Stanford Plan
Stanford Plan

Uploaded: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 7 p.m.

Simitian wants 1,000 acres in foothills protected
Supervisor wants community reaction before final vote

by Don Kazak

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will recommend that a new general use permit for Stanford be approved next week, but with some restrictions that Stanford officials may have some difficulty with.

Simitian is recommending that up to 1,000 acres of Stanford foothills be protected from development for the next 99 years, as long as present campus development is contained to the core campus.

He also wants Stanford to begin a study to determine an ultimate development limit, or "build-out," for the campus.

Simitian held a town hall meeting in Palo Alto last night to announce his version of what should be in the Stanford plan. His idea was to give residents, various interests groups and Stanford officials a glimpse of his thinking before the county board takes final action on Oct. 31.

On open space, Simitian wants to create something called a "clustering credit" for Stanford's campus development, which would set aside land in the foothills as open space for 99 years in return for Stanford clustering development on its core campus. For the 2 million square feet of academic buildings Stanford is proposing, this would equate to about 1,000 acres of open space in the foothills for 99 years, or the life of the new development.

The time limit of the proposal may cause significant problems for Stanford. In a recent letter to county officials, Stanford's Larry Horton wrote the university would not accept any commitment to not build in the foothills that is longer than 25 years.

Regarding future development, Simitian will suggest that Stanford begin a "build-out" study to begin to identify its future building needs beyond the 10-year use permit now being considered.

Over the last year, the idea of determining an ultimate development limit was suggested, but its not part of the current county planning staff recommendations. Simitian wants to at least start the planning process for that.

His statement, which he calls his preliminary thinking, would require Stanford to start figuring out how much more square footage it can eventually build, and would require the university to present such a build-out study to the county before the current square footage in the pending general use permit can be completed.

On housing, Simitian will also suggest that Stanford base its housing plan on the demand actually created by new academic development, and that it be timed to coincide, in part, with the new academic development. This is the "linkage" issue that popped up late in the planning process.

Stanford officials have said they are in favor of a linkage between academic and housing construction, but they don't want their academic development plans to be held up if a housing proposal runs into political opposition and is delayed.

Simitian also plans to ask the county board to require Stanford to make 15 percent of all new faculty and staff housing units affordable to "very-low, low and moderate income" employees.

Simitian's remarks last night come on the heels of the latest county staff recommendations earlier this month, Stanford's reaction, and the final recommendations of the Palo Alto City Council, as determined Monday night.

For almost a year and a half, the process has been a sometimes intense planning process that has moved very quickly, albeit with countless hours of public testimony and hundreds of pages of written suggestions and recommendations.

All of that is scheduled to culminate early next week. The county Board of Supervisors will hear public testimony at 7 p.m. Monday night at the county government center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose, and then is scheduled to take final action beginning at 2 p.m. Tuesday, also in the Board of Supervisors Chambers in San Jose.

Along the way, Stanford has seemingly solved several problems, including the creation of a third middle school in Palo Alto, relocation of the Jewish Community from the Terman Community Center (the third middle school site), and saving the first hole of the golf course by moving proposed faculty housing to a different site.

And while the county planning staff is proposing a 25-year academic growth boundary for the foothills, mostly along Junipero Serra Boulevard, environmental groups are pushing for permanent open space protection for the foothills.

Simitian's proposal goes further than the county planning staff's proposal--and maybe too far, from Stanford's perspective--but may fall short of what the environmental groups want.