School board asks for Stanford to mitigate growth | News | Palo Alto Online |


School board asks for Stanford to mitigate growth

Members approve resolution as Santa Clara County begins GUP negotiations

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The Palo Alto school board unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday night asking the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors to require Stanford University to give the district both land and money to offset the impact of additional students generated by the university's expansion plan.

The resolution is the board's firmest stance yet on Stanford's proposed general use permit (GUP), which proposes building more than 2 million square feet of academic space by 2035. Santa Clara County is in the midst of reviewing the university's general use permit, including starting negotiations on a potential development agreement between the two entities.

The resolution asks that Stanford be contractually required to pay annual payments to the district (or a related party, such as fundraising organization Palo Alto Partners in Education), with the payment based on the number of students attending the district who live in tax-exempt eligible housing owned by Stanford; to set aside 4 acres or more of land on or near the Sand Hill Road/Quarry Road corridor for a new elementary school; and to make a direct contribution beyond mandated developer fees to mitigate the cost of building a new school.

The resolution emphasizes the district's commitment to providing neighborhood schools, including for students who might live in new housing planned under the GUP.

There is little clarity on exactly how many new students the GUP will generate given the uncertainty in long-term enrollment forecasting. The district estimates the proposed housing could generate anywhere from 275 to 860 to 1,450 additional students. (The second two estimates are from [higher-density housing alternatives studied by the county.)

Given that Stanford rental housing is eligible for property tax exemptions and as a community-funded district, Palo Alto Unified relies heavily on property tax revenue, there is mounting concern among district leadership and parents that without assurances that Stanford will help address the cost of increased enrollment, the district will face budget shortfalls, class size increases and program reductions.

Board President Ken Dauber said Wednesday that this amounts to "an existential threat to the quality of education in Palo Alto."

The cost of building a new elementary school, not including ongoing operational costs, is about $100 million. The most conservative estimate for the mandated developer fees that the district would receive for a new school is $2 million, according to a staff presentation.

Board member Todd Collins emphasized the importance of securing commitment to land for a new elementary school, suggesting that "when Stanford says 'there is no land for a school,' what they seem to mean is 'we place a higher priority on other things.'"

"As Stanford creates new neighborhoods, we hope they will help us create new neighborhood schools," Collins said.

Vice President Jennifer DiBrienza noted that the district will likely also face a separate influx of students under the city of Palo Alto's new Comprehensive Plan, which will guide housing and development for the next 12 years.

Jade Chao, president of the Palo Alto Council of PTAs, read a "wish list" to the school board related to the general use permit, including that the district maintain the current per-student funding level of $19,000; adhere to its neighborhood school policy; maintain current class sizes; and that Stanford offer to sell land to Palo Alto Unified at fair market value for a new elementary school or provide funding to add a second story on an existing elementary school, among other items.

Dauber said he hopes the school board's resolution will not be read as "a confrontational or accusatory statement with respect to Stanford's intentions" and that he has "a lot of confidence in our shared interests."

Jean McCown, Stanford's associate vice president for government and community relations, echoed during public comment that the university is "committed to good faith, substantive discussions with the district that can lead to a collaborative agreement."

However, she repeated a previously voiced concern about potential conflict of interest for certain board members participating in decisions related to the general use permit, suggesting that "it would be unfortunate if this uncertainty could create vulnerability regarding the legality of agreements we might reach with the district."

Dauber, whose wife is a Stanford professor, reiterated that the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), in response to an inquiry from Collins, whose wife also works at Stanford, has said it is appropriate for both of them to participate in discussions related to the general use permit.

The county plans to begin negotiating a development agreement with Stanford soon, according to Geoff Bradley, president and principal of Metropolitan Planning Group and the consulting project manager for the county on the GUP. A website will be posted later this week for the public to provide feedback on the agreement.

Bradley anticipates a "robust community outreach" period in the early spring related to the potential development agreement, including public hearings and workshops with the county Planning Commission. The Board of Supervisors is expected to take it up in May or June, Bradley said.

The county is holding a public meeting to solicit ideas for potential community benefits to be included in the development agreement -- including transportation, housing, schools, health services, economic development, community services, sustainability, and open space -- at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29, at Palo Alto City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave.


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6 people like this
Posted by No Way Out
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2018 at 9:07 am

Do you think some of these people who never met a densification and housing proposal they didn't like are talking out of the other side of their mouths now that they think Stanford will build a new school? I think rather than a new school, Stanford should be required to give us some of that magic expandable infrastructure the City seems to think is going to appear after all the office overdevelopment.

Much of PA and MP lives up against the Foothills, and this is earthquake country. After seeing the news of the nightmare evacuations north of here because there was no thought to emergency evacuation planning and egress, you would think finally someone would remember that little thing called "safety". (e.g., Thinking of that idiotic hardscape maze being created on Foothill Expwy over by Stanford right now. Is Stanford going to cut down all the trees there now, or just take out larger life insurance policies on its employees who live over there and will be trapped?). Safety, water, traffic circulation, time/productivity, stress...people sitting in their cars or on transit 20+ hours a week they could be spending with their families.

On the other hand, I actually wonder why everyone is after Stanford. They have been here as long as Palo Alto. They should be the priority when we think of who can expand (over, say, companies that take over downtown). Nah, they have been pushing the overdevelopment, too...

6 people like this
Posted by DS
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 15, 2018 at 11:04 am

Seriously? Another 2mm square feet? If you want to keep things from getting worse, STOP BUILDING!!!! More commercial/educational space at Stanford just steepens the death spiral of congestion and housing pricing.

Push back on Stanford's expansion plans. Push back on Santa Clara and San Mateo County Planning Commissions, insisting on a moratorium on ALL commercial development.

Unless of course you like the current trends of traffic and congestion...

4 people like this
Posted by pmarca
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:09 pm

We need more office space, housing and we need much higher-density to counter the years of inefficient land use.

In fact, 2 million sq ft sounds like a lot, but it's actually not that much at all.

That said, we also need to make sure that if housing results in more students (children attending public schools), there's a way to insure that is handled as part of any impact.

Not sure why the housing at Stanford includes children in the first place, but if it's housing for faculty or staff, there may be people with families.

3 people like this
Posted by pmarca
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:14 pm

If Palo Alto school officials are smart, they should encourage and support Stanford building skyscrapers if needed that will include plenty of office space, academic use and yes, housing because it will relieve the pressure from elsewhere in the community. The only thing school officials should request is that housing that allows for children should include more funding or facilities for schools

7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:15 pm

Posted by pmarca, a resident of Stanford

>> We need more office space, housing and we need much higher-density to counter the years of inefficient land use.

Rhetorical question: if "we" need more office space, do "we" also need more cars?

Anyway, how dense do you propose? Let's see some actual, consistent numbers. If you are serious, I hope you are pushing Stanford to build its own subway system, which is the only transportation technology known that can support true high density development.

20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:23 pm

The final resolution asked for 3 things: land for a school, money to help build it, and on-going money based on the number of students who actually comes from Stanford (tax exempt) rental housing. This just seems seems like common sense.

5 people like this
Posted by swinging door for development
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 15, 2018 at 12:35 pm

McCown referred again to >potential conflict of interest for certain board members participating in decisions related to the general use permit<

Count on development lawyer Jean McCown to raise off-topic issues to break the vote. She was on Palo Alto's City Council advocating for developers, then she went into working for developers directly.

36 people like this
Posted by Stanford Alum
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 15, 2018 at 1:35 pm

@swinging door - amen to that. Plus, the two people they are trying to push off (Dauber and Collins) are the two most outspoken about Stanford needing to pay up.

As a Stanford alum, I'm super disappointed with Stanford's administration - apparently they have offered nothing, literally nothing, for the schools, and now are trying to game the system to remove their opponents. Is this really how one of the world's top universities behaves?

Hey, Stanford leadership and trustees - please provide some adult supervision. This is really hurting your reputation as a good community partner.

23 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm

With all its money and land, why can't Stanford create its own 'n-house' school district? The enrollment would be small and sourcing teacher candidates through the Stanford Education Department should pose no problem.

17 people like this
Posted by Stanford blowing smoke
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 15, 2018 at 2:55 pm

By "conflict of interest" Stanford means that having Dauber and Collins involved conflicts with Stanford's interest in imposing a huge cost on its neighbors without any compensation. Thanks to the school board for seeing through this and telling the supervisors what our students need!

5 people like this
Posted by PAUSD Parent
a resident of Terman Middle School
on Nov 15, 2018 at 5:34 pm

School district proposed building a new elementary school. What about the impact to middle school and high school? Who is going to cover the construction cost and land use cost for that?

12 people like this
Posted by Shame on Stanford
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 15, 2018 at 8:08 pm

Joe Simitian, we are depending on you. Do the right thing and protect our school district. You know it's the crown Jewel of Palo Alto. Screw this up and you can forget any higher office. Get it done and you'll be hero for life.

3 people like this
Posted by Milk the cow
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 15, 2018 at 8:31 pm

Of course the pausd needs Stanford to bail then out. According to the daily post, the district psid $566,000 in the last 5 months to a single attorney.
Stanford is the cash cow to be milked by palo alto when they, as usual cannot manage their finances.
Of course if Stanford does build this school, it cannot be to talk. It will have to resemble a birge Clark/ julia morgan designed building. And we should hold a design contest for it.

6 people like this
Posted by GrandmaKK
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2018 at 9:05 pm

“If you want to keep things from getting worse, STOP BUILDING!!!! “ hmmm that sounds like what I’ve been saying for years. And why I call it The Winchester University. I’m not sure what they think will happen if they stop building, but it must be a real nightmare, like what we, as it’s neighbors, are living through with the added traffic, overbuilt city, etc.
Good for Palo Alto for standing up to the behemoth for once!!

3 people like this
Posted by oh really
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2018 at 9:27 pm

"pmarca" is the twitter handle for Marc Andreessen. No way to tell here if it actually is him, just to point out that Marc Andreessen stands to make money from more development.

8 people like this
Posted by Scared
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 15, 2018 at 10:51 pm

I am beginning to notice that our University administrators are scared of each other.

Serveal times now the University's GUP strategy has taken a path they don't want. Each time, the lower level admin look decimated like they expect a pink slip the next morning. I think I saw then crying after a vote. Has Stanford fired anyone yet for this strange GUP circus strategy?

At this point these University admin are wasting our elected officials' time with madeup games and distracting them from real issues like low income housing.

How much of Simitian's time is spent each week on the GUP and how much is on low income housing?

Like this comment
Posted by March on San Jose.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2018 at 11:23 am

March on San Jose. is a registered user.

The Stanford GUP decision will be made by the County Board of Supervisors. Joe Simitian gets ONLY ONE vote on that 5-member Board. He cannot, by himself, save us from the county board which has never been a friend to Palo Alto.

If you want specific mitigations in the development agreement, you need to tell the entire five member board. You need to persuade at least three of them to vote your way.

Here's the website where you can find Board Members' contact info Web Link The only times we have been really successful persuading San Jose to help us were times when members of Council and the BOE with citizens caravanned to San Jose and spoke as a group. March on San Jose. Shower them with letters. Joe is an excellent representative, but he cannot fight his battle alone. He needs our help. He has been asking for our help.

Don't ask Joe to do the impossible if you are not doing your part as citizens. Kvetching on PA Online is not useful or effective. Weekly, it would be useful to hear how other supervisors are positioning themselves on this issue and it would be useful to learn more details about how the Stanford GUP negotiations are going and how citizens can participate in this process.

Question: Do we want Stanford to mitigate housing, traffic or school impacts? We must be specific about what we want and how we want it mitigated. We won't get everything we want. We never do, so set some mitigation priorities. That will require the city and school district collaborating --and it will require some real leadership from staff and electeds at both of those agencies.

Let's stop kvetching and get cracking!

1 person likes this
Posted by What We Can Do.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 16, 2018 at 1:13 pm

What We Can Do. is a registered user.

From: Supervisor Simitian []
Sent: Friday, November 16, 2018 1:07 PM
To: Loquist, Kristina
Subject: Stanford 2018 GUP - Development Agreement Community Meeting

The County of Santa Clara is hosting its first public meeting regarding a possible development agreement between the County and Stanford University. Details are below. We hope you can attend, but if you can’t there are always other ways to be sure your voice is heard. I hope to be sending out a follow up email soon with a link to a new website about a development agreement. It will have a link to provide comments.

Best Regards,

Kristina Loquist

Office of Supervisor Simitian


From: Kumar, Kavitha
Sent: Thursday, November 8, 2018 3:10 PM
To: Geoff Bradley <>
Subject: Stanford 2018 GUP - Development Agreement Community Listening Meeting

Stanford 2018 GUP - Development Agreement Community Listening Meeting

Come share the community benefits you believe should be included in a Stanford University and County of Santa Clara Development Agreement.

City of Palo Alto Council Chambers

250 Hamilton Avenue

Palo Alto, CA 94301

Thursday, November 29, 2018

6:30 pm

Come share your ideas with County staff, Supervisor Simitian, and Supervisor Chavez. They will be there to listen to your input!

At this Development Agreement Listening Meeting, you will have the opportunity to:

· Learn about development agreements and the Development Agreement process as it relates to Stanford’s development proposal and the General Use Permit.

· Suggest community benefits that could be considered in a Development Agreement.

Community Benefit Categories Include:

Transportation Economic Development

Housing Community Services

Schools Sustainability

Health Services Open Space

Background Information:

In 2000, Stanford University was granted a General Use Permit by the County of Santa Clara to provide a framework for how the University would grow its academic and housing facilities over the long term Stanford is nearing completion of the more than two million square feet of academic facilities and more than 4,000 housing units/beds authorized by the 2000 General Use Permit and seeks to address future development needs through the year 2035. Approved development would be granted with a new 2018 General Use Permit.

At the University’s request, Stanford and the County of Santa Clara are entering into Development Agreement discussions. The potential amenities and improvements that Stanford may be able to provide to the surrounding communities and neighborhoods will be a key subject of discussion. Development Agreements are voluntary contracts that can result in the applicant providing community benefits outside of the regulatory process in exchange for the public agency agreeing to “freeze” the development standards applicable to the project for the term of the agreement. It is important that County staff and the Supervisors hear your ideas and suggestions on the range and type of issues that could be considered for inclusion in the Development Agreement, prior to entering discussions with Stanford University.

We hope to see you on November 29th at 6:30 pm!

For More Information Contact:

Geoff I. Bradley, AICP | Stanford GUP Project Manager

Principal, M-Group

307 Orchard City Drive, Suite 100 | Campbell, CA 95008

Phone: 408-340-5642 x102



Kavitha Kumar | Senior Planner

Stanford University Planning Program Manager

Department of Planning and Development

County of Santa Clara

70 West Hedding Street, East Wing, 7th Floor | San José, CA 95110

Phone: 408-299-5783


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 18, 2018 at 10:00 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

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