School district, Stanford restart talks on GUP | News | Palo Alto Online |


School district, Stanford restart talks on GUP

Two entities agree to confidential discussions on possible mitigations

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After months of stalled talks and disagreement over how Stanford University's planned expansion will impact the Palo Alto school district, the two entities have returned to the table.

In a meeting Tuesday, district and university representatives agreed to start confidential discussions, guided by attorneys and a third-party facilitator, about possible benefits Stanford could offer to mitigate the impact of new students generated by Stanford's proposed general use permit, which proposes to build 2.275 million square feet of new academic space by 2035. The district has been pressing Stanford to contribute funds and land to offset the number of students that will be generated by new property-tax exempt housing.

"Non-negotiable" for the school district re-entering talks, Superintendent Don Austin said at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, was that a board resolution asking Stanford for land for a new school and annual payments be the "pillar of discussions." Stanford has agreed to discuss these requests first, he said.

Both the district and Stanford "agreed that we had not made progress of any real substance prior to today," Austin said, noting that the university has to date not offered any mitigation proposals to Palo Alto Unified. "We're going to put that behind us and try to come back and see if we can really get some traction."

In a statement, Stanford said it had hoped that negotiations with the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors over a potential development agreement "would lead to an agreement on additional support for local schools as part of a package of broader local community benefits Stanford would provide under a new General Use Permit."

"At this point, with county hearings on the General Use Permit scheduled to begin soon, Stanford considers it imperative to work directly with PAUSD to explore options that address the school district's concerns," the statement reads.

Austin said the district and Stanford agreed to set an "aggressive timeline" — if they cannot reach a resolution in one month, they will "step away and leave it to the county to solve."

If they do reach an agreement, Stanford would submit a proposal to the county as part of the development agreement process and the district would endorse the proposal, Austin said.

The school district will be represented in talks by Austin, Deputy Superintendent Karen Hendricks, Chief Business Officer Jim Novak and an attorney.

Tuesday's announcement comes two days before a scheduled town hall on the general use permit and "Stanford Share the Costs" rally organized by the Palo Alto Council of PTAs. The parent organization launched in recent months an advocacy campaign urging Stanford to contribute more to the district, including holding meetings, creating a fact sheet and online petition, writing letters to Stanford and meeting with each of the county's supervisors.

Austin said PTAC's "engagement has certainly helped to move the process along."

The town hall on Thursday, March 14, will start at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. A panel of Palo Alto Weekly journalists will interview county Supervisor Joe Simitian and then take questions from the audience.


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8 people like this
Posted by The Public Interest
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 12, 2019 at 9:57 pm

Amazing how dishonesty can pay - cheat and get your kid into college. Mislead and misrepresent and get Stanford to come to the table. Honesty is still the best policy.

28 people like this
Posted by Stanford alum
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 12, 2019 at 10:27 pm

Stanford is sticking to its negotiation playbook - offer nothing until the 11th hour, play the victim, and then take the best deal you can get and proclaim your generosity. Anyone who was around for the last GUP in 2001 saw the same plays used then.

A lot of avoidable trouble if you ask me, but as long as the schools get what they need, it doesn't really matter.

4 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2019 at 11:55 am

One could say the true villain here is really Prop 13. Local residents who have a $3,000,000 value house yet are paying taxes based on something like $150,000 just because they bought the house in the 60s. While repealing Prop 13 would never fly, doing some kind of revision to make those people pay their fair share (closer to what their newer neighbors pay) is a good start.

11 people like this
Posted by Mitigating impacts?
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 13, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Glad to hear Stanford is finally willing to start discussing mitigating its increased local school enrollment impacts.

Prop 13 has resulted in the business community paying a shrinking portion of local taxes by loop holes that allow its properties to not be reassed when sold.

9 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 13, 2019 at 1:04 pm

Collins and the school board have been crying wolf for a long time. When they come to their senses, they will get what they deserve and no more.

Enrollment is declining. Students from Stanford will help keep the current schools open.

1 person likes this
Posted by 4good
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 13, 2019 at 1:59 pm

4good is a registered user.

Declining enrollment doesn't matter. Neighborhood schools do. They build community and decrease traffic. PAUSD funding is not based on attendance. More funds mean more opportunities for every deserving student. Interesting that all the negotiators for PAUSD are new to the district. This is the first year for both Don and Jim. Is this year 3 for Karen? Good luck. Stanford holds all the cards.

2 people like this
Posted by Bill Glazier
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 13, 2019 at 3:00 pm

I believe this is excellent news. There is too much at stake for both parties, and the common ground between Stanford and PAUSD should be evident to all.

My thoughts on how to make this process work:

1) Stanford needs to open its well funded pockets, and offer close to the full cost of educating the new students in the district. And they should be creative in helping the district acquire and/or build new or reuse/repurpose an existing facility which could serve as a school in the relevant neighborhood/part of campus where these students will live.

2) PAUSD should focus its use of this money on matters relevant to the specifics of the new students coming from Stanford housing. This influx of funds should not be considered as a way to increase general teacher compensation or a plug for other budget shortfalls. This money is coming for a specific reason, and that is how it should be spent. Budgets are flexible of course, and money is green, but this is not 'manna from heaven'.

3) Both parties should spend a good deal of time thinking about ways to expose PAUSD students from an early age to some of the very unique resources at Stanford. My two kids spent 13 years in PAUSD with relatively little contact from the other side of El Camino (except tons of football and baseball games). We are unique that such a great resource is across the street, and there is much resource sharing that could take place which would benefit our students and the community at large.

I hope this process works quickly. It is not terribly complex, and it is obviously very important to both parties. Hopefully wise and thoughtful minds will prevail on both sides.

2 people like this
Posted by SW
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 13, 2019 at 4:19 pm

SW is a registered user.

Stanford continues to say that there will be no new cars coming into Stanford. BUT they are only look at one hour commute time in the morning and the one in the evening. If you stand at any entrance to Stanford during these hours, the traffic coming into or out of Stanford is non stop. In other words, cars are maxed out NOW. There is no new traffic, because there can't be. What has happened is the traffic continues for many more hours a day. So these great promises that Stanford isn't adding traffic or that there will be no impact of those of us that leave nearby is simply false.

The County needs to look at the real impact of increased cars to Stanford and start taking about what "no new car" really means. It's a lots more cars every hour of every day. Now deal with it and make some changes to this false promise. No new cars PERIOD would be a good start.

8 people like this
Posted by Dishonest
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 13, 2019 at 7:09 pm

This Stanford GUP thing. Such a dishonest campaign that's been waged, by the usual suspects.

Stanford proposed to add up to 275 students over 17 years to PAUSD. In response to community comment, the County studied two alternatives; both were to add employee housing that was absent in Stanford's application. Employee housing. Wonder who made those comments. Who represents the employees on the Stanford campus....oh the SEIU. And Stanford Hospital? It's the SEIU. Oh and the teacher's union has also been pushing for Stanford to build more housing, or provide them with housing....

Well, shouldn't Stanford build them housing, you ask? I suppose all of you were offered workforce housing when you took a job, in some town, weren't you?

Stanford's already proposing to build 3150 more housing units, which will increase the supply of housing and affordable housing in the area. As an educational institution it is tax-exempt.

Softening the blow for PAUSD, enrollment declined by 292 students this year. And PAUSD enrollment is projected to decline through 2026/27.

But those new students Stanford sends will cost $5 million/year, you say! Yes, true, at $20k/student/year, the most expensive per student cost in California, that will be $5 million. The same cost to educate the 251 out of district teacher's children in PAUSD, who bring $0 of property tax revenue. Fortunately, property tax is expected to increase! From 2015 to 2016 property tax increased by $22 million! From 2016 to 2017 by $9 million, and from 2017 to 2018 it increased by $12 million. I guess the teacher's union was hoping to lap all of that up as gravy. Instead, the housing they want Stanford to build means more students... and more cost..... oh, let's browbeat Stanford to pay for it!!

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