GUP case heads to court again

The Stanford Daily
April 17, 2008

GUP case heads to court again

By Joanna Xu

Stanford and Santa Clara County will soon go to battle with the Committee for Green Foothills before the State Supreme Court, all over a dispute regarding the building of a trail.

The Committee for Green Foothills has been engaged in a legal battle with Stanford and Santa Clara County since 2006, quarrelling over the construction of a nature trail that the county permitted Stanford to build on county land. The Committee claimed the plan needed further environmental review.

The courts are debating whether the Committee for Green Foothill’s lawsuit is valid.

“The Committee for Green Foothills sued in court to stop the agreement by Stanford to do the trail,” said Larry Horton, the University’s director of government and community relations. “But they filed the lawsuit after the statute of limitations had expired. They did not meet the 30-day deadline.”

Brian Schmidt JD ‘99, the Santa Clara County Legislative Advocate for the Committee for Green Foothills, disagreed.

“There were two potential deadlines, a 30-day deadline or a 180-day deadline,” Schmidt said. “We did not meet the 30-day deadline because we did not feel that that deadline was the one that applied.”

Horton expressed faith that Stanford was in the right.

“We are confident that we are 100 percent fulfilling our obligations to the GUP,” Horton said, referring to Stanford’s General Use Permit. “We are confident about the case.”

Another part of the controversy relates to the fact that the trail weaves through four jurisdictions—that of Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, Palo Alto and Menlo Park.

“Because the trail goes through several jurisdictions, we said we would do and pay for the entire trail,” Horton said. “We want to build the trail along the border of Stanford land, along Alpine Road.”

So far, the trail has already been completed in the Menlo Park and Santa Clara jurisdictions of the trail. Santa Clara County required Stanford to offer $8.4 million to San Mateo County to improve the part of the trail that lies within San Mateo jurisdiction. This offer is open until 2011, but the Committee for Green Foothills is fighting for an alternate trail that will not run through San Mateo.

The Committee for Green Foothills insists that they simply want the trail constructed as it was shown in the Santa Clara Countywide Trails Master Plan.

“Stanford is now trying to change the trail location after they got the agreement,” said Schmidt.

According to Schmidt, the alternate trail will avoid environmental impacts but otherwise meet the Trail Master Plan. This alternate trail will go around the outside edge of the golf course through the Dish foothills to the Arastradero Preserve. This route will not run through San Mateo jurisdiction.

Stanford dismisses the trail suggested by the Committee for Green Foothills, saying that such a trail was not part of the requirements of the GUP and would be too intrusive for future development along Stanford land.

“The routes are what we are required to do, it’s just the precise locations that have to be determined,” Horton added. “Many of the groups complaining want a nature trail cutting through Stanford land, but that was not what was agreed upon.”

Schmidt said that the Committee for Green Foothills is not anti-Stanford..

“The Committee for Green Foothills is composed of many Stanford-affiliated people that are watch-dogging Stanford development,” Schmidt said.

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