County planners reject $4.7B Stanford offer | June 28, 2019 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 28, 2019

County planners reject $4.7B Stanford offer

University continues to call for development agreement to govern future growth, but county supervisor says Stanford offer is 'not in the public interest'

by Gennady Sheyner

The tug-of-war between Stanford University and the County of Santa Clara over requirements that will be made of the university in exchange for permission to further develop its campus continued this week, with Stanford offering on Monday to commit $4.7 billion toward housing, transportation projects and public schools and the county's planning staff summarily rejecting the proposal.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at gsheyner@paweekly.com.

Comments

18 people like this
Posted by Gunn neighbor
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 24, 2019 at 7:43 pm

Hard to see why Simitian refuses to negotiate. He's going to have to eventually, and meanwhile Stanford looks reasonable and he looks obsessed with his negative view of them.


33 people like this
Posted by Oz
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:23 pm

Thanks to the Weekly for providing a first cut at actual analysis of Stanford’s proposal. Stanford’s press release and desired headline has already hit the major state and national media.
In reality, Stanford has repackaged and repurposed money that they spent previously for the new Escondido project and they appear to be claiming all of their existing ongoing transportation dollars as if they are new mitigation funds.
This is one of the most cynical efforts in memory to try to mislead what they hope is a gullible public and press, since they know that no serious policy maker will be fooled. It is strikingly similar to Google’s recent PR claim that they are going to spend $1B over a decade for housing when 3/4 of that ‘money’ is the value of the land they already own. At least it does not look like Stanford has tried to claim the land value that they are building on.
This kind of deception is beneath the dignity of a great intellectual institution and it is really disappointing that President Tessier Lavigne would stoop to signing on to it. As Ben Franklin said, it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation and only one bad one to lose it.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 25, 2019 at 6:44 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Look at the facts - this is a great offer by Stanford and much more than ANY other employer/developer in Santa Clara and San Mateo County has ever done!

Why doesn't Simitian like it - simply because he does not get credit for negotiating this since he walked away from the table.


15 people like this
Posted by Leonardo Leal
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jun 25, 2019 at 7:14 am

Great news for Santa Clara county! We are blessed to have one of the most respectable institutions in the world a stone’s throw away. I sincerely hope that the local officials realize the privilege of having this offer, for Stanford was the nest and precursor of the success of the entire Silicon Valley.

As someone already mentioned, not even Google has been able to match the sheer size of this offer and I hope that the county realizes what the meaning of $4.7 Billion reflects. With the lack of development in the Bay Area, this move would put us closer to the future and aid in our comprehensive economic and academic development as a region in the world.

We simply need to move away from small town ideologies and embrace the potential benefits this growth will have for all of us. Considering the treatment other Universities have had in California’s city development (USC), this offer is already extremely generous and reasonable. Now, it is up to the county to demand the remaining housing impact from the companies around the area and focus how it can sustainably allow for future development. The amount of red tape to even expand a girls’ school ( Castilleja ) is discouraging, Trust me, growing up in Mexico we rarely heard of a university offering this type of support. What a dream.

Please realize your privilege and allow the expansion of education in this area. I would prefer 1000x times to see expanded educational opportunities rather than pure commercial development.

LDL


10 people like this
Posted by Watcher
a resident of Green Acres
on Jun 25, 2019 at 9:18 am

It will be interesting to see where this ends. For Simitian, it is obviously about "getting the credit" for whatever comes, especially for housing. He's running for Congress, and desperately needs those labor votes and dollars (Chavez also a big labor person of course). Everything else is rounding error to them.

On the other hand, it feels like the County is likely to wind up at the wrong end of a law suit - even the Planning Commission can't figure out why they are doing this charade of a process, when the county should just be negotiating like it said it would. That a county official would publicly say, "we'll negotiate when it's to our advantage" seems particularly awkward - seems like she'll have to explain that one in depositions and on the stand.

Of course, by the time the court case settles, Simitian's 2020 election date will be passed, so who cares!


12 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2019 at 9:43 am

This part still irks me.

>> In its Monday offer, Stanford retains its $138 million commitment to the Palo Alto Unified School District, which includes a contribution of $5,580 for each new pupil for 40 years,

Not nearly enough to cover the marginal cost of educating a new pupil

>> $15 million for a new "innovation space"

Don't want it, don't need it, don't want to pay for maintenance down the road. Take the $15M and put it towards the cost of educating new pupils.


4 people like this
Posted by Authority or precedent?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2019 at 10:28 am

Authority or precedent? is a registered user.

@Peter Carpenter. You seem quite knowledgeable perhaps you know the answer to this question. Where does the County get the authority to make building four times the requested housing a condition of approval of the permit? Where is the legal precedent for this? I know that one can be required to pay housing impact fees OR provide housing, but to insist that Stanford build the housing seems like an over reach? Similarly,I have the same concern for the County's requirement that 70% of that housing needs to be on the campus core. It really seems that the County is hoping to get sued on this issue with the goal of creating a new precedent. Anyone else who can cite for me a case or statute, please chime in. I already know about the whole balance of public and private interests, but these two demands seem really over the top. Thank you.


12 people like this
Posted by 94025
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 25, 2019 at 11:08 am

94025 is a registered user.

What about the Menlo Park City School District? And Redwood City? Let's not forget all the other nearby communities whose schools will have increases.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 25, 2019 at 11:50 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

I am happy to see the commitment to the PAUSD. That alleviates some concerns on funding for the upgrade of CUB. Under the initial attempts the city would have to request a bond issue. This now eliminates the need for a bond issue. If there is a bond issue it would be carried by SU - but doubt there is any requirement for that.
One of the initial problems with the PACC CUB effort was lack of disclosure on how the activity funded. There was only one choice there.
Always - follow the money.

PAUSD = here is your opportunity to put a third high school in place - as well as the Greendell school. Don't blow it by adding housing. Housing will take care of itself because there are now a lot of forces at work on housing that are outside of the PAUSD umbrella. The PAUSD umbrella needs to retain it's specified purpose for legal and tax reasons. That is our taxes - the property owners - we support the school system through our property taxes. We all are not supporting housing on our property taxes. Any housing needs to be a commercial venture which is outside of the PAUSD umbrella.


12 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2019 at 11:53 am

As always, buy the quality of life of the population by enticing the powers that be.

The building going on, on campus is already obscene. Big city life is taking over The Farm.

Just as the roads are becoming roadblocks that are painful to traverse for those who have to on a daily basis, the decision makers won't be the ones that suffer.

More students, mean a growing population for Palo Alto whether it can manage it or not as a large number of graduates choose Palo Alto as their home.


4 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 25, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Stanford has said what it wants. The county has made some unreasonable requests, Simitian doesn't seem to know what he wants. He should correct the obvious flaw in the county plan and then get public input on the 2 plans while avoiding having Stanford sue the county.


31 people like this
Posted by Film Flam Housing
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2019 at 1:54 pm

This offer is mostly recycled housing already approved as part of other projects. Stanford is trying to fool us by double dipping!

215 units of this housing is from the Menlo Park project already started on ECR.
865 units it claims will be freed up in the community when Stanford people will move on campus is a baseless claim - many will be occupied by more Stanford people. And how many will move in the first?
That’s a total of 1080 film flam units - for shame Stanford.

Don’t be fooled! It’s Supe. Simitian who is cutting through this BS and working for us, the people who live in the towns impacted most by Stanford’s desired development.

Sure Stanford does good things but that’s not the point here. The point is land use, planning and mitigation of its impacts. If Stanford doesn’t want the burden of fully mitigating its impacts, it can choose to cut back on its desires. It can develop less.


12 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 25, 2019 at 2:19 pm

There are a lot of numbers thrown around in this article, but the total of new personnel - students, faculty, staff - from both the present expansion in progress and the future expansion (the subject of the GUP negotiation) is not indicated. I don't know what the number of increased personnel will be from the present expansion, but the next wave of growth will be 9000 people.

Stanford plans to house the students and a small number of faculty in the next expansion but not the rest of the faculty and the staff. Which means that possibly upwards of 7500 more people (roughly 12% of Palo Alto's current population) will be commuting into the campus every day. If you have ever tried to drive on Oregon, Middlefield, Embarcadero or University Ave at commute time, imagine what it will be like with several thousand more cars added to those streets.

In addition . . . Stanford has land on campus that is currently zoned for housing. They want to change that zoning to other things, and not build housing for the new people. That should not be allowed to happen. Stanford is not just a university . . . it is a small city. And as such, it should be subject to the Bay Area wide requirement for cities to provide housing for the jobs they add.


13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 25, 2019 at 2:35 pm

Posted by Chris, a resident of University South

>> Stanford has said what it wants. The county has made some unreasonable requests, Simitian doesn't seem to know what he wants.

Every time I see the ad hominem argument against Simitian, I don't bother to read the rest. Anyone with a serious argument will be able to articulate the logic without attacking Simitian. Like him or not, this is not about Simitian.

It is about Stanford's land use, Stanford's traffic, Stanford's impact on surrounding school districts, etc. Make your argument regarding the project's impacts and benefits.


4 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2019 at 3:34 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@PA Resident. Where do you get your numbers from? This proposal fulfills the County's request. And, I have serious concerns that the County is over reaching its authority by making all this additional housing a condition of approval of the GUP. But, ignoring the legal issues, the proposal itself deserves some thoughtful consideration and discussion. That's what our elected officials are supposed to do! We just have the "highlights" here. It's 52 pages long according to the article. One statement in the article jumped out at me, " developing and building and providing this housing early is a significant improvement." We need the housing NOW. Look how long Maybell took? Sixty affordable housing units for seniors plus twelve homes were approved by the City Council in 2013. Citizens banned together and stopped it via a ballot measure in 2014 (our mayor was part of that effort). A new project for sixteen homes was approved just recently. From 72 units to 16 and it took six years just to get approval to move forward. We don't have that time. Let's at least read the proposal and discuss it.


2 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2019 at 6:09 pm

If Stanford were to play the long game, they would make moves to incorporate as a city and remove themselves from the clutches of the county. It would take years, but the negotiations with the county will be taking years.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 25, 2019 at 6:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"@Peter Carpenter. You seem quite knowledgeable perhaps you know the answer to this question. Where does the County get the authority to make building four times the requested housing a condition of approval of the permit? "

Because the County will have to approve each building permit as it is submitted the County can exert pressure on any applicant to make some concessions. If that pressure exceeds the bounds of fairness and becomes extortion then the Stanford lawyers will both win the day and also claim both costs and damages from the County.


9 people like this
Posted by Collaborative Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2019 at 9:21 pm

Stanford has offered the basis of a solution for mitigating its impact on the local communities. It may not be perfect and whether its true value is $4.7M or $3.7M or $2.7M of incremental money that is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that it is an offer to try to restart negotiations and it is at least $1.7M more than other other major employer in the region has offered. Stanford is not the only entity contributing to traffic issues in Palo Alto. Drive toward downtown PA on any given day and take the University Avenue exit. The flow of traffic turning left towards campus, the hospital, and the Stanford Mall is pretty smooth. The traffic turning right encounters long lines and waits. Perhaps it is the the downtown employers who are also contributing to the problem!

BOTTOM LINE: Stanford cannot be expected to solve these problems alone. If SImitian wants to be the hero here I would strongly advise him to convene a joint meeting of all the large employers in the region with a large land footprint (Stanford, Google, Palantir, Facebook, VMWare, Lockheed etc etc etc) and have them work together to come up with the $$ and ideas needed to solve these challenges.


5 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 25, 2019 at 9:51 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@Collaborative Resident. You're off by a factor of 1000. It's $4.7 billion, not million, that Stanford is proposing to fund. And, unlike Google's proposal, they do not assign any value to the land used to build the new homes - they list only construction costs. Google has offered $250 million in funding to go towards construction ($750 million of that $1 billion is the value of the land they will repurpose). It's worthwhile for people to actually click on the link to the proposal and see and understand how the numbers break down. I would very much like to see the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors to give it some serious and thoughtful consideration. We all should.


4 people like this
Posted by Collaborative Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 25, 2019 at 10:25 pm

@Mary O. You are absolutely correct. Major typo on my part! Should read..."It may not be perfect and whether its true value is $4.7B or $3.7B or $2.7B of incremental money that is completely irrelevant. What is relevant is that it is an offer to try to restart negotiations and it is at least $1.7B more..."

My bottom line remains the same: pull all the major stakeholders together and get them to collaborate on finding solutions and resources! Instead of playing silly rules games and refusing to sit down and negotiate the county planners should focus on finding solutions


10 people like this
Posted by FunnyMoney
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2019 at 12:25 pm

Two points: 1)This is funny money, and less than is likely to fully mitigate under the law. 2) The County Supervisors are correct to require completion of the EIR and Conditions of Approval BEFORE negotiating.

Just like Google's $1B offer of funney money ($750M for its own employee housing and $250M in market rate loans where it earns interest), Stanford's numbers aren't real, counting things already approved as part of the next GUP, funding programs they've already agreed to fund - just take the School district numbers - most of it is based on enrollment numbers which the district forecasts as no growth. The GUP is 20 years long and the PAUSD will get rengeotiated in 20 years, so at most its half of the stated number. It is zero dollars guaranteed funding as currently written. And $15M for Palo Alto's traffic when they know they need to spend $1B for their on campus transportation - it doesn't cover the impacts of their development.

Stanford has opted to not be part of Palo Alto. As such, the county government process with conditions of approval to mitigate impacts is the BASELINE. This process needs to be completed first. Then once everyone can see what Stanford is legally obligated to do, negotiated agreements could be put in place for any remaining pieces. But a negotiation should only occur once the County Supervisors get the conditions of approval in place. Stanford is desparate to go behind closed doors and try to neogiate every last piece of the deal, whether it's legally required or not. The arrogance and tone deafness is astounding.

There is no way Stanford is offering MORE than they expect to pay under the County review process. They continue to try to split local cities and school districts in order to pay less than what is required to mitigate this largest county development project EVER.

They've ramped up their PR machine to full throttle. Hopefully the county supervisors, count planning commissioners and general public are smart enough to see through these desparation tactices.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 26, 2019 at 12:41 pm

@Funny Money, I haven't analyzed the full Stanford proposal, but I don't understand your points. The school mitigation is based on the number of students Stanford actually produces from the new GUP. They made an assumption (500 students?) for the purposes of coming up with a number, but the amount will change based on actual enrollment - it isn't based on any enrollment forecast. And yes, it will likely get re-negotiated in 20 years, but since the District insisted on a 40 year deal, it makes sense to count it. Plus $16.5M is up front and not contingent on enrollment.

Yes, they are trying to pay less, in exchange for paying sooner and in more direct and helpful ways. No one is forcing the county to take it - but it is weird that they won't even negotiated There's also the issue of whether what the County proposes is legal - forcing an employer to supply workforce housing on its own land as mitigation has never been done, as far as I can tell. The conditions of approval will have to stand up in court - we'll see if they do.


1 person likes this
Posted by george drysdale
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 27, 2019 at 9:25 am

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] No wonder they're mass migrating at the border to live the "American Dream." Let the market work, don't befoul it with a politician's cynicism. Stanford can't afford to build everybody's housing in one of the most (now) desirable places in the world. Into the lesson plan to wake up economic classes: [Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] Back to the numbers. [Portion removed]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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