PALO ALTO — In response to Santa Clara County ‘s conditions on its proposed expansion, Stanford sent a letter Tuesday saying the university is being singled out to provide more housing than other projects while the county itself hasn’t done enough to encourage housing development.
“The causes of the regional shortage in market-rate housing supply are multi-faceted,” Stanford Associate Vice President Catherine Palter wrote to the county. “Stanford has not caused this shortage. In fact, Stanford believes the market would supply far more housing if the County were to encourage housing development on all of the residential lands it regulates.”
The letter takes issue with the county’s requirement that Stanford quadruple the amount of workforce housing originally planned, says the university should get credit for homes it’s already planning to build and asks that it be allowed to build more homes off campus than the county demands.
Stanford’s proposed expansion, which would occur over two decades, includes adding 3.5 million square feet of academic facilities, including for transportation and child care, 2,600 student beds and 550 faculty and staff housing units. The county recently added a requirement that Stanford increase workforce housing almost fourfold from the proposed 550 to 2,172.
Stanford wants the county to give it credit toward housing units required for two projects approved before the expansion request. Specifically, it’s seeking credit for half of 1,300 new on-campus graduate student housing planned for 2020 and for 215 faculty and staff apartments planned for Menlo Park.
Stanford also wants to change a county requirement that 70 percent of new housing units be constructed on campus, citing feedback from employees who said they prefer to live off campus. In the letter, Palter requested that 70 percent of market-rate units be built off campus, within a six-mile radius, and 70 percent of affordable units be built on campus.
Palter said Stanford is “willing to rise to the challenge and take a leadership role by embracing the opportunity to build more housing” if the county changes some of its its requirements.
The letter comes ahead of Thursday’s second Planning Commission public hearing on a general use permit for the Stanford expansion, the largest development application the county has ever received.
At the first public hearing in Palo Alto on May 31, several speakers called on the university to commit to more housing for graduate students, faculty and staff to accommodate new employees and reduce pressures on the local housing supply.The university also pushed back at calls to provide one housing unit for each new employee.
“Taken to the extreme, this conjures up failed company towns,” Palter wrote. “Losing a place of residence at the same time a person changes their employment could create an impediment to mobility.”
The university also is asking the county to change limits on how many cars can enter and leave campus, noting that the county’s requirement for more on-campus housing could bring 5,000 additional employees there. Instead of capping the number of car trips allowed, Palter said Stanford could make payments to offset the impact of extra traffic created by the project on local roads and intersections.
Planning Director Jacqueline Onciano said in a phone call Tuesday that county staff won’t change any of its recommendations, leaving that choice to commissioners when they vote on conditions for the project’s general use permit.
“It’s entirely up to the Planning Commission,” Onciano said.
The next public hearings on the Stanford expansion are Thursday at 1:30 p.m. and June 27 at 1:30 p.m. in the Isaac Newton Senter Auditorium, 70 W. Hedding St. in San Jose.
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