanford Creek communities, built in the 1950s on Stanford land, that the university has under ground leases. Stanford didn't count them as "owned" homes in the recent email from McCown.

In College Terrace, Stanford has received some parcels as bequeathed gifts, McCown noted during the May neighborhood meeting. In many cases these are smaller homes or cottages that are not attractive to potential renters or buyers in their current state. Stanford plans to raze some of these homes or renovate them. The university does not plan to turn the sites into apartments or condominiums, she added.

Stanford filed an application with the city on July 14 to demolish a single-story, 1,283-square-foot home at 2040 Columbia St. and construct a new two-story 2,344 square foot home; an 809-square-foot one-story residence at 2070 Columbia would also be replaced by a two-story 2,344 square-foot home, according to City of Palo Alto planning documents.

Leah Russin, who lives next to the two homes, said she will be happy when the residences are occupied. There are currently three or four homes on her block that are vacant, including one by an overseas investor who only lives there a couple of months out of the year. The increased square footage will make the homes more attractive to faculty and their families, and she is looking forward to having the neighborhood be revitalized by families with children. Currently, her young son does not have any children on their street to play with, she said. Stanford has been a good neighbor, employing a management company to keep the yards and homes maintained, she said.

But the homes have been empty for nearly two years, she said, and she wonders if "ghost homes" throughout Palo Alto are contributing to inflated home prices that keep people out.

"It saddens me when I see the homes are empty. I see it as a missed opportunity. There could have been a family integrated into the community," she said.

McCown noted that Stanford's neighborhoods holdings are a small fraction of Palo Alto's 28,000 households and Menlo Park's 12,400. College Terrace has an estimated 900 households of homeowners and renters, according to the residents' association.

Stanford is branching out into other communities to satisfy its need for apartments and condominiums. The university has added to its off-campus housing stock by recently purchasing a 167-unit apartment property in Los Altos rented predominantly to university staff. It is also proposing to build 215 apartments in Menlo Park for staff and faculty on land currently occupied by the Stanford Park Hotel at 500 El Camino Real that is off the core campus.

The university is in the process of building 180 units, including 68 single-family homes and 112 condominiums for staff at University Terrace on Stanford Research Park land adjacent to College Terrace, between California Avenue and Page Mill Road, which is outside of its core campus. And it currently leases approximately 740 apartments for students from Redwood City to Mountain View, according to a list of off-campus subsidized housing.

While the university's general-use permit from Santa Clara County, which governs building on its campus, limits the number of on-campus residences Stanford can add, off-campus housing doesn't count toward that number, McCown said in an email this week.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Stanford buys homes in College Terrace, raising questions

University invests in off-campus housing in Palo Alto, multiple cities

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jul 21, 2017, 6:54 am

In order to meet the housing needs of its faculty, Stanford University has stepped up buying single-family homes throughout Palo Alto and other nearby cities in the last two years, with the lion's share appearing to be in the College Terrace neighborhood, according to county records.

"Single-family homes in neighborhoods is what a lot of faculty want," Stanford spokeswoman Jean McCown told the College Terrace Residents Association board during a May 31 meeting.

"There is demand for a diversity of housing types that Stanford wants to have available to respond to differing circumstances and needs of faculty owners and renters. This includes some neighborhood-based single-family homes to supplement the much greater amount of housing we have been constructing on Stanford lands," she said. "There have been a limited number of purchases as a part of a multi-pronged approach to providing housing in a challenging environment."

Some College Terrace residents expressed concern that their neighborhood could become increasingly owned by Stanford.

"College Terrace is surrounded on three sides by housing for Stanford: Peter Coutts, the Research Park and Escondido Village. It would be a logical step for them to buy up the neighborhood," a resident who lives next to one of the Stanford-owned homes and asked not to be named, said this week.

But McCown said there is no long-term goal for buying up College Terrace.

According to the Santa Clara County Clerk Recorder's office, Stanford is the recorded owner on deeds of at least 23 properties in College Terrace. The university purchased two of the homes in 1977; one in 2000; five during the 2008 housing crisis; two in 2015; nine in 2016 and four so far in 2017.

In an email Wednesday, McCown said seven of the homes and two vacant parcels are slated for redevelopment.

Throughout Palo Alto, the university owns 30 homes, according to McCown. It owns 12 in Menlo Park.

But county records indicate that number could be higher. Stanford uses ground leases, by which the university retains ownership of a property while the "buyer" can build on it or purchase the existing residence. Under such leases, the university can claim it "owns" fewer properties than it does.

In addition to College Terrace, Stanford owns several other single-family homes throughout Palo Alto, including at least three out of 10 homes at the recently built Edgewood Plaza in the Duveneck/St. Francis neighborhood and some on Hawthorne Avenue in the Downtown North neighborhood, county records show.

There are also 120 homes in Menlo Park in the Stanford Hills and near Stanford Creek communities, built in the 1950s on Stanford land, that the university has under ground leases. Stanford didn't count them as "owned" homes in the recent email from McCown.

In College Terrace, Stanford has received some parcels as bequeathed gifts, McCown noted during the May neighborhood meeting. In many cases these are smaller homes or cottages that are not attractive to potential renters or buyers in their current state. Stanford plans to raze some of these homes or renovate them. The university does not plan to turn the sites into apartments or condominiums, she added.

Stanford filed an application with the city on July 14 to demolish a single-story, 1,283-square-foot home at 2040 Columbia St. and construct a new two-story 2,344 square foot home; an 809-square-foot one-story residence at 2070 Columbia would also be replaced by a two-story 2,344 square-foot home, according to City of Palo Alto planning documents.

Leah Russin, who lives next to the two homes, said she will be happy when the residences are occupied. There are currently three or four homes on her block that are vacant, including one by an overseas investor who only lives there a couple of months out of the year. The increased square footage will make the homes more attractive to faculty and their families, and she is looking forward to having the neighborhood be revitalized by families with children. Currently, her young son does not have any children on their street to play with, she said. Stanford has been a good neighbor, employing a management company to keep the yards and homes maintained, she said.

But the homes have been empty for nearly two years, she said, and she wonders if "ghost homes" throughout Palo Alto are contributing to inflated home prices that keep people out.

"It saddens me when I see the homes are empty. I see it as a missed opportunity. There could have been a family integrated into the community," she said.

McCown noted that Stanford's neighborhoods holdings are a small fraction of Palo Alto's 28,000 households and Menlo Park's 12,400. College Terrace has an estimated 900 households of homeowners and renters, according to the residents' association.

Stanford is branching out into other communities to satisfy its need for apartments and condominiums. The university has added to its off-campus housing stock by recently purchasing a 167-unit apartment property in Los Altos rented predominantly to university staff. It is also proposing to build 215 apartments in Menlo Park for staff and faculty on land currently occupied by the Stanford Park Hotel at 500 El Camino Real that is off the core campus.

The university is in the process of building 180 units, including 68 single-family homes and 112 condominiums for staff at University Terrace on Stanford Research Park land adjacent to College Terrace, between California Avenue and Page Mill Road, which is outside of its core campus. And it currently leases approximately 740 apartments for students from Redwood City to Mountain View, according to a list of off-campus subsidized housing.

While the university's general-use permit from Santa Clara County, which governs building on its campus, limits the number of on-campus residences Stanford can add, off-campus housing doesn't count toward that number, McCown said in an email this week.

Comments

Shame on them
Community Center
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:48 am
Shame on them, Community Center
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:48 am
20 people like this

Nothing for anyone to see here. These are sales of private property by their owners. Or doed this need to be discussed and regulated by the council? About
Another attempt by the weekly to stir the pot.


Jennifer Bestor
Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:50 am
Jennifer Bestor, Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:50 am
59 people like this

It would be interesting to contact the Santa Clara County Assessor's office to understand the long-term property tax ramifications of Stanford's purchases. Will this essentially freeze the assessment value of these properties at their current purchase price? Or even just freeze the land value? (Land is often the largest component of property valuation in this area.)
The Palo Alto Unified School District was broadsided last year when a major chunk of expected revenue from new property construction failed to materialize. It turned out that the construction was on the Stanford campus and exempt from property tax. Oops.
If Stanford's newly acquired residential properties inject children, but not cost-adjusted revenue, into PAUSD for generations to come, it will perpetuate the need for additional make-up parcel taxes from everyone else.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton
on Jul 21, 2017 at 10:30 am
Peter Carpenter, Atherton
Registered user
on Jul 21, 2017 at 10:30 am
41 people like this

"The Palo Alto Unified School District was broadsided last year when a major chunk of expected revenue from new property construction failed to materialize. It turned out that the construction was on the Stanford campus and exempt from property tax. Oops. "

This was a self inflicted wound by the school district.

It was the hospital construction and the school district was told repeatedly by the County that there would be no property tax revenue from that development.



KMC
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:07 am
KMC, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:07 am
82 people like this

Stanford can have my house, if they pay fair market value!

I can't stand living here any longer!


Curious
College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:10 am
Curious, College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:10 am
36 people like this

This seems like a high % of the College Terrace properties available for sale in a given year, which are few to begin with:

"The university purchased two in 2015; nine in 2016 and four so far in 2017"


AC
Professorville
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:37 am
AC, Professorville
on Jul 21, 2017 at 11:37 am
36 people like this

Why doesn't Stanford make a deal with Castilleja School, so that Castilleja can relocate to a larger land parcel and rebuild to have space for more students. Stanford could build single family homes on the current Castilleja property (zoned R1-residential) for faculty and staff? This trade would achieve goals of both academic institutions.


Member
College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm
Member, College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:11 pm
49 people like this

Stanford is indeed buying up College Terrace. I live on a street with 3 Stanford ghost houses. With their deep pockets they are making it even more impossible by anyone else to buy in. Not only are they raising prices by bidding whatever it takes, they are leaving the houses vacant--in some cases for years. All of this makes housing impossible for anyone other than Stanford to get into the market.

The story that one gets from Stanford needs a second look. Not only have they been buying housing at an alarming rate and price recently, they have historically co-purchase housing in the neighborhood sharing ownership with professors and high level staff. It would be interesting to look at those numbers. Make Stanford first forever, sound familiar. Could we see their tax returns, probably not.


macbaldy
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm
macbaldy, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm
7 people like this

When I started grad school at Stanford in 1971, College Terrace was Stanford land. I had an office-mate who lived there, at California & Harvard. Palo Alto took over College Terrace for Stanford in about 1974, much like PA now handles the Stanford West and Oak Creek apt complexes between Sand Hill Rd. and San Francisquito Creek, across Sand Hill Rd. from Stanford Medical Center complex.

Legally, Stanford couldn't fully relinquish such lands and PA has merely been a custodian. Stanford Industrial Park is mixed governance, under Stanford Lands Mgmt. and PA. Both PA high schools and the VA Center are on land dedicated by Stanford.

Many in the Stanford area seem to see Stanford as some kind of predator. Stanford U. does have a major role in its regional history but the neighborhoods came after its establishment, not vice versa.


Schreed
Stanford
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm
Schreed, Stanford
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:16 pm
4 people like this

I believe College Terrace used to be Stanford propoerty so they are just slowly taking it back.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:32 pm
14 people like this

It's always entertaining to read fine examples of word parsing. No long term goal for buying up College Terrace? Maybe there's a short term plan or a mid-term plan? I like Stanford and have for years enjoyed living in a college town, but of all the comments above the one by KMC resonated the most. Living in CT these days is kinda like being caught in pincers.


nat
Midtown
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm
nat, Midtown
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:37 pm
5 people like this

I'm confused. Does Stanford pay property tax on housing it owns, whether on campus or off? I would imagine it would.


Mason
Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Mason, Barron Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm
15 people like this

Stanford has relinquished land before via eminent domain. When Palo Alto needed room for new schools, it took some of Stanford's land.

Web Link

"The university and the school district have a long history of cooperation, with five local schools located on land once owned by Stanford.

They are Palo Alto High School, Gunn High School, Escondido, Nixon and Menlo Park's Oak Knoll School.

Paly was transferred to the school district by a grant deed with a reversionary interest that provides it comes back to Stanford if ever not used for school purposes. The other school lands were acquired by eminent domain condemnation that Stanford willingly accepted, according to Jean McCown, a Stanford assistant vice-president and director of community relations."


stanford resident
Stanford
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm
stanford resident, Stanford
on Jul 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm
5 people like this

@nat

I have owned a home on the Stanford campus for 2o + years. I pay property tax to Santa Clara County.



Stanford octopus
Mayfield
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:03 pm
Stanford octopus, Mayfield
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:03 pm
40 people like this

Jean McCown has used both her legal expertese, and history as a member of the City Council to manipulate for developers. Now it is Stanford, earlier it was for Doug Ross, (among others) whose 800 High Street stands as a monument to developers legal trickery.
Where are the public parking spaces that were promised?
Where are the "community gathering places" on the 2 corners, Homer and of Channing?

from The 800 High Ordinance page 4:
The proposed replacement structure, which includes multifamily housing at a density appropriate for a transit oriented development, neighborhood serving retail spaces, publicly accessible plazas, underground parking and underground access to adjacent parcels on Alma Street,

page 6
(viii) The Project will provide publicly accessible open spaces at the corners of High Street and Channing Avenue and High Street and Homer Avenues. The plazas open spaces will include seating, landscaping and a substantial setback from the property line


Ummm. Zoning?
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm
Ummm. Zoning?, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:20 pm
19 people like this

The properties are on land controlled by the city and they are subject to city zoning--which, I think, is mostly R-1 with a small area zoned for medium density housing.

If Stanford is making an effort to house their faculty and staff close by, that is a good thing to reduce inbound regional commuter traffic. Let's not get our panties in a twist about this just yet. Let's see what they propose.


MJ
College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm
MJ, College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:31 pm
34 people like this

Stanford bought the home next to me even though the lovely tenants really wanted to buy it. If it's for stanford faculty to buy I'm more ok with that, but if it is for rotating people all of the time that is disruptive to our neighborhood fabric. I'm guessing they will tear it down and build as big a home as possible (I would rather they could do 2 condos honestly rather than a mega-home); And if it is displacing locals who would buy, that's a bummer too.


Chris
College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm
Chris, College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 1:47 pm
42 people like this

Just to correct comments by macbaldy and Schreed above, College Terrace has never been part of or owned by Stanford.

The 120 acres that became CT were purchased by Peter Spacher and Frederick Weisshaar in 1870, several years before Leland Stanford bought his Palo Alto Stock Farm. Alexander Gordon bought the land from them in the late 1880s and, hoping to attract future Stanford faculty/staff, subdivided it and named the streets after colleges. It was eventually annexed by the town of Mayfield, which in turn was annexed by Palo Alto in 1925.

You can read more about this period in some of the PA Historical Association's books (including one on Mayfield), available at the PA libraries.


mine too
Mayfield
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm
mine too, Mayfield
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm
36 people like this

Stanford can have our house too because I'm also fed up with this town.


John
College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm
John, College Terrace
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm
18 people like this

@ Chris: Thanks for setting the record straight. College terrace was NEVER part of Stanford. Any property sold here in CT will be subject to property taxes. If Stanford sells to anybody else, the property taxes will be adjusted accorded to Prop. 13 rules. If Stanford holds on and only rents to long term tenants, then that will be its business, unless new rules are set.


Mark Silverman
Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm
Mark Silverman, Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm
19 people like this

>Stanford can have my house, if they pay fair market value!
I can't stand living here any longer
>Stanford can have our house too because I'm also fed up with this town.

Hmmm. I have an elderly aunt who resides in CT/Stanford Avenue. Is this a good time to sell? She's currently under Prop. 13 and paid $15,000.00 for her home back in the early 1950s. I have no idea what an old 2BR/1B with dry rot is worth but it has potential as a rental dwelling later down the road.

But the question always arises. Where would one move to?


Stanford rules
Palo Alto High School
on Jul 21, 2017 at 4:16 pm
Stanford rules, Palo Alto High School
on Jul 21, 2017 at 4:16 pm
26 people like this

It's clear this area is all about powerful Stanford. So much for the general public who wishes to purchase a home for their family.


Todd
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm
Todd, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 4:29 pm
3 people like this

@Stanford rules

I don't follow, can the general public not purchase homes or is there a rule/law against it?


PAMom
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2017 at 5:29 pm
PAMom, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2017 at 5:29 pm
6 people like this

Got it, so now we'll add Stanford to the list of undesirable homeowners in Palo alto along with "foreign buyers."


Mark Silverman
Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:02 pm
Mark Silverman, Menlo Park
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:02 pm
25 people like this

Despite its storied and progressive past, PA has become a cold city. This phenomena seems to have begun around the late 1970s as countless Baby-boomers were starting to approach their early 30s. Too much emphasis on money and status exacerbated by the self-serving/self-important mentality of the 1980s.

The 1950s-early 70s PA 'vibe' was lost forever. For those who were fortunate to have lived/grown-up in PA during those times, you know what I'm talking about.


Yup
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm
Yup, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm
11 people like this

[Post removed.]


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:12 pm
15 people like this

@Stanford Resident,

It was my understanding that the terms of Stanford's endowment does not allow Stanford to sell land endowed to the University. All of the Stanford staff and faculty that I have known, all lived on land that was leased to them for 99 years.

Do you actually own your property or do you lease? If you lease, why do you pay property taxes. Perhaps paying property taxes is part of the terms of your lease? If you actually own property on campus, how did that come about?


Kvetch
Green Acres
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:19 pm
Kvetch, Green Acres
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:19 pm
11 people like this

So can we assume that the usual crew complaining incessantly about how much long-time homeowners benefiting from Prop 13 will be complaining as bitterly about Stanford -- and all other businesses -- for as long as they hold these tax-exempt properties?

I still remember how little the adult kids of a Stanford professor said he paid in property taxes, something like $750 -- and that pittance had only recently been imposed. (The retired prof is about 85 or 90.)


Marie
Registered user
Midtown
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:22 pm
Marie, Midtown
Registered user
on Jul 21, 2017 at 7:22 pm
9 people like this

I believe property owners on Stanford land buy the houses but lease the land from Stanford. Even if Stanford pays tax on the land, it would be subject to Prop 13 and valued based on when they purchased it. The Occupants own the houses and pay property taxes based on the value of the house and whatever the lease is valued at when they purchased it. This is a pretty good trick to reduce the overall value since the land is valued based on when Stanford acquired it and the house based on when it was purchased. For most homes in Palo Alto, the value of the land far exceeds the house when purchased.

I don't know if any of the land, particularly on campus, is protected by Stanford's nonprofit status. I doubt it because I would think this would be considered UBI (unrelated business income) but who knows. Any of the land on campus would have a very low property tax value thanks to Prop 13 and possibly the value is discounted by the fact it has limitations as to who can lease it. Other property is rented to Stanford students and employees and again, property taxes would be based on when the land was acquired and when the buildings were built.


Orin Bailey
Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2017 at 12:54 am
Orin Bailey, Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2017 at 12:54 am
31 people like this

Why are some people so resentful of older homeowners covered by Prop 13?
It was implemented to prevent exactly what many PA Weekly contributors complain about, namely waste of taxpayer dollars. Talk to your local politicians and ask them to promote tax ceilings on your overpriced residencies.

We bought our PA home in the 1960s and I am grateful that our property taxes are under $1000 per year (even though the home has now been appraised at $3.2M). Earnings were far less back in the day and retirement incomes/benefits today are considerably less than what many of the high-tech individuals will be earning and receiving later down the road.

Our children are grown up and we have no interest in school bonds and various proposals that no longer serve us any real purpose. It is up to the newer residents and parents to provide for their own kids just as we did.

Many of the complaints voiced by readers pertaining to the City's waste of resources are valid concerns and I am grateful that I'm not paying any more in property taxes towards these questionable city objectives. $1K per year is all they're worth (in my book) and all that they're going to get from me towards their endeavors.

My Millennial-aged grandchildren are always complaining about how hard it is to get by these days. Well boo-hoo as none of them lived through the depression, went to war and later raised a family on a $25-40K annual salary.
Life is tough and you blame most of it on inflation, politicians and corporate greed.

As far as College Terrace is concerned, some residents may get displaced (if renters) while new homeowners come and go. When it comes to Stanford University, keep in mind that it was founded by a somewhat ruthless albeit successful businessman who would probably be the pride of their MBA program had he attended The Graduate School of Business there.


stanford resident
Stanford
on Jul 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm
stanford resident, Stanford
on Jul 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm
13 people like this

To clarify

I own my home on the Stanford campus -I purchased it at market value and pay market value property taxed. When I purchased my home in the mid 1990s, market value on campus used to be about 20% lower than Palo Alto - but I doubt that's the case anymore. I haven't tracked housing prices for a long time, so I don't know. I lease the land.

Only Academic Council faculty are eligible to buy a home on campus. If you want more details about what Academic Council faculty and eligibility, you can look it all up on the Faculty Staff Housing page on the Stanford website.

The land is leased, but I am responsible for the property tax on the house. I receive an assessment of value from the county, and I pay my taxes based on the county. I also pay monthly groundwater and rent to the University on the land. This is based on the size of the property.

I can tear down, rebuild, remodel my house as I want (within rules of Stanford and Santa Clara County) the same as any homeowner in any other city. Stanford is happy to have homeowners remodel and rebuild houses. When I significantly remodeled my home, my property tax went up, based on Santa Clara Tax Assessor's formula.

I also pay monthly groundwater and rent to the University for the land. I am under the same drought restrictions on water use as the University is under for the County. I can landscape however I want (within Santa Clara rules) and am responsible for all the plantings, the hardscape, the water use, gardeners, maintenance, etc. I have to go through the county to get a permit for removal of any tree (which I had to do when a large tree died during the drought). I pay for the tree to be removed. I also have to go through the county for any permits for significant outdoor work.

There are a range of leases on the Stanford campus. They are complicated and some allow for 99 year or 49 year leases and others specifically state how long you can remain in your home after retirement. There are some exceptions - certain houses come with certain jobs - Memorial Church Chaplain, President and Police Chief, for example.

Bottom Line: I pay taxes on my home to Santa Clara County based on Santa Clara County Assessment of value. I pay Stanford for groundwater and rent. I am responsible for costs associated with maintenance or improvements to the property and the house.

I can understand why someone might be concerned about the University purchasing properties off campus. I'm sure there are issues I haven't considered and no doubt there are important issues to be considered.

I will say that college professors are generally quiet and community oriented. Certainly not the same as having a frat house or a drug dealer living in your neighborhood. Also, my kids' private 6-12 school purchased an apartment building in Menlo Park to house teachers. It's nice to have the teachers live so close to school instead of having to commute an hour or more. I haven't heard of any significant complaints in Menlo Park about teachers living in the community and walking to work.







Derek
College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:10 pm
Derek, College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:10 pm
4 people like this

@Orin Bailey

"Why are some people so resentful of older homeowners covered by Prop 13?"

Because you voted yourself a huge tax freeze that younger generations have to make up for. And with Props 58 and 193 you voted to pass down those tax breaks to your heirs. When you were raising a family, the retired members of the community didn't say "I'm done raising kids; I should stop paying property taxes." No, they paid their share, and you should too.


John
College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:36 pm
John, College Terrace
on Jul 22, 2017 at 9:36 pm
16 people like this

@ Derek: My taxes were never frozen. They go up 2% each year. Palo Alto should be able to live within that parameter, especially given a big jump in taxes when a parcel is sold. I don't know what dream world you are living in, but when I sent my kids to local schools they were hardly shining jewels, in fact they were shabby...so the previous older generation was not as generous as you insist. Just curious: How old are you? Are you a PA property owner?


Faculty
Ventura
on Jul 22, 2017 at 10:43 pm
Faculty, Ventura
on Jul 22, 2017 at 10:43 pm
30 people like this

I am a new Stanford faculty member who has been trying to purchase a home in the College Terrace Neighborhood for over a year, continually outbid. Every house in our price range has had multiple offers and is basically sold in a bidding war. Now I know who the deep pocket all cash buyer was all those times this past year; I am very curious to compare the houses I bid on to the list of properties ultimately purchased by Stanford. I find it ironic I was likely outbid by my employer, who is supposedly buying up this property to house- me and my colleagues?


Todd
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2017 at 11:14 am
Todd, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2017 at 11:14 am
3 people like this

I like Johns subtle implication that these are young people complaining - while completely missing the point about government not being able to live within its means. Sorry old timer, you can't blame the kids for that!


Mason
Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 10:27 am
Mason, Barron Park
on Jul 24, 2017 at 10:27 am
16 people like this

Stanford could solve its employee housing problems by building more houses and apartments on its land. It has acres and acres of undeveloped land. I believe Stanford is the largest private landowner on the peninsula.

If it can't sell its land to a private developer to build housing, it should build the housing itself. It would be the responsible thing to do as Stanford grows its employment and student base without consuming other cities' housing. Moreover, it would cut the traffic impact of Bay Area newcomers if they can work/school near where they live.

There's a big chunk of open land fronting the west side of El Camino next to Palo Alto that's perfect for high density housing. It's next to the major Caltrain and bus stop on University. I don't understand why Stanford doesn't pursue that option. This land is county land, not Palo Alto's. Thus, Stanford could avoid the "Palo Alto process."


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:14 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 6:14 pm
11 people like this

If Stanford is buying homes in College Terrace, will they be building ADUs to house students, undergrad as well as postgrad, in bunk beds?


Ahem
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 7:54 pm
Ahem, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 7:54 pm
25 people like this

People need to think of Stanford not as a university but as a diversified corporate conglomerate with major operations in the healthcare, real-estate, and education sectors.

Not being able to sell land is a competitive disadvantage for the real-estate division of the Stanford conglomerate. Prospective homeowners understand land makes up the lion's share of a Palo Alto property's value and owning property that can be sold or inherited is a better investment than owning a structure and a lease that terminates when you decease.

The whole concept of land ownership is a threat to the real-estate division's on-campus business model. Stanford doesn't sell land to prospective homeowners even on land it develops in Palo Alto because that would undermine the uncompetitive but currently very lucrative on-campus business model.

Faculty members attempting to invest in College Terrace are out-bid by the conglomerate's real-estate division to keep faculty on the reservation and trapped in the on-campus model and mindset.

Any faculty or staff investing in Palo Alto real-estate and thereby achieving independence from the conglomerate also sets a rather disturbing example for those who have accepted the limited returns of the on-campus model.


Joe
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 9:11 pm
Joe, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2017 at 9:11 pm
11 people like this

@Stanford-Resident's posting is clear, concise and correct. What needs to be added is that if Stanford owns the house (and land), they can get a tax exemption (they can also pay the tax, but generally don't). Stanford is free to provide free housing to guests, or others, as it sees fit.

Stanford lands are generally tax exempt unless they lease any of their property to commercial operations. Virtually all of the properties in the Stanford Park are leased to commercial companies, which are responsible for the property taxes. If a property goes idle, Stanford is relentless getting the property assessment returned to zero until the property is leased again.

If Stanford buys properties off campus, and rents/leases to anyone, it's up to Stanford how they want to deal with the taxes. It's very likely that they retain the rights to the land, leaving the occupant responsible for the taxes--which would be at market rate if the property is recently purchased. Otherwise, Prop.13's 2% assessment and 1% tax rates apply.


recent owner
another community
on Jul 25, 2017 at 3:37 pm
recent owner, another community
on Jul 25, 2017 at 3:37 pm
Like this comment

re:prop 13

No all newcomers have children ( I don't and will not) and those who don't pay high property taxes precisely because long term owners don't.

The services that the city/cities provided ( libraries, roads, public works, police, etc) are paid mainly by the property taxes of more recent owners but enjoyed by all.

How can this be fair?

I can't wait for prop 13 to start being eroded, so that all contribute adequately to the services rendered by the city.

I'm a little wary of freeloaders.


Curmudgeon
Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2017 at 4:29 pm
Curmudgeon, Downtown North
on Jul 25, 2017 at 4:29 pm
11 people like this

"...completely missing the point about government not being able to live within its means."

Everybody wants big government socialism--for themselves. Nobody wants to pay for it.


word
College Terrace
on Jul 25, 2017 at 9:33 pm
word, College Terrace
on Jul 25, 2017 at 9:33 pm
15 people like this

So they'll buy property but not pay their employees enough to buy a home on their Stanford income. I know I've seen this before somewhere...


Scotty the Boot
College Terrace
on Jul 26, 2017 at 9:45 am
Scotty the Boot, College Terrace
on Jul 26, 2017 at 9:45 am
16 people like this

It's Stanford v Chinese investment firms in the college terrace!

Nice how our elected officials (local and state) won't do anything about this until it's to late.


About Prop 13
Professorville
on Jul 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm
About Prop 13, Professorville
on Jul 26, 2017 at 2:43 pm
10 people like this

My property tax seemed very high when I first bout my house: it added $1,000/ month to my payments.

But it only increases 2-3% per year.

Before Prop 13, people's property taxes were increasing 50-100% per year. That drove many people, both young and old at the time.

Stay in your house long enough to appreciate Prop 13!

We will move to a larger, more expensive house in the next year. Between losing 25% to the IRS, 10% to the state, and a huge increase in property taxes and mortgage payments, it's gonna hurt. A lot. But we outgrew our house four years ago!


Lalo
another community
on Jul 26, 2017 at 6:03 pm
Lalo, another community
on Jul 26, 2017 at 6:03 pm
3 people like this

I sold my small Palo Alto ranch house residence a few years back for a multi-million dollar price. Could care less who bought it as long as the check cleared. Now live on a 10 acre Central Valley property with beautiful views and friendly folks. Palo Alto was once a great city but now is pretty much a ****hole. My advice is to sell now and move on


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

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