News

Tempers flare as Stanford's growth plan hits critical phase

Supervisors at odds over proposed development agreement, which university claims is necessary for its application to proceed

With Stanford University's bid to dramatically expand its campus entering a critical phase, the university doubled down Tuesday on its demand for a development agreement with Santa Clara County and suggested that it would not accept the county's approval of its growth plan without such a deal.

Stanford made the bold announcement during Tuesday's meeting of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to review Stanford's proposed general use permit over a series of three hearings between October and early November. The Tuesday workshop on the permit gave the supervisors and the community a chance to gather some background information about Stanford's growth proposal before the formal public hearing begins on Oct. 8.

If approved, the permit would allow Stanford to construct 2.25 million square feet of new academic development along with 2,600 student beds, 550 housing units for staff and faculty and 40,000 square feet for child care centers and transportation facilities aimed at cutting solo driving. In June, the Planning Commission recommended approving the growth plan but with one key and controversial provision: a requirement for Stanford to build at least 2,172 new housing units, which roughly quadruples the number the university outlined in its proposal.

One major sticking point between Stanford and the county was whether or not the two sides should move ahead with talks of a development agreement — a negotiated contract that would allow both sides to propose requirements and community benefits that go beyond the county's regulatory requirements. The county agreed last year to authorize two of its supervisors — President Joe Simitian and Supervisor Cindy Chavez — to enter into negotiations with Stanford over such an agreement. The negotiations fell apart last April, however, when Stanford reached a separate agreement with the Palo Alto Unified School District on a package of benefits worth an estimated $138 million.

Stanford's tentative deal with the school district hinged on the county's approval of a broader development agreement with Stanford — a condition that Simitian and Chavez saw as Stanford's attempt to get leverage over the county. Once news of the school deal broke, the two supervisors abruptly halted the negotiations over the development agreement. Since then, the county has continued to review Stanford's application through its typical process, which involves certifying the Environmental Impact Report, imposing conditions of approval and going through public hearings in front of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

But while the Board of Supervisors wasn't planning to discuss the aborted negotiations over the development agreement Tuesday, the topic returned to the board with a vengeance when Supervisor Dave Cortese lambasted county staff for failing to negotiate with Stanford in good faith. After learning that the development-agreement negotiations were led by the ad hoc committee of Simitian and Chavez with little participation from county staff, Cortese accused County Executive Jeff Smith of "running a rogue operation."

"That's about as derelict as anything I've ever heard from anyone in government that I've ever been in a governance position to supervise ... or keep on my payroll," Cortese said.

Cortese said he was frustrated by the fact that the board hasn't been updated about the negotiations with Stanford since it appointed the committee to negotiate with the university.

"I don't like being in the position of being in the dark as to what's going on," Cortese said.

County staff, for its part, has consistently held the position that while it is authorized to negotiate a development agreement, it is not required to do so. Stanford's prior general use permit, which the county approved in 2000, did not require a development agreement and neither has any other development that the county has ever reviewed.

The development agreement, which Stanford strongly hopes to achieve, would dramatically change the dynamic in the tense negotiations between the university and the county, shifting the county's role from that of a regulator to that of a partner. County staff has been loath to make that shift, arguing that it would be important to first determine the requirements that Stanford would have to meet before deciding what other benefits and concessions the county should consider in a development agreement negotiation.

Smith said Tuesday that he believes development agreements are "only useful and good where it's fairly clear exactly what other requests are being made outside the normal process going through planning."

"In this situation, we have a complex and very complete planning document with lots of conditions of approval. It already went through the Planning Commission and is coming to the board for action. Trying to superimpose the development agreement on top of that is a formula for confusion and not a good approach, in my opinion," Smith said.

After hearing Smith's response, Cortese said he thinks it's "absolutely absurd," given the Board of Supervisors' direction from a year ago, for staff not to take a more proactive approach on the development agreement and by not making a counterproposal to Stanford.

Stanford has also consistently pressed the county to negotiate an agreement, which university leaders argue is the best way to provide the community with "front-loaded benefits" and provide Stanford with long-term certainty that it will be able to grow. On Tuesday, Catherine Palter, Stanford's associate vice president for land use and environmental planning, suggested that such an agreement would be a necessary component of whatever gets approved.

"Since many of these community benefits will need to be provided upfront, we have concluded that it will not be possible to accept a new general use permit without a corresponding development agreement," Palter said. "Such an agreement will enable us to satisfy the county's requests and provide the kinds of significant benefits our neighbors seek.

"In return, Stanford receives the predictability that a development agreement affords. We see a permit and the development agreement as a package."

While some residents touted Stanford's academic reputation and argued that the university shouldn't be treated like other developers, Simitian pointed out that Stanford already gets special treatment. The general-use permit process -- which effectively allows the university to build any project it wants within a 10- to 20-year period without first getting the county's approval (provided the project is consistent with the permit) -- is a tool that exists only for Stanford, he noted.

Stanford has always been able to get the approvals it's been seeking from the board. The county, he said, has a "128-year history where every single application (from Stanford) has gotten a yes."

"It seems to me there's a pretty good track record and a case to be made for pretty responsive if not generous spirit by folks here at the county with respect to the mission of the organization and the development requests," Simitian said, referring to Stanford.

The board's discussion followed comments from a few dozen public officials and residents, most of whom urged the board to make sure Stanford's expansion doesn't aggravate the area's already considerable housing and traffic problems.

East Palo Alto Vice Mayor Regina Wallace-Jones lauded Stanford as an educational institution but warned about the traffic and housing challenges her city is already experiencing. She said her city would like to see Stanford contribute $20 million for construction of affordable housing in her city and another $15.5 million to help fund necessary transportation projects.

"As we delved into the plan for housing, a lot of the workers, some of which are part-time, some of which are faculty, are not accounted for in the housing. And many of those housing units are sought in the city of East Palo Alto."

Menlo Park City Councilwoman Betsy Nash said her city, like others, "struggles every day with two large and growing issues: One is inadequate housing availability and housing affordability and the other is traffic congestion that chokes our streets.

"Menlo Park residents, like others in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, are fed up with the situation, and they elected us to do something about it," Nash said.

Mountain View Mayor Lisa Matichak praised the proposal in her letter to the Board of Supervisors. Providing on-campus housing, she wrote, "would be a leading step by Stanford to help address our region's housing crisis and reduce potential transportation impacts by allowing faculty, staff and students to walk or bike to work.

"If new housing is not constructed on campus, then there would be greater housing and transportation impacts to the city of Mountain View and other nearby cities," Matichak's letter states. "The city appreciates Stanford providing all of its housing on-campus to fully mitigate the significant residential impacts from its proposed academic facility expansion."

Palo Alto Mayor Eric Filseth focused on the potential traffic problems resulting from Stanford's expansion and suggested that the university be required to make significant contributions to big-ticket transportation projects.

"There is no dispute that the city of Palo Alto will be significantly burdened by the addition of nearly 3.5 million square feet of new development," the letter signed by Filseth states. "Most acutely, the city will experience an increase in commuter congestion on its roadways and multi-modal networks that will extend travel times and exacerbate commuter frustrations."

The letter argues that to fully mitigate its impacts, Stanford needs to provide "fair share" payments toward separating the Caltrain corridor from streets at intersections (the city estimates that Stanford's share in the project should be $159 million), improving the downtown transit center ($99 million) and performing roadway maintenance on city streets that serve the campus ($1.2 million).

The impact of Stanford's growth on schools is also an area of concern in Palo Alto. While Stanford has repeatedly assured the district that it will honor its commitment to provide $138 million in benefits to the district, a letter it sent on Sept. 23 appears to both reaffirm this commitment and make it conditional upon the county's approval of a development agreement.

In the letter, Stanford Vice President Robert Reidy informed the district about Stanford's decision to "only accept a general-use permit that has feasible conditions that Stanford can implement and that is accompanied by a development agreement."

Such an agreement, he wrote, would guarantee that "the university can build its academic buildings under predictable land use rules and regulations."

"I want to assure you that there will not be a future scenario where Stanford accepts a permit to build new campus housing without providing the committed benefits to Palo Alto Unified School District, which will be made possible by the package of a permit and a development agreement."

Despite the letter's multiple references to a development agreement, school board members at their meeting Tuesday evening interpreted Stanford's letter as a commitment to deliver the benefits to the district regardless of what approval process is used. Superintendent Don Austin underscored Reidy's statement that the university "remains unequivocally committed to the agreement we structured with the Palo Alto Unified School District earlier this year" as a clear indicator that Stanford would provide the benefits -- notwithstanding the fact that the agreement earlier this year contained a provision that two county supervisors deemed unacceptable. Board member Ken Dauber said Stanford's commitment is "as clear as can be," while member Shounak Dharap went a step further and said the letter proves that Stanford's commitment is "not conditional on a development agreement."

At the Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Board of Supervisors, school board President Jennifer DiBrienza and Vice President Todd Collins both stressed the importance of having Stanford contribute to local education, given the number of new students -- an estimated 1,500 -- that the university's expansion would bring to the district.

"We need to make sure the expansion of one great educational institution doesn't drag down another," Collins told the board. "Please, please insist on an agreement that protects Palo Alto schools."

Simitian told the Weekly that even without a development agreement, the Board of Supervisors can require Stanford to contribute to school based on "findings" that the board has to make before it approves use permits. One such finding requires that the proposed use "not be detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare." If the university adds more than 1,000 students and doesn't provide funding to the district to help pay for the extra cost of educating the students, supervisors would not be able to make this finding and would have to deny the permit, Simitian told the Weekly.

It's hard to make an argument that adding that many students and reducing the district's ability to fund students' education does not constitute an impact detrimental to "public health, safety or general welfare," both as the finding pertains to the students currently in the district and to the larger community, he said.

Simitian also suggested that asking Stanford to contribute to Palo Alto schools would be reasonable given the university's exemption from property taxes. The Office of the County Counsel determined earlier this month that Stanford, were it not to have exercised its tax-exempt status during the 2018-19 fiscal year, would have paid $44.5 million to the Palo Alto Unified School District, and a total of $95.9 million to all local jurisdictions in the county, according to memos that Simitian provided to the Weekly.

The office also determined that the Stanford's exemption leads to higher property-tax bills for households that the school district relies on to pay general obligation bonds. The exemption adds $118 for every $1 million of assessed value, according to county data.

The topic of schools is expected to take center stage at the Oct. 22 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, which will be held in Palo Alto. In preparation for that meeting, Simitian and Chavez issued a memo asking staff to determine the expected enrollment increase in the Palo Alto Unified School District associated with Stanford's expansion, the impact of the expansion on per-pupil funding in the school district and other information, and the effect on school revenues of Stanford's exemption from paying property taxes.

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Comments

27 people like this
Posted by Former resident
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Sep 24, 2019 at 6:41 pm

A complex issue. The area continues to expand but the infrastructure remains mostly unchanged in 50 years.


18 people like this
Posted by Beholden to others
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2019 at 7:02 pm

Why only $169 million? I would think that filseth would demand at least a billion from stanford. Think of all the consultants they could find in order to delay making decisions. It would be nice if filseth started seriously addressing the housing issues in the city.


21 people like this
Posted by Moratorium NOW
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 25, 2019 at 2:21 am

Dave Cortese is also running for Senate 2020, wonder if he's getting or expecting campaign donations from Stanford.


8 people like this
Posted by No place for wild accusations
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 7:22 am

No place for wild accusations is a registered user.

@moratorium now. Stanford University is a nonprofit. They cannot donate to political campaigns. Please people, let’s stick to facts in this discussion. I read the article and felt that Cortez was responding to county staff not even attempting to do what the Board asked of them. More than a year ago, the Board voted that the County should engage in discussions with Stanford re: a development agreement. They have not.


16 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 25, 2019 at 9:01 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Todd Collins essentially tried to equate Stanford's level of excellence to that of PAUSD's. Does PAUSD really think that highly of themselves? It would be funny if it weren't so sad.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 25, 2019 at 9:37 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

The increase in number of young students in the PAUSD system signals that the CUB site needs to be addressed as part of any agreement. They cannot load all of the new students into Gunn and PAHS. SU should assist in the planning for CUB to help partially fund the upgrade of buildings and fields.

That is an end result - the near term problem is the construction phase which is already affecting the city. The city cannot be a repository of construction workers in RV's flooding our streets. They need to contain the workers and associated RV's on the back side of the campus. The workers do not work directly for the campus - they work for the contractors who are managing the construction projects. The city of PA derives no benefit for hosting RV's on it's streets. That should be one of the written criteria of any agreement so there is no wishy-washy discussion on that problem. We do not need many attempts to determine who is at cause and who is responsible for that debacle - and debacle it is.


6 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2019 at 10:20 am

"The increase in number of young students in the PAUSD system signals that the CUB site needs to be addressed as part of any agreement. They cannot load all of the new students into Gunn and PAHS. SU should assist in the planning for CUB to help partially fund the upgrade of buildings and fields."

There's more to PAUSD than Gunn and Paly. Have you noticed the decline in elementary school enrollment, especially in the north side? Maybe the boomer Residentialists have finally done what they set out to do - keep the millennials and their families priced out of Palo Alto.


15 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 10:43 am

Must admit I'm a bit lost. And I keep abreast of this stuff.

What is the downside if the County and Stanford cannot agree? Can the County just say "no" to further Stanford development? Can Stanford build anyway?

Who has the upper hand in this negotiation?


20 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:35 am

Maybe "mitigation" can compensate us for lost time and the cost of unused event tickets. We gave ourselves 4 hours to get to Berkeley lfor an 8pm concert last night. Both bridges were jammed so we took 101 for 90 minutes. At Burlingame it said another HOUR to get to downtown SF. We gave up and tried to wait out the traffic in a restaurant but it was still jammed solid hours later.

We don't need more congestion. What happens if we have a major disaster and need to evacuate quickly???


5 people like this
Posted by starting to stink in here
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:36 am

[Post removed.]


20 people like this
Posted by 94025
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:45 am

94025 is a registered user.

Don't forget Menlo Park, Mountain View, Redwood City, etc. schools. Palo Alto may feel the brunt of it, but our neighboring cities will get majorly impacted with larger class sizes, etc. as well.


14 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Rez
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

@Me Too and @Barron Park Dad. If you got back to the Final EIR commissioned by the County, it determined that the project would have NO IMPACT on the schools. That is, the amount of students that may be added over the lifetime of the permit is negligible. HOWEVER, the County made a recommendation for a condition of approval that Stanford build the additional housing - about four times more than they would like to build. And, because it is all to house ees - not grad students, etc. - it will absolutely have a footprint on the schools. Without the additional housing, no one will notice any additional students from Stanford.

@Barron Park Dad. The County does not have to approve the GUP. What happens then if that Stanford would have to submit a permit application for each individual project. That's just more paperwork for people. The upside for Stanford? It's doubtful than an EIR for a single project would show many - if any - impacts. This is the downside for the County. By taking many small projects over a twenty year lifetime and looking at them as one big project, one can determine, what would be cumulative impacts.

Can the County say, "no?" Yes. But, Stanford - like any lawful property owner - is entitled to develop their land as the law allows. A permit cannot be turned down aribitrarily. What does this mean? If you want to buid a new garage and put in an application to the City to build the new garage and the garage meets all the appropriate codes, setbacks, etc., the City cannot turn down your application.


13 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:02 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"What happens if we have a major disaster and need to evacuate quickly???"

DON"T !!! Those who attempt to evacuate will be trapped away from home and away from resources.

Build your earthquake plan around sheltering in place - a tent in your backyard would be much better than be trapped on a freeway.


11 people like this
Posted by Beholden to others
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:32 pm

Online name-LOL. Why didn't you take public transportation. Caltrain to Millbrae and then Bart to Berkeley. And you want to be compensated for your selfish behavior?


10 people like this
Posted by that is just lame
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:37 pm

@Peter Carpenter
What if was a fire... There is nothing to say that Palo alto will not catch on fire due to a major fire event culminating in a firestorm like what happened in Paradise, CA. Lots of good reasons to evacuate.

@Crescent Park Rez
The EIR assumed it was also about twenty years ago. Graduate students have kids, lots of them in fact. Also, as the graduate student demographic shifts to 50/50 or better to female, there will be more kids; sexist academia has kept it white and male, right--what, 10% of academia is tenure track female, that bs needs to end. The EIR is ignorant of simple points to reality.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:42 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"@Peter Carpenter
What if was a fire..."

You would be wise to devise a walking or bicycle plan to evacuate in case of a fire.

If you attempt to evacuate Palo Alto in the face of a widespread fire by car you will probably die in a traffic jam. Just look at the Paradise fire and Oakland fire tragedies.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:53 pm

Looting is bad enough here now. Imagine during a disaster.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Evacuation in the face of a wildfire does not require that you go some great distance but rather you locate IN ADVANCE a reachable by foot large non-combustible area to evacuate to and that you take some thermal shelter with you.

The middle of a football or soccer field or inside a parking structure MIGHT be good alternatives.


1 person likes this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 25, 2019 at 12:58 pm

resident3 is a registered user.

Crescent Park Rez,

"It's doubtful than an EIR for a single project would show many - if any - impacts. This is the downside for the County. By taking many small projects over a twenty year lifetime and looking at them as one big project, one can determine, what would be cumulative impacts."

Is this a law? That single sites don't have to count towards cumulative impacts?

And what is this called in terms of governance? That there are no better options?

I am aslo confused and cannot interpret Cortese's hystrionics but he is in San Jose, and can't feel any of Stanford's impacts so this is all at the least very strange.


12 people like this
Posted by Smells Like a Duck
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 25, 2019 at 1:29 pm

Smells Like a Duck is a registered user.

@No Place for wild Accusations
You are right that Stanford cannot contribute directly to Cortese's state senate campaign. However, Stanford has been very effective over the years at rallying their very extensive and affluent alumni to lobby the county on their GUP. SD15 senate district that Cortese is running for does not cover any other the communities actually impacted by the GUP so his concerns are not for those communities and residents. That's consistent with his position supporting Stanford rather than community interests. This begs the question of why he has reacted so vehemently.


1 person likes this
Posted by DGSanJose
a resident of another community
on Sep 25, 2019 at 1:37 pm

Jeff Smith dragging his feet?

There is a pile of dirt on Bascom Ave outside the hispital that shoukd have been done 3 years ago. It is a big pile about 4 years old.

Jeff and his depitues have a geological sense of time.


20 people like this
Posted by Simitian's folly
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 25, 2019 at 1:42 pm

What's actually happened here, and why Cortese is furious, is that Simitian was directed by the supes to conduct negotiations towards a development agreement with Stanford. He didn't, and also didn't report back to them about what was going on. Instead, he tried to torpedo PAUSD's agreement with Stanford for $140 million.

Now Stanford is saying that they won't accept a permit without a development agreement, because the terms of the permit that the County has come up with are too onerous. So what, you might say? Now the second part of why Cortese is furious: Stanford won't just go away, they will sue the County for arbitrary restrictions on their right to build, and probably win.

Simitian has mishandled the GUP and will try furiously to blame it on Stanford, when he should have been negotiating for a deal that would benefit the community and the university.


3 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Rez
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 2:13 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

@resident3. I wasn't clear in my response. An EIR looks at probable impacts from whatever project it's evaluating. They tend to use criteria that maximize impacts - so a "worse case scenario." An EIR can only look at impacts associated with the project it is evaluating. This makes sense. If I build a new house on an empty lot, my impact to the community is X. But if a car dealership one year later gets a permit to put in a car dealership next door, how could the EIR done on my house anticipate or account for that new car dealership? The cumulative impacts over time from small projects is really what has caused the incredible congestion in the area. If everyone had to submit what was to be built in area X over a twenty year period, we'd be able to plan better and mitigate impacts. Few entities can plan for twenty years. It's a very good thing if we can do it.

Regarding Cortese' irritation. I wasn't there, I don't know. But, I do imagine that "Simitian's Folly" poster is not far off. The Board asked the County to engage in discussions. No party kept the rest of the Board apprised of what was going on. That would be infuriating for many people in that it could be interpreted as the staff thinking they don't have to listen to the Board.

Regarding what Cortese wants? Who knows. All speculation here. But, I read the Simitian's term as Board President is up at the end of this year. Maybe he's campaigning for that position? Or maybe he is really annoyed at how much time this is taking up at Board meetings. Maybe he wants more "air" time for his district. Who knows?


5 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Rez
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 25, 2019 at 2:23 pm

Crescent Park Rez is a registered user.

@that is just lame. What do you mean the EIR made assumptions from twenty years ago? Did you read it? They used the latest data to forecast into the future. The EIR didn't look at gender of grad students, it looked at total number of households and then assumed X number of children per household. The multiplier it used was quite generous and most likely overstated the number of children. Let's not forget that grad students - regardless of gender - leave as soon as they graduate. They go to whatever job they got in what, I'm sure, is a much more affordable area to live in.


15 people like this
Posted by Poopy
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 25, 2019 at 2:25 pm

Off topic, however, the Senate election brings up the issue with diversity in policy makers Web Link

Any way you cut it, Stanford is just shitting on people. The university admin that are involved in the GUP are all at the end of their careers. None will be here at the end of this GUP. These are the people that hold many of the top 10 salaries at the University; only the football coach makes more. They have zero connection to the academics or research.


14 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 25, 2019 at 2:30 pm

If you watch the Sup meeting video, Cortese says several times he has 17 years of working on land-use issues in San Jose and the County, and he's never seen a process managed like is one.

He's gotten no update from the county staff or his colleagues for a year (!), there are no meeting minutes or summaries, and only knows what he reads in the paper. The board sent a sub-committee to work on a Development Agreement with Stanford, and a year later there has been no negotiation at all and Stanford's "offers" have never been countered.

Clearly Cortese has a beef with the County Executive, who said that the staff hadn't been asked to do anything, as well as with Simitian, who basically orchestrated this high-stakes drama (for what benefit I don't know).

I expect, like @Simitian's Folly, that this winds up with either the County caving, or Stanford suing the county over the conditions of approval and the process, and very likely winning. That last option should chill the hearts of all those Palo Alto school parents, since it will likely mean no deal at all for the schools.


9 people like this
Posted by Women in the academy
a resident of Stanford
on Sep 25, 2019 at 2:31 pm

@Crescent Park Rez

Cool counterpoint, "Let's not forget that grad students - regardless of gender - leave as soon as they graduate. They go to whatever job they got... "

Except, they are replaced by new graduate students. Each successive replacement, that will be with more women, which brings more kids.

Stanford is a bottleneck in the supply of tenure track women, the result has been a reduced global faculty of women.

Now is the time to fix that with real leadership. That leadership starts with infrastructure that supports women in the academy, which requires actual planning.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 25, 2019 at 3:35 pm

Basically Stanford and other universities have become a big players in the immigration game via the "education" loophole. These long staying graduate students come from all over the world, and (let's be real) - they are not going to return. They enroll at universities and bring their families from overseas with lots of children, enroll in our schools, complain about the conditions in housing like cockroaches and rodents, and stay here for 8 years working on meaningless co-terminal degrees like the psychology of their native music (but phrased in fancier academic words).
Stanford views it as money to be made, while others view it as a misuse of our local resources, and abuse of the American academic system.

When we enter our next drought cycle, perhaps this will become clearer.
Water will be become the limiting factor of growth for everyone.
Stanford is already using a lot of water.
The hospital and expansion will require more.


14 people like this
Posted by concerned growth
a resident of Ohlone School
on Sep 25, 2019 at 9:04 pm

Stanford is talking about a HUGE expansion. Look at those numbers. 2.25 MILLION sq feet -- and this after major growth in footprint from new hospital and other buildings. Breathtaking scope here.


2 people like this
Posted by Kenny
a resident of University South
on Sep 25, 2019 at 11:48 pm

"With Stanford University's bid to dramatically expand its campus entering a critical phase, the university doubled down Tuesday on its demand for a development agreement with Santa Clara County and suggested that it would not accept the county's approval of its growth plan without such a deal."

The county couldn't simply tell Stanford "No means no"?

"Stanford is talking about a HUGE expansion."

And? The entire Bay Area is undergoing a huge expansion. What is so surprising about this? There are many more people in this region than ever before. They have to live and work somewhere. Why not Stanford?


3 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2019 at 3:53 am

Stanford should incorporate as a city. then they could approve whatever they want.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2019 at 4:43 am

In retrospect, perhaps is wasn't such a good idea to move the medical school from San Francisco to Palo Alto.
Once upon a time, but too long ago...the City of Palo Alto and Stanford were co-owners of their first hospital.
Now our city is being swallowed up by this massive business.


4 people like this
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2019 at 6:50 am

resident3 is a registered user.

concerned growth

“Stanford is talking about a HUGE expansion. Look at those numbers. 2.25 MILLION sq feet -- and this after major growth in footprint from new hospital and other buildings. Breathtaking scope here.”

Something that Cortese has probably never dealt with in his 17 years of land use planning. Cortese’s fit bothers me and I guess it’s because it’s obvious this is not just any plan and again one that won’t impact San Jose.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 26, 2019 at 8:05 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I love the comments that there will be no impact on PAUSD schools. Some political flack put that in so that is one element that does not have to be negotiated in this contract. Can we please get real here? If you add people in the productive age group then there will be more children and the PAUSD will be impacted. That is a given.
Suggest that the topic have a qualifier in the contract which addresses the topic and provides some criteria in which SU has to contribute to the upgrade of CUB.
Do not wiggle off the hook here. It is real and if not addressed then is a concession to political wrangling. Yes we have an aging population but there will be a point in which those homes will transition to younger family units with children. I have that on my block - the older people are moving on to areas that are less encumbered with political upheaval and younger families are now living here in those homes.

If the SVLG has it's way you will no longer have residential zones - you will have multiple dwelling units intermingled all over in single family homes.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 26, 2019 at 10:03 am

"you will have multiple dwelling units intermingled all over in single family homes."

I think that's a fair description of the College Terrace neighborhood today, which last time I checked is a very pleasant place. The idea that a duplex or quadplex on your block is going to fundamentally change your neighborhood seems strange.


10 people like this
Posted by Stanford grabbers
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2019 at 7:44 pm

@Resident, a duplex or quadplex on your block is going to fundamentally change your neighborhood seems strange..

Except that Stanford is voraciously gobbling up houses in College Terrace. One duplex wont change much, but a lot will.
I don't trust those Stanford money and property grabbers, not one bit.It used to be an ethical university.


14 people like this
Posted by David Lieberman
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 27, 2019 at 10:41 am

From this mornings Daily Post:
"Stanford has broadly advertised a proposed $4.7 billion package of community benefits.... Those benefits are really only worth $168.3 million or 3.6 % of the advertised $4.7 billion according to a county analysis that was sent to the Board of Supervisors by Deputy County Executive Sylvia Gallegos"

The difference between $4.7 billion and $168.3 million is somewhat greater than a rounding error. Obviously someone is not telling the truth. Am I capable of determining who? Not without access to a pile of information and hours, days, weeks of work.

It seems to me that that is a job for the local press. There are many fine journalists at the Weekly. Get to work!


9 people like this
Posted by Don't let them build
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 28, 2019 at 11:48 pm



First I think that it is important to note that Stanford presents itself, but should not be treated, as only a university. In reality it is a massive research and development conglomerate, a huge real-estate investment and management corporation, an enormously oversized hospital and lastly a fairly middle sized university. And apparently they have so much endowment money that they just can’t spend it fast enough trying to overdevelop the area around their campus.

A quick review of their growth (on campus) over the last 50 years shows that Stanford doubled in size from 4 million to more than 8 million square feet, between 1960 - 1985. In 1989 they requested and received another 2 million square feet of development. In 2000 they received another 4.8 million square feet of development. And now they are back again asking for another 5 million square feet of development. They have already gone from 4 million sf to 15 million and now what to up it to 20.

All this development has an impact on pollution levels, numbers of people in the area, crowding of streets, schools infrastructure and quality of life in an area. And don’t forget in addition to the campus Stanford is currently building on 35 acres in Redwood City, five miles from campus, and plans to have 1.5 million sq. feet there to move some offices off campus and free up even more space on campus.

Stanford is no longer a peaceful campus, filled with green lawns, open spaces and trees as it was as recently as 30 years ago. It is a mass of building after building. All of this might be fine if Stanford existed in a bubble, but it doesn’t. Stanford is the largest employer in this area and their irresponsible, exponential growth has been monumentally degrading to the surrounding community and our quality of life.

They haven’t even finished all of the building from the last 5 million square feet of growth granted them with approval of the 2000 GUP. Plus they just finished building their massive hospital complex that is close to 2 million square feet, although technically it is not part of the GUP. I believe it is time to take a respite and see how all of the recent growth affects this area before plunging back into the unending building cycle that has become the norm for Stanford.

Stanford’s growth has negative effects throughout the area. They claim they don’t add to traffic, but the reality is that if you look closely at all the exemptions to their traffic plan – they do. Plus if they aren’t adding more traffic why are they building so many parking garages? They have excuses like off peak hour traffic and that they have to park the cars for their housing. But the reality is that their development brings more cars to the area.

They also drive up demand and therefore cost of local housing. They continue to add more faculty, students and staff than they provide housing for. Further their massive growth will require the local school system to add more classrooms when there is no addition to the tax base. Plus they will require more infrastructure (roads, policing, recreation) that the city will have to provide without any reimbursement.

How much more of the fallout from Stanford’s development are we supposed to endure as they try to build their way to a size to fit their imagined importance?

Greed has been driving the growth in this area for the past 20 years and it is time for good citizens and their representatives to tell the developers to stop.

We will never return to the verdant farming region that we once were but it is past time to shut down the urbanization monster that is gridlocking us all. That is not how we want to live. I believe that this area has already surpassed the population that can be ecologically sustained here. I’m referring to a quality of life that includes open space, the ability to travel freely, pollution levels that are not dangerous to health, likelihood that there will be sufficient water supplies and energy to support current residents and the infrastructure to provide these services.


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