Shoulda, coulda, woulda – the Stanford Sustainable Development Study

Well, it may not be surprising, but it’s still disappointing that Santa Clara County didn’t require Stanford to do an adequate job on it’s Sustainable Development Study. The Study was an important requirement of the 2000 General Use Permit that Stanford mostly dismissed with a recitation of ongoing campus programs rather than an analysis over whether the campus is on a sustainable path. The main problem, besides the lack of real analysis, was an artificially-short 25 year time frame that makes it impossible to consider whether an existing trend has a long-run impact. We’ve covered this at various times on our website, beginning here and in some detail here.

The Supervisors did vote for a few findings and recommendations for future improvements that the Board of Supervisors could use someday, when Stanford exhausts its current General Use Permit. These will have some value in instilling the concept of sustainability in future environmental planning, although it should have been done now.

Unfortunately, only three of the five Supervisors supported even these findings and recommendations, but we do thank Supervisors Kniss, Yeager, and Cortese for doing so. We at the Committee especially appreciate President Kniss and her aide Scott Strickland for their efforts at improvements.

So whenever things don’t go as well I’d like, I always think of what I should have or could have done better. In this case it was trying to get the Supervisors to require a future Sustainable Development Study be developed simultaneously with the development a future General Use Permit, which would help redirect the Permit in a more sustainable direction. I think the Supervisors missed the idea of simultaneity. All I can say now is that we can try again to make that happen when the next Permit rolls around.

I’ll add some follow-up posts that will take care of some old business on this issue during the week. We especially thank everyone who wrote into the Supervisors and asked for the improvements. We got something out of it, and we’re ready for next time.


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