Residents sound off on Stanford’s expansion

Questions linger over university’s ability to address growth impacts

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sarah Klearman / January 24, 2018

More than 200 residents of Palo Alto and surrounding communities attended a meeting on Stanford University’s proposed expansion Tuesday, with many citing traffic, parking, housing and foothills protection as their top concerns about the project.

Hosted by Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, the meeting focused on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Stanford University’s General Use Permit (GUP). If approved by the county, the permit would allow Stanford to build 2.275 million square feet of academic space, in addition to 3,150 housing units and 40,000 square feet of child care centers by 2035.

How big should Stanford get? Palo Alto asks for permanent limit.

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Allison Levitsky / January 23, 2018

Palo Altans will have another opportunity at City Hall tonight (Jan. 23) to sound off on Stanford’s application to expand its academic facilities by nearly 2.3 million square feet.

Last night, Palo Alto City Council signed off on its final 35-page comment letter on Stanford’s Draft Environmental Impact Report, in which the city officially responds to the university’s request. That letter will be sent to the county, which has the authority to grant or deny Stanford’s application.

Council made a few notable changes to the letter last night, including a call to set a permanent limit on how much Stanford will ever be allowed to build, referred to as a maximum buildout.
The suggestion narrowly passed, with councilmen Greg Scharff, Greg Tanaka, Cory Wolbach and Adrian Fine opposing.

Rising costs won’t shrink California Avenue garage

Despite escalating budget, City Council votes to stick with the plan for a six-level garage

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner, January 23, 2018

California Avenue merchants scored a political victory Monday night when Palo Alto officials reaffirmed their plan to construct a garage with two basement levels and more than 600 parking stalls on a Sherman Avenue lot.

By an 8-1 vote, with Adrian Fine dissenting, the City Council voted to reject a staff recommendation to eliminate one of the basement levels as part of a strategy to contain the project’s rapidly rising costs.

California Avenue merchants called the proposed reduction “nothing less than a breach of faith with the business community that has worked collaboratively with the City for so many years on this project.”

New housing laws rolling out

The Daily Journal – by Samantha Weigel / January 22, 2018

Legislation affecting local governments draw statewide attention, could spur more construction

As the new year unfolds, local governments are expected to begin unraveling the practical implications of new statewide laws designed to promote affordable housing.

The laws touch on a range of issues including streamlining the planning process for certain housing developments, which some worry will strip local control; creating a new permanent affordable housing funding source, the first since the dissolution of redevelopment agencies; and encouraging governments to plan for transit-oriented developments.

D.C. residents take their battle over airplane noise to federal court

Washington Post – by Lori Aretani / January 22, 2018

The three-year battle between residents in Northwest Washington and the Federal Aviation Administration over noise from flights at Reagan National Airport is now in the hands of a federal appeals court.

The two sides presented their case to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia last week. A ruling, which could take several months, will be closely watched by communities across the country grappling with similar issues tied to the FAA’s efforts to modernize the nation’s air traffic system.

Menlo Park appeals Stanford project — will new med school building worsen Sand Hill Road traffic?

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Elaine Goodman / January 22, 2018

The city of Menlo Park’s attempt to block a Stanford development project that officials fear will worsen traffic on Sand Hill Road will be reviewed by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Jan. 23).

The project is a four-story, 153,821-square-foot office building for medical school faculty that Stanford calls the Center for Academic Medicine. It would be built at the site of a 245-space parking lot at 453 Quarry Road. The building’s three-level underground parking garage would include 830 spaces, for an increase of 585 spaces. The building would also include a cafeteria and fitness center.

Menlo Park says that county planners haven’t taken into account the cumulative traffic impacts of the project in the Sand Hill Road vicinity in its analysis of the new proposal, including 1 million square feet of growth at Stanford Hospital and the recently approved Middle Plaza project at 500 El Camino in Menlo Park.

District grapples with ongoing budget deficit

Palo Alto Unified’s 2016 tax misestimation and 2017 contract blunder will affect bottom line for several years

Palo Alto Weekly – by Elena Kadvany / January 19, 2018

Palo Alto Unified, a well-resourced district that has set ambitious and costly educational goals for the next several years, is facing a financial squeeze: There is no ongoing revenue to pay for budget additions in the next school year, staff said Thursday.

This prompted board President Ken Dauber to ask Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks to come up with $3 million to $5 million in administrative cuts, an amount he warned “may not be ambitious enough” to address an ongoing deficit.

Supervisor Simitian proposes teacher housing in Palo Alto

Project would require ‘innovative’ partnerships with school districts, cities

Palo Alto Weekly – by Elena Kadvany / January 21, 2018

To help teachers cope with the increasingly high cost of living in the Bay Area, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is proposing the county partner with local school districts and cities to build a 60- to 120-unit affordable housing complex in Palo Alto.

The teacher housing would be built on a county-owned, 1.5-acre site at 231 Grant Ave. in Palo Alto, near the California Avenue Business District.

As costs grow, city may scale back garage plan

Palo Alto considers eliminating one of the basement levels at planned garage near California Avenue

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 19, 2018

With cost estimates rising dramatically, Palo Alto is considering scaling back its plans for the California Avenue area parking garage by removing one of the two planned underground levels.

The revision, which is proposed in a new report from the Public Works Department, would reduce the cost of the garage by between $6 million and $8 million at a time when the city’s overall infrastructure plan is facing a funding gap of about $50 million.

Palo Alto faces legal challenge over budget transfers

City’s practice of moving money from utility funds to General Fund may also hinge on Redding case

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 19, 2018

For more than a century, Palo Alto’s municipal utilities have served the city as both a provider of critical services and a revenue-generating asset from which the city can transfer money to pay for basic services like public safety, libraries and park maintenance.

Now, that long and at times controversial practice is facing a legal challenge. Downtown resident Miriam Green has filed a lawsuit against the city, charging that the transfer amounts to an illegal tax. At the same time, the state Supreme Court is preparing to hear an argument over a similar case in Redding, where an appeals court has recently struck down by a 2-1 vote the city’s transfer policy.