Over the past year, Stanford and Santa Clara County clashed over numerous issues. Here are three key points of contention. | Town Square | Palo Alto Online |

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Over the past year, Stanford and Santa Clara County clashed over numerous issues. Here are three key points of contention.

Original post made on Nov 8, 2019

Stanford University and the county of Santa Clara took fundamentally opposing viewpoints on a few key development issues, eventually leading to the university's withdrawal on Nov. 1 of its general-use permit application.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, November 8, 2019, 6:56 AM

Comments (8)

17 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2019 at 3:52 pm

>> McCown said Stanford was being asked to deliver far more community benefits as part of the current proposal than was the case with its existing general use permit, approved in 2000.

This is one thing I just don't understand. Why is Stanford surprised that things are more difficult now than they were in the year 2000? I mean, don't these folks ever have to drive to Walnut Creek on a Friday afternoon? Do they ever drive down Oregon after 3:00PM . Do they ... you name it? The entire Bay Area has a massive traffic problem at practically all hours during weekdays between 6 AM and 8 PM. Rents are high. Home prices are high. Commutes are long. The world has changed. If "they", including Stanford, Cisco, Google, Facebook, whoever, want to increase employment, then "they" need to figure out how people are going to be housed and how they are going to get to work.


5 people like this
Posted by Apple news
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 8, 2019 at 8:35 pm

Apple announced a 1B (?) donation (to government and their hand-picked community/housing organizations, I think...) for housing for lower paid workers. Where?? When? How?
I wish there were more direct, simpler methods of building more housing (and a range of types) without excessive government mandates and bureaucracy. We seem to have more bureaucracy mushrooming to “administer” all this free, subsidized, other scheme housing paid for by us taxpayers. While sympathetic, it’s too subject to politicians’ pet interests and at OUR expense.
Increasing the supply would help naturally.
San Jose has potential across quite a large geographic area for MUCH more infill. I would offer immediate incentives for a range of housing styles aimed to appeal to growing millenial and tech class here.
Then, upgrade highways and transit routes ASAP in the region.


3 people like this
Posted by Our own form of bipartisanship
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 11, 2019 at 10:19 pm

Our own form of bipartisanship is a registered user.

"That statement, however, belies the fact that a significant share of the $4.7 billion (more than $1 billion) would go toward constructing student beds and much of the rest would pay for fixing the problems caused by Stanford's very project."

So, if more than $1 billion went to new student beds, that left over $3 BILLION in community benefits? And, yet discussions didn't happen because after Supervisor Simitian encouraged Stanford to engage in discussions with PAUSD at a March public meeting - after PAUSD reps complained non-stop at meeting that Stanford wasn't speaking to them - this was a violation of the negotiation rules? Really? And, then the County changed the rules of the discussions?

We need to move away from our own form of "bipartisanship" that dominates all of politics and planning in our region today. There was some middle ground here. The fact that Stanford agreed to all 100+ conditions of the agreement, but argued (and backed that argument up with data) that there was no way they could realistic comply with required traffic mitigations tells me the County wasn't willing to move an inch. Which, if the law is on their side, they don't have to, and shouldn't.

Is the law on their side? Or at least legal precedence? The County made some mandates in their conditions of approval that have never been requested - nowhere in CEQA history. There's a thoughtful discussion there if anyone were to look into it. But, in an era of bipartisanship, it's hard to get a thoughtful discussion going on these issues. It's unfortunate.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 9:28 am

Posted by Our own form of bipartisanship, a resident of Crescent Park

>> There was some middle ground here. The fact that Stanford agreed to all 100+ conditions of the agreement, but argued (and backed that argument up with data) that there was no way they could realistic comply with required traffic mitigations tells me the County wasn't willing to move an inch. Which, if the law is on their side, they don't have to, and shouldn't.

>> Is the law on their side? Or at least legal precedence?

I think Stanford should be looking at this in a rather different way. Put the legal stuff aside for a minute a look at it from a systems point of view. Forget about the imperious Joe Simitian. Imagine you are a visitor from Mars: what do you see regarding Stanford's development plans?

With all the other massive developments in the works along the US-101 corridor, in Menlo Park, in EPA, in Mountain View, south to San Joe and east on 237, over time, -most- Stanford employees will have to live somewhere on the Peninsula, either near Caltrain, or, near I-280. They will have to because anything further away will just take too long to get here. Therefore, Stanford needs to be thinking where its existing employees are now, and, whether some of them can move closer to Stanford. And, if some number of employees will be added-- lets say big "O" O(10^5). Where will those new O(10^5) employees live? How will they get to work? Walking, bike, Caltrain. The 22 Bus? Or, ahem, driving? If driving, where will they park? And, ahem, if they have spouses that do not work at Stanford, then, where will those spouses be working and how will -they- get to work? Driving? And, if those employees have children, where will they go to school? How will the kids get to school?

By obsessing about what mitigations are or are not legally required for this or that, or whether or not Joe Simitian/SCCBOS is or is not overstepping his/its authority, the big picture is being overlooked.


3 people like this
Posted by Our own form of bipartisanship
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2019 at 10:37 am

Our own form of bipartisanship is a registered user.

@Anon. The rule of law must always be both our guiding light and the parameter in which all entities - especially regulatory ones - work. It's extremely disconcerting to me that you believe that by focusing on what is legal "the big picture is being overlooked."

Really disturbing. One can't ignore the law for the sake of the "big picture."

That is how Trump acts. He's going to ignore the law (and facts) to get the outcome that he wants.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 12, 2019 at 10:52 am

Posted by Our own form of bipartisanship, a resident of Crescent Park

>> @Anon. The rule of law must always be both our guiding light and the parameter in which all entities - especially regulatory ones - work.

Wrong. The rule of law is a -constraint-. I fully support the rule of law, but, it is decidedly not a guide to what is ethical, what is practical, or what is wise. I don't suggest that the law should be broken. But, if Stanford acts as if whatever is legal is OK, then, everyone, including Stanford, is screwed. Because not all legal courses of action are wise.

>> It's extremely disconcerting to me that you believe that by focusing on what is legal "the big picture is being overlooked."

That is exactly what I suggest. Stanford appears to be proposing a development plan that is bad for Stanford, because, it won't work as intended. If Stanford proceeds, then, once again, everyone will act mystified by even more car traffic, even longer commutes, and open employee slots that qualified people can't accept at the offered salary because they would have 4 hour commutes to/from Modesto.

>> Really disturbing. One can't ignore the law for the sake of the "big picture."

One can't ignore the big picture just because the law permits it.

>> That is how Trump acts. He's going to ignore the law (and facts) to get the outcome that he wants.

Trump also is trying to defy chemistry and physics and wants to burn more coal. What if that turns out to be "legal"? Is it "wise"? The legal law, and, the laws of chemistry and physics, are all constraints on what we can do.


3 people like this
Posted by Our own form of bipartisanship
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 12, 2019 at 5:45 pm

Our own form of bipartisanship is a registered user.

@anon.

Stating the reverse of an argument doesn't negate the argument.

Doing something illegal - overstepping authority - is NOT the same as doing something lawful that may "overlook the big picture."

Illegal activity does NOT equal lawful activity.

Your argument is seriously flawed.

" whether or not Joe Simitian/SCCBOS is or is not overstepping his/its authority,"

The Board overstepping their authority or doing something illegal IS NOT OKAY. They are not above the law.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2019 at 12:34 pm

Posted by Our own form of bipartisanship, a resident of Crescent Park

>> Doing something illegal - overstepping authority - is NOT the same as doing something lawful that may "overlook the big picture."

"Overstepping authority" may or may not be illegal. It is a blanket statement that covers administration breaking its own rules of order, as well as someone actually breaking the law. I have seen zero evidence that Simitian broke the law. At worst, as far as I know, he moved the goalposts that he set, and I'm not even sure about that.

Pro-development people have attempted to sling a lot of mud at Simitian and have gotten themselves quite dirty.

>> " whether or not Joe Simitian/SCCBOS is or is not overstepping his/its authority,"

The Board overstepping their authority

My mistake for using this vague phrase.

>> or doing something illegal IS NOT OKAY. They are not above the law.

As far as I know, neither Simitian nor the full SCC Board of Supervisors has done anything illegal, and, I certainly never said they above the law. You completely missed, or ignored, the point.

What I said was, that the law represents a constraint. All proposals from Stanford or the Supes have to be vetted to be fully in conformance with the law. The law is not, however, "guiding light" when it comes to a development proposal. The reason you can drive at 6 MPH all the way from here to Pleasanton at rush is not because the law was broken. The law is mute on that. The law doesn't dictate good sense, and, many perfectly legal proposals don't make good sense.

I am asking for more than "legal". I want proposals that make sense rationally. That take into account where employees will actually live and how they get to work. Where their spouses will work. Where their children will go to school. Proposals that are not make-believe and wishful thinking.

But, actually, I'm stating that Stanford should do even more than -that-. Stanford should actually -make things better- for its employees. It is my contention that making commutes shorter less stressful for Stanford employees would be better for Stanford. Making the Stanford "system" more energy-efficient (including transportation) will be better for Stanford's future.


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