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Stanford expansion juggles size, style

Original post made on Aug 12, 2008

The planned expansion of Stanford University Medical Center hit a rough patch Thursday in a meeting that showcased the difficulty of growing significantly while trying to preserve historic buildings and create a pedestrian feel.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, August 12, 2008, 1:57 PM

Comments (29)

Posted by Stanford Observer
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 12, 2008 at 3:26 pm

The combined Stanford redevelopment projects, the Medical Center and the Shopping Center, are projected to add 3,071 new jobs, 53% more than the 2,000 cited in this article.

Stanford is proposing a series of massive projects that Stanford management and PR machine seems intent on obscuring as a giant shell game designed to confuse locals and Palo Alto Council members who ultimately must negotiate best terms with Stanford.

For example:

1. Where are the traffic studies that prove to all of us that traffic jams in six cities won't be the outcome of this massive Stanford construction project and expansion over a 20-year period?

2. Where is the 3D electronic rendering of Stanford's building proposals that the Planning Commission requested nearly a year ago? This was to be made available to the public on a Website so interested parties could experience the true scale and useability of what Stanford was proposing. "All in due time," Stanford has signalled. This apparently means, "The more we stall disclosing the true impacts and visual massiveness, the better for us."

3. Where is the EIR showing the impact on Palo Alto and all the surrounding communities?

4. Where is all the new housing needed to accomodate the 3,071 new employees?

5. How many units will be BMR on Stanford lands where all the low income jobs will be created in the Medical Center, Shopping Center, and new hotel?

Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 12, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Responding to S.O.'s points:

1. No realistic analysis would yield such a result.
2. Forget it. Developers are not dumb; they would never show a to-scale 3-D contextual rendering of a proposed development. What they will show is portions of buildings, rendered from an appealing, often impossible, perspective that hides most of the bulk behind cleverly-drawn trees.
3. Coming up, and it will be dutifully accepted.
4. Tracy, Stockton, Fresno ...
5. Not nearly enough; dorms and other student housing don't count.

Hope this helps.

Posted by Complaining Resident
a resident of Greene Middle School
on Aug 12, 2008 at 9:38 pm

How in the heck are we supposed to be pedestrian friendly when we don't have enough decent normal priced supermarkets to meet the needs of residents in our city (63,000 + and growing)?

With the Stanford expansion, we will need a place for workers to shop in Palo Alto - NOT in Menlo Park.

We need a big supermarket at Edgewood.
We need another in South Palo Alto.
College Terrace and Barron Park residents also need a place to shop which can meet all their needs - JJ&F can not, and was never a place to do all your weekly shopping.

Tell Piazza's its's time to go. They have been taking up too much space, along with all the crappy little shops in that old strip mall.
These shops do not meet the needs of the people in that neighborhood.

Put in a normal supermarket at Town and Country, with a left turn signal out of Town and Country.
Move the walk signal for Paly kids to this turn sign.

Trader Joe's has unique things, but their food comes from Los Angeles packaging plants. The produce is prepackaged which is not environmentally friendly, and this also is packaged in So Cal.

Trader Joes is okay for a few things, but we need a SUPER market.

Andronico's at Stanford is too expensive for most staff, students, and nearby residents.

The cost of living is too high for most of us to be able to afford these high end stores. I forgot to mention Whole Foods.

This town is not pedestrian friendly, nor friendly to young families, and those on fixed incomes.

Seniors who have limited driving licenses need a place to shop while up at Stanford or near their homes.

That over priced Chinese restaurant on the corner of Quarry Road should go, and another supermarket (like a Railey's) could fit in there.

I am tired of Safeway (their meat, produce, and bakery).

Let's help large local chain stores with competitive prices and include it in the Stanford build up.

The students burn out eating the dorm food, and most grad students cook at home.

Posted by ARB field day
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 13, 2008 at 6:24 am

Boy, the ARB must be in seventh heaven over this project. They get to play their power games and complain and nitpick ad inifinitum about the new Stanford project. BTW, has Judith Wasserman EVER seen a project she likes.
As someone else said in one of these threads--those who cannot do, teach--those architects who cannot work as architects serve on ARBs and constantly put down competent architects work.

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2008 at 9:37 am

Complaining Resident: Sheesh! Is there anything you DO like? Andronico’s is too expensive, but you’re tired of Safeway. You don’t like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Piazza’s or JJ&F. Yet you say, “Let’s help large local chain stores with competitive prices…” Just which chain stores would you approve?

BTW, I think Piazza’s is a fantastic store and it’s got everything I need.

Most people drive—not walk—to do their weekly shopping. That’s why they want big stores with lots of choices. But SUPER markets don’t fit in most neighborhoods.

I doubt that the Stanford Shopping Center would want a grocery store. It wouldn’t fit with all the posh stores, which is what draws people there as opposed to the San Antonio center, for example.

And we can’t dictate to grocery chains as to where they should put a super store. They’re looking at demographics and profit – and they already know that Palo Alto isn’t friendly to big development.

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2008 at 9:39 am

ARB field day: The ARBs job is to nitpick. And I know from experience that Judith Wasserman is a fantastic architect!

Posted by Computer rendering
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2008 at 9:49 am

I don't see why they can't produce a computer rendering, that's how design is done, or scale models.
In fact the head of the Stanford projects was the attorney for the 800 High Street developers. They produced nice pictures of the development. What's the problem?
Oh, you mean ACCURATE renderings? oh, sorry, can't to do that. They made the project look smaller than it is and fooled enough people to win the vote. They can do it again.

Posted by mtn view or bust
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 13, 2008 at 10:56 am

"But SUPER markets don’t fit in most neighborhoods."

^^ At least that's what we think in Palo Alto. Good thing there's Mtn View for all of us South Palo Altans to shop in.

Places I go shopping:
Piazza's (Palo Alto)
Trader Joe's (Mtn View)
Costco (Mtn View)
Whole Foods (Mtn View) Palo Alto's is too dinky
Ranch 99 (Cupertino) Excited for the new Mtn View one
Marina Foods (Cupertino)

What's Palo Alto's largest retail store? Is it Fry's Electronics? If it is I have to laugh! That store is ugly and too small compared to other Fry's in the Bay Area. That's why I don't do any shopping in Palo Alto and drive elsewhere for everything.

Posted by ARB field day
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 13, 2008 at 11:18 am

Pat--That may be ARB's job, but there is a a limit or there should be--look at Alma Plaza.
I personally have never heard of any award winning Judith Wasserman designed buildings. And I repeat my question, have you ever scene any design that wasserman liked??

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 13, 2008 at 11:22 am

mtn view or bust:

Look at your register receipts and tote up how much sales tax you pay at Ranch 99, Marina Foods, etc.

At Stanford Shopping Center stores average $600 per foot annual revenue. Around $50 per foot in annual sales tax.

Safeway averages $200 per foot in revenue, and food is untaxable. Perhaps $10 per foot in annual sales tax.

Fry's is one of the top sales tax generators in town.

If Mountain View could choose between Neiman Marcus and Nob Hill, which do you think they'd pick?

It's fantastic that Menlo Park and Mountain View host super Safeways. Conveniently located and very little lost tax revenue for Palo Alto.

But back to the main topic: do we want Stanford to have a modern hospital or not? Between the Hoover Pavilion and the main Stanford hospital building, the hospital building is a far better piece of architecture. But I'll sacrifice both to have a modern hospital.

Posted by mtn view or bust
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 13, 2008 at 1:26 pm

I wasn't emphasizing tax-revenue but rather pointing out I'm driving everywhere to get to adjacent places. Everyone worries about too much traffic, too much traffic blah blah blah all the time in PA right?

If there was a practical supermarket at Charleston Shopping Center I might actually walk/bike there (takes 5 minutes), but instead I'm choosing to drive 20 minutes and speeding thru Palo Alto's ridiculous 25 mph roadways to get to Mtn View.

Sorry to all you ppl living along Alma or Middlefield. I'm technically speeding, but I'm keeping up with the flow of traffic by doing 45 mph on Alma and 35 mph on Middlefield.

"Fry's is one of the top sales tax generators in town."

^Great! Why was Palo Alto trying to downsize the building last year? Seems like such a silly idea to downsize one of the largest tax-revenue generators for more mixed-use retail/housing. The one thing Palo Alto should be doing is expanding that Fry's up to the standards of the other ones in the Bay Area. It's also disappointing that such a store should complement the history of palo alto as the start of Silicon Valley.

Posted by too much traffic blah blah blah
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 13, 2008 at 2:58 pm

There's too much traffic in palo alto. These ideas for expansion are absolutely terrible!

All the ambulances driving to the hospital/med center cause too much traffic. Pregnant mothers and patients in critical condition should be biking or taking public transit to get emergency medical care.

Better yet, Palo Alto doesn't need a state of the art med center. It's causing too much traffic. I'd rather have emergency response time from paramedics take 5x as long over having too much traffic.

Let's outsource the hospital to Mtn View or Menlo Park b/c this expansion will cause too much traffic.

*Sarcasm Intended

Posted by CS Prof Emeritus
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 13, 2008 at 3:16 pm

My remarks, censored by Palo Alto Online Staff from the "Palo Alto, Stanford heading for housing clash":

What needs to happen is for Stanford to use STANFORD LAND to build a few affordable housing, high rise buildings which are environmentally and earthquake sound, within walking distance of the Stanford University Hospital.

This would enable hospital employees to walk to work, eliminating the need for more parking, protect the environment, and not infringe on the rights of Palo Alto residents. It would also be a good health benefit for the employees. Those not wishing to walk could ride bicycles, or if absolutely necessary, the University could supply a shuttle, much like they do now.

It is imperative that Stanford University become self-reliant and be a good neighbor for a change; instead of continually flaunting their elitist attitudes.

Our "bad neighbor" reputation already precedes us, and we need to change this, post haste!
[end of original post]

As my comments were supportive of containing any expansion of Stanford within Stanford borders, I find it offensive and disgraceful the PA Online Staff felt it necessary to censor my post, and close the topic to further discussion.

You should be ashamed of yourselves. Whatever happened to a free press? I posted nothing offensive, did not advocate the violent overthrow of any government, nor slander any person(s).

I gave my opinion, nothing more, nothing less. I shall continue posting as often as necessary to get my message equal space among other comments.

Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Aug 13, 2008 at 6:28 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

CS Prof Emeritus,

Nothing was done to your earlier posting. In fact, you posted the identical comment three times on the thread.

See Web Link

An identical thread was closed so as not to have two discussions on the same topic going on. Please don't be so quick to charge censorship. We do not remove comments unless they violate our terms of use.

Posted by Chuckling
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 13, 2008 at 8:49 pm

To say that the Medical Center is separate from Stanford is nonsense; hair-splitting for personal gain.
To say that Stanford doesn't have land for housing is truly comical. Do these people expect to be taken seriously?

Posted by I luv this store
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 13, 2008 at 10:34 pm

Pat -

Here is a California owned store which is wonderful.
They have online ads and coupons too.
I wish we could have one in our city to replace the loss of both Albertson stores.

Web Link

Posted by laura
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2008 at 6:02 am

When has Palo Alto ever considered its citizens. Having lived here over 30 years it seems life in this town just gets more tiresome. We used to have decent grocery stores and "normal" stores on University Ave and at Stanford Center that middle income people could afford. Even the All American Market and Lucky were not spectacular but they met our needs. Now we have to drive to other towns just to shop and every nook and cranny in Palo Alto has been filled in with ugly condos. Lots of our friends have moved/retired to Sacramento, Arizona and Oregon. Who can blame them?

Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 14, 2008 at 8:10 am

I find it interesting that this project generates such strong emotions, but when a commercial building project that could result in similar such employment and theoretical housing requirements, the tenor and volume level of the conversation seems to be little to none.

Stanford Medical Group is taking over the old [email protected] complex along 101 in Redwood City. Lots of jobs will be there. I perceive Redwood City is doing what it can to make them feel welcome.

Would there be the same reaction if a company chose to take some space on the Stanford Research Park, renovate or build some structures, and bring in 3500 employees to work there? Somehow I doubt it.

And unlike a coporate occupation of buildings in a commercial or industrial space, this project will create permanent, good jobs for many people for the foreseeable future? Why the pushback when such benefits are presented?

It is the responsibility of certain Palo Alto officials to make sure this project is done appropriately, no question about that. It also is the responsibility of officials and leaders in Palo Alto to make sure we have an environment that keeps our employment base and "business community--in the largest sense of that term"--thriving, lest we stagnate and allow to erode and dissipate the many elements that make this place a special one to be part of.

On the whole, I think this project will contribute in a positive way to such an outcome, and I hope we don't lose sight of that as we plow through the numerous aspects of it that require careful consideration.

Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2008 at 8:53 am

It is pretty clear, Paul, why commercial building projects are not subjected to the same demands as Stanford. These commercial projects are carried out by private companies--the company would hear PA "demands" and say "thanks" and move on to another city. Stanford does not have that luxury,so they are bombarded by demands from our "city leaders"--some of whom consider Stanford the evil empire,while others consider Stanford to be a cash cow, to be milked anytime Stanford needs something built etc.
From the get go on this project, we have heard negative comments from our council, many of whom are opposed to anything that Stanford does.
We heard comments that this project was like "swallowing a bowling ball", and the usual whining about "too much traffic" (though one has to wonder why our council only talks about walkability, yet takes no action to retain neighborhood shopping areas like Alma Plaza and Edgewood Plaza--clearly our council is good at talk and getting carbon footprints done for their homes--but actually taking action is beyond their scope--but that is another subject).
AS to CS Prof emeritus' comments--I would love to have Stanford become "self-reliant"--i.e. spin off into their own city, so that they would not be held captive by the NIMBYists that populate the PA city council. It would also be nice to see how PA would get along without handouts from Stanford

Posted by Not so slow
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 14, 2008 at 11:46 am

What handouts, Mike?
You mean like offering a job to Councilman John Barton?
Or do you mean trying to get the Medical Center's PR guy a job as a manager in the Planning Department?

Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2008 at 11:57 am

Well, Yoriko, I am talking about the soccer fields at El Camino and Oregon as one example.

Posted by Not so slow
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Aug 14, 2008 at 2:20 pm

Do you mean that all the time I have been sparring with you, that's who you think I am?
You are a very poor judge of character. To think that a person of her character and background and style would sink to sparring with you under an anonymous name (as I have) is nothing short of bizarre imagining.
For that matter, I can't imagine any public official who would risk their reputation arguing with you on Town Square. You make stuff up to win arguments and you call people names.
Anyway, back to the Stanford discussion.

Posted by Not so fast
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Not so slow--unfortunately you cannot convey sarcasm in online posts--I know you are not Yoriko. My point is that I am not Mike (really I am not Mike, I completely disagree with him about the library bond for example)--my point being that you do not really know my identity and I do not know yours.
As for Yoriko and her character and background and style, let's just say that she is all talk and self-centered action and leave it at that.
(and what reputation, BTW?)
Now back to the Stanford discussion

Posted by Stephen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 14, 2008 at 8:43 pm

It might be worth reflecting on the irony of the statement:
"I would love to have Stanford become "self-reliant"--i.e. spin off into their own city, so that ... "

Please look at the map at

Web Link

Those with an interest in history will note that Palo Alto and Stanford have always been closely connected.

Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 14, 2008 at 11:37 pm

Paul and Not so fast: You make some very perceptive points and I agree with both of you. I think we’re lucky to have a fantastic medical center so close.

Not so slow says, “I can't imagine any public official who would risk their reputation arguing with you on Town Square.” I wish public officials would read Town Square posts to see what people are thinking. They might learn something and get some good ideas. Too bad Council think the only form of civic engagement is the 3-minute comment period at council meetings.

Posted by Bigger But Not Necessarily Better
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 15, 2008 at 1:41 am

Having a larger medical center and emergency room at Stanford are no guarantee that we (Palo Altans) will have better medical care, nor shorter wait times.

Stanford Medical Center's primary interest is in making a name for themselves. If you have a newsworthy emergency or a medical condition which can further enhance their notoriety, then you will get great treatment, otherwise you will be required to take a number and wait your turn.

They plan to import extraordinary cases from all over the world.

Everyday procedures like heart by-passes, hip replacements, stroke, chemo and radiation treatments, will be treated the same.

Personally, we will not let any member of our family be admitted to Stanford.

We have known more people who have died there or suffered permanent damage from mistakes, or undergone unnecessary procedures, than we have seen in their successes.

Stanford is quick to publicize their accomplishments, but you should weigh them against their unpublicized errors.

I have lived here 50 years and worked at the hospital for many years.
I know many people in this community (including Stanford professors), who refuse treatment at Stanford for the same reasons.

If you don't mind having nurses, medical students, and residents with language and cultural differences care for you, than you'll love Stanford.

It is a teaching hospital, and medicine is a practice.

They will definitely practice on you.

Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 17, 2008 at 2:31 am

A couple questions. Will an enormous new hospital truly be needed in this area? Why must Stanford be responsible for providing housing for the 3,000 or so workers at the proposed hospital? Isn't it enough that they will be providing jobs for so many?! And where is it written that one must live in the same city where one works? Clearly that is the ideal, but not always practical. Is that just a (insert eye roll here) Palo Alto thing? Bigger but Not Necessarily Better's comment about the level of care at Stanford for routine procedures is a little unnerving. Do others agree with this assessment?

Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Community Center
on Aug 17, 2008 at 6:37 am

Stanford Medical Center is a tertiary care facility, a teaching facility and a research facility. That is not going to change. Nor should it.

Many people in this area get terrific care at Stanford, and some do not. There are most definitely instances where residents in training do not handle patient situations appropriately, that is a phenomenon at any medical center that trains new doctors, not something unique to Stanford.

Stanford is not a community hospital in the strictest sense of the word, and it is unrealistic to have expectations that it will be or act like one. It does serve the community, but that is but one of its missions. For those who prefer to get their care at a community hospital setting, El Camino in Mtn. View and Sequoia in Redwood City are excellent for that need.

Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Aug 17, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Paul Losch, many thanks for your reply.

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