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What "community benefits" do you think Stanford should provide for new hospital?

Original post made on Mar 30, 2009

Approval of Stanford University's plan to greatly expand its shopping center and hospital facilities could hinge on the university's willingness to build a transit-friendly "urban village" to house the new employees the two expansions would require.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 30, 2009, 7:57 AM

Comments (22)

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Posted by Grag
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 30, 2009 at 8:46 am

I think this is a good compromise. If the number of jobs in the city is dramatically increasing, we also need to dramatically increase the housing supply. Long distance commuters create too much traffic and pollution.

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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 30, 2009 at 9:03 am

"The city would not require Stanford to provide all the benefits on the list, but is using the list as an inventory of all issues "on the table" in negotiations between the city and the university."

Really?? Jack Morton has stated publicly that the entire list of "benefits" must be provided for Stanford in order to obtain approval for the hospital and shopping center.

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Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:35 am

And how does Council plan on making these newly created employees to move to this mandated housing? If they quit do they also lose their homes? When the city realizes that there's no room for the new children that move in to this housing have no place to go to school, do they then make Stanford build them a new school as well?

Funny how most developers get away with providing a parking space, planting a tree or painting a mural to offset their huge buildings downtown, but Stanford gets their pockets turned inside out.

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Posted by Concerned Palo Altan
a resident of Community Center
on Mar 30, 2009 at 10:51 am

Traffic, parking, schools, all impact Palo Alto profoundly. Siting the 'village' on the other side of El Camino would help, but that still doesn't take care of the schooling problem, which as it stands would entail children using Palo Alto schools, unless Stanford could site a school on their side of El Camino. Realistically, the number of workers needed on Stanford's extended projects is an enormous increase in our population. By the way, not everyone in Palo Alto uses the Stanford Hospital, so Stanford's argument there doesn't apply to a number of our population.

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Posted by Betty W
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2009 at 11:19 am

Stanford wants to be a good neighbor, I am sure. Building 600 new housing units to help fulfill the housing demand 3,200 new employees are going to add seems like a nominal number to me.

Since Stanford is creating a regional Level 1 Trauma Center serving San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties, there needs to be plenty of housing for emergency staff so they can't get trapped out in Lodi when the BIG ONE hits. Otherwise, there will be no relief staff to handle the trauma load on Days 2 to 6 following the emergency event.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 30, 2009 at 11:28 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I suggest Stanford secede from Palo Alto, incorporate separately and tell an ungrateful host to find another cow to milk.

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Posted by KM
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 11:43 am

Palo Alto is proposing to raise our health care costs in order to get the goodies it wants. Don't the council members realize that the hospital is an independent entity? It will have to raise its fees to pay for the city's requirements, which will raise our health insurance costs. This is an insane way to manage budgets. Why should sick people pay for Palo Altans' transit and parks?

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Posted by Etaoin Shrdlu
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 1:09 pm

Ahhh...the Palo Alto Process...extortion division. Is there no shame? Probably not.

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Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:31 pm


I guess you haven't noticed that the academic part of Stanford is not part of Palo Alto.

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Posted by stretch
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm


Can you imagine Stanford all of a sudden taking care of their own utilities after separating from Palo Alto? You should have seen what happened after San Francisco took over Treasure Island, and they had to come up with a plan that would satisfy the DOT, re the gas infrastructure! Nah, Stanford's got it good the way things are. they can afford to pay a little more to get what they want.

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Posted by KATE
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 30, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Someone correct me if I'm wrong - and on this site there are many who will, but....
The Medical Center and the shopping center were annexed to Palo Alto in, I think, the 70's or earlier, so that it could have better police protection and not have to use the sparse Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department. This happened after the Medical School and hospital were moved from San Francisco and the 'new' hospital built in 1958-1959. Palo Alto had its own hospital, the charming old building on Quarry Drive across from the Shopping center which Stanford now owns for something. Recently for psychiatry and subtance abuse. The shopping center opened in 1955. The rest of the campus and the medical school building and some research buildings are still in the county and served by the County Sheriff's Department. The entire campus is in the PAUSD which allows it - and its registered faculty and students to vote in PAUSD elections, a situation that caused grief a few years ago when candidates and supporters for a bond issue and a critical election got out the vote on the campus in a contentious election. The Stanford Fire Department and the PAFD work as one unit. The University has its own huge COGEN generating plant for electricity and steam for heat on Campus Drive behind the hospital. The university uses Palo Alto's waste water treatment plant and I think, but am not sure, that the main line for that goes down Channing. . Garbage - anyone know? Anyone know for sure where Stanford now gets its water? Searsville Lake was created to do that with water coming through it from Hetch Hetchy via Crystal Springs Reservoir, but the creeks that carried more rain water to a Searsville catch basin were doing too much polluting, so it was only used to water the grass. Professors living on campus get their water paid or used to. And in the faculty 'ghetto', professors own their homes not the land under them. But on another note, If this is a regional Trauma Hospital, why does Palo Alto have to provide the the major part of the housing?
Remember that prior to 1958, the Medical School and its hospital were in San Francisco asa well as its School of Nursing which it no longer has.. I think the Law School was too, and the Graduate School of Business was a new and later edition. The campus has just exploded since 1958.

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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 30, 2009 at 4:50 pm

The above references to "goodies" and "extortion" indicate a fundamental misunderstanding of what is happening. Palo Alto is asking for mitigation of two basic categories of costs that will be imposed on the Palo Alto taxpayers for this project:
1. Infrastructure costs, especially street improvements to handle increased traffic. This project will add traffic to streets and intersections that will have already been max'ed out. Because Palo Alto is built-out, making the necessary improvements will be far more expensive than if this was a green-field area.
2. The State of California via ABAG (Association of Bay Area Governments) imposes high costs on the City for such job increases: It requires the City to create housing that requires substantial taxpayer subsidies.
Although the hospital would be a regional facility, these costs would be borne by the Palo Alto taxpayers. From this perspective, it is Stanford and the State that are "extorting" Palo Alto taxpayers.

Many supporters say that Palo Alto is so rich, that the taxpayers can easily afford to cover these costs. First, because of the cost of housing, many Palo Alto residents are struggling to get by. Second, why shouldn't the surrounding communities that are even richer pay any of these costs? Stanford and its supporters are very free with other people's money.

During the long planning process, Stanford could have gone to the State and lobbied for a change that would have fairly spread the costs of this regional hospital over the entire service area. Instead, Stanford chose an approach of bullying Palo Alto into taking on these massive costs.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Stanford Hospital itself IS the "community benefit" to Palo Alto. You're incredibly lucky to have that health care facility in your backyard. I have to agree with Walter here.

SU saved my life and may save yours. If I had lived in Podunck, Oklahoma when I was faced with a horrible health situation (or even in most towns in the central valley of California), I'd be dead. Stanford had technology and expertise that didn't exist in many other places in the entire country, and they were able to treat what would have been untreatable if I lived elsewhere.

Face it...Palo Alto is not a sleepy little town, nor is it an island. Much of it's growth has come from the growth of the entire Silicon Valley. The city's shape, size, etc. has NOT been determined solely by Stanford (Footnote/an aside: don't you even notice that the SU Clinics in Redwood City has taken cars off your city streets?)

At any rate, you need to plan your town's growth differently. You are not a small town, but you do have very limited land because you are on a narrow peninsula.

Palo Alto needs a planned traffic system...a hierarchy of streets with different capacities and speed limits would establish some control over the current congestion and geographic challenges.

If a city planner told you the facts of life, he/she would be fired. Wait a long do planners last in Palo Alto? Not long.

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Posted by peninsula joe
a resident of Gunn High School
on Mar 31, 2009 at 10:47 am

Are we kidding?

What other employer is required to build housing for its employees?

Do we live on a different planet, the federal government is spending billions of dollars to generate job to address high unemployment rates, and in Palo Alto we want to charge employers a billion dollars to create them?

All is not right with the world these days.

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2009 at 4:18 pm

Thank you for the support Peninsula Joe! There are folks like us who have had enough of the Palo Alto anti-SU bickering that is prodded by publications like this one. We keep checking this site in vain for some actual news. e.g....what was that huge emergency response Sunday afternoon at NOLAs?

Heads up to PaloAltoOnline and its paper publications: Consider getting your "market share" of readership by concentrating on actual local news, and also broadening your foci a little to add some U.S./world news analysis, and regional industry/research news -- to get some input about/from/for the very smart folks who live here.

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Posted by Spare us sob stories
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Mar 31, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Tp repeat, Stanford isn't being asked for any benefits. They are being asked to mitigate the problems they are causing us. Sounds like simple fairness to me.

neighbor, please spare us the sob stories about how they saved your life. No one is criticizing the hospital or the doctors and nurses.
It's the grandiose development plans that are causing big problems for US.

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Posted by Gift Horse
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 1, 2009 at 1:44 am

Doug Moran: "Palo Alto is built-out"

Says who? There is plenty of room to expand in this city, if innovative housing patterns, good planning, and ideas like housing over retail take hold - in addition to well thought out local transit. Funny, "no we can't" seems to be the hue and cry of those who would wring Stanford dry. This city is going to grow, and it's going to expand it housing base, period. As for the concession list from Stanford, how about weighing it against the benefits that Stanford has already brought, and will bring, with its new facilities and world class research center. After that analysis, it will be pretty clear the even if Palo Alto were to build the housing (which it won't have to), it would still "owe" Stanford on the balance of benefits. And, Jack Morton is an accountant; why is he only looking at the cost side of the balance sheet?

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Apr 1, 2009 at 8:00 am

To "Spare us your sob stories"

1. You really have nerve for mocking me.

2, If you don't like your community anymore because it's changing...move.

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Posted by Marvin
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 1, 2009 at 8:24 am

Let's not forget that it is our City Council that approached Stanford about enlarging the shopping center and building a hotel in order to increase tax revenues for the city.
Also do not forget that the hospital remodel is mandated by new seismic standards
Maybe, like the HSR issue, the council did not think about what they were asking for/supporting.

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 1, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

I guess I've not lived here long enough to understand the "Palo Alto Way." Stanford is providing a wonderful new hospital. What else it is obligated to provide?!

Neighbor, I am touched by your story and very happy you here today to tell it. Bless you.

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Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 1, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Neighbor, that should read " ARE here today..." My typing is not what it used to be!

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Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2009 at 9:07 am

The hospital is the "community benefit." Instead of milking the grantor of these benefits, I think the city should lay off about 1/2 of it's staff. Many of which are incompetent and redundant. That would solve the "housing" problem for the hospital and shopping center employees who actually want to work. Local government has become like AIG and other large corporations, they have their cake (ie tax payers money) and are eating it.

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

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