News

Meeting set for Tuesday on Stanford expansion

Public comment period winding down for university's large-scale expansion plan

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will host a public meeting on Tuesday regarding Stanford University's 2018 General Use Permit (GUP) application. As the public comment period is ending Feb. 2, the meeting will be one of the last opportunities for residents to make verbal public comments regarding the GUP.

If the permit is approved, the permit will allow Stanford University to build up to 2.275 million square feet in academic space, 3,150 housing units and 40,000 square feet of child care space and other supporting facilities between 2018 and 2035. Due to requests from the cities of Palo Alto and Menlo Park, Santa Clara County planners extended the public comment period in late November to Feb. 2.

"We had the initial comment period of 60 days — that period has been extended by an additional 60 days, which takes us to Feb. 2, 2018," Simitian said. "There does seem to be a growing awareness of, and interest in, the project, and I wanted to make sure we provided a final opportunity before the comment period closes for people to weigh in."

The meetings allow the public to make comments regarding the corresponding Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for Stanford's proposed expansion.

The proposed expansion, if granted, could bring a diverse range of consequences to surrounding communities. According to Simitian, residents are most concerned about the impact on traffic, the existing housing crisis, protection of the foothills and the issue of the campus's eventual "maximum build-out," or the point at which Stanford will stop expanding permanently.

Palo Alto officials remain concerned about lack of relative housing proposed in the expansion, which would encompass a population expansion of more than 9,600 people, including students, faculty and support staff, Simitian said in an earlier interview with the Weekly.

Traffic is an area of major concern, although since 2000, Stanford has largely upheld its policy of "no net new trips," which commits the university to limit contributions to rush-hour traffic. The university has only exceeded the commute threshold three times since it began the policy, each time doing so by only slightly more than 1 percent. Now, with the added strain from the proposed expansion, the city is unconvinced that the university will be able to continue upholding the policy.

Residents also remain skeptical of the local government's ability to mitigate the impacts of the expansion, according to Simitian. "Putting Stanford University aside for a minute, what I've heard from folks in the community is 'look, every time a project gets approved in any jurisdiction, we're told that the impacts are fully mitigated, and yet here we are, all these years later, with traffic that is worse, and a housing crisis that has grown exponentially worse,'" he said. "And understandably, people have grown skeptical about the ability of local governments to truly mitigate the impacts of development, and I think those questions are going to be front and center as we go through the process."

The hearing aims to give members of the public a last chance to submit a verbal comment regarding the EIR. Once comments are recorded, the county is "obliged to respond" to them, Simitian said. "I think almost everyone I talked to wants Stanford University to continue to prosper and succeed in its mission, but they also want Stanford University to fully mitigate the impacts of their development. That's the challenge," he said. "If people want to make sure that their issue is heard, is considered, is analyzed, then this is the time."

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 23, from 6-8 p.m. at Palo Alto City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.

• Watch Palo Alto Weekly journalists discuss Stanford's expansion on a "Behind the Headlines" webcast.

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Comments

13 people like this
Posted by You're Being Hoodwinked
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2018 at 12:19 pm

The article claims, "Stanford has largely upheld its policy of 'no net new trips.'" Wrong!

What the article doesn't explain is that the policy doesn't mean what it says. Stanford doesn't count vehicles that drop people off or pick people up from the campus as "trips." Stanford doesn't count vehicles that park off-campus, even though they may cause just as much impact on neighborhoods. Stanford then lowers its counts by buying credits from other organizations. Those organizations may spend money to reduce traffic in areas far from Palo Alto but with no impact on our city. So the actual number of trips to and from Stanford may be going up and up and up -- but Stanford gets to claim otherwise.

We need full and honest reporting on Stanford's true traffic. Every car entering and leaving campus should count. A diligent effort to include cars parking off-campus is needed. All studies should be conducted by independent contractors not hired by Stanford. Stanford shouldn't be able to claim any credits for off-campus efforts. All studies should be open and fully-documented and the dates when surveys are done made public.

Then, and only then, should we even consider Stanford campus expansion.


10 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 18, 2018 at 12:31 pm

If we de-annexed Stanford, we'd solve our jobs-housing kerfuffle immediately. Why should Palo Alto ruin itself for a problem Stanford created? Let Stanford face ABAG.


11 people like this
Posted by cosy with developers
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 18, 2018 at 10:58 pm

Stanford developers are just as aggressive and dishonest as lots of other developers around town. They wrap themselves in the University aura but are just as greedy and dishonest as the worst of them.
The development team uses their prior connections with city officials, and with the Chamber of Commerce. Just watch Liz Kniss get all smiley and cozy with some of them at the Council.


4 people like this
Posted by Inflated palo alto
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:14 pm

You all realize that the vast majority of Stanford is not in Palo Alto


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2018 at 1:44 pm

"You all realize that the vast majority of Stanford is not in Palo Alto"

But too much of the nuisance part is in Palo Alto.


3 people like this
Posted by Inflated palo alto
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 19, 2018 at 3:25 pm

Tough luck, Curmudgeon. You, cosy with developers, Joe, karen. Cheryl, Eric, Tom and the rest can huff and puff all you want.


2 people like this
Posted by Inflated palo alto
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 19, 2018 at 3:28 pm

BTW curmudgeon, You have no problem with all the tax revenue from the nuisance shopping center that pours into palo alto coffers. Karen doesn't.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 19, 2018 at 3:41 pm

"BTW curmudgeon, You have no problem with all the tax revenue from the nuisance shopping center that pours into palo alto coffers. Karen doesn't."

Alright, alright. If it means that much to you and Karen we'll keep the shopping center.


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

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