Guest Opinion: Palo Alto priorities should be the budget gap and hospitals | January 22, 2010 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - January 22, 2010

Guest Opinion: Palo Alto priorities should be the budget gap and hospitals

by Bern Beecham

When I stepped down from the Palo Alto City Council two years ago I didn't stop caring about Palo Alto's well-being as a community.

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Bern Beecham is a resident of north Palo Alto and served as councilman and mayor for two terms. As mayor, he spearheaded an effort to reinvigorate the Palo Alto economy in the aftermath of a slump in the early 2000s. He can be e-mailed at


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Posted by Alison Cormack
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 22, 2010 at 10:57 am

This is a very important issue and I am pleased to add my support for the new Stanford Hospital project to Bern's. We are incredibly lucky in Palo Alto to have such high-quality medical care here. While I hope that most families never have to experience what we did, I can tell you that the only thing that gave me comfort at that time was knowing that we were at Stanford Hospital in the hands of well-trained specialists.

This project is similar to the library renovation and construction projects in that it takes 50 year old buildings, designed before technology was pervasive in medicine, and makes them work for us today and tomorrow. Further, just as we are rebuilding libraries and the hospital, citizens should expect other crucial infrastructure needs to come forward in the future.

I hope and expect the Council to complete approval of this project in 2010.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 22, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Instead of millions in mitigation, why not a perpetual 10% discount on resident's hospital bills?

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Posted by Gary Gechlik
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jan 24, 2010 at 4:35 pm

This is a very important issue. Capital investment by Stanford is often matched in the long run by the federal government. Most residency programs take years to establish. An improved facility offers the opportunity to grow with the aging population.

2010 will be a difficult time for Palo Alto. We are seeing high unemployment in Santa Clara county and government shortfalls in most city budgets.

I think this is why the council must really work with the University. Often, when times are very good, we can take a relationship for granted. When hard times confront us, we find out who our real friends are. Stanford will always be a friend of the city, and the city needs to work very hard always to be a good friend of Stanford University.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 25, 2010 at 10:45 am

I believe Stanford hospital should have the upgrade it needs but not the expansion it requests. I agree the hospital should serve all instead of being limited to Palo Alto residents.

I disagree that it is a good idea to plan and build for ever-increasing population density because we don’t have the water resources to support unlimited population growth. We in the Bay Area need to think first about how to live in an area with limited water resources. We need our local farms and we need our parks and backyard gardens.

Our elected officials need to first fix our sewage infrastructure so sewage doesn’t continue to spill into the Bay. They need to fix our ground water problems (contamination and extremely low water tables due to lack of regulation). They need to improve the quality of our air and as a consequence improve our health. They need to work for maintaining the quality of our schools instead of allowing them to become overcrowded and then suggest we build three and four story schools.

There is open land for hospital growth in nearby cities. Of course cities need to think about revenue, but cities also need to think about what overcrowding brings and what we lose when we support growth for the sake of growth and the enrichment it brings to the few.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

Mr. Beecham - What thoughtful and pragmatic comments! In order to accomplish any of the things we would like to as a City - including all the environmental goals - we need to put our financial house in order. Thank you for your common sense, I hope our City Council listens to you.

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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 25, 2010 at 11:21 am

I think Stanford needs to start playing hardball with Palo Alto if a quick, positive resolution is not reached with the city. I am hoping we have gotten past the era of Stanford bashing by the city council now that Kishimoto, Morton and Drekmeier are, thankfully, no longer on the council. Their negativity (constant whining about traffic, claims that Stanford "does not play fair", rude comments made to those that came before the council to speak on Stanford's behalf etc), coupled with the feeling that Stanford is a cash cow to be milked whenever Palo Alto mismanages it's finances, led to the cancellation of the Stanford Shopping Center expansion, which would have provided much needed tax revenue for the city.
Step one would be to assert Stanford's private property rights on the dish area. This issue cannot be allowed to fall into the "Alma Plaza-Palo Alto Process" black hole that seems to be the way council members want development to be handled.

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Posted by Beecham represents business
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 25, 2010 at 2:41 pm

The business interests are organized on this issue. Mr.Beecham has always represented business and development interests on the council.
Calling people whiners, when what they want is for their home town to reflect the views of the residents is pretty low. Stanford isn't a cash cow, it is more like a marauding bull. They have BILLIONS to put into development. Please stop the crocodile tears.
Dropping the shopping center was Stanford's decision because of the retail depression. How hard is that to understand?

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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Beecham represents business--Palo Alto wants business in town, they want tourists in town, they want people coming to Palo Alto to shop. Remember Destination Palo Alto, the big donation to advertise during the Enior Games? They want tax dollars and that tax revenue, is generated by people shopping in town and staying in hotels.
The Stanford Shopping Center expansion was shut down because Stanford wanted to focus on the hospital expansion after they saw the way the council was handling both issues (we heard endless whining about too much traffic and no new net car trips, complaints that Stanford was evil and did not play fair and was like a medieval duchy and people filtering everything through their fogged up green glasses--courtesy of our now retired troika on the council).
Palo Alto cannot have it both ways. They want money?? Well then Stanford is a nice source and a profitable partnership will benefit both--once our city council learns how to deal with Stanford respectfully. Otherwise, Stanford will have to start cutting Palo Alto off from the benefits they enjoy from Stanford.

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Posted by long term
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jan 25, 2010 at 6:22 pm

There is a pattern for some institutions of higher education to expand to another campus when, as the population grows around its original campus, it becomes part of an urban environment.

The expansion campus is first seen as a satellite, but because it is typically located in an area that allows growth and is newer, and gets attention from regents or boards, it rapidly grows into the better campus. Some time after that it becomes the more desirable campus for faculty, then for students and finally for their parents. It eventually becomes the main campus.

Stanford should plan for the day that Palo Alto essentially tries as hard as it can to strangle its growth. Its reputation, faculty, and management talent can drive a far larger university.

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