Stanford GUP Town Hall Thursday

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian is hosting a Town Hall this Thursday, March 14 about Stanford University’s General Use Permit application. The meeting is from 6:30-8:00 p.m. in Palo Alto City Council Chambers (250 Hamilton Avenue). 

The event is co-hosted by the Palo Alto Weekly and will provide an update on where things stand in the review process, including a high-level overview of the staff-proposed conditions of approval. After brief welcoming and introductory comments, the staff of the Palo Alto Weekly will interview Supervisor Simitian and then turn to the audience for questions they have for the Supervisor. Supervisor Simitian and his staff hope this format will ensure they get to the information of most interest to the public.

If you can’t attend the meeting, it will be taped and available on Supervisor Simitian’s website. It will also be broadcast live by Midpen Media on Channel 26.

Before the meeting, the PTA Council of Palo Alto will be holding a “Stanford Share the Cost” rally in the plaza in front of City Hall. The council is urging Stanford to fully mitigate the impacts of any new development on Palo Alto schools, including providing lands and funds for building a new elementary school. On that note, Stanford and PAUSD announced this week that they’re restarting discussions on the GUP and its impacts.

Statewide Housing Legislation Gains Steam

While Palo Alto’s City Council grapples with ways to address the current housing crisis, legislators in Sacramento are proposing a wide range of bills aimed at spurring development, some of which restrict cities’ abilities to limit or block housing development.

Senate Bill 50 (SB-50), for example, aims to bolster housing development near major transit stops and bus routes, as well as “job-rich” areas, by exempting projects in these areas from local limits on density and parking requirements.

The Embarcadero Institute recently published an analysis of SB-50’s impacts on Palo Alto. It’s worth reviewing the potential impacts on our neighborhood, as parts of College Terrace are within a quarter mile of a “high quality bus corridor” (VTA Routes 22/522) and nearly all of Palo Alto will likely be deemed “job-rich.”

Given Governor Newsom’s aggressive goal to build 3.5 million new homes in California by 2025, it’s worth watching these bills as they progress through the Legislature. The future of Palo Alto housing may be decided in Sacramento and not City Hall.

CTRA Observer Reports for February

The College Terrace Residents Association has a group of board members known as “observers” who monitor relevant public meetings and news in their assigned area and then report back to the entire board on pertinent local actions and issues of interest to College Terrace. This month, we have updates from our Stanford and California Avenue observers.


California Avenue Business District

Khoury’s Market

The city has approved a permit application for exterior improvements to the building that include new paint, new storefront glazing, new lighting, and new planters to an outdoor seating/gathering area. The application was submitted in September and approved earlier this month.

The September application also included a proposal for exterior signage, however a decision was made to remove that item and re-submit it as a separate application. That occurred on February 8. It calls for the installation of two “Khoury’s Market” signs: one above the El Camino Real entrance way, and one on Oxford Avenue. The plans also show a horizontal illuminated, vertical projecting, “parking here” sign (i.e., a “P” within a circle above an arrow within a circle) just past the garage ramps.

Senior planning staff also informs us that:

  • The planner assigned “is working expeditiously with the applicant towards an approval, but there are no guarantees the application will be approved in March.”
  • Code Enforcement is looking into the bins that have replaced the dumpsters on Oxford Avenue across the street from the market.
  • While the roof globe lights were part of the original permit, the prior property owner had made a commitment to turn the lights off after the grocery store closes at night. Once the new owners get a building permit, they will be free to remove them.

Inside the market itself, grocery carts have been delivered and an Italian coffee machine is on order. Stop by and let a member of the Khoury family know your suggestions.

–Ann Balin


Stanford

Now that the holidays are over, things have picked up again! 

First, the County Historical Heritage Commission is continuing to look at the Historic Resources section of the GUP Application.  The County has hired a second peer review firm, JRP Historical Consulting, to address various questions about Stanford’s methodology for determining which structures are “historic”.  The HHC’s next meeting was pushed out from February 21st and is now scheduled for March 6 at 6:30 p.m. 

In addition, Supervisor Simitian approached PAST Heritage, requesting them to weigh in.  They have agreed to step up and craft a letter which will go initially to the HHC and then most likely to the County Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.   

At a Community Resources Group meeting last fall, Stanford staff made the point of telling us that they had presented their historic analysis to Palo Alto’s Historic Resources Board.  But at the PAST board meeting last week, one of the HRB members expressed disappointment that this “presentation” was only a study session and they were not given the chance to make any recommendation to Council concerning this important item.  

On the main GUP path, the first two County Planning Commission study sessions have been scheduled for February 28th and March 14th, both at 1:30 p.m.  Supervisor Simitian continues to support full mitigation for impacts and a group of Stanford students have launched a petition requesting this too. 

Finally, regarding the zoning amendment in the San Juan area of the campus, the Board of Supervisors felt that there was no ground for them to deny the application.  Everything about it was consistent with the General Plan and Stanford Community Plan as they currently stand.  And since it was actually a down-zoning (from Academic Campus to Campus Residential-Low Density), they had to allow it.  However, Supervisor Simitian added an amendment directing staff to investigate possible changes to these overarching plans to give the Board tools that would allow them to deny future similar applications in the San Juan neighborhood.

–Pria Graves