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CGF In the News
Palo Alto Online
by Don Kazak
Stanford University could grow by an additional 3.5 million square feet of new buildings after it completes its current planned growth of 3.5 million square feet by 2018 according to scenarios in a just-released Sustainability Development Study.
The study was prepared by Stanford as part of a Santa Clara County requiremnt for approval of the current growth plan, called the General Use Permit, or GUP. The study is keyed to potential building up to 2035.
The county Planning Commission is scheduled to discuss the sustainability study at a special meeting next Thursday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. at the Palo Alto Art Center, 1313 Newell Road.
The study was scheduled to be discussed by the county Board of Supervisors on Dec. 9 but that will be put off until sometime in early 2009, according to Supervisor Liz Kniss, who represents the northern part of the county, including Palo Alto and Stanford.
This deserves very important scrutiny, Kniss said of the sustainability study. Were talking about a lot of development. This is very long-term permanent, impact.
Kniss said she would like to hear from the Palo Alto City Council about Stanfords projected growth and also hear from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.
Its too early for the Board of Supervisors to set a discussion date, Kniss added. I want to have more vetting time.
It's a good start for a sustainability study, Brian Schmidt of the Palo Alto-based Committee for Green Foothills said. What they are missing and what they promised to do is a sustainability study that shows the maximum build-out potential for the Stanford campus.
Larry Horton, Stanfords director of government relations, disagreed with Schmidt and denied that Stanford was required to provide a maximum build-out limit for its campus.
Weve met all the requirements of the GUP, Horton claimed.
Jean McCown, Stanfords director of community relations, added that to look at build out you need to establish at what point in time?
The 2035 horizon was chosen because it is quite consistent with many planning studies, such as general plans it looks to a length of time that allows for some relative confidence about possible scenarios.
The further out you get in time, the more speculative and thus not particularly useful such a study becomes, McCown said.
She said the study is not a Stanford proposal for growth but a planning study which analyzes whether and how possible future Stanford development could be accommodated on the campus consistent with principles of sustainability and quality land use planning principles, including avoiding development in the foothills.
The three levels of potential building are based on differing historic growth rates, as of a 2035 time horizon.
While the study does show how this growth could be accommodated, it is not a proposal or even a prediction about likely future development, she cautioned.
"The principles described in the study are intended to guide future proposals. But, as the County has stated, approval of the study will not constitute agreement with or approval of any of the growth scenarios described in the study nor is the study intended to modify the 2000 GUP or any of its conditions.
The sustainability study was required of Stanford by the county in 2000 when the GUP was approved. The use permit allowed Stanford to add 2 million square feet of academic buildings and 3,000 housing units, for a total of 3.5 million square feet. The construction is expected to be completed by 2018.
Under the 2000 GUP, Stanford will reach a threshold of 1 million new square feet of development in 2009.
According to the requirements of the GUP, the sustainability study must be approved by the county after 1 million square feet of new buildings are constructed in order to win approval for any future development. So it is critical for Stanford that the study wins county approval.
Approval of the 2000 GUP came after more than a year of often highly contentious public meetings, largely focused on preserving the Stanford foothills from future development.
Stanford did agree to an academic growth boundary that will largely spare the foothills from development. The 2000 GUP allows no more than 15,000 square feet of new buildings in the foothills, none larger than 5,000 square feet.
The study declares that there are no plans or proposals for development in the foothills.
Page last updated September 13, 2010.