Stanford's application to Santa Clara County for a renewed land-use permit has initiated a robust community discussion about the role Stanford plays in Palo Alto and our other local communities. We welcome the dialogue, and we appreciate the opportunity to engage in a constructive and fact-based discussion about the shared future of Stanford and our region.
One topic of interest has been Stanford's financial contribution to the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD). The ongoing success of Palo Alto's public schools is very important to the Stanford community, and Stanford has a long history of partnering with PAUSD in support of local public education.
Unfortunately, a number of comments have surfaced recently that potentially leave some with the impression that Stanford does not contribute financially to our schools or does not contribute its appropriate share. In addition, speculative assertions have been made that future Stanford housing would add 1,500 children to Palo Alto schools. That is not the case.
Stanford lands devoted to academic uses are tax exempt under the California Constitution, under the same provision that exempts property of local government, public schools, state universities and religious institutions. But Stanford also has devoted significant lands in the Stanford Research Park and at the Stanford Shopping Center to commercial uses that are not exempt and generate significant tax revenues for PAUSD. In addition, much of Stanford's housing is subject to property taxes that support PAUSD — including the 960 residences in our on-campus faculty neighborhoods, the 628 rental units in the Stanford West complex along Sand Hill Road and the new University Terrace neighborhood.
In Fiscal Year 2017-2018, an estimated $23.8 million for PAUSD was generated from just the commercial properties on Stanford lands, or about 10 percent of the district's income.
A substantial majority of PAUSD students who reside in Stanford housing live in residences that contribute property taxes to the school district. In the case of those who live in tax-exempt residences on campus, such as the Escondido Village housing for graduate-student families, the sizeable tax contribution from Stanford's commercial lands more than supports the cost of their enrollment in PAUSD.
Under Stanford's proposed 2018 General Use Permit, Stanford has asked to build up to 550 apartments for faculty and staff between now and 2035. If families with children were to occupy all of these units, PAUSD's student generation rate estimates there could be 275 school-age children. Stanford has not proposed future housing that would add 1,500 students.
Data from the 2016-2017 school year shows that students living in tax-exempt Stanford residences represented less than 2 percent of PAUSD students — yet, tax revenue from Stanford's commercial lands alone contributed nearly 10 percent of PAUSD's income that year. This tax revenue would continue to more than support new students from Stanford's housing.
Stanford's support for Palo Alto's schools extends beyond current tax revenue, of course. Stanford has provided much of the land for Palo Alto schools. Today, four schools are located on 112 acres previously owned by the university — Palo Alto High School, Gunn High School, Escondido Elementary School and Nixon Elementary School. These lands comprise 40 percent of the current PAUSD land portfolio.
We have also supported the education, safety and wellness of students through community partnerships with Project Safety Net, Safe Routes to Schools and Abilities United Employment Services Program. The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital School Program is a unique collaboration between PAUSD and the hospital that provides quality education to critically and chronically ill children.
Stanford is committed to its partnership with PAUSD and to addressing the District's concerns about how to best serve new students as Stanford's future housing plans take shape. Moreover, as we plan for Stanford's future over the next 20 years, Stanford welcomes the community's input on key issues of concern. The university's original application was carefully structured to minimize the impact of Stanford's academic mission on our neighbors, and we are pursuing additional solutions that are responsive to the concerns of local residents. More information is available at gup.stanford.edu.
Jean McCown is associate vice president for government and community relations at Stanford University. She can be reached at [email protected]