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Guest Opinion: I feel sorry for Stanford University

Original post made on Jun 7, 2019

Stanford is a precious community asset dedicated to educating students and providing research in all fields that affect all our lives. It's a treasure we should cherish. Let's just be fair to Stanford.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 7, 2019, 6:53 AM

Comments (67)

71 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2019 at 9:16 am

Stanford's neighbors have every right to ask the university to pay for the new services and infrastructure that are required for Stanford's expansion and to limit congestion where new infrastructure cannot be easily built


73 people like this
Posted by Full Mitigation
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2019 at 10:12 am

This is so wrong it is hard to even start. This isn’t about the good that Stanford does, but the impacts its development will have on local towns and schools. Those are different things, and the latter is measurable and not emotional or subjective, and not extortion given the mitigations address measurable impacts based on sound studies done by competent consultants.

Stanford is simply expected to do what adults do – take responsibility for its actions. Thank you Supervisor Simitian and Chavez for your leadership, and to the Board of Supes.


51 people like this
Posted by SJW
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 7, 2019 at 10:28 am

SJW is a registered user.

Diane, what do you mean this is the first expansion in 20 year. There has been nothing but expansion going on at Stanford for as long as I've lived here--that's 45 years. There is NO low income housing on the campus unless you agree that dorm housing is low income (as the country defines it). Faculty housing only pays property tax on the structure, not land, so not much tax is the short answer. There's no need for anyone to feel sorry for Stanford in any way.


38 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2019 at 10:54 am

Thank you for this point of view that FINALLY puts things in perspective and gives another point of view to the constant whining about Stanford. Our property values would be nothing here if not for this world-class university (but for which Silicon Valley as a tech mecca itself also may never have come into being). I'm disgusted by how people in this area take for granted that they have a right to Stanford and its programs, but completely ignore the benefits they derive thereof.


47 people like this
Posted by Bill Bucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 11:29 am

Bill Bucy is a registered user.

Let's focus on facts rather than rhetoric.

Drummond carefully notes Stanford is a not-for-profit institution. It also owns a $26.5 billion endowment. So any effort to assert the school would shoulder a terrible financial burden under any of the impact fee proposals is ingenuous.

Alphabet, Apple, Facebook -- indeed all companies -- pay at least some of the cost of infrastructure impacts when they expand or build. They are also required to factor in public impacts when proposing their projects. There is nothing wrong with insisting that Stanford (the Alphabet of education?) should do the same.

Counting taxes from the mall and the research park as a Stanford "contribution" is wrong. Those properties would pay taxes regardless of who owned them.

Stanford enriches our community through its myriad cultural resources. But the issue at hand is money for schools, roads and housing. Can someone assign a dollar benefit to having easy access to the Cantor Center?

Stanford is a huge, wealthy institution and an overall positive for all of us. But it needs to recognize that it is one element of a broader community and step up to its public financial responsibilities.


39 people like this
Posted by Pied Piper
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jun 7, 2019 at 11:32 am

Pied Piper is a registered user.

Stanford is non-profit? You can see that so clearly from the modest tuition they charge, huh? More accurately, they are tax exempt. A true non-profit would not accumulate billions of dollars in endowments.


46 people like this
Posted by Lifelong Palo Altan
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2019 at 11:45 am

This oped is so wrong-headed that I actually wondered whether the author is just trolling Palo Altans. I agree with other posters' points regarding the fact that Stanford is a phenomenally wealthy institution, a significant employer in this region, and an institution whose actions great impact those of us living our lives outside its boundaries.


17 people like this
Posted by Tecsi
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Jun 7, 2019 at 11:45 am

Tecsi is a registered user.

I think the comparison of Stanford expansion and Alphabet/Facebook/Apple expansions is an excellent point and well-worth investigating more deeply. Are companies asked/required to pay comparable fees for their expansions? It doesn’t appear so to me, but I would like to learn more about this.


18 people like this
Posted by local resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 12:33 pm

I agree that Stanford University seems to be held an unreasonable standard compared to corporations, and this opinion piece is one of the only accounts raising this issue. I'm confused about how society in general lets tech get away with incredibly bad impacts within communities and allows themselves to be held at ransom when they threaten to relocate without tax breaks and more. And yet, a school that's had no net trips over decades is seen as a bad neighbor? Shame on the County of Santa Clara and for the 'lobbying' going on around this battle. I live in San Mateo county and yet I've received full color pieces in the mail from Santa Clara county on this issue, which clearly aren't objective. Is this how tax dollars are spent?


25 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 7, 2019 at 12:44 pm

Resident and Full Mitigation,

You are trying to hold Stanford to a higher standard than Facebook and Google are being held to. The nicest word I can think to call you is hypocrite. Another term is greenmailer.

Everybody should play by the same rules. You do not get to make separate rules for Stanford. The county needs to make a reasonable deal with Stanford. If it doesn’t, Stanford will sue and win, costing the county and Palo Alto millions in needless legal fees.


25 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Pay attention to the semantics here...
Jean McCown says those living in faculty housing pay taxes on their homes. True, but if you look into this I believe you will find they pay taxes on the value of the home only (the building) NOT THE LAND, as that is owned by Stanford and is tax exempt. Quite a difference from the rest of us!


9 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Jun 7, 2019 at 12:52 pm

Bill Bucy,

Facebook and Alphabet have much higher “market caps” than Stanford. They are making minor housing contributions but they are not being asked to house all of their staff.

You seem to imply that Stanford will not reach a reasonable deal with the county. That will happen when Simitian gets past the political posturing show that Simitian has to put on for his acolytes.


33 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 7, 2019 at 3:47 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

Stanford is not a not-for-profit university. It is actually a multi-billion dollar hedge fund that happens to own a world class university.


16 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@SJW & @anonymous. Please stop spreading wrong information. Stanford faculty who own homes pay taxes on both their land and the improvements. And, remember, the County Assessor determines the fair market value of the house. And, the prices are comparable to Palo Alto’s. Just look on Zillow to see the current listings.


21 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 7, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

There are still lots of details to be worked out, but I think the County is on the right track in this case. Growth in the crowded, expensive, environmentally-sensitive Bay Area has significant negative consequences. The responsible thing to do both ethically and economically is for the organizations that benefit from the growth to pay a proportionate share of the costs. Setting clear, measurable goals for things like housing and traffic is a good way to do that.

The folks who've complained that Stanford is being treated differently than the big corporations have a point, but the right solution is to change the way the corporations are being treated, not the way Stanford is being treated. Growing office space should only be allowed if there's balancing growth in housing (for all income levels, to minimize displacement) and transportation systems.

Just in passing, the County is responsible for dealing with Stanford's growth, while (in general) the cities are responsible for dealing with corporate growth. This is not a case of inconsistency on the part of the County.


16 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@Bill Bucy. The taxes from the research park, mall and other tax generating properties that Stanford owns should absolutely “count” because those tax and job generating places wouldn’t be there without Stanford. The lands that those facilities sit on were once part of Stanford campus. In the early 1950’s, the City of Palo Alto and Stanford worked together to create the Research Park. Stanford annexed the land into the City’s jurisdiction so the City would get the property, wage, and sales tax generated from those entities. Stanford would retain ownership of the land and collect rent.same thing with the mall. Every resident seems to have forgotten this important fact.


14 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 4:34 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@Allen Arkin. Why isn’t the County imposing housing impact fees on all development in the county? One that is determined based on use and district? If the cities want to impose one as well, fine, but by the County only imposing a housing impact fee - and everything else they are asking for - only on Stanford, they are not just being inconsistent, I’d say they were being patently unfair, if not discriminatory.

Apple paid $5M in impact fees to build their spaceship. And built no housing.


9 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 7, 2019 at 5:03 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

The County controls development in the unincorporated areas (which include Stanford). The cities control development in the incorporated areas, which is where most of the company offices exist.

Regarding Apple and other large companies, the point is that they didn't pay a proportionate share (either directly or indirectly) of the costs of their growth. So long as this continues, we'll have more housing shortages, displacement of lower-income people, and increases in traffic.

Cities are beginning to address this (Mountain View is requiring balancing housing in the East Whisman district, for example). The correct fix is to require more organizations to pay proportionate amounts of the cost of their expansions, not fewer. The County folks seem to be acting on this.


16 people like this
Posted by Sympathy Not Needed
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2019 at 5:09 pm

$26.5 Billion Endowment. More than $1 billion in fundraising revenue, alone, last year. Stanford heavily impacts housing and transportation in the area. It's time for them to step up.

Web Link


12 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 5:34 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@allen akin. Most people seem to understand that Stanford is in unincorporated Santa Clara county and that’s why the County is overseeing the development. And the cities oversee development within their jurisdictions. Nonetheless, the County could impose housing impact fees across the County, which giveln the magnitude of the housing crisis, it’s surprising it has not done so yet.

I am all for Stanford mitigating impacts from their development, I just think that whatever is asked of them, needs to be in line with what is asked of others.


5 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 7, 2019 at 6:21 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

The County's Planning Office only operates in the unincorporated areas, so my understanding is that it doesn't collect impact fees in the incorporated areas (and can't, because it has no authority to do so). I'm not familiar with the Constitutional requirements for new regional taxes or fees that would apply across jurisdictions.

We no longer have enough excess capacity in the area to absorb growth, so I think we'll see more constraints come into play in both incorporated and unincorporated areas. Stanford's not the only organization that's going to be affected. For example, Menlo Park's proposed moratorium on commercial development would have a major impact on Facebook.


19 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 7, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Palo Alto without Stanford would have been Gilroy but without the garlic.


16 people like this
Posted by Shill
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2019 at 7:23 pm

[Post removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by The Facts about Stanford
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 7, 2019 at 7:44 pm

Stanford technically may be a non-profit (albeit a $20 billion dollar endowed one), but they have a HUGE economic footprint and impact on the communities around them. Yet unlike Google, Facebook, and Apple, Stanford does not pay state tax or county property tax to cover those expenses.

The author calls out corporations for not covering housing or paying high fees, but actually they have a substantial tax burden.

In Santa Clara County, in particular, Apple paid $56 million of property tax in the tax year of 2017-'18. (They paid a lot more to California in state tax.) Google paid $50 million of property tax in the tax year of 2017-'18. (They also paid a lot more to California in state tax.)

Google also agreed to construct up to 6,600 residential units on its land, with 20 percent qualifying as affordable housing, as part of its development plan.

Stanford's retail and commercial TENANTS pay the property tax on Stanford Research Park and Stanford Shopping Mall. It's not fair to credit Stanford with those tax payments. While we don't expect Stanford to pay a tax burden equivalent to a for-profit, its fair to expect a sharing of the local costs to the community and to contribute towards transporting or housing a fair fraction of the incrementally larger workforce Stanford will employ.

Other universities located in urban areas, such as MIT and Yale, have recognized they need to contribute in kind and make voluntary contributions in lieu of property tax to their local community; the Boston area has a Payment In Lieu of Taxes program for its many colleges and universities.

Stanford is not an island.


29 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 7, 2019 at 8:01 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford is not an island. "

And neither is Palo Alto.

Stanford has contributed much more to Palo Alto than Palo Alto has contributed to Stanford.


9 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 7, 2019 at 11:06 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@the facts about Stanford. “Boston area has a Payment In Lieu of Taxes program for its many colleges and universities.”

Yes, because Boston pays for and maintains all roads, sidewalks, sewers, fire, police, infrastructure, etc. where those universities reside. They are integrated into Boston. Oh and those cities have public transportation so people can get to jobs without having to drive. Stanford maintains its own roads, etc. and runs the marguerite for Stanford ees and for Palo Altans. It’s extremely different.

“Stanford's retail and commercial TENANTS pay the property tax on Stanford Research Park and Stanford Shopping Mall. It's not fair to credit Stanford with those tax payments.“

It’s not only fair, it’s correct. Whether the tenant or the landlord pays the utilities, taxes, etc. is factored into the rent before leases are signed. If the landlord pays utilities and taxes, then the rent is increased to cover it. If the lessee pays, then the rent is adjusted accordingly. Anyone who has ever rented an apartment, office or retail space knows this


19 people like this
Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 8, 2019 at 8:08 am

Stop bashing Stanford. Abide by the laws in place.

The Teacher's Union and the SEIU looking for a gravy train.


10 people like this
Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 8, 2019 at 8:10 am

Joe Simitian and the school board are just shills for the teacher's union, which is looking for a new revenue source from Stanford to line their pockets.


8 people like this
Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 8, 2019 at 9:04 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

We should be addressing two problems here. 1. Housing on SU campus; and 2. net effect on Palo Alto. If we look at the Cubbereley problem it is clear that we will need it as a high school in the near future. And imploding of housing on the direct high school campus will forever ruin that. So let's make a deal here. SU and PAUSD figure out how to mutually fund the CUB restoration as a high school, and we need Greendell here to for the K-6 grades. Do not let us shoot ourselves in the foot here - we both need each other and we need the CUB High School. We cannot overload our other two high schools so that they are forever falling behind.


20 people like this
Posted by peninsula resident
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2019 at 10:58 am

Well, there's certainly a gaggle of Stanford fanboys in this thread.

Stanford pays virtually no property taxes due to it being an alleged 'non-profit' (yeah, right): (Stanford $2.6 billion endowment source: Web Link)

Property taxes are one of the key ways for local government agencies to pay for infrastructure improvements, to support the kind of growth that Stanford wants to foist on its neighbors. I find it stunning that people get triggered by seeing retired senior citizens and longstanding community members paying Prop-13-protected property taxes, yet give huge businesses like Stanford a *property-tax-free* pass. Hypocrisy much?

In a nutshell, without negotiation Stanford would want to grow yet not pay for the impacts of that growth. Neighboring governments have a *fiduciary duty* to protect their residents from the impact of Stanford's largess.


Stanford and other alleged non-profits show the huge flaw in our current tax system, and it needs to be remedied. *All* schools, *all* nonprofits and *all* churches should pay property taxes. They can write them off as business expenses as part of their taxes (so they'd get part-to-most of that back), yet the pass-through of those dollars would help communities address the impacts these *cough* "nonprofits" generate.


24 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 8, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Stanford pays for and provides it own roads, its own police service, its own hospital, its own outdoor recreational spaces including the Dish, its own shuttle bus service, its own museum, its own outdoor art and pays Palo Alto for its fire services and now has offered to pay the school district well over $100 million.

Stanford willingly allows Palo Alto and other non-Stanford residents to use its open spaces, its museum, its public art, its bus service and its hospital.

Stanford has preserved far more of its land as open space than have any of the surrounding communities.

Stanford land generate millions of dollars of sales and property taxes that benefit Palo Alto, SC County and the State.

Now what exactly does Palo Alto do for Stanford other than banning Stanford residents from Foothill Park?


16 people like this
Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 8, 2019 at 2:55 pm

So what Stanford has an endowment? That's from fundraising and can't be directed to pay for just anything. It is an educational institution.

And churches - the land was bought w contributions.

So you don't want to encourage religious or educational institutions?

Just because they have something, you think you're entitled to take it? Reminds me of communism. You're well off, let's just take your stuff.


12 people like this
Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 8, 2019 at 2:58 pm

Btw the state has a $21 billion surplus, why aren't you asking the state to fund affordable housing? Maybe because the teachers union hopes to grab some of that money in salaries passed through the state?


16 people like this
Posted by Embarrassed
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 8, 2019 at 3:38 pm

I am embarrassed for Diana Diamond and her out-of-date sentimental opinions about Stanford.
That's the way it USED to be. Diana, have you driven around the campus lately? It is unrecognizable to those of us who worked and studied there. Now it has become a greedy developer with a $26.5 BILLION Endowment.

And that Diana consulted with Jean McCown, an erstwhile developer's attorney. Have you forgotten her advocacy for the developer of 800 High Street? That building is a monument to her contribution to Palo Alto.


12 people like this
Posted by Cover-up Culture
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 8, 2019 at 7:24 pm

So what Stanford has a large endowment? Why is it relevant whether stanford has been successful at fundraising for its educational mission?

Those dollars aren't yours to take.

You think you get to take some of what someone else has, just because they have it? With that attitude, is anyone's property safe?

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 8, 2019 at 7:39 pm

>> "You think you get to take some of what someone else has, just because they have it? With that attitude, is anyone's property safe?"

Now you know the attitude behind all those smash-and-grab car burglaries.


20 people like this
Posted by The Cardinal Way
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 8, 2019 at 8:41 pm

Stanford is a pearl while Palo Alto is a clamshell. Most people don't seem to understand that.

It is Palo Alto's responsibility to solve its own problems & somehow accommodate all of the newcomers wishing to live here. Not Stanford's.

Stanford is private property & with exclusivity comes certain privileges that others are not privy to.


8 people like this
Posted by Enough of This Nonsense
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 8, 2019 at 11:07 pm

Palo Alto,

HEEL!


22 people like this
Posted by Out of touch
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 9, 2019 at 9:42 am

Out of touch is a registered user.

This guest opinion is out of touch. Stanford has been trying hard to mitigate as few of their impacts from this proposed expansion as they think they get away with and have the surrounding communities pick up as much of the tab as possible. Jean McCowan has been giving Stanford a very bad reputation and made it very clear Stanford does not care about Palo Alto or its surrounding community.

Having Stanford pay for the impacts of its expansion is a reasonable position.

Other folks have pointed out Facebook, Palantir and Google have not. I think its time we changed that as well starting with removing the prop 13 workarounds corporations are using to avoid paying their fair share of taxes and ensuring they pay their fair share of the transportation and housing impacts.


14 people like this
Posted by Sharon Heights Resident
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:59 am

This opinion is spot on! Thank you Diana Diamond for sharing your (rational) views in this dialogue. Diamond is correct that faculty who own Stanford residences do pay property taxes. And it is also correct that Stanford's endowment is not the same thing as income or profit such as that earned (in high rates) by local tech companies. The endowment itself is not meant to be spent at all - rather to provide investment income to pay some of the university's yearly operating expenses.

Stanford is one of the most important assets to this area: it provides hospitals and medical care, cultural enrichment through music and museums, green space for outdoor enjoyment, technological and academic innovation through its research, and education for many of our community's high achieving students. We should be working for a mutually supportive relationship with Stanford -- rather than demanding it pay for things not even asked of local tech companies. Without Stanford this community would be much less desirable and appealing.


6 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 9:39 am

>The taxes from the research park, mall and other tax generating
>properties that Stanford owns should absolutely “count” because
>those tax and job generating places wouldn’t be there without Stanford.

If Stanford were not there, then it’s very unlikely that the land would be idle. Whether the kinds of occupants that the research park attracts would be there is an open question. But given the nature of Prop.13, it’s possible that housing would generate as much property tax as commercial properties which don’t turn over frequently.


11 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2019 at 9:58 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"it’s possible that housing would generate as much property tax as commercial properties which don’t turn over frequently."

But housing does not generate sales tax as do many of the research park companies.

And Stanford's careful choice of tenants for the research park has generated a far lower employee count than if companies like Facebook were predominate in the research park. For example Facebook's Menlo Park facility has one of the highest number of employees per sq ft of any company around - Stanford has skillfully avoided such densities thereby reducing the infrastructure impact of such denser occupancy.


4 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 10:11 am

> But housing does not generate sales tax as do many
> of the research park companies

That has not been the case in the past. Would you provide us the names of companies generating sales tax, and the amounts the generate?

> Stanford has skillfully avoided such densities thereby
> reducing the infrastructure impact of such denser occupancy.

Again, this is not common knowledge. Stanford has not generally made this point when blowing their own horn about what good neighbors they are. Perhaps you can provide some evidence from a Stanford source that reinforces this premise.


6 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 12:43 pm

@ Joe.
"If Stanford were not there, then it’s very unlikely that the land would be idle"

No, the land wouldn't be idle, it would probably have academic buildings on it, so no Research Park. It was part of Stanford campus. They cannot sell their lands - it's in their charter. They have annexed land to the city's jurisdiction for mutual benefit (Stanford Research Park and the mall); and, have "given" land by way of "friendly eminent domain," but they can't sell it. So the research park and mall would NOT be there.

"But given the nature of Prop.13, it’s possible that housing would generate as much property tax as commercial properties which don’t turn over frequently."

Stanford manages its commercial properties aggressively; for the last fifteen years they've averaged a 6% increase in property taxes.

Web Link

All the correct information and data is out there in multiple places (County, libraries, online). It's just not being reported - let alone investigated by The Weekly.


4 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 1:05 pm

jh is a registered user.

"But housing does not generate sales tax as do many of the research park companies."

It used to be the case that the Stanford Research Park had companies that manufactured products for which sales tax was paid. There doesn't seem to be much manufacturing these days in the Research Park, or any other product for which local sales tax is paid. However, if you drive around, lots of law firms, investors, tech R&D, and other non-sales tax producing uses.


8 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2019 at 2:04 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Three of the top property tax producers in Palo Alto are Research Park companies.

Look at the Research park on google earth and see how few of the parking spaces are being used = low employee density


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Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 3:08 pm

jh is a registered user.

But I don't believe sales tax. Commercial property taxes now only count for approximately 25% of Palo Alto's property taxes, and declining every year.


6 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"But I don't believe sales tax."

Please take the time to do your own homework:

Web Link
See 4th quarter 2018 and look at attachment A page 3


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Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 4:48 pm

jh is a registered user.

How are property taxes calculated in the Stanford Research Park? Since Stanford only leases the land, do they sell the buildings and that triggers a new property tax assessment? And since Stanford continues to own the land, is that portion of the property tax bill always tied to the Prop 13 value? Or is the land also reassessed at the new market rate, even though Stanford continues to own and only lease the land?

Thank you for the web link.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

JH - Pease do you own research.

"To this end, in our opinion it is crucial to recognize that when such a lease for a term of 35 years or longer is first created, or when the term is first extended to 35 years or longer, the change in ownership based upon the transfer of all three elements has already been captured. At that time, the lessee becomes the owner of the leased premises for property tax purposes."



Counsel for the Board of Equalization


3 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 5:22 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@JH. If you go back to the web link, at the bottom you'll see links that expand to answers and you should find your answer there. But, the property is reassessed when the leaseholder changes and also when the property undergoes renovation. The leaseholder pays taxes on both the value of the land and the improvements (structures) so FULL taxes. The same is true for residential home owners on Stanford campus. However, Stanford has highly restricted leases. Standard lease is for 35 years. What does this mean? A new lease is negotiated after 35 years. Stanford has a much higher turnover rate in residences than Palo Alto does for numerous reasons including 1) restricted time period on lease; 2) homeowners cannot pass their homes to their children upon death; 4) if you lose your affiliation with Stanford, you must sell your home - renting is greatly restricted and handled through the housing office - you can only rent to another Stanford affiliate; 3) the ability of a spouse to stay in the home after one spouse dies is also limited (yep, Stanford affiliated spouse dies and the surviving spouse and the kids may be out in two years). Why are these policies in place? To maximize the amount of housing available to Stanford ees. And, no, I don't work for Stanford.


2 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm

jh is a registered user.

"...lessee becomes the owner of the leased premises for property tax purposes."

Very helpful, thank you.


8 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 5:27 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@jh & @Peter Carpenter. It would be nice if the Weekly actually did some research and wrote a longer, thoughtful piece addressing some of these issues that come up over and over again in the comments. They are supposed to be a source of news - which includes information. It's doubtful that will happen though.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:20 pm

> No, the land wouldn't be idle, it would probably have academic buildings on it

Let me understand your answer: "If Stanford would not be there--then there would probably be academic buildings on the land." Do I understand you correctly? Did you mean if the Research Park were not there then there would be academic buildings on those sites?

If Stanford were not there--what "academic buildings" are you proposing would be there?


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:23 pm

> Three of the top property tax producers in Palo Alto are Research Park companies.

This is true. But these taxes are paid by the companies leasing the sites. Stanford does not pay any of these taxes. When SRP companies leave the Park, Stanford moves quickly to have the properties' status changed from commercial use to educational mission--hence making those parcels tax exempt.


7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:24 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" It would be nice if the Weekly actually did some research"

Unfortunately neither the Weekly or the Almanac has the resources to do in depth research.

When I provided the Almanac with thousands of salary records for California firefighters the Almanac apparently did not have anybody with the time or skill to even look at those records and they instead published a story which was contradicted by the records that I supplied.

Sadly local print journalism is dying because of the lack of advertising support.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:27 pm

> Stanford manages its commercial properties aggressively; for the last
> fifteen years they've averaged a 6% increase in property taxes.

Stanford does not pay much in the way of commercial property taxes itself. As to any increases in the taxes generated by the Commercial Properties in the SRP--the secured portion is not paid by Stanford, and the unsecured portion is not paid by Stanford.




4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:27 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"Stanford does not pay any of these taxes. "

Wrong! Please read the property tax document that I provided - the Stanford Clinics and the Stanford Children's Hospital are among the city's top sales tax payers.


4 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:41 pm

> Wrong!

Try reading the post. What was posted was that Stanford does not pay any of the property taxes generated by companies leasing property in the SRP. Sales tax and property tax are different. So, let's try to read before we post.


5 people like this
Posted by Mary O
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 7:13 pm

Mary O is a registered user.

@Joe. They are Stanford lands and were back when the City of Palo Alto was incorporated. Yes, the town of Maybell existed in 1891, but Stanford was not in Maybell. City of Palo Alto was incorporated in 1894. Therefore, only Stanford could develop those lands. The land could not be sold. The Research Park was created jointly by the City of Palo Alto and Stanford. Jointly. Stanford couldn’t have developed the Research Park without the City. Maybe there would be residential homes there for Stanford ees; maybe the stadium. But still, it would be owned by Stanford.

And see answer above re: who pays the taxes. Again, if you rent and you pay sewer, water, etc. you pay less rent than you would if the landlord was paying the utilities. So either the tenant pays the taxes or the landlord does - it doesn’t matter - it’s still the landlord’s property to manage, maintain, etc. it’s their contribution. For some reason, people would feel better if Stanford charged more for rent and paid the property tax itself. But that doesn’t make sense.


8 people like this
Posted by Paly Grad
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 10, 2019 at 9:12 pm

Mayfield!


36 people like this
Posted by 1918 & Counting
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2019 at 10:06 pm

> Yes, the town of Maybell existed in 1891, but Stanford was not in Maybell.

There's no way it could have...Maybell is in Moffat County, Colorado.

Now if you are referring to Mayfield, I was about 7 when it was annexed to Palo Alto back in 1925. Long-time residents (most of them deceased now) still referred to the community as Mayfield well into the 1950s. Where the soccer fields are now (ajacent to El Camino Real and Page Mill Road) stood the old Mayfield elementary school which was built about that time. I attended school there and as I vaguely recall, Addison was the only other elementary school in Palo Alto. Palo Alto High School was brand new and students from as far away as Mountain View (until Mountain View High School on Castro street was built) and what is now the town of Los Altos attended high school at Paly. The only other high school in the immediate area was Sequoia in Redwood City (also off El Camino Real). Old timers will remember The Little Big Game between the two schools played on Thanksgiving Day.

A lot of open space back in those days. The Alta Mesa cemetery across from Gunn High School on Arastadero Road opened about this time and did a pretty good business as folks no longer had to bury their dead in Colma or at local Catholic cemetaries. Roller & Hapgood in Palo Alto and Spangler's in Mountain View had a corner on the mortician's businesss and there was another funeral parlor (I forgot the name) in downtown Palo Alto on Lytton Avenue which later became the Gatehouse Restaurant and then Spago's. The basement where they used to store dead bodies prior to embalming later became the wine cellar for the two dining establishments.

Getting back to Stanford. The university was the pride of the Palo Alto community back then and everyone in town was an Indian fan (unless they had gone to Berkeley). Stanford wasn't as spread out as it is today and Hoover Tower hadn't even been built yet. The old Stanford Stadium served as the official landmark and the President Hotel on University was a newly constructed building.

Every now and then, horse-drawn carriages shared the local roads with automobiles and a lot of swearing took place, even more so than today. There were still some folks who weren't ready to make the transition to the internal combustion engine.
Kind of like switching to electric cars today. In Mayfield, off Pepper Avenue stood an old horse barn that was later converted to a duplex in the 1940s. It's been torn down recently to make way for a new building of sorts.

On Hamilton Avenue where the City Hall is today, stood the brown wooden Palo Alto main library. It was built and financed from the Andrew Carnegie library grants of the time. Apparently the old man decided to do something worthwhile with all of his money so he established a trust which enabled cities in the US to apply for funding to build their first libraries.

People today sometimes complain about new buildings but as I recall, those Spanish-looking buildings like the post office, the President Hotel and the small shops along Ramona represented new construction and they were interspersed with the older wooden stores that had been built in the late 1900s and survivors of the '06 quake.

The locomotives were like the jetliners of today and the primary means of cross-country travel other than aking a car or bus. Being coal burners and the pullmans not having air-conditioning, a rolled down window assured the passenger of getting black soot all over their clothes. No big deal as it came with the territory.

The only minorities groups at the time were Asians (often referred to during this period as Orientals), the African-Americans (colored people) and some Hispanics, most of whom we assumed were Mexican. They were primarily employed as domestic workers, laundry & dry cleaner operators or outside maintenance. It's a lot different today with all of these wealthy folks from China now residing in some of the nicer palo Alto neighborhoods. I guess they've got the money to do so. A lot more East Indians too.

That said, don't be too hard on Stanford. The university wasn't always this way but big money corrupts and now they're acting like they own the universe. Palo Alto will survive but it's a different Palo Alto now as big money is also the culprit. I suspect that both the university and the city have sold out.

Damn nurse is telling me it's time for bed & to take some pills. She can go to hell but perhaps it's time to end this diatribe. Hoping I didn't have any typos as I no longer have the patience nor willpower to proofread any of the crap I am spewing. Later kids and remember to let the dog out.










9 people like this
Posted by casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 10, 2019 at 10:10 pm

casey is a registered user.

@ anonymous

"Jean McCown says those living in faculty housing pay taxes on their homes. True, but if you look into this I believe you will find they pay taxes on the value of the home only (the building) NOT THE LAND, as that is owned by Stanford and is tax exempt. Quite a difference from the rest of us!"

All of this is verifiable. Requires no speculation.

Stanford Faculty Housing website - Web Link

"Due to the nature of Stanford’s standard leasehold transactions, the county assessor typically bases the buyer’s new assessed value ... on off-campus comparable sales rather than the purchase prices of the standard leaseholds."

The website even lists recent sales. You can also visit the Santa Clara County Dept of Tax and Collections website and cross-check the assessed value of housing on Stanford lands. I looked up some recent single-family home sales in Stanford, CA and the assessed value was higher than the the reported sale price.


10 people like this
Posted by densely
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 11, 2019 at 11:52 pm

Since Stanford is a not-for-profit entity, the only way the counties can make sure that it will pay for the services it needs from its neighbors is to impose conditions at the time that a development proposal is up for approval. Because this is the only opportunity to negotiate mitigation during the lifespan of the improvements, the amount of money that's discussed is large.

The stakes are also large. That Stanford has a noble mission isn't adequate justification for having its neighbors subsidize its operations. Stanford has tried at least a bit of divide and conquer, negotiating directly with less powerful entities like the Palo Alto school district and offering mitigation that doesn't cover the full expected cost of educating the children of Stanford students. It's a good thing that the county is revisiting these negotiations.


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Posted by Embarrassed
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 12, 2019 at 11:01 am


>"Jean McCown says those living in faculty housing pay taxes on their homes. True, but if you look into this I believe you will find they pay taxes on the value of the home only (the building) NOT THE LAND, as that is owned by Stanford and is tax exempt. Quite a difference from the rest of us!"

Web Link

Just another half-truth from developers lawyer MCown.


5 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:08 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Looks like campus owners pay far more in property taxes than they would if the assessed value was their purchase price.

Campus Sales

Welcome to the Stanford University Faculty Staff Housing Campus Housing Sales. The information on this site includes sales of campus homes starting 1/1/2007 and is updated as escrow files are closed at Faculty Staff Housing.

The information on this website is provided by the residential leaseholders or their agents. Stanford University does not in any way warrant the accuracy of the information contained in the listings. There has been no independent investigation of the accuracy of information provided by the residential leaseholders or their agents.

Notice Regarding Property Tax Assessments for Residential Leaseholds

The county assessor’s office establishes property tax assessments. Due to the nature of Stanford’s standard leasehold transactions, the county assessor typically bases the buyer’s new assessed value (i.e., the new Proposition 13 base year value) on off-campus comparable sales rather than the purchase prices of the standard leaseholds. For standard leaseholds, the county assessor’s markup to the purchase price has not been uniform and has been widely variant.

For restricted leaseholds, however, the county assessor’s markup to the purchase price typically has been uniform (most recently, 2x the restricted leasehold purchase price for single-family homes and 1.67x for condominiums; by way of an example, if the buyer pays $1,000,000 for a restricted leasehold interest in a single-family home, then the buyer would pay property taxes on an assessed value of $2,000,000).


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

“, the only way the counties can make sure that it will pay for the services it needs from its neighbors is to impose conditions ...”

And how much should Stanford charge those jurisdictions for providing a world class trauma/ emergency center?


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