Time to Speak Up About The GUP


The three-year long process of responding to Stanford’s long-term development proposal – the General Use Permit (GUP) – is finally drawing to a close. Our local supervisor, Joe Simitian, has done an amazing job of working to require full mitigation of the impacts of this growth. Now it’s time for us to support him in this effort.

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will be meeting in Palo Alto on October 22 to hear from those of us who will bear the brunt of Stanford’s growth.  It is critical that we pack the City Council Chambers, so please mark your calendars.

Stanford GUP Hearing
Tuesday, October 22 at 6pm
Palo Alto City Council Chambers
250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto

There are a couple pieces of really good news in the County’s proposed conditions of approval:  

  1. The no net new commute trips requirement is being retained plus there will also be a three-hour window added to the current “peak hour” both morning and evening. In addition, the trip counts will also include delivery/rideshare trips which are currently excluded as “cut-through” trips. 
  2. The Academic Growth Boundary, that mystical line that keeps Stanford development out of the foothills, is being extended to 99 years. 

But there are other things that could be better.  So whether your issue is traffic, housing, public school funding, open space, flood protection, Caltrain grade separations, bird-friendly building design, something else, or all of the above, the Supervisors need to hear from you (or at least feel your presence).  They are likely to vote on the GUP on November 5, so now is the time to weigh in.  Please plan to attend!

The final hearing is scheduled to be held at the County Building in San Jose:

Tuesday, November 5 at 1:30pm
Board of Supervisors’ Chambers
County Government Center
70 West Hedding Street, 1st Floor, San Jose

Hope to see you there.

Pria Graves
CTRA Stanford Observer

Around the Terrace: September 28, 2019

County Sets Hearing in Palo Alto on Stanford GUP
The final phase of the approval process for Stanford’s General Use Permit is getting underway and will include a hearing at Palo Alto City Hall on October 22nd at 6pm. There will also be a study session on October 8 and another hearing on November 5, both at the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Chamber in San Jose. For more information, check the County’s website.

Gryphon Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary Sunday
For half a century, Palo Alto’s Gryphon Stringed Instruments has been a hub for acoustic music lovers. This Sunday from noon to 5pm, Gryphon is celebrating its 50th anniversary with live music, cake, giveaways, and more. If you’re a local music lover and have never been to their shop (just a stone’s throw away at the corner of Park and Lambert), this is the perfect time to check it out.

Mayfield: The Town That Wouldn’t Go Away
Join the Palo Alto Historical Association on October 6 for a program with author Raye Ringholz on her new book about the town of Mayfield. Mayfield encompassed the area that is now College Terrace and the California Avenue business district, and in addition to its many saloons, it was a hub for local lumber, farming and ranching businesses.

CTRA Observer Reports for July

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 all three observers.


GUP/ Development Agreement

The Planning Commission completed their hearings on the Conditions of Approval and forwarded their endorsement, but with the proviso that Stanford must construct about four times as much housing as they originally proposed and that 70% of it be located on campus.

County staff reviewed Stanford’s boast that they are providing community benefits worth $4.7 billion and pointed out that many of these so-called “benefits” are actually either part of the initial application or legally required mitigations! Only $166 million is a more realistic value. This includes $130 million offered to Palo Alto Schools and $30 million offered for bike projects and other improvements.

On the traffic front, the 3-hour peak period counts in addition to peak hour was a win but it was disappointing that the Commission caved in on Stanford’s insistence that nothing can be done to prevent additional reverse commute trips or to avoid exceeding the Average Daily Trips count. They recommended scrapping those requirements and reverting to the standard CEQA mitigation which is a monetary contribution to “fixing” affected intersections when the traffic level is impacted by all those new residents who simply must drive everywhere.

One interesting issue that was raised by the Commission concerned the construction workers who come from long distances to work on Stanford projects. They questioned whether these folks park in the neighborhoods (I said I hadn’t seen them in ours…) or whether they are amongst those parking along El Camino Real. According to the article in last week’s PA Weekly, there are, in fact, a number of workers doing just that. The Commissioner questioned whether such workers would benefit from a designated overnight parking area on Stanford lands so they could make the drive from home less frequently. Clearly the answer is “Yes”!

Stanford continues to claim that the County is requiring an “unbuildable” project and is pulling out all stops with propaganda everywhere (online, radio, etc.). I remain concerned as to whether the Board will be able to stand up to the barrage of folks who insist that Stanford can do no wrong. Supervisor Simitian’s term as President of the Board ends in December. I believe this is why he’s anxious to have the GUP process wrapped up by then.

Finally, the Development Agreement process is still on hold. As Deputy County Executive Sylvia Gallegos pointed out to the Planning Commission, the GUP process is a permit application and they will not negotiate away the Conditions of Approval.

There is a good summary of the Commission’s decision on Palo Alto Online.

San Juan Neighborhood

At the request of the HLUET, staff prepared a proposal for a survey and evaluation of potential new development standards and zoning amendments for the San Juan Residential District. This will include:

  1. Preparation of a Historic Survey
  2. Evaluation of Existing Neighborhood Design
  3. Consideration of new Development Standards/Zoning Amendments (to bebased on the results of the first two steps)
  4. Public outreach and hearings.

It is also intended that they will create a limited-duration advisory group to work with the county on key decision points during the process. This group will consist of representatives from key stakeholder groups including leaseholders within the district as well as Stanford staff and other. Supervisor Simitian also mentioned that in addition to this special, limited duration advisory group, it might be appropriate to create a more permanent group representing Stanford stakeholders, perhaps akin to the Community Resource Group but specifically focused on Stanford issues.

Staff wanted to delay this process until after the completion of the GUP but Supervisor Simitian pushed back and suggested that this should be started sooner. Staff agreed that this process could start this fall.

–Pria Graves

California Avenue Business District

  • Adam’s Pantry is a new business slated to open on California Avenue between Terun and Country Sun. Besides a “Coming Soon” sign, we don’t know anything about this business yet.
  • diPietro Todd salon is leaving its beautiful, mid-century modern space on Birch Street due to escalating rents. It’s unclear what will replace it.
  • Construction of the new California Avenue Parking Garage is well underway and is expected to be complete in early 2020.
  • As noted in the Weekly, construction will begin this Fall on a new three-story building to replace the existing buildings between 378 and 410 Cambridge Avenue. Most of the current tenants, including the Cambridge Barber Shop, have already left.
  • Work is underway in front of Khoury’s Market to replace the dark storefront windows with clear ones so it will be easier to see into the store from the street.

–Ann Balin

City of Palo Alto

Things are relatively quiet as the City Council is currently on its summer break. The council’s first meeting after the break will be on Monday, August 5.

The City will start rolling out changes to the downtown and neighborhood parking programs next month in an effort to make them more uniform. We don’t yet know how this will impact the College Terrace Residential Permit Program, but we will update the neighborhood once we know the full extent of the changes.

–Margaret Heath