Uploaded: Thursday, October 26, 2000, noon
Letter to the almuni and friends
from John Hennessy
Dear Stanford alumni and friends:
Last night, at a Town Hall Meeting in Palo Alto, Santa Clara County
Supervisor Joe Simitian announced his preliminary thoughts on Stanford's
Community Plan and General Use Permit application. It is clear that
Stanford cannot accept significant elements of his proposed recommendations.
In response I have issued the statement below.
Both the Trustees and I view these new conditions as unacceptable.
The new proposal mandates a 99-year dedication of one quarter of
our Santa Clara County lands. Unless this condition is removed,
l believe we will not be able to accept the new General Use Permit.
Our new housing and new academic facilities will be on indefinite
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will meet on October
31 to make a final decision on the plan. On Monday, October 30,
they will conduct a public hearing providing members of the public
with the opportunity to comment on Stanford's proposed plan. I encourage
you to attend and speak at Monday's hearing. The public hearing
will take place at 7 p.m. in the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors'
Chambers, 70 West Hedding St., San Jose.
I also encourage you to contact members of the Board of Supervisors
via email or fax to register your opinion. Please urge the supervisors
to vote for the Community Plan and General Use Permit approved by
the Santa Clara County Planning Commission and to reject Supervisor
Simitian's proposal. Information on how to contact the board members
is included below as well.
For information contact Stanford's Office of Government and Community
Relations at 650-7253323. Or visit our web site at http://gup.stanford.edu.
This matter is of critical importance to the university and your
support would be greatly appreciated.
/s/ John Hennessy
STATEMENT BY STANFORD UNIVERSITY
PRESIDENT JOHN HENNESSY ON SUPERVISOR SIMITIAN'S PROPOSED REVISIONS
TO THE COMMUNITY PLAN AND GENERAL USE PERMIT
October 25, 2000
I am disappointed that, with less than a week left in a two-year
process, unprecedented new conditions have been interjected into
the proposed Community Plan and General Use Permit for Stanford
that was adopted by the Santa Clara County Planning Commission last
Last night, Mr. Simitian said:
"During the course of these past 18 months I have often heard or
read the suggestion that if Stanford University wants all this development
they should be obliged to give us the open space in the foothills
in exchange for that development. Let me just say, that's not the
way it works. At least, that's not the way it's supposed to work."
Unfortunately, the Supervisor's new condition of "Compact Urban
Development Commitment Credits" violates this very principle. This
would require Stanford to grant 99-year easements to the County
for 1,000 acres of foothills in exchange for academic development
for the next ten years. We have been advised that this dedication
requirement is unlawful, and we believe it is unwarranted.
After exhaustive study, the County staff has concluded that the
proposed Stanford development results in no significant open space
impacts. Stanford has not proposed any development in the 2,100
acres in the foothills. As both the independent environmental experts
who prepared the EIR and the County's own staff have stated, no
further mitigation is required. In fact, concepts similar to the
"Compact Urban Development Credits" were considered and rejected
by the County staff.
We hope that Supervisor Simitian's preliminary thinking on this
issue will change before the Board of Supervisors' vote next week
and he will embrace the carefully crafted compromises contained
in the report adopted by the Planning Commission.
The Stanford University trustees, under the terms of their duties,
cannot surrender the rights to 1,000 acres of Stanford property
for the next century.
BACKGROUND * Stanford has participated in an extensive, two-year
study of its proposal for a Community Plan and General Use Permit
for critically needed housing and academic development for the next
10 years. This process has taken 5,000 hours of County staff time
and cost millions of dollars. It has involved environmental and
traffic consultants, 40 public meetings and hearings and input from
16 public agencies. This process resulted in four volumes of environmental
studies and a complex plan proposed by the Santa Clara County planning
staff and adopted by the County Planning Commission that contains
more than 200 conditions on Stanford's General Use Permit. Stanford
has accepted this as a workable compromise.
* The 25-year academic growth boundary provides ample protection
for the foothills. Mr. Simitian's preliminary proposal to require
99-year easements ties the hands, not just of Stanford, but of future
Boards of Supervisors, which will have current information on which
to balance the needs and interests of the public and Stanford.
* Ninety-nine years ago Stanfford was a dramatically different
type of place than it is today. Santa Clara County was a rural area:
the cities of Palo Alto and Menlo Park had not yet been incorporated.
San Jose was primarily orchards. The Marguerite shuttle was a horse-drawn
carriage to the train station. Residents and public officials could
not have predicted 99 years ago what Stanford and the community
would need today. Today no one can predict what will be best for
Stanford, the community and the County as the 22nd century approaches.
* The basic principles of compact growth, environmental protection,
and preservation of open space are already embodied in Stanford's
proposal and in the overall package adopted by the Santa Clara County
Over half of all the construction in Stanford's proposal will be
much needed housing. Seventy-eight percent of the new housing will
be low-income housing for students, medical residents, and postgraduate
fellows. The rest of it will be part of our faculty/staff housing
program, which includes several forms of housing assistance.
The County has proposed a program of "no net new commute trips,"
based o actual counts, and Stanford will accept the challenge to
make that goal a reality. This stringent standard has never been
imposed on another landowner, nor has any public agency ever applied
this standard to its own activities.
* In response to community suggestions, Stanford has gone far beyond
any legal requirements and has volunteered extra mitigation measures
to benefit the community. Stanford has offered a possible middle
school site or $10 million to the Palo Alto Unified School District
and offered to lease the six-acre Mayfield site to the City for
a nonprofit community center for 51 years at a rate of $1 per year.