Diana Diamond's June 7 Guest Opinion — while overly generous to Stanford University — is correct that Facebook, Google and Apple, along with Stanford, bring great benefits. But clearly none of them have not been required to ameliorate their attendant diseconomies impacting our environment, namely traffic congestion and an appalling housing shortage. It is appropriate for these institutions to mitigate their impact on our communities with housing, pedestrian bridges and improved traffic service.
Facebook, for one, should have been required by East Palo Alto and Menlo Park to have built its own bridge in lieu of its employees overloading the Dumbarton Bridge. All businesses blowing out traffic on the Peninsula should be subject to an operations tax computed as a percentage of payroll, a la San Francisco, with the proceeds dedicated to affordable housing and traffic congestion.
Kudos to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors for reining in Stanford's explosive expansion — a terrific example of the power of being a nonprofit, unrestrained by paying appropriate taxes.
As for Stanford's largesse in leasing "the most expensive corner in the city" at Page Mill Road and El Camino Real for $1/year, remember that this corner is a Superfund cleanup site. The underground semi-conductor pollution discovered at that location required a two-story deep excavation with the toxic remnants trucked to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The severe residual pollution prohibits excavation at that location because of toxic vapors — TCE, among other volatiles, that would penetrate buildings and parking structures. It won't be safe for commercial use for 55 years, which is the length of the lease.
But for the tons of clean dirt imported to fill the hole, it could not be used for anything other than the current recreational use.
Santa Rita Avenue, Palo Alto
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