Stanford University informed the Palo Alto school district Friday that it wished to suspend further action on a tentative agreement the two entities recently reached regarding the university’s expansion plan, throwing the deal into further uncertainty.
The agreement had not yet been signed by either the school district or Stanford and was awaiting further action by the school board.
Stanford's decision, contained in a short, one-paragraph letter, came the day after the university asked that the Santa Clara County Planning Commission postpone three upcoming hearings on Stanford's general use permit, citing concerns about the feasibility of initial conditions of approval proposed by the county.
"To be consistent with this request of the county, we also seek the same suspension of actions on our agreement with PAUSD," Stanford Vice President Reidy wrote to Superintendent Don Austin. The letter was released by the district late Friday afternoon and will be discussed by the school board at its meeting next Tuesday, May 14.
In a press release Friday evening, the county stated its intent to continue with the public hearings, despite Stanford's request that they be postponed.
In a sharp letter delivered on Thursday to the county planning commission, Stanford Associate Vice President Catherine Palter criticized the county for failing to give Stanford a "meaningful opportunity" to provide feedback on the approval conditions before they were to be publicly released.
Stanford's permit application seeks to add 2.275 million square feet of academic space, 3,150 housing units, 40,000 square feet of child care facilities and other support space on the campus by 2035. A three-page summary of the approval conditions released in March would require the university to build more housing, step up its monitoring of traffic and submit future development plans for review, among other stipulations.
The county said Friday it will release a more detailed draft of the conditions of approval and related findings on the general use permit on or before May 23 in advance of the planning commission's first hearing on May 30 in Palo Alto.
The $138 million deal the district and Stanford struck to provide mitigation for students generated by new campus housing is contingent on the approval of a development agreement between the university and the county. The announcement of their agreement, however, brought an end to the development agreement talks, which the county suspended indefinitely last month.
Austin said that he's "thankful for the open communication from Stanford University and their commitment to good faith bargaining. I understand and respect their request to pause our efforts while they engage with Santa Clara County."
Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who along with Supervisor Cindy Chavez, is the county's development-agreement negotiation team, said Friday that he and Chavez met with Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Reidy on Friday, May 3, to inform them the county would be willing to reopen talks if they are open to the public and guarantee the same benefits to the Palo Alto school district that have already been negotiated. On Wednesday, Simitian said, Tessier-Lavigne and Reidy responded that they wished the negotiations to be in private and proposed lesser benefits to the district, which Simitian said would be unacceptable.
The Planning Commission is scheduled to hold three hearings on the general use permit: May 30 at 6 p.m. in the Palo Alto City Council Chambers (250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto) and June 13 and 27, both at 1:30 p.m. at the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium, County Government Center (70 W. Hedding St., San Jose).