CTRA Observer Reports for January

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.

California Avenue Business District

Much of the discussion at this month’s CTRA board meeting centered around Khoury’s Market and what neighbors could do to preserve a grocery store at College Terrace Centre. The City is currently scheduled to discuss the issues surrounding the market and the enforcement of fines (if the market does close) at its Monday, February 10 meeting. All interested residents are encouraged to attend that meeting and advocate for the enforcement of the fines and preservation of the public benefit promised as part of the College Terrace Centre development.

City of Palo Alto

At its Monday, January 13 meeting, the City Council approved a program that allows local churches designate up to four spaces on their lots for car campers. At this point, it’s unclear whether either of the churches in our neighborhood will take advantage of it. This is a pilot program that will last for 18 months and the City encourages residents to give feedback as the program gets underway.

We also want to remind people that the City of Palo Alto has multiple email newsletters that residents can subscribe to in order to stay informed. There’s the monthly “Our Palo Alto” newsletter, the weekly “All Things Palo Alto” newsletter, as well as emails devoted to news and annoucements, Caltrain electrification and grade separation, and general transportation. You can subscribe to the newsletters on the City website.

– Margaret Heath

Stanford

General Development

Nothing much to report at this time, but Supervisor Simitian is holding a gathering of GUP “regulars” for a debriefing on January 30th and the first Stanford Community Resource Group (CRG) meeting of 2020 is scheduled for March 12th.

College Terrace Housing Acquisitions & Demolitions

I noted in the Daily Post that Stanford purchased 2090 Columbia Street for $2,400,000 in November.  

Construction continues unabated throughout the neighborhood, both by Stanford and others. 

Stanford faculty & staff housing listings on the web:

  • 1015 Stanford is still listed, despite having been part of a lottery sale in December
  • 2145 Princeton still shows as “Pending”
  • 2040 and 2070 Columbia show as “In Escrow”
  • 610 California (Stanford rental) had a permit for replacement of a tankless water heater

– Pria Graves

Who Owns Silicon Valley?

This is the catchy title for the multi-part, multi-newsroom investigative reporting project involving The Mercury News, NBC Bay Area, KQED Radio and others.

This collaborative team spent a year analyzing half a million tax records to determine who really owns Silicon Valley. And it should come as no surprise to College Terrace residents that the top landowner is none other than… Stanford! 

As KQED’s Rachael Myrow points out, the University’s $19.7 billion land portfolio is larger than Google, Apple and Intel combined. 

This investigative crew visited our neighborhood back in August, taking a tour of the neighborhood and joining community members for a discussion on August 21st.  Our concerns about Stanford’s buy-up of our neighborhood and the ghost-house problem received serious coverage in both the NBC Bay Area broadcast and the Mercury News article. 

In addition to their coverage of Stanford, the team also looked at the broader picture of land ownership and countywide housing issues in a whole series of articles

The full list of news staff who created this amazing multi-part investigation includes NBC Bay Area, The Mercury News, KQED Radio, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting, and Telemundo 48 Área de la Bahía.  

Meanwhile, in a surprise move that caught everyone off guard, Stanford withdrew their General Use Permit application last Friday.  While they still have 175,000 square feet of development left on the 2000 GUP, after they’ve used that, they will need to figure out where to go from there.  

Martin Shell, their VP and chief external relations officer says that the university now plans to “pause to assess what the priorities are” and President Marc Tessier-Lavigne says that they “hope to gain deeper mutual understanding of challenges facing our region.” On the other hand, they continue to insist that the majority of the community supports their continued expansion and to blame elected officials in the County and the surrounding communities for the stalemate.

– Pria Graves

Time to Speak Up About The GUP

Neighbors, 

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