News


School board considers legal options for Stanford growth

Board members to discuss anticipated litigation in closed session

The Palo Alto Unified school board will meet with a district attorney in closed session on Tuesday to discuss options for taking legal action regarding the impact of Stanford University's proposed expansion plan.

The school district has become increasingly vocal in its demands for mitigations as negotiations with the university over its proposed general use permit (GUP), which school staff believes will generate enough students to impact the district's budget significantly, have broken down, Superintendent Don Austin said in an interview Sunday.

"Stanford's reluctance to have any meaningful dialogue with us and in fact to be at this point in time without acknowledging that there's an impact to the school district in any way and subsequently offering no thoughts about mitigating efforts — we're going to look at absolutely every aspect of the GUP and anything that might be a path for us to take to re-engage Stanford in the process," Austin said.

In a letter to Austin on Tuesday, Stanford took issue with this characterization and said that "Stanford is committed to constructive and fact-based discussions with PAUSD about the 2018 General Use Permit in order to understand concerns about potential future conditions and to consider how they might be addressed."

The school board planned to discuss its legal options in the context of Santa Clara County's environmental impact report pertaining to the general use permit, which would allow Stanford to build up to 2.275 million square feet of academic space, 3,150 new housing units or beds (this includes 550 that would be available for faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars and medical residents), and 40,000 square feet for child care centers and transit hubs by 2035.

There is little clarity on exactly how many students this would generate for the school district. The district estimates at the low end it could be more than 200 and at the high end, as many as 1,450 additional students, while a Stanford fact sheet asserts an estimate of 275 students is "conservatively high." The district is concerned that these students would come without funding attached, given Stanford rental housing is eligible for property tax exemptions. As a community-funded school district, Palo Alto Unified relies heavily on property tax revenue.

Released in December, the final environmental impact report asserts that existing district schools could accommodate new students generated by Stanford's growth.

The report states the district has "multiple options to explore before building a new school, including reactivating existing school sites such as Cubberley, Greendell and Garland, and utilizing properties currently leased to private school providers."

The district disagrees and says its priority is not capacity but rather offering neighborhood schools to serve children who live nearby.

"The route we have is to go back to the county and say, 'please look at this; there are things we disagree with in here,'" board President Jennifer DiBrienza said of the environmental impact report.

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

The resolution asks that Stanford be contractually required to pay annual payments to the district, 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.

Austin said it became clear to him during meetings throughout the fall between district leadership and Stanford representatives, including Jean McCown, Stanford's associate vice president for government and community relations, that the university was unwilling to pursue such mitigation options. The last meeting they had was about two weeks before the board approved the resolution, Austin said.

Since the board approved its resolution, the university's "actions have been predicated on the board resolution conveying that the county was the entity to whom the school district seemed to entrust these matters and decision," Martin Shell, vice president and chief external relations officer for Stanford, wrote in the letter to Austin Tuesday.

Stanford will soon present to the Board of Supervisors proposals for additional community benefits, including related to the school district, Shell wrote.

The district has been ramping up its lobbying efforts related to Stanford's growth in recent weeks, including by creating a 24-page briefing book and new website to lay out its concerns. Austin sent the briefing document to the Board of Supervisors earlier this month, writing that Stanford is "unilaterally deciding to negatively impact per-pupil funding in a single school district without regard to the fallout for all Palo Alto staff and students.

"Throughout my career, I cannot think of another example when a similar scenario would have been considered viable or appropriate," he wrote in a Jan. 4 letter to the supervisors.

The Board of Supervisors recently started negotiations with Stanford on a first-of-its-kind "development agreement," which is giving both sides the opportunity to request concessions and amenities that fall outside the purview of the environmental-review process.

The county has been notified about the school board's closed-session discussion of possible legal action, Austin said.

Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo partner John Dietrich, who specializes in school facilities and real property, will be advising the board on this matter, according to Austin.

"We're going to pursue every avenue that we have at our disposal to make sure that our students aren't negatively impacted by Stanford's growth," DiBrienza said.

The board did not announce any reportable action after coming out of closed session on Tuesday evening.

---

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

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 14, 2019 at 11:31 am

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

A new school? Silly. Additional classrooms or reopen closed schools? Yes. Stanford pay for new classrooms and each new student in the PA District? Absolutely.


Like this comment
Posted by sunset
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 14, 2019 at 11:39 am

Where do the children in the new Stanford housing homes along California Avenue attend school? Do they go to Nixon/Gunn? Or Escondido/PALY? Is any negative impact from those students projected?


24 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2019 at 11:50 am

I'm super glad the PAUSD Board is looking into legal options. Stanford is burying its head in the sand and not willing to entertain the notion that all this additional housing being built will place a tremendous burden on the school district in terms of new kids. Or else they put out fake news about how "their" property taxes at the Stanford Shopping Center or Stanford office park is sufficient for the massive influx of new students caused by their plan.

To the poster "sunset" immediately above, the relatively small amount of new Stanford housing on California Ave (where Facebook used to be) has only a small impact on PAUSD school and classroom crowding compared to what Stanford is contemplating now in their General Use Plan.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 14, 2019 at 12:37 pm

@sunset - the new Cal Ave kids go to Nixon. They were zoned to Barron Park, which had plenty of room, but the board specifically moved them to Nixon since it was closer, even though more crowded (and may require added space to handle them). As former Board member Terry Godfrey said over and over, the District did the hard and right thing here, keeping kids in their nearby school, even though space was available elsewhere. Same is true, except more so, with the need for a school along Sand Hill Road.

Good job by Superintendent Austin speaking out about Stanford. Their position is outrageous - bad for the whole community, including themselves. If the GUP needs to be tied up in court for a while to sort it out, so be it - Stanford has no one but itself to blame for ignoring the problem.


19 people like this
Posted by The Public Interest
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 14, 2019 at 1:50 pm

It's actually the County trying to make Stanford build extra housing over and above Stanford's GUP proposal. It's the county's alternatives which will then yield extra students to PAUSD at an unsustainable level. Lots of misinformation being thrown around. Stanford's GUP proposal projects a yield of 275 additional students over 17 years. PAUSD's enrollment just declined by 292 students, fyi. But the County's suggestions (Alternative A and B) would yield either 800 or 1400 new PAUSD students, which would definitely seriously impact PAUSD's budget.

Stop with the misinformation. No wonder discussions have stopped.


13 people like this
Posted by The Public Interest
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 14, 2019 at 2:20 pm

The Alternatives the County studied also would increase local traffic, according to the County's own analysis: Web Link. The County and city's suggested alternatives would mean more housing on Stanford land, yielding more PAUSD students, no guarantee of revenue to PAUSD, and more traffic in the area.


16 people like this
Posted by bad behavior makes unhappy neighbors
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Note to PAUSD

Threatening to sue does NOT bring parties to the table.

And what exactly would PAUSD's legal claim against Stanford be? I doubt it is illegal to stop returning phone calls from someone publicly shaming you because you didn't hand over millions of dollars they kept demanding of you.

Who acts this way?

If you decide to run up PAUSD's legal bills this year, make sure you haven’t done anything wrong because Stanford may file a counter suit. If half of what was said in the march up to November's school board election is true, legal compliance has not been PAUSD's strong suit. Is it now?


21 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 14, 2019 at 3:17 pm

PAUSD hasn't sued anyone; they put discussing it on an agenda, which seems prudent.
And they would not sue Stanford - they would sue the County over the Final EIR. This would result in a long delay, while a judge sorts out the claims.

BTW, Stanford has ALREADY sued the County over its housing ordinance. So @bad behavior, I guess you should direct your advice to them. "Who acts this way," you ask? Stanford.

@Public Interest, what misinformation are you talking about? The article seemed pretty clear about what Stanford proposed and what the County studied. The district is asking for mitigation for WHATEVER the actual number of students turns out to be. What's wrong with that? Seems like you are the one mis-characterizing things.


9 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 14, 2019 at 3:49 pm

Agree with #Parent immediately above. The School Board is doing exactly the right thing at this stage when the other party stops good-faith negotiations.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2019 at 4:02 pm

And what about all the other housing projects all over the city, ADUs, various other housing projects?

Then how are they all going to get to school?

Where will the additional teachers needed to teach these students commute from, where will they live, where will they park?

This is all infrastructure and build, baby build, will not provide infrastructure.


5 people like this
Posted by parent 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Parent,

Suing the County negotiating an agreement on your behalf is no wiser.

At least Stanford's law suit against the County has a valid basis and needed to be filed because of a deadline. Web Link


15 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 14, 2019 at 4:26 pm

@parent 2 - first, again, the district hasn't sued anyone - they are reviewing their options, which as @Barron Park Dad says, is the right thing to do.

Second, the school board is charged with protecting the students' and the community's interests. If they can't succeed through negotiation, legal remedies may be appropriate. As Dr. Austin described, they are baffled by Stanford's behavior, refusing any mitigation proposals, and so appropriately are preparing for whatever they need to do.

In terms of who has a "valid basis," I guess that's for a judge to decide, no?


3 people like this
Posted by Parent 2
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2019 at 5:52 pm

Parent,

PAUSD should figure out if it has a valid claim before it files a lawsuit unless, of course, it wants to risk having to pay both the County's and PAUSD's legal fees and costs for bringing a groundless or losing law suit.

That happens before it gets to a judge.

CA statute allows successful party to be reimbursed for attorney's fees. Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Jan 14, 2019 at 6:05 pm

You may have a valid basis and still lose, in fact you may win and later lose on appeal. I expect the school board is getting legal advice on what their options are - it sounds like you too agree with their approach!


11 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2019 at 1:21 pm

In reading the comments, it looks like 'Public Interest' is the only one who read the FEIR. The consulting firm hired by the county disagreed with multiplier PAUSD used to get the high number of students (1400) PAUSD is claiming. The consulting firm said the multiplier used in the EIR was "conservative" and yields 275 students. So likely a lot less students than that. For the 2000 GUP, Stanford paid $10M to offset the cost of the anticipated 500+ new students. How many new students has the 2000 GUP added to date? 50. That's LOW by a factor of ten. I'd like to know what the average and median ontribution per household in PAlo Alto to PAUSD via property taxes is - especially rentals. 44% of Palo Altans rent.


3 people like this
Posted by Southgate Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 15, 2019 at 3:28 pm

@Crescent Park Resident, a couple of errors in your post, I'm afraid.

The 1400 student estimate comes from the County's Alternative Housing Scenario A, which is based on Stanford providing sufficient housing to fully mitigate the impact of additional campus jobs. It uses the same student generation rate (0.5 per household) used by the County in all its scenarios.

Regardless, the district is asking for annual payments related to the ACTUAL number of students who comes to PAUSD from Stanford's rental housing - if it's a small number, then a small payment; if a large number, a larger payment. Stanford's response so far has been that they will make ZERO payment, no matter how many students come. That seems very selfish and unfair.

Also, as of 2016, about PAUSD 250 students lived at Stanford West, which was built in 2003, in conjunction with the 2000 GUP. I'm not sure where your "50" estimate comes from, but that's incorrect.


8 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 15, 2019 at 6:16 pm

@Southgate Resident. My bad. I should've just gone with the multiplier issue (which I discuss below). But, it was my understanding from reading the FEIR that the alternative scenarios are off the table because the independent consultant/county determined they have greater environmental impacts. So, the number is 275.

The School Board recommended that the multiplier should be .98, which is almost three times higher than the calculated one of .38. Stanford used the conservative multiplier of .50 - which is the multiplier that was used both by PAUSD in 2016 and the City for the comp plan. Why would PAUSD do that?? Why discredit your own calculations by arguing for a different/higher multiplier than you would use and did use yourself??The anticipated number is actually under 200 new students. But, 275 gives lots of "wiggle room."

The 50 number is from PAUSD. From the 2000 GUP, only the Olmstead Complex was put into place by 2015 and it's around 50 students from there.

The 250 is from Stanford West which went through a whole EIR process years before it was built. Those students had already been counted in the numbers. PAUSD is, I believe, referencing them because they are on the West side of the campus where they would like to build a new elementary school and as an example of the number of students that could come from a large housing project.






5 people like this
Posted by Southgate Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 15, 2019 at 11:10 pm

@Crescent Park Resident, I think the amount of housing to be built is still very much in play - it is the county's main concern and objective.

The 2000 GUP allowed for "no more than 668 units" for faculty and staff, plus 350 for postdocs and residents - that's over 1000 units for potential families (see section A.1.c of the Conditions of Approval). I have never seen a forecast of 500 students - if you can point to it, that would be appreciated. But whatever the forecast, it was based on over 1000 units as set out in the 2000 GUP. If Stanford built fewer, that was their call. If they decided to settle up with PAUSD at the start to hedge their bets, also their call. If they didn't pay any mitigation for 250 PAUSD students coming from Stanford West, which was being built at that time, I can see why they would feel the need to pay up.

All of which illustrates why it makes much more sense to calculate an annual amount based on the ACTUAL number of students attending from rental housing. No more guessing or arguing about what will be built and how many students generated - they can just count the students every year, and Stanford can make an annual payment.


9 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 16, 2019 at 9:57 am

@Southgate Resident.

"The total estimate of additional PAUSD students that can be expected to occupy
the 1,018 new dwelling units is between 239 and 584." DECEMBER 18, 2000 PARSONS PAGE 4.10-16 Web Link

The Stanford West issue is why I'm annoyed at PAUSD. It can be used as an example of the number of students that can be generated from building such a complex, but not as an example of Stanford not paying taxes. It was developed under approval of the City of Palo Alto. Originally, it was not anticipated to house primarily Stanford affiliates and, when it was approved, the City anticipated receiving property tax from it. Stanford started to need the housing because their visiting scholars, junior professors, post docs, etc. were all getting priced out of the area so they got priority. STANFORD DOES NOT TAKE A TAX EXEMPTION FOR STANFORD WEST . THEY PAY FULL TAXES. I asked someone from Stanford about it she said they don't request an exemption on it because when the development was approved, it was anticipated that it would generate property taxes, so, they pay them. No one saw the housing crisis/tech boom coming. Stanford West should be treated just like every other rental property in Palo Alto and Los Altos Hills that's paying taxes. Those student from Stanford West were planned for, fees were paid, and taxes are generated and paid. Stanford West probably generates way more property taxes per rental unit then all of those apartment complexes along Middlefield and Webster and Hamilton that were built in the 70's and 80's.

An in lieu fee for Stanford students who come from rentals is fine. But, let's be honest about where they're coming from and who's paying taxes.




4 people like this
Posted by Southgate Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 16, 2019 at 10:52 am

@Crescent Park Resident. I'm glad you agree that an in-lieu annual payment based on actual student count makes sense, since that's really the main point the district is asking. It seems a lot more sensible and fair for all than guessing.

Thank you for the reference to the 2000 GUP FEIR, that's helpful and interesting. It confirms that Stanford was projecting 1018 faculty/staff/postdoc/resident housing units, and the estimate you cited ("500+" students) was based on that. It turns out Stanford changed its mind and built other things instead, which is fine, but that does not make the district a bad forecaster - they relied on what Stanford told them.

On Stanford West, I haven't seen anything from the district that says it doesn't pay taxes - can you point something out? SW has assessed value of $100M and so pays about $460K annually to the school district. Of course, it houses about 250 students, so that's only $1,840 per student, which is less than 10% of PAUSD's average cost per student. I'm sure PAUSD would be happy to see that $460K taken into consideration when calculating a fair share payment.

An alternative approach, if Stanford chooses, is that they can make stop exempting all their OTHER housing (Escondido Village, Munger, dorms, the president's house, houses and condos they own on campus and in Palo Alto) and non-academic facilities (the athletic facilities, the golf course, etc.) - then they would be like other taxpayers. But picking one property and paying taxes on it does not make up for the overall impact of their massive tax exemption.


6 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 16, 2019 at 11:09 am

@Southgate Resident. Nonprofits are tax exempt. All nonprofits - schools, churches, museums, etc. It's in the state constitution and I fully support that. If Palo Alto residents would like to lead the charge at the state level to have the law changed, then the people to contact are Marc Berman and Jerry Hill. It's not an issue that's taken up at the city or county level. And, then Palo Alto - one of the wealthiest areas in the country - can be known not only for our tech giants like Facebook (who, in my mind sold our democracy for ad clicks), but also for going after churches and schools for taxes. My husband moved here in 1977. He saw a lot of changes before I got here in the 1990's. What will drive us out of our home and the area is NOT the traffic or congestion, it is the change in our community's values. Why have libraries? They don't generate any property taxes. We actually pay for those. They could generate money if we turned them all into condos. Really, the argument for Stanford to pay taxes is one to take up in Sacramento.


5 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 16, 2019 at 5:42 pm

lot's of misiformation. here are the facts

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.

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.


5 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of University South
on Jan 16, 2019 at 6:26 pm

@Stan. What's your source for your numbers?


9 people like this
Posted by @Stan(ford)
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 16, 2019 at 10:17 pm

@Stan (as in Stan-ford?), so much misleading info in one post!

First, what difference does it make what Stanford pays in commercial taxes? Doesn't every commercial property owner have to pay taxes? If you owned an office building and an apartment building, would you say, "I shouldn't have to pay any taxes for my apartment building - look how much I'm paying for my office building!" We would all chuckle at the idea. I can't believe Stanford is peddling this.

Second, Stanford doesn't actually even pay those taxes, right? You cleverly said "taxes *generated* from ... Stanford lands" since you probably know that Stanford owns almost NONE of the buildings and doesn't pay the taxes. It doesn't own the Shopping Center (sold for $300+ million to Simon Properties in 2003) and doesn't own 90% of the Research Park buildings. Stanford ITSELF in fact pays PAUSD less than $2M a year.

And as for "Stanford has *provided* much of the land for Palo Alto schools." Please stop saying that, it's embarrassing! Actually, Stanford SOLD the land to PAUSD for Paly, Gunn, Nixon, and Escondido. PAUSD owns it outright, you can check the deeds. Three of the four were taken by eminent domain which requires "just compensation" (per the US Constitution). So Stanford "provided" the land the way the previous owner "provided" your house to you - it wasn't an act of generosity, they just sold it to you. And by the way, two of those schools were neighborhood schools built specifically for new Stanford neighborhoods, paid for by PAUSD!

It's a shame that a great institution like Stanford is stooping to mislead people. And why, just to try to save a few bucks on paying for public schools? If you want to send lots of kids to the schools, just pay your fair share. Every other large private university does it - so can you. Come on Stanford, you're way better than this.


3 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 17, 2019 at 9:50 am

Just a point of clarification - as best as can be told the 4 school sites in question were transferred via friendly eminent domain (the only way this could have been done given the original grant that created the university). I believe if those sites were to not be schools, the properties in question would revert to Stanford. For example, this is why Cubberly was closed rather than Paly. Perhaps PAUSD who should have the records of these transfer would care to make those documents public? Also just for the sake of being informative, those schools currently house ca. 40% of PAUSD's students. BTW also for the record, when reflecting on PAUSD's request for a school site, consider the facts that (a) In in the ‘70s and ‘80s PAUSD sold off 5 elementary school sites: Crescent Park, De Anza, Lytton, Ortega, and Ross Road; and (b) currently leases several others (e.g. Fremont Hills) to private schools.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 17, 2019 at 11:08 am

@Stephen,

Yes, Stanford sold land to PAUSD, so PAUSD could build schools, that PAUSD then solely paid to build and to run, primarily for the Stanford community. Is the implication that PAUSD/Palo Alto taxpayers should be saying "thank you" to Stanford? I think "you're welcome" is more appropriate.

Yes PAUSD closed schools in the late '60s and '70s (as enrollment dropped by 50%) and has available sites. As the Superintendent has said over and over, the issue with a new school is PROXIMITY, NOT CAPACITY. The Sand Hill Road kids are over 2 miles from the nearest elementary school, and Stanford's plan is to build more housing in that area. They need a neighborhood school, like all other PAUSD kids.

And note - in 1970, when Nixon school was built, PAUSD was in the process of losing 1000's of elementary students and already closing schools. But when Stanford built a new neighborhood for faculty in Frenchman's Hill, PAUSD immediately acquired a 9 acre site from Stanford and built Nixon school (the last school built in PAUSD) - even though there was lots of excess capacity elsewhere. Why? Because neighborhood schools matter. As a result, for instance, the new University Terrace kids today attend Nixon instead of trooping 2 miles to Barron Park.

Why is Stanford so opposed to a neighborhood school for its renters along Sand Hill Road? Is it because they are renters, not owners? Mostly junior staff and post-docs, not faculty and senior admins? PAUSD is literally begging for the opportunity to build a neighborhood school and the University is fighting them - why in the world is that??


5 people like this
Posted by Southgate Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 17, 2019 at 12:15 pm

@Crescent Park Resident - I respectfully disagree, as does every other town that hosts large, rich, resource intensive non-profits. "Payments in lieu of taxes" (PILOTs) are a standard feature of municipal finance in non-profit host towns like Cambridge, Boston, Princeton, Providence, New Haven, Ithaca, etc. As universities have boomed and added property, employees, and housing (sound familiar?), the only way for local government to maintain the status quo is to get them to pay their share.

(BTW, an exception is New Hampshire, where schools' non-academic facilities, like dorms, Greek housing, dining halls, etc., have been taxable under state law for over 100 years - so they pay actual taxes!)

The idea is not to tax Stanford generally - just to get them to pay for the resources they actually use e.g., the kids who actually attend PAUSD schools. This reflects Stanford becoming a large LANDLORD, not an academic institution.

So I respectfully disagree - this isn't attacking Stanford, it is protecting all our community's students. It is in Stanford's interests, as well as everyone else's.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 17, 2019 at 2:03 pm

@Southgate
It’s disappointing that I will not be able to use “The Stanford Rule”. I was counting on being able to use the the property taxes I am paying on my office in town to eliminate my taxes on my home. Are you sure since Jean McCown explained otherwise?


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2019 at 2:35 pm

If the Weekly could write a follow-up article on this issue, I would certainly appreciate it. First of all, I'm still confused regarding how much total revenue Stanford generates for PAUSD, through all means (taxes + other payments), compared to the entire budget. IOW, what fraction of the PAUSED budget is Stanford-generated, one way or the other?

And, what fraction of PAUSD students are Stanford residents?

How would these numbers change under the proposed Stanford developments?


7 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 17, 2019 at 3:32 pm

@Southgate Resident. Yes, I imagine half of the town is very familiar with those different schools. But (and this is my complaint about PAUSD's approach so far) - you're picking and choosing data that you want to use for comparison. The schools you mentioned are schools with closed campuses. Closed. When I came out here I was utterly shocked to find that Stanford is an open campus. That I can walk on campus with my dog and wander into a building and use the restroom. Also, to my knowledge, none of those schools have a research park and a mall that support the local economy. Let's look at all the data if you want to make a comparison.

And, in lieu payments are fine. But, let's look at what the number of students who live in rentals that do not generate property taxes actually is. And, then let's be honest about what a contribution per student should be. How many people are paying $45K+ in property taxes each year for each child they have in school?

Honestly, 7th graders could do a better analysis than what PAUSD has provided us.

@resident. Sounds like you're a for profit business, so you pay property taxes on your office and your home.

The interesting thing is to me is how I got started following all of this. No children. no affiliation with the school. absolutely nothing at stake here for me. EXCEPT after the 2016 election I decided to start correcting mis-information when
I saw it and do a little more research on issues when things didn't sound right. $19,200 per child just didn't sound right because few homes are paying $45,000+ in taxes.

So far, only information coming from Stanford is in the GUP. This information was analyzed by a third party consultant. Their analysis can be found in the FEIR.

PAUSD has not been as straigthforward. Only thing I've learned is that I'm not voting for any currently sitting member of the school board. As a taxpayer, I believe I deserve better numbers, better analysis and less rhetoric from them.


3 people like this
Posted by Southgate Resident
a resident of Southgate
on Jan 17, 2019 at 4:43 pm

@Crescent Park Resident - My experience is different from yours. You can wander any part of Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Dartmouth, Cornell, etc., and walk into just about any building except dorms and libraries, just like at Stanford. Even walk your dog! Their campuses are generally not as big as Stanford's (largest in the country I believe) but you can roam them all freely.

On the commercial property I think there's a common misconception. Stanford doesn't own the mall - Simon Properties does. Nor do they own most of the buildings in the Research Park.

But even if they did - so what? Stanford happens to have made commercial investments in their own back yard. That's not an act of generosity - they profited handsomely (e.g., the mall was sold in 2003 for $330M). If MIT decided to buy the Cambridge Galleria (a big mall nearby), should they then stop paying in-lieu fees? It baffles me why this should matter to the current discussion.

I'm not sure what analysis you've seen from the school district that you belittle. I haven't seen any. There is analysis out there of how many students live in Stanford rental housing (about 400 today, another 275+ expected from the new GUP). The only "contribution per student number" I've seen is the average cost per student, which seems like a sensible place place to start - what do you think would be better? Since Stanford has consistently said "zero" is the right number and refused to continue meeting, I'm not sure why the District should be negotiating against itself.

You can belittle the district and the school board members - that's your prerogative. But I'm not sure why you are doing so. They are acting to protect the community's and students interests - that's their job. Stanford on the other hand is trying to continue to grow without mitigating its impact - that's a big problem for us all.


11 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 17, 2019 at 6:34 pm

@Southgate. Okay, my last comment. Because, really, I have no stake in this.

Two points: School Board keeps lumping Stanford West with the GUP and the rest of Stanford's rental housing. This is intentionally confusing because it's not part of Stanford or the GUP. It was a separate project that was done with City input and approval.It should be dropped from the discussion because it is just like every other rental complex owned in Palo Alto. It generates property tax and its impacts and all the students in it (whether their parents are affiliated with Stanford or not) were anticipated. If you say, but many of the parents work at Stanford, it doesn't matter - unless you think every home or apartment complex that has a Stanford affiliate renting there should be treated differently. Do you? My neighbor rented to a Stanford post doc for two years - should her cottage be treated as a "different" type of rental because her tenant was affiliated with Stanford?
If you say, but wait, prop 13 means that taxes will be based on 2003 assessed value forever, well, yes, just like every other complex that is owned by some company entity - the owner never dies and never transfers ownership. So, Prop 13 is a separate problem from Stanford owning the complex. What I'd like to know is how many students live in rental housing on Stanford campus or in one of their tax exempt dwellings. THAT IS THE QUESTION. Hence, poor analysis. And, intentionally misleading data. And, I really, really do want more from our elected officials.

The FEIR is over 500 pages long because it parses the issues and doesn't conflate them. PAUSD has one concern: number of Stanford students who may end up at PAUSD.

Two. How is the researh park different from Harvard buying a mall in Boston? Because the research park and the mall were built on Stanford land that Stanford had to annex to the City. They were the ONLY ones who could develop those lands. And, the project was done in conjunction with the City. Hopefully, you do see the difference. If not, I give up.

Oh Three. It's completely absurd that people are trying to say that Stanford doesn't generate tax revenue because they own the land and lease it and don't pay the taxes directly to the county. hello! Landlords get to write their contracts however they want. Stanford could pay the taxes themselves - and then add that amount to the lease OR adjust the rent accordingly to reflect the leaseholder paying the taxes. It all gets worked out in the negotiations. Like if you rent an apartment and utilities are paid or not paid by the landlord. You expect to pay less for rent if you are picking pu the utlities. I really, really hope that people can understand this point. I'm done. I have no ill will. Just some serious disappointment that our elected School Board members either misrepresented the facts and lumped Stanford West in there OR don't understand the right question to ask. Either way, I expected more. But, it's not my fight and I might just start ignoring mis-statements again. People have their beliefs.


6 people like this
Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 18, 2019 at 7:49 pm

One point re MIT etc. - they are all located inside their respective cities and so require city services. The only way Stanford draws on local services is through the schools since it has its own utilities, police department etc.. I don't think that MIT for example, has anything more than a handful of faculty/ staff living on MIT land in Cambridge since that land is limited and is used for dorms and academic buildings.


3 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2019 at 5:16 pm

Stanford constitution does not allow land to be sold. The fact that Stanford allowed the land that provides 40% of all PAUSD land is fact... and to deny that is completely ungrateful... here are the facts. Without Stanford Palo Alto would be no where it is now in terms of land value... and wealth... Stanford has generated an immense amount of wealth for Palo ALto and Silicon Valley. THe comments here reek of entitlement and incredible ungratefulness that Stanford had given to the surrounding communities. Stanford has been a great neighbour and frankly put Palo Alto on the map. Be grateful not spiteful.


3 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2019 at 5:23 pm

@anon. already answered your questionn

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.

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.


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

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Downtown Palo Alto gets new Vietnamese eatery
By Elena Kadvany | 2 comments | 4,230 views

More Stupid Plastic Food Things
By Laura Stec | 13 comments | 2,258 views

Operation Varsity Blues
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 8 comments | 1,644 views

State Legislature on Housing: Getting the Demos out of Democracy & with it, Accountability
By Douglas Moran | 6 comments | 1,520 views

Environmentalists will soon be fighting housing advocates over what to do with the SF Bay locally
By Diana Diamond | 16 comments | 630 views

 

Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details