Comments Submitted through the D.A. Website
Palo Alto schools are well regarded for high quality education due to effective teachers and small class sizes which require proper funding. We are asking for:
Annual per-student payments, for each student living in a property tax exempt residence;
Land for a new elementary school for the Quarry Road students;
Funds to build the new school
PTA Council Additional Requests
Contributions to PAUSD safe routes to school;
Fund the expansion of oversubscribed after school childcare on PAUSD school sites;
Housing for PAUSD full time teachers and staff
I think that it is great to have Stanford as part of the community in Palo Alto. However, I share similar concerns with everyone that the Stanford GUP is currently tax exempt and will not be contributing resources to the Palo Alto community. This is especially important for the PAUSD as they primarily receive funding from local property taxes. I'm sure that a big draw for Stanford affiliates would be to send their kids to public schools in one of the best school districts in the US. It would only be fair that Stanford provides the PAUSD monetary resources (annual student payments, land and funds for a new school) to support the influx of new children into the district so that we can all maintain the teaching quality of the schools in PAUSD. Stanford being a school themselves should understand more than anyone else the importance of having enough monetary resources to sustain a good education system. At the end of the day, it would be the education of the district's young children that would be affected and this should not be taken lightly.
We have kids in the Palo Alto public schools, and the Stanford general use permit will impact our kids learning. As it is, resources are stretched, class room size were increased a couple of years ago and this has impact the leaning in the classrooms. Adding additional students from Stanford will result in an other increase in classroom sizes, teachers/staff lay-offs, suspending school programs as funding cannot support these additional kids. We need to keep the quality of schools, otherwise people will move from Palo Alto to other school districts that have better resources for kids. We homeowners pay an exorbitant amount to live in Palo Alto, withe the cost of housing, taxes, special assessments, etc. to pay for the schools that educate our kids. In additional East Palo Alto kids attend Palo Alto schools. There are soo many kids currently enrolled in the district that need extra help and having such a huge additional number of Stanford kids will impact an already tough situation. Thanks.
The Stanford GUP should provide a plan for funding for PAUSD students that live in housing in academic space that is currently tax except. PAUSD depends primarily on local property taxes to educate students. Given it is difficult to predict how many PAUSD students there will be as a result of the additional housing added, it would make sense that there be annual funding to the district based on the number of enrolled students each year that live in rental housing provided by the University. This number should be adjusted on a annual basis based on estimated costs.
While I know that some people are advocating for a new school site, I am not convinced this needs to be the highest priority. It is most important that there be funding for salaries of teachers and staff as the majority of the PAUSD budget is salaries.
High quality public schools help Stanford recruit and retain excellent people.
I would like to voice my concern about the size of Stanford's proposed building project. It seems way too large to me. We have two kids in PAUSD and extra schools with tax exempt means less money for our schools.
We are glad that Stanford is part of our community. But they have a long history of shifting costs and drivers into our neighborhood. We pay hundreds of dollars a year so we can have a residential parking program, all because Stanford pushes drivers off campus with high parking fees, and then provides a bus from our neighborhood to campus. We couldn't park on our own street because Stanford encouraged their staff to park on our streets.
The new development agreement is much worse, asking for permission to put hundreds of new families on campus and then expecting Palo Alto to shoulder the costs for their kids' education.
I don't know how to think about the extra traffic. I don't know how the traffic can go down since Stanford already has a big TDM program (see parking problem above), not all the new staff will be on campus, and even if they were on campus the new people will require off-campus needs, such as schools and restaurants.
I want Stanford to do well, but not when they expect the local community to pick up the costs for free.
Fewer housing units built as part of the Stanford GUP proposal means fewer potential students for PAUSD. As the community has concerns about additional students enrolling in PAUSD from the to be built rental housing at Stanford proposed in its GUP, and how that will impact and dilute resources available for PAUSD students, then the less rental housing built at Stanford, the fewer potential PAUSD students, and less resource dilution.
Many of the non-faculty workers at Stanford as well as many of the construction workers building at Stanford travel a long way to reach the campus, many driving in from Tracy or Livermore or even farther. I would guess that many of them make the drive very early in the morning to avoid the worst of the traffic. To make their early arrival less painful, I would suggest that Stanford provide a "worker welcome center".
Such a center could provide a place to sit with restrooms, coffee and food available as well as possibly a television and/or wifi. It would provide a place to wait that would be comfortably warm and dry in winter and cool in summer. It might also offer showers to allow workers to clean up before driving home or even to take their morning shower after their drive in. It could even offer hostel type sleeping accommodations to allow workers to stay over for a day or two, reducing their drive times and carbon footprint. Workers should be able to park nearby and (unless their truck is needed for their work) use Marguerite to reach their place of work. I would suggest that the services, while not necessarily free, would be inexpensively priced.
Apart from the obvious benefit to the Stanford community, such a center could also accommodate construction workers working in the surrounding communities. Either way, some type of ID system would obviously be needed if it were not to become an attractive nuisance.
We are writing today to recommend that Stanford be responsible for their fare share of Palo Alto/Stanford area Caltrain grade separations and station improvements. We’d like to preface our remarks by stating that the Development Agreement should focus on public benefits and not be at the expense of mitigations necessary to address any environmental impact.
Change is Coming
Huge regional growth is causing jurisdictions along the peninsula corridor to address the biggest infrastructure projects many of those cities have ever faced, the need to eliminate at grade rail crossings. These projects are being driven by the pending doubling of the number of trains per hour planned to occur over the next decade.
Caltrain is already the backbone transit system for the peninsula and its expansion is being essential for the TDM programs in the jurisdictions throughout the line, including Stanford and Palo Alto. The City of Palo Alto has determined that the gate down times and signal recovery times from the pending 20 total trains per hour will render existing at grade rail crossings functionally gridlocked, severely hindering car, bus, bike and pedestrian access routes to the Stanford campus.
Stanford as a Regional Jurisdiction with Financial Obligations
The basis for Stanford’s fair share obligation to fund grade separations is fundamentally different from other GUP related mitigations that are determined by their incremental growth impacts. Mitigations for affordable housing, schools or traffic impacts are calculated based on the additional needs generated by the impacts of GUP growth. In contrast, Caltrain expansion is not happening due to specific development or growth from the City of Palo Alto or Stanford, but rather it is being imposed on jurisdictions because of the overwhelming cumulative regional needs and Caltrain’s expanding vital role in regional transportation. The need for each jurisdiction to solve grade crossing problems is essential to maintaining their existing circulation, as well as to accommodating the increased Caltrain capacity that is key to TDM programs in the City and at Stanford.
Stanford has recognized their reliance on Caltrain expansion and is consequently playing a key financial and planning role in the development of the new Caltrain Business Plan. Stanford’s growth and reliance on Caltrain is also a key driver in the need to expand Caltrain service. Their reliance on the grade crossings for campus access and the expansion of Caltrain capacity for their TDM program arguably make Stanford’s obligation at least equal to that of the city. Throughout the corridor, much of these costs are being absorbed by the impacted jurisdictions. As an unincorporated jurisdictional entity, Stanford is rightfully obligated to provide their fair share of the local grade crossing expense.
The Caltrain corridor is essentially a permeable membrane that physically separates the Stanford campus from critical transportation corridors to the East (101, East Bay, etc.) The expansion of Caltrain service and the subsequently required grade separations are forcing a full re-evaluation of how East-West traffic travels across the Caltrain line. In the case of North Palo Alto, the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University represent the two jurisdictions that share the crossings. The potential closure of some existing at-grade crossings is being considered (Churchill and Palo Alto Avenue), which could increase traffic on existing grade separations (Embarcadero and University Avenue), which may then need to be upgraded and expanded to handle the increased flow.
In addition, both Palo Alto train stations (University and California Avenue) will likely need to be scaled differently to reflect passenger demand. Significant changes to amenities might include ticket vending machines, system maps, public telephones, benches, electronic panels with real-time information, portable lifters for wheelchairs, bicycle parking options (racks and lockers), bus and/or shuttle stops (which may include benches and shelters) and parking lots or garage buildings for vehicles. Drop-off areas, taxi stops, parking areas, bus stops, shuttles and charging stations for electric vehicles, bicycles, scooters, etc. may also need to be addressed.
The Tri-Party Agreement Role
Since the 1980’s, the Stanford GUPs have been framed by the Tri-Party Agreement (Santa Clara County, Palo Alto and Stanford) which embodies a recognition of how the three parties are intertwined and their respective responsibilities. This agreement effectively acknowledges Stanford as its own jurisdiction under the governance of the county. The GUP is the means under the Tri-Party Agreement framework by which the county can obligate Stanford to meet its fair share of what will be a very costly and significant project. The Agreement requires Stanford to provide for “all municipal services”. Roadway and transit services are essential municipal services that Stanford should share the responsibility to provide. Stanford’s Marguerite bus system, which by necessity extends beyond the campus boundaries, is a key part of their transit service obligation. Stanford must also meet this emerging grade separation roadway and transit obligation.
The City of Palo Alto currently has underway a multi-million dollar program to evaluate grade separation design alternatives, their impacts and select alternatives for implementation. The VTA Measure B tax is providing the initial significant down payment for design and construction. However, these funds will need to be supplemented by significant local and regional/state dollars. Because the design selection and cost determination will not be determined prior to the GUP and Development Agreement approval, the Stanford fair share dollar amounts will need to be determined subsequent to the GUP approval. Consequently, the Development Agreement should include language that frames Stanford’s fair share obligation for amounts to be determined based on the costs and the portion of those costs that will need to be borne by the two local jurisdictions, Palo Alto and Stanford.
Stanford has been a long-time leader in innovation in many areas. In my opinion, by expanding its academic facilities and supporting housing, Stanford is way more likely to solve key world problems (such as global warming and traffic) than it is to worsen them. With reasonable mitigation during such expansion, Stanford’s efforts should be encouraged, not thwarted.
PAUSD is an excellent school district that is funding on property tax. As a prestigious and wealthy institution, please share the education cost that benefits the students from Stanford university. It’s very fortunate that Stanford University sends its students to PAUSD. Please pay fair share so PAUSD can achieve to an even higher level.
First let me say I find it appalling that Stanford could be allowed to build another 3.5 million square feet—that’s HUGE. It’s unlikely that any public benefit would offset the traffic, congestion, school classroom size at public schools, long lines at grocery stores, stress on medical services and all the stuff that goes with living a life. Simply put the GUP is way too big, and the infrastructure is not in place to accommodate. NO PUBLIC BENEFIT WOULD BE SUFFICIENT to even consider a building program as expansive as the one under consideration.
We have not yet totally seen what the last GUP will do to our community since much is still in construction—I talking about University Terrace and the high rise apartments on campus, so I’m baffled as to why the County has asked Stanford toINCREASE the new GUP by adding more housing. How about taking away some of their proposed academic buildings and in their place add housing?
I would like to see a REDUCTION of academic buildings and an ADDITION of housing. Then I would to see a public benefit that is long overdue and that is to require Stanford to place a conservation easement over the foothills. That’s a real public benefit which would be a benefit for generations to come.
As a longterm Menlo Park resident, former Menlo Park Planning Commissioner, and loyal Stanford alumna, I want to be supportive of the university's vibrancy and future. My concerns are that the impacts of Stanford's mid-peninsula growth are greater than they should be because numerous cities and two counties are making decisions separately. I hope that the DA could arrive at some mechanism by which cross-jurisdictional planning, impact avoidance and mitigation can be effected both for the specific projects that would fall within the GUP and also Stanford projects in at least.the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Redwood City.
Some examples of problems and potential remedies:
HOUSING - the cumulative increase in demand for housing due to Stanford's approved expansion into Redwood City, especially, and the proposed main campus expansion is not being addressed. The new Redwood City campus may be filled with existing staff from the main campus (and have housing somewhere) but their headcount currently on campus will be back-filled on the main campus through the renovation and expansion. I do not believe that any additional housing was required for the Redwood City campus or that the needs for housing to support the backfilled headcount is being addressed. As a result, displacement (so-called gentrification) is occurring around the Redwood City site, and the impacts of cumulative headcount increases across Stanford sites will be felt strongly by surrounding communities that already face a severe housing shortage. WHAT IS NEEDED: SOME SORT OF MECHANISM WITH AUTHORITY TO ENSURE HEADCOUNT GROWTH IS ACCOMPANIED BY COMMENSURATE HOUSING GROWTH.
TRAFFIC/TRANSIT - Stanford has done an admirable job on the main campus to discourage car traffic, with transit incentives, Marguerite. But it needs to do more to address the impacts it is causing on other jurisdictions. Examples:
-- The new Redwood City campus has NO Marguerite-like shuttle for workers to move between there and the main campus. This is a critical need already and will worsen when the new administrative campus is opened. My surgeon neighbor used to bike to work. Now her clinic is in Redwood City. When she needs to be at the hospital on campus, she needs to drive because there is no shuttle and her time is precious. However, during the day when she needs to be on campus, there is no parking. Similarly other admin staff friends who are being moved to Redwood City next spring will sometimes need to be on the main campus but can't get there easily or time-efficiently using transit and will face the same problems - no parking, no shuttle.
-- The nearly completed main medical center and shopping center expansions bring considerably more traffic through Menlo Park but our city had no real voice or clout in the mitigations or approval decisions such as for traffic (or housing).
-- The new office/housing development on El Camino Real in Menlo Park will be housing staff/faculty, a fact that Stanford revealed after its project was approved. So the project will provide no housing for all the new workers in the office and retail portion of the project.
Commuting by bicycle from that site in Menlo Park is not easy because the old bridge over San Francisquito creek is narrow and has no bike lanes. Because that is between 2 counties, 2 cities and is on a state highway (El Camino Real), improving this is a challenge when only one jurisdiction is confronted with a project within its boundaries. Expanding this would be a wonderful public benefit that would primarily help Stanford's workers and students.
To my knowledge, there is nothing like the current GUP's trip cap that works across jurisdictions so there would be incentives for Stanford to manage its traffic impacts across sites.
SOME MECHANISM IS NEEDED THAT HAS AUTHORITY TO ASSESS AND REQUIRE ADDRESSING MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL TRAFFIC/TRANSIT IMPACTS FROM STANFORD'S ACTIONS AND GROWTH
OPEN SPACE - protection of existing open space becomes more critical as Stanford grows. This is an important legacy for future generations and a public benefit to retain and memorialize (it is not something new).
Last, I encourage the County and Stanford to think creatively about the future of how people are educated and how much physical growth is necessary. The traditional model of brick and mortar based education, expanding numbers of ever-bigger buildings for students and research may not make sense as a model for the future. There is magic of Stanford's Schools and research facilities huddled on the main campus, and that magic should be protected and preserved. Perhaps sprawling across disconnected sites is not for the best; it causes so many problems for neighboring communities and for the very staff and faculty who want, and need, to support the magic. Stanford needs to address these issues head-on, and agencies need to exercise together their responsibilities to promote better outcomes and fewer impacts on the communities they collectively represent.
The GUP transportation report from Fehr and Pehrs lacks specifics as to what Stanford improvements to bicycle infrastructure outside the campus that it would support. However, Stanford recently completed an excellent Bicycle Commuter Access Study which lists some specific improvements, all of which I endorse. They are on page 37 of their study which can be found at:
I quote from to document as to what Stanford proposes to fund if their GUP i:
1) Stanford proposes to fund an extension of the city’s pilot project along Middle Avenue and San Mateo Drive, creating a low- stress commute route to the university. The improvements would connect to an existing bike/pedestrian bridge over San Francisquito Creek from San Mateo Way in Menlo Park to Durand Way in Palo Alto
2) Stanford proposes to fund the design and implementation of improved connections to the soon-to-be constructed bicycle and pedestrian overcrossing of US Hwy 101 between Clarke Avenue and Newell Road.
3) Stanford proposes to fund the design and implementation of a bikeway along Hanover Street, connecting the Bol Park Path and the Stanford Perimeter Trail.This project would provide a continuous low-stress route through southern Palo Alto neighborhoods and the Stanford Research Park to the Stanford campus. Stanford would also fund improved lighting and landscaping of Bol Park
4) Stanford proposes to fund bicycle improvements along Alameda de las Pulgas and Santa Cruz Avenue. San Mateo County is evaluating possible roadway configurations as part of its Santa Cruz Avenue/Alameda de las Pulgas Corridor Improvement Study. Stanford would fund implementation of the county’s identified solution to enhance mobility and safety.