Do Not Overbuild Palo Alto through Stanford GUP
Do Not Overbuild Palo Alto through Stanford GUP
1 Who We Stand For:
We are a group of Palo Altans who are concerned with the current impasse between the Santa Clara County (“County”) and the Stanford University (“Stanford”) in regard of Stanford’s 2018 general use permit application (“GUP”). This current situation manipulated by the County, the tension caused, and the negative impact on the Palo Alto community have already taken a toll on the community. It is unnecessary and must be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, we feel that during the course of this negotiation process, nobody is putting the best interests of us local residents up front, for which we must make our voice to be heard.
2 Stanford’s Plan:
As you may have known, Stanford submitted a new community development plan for its main campus in Palo Alto in 2016, subject to the County’s approval. In the plan, Stanford proposed to add 2.275 million square feet of academic facilities and up to 550 housing units for faculty and staff in the course of the next 17 years. This would account for a mere 1.2% growth rate for Stanford and would allow Stanford to add about 100 new students each year for the next 17 years. An estimate suggests the new development would add no more than 275 students to the Palo Alto Unified School District (“PAUSD”) through 2035, amid a forecasted decline in PAUSD’s enrollment in future years.
3 Palo Alto Has Benefitted from Stanford:
Stanford is one of the best universities in the world and currently supporting many research projects, staff, entrepreneurs, start-ups, etc., which are the foundations of the success of the Silicon Valley. Stanford creates thousands of jobs and generates millions of dollars in tax revenue for the County, the City of Palo Alto, and especially PAUSD. In the 2017 to 2018 school year, an estimated $30.3 million tax revenue was generated for PAUSD through residential and commercial properties of Stanford, which was about 17% of PAUSD’s total income during that period, while only 6% of the PAUSD students are from families living on Stanford’s lands. Since 2000, Stanford constructed 816 affordable housing units and contributed over $25 million into various local and County affordable housing funds, with another 1500 units still under construction, all for the benefits of the residents, the local communities, and the County.
Furthermore, Stanford would have to pay about $4.2 million mandatory school impact to PAUSD if the GUP is approved in its current form.
Besides the financial support, Stanford is involved in many community and youth support programs to support our local community and our local schools, through academic tutoring and mentoring, collaborated research, summer camps, leadership development, among others, to build strong partnership and ties with the city and local schools.
4 County’s Alternative Views:
The County planning staff apparently had a different view, however. Seeing an opportunity, the County directed an option to create 5700 new units or beds on Stanford campus, among which, many would be designated as affordable housing units. A family must make less than 30% of average income in the County (currently at $125,200 for a family of four). Another alternative from the County is to add 4425 units on Stanford campus. Either option would result in thousands of additional students flowing into PAUSD. Furthermore, the County passed new ordinance in September 2018 to require Stanford to pay $68.5 per square foot of academic space constructed after July 1, 2020, whereas other entities in the area pay only half of that.
Despite passing Measure A, a $950 million affordable housing bond in 2016, the County continues to press against local business entities and nonprofit organizations like Stanford for fulfilling its own political goals and affordable housing obligations. The GUP approval process is neither transparent or carried out in a fair and reasonable way. Some of the elected officials often emphasized certain information while hiding others. For example, an allegation has been floating around claiming that the Stanford development plan would flood PAUSD with 1500 new students, resulting in a budget shortfall, cramped classrooms, teacher lay off, among others, misleading the general public into belief that Stanford is one to blame, in total disregard of the County’s unreasonable request of the affordable housing units, which is unfairly imposed on Stanford.
5 Our Demands:
Please join us by signing this petition to demand:
- Santa Clara County to work for the best interests of the county residents;
- Santa Clara County to stop pressing local businesses and schools for its own political goals and obligations;
- Santa Clara County to stop targeting and singling out Stanford to impede its research and academic development; and
- Santa Clara County to negotiate, in good faith, with Stanford and local communities to find real solutions to benefit both local communities, schools, Stanford, and the County residents.
Remember, Together We Win.