Uploaded: Tuesday, October 24, 2000 7 p.m.
Statement of Supervisor Joe Simitian
Regarding Stanford Land Use Application
Tuesday, October 24, 2000
Introduction,Purpose of Town Hall Meeting
Let me begin by explaining the purpose of this evening's Town Hall
meeting. There are two purposes really. The first is to share with
you my preliminary thinking about Stanford University's application
for a Community Plan and General Use Permit. The second, quite simply,
is to hear from you.
As most of you probably know, the Board of Supervisors is scheduled
to consider and take action on Stanford's application on Tuesday
of next week. My goal in sharing my preliminary thinking with you
this evening is to provide an opportunity for public comment in
advance of the Board's deliberation. As a matter of fairness (and
law), the conclusions I share with you this evening must be preliminary
in nature. Until the gavel comes down at the end of our last public
hearing on this subject, I must and I will keep an open mind.
That being said, however, I've rather obviously begun to develop
some opinions about which directions we should take on the pending
application, and it seemed to me it would be most helpful if I shared
them with you all this evening, while there is still an opportunity
for comment -- rather than waiting until the public hearing process
had been concluded and further public comment was precluded.
Which brings me to the second purpose of this evening's town hall
meeting, which is to hear from you. After I've expressed my preliminary
thinking, I encourage you to share your thoughts about the direction
I'm inclined to take and/or any other matters relating to Stanford's
Community Plan and GUP application.
If you think that my reasoning is faulty, my facts are wrong, or
that I've simply missed the boat, please feel free to let me know.
By the same token, if you're inclined to think I'm more or less
on the right track it would be helpful to know that as well. Given
the scope and complexity of the issues we'll be talking about this
evening, some subjects may be touched on only lightly, or possibly
not all. If you have comments, concerns or opinions you wish to
share on issues that have not been addressed by my remarks,
please feel free to do so.
My hope is that by offering my thoughts this evening, then hearing
from you tonight, then considering the calls, cards, letters, faxes
and e-mails I feel sure we'll be receiving between now and October
30th, and then carefully listening to the public testimony at our
Board's October 30th public hearing, I'll be able to refine my thinking
even more, and then make the best possible recommendation to my
colleagues at our meeting on Tuesday, October 31st.
For those of you concerned about the timeline as we move into the
final days of decision-making, it may be helpful for you to know
that while our Board is scheduled to take action on October 31st,
there will still be plenty of time following that date for the Board
to dot the i's and cross the t's, which is an inevitable part of
a process such as this. There are regularly scheduled meetings of
the Board Supervisors calendared for November 7th and November 14th,
as well as other dates set aside on an "as needed" basis. We do,
however, expect that October 30th will be the last opportunity
for public comment before the public hearing is closed.
Having briefly described the process we'll be using during the
final weeks of decision-making, it is perhaps appropriate to take
a few minutes to review the process that brought us to this point.
At the outset, more than a year-and-a-half ago, it was my goal to
devise a process that was iterative and incremental -- a process
which would refine and improve the Community Plan and GUP at every
step along the way.
To that end we created a five-step process. In effect, we gave
ourselves five chances to get it right.
The first step in the process was a Draft Application prepared
by Stanford for consideration and comment by the community, County
Planning staff and my office. That was the first chance to get it
The second step in the process was a formal application, filed
by Stanford University in November of 1999, based on feedback received
in connection with the Draft. That was the second chance to get
The third step in the process was extensive environmental review,
followed by comments and recommendations (issued in June, August
and October of this year) from County Planning staff -- offering
their best professional judgments and recommendations. That was
the third chance to get it right.
The fourth step in the process was completed just last week. On
October 18th and 19th, the County Planning
Commission heard public testimony and made its own recommendations,
which were, for the most part, substantially similar to those of
the County Planning Department. That was the fourth chance to get
The fifth and final step in the process, of course, is consideration
and action by our Board -- our last chance to get it right.
My hope and expectation was that by putting the application through
five successive screens, we would refine and improve the project
with each successive step in the process. I believe that goal has
in fact been realized.
It was also my hope that if outstanding issues were well and truly
confronted along the way, we could avoid any 12th hour surprises
-- that is, we would reduce the need or potential for our Board
of Supervisors to simply dismiss the hard work of the past 18 months
and then come up with something from scratch. Here again, I believe
the process has largely been successful.
I think the success of the process to date has been due in no small
measure to two important commitments made early on in this exercise:
Meaningful opportunities for public participation;
A genuinely cross-jurisdictional approach which ensured
that the legitimate interests of our neighbors in Palo Alto,
Menlo Park, Woodside, Portola Valley and unincorporated San
Mateo County were adequately represented and considered in the
Here again my hopes and expectations for the process have largely
In recent weeks many of you have asked how I go about deciding
what I think in matters of this sort. So let me share with you the
criteria I consider in making land use decisions like the one we
have before us.
As I review the recommendations from Planning Staff and the Planning
Commission, I ask six questions about the recommended course of
Does it allow the applicant to make good and productive
use of the property?
Does it ensure that the applicant will mitigate any
adverse impacts arising from the proposed use?
Is the proposal environmentally appropriate, and
consistent with sound land use planning practices?
Does the private use respect the public interest?
Is it fair?
And is it legal?
These are the criteria I've applied in reaching some tentative
conclusions about the Stanford GUP and Community Plan. All that
having been said, let me now offer some specific comments on the
substance of the application.
The Bottom Line
Stanford's Community Plan and GUP application ask that the County
authorize the development of 2,035,000 square feet of academic facilities
and up to 3,018 housing units (estimated to make up another 2.8
million square feet of development). My inclination is to say yes
-- yes to all of it -- but only if it is well-designed, carefully
planned, appropriately located, and effectively mitigated.
By any reasonable standard, 4.8 million square feet is a lot of
development. Simply put, Stanford wants to "grow" its core campus
by more than a third in the next 10 years, and seeks approval from
our County to do so. I am inclined to support that request, and
urge my colleagues to support it as well; subject, however, to the
Conditions of Approval and Community Plan language provided by County
Planning staff and the Santa Clara County Planning Commission, as
well as some additional provisions I will share with you this evening.
Rate and Amount of Growth
Notwithstanding my inclination to recommend approval, I do have
concerns about both the amount and the rate of growth proposed --
and some thoughts about how to deal with those issues.
It seems to me we are sometimes reluctant to face the fact that
there are indeed limits on the absolute level of growth which can
be successfully accommodated, as well as the rate of growth which
can be thoughtfully managed. In my view, this is an issue which
simply must be confronted. The starting point in successfully planning
for and managing some additional increment of growth on the Stanford
campus is an understanding of both the amount of growth and the
rate of growth at issue.
From Stanford's earliest beginnings in 1875 up until 1960, the
University's total development was roughly 4 million square feet
-- 4 million square feet over a period of 85 years. During the next
25 years (from 1960-1985), the level of development on Stanford's
core campus literally doubled, from 4,000,000 square feet to more
than 8 million square feet. And in the 25 years from 1985 to 2010,
assuming we approve the development proposed in the Community Plan
and GUP application, the University will for the second time have
doubled in size in 25 years, from eight million-and-change to almost
16 million square feet of development upon the expiration of this
Year 2000 GUP.
Rather obviously, this level of exponential growth, that is to
say a doubling in size every 25 years, cannot continue in perpetuity
-- or even, I think most of us would agree, for the next 25 or 50
I for one could certainly not support a doubling of development
from almost 16 million square feet to 32 million square feet in
the 25 years following this GUP, or a doubling in development from
32 million square feet to 64 million square feet in the 25 years
after that. Nor is there any reason to think the University has
such aggressive growth plans in mind.
The problem, of course, is that it's difficult to know or plan
for whatever the University has in mind, because the University
has never been obliged to determine and describe its vision of ultimate
buildout. Nor, for that matter, has the County of Santa Clara ever
been inclined to face up to the challenge of determining and planning
for a particular vision of buildout on the Stanford campus. To put
it another way: The reason we've never been able to plan for Stanford's
future is that we have no clear notion of what that future might
During the past 18 months some members of the public have proposed
that we use this GUP and Community Plan process to establish a "cap"
on the University's maximum development potential, "buildout" as
it's often referred to. While I believe there would be value in
a clearer vision of the University's long term development plans,
and greater clarity about the ultimate potential or carrying capacity
of University lands, I don't think we were well-positioned to reach
such conclusions as we entered this process.
By its nature the Community Plan and GUP application process is
a request for an additional increment of development rather than
a long-term attempt to plan for the whole. For that reason, I am
not inclined to propose that our Board establish a permanent cap
or attempt to define at this point the ultimate buildout of the
I am inclined to think, however, that it would be irresponsible
to simply ignore the need for a clearer notion about the ultimate
capacity of Stanford lands and a clearer vision of what such a plan
might entail. For that reason I'm inclined to suggest to my colleagues
that the Conditions of Approval for the GUP include a condition
requiring that Stanford undertake a Buildout Study regarding the
buildout potential of Stanford University on all unincorporated
lands within Santa Clara County.
I would propose that within a year of the GUP approval the County
Planning Office develop criteria for the content of such a Study.
The University would be expected to begin such a Study prior to
completion of 800,000 square feet of facilities on the Stanford
campus, and complete the Buildout Study before exceeding 1.2 million
square feet of academic development on the Stanford campus. Stanford's
Buildout Study would have to be deemed adequate and complete by
the Santa Clara County Planning Office as a precondition for development
of more than 1.6 million square feet.
I believe that the preparation of such a Buildout Study by Stanford
University will help to ensure that before the University approaches
Santa Clara County for its next set of approvals, a decade
or so hence, we will have a clearer picture of the amount, rate
and nature of growth Stanford plans for its campus, and will thereby
be better equipped to plan for such growth.
Let me turn now to the question of housing. Earlier this year I
suggested that there might appropriately be some basis for "linkage"
between the development of academic facilities and housing on the
campus. For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, this discussion
has become both confusing and contentious. So let me suggest a somewhat
different approach than that contained in the recommendations from
our Planning staff and the Planning Commission, an approach which
I think may help.
It seems to me there are two important but separate threshold questions
we have to ask and answer. The first is: how much housing should
Stanford be allowed to build? The second is: how much housing
should Stanford be required to build?
As to the first question, I have already indicated that I believe
Stanford University should be allowed to build all of the housing
for which it has requested approvals. Let me say it again -- all
of it. Moreover, I fully support provisions contained in the Planning
staff and Planning Commission recommendations that would permit
the development of housing above and beyond that number without
the necessity of a new GUP. That, I think, answers the first question.
The second and very different question is, as I noted, to what
extent should Stanford be required to build housing as a
precondition to the development of academic facilities. Notwithstanding
the debate on this topic in recent months, I believe the answer
is really quite simple. The University should be required to build
such housing as is demonstrably necessary to mitigate the adverse
impacts of its academic development on this region's housing supply.
No more, no less.
I do not believe it would be appropriate, for example, to expect
Stanford University to single-handedly solve the housing shortage
on the Peninsula. Nor do I think we can require the University to
make up for a pre-existing housing deficit on campus, if indeed
such a deficit exists, resulting from past approvals. What we can
and should do, however, is determine the growth in population we
anticipate as a result of Stanford's development, and then require
that a sufficient stock of housing be provided by the University
to accommodate that growth.
The analysis conducted for this project's EIR (Environmental Impact
Report), relying heavily on population information provided by Stanford
University, indicates that the development of 2,035,000 square feet
of academic facilities will result in a population increase of 2,201
students, faculty and staff; and as a result of growth inducing
impacts an additional population increase of as much as 1,050 is
projected -- a total potential increase in population of 3,251.
A population increase of that magnitude is expected to generate
demand for something like 2,420 additional units of housing. It
is that number of units which I believe can and should appropriately
be required, simply as a mitigation for the development proposed
by the University.
Having said that, I am aware of and sympathetic to the University's
concerns that, if not carefully crafted, such mitigation measures
could unintentionally impede the University's ability to move forward
with academic development. For that reason I am inclined to suggest
that such requirements be imposed as follows: Before the University
could build more than 500,000 square feet of academic facilities,
it must have satisfied at least 25% of the required housing mitigation.
Before the University could build more than 1 million square feet
of academic facilities, it must have satisfied at least 50% of the
required housing mitigation; and before the University could build
more than 1.5 million square feet of academic facilities, it must
have satisfied at least 75% of the housing mitigation required.
Above the level of 1.5 million square feet of academic development,
additional academic development would be preconditioned on a commensurate
level of housing mitigation.
I believe that by applying this "loose linkage" we can ensure that
the housing mitigation required will in fact be delivered in full,
but on a timetable which is flexible enough to ensure that it poses
no impediment to the University's schedule for academic development.
To provide additional flexibility, I am inclined to suggest that
this loose linkage also allow for the suspension, but not elimination,
of housing mitigation requirements if and when, as unlikely as it
seems today, the vacancy rate on the Peninsula rises to a level
which makes campus housing either unnecessary or unmarketable. Moreover,
should the County ever deny a University request or requests for
housing totalling in excess of 200 units, I would suggest that the
University might petition the Board of Supervisors to waive the
housing requirements of this condition, which waiver would be available
upon a two-thirds vote of the Board.
I believe this approach, this loose linkage, is entirely consistent
with the notion of "flexibility with accountability" which has been
the basis for much of our discussion. These requirements are simply
designed to ensure that Stanford's academic development does not
make our housing problem on the Peninsula even worse than it is
Frankly, at a time when the average home price on the Midpeninsula
exceeds $800,000 and the rental housing vacancy rate is a fraction
of 1%, I find it hard to believe that anyone would take issue with
the notion that significant development ought to proceed only if
it addresses the housing demand it creates.
In sum, I'm suggesting that Stanford University be allowed
to develop all of the housing it has requested, and be required
to provide all of the housing necessary to mitigate the housing
impacts of its academic development.
There remains, however, an important question not addressed by
the staff recommendation or the Planning Commission -- the critical
issue of affordability. Frankly, I am not inclined to think it appropriate
for our County to address the issue of affordability with respect
to the housing provided for undergraduates, graduate students, residents
at Stanford Hospital and postdoc's. They are, in a sense, sui generis
-- a unique case. In a very real sense the graduate students are
the University's customers, employees, and products all rolled into
one. Stanford will presumably have to price its units at a level
which allows the University to continue to attract the best and
brightest, and I am not inclined to think it appropriate for our
County to prescribe the cost of student housing.
I am, however, concerned that the recommendations we have received
thus far have not addressed the issue of affordability for the increase
of 935 faculty and staff and the 865 additional individuals who
will arrive on the Peninsula as a result of the proposed academic
developments growth and its impacts.
I understand and am sympathetic to the University's desire to create
a "community of scholars" on the Stanford campus, but I also understand
and am sympathetic to the needs of lower-income employees who will
inevitably be necessary as a result of this level of development.
Someone will have to push a broom to keep the place clean. Someone
will have to maintain the grounds. And someone will have to scrub
the pots and the pans. The question, of course, is where will these
new employees find an affordable place to live?
The needs of these folks can only be addressed by including some
sort of affordability component in the Conditions of Approval, and
I believe that for the 1154 units that would be required to accommodate
the housing needs of these 1800 faculty, staff and others, some
15% of those units should be set aside for individuals of very-low,
low and moderate income status. If we fail to do so, we will not
have truly mitigated the impacts of the proposed development. It
is not only a matter of the number of units, but also affordability.
Here again, I am mindful of the University's desire for some measure
of flexibility, and I'm inclined to suggest that the Conditions
of Approval contain a requirement for 173 affordable units (representing
the 15% set-aside that I have described), with one-third of that
number allocated to persons of very low-income, one-third of that
number allocated to persons of low-income and one-third of that
number allocated to persons of moderate income. Or, alternatively,
at the University's request, that fees might be paid, in lieu of
providing such housing, to an escrow account which could fund affordable
housing projects within a six mile commute radius of Stanford University.
I understand that this may seem a Herculean effort, but let me
reiterate my principal point. If we do all this and we do it successfully,
we will not have made our housing situation any better, we will
only have succeeded in keeping the situation from getting any worse
as a result of academic development on the Stanford campus.
For that reason I am particularly pleased that the University has
expressed its desire and intention to do even more in the way of
housing. I support them in that effort, and I want to make sure
that we accommodate that desire to the extent that we possibly can.
Open Space and Land Use
Let me turn my attention now to the very contentious issues of
open space and land use. Before sharing my thoughts about what remains
to be done in this area, I think it would be helpful and appropriate
to review what has already been accomplished during the course of
One of the advantages of an incremental process is that you make
incremental progress; one of the disadvantages of an incremental
process is that it is sometimes easy to forget just how much progress
has been made along the way. I think it is worthwhile therefore
to take a moment and review the progress to date. As they now stand,
the recommendations we have before us from our County Planning staff
and Planning Commission already incorporate:
A first-ever Stanford Community Plan -- a comprehensive
135-page amendment to the County's General Plan which, if adopted,
would govern Stanford land use with an unprecedented level of
clarity and specificity.
A first-ever Academic Growth Boundary -- designed
to clearly define and delineate the limits of academic growth.
A 25-year protection of acreage in the foothills,
articulated in the Stanford Community Plan, and implemented
by the use of the Academic Growth Boundary; and finally,
A redesignation of Stanford lands in the foothills
-- changing "Open Space-Academic Reserve" to either "Open Space-Field
Research" or "Special Conservation Area"; a move which,
if adopted, would clearly indicate that the lands in the foothills
are not, in fact, reserved for intensive academic development.
I want to emphasize this last provision in particular because its
importance, in my observation, has been vastly underestimated during
the course of public discussion and debate.
This redesignation, from "Open Space-Academic Reserve" to "Open
Space-Field Research" or "Special Conservation Area" provides
significant new protection for roughly 2,200 acres in the foothills
southwest of Junipero Serra Boulevard. This designation is a result
of Community Plan amendments to our County's General Plan, which
is the preeminent planning document governing land use for our County.
While it is true that a General Plan designation is not permanent
(in the sense that it does not last in perpetuity), it is also true
that a General Plan designation (like Open Space-Field Research)
is unlimited in its duration -- it remains in place until and unless
an affirmative action is taken by our Board of Supervisors to change
My point here is that measures already proposed by the County Planning
staff and the County Planning Commission provide four levels of
protection for the foothills above Junipero Serra Boulevard : a
first-ever Community Plan, a first-ever Academic Growth Boundary,
a 25 year term for the AGB and an Open Space-Field Research or Special
Conservation Area designation for roughly 2,200 acres of land in
the foothills. Frankly, if that's all we were to have done in terms
of sound land use planning, it would be one hell of an accomplishment.
But I think we can and should do more.
Before I say a little bit about other sound land-use planning strategies
that may be appropriate, I'd like to say a little bit about what
I think is not appropriate.
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
This isn't Let's Make a Deal. It isn't a swap meet. And it isn't
a flea market. Nor is this an opportunity to simply say "stick 'em
up!" We can't do it, and I wouldn't even suggest it.
What I can and would suggest, however, is that we have not only
the right, but the obligation to exercise the land use authority
of the County, thoughtfully and judiciously, by applying appropriate
land use designations to the property in question, in both our General
Plan and our Zoning Ordinance. We also have the right and the obligation
to ensure that any and all adverse impacts in a land use application
are fully mitigated by the Conditions of Approval. And we have the
right and the obligation to require that a project be well-planned,
properly sited, and carefully laid out to minimize adverse impacts
and maximize quality of life for campus residents and the surrounding
In considering the potential development capacity of Stanford University's
4,017 acres in the unincorporated County, one quickly comes to the
conclusion that the development capacity of the total acreage depends
significantly on the care and acumen brought to bear in the location
and orientation of the development in question.
If we plan well and wisely we can not only do more, we can do it
better and often times with fewer adverse impacts. To that end the
Planning staff and the Planning Commission have appropriately recommended
a pattern of Compact Urban Development (CUD) -- in effect, a clustering
of development in those portions of the campus deemed most appropriate.
In this fashion we hope to pursue a policy of "smart growth," with
all its beneficial implications for land use, transportation, resource
conservation, public safety and service delivery -- and avoid the
adverse consequences of sprawl. Simply put, we consider the development
capacity of the 4,017 acres in question, but place the approved
development in a compact and sensible configuration.
The difficult question, of course, is how can we keep today's compact
urban development from becoming tomorrow's sprawl? The recommended
Community Plan calls for compact urban development; the University
says it supports compact urban development. But what can we do to
ensure that after granting development approvals in amounts and
locations consistent with compact urban development for the 4,017
acres in question, we are not someday faced with the prospect of
sprawl beyond the Academic Growth Boundary.
I believe that the answer may be found in the use and application
of "CUD Commitment Credits" -- a system which would allow the development
of academic facilities up to the 2,035,000 square feet requested,
provided that the commitment to stay clustered and avoid sprawl
was made manifest by a commitment of acreage outside the Academic
Growth Boundary to long-term uses of a less intense nature.
What I am inclined to suggest is a formula that would allow an
increment of 2,000 square feet of academic development for every
acre of land outside the Academic Growth Boundary for which a CUD
Commitment Credit is earned. Assuming, for the sake of discussion,
Stanford chose to develop the 2,035,000 square feet of academic
facilities it has proposed, roughly 1,000 acres of land above Junipero
Serra would be committed to the preservation of compact urban development.
Whether by easement or some other mutually agreeable planning tool,
the acreage would be committed for a period of 99 years (or the
life of the academic development, whichever was shorter).
In this way, we would know that the commitment to compact urban
development would survive for the life of the development (or at
least 99 years if the development remains in place beyond that period
of time). In short, we can make the commitment to compact urban
development lasting rather than transitory.
Moreover, by carefully prioritizing the acreage to be committed,
the County can select acreage above Junipero Serra which is least
suited to development (Special Conservation Areas for example),
an approach which should minimize the impact on both the University
and the public.
The net result of such an approach, should Stanford elect to proceed
with all 2,035,000 square feet of development, is that a little
more than 1,000 acres above Junipero Serra Boulevard would be protected
from sprawl for a period of 99 years (or the life of development,
whichever was shorter). Development in the remaining 1,200 acres
above Junipero Serra would of course be limited by the 25 year Academic
Growth Boundary and the General Plan's "Open Space-Field Research"
While I have addressed at length some of the more significant outstanding
issues in my remarks this evening, there are some other less global
concerns which I ought to mention at least briefly. In reviewing
the proposed Community Plan and GUP, I am inclined to suggest that
Clarify the law enforcement roles and responsibilities
of the County Sheriff's Office and Stanford Police Services.
At my suggestion, and with Sheriff Laurie Smith's full
consent and cooperation, negotiations have recently begun to
clarify the relationship between these two organizations.
Clarify and strengthen the requirements for neighborhood
compatibility in development along Stanford Avenue and El Camino
Reaffirm and clarify the County's oversight role
with respect to special events on the Stanford Campus, and the
need to mitigate the impact of such events on surrounding communities
(including but not limited to traffic).
Develop a process which permits the County to identify
and consider any unmitigated community facilities impacts of
Stanford lands development and the possible imposition of mitigation
In other areas:
I am inclined to think we've made some significant
progress in addressing the interests of the Stanford Campus
Residential Leaseholders. Through the newly recommended use
of conventional zoning and the application of appropriate park
and open space requirements, we have put at least a bit more
certainty in their lives and perhaps reduced the level of anxiety.
With respect to traffic, I am pleased that our Planning
staff and Planning Commission have continued to employ an approach
based on "no net new commute trips"; and that specific
mitigations have already been identified should the University
find itself unable to meet that standard.
I am also pleased that neighborhood traffic and parking issues
have been identified and addressed in the Community Plan and
With respect to the development potential of the
so-called Lathrop District above Junipero Serra, I think the
staff has more or less got it right. In my view, the Lathrop
District boundary originally proposed by the University constituted
an inappropriate expansion and encroachment of intense development
into the foothills. Conversely, I think the suggestion to pull
the AGB in this area down to Junipero Serra ignores the reality
of pre-existing development.
The lines proposed by staff are, I think, a reasonable attempt
to acknowledge but contain the area of intense development which
now exists. I do think it would be helpful, and I plan to propose,
additional protections in this area in the form of a 150 foot
setback from Junipero Serra and a prohibition on intensive development
in the area of oak woodland habitat. In this way, Lathrop District
areas which are now substantially undisturbed will remain undisturbed.
On the issue of access to Stanford lands, I think
our options are relatively limited. The Planning staff and Planning
Commission have proposed the dedication of two significant trails
consistent with our County's Master Plan for Trails. I certainly
intend to support that recommendation.
Many members of the community, of course, have also asked that
access to Stanford land, particularly "the Dish," be a Condition
of Approval. I do not believe that such access can be required;
but I would respectfully suggest to University officials here
tonight, as I often have in recent months, that a voluntary
offer of community access for the life of the GUP, upon the
same terms and conditions applying to Stanford students, faculty
and staff, would be a gracious and generous gesture.
Through the use of Special Conservation Areas, incentives
for habitat enhancement, selective easements and the removal
of housing from the Lower Knoll we have, I think, done a great
deal to ensure the continued existence of important wildlife
Additional mitigation will, of course, be considered on a project
by project basis. And the future "listing" of not-yet-listed
species has the potential to result in additional protections
Implementation and Governance
Having discussed the substance of the application, I'd also like
to say a little about issues of implementation and governance.
The best plan in the world isn't worth the paper it's printed on
if it isn't implemented. That means we must take steps now to ensure
that the County is both well-equipped and fully accountable for
the robust implementation of the Community Plan and GUP Conditions
To that end, I will recommend that our County "staff up" to meet
the need. If the County is to do its job, and do it well, it cannot
effectively monitor the development and construction of 4.8 million
square feet without additional building inspectors, fire marshals
and code enforcement staff. Additional Planning staff will also
be necessary as to ensure that the Community Plan and the GUP Conditions
of Approval are "living documents" -- that their provisions are
made manifest as development proceeds.
In order to enhance public access to Stanford-related decision-making
at the County, I will suggest that the Community Resource Group
be reconstituted with 8 to 12 members (including at least 2 who
are Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders); and that this group
be convened here in the North County on a quarterly basis in order
for County Planning staff to report to and hear from the public
on planning and implementation issues. "Sunshining" the County's
activities in Stanford land use matters, in addition to ensuring
a well-informed County effort, would go a long way toward establishing
some greater degree of trust on the part of all parties concerned.
Frankly, the governance of Stanford University is a challenging
thing. As a self-contained and substantially self-sufficient unincorporated
community, the University's circumstance is unique in our County.
In many respects, it's an anomaly: On the one hand, for example,
Stanford uniquely provides most of its own urban services at its
own expense. On the other hand, Stanford is also exempt from paying
property taxes on more than $3.3 billion dollars in assessed valuation
(including secured and unsecured property).
Stanford's unique status sometimes requires a unique approach to
matters of service delivery and governance -- but one thing should
be made clear. Stanford's unique status as an unincorporated academic
community does not obviate the obligation of the County to govern
in the interest of the 21,000 students, faculty and staff who live,
learn, teach and work on the unincorporated campus.
The fact that the Stanford campus is unincorporated does not mean
it is ungoverned. We at the County need to do our jobs, and do them
well; and that means adequate staff to do the hard work of planning,
and public processes which are at least minimally sufficient to
ensure matters of public concern can be effectively addressed in
a public forum.
For the most part, I think that covers the issues still outstanding
as we began this evening. And let me just say, I think we've gotten
to a very good place.
If my colleagues and I follow through next week by approving a
package along the lines of what I've suggested this evening, and
if the University follows through in its recent commitments to the
community, we will have produced a package that:
Gives the University everything it asked for in the
way of entitlements -- 3,018 units of housing and 2,035,000
square feet of development.
Substantially mitigates the development's adverse
impacts on traffic and housing through a pair of policies requiring
"no net new commute trips" and a linkage between academic and
Provides unprecedented protection for open space
lands in the foothills through the application of a first-ever
Academic Growth Boundary, a General Plan "Open Space-Field Research"
or "Special Conservation Area" designation for lands
above Junipero Serra and strong policy language in our first-ever
Stanford Community Plan (including language which clearly establishes
a 25-year term for the Academic Growth Boundary).
Ensures that today's "compact urban development"
doesn't become tomorrow's sprawl through the use of CUD Clustering
Credits which ensure the long-term viability of compact urban
Begins today to chart a course toward defining what
Stanford's ultimate buildout will look like.
Leaves the Stanford golf course in its current configuration.
Provides substantial resources to the Palo Alto Unified
School District (above and beyond statutorily limited developer
fees) in the form of the $10,000,000 lump sum or, alternatively,
a $1-a-year school site which Stanford and the District have
Provides the City of Palo Alto and the Albert L.
Schultz Jewish Community Center with some significant new possibilities
for the provision of community services.
Through the use of an ongoing Community Resource
Group provides increased accountability for the University and
the County, and
Tidies up a number of longstanding issues regarding
Stanford's relationship with our County Sheriff's Office, concerns
about special event noise and traffic, the neighborhood needs
of the Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders and neighborhood
compatibility issues along Stanford Avenue and El Camino.
If we can accomplish all that on October 31st, I, for
one, think it will be a pretty good day's work.
Earlier in my remarks this evening I mentioned how pleased I was
with the success of the process to date. For the most part, I believe
the debate over these past 18 months has been spirited, but civil.
I want to close tonight's comments, however, on a cautionary note.
As the process has gone on longer and longer, and a decision appears
closer and closer, I find myself concerned about a debate that has
become increasingly strident, sometimes harsh, and too often polarized.
I worry that many of the legitimate competing interests who have
raised their voices during the course of this conversation seem
less and less inclined to acknowledge that, however eminent and
worthy their interests may be, none is entitled to consider itself
preeminent, at least not in the context of larger community concerns.
Which leads me to say this.
Some months ago I observed that at the end of this process there
was really only one question we had to ask and answer: Can a great
University stay great without compromising the quality of life in
I believe it can be done. Because in my view, it isnt about
either/or. It's about both.
Folks, it's time to stop arguing about who's right, and
start thinking about what's right. For the University, for
the community; for today, tomorrow, and for all the years to come.
I thank you very much and I look forward to your comments.