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


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.