The County of Santa Clara


Receive report from the Office of the County Executive and Department of Planning and Development relating to the presentation of background information to support consideration of Stanford University’s General Use Permit application.


Department:Department of Planning and DevelopmentSponsors:



In 2016, Stanford University submitted a General Use Permit (GUP) application to the County of Santa Clara Department of Planning and Development. The application is for the development of:


·        3,500,000 net new square feet of academic/academic support development and student housing (2,600 student beds);

·        550 net new faculty/staff housing units;

·        40,000 square feet of net new building area for childcare centers and trip reducing facilities; and

·        50,000 square feet of temporary construction space.


At a future public hearing conducted over several meetings, the Board of Supervisors will consider of the following items:


·        Stanford University GUP Environmental Impact Report (EIR)

·        Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program (MMRP)

·        Statement of Overriding Considerations

·        Text and land use map amendments to the Stanford University Community Plan (SCP)

·        Zoning Ordinance Map amendments

·        Stanford University General Use Permit, subject to the Conditions of Approval

·        Water Supply Assessment

·        Development Agreement application


Executive Summary

This report provides context and background for the Board’s consideration of the Stanford GUP application, including a review of policy documents (the 1985 Land Use Agreement and the Stanford University Community Plan) that establish development parameters for Stanford’s Community Plan area, describes the purpose of a General Use Permit, the results of the 2009 Sustainable Development Study and 2018 Supplement, and regulations pertaining to the GUP. The following documents will be presented:


·        The 1985 Land Use Policy Agreement

·        Stanford University Community Plan

·        General Use Permit

·        Sustainable Development Study

o       2009 Stanford Sustainable Development Study (SDS)

o       2018 Stanford Sustainable Development Study (SDS) Supplement

Together, these documents provide background to evaluate and act on the General Use Permit application that will be before the Board.


The 1985 Land Use Policy Agreement establishes mutual policies of the County of Santa Clara, the City of Palo Alto, and Stanford University regarding land use, annexation, development of Stanford University lands in Santa Clara County. It also acknowledges the uniqueness of Stanford’s development in unincorporated Santa Clara County as, in effect, a small city responsible for providing municipal services.


The Stanford University Community Plan (SCP) is a component of the County of Santa Clara General Plan and is a policy document that guides future use and development of Stanford lands within unincorporated County by integrating General Plan principles, such as compact urban development and open space preservation, as well as identifying the linkage between development and the need for increasing the supply and affordability of housing for Stanford affiliates.


The General Use Permit is a programmatic level use permit for implementing the SCP objectives, implementation recommendations, and the Zoning Ordinance requirements for land use and development.


The Sustainable Development Study is an assessment of potential buildout and how the development could be located to prevent sprawl and contain development in clustered areas. It also includes an assessment of the long-term growth potential within the Academic Growth Boundary (the AGB is a boundary line established in the 2000 GUP to restrict development to the campus core in order to promote compact urban development and preservation of open space and natural resources by focusing new construction within the developed campus area and limiting development in the foothills) under different growth scenarios. The 2018 Sustainable Development Study Supplement provides a land capacity and constraints analysis and identifies a maximum buildout scenario. The Supplement concluded that development at a moderate growth rate (200,000 s.f. per year) could be accommodated within the Academic Growth Boundary for a period of 50 to 100 years, or more, beyond 2020.


In addition, County staff will provide an update at the workshop on the state of development agreement negotiations between Stanford University and the County’s team.

The Public Hearing before the Board of Supervisors regarding the GUP application is currently scheduled over several meetings:

·        Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in the Board Chambers

·        Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. in the Palo Alto City Council Chambers

·        Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. in the Board Chambers




The 1985 Land Use Policy Agreement — executed by the County, the City of Palo Alto, and Stanford University in 1985 — establishes mutual policies regarding land use, annexation, and development of Stanford University lands in Santa Clara County. The Agreement specifies that Stanford lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County that are planned for academic, open space, or agriculture are subject to the County’s General Plan, Zoning Ordinance, and other land use requirements, and are to remain in unincorporated Santa Clara County and are not subject to annexation. County land use policy normally requires urban development to conform with a City’s General Plan when it occurs within its urban service area, and that it is subject to annexation.


Absent this Land Use Policy Agreement all the Stanford lands within the Academic Growth Boundary (AGB) that are currently located within unincorporated Santa Clara County would be subject to annexation by the City of Palo Alto. This is the only land use policy agreement of this type in existence within the County’s jurisdiction.

Figure 1 illustrates all of Stanford’s lands in various jurisdictions; Stanford’s land in unincorporated Santa Clara County is depicted in green.

Figure 1. Stanford Lands


The Land Use Policy Agreement also provides that lands planned for non-academic uses, such as, housing that is not reserved for Stanford affiliates, require annexation to the City of Palo Alto prior to development and are subject to the Palo Alto Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. The Agreement specifies that Stanford will provide all municipal services for its unincorporated lands within Santa Clara County and mandates that the three entities develop and maintain a Protocol — an informational document that further clarifies implementation of the agreement and documents requirements for coordination regarding development proposals. The 1985 Land Use Policy Agreement is included as Attachment A to this report.





Existing Community Plan

Adopted by the County Board of Supervisors in 2000, and most recently amended in 2015, the Stanford Community Plan (SCP) is a component of, and supplement to, the County of Santa Clara General Plan as it applies to Stanford lands in unincorporated Santa Clara County.


This means that Stanford University lands in the Community Plan Area have their own dedicated General Plan level planning document. This is the only area within the County’s jurisdiction that has a Community Plan of this nature.


The primary purpose of the SCP is to be the policy document “to guide future use and development of Stanford lands in a manner that incorporates key General Plan principles of compact urban development, open space preservation, and resource conservation,” and “to achieve the appropriate balance between the reasonable expectations of the University to use and develop its land with the interests of the public to responsibly manage such growth.” (SCP, p. ii.)


The SCP provides the policy basis for both the development and preservation of the 4,000-acre Stanford lands within the unincorporated Santa Clara County area, focusing on two fundamental and complementary principles:


1)    compact and efficient urban development, and;

2)    conservation of natural resources.


The SCP’s seven chapters parallel the elements of the County’s General Plan. The full text of the SCP is included as Attachment B to this report. Key provisions are summarized as follows:


Chapter 1. Growth and Development

·        Land Use Jurisdiction. Chapter 1 affirms the County of Santa Clara’s continued jurisdiction over academic development of the Stanford campus pursuant to the 1985 Land Use Agreement.


·        Academic Growth Boundary (AGB). The AGB was established to promote compact urban development and preservation of open space and natural resources by focusing new construction within the developed campus area and limiting development in the foothills (see Figure 2 for the AGB location) The SCP mandates that the AGB remain in its current location for a minimum of 25 years (until 2025) and until levels of development reach 17,300,000 square feet (s.f.). A super-majority 4/5ths vote by the Board of Supervisors is required to amend the AGB prior to 2025. If the current rate of development continues, Stanford is expected to reach the 17,300,000 square footage threshold by approximately 2023


·        Development Limits. The SCP establishes development limits for Stanford lands by allowing for 2,035,000 s.f. of net new academic and academic support space above an existing 2000 base of 12.3 million s.f.. The SCP also establishes development limits for housing of 3,018 additional housing units (including student beds) above an existing 2000 base of 9,900 student beds and 1,900 housing units. The SCP limits development outside the AGB to 15,000 square feet.

Figure 2. Map of AGB and Stanford Lands Subject to Proposed GUP (SCP Area)

Chapter 2. Land Use

·        Land Use Designations. Chapter 2 establishes land use designations and associated uses that support the AGB. Land use designations within the core campus area provide for intense urban development, including high-density housing:

o       Academic Campus

o       Campus Residential-Low Density

o       Campus Residential-Medium Density

o       Campus Open Space

o       Public School


Designations outside the AGB significantly limit uses to protect environmental resources, open space and views of the foothills:

o       Open Space and Field Research

o       Special Conservation Area


Figure 3. Map of Existing Land Use Designations under Stanford Community Plan

Chapter 3. Housing

·        Housing Supply and Affordability. The SCP calls for increasing the supply and affordability of housing on the Stanford campus and on Stanford lands in other jurisdictions to meet the needs of faculty, staff, students, postgraduate fellows, and medical residents. It requires Stanford to provide a sufficient level of affordable housing on campus to meet the affordable housing needs generated by new academic development (i.e., 15% of new non-student dwelling units) or make an appropriate payment in-lieu of providing the housing (in the amount of the below market rate fee charged by the City of Palo Alto).


·        Housing Linkage Policy. The Housing Linkage Policy recognizes the connection between the expansion of academic facilities and an increase in housing demand and directs that the General Use Permit contain specific provisions to the effect that approval of proposed increases in academic space may be granted only on condition that a specified amount and type of housing supply has been or will be constructed.


·        Density and Support Services. The SCP calls for development of housing at densities that make more efficient use of land, as well as balance concerns about the compatibility of new housing in existing neighborhoods with the need for increased housing supply and improved affordability. It specifies that support facilities, such as, commercial services and recreational facilities, be required through the General Use Permit and individual residential projects.


Chapter 4. Circulation

·        No Net New Commute Trips (NNNCT). Chapter 4 establishes a NNNCT standard during peak hours to be achieved through: 1) Land Use Strategies to focus compact development within the AGB, to locate housing near jobs, and to provide proximate childcare and other services; and 2) Effective Transportation Demand Management (TDM) to enhance pedestrian and bicycle access, to promote transit use, and to regulate parking supply.


·        Intersection Improvements. Requires Stanford to contribute toward intersection improvements at impacted locations or equivalent funding toward other transportation mitigation.


·        Other Trip Reduction. Encourages reduction of vehicle trips in non-commute hours and directions (such as, lunch-time trips by employees or travel by families of on-campus residents).

·        Special Events. Promotes the use of transit for special events; encourages coordination with neighboring jurisdictions to manage event traffic; and requires notification of residents and the surrounding community of special events.


Chapter 5. Open Space

·        Open Space Protection. Requires that development be located inside the AGB, specifies preservation of land outside the AGB as open space, and calls for protection of historic open space and open space buffers inside the AGB. Balances recreational use and environmental objectives in open space areas.


·        Dedication of Trails. Requires dedication of trails on Stanford lands as specified in the Countywide Trails Master Plan.


·        Special Conservation Areas. Calls for dedication of easements to protect Special Conservation Areas in areas that serve critical habitat needs.


·        Parks and Open Space Standard. Requires Stanford to provide parks and open space at a rate of 5 acres per 1,000 population.


Chapter 6. Resource Conservation

·        Natural Resources. Promotes study of habitats and habitat protection and restoration; reduction of non-point source pollution; enhancement and restoration of wetlands and riparian areas; preparation and implementation of watershed management plans; and conservation of scenic resources in open space areas.


·        Heritage Resources. Requires an inventory and analysis of heritage resources and promotes protection of resources through avoidance, adaptive reuse, and sensitive planning and design.


Chapter 7. Health and Safety

·        Air Quality and Noise. Establishes policies to promote clean air and minimize noise.


·        Geologic and Flood Hazards. Promotes design and location of development to avoid or withstand geologic and flood hazards.


·        Hazardous Materials, Emergency Response, and Law Enforcement. Promotes safe and efficient management of hazardous materials and planning for disaster response and recovery. Provides for law enforcement on the campus subject to the County Sheriff’s oversight and delegation of law enforcement authority.



Since the 1960s, programmatic development of the Stanford campus has been regulated through a General Use Permit (GUP). This is a unique situation and has not been replicated at any other location in unincorporated Santa Clara County.


The GUP satisfies the Zoning Ordinance requirement for issuance of a Use Permit for the authorization of any use within the A1 Zoning District—a zoning designation that applies to all of the central campus except those areas designated specifically for housing. Although the GUP is a type of Use Permit, it differs from a project-specific Use Permit by its broad scope and general nature. If the GUP was not utilized to programmatically authorize uses within the A1 Zoning District, each individual building proposed would be subject to a Use Permit after amending the SCP to allow for this approach as individual authorizations are currently inconsistent with the SCP and 1985 Land Use Agreement.


Previous Stanford General Use Permits have historically authorized relatively large amounts of development for implementation over a period of years and provides comprehensive guidance for how this development will be implemented. The GUP establishes a framework of procedures for new development, identifies studies and plans to address specific development issues, sets forth environmental mitigations and other development requirements and monitoring provisions, and requires Architecture and Site Approval (ASA) and other permitting for individual development projects in conformance with the requirements of the County Ordinance Code.


Prior to approval of a General Use Permit, the decision-maker must make specific findings required for a Use Permit by Zoning Ordinance Section 5.65.030. The Zoning Ordinance designates the Planning Commission as the decision-making body for a Use Permit. However, when a proposed land use is concurrently subject to more than one discretionary land use permit or approval, the review processes may be combined, and the highest approval authority for any of the approvals sought shall be designated as the sole approval authority. Because the Stanford GUP also requires amendments to the County Zoning Ordinance (rezoning of some Stanford lands requires amendment of the maps maintained pursuant to the Zoning Ordinance) and Community Plan, the Board of Supervisors will make the decision on all concurrent approvals, following a recommendation by the Planning Commission.


2000 General Use Permit
Current development of the Stanford campus is subject to a General Use Permit approved in December 2000, known as the 2000 GUP. As originally approved, the 2000 GUP allowed for 2,035,000 s.f. of academic development and 3,018 housing units and beds. The GUP was amended by the Planning Commission in 2016 to authorize an additional net new 1,450 graduate student beds at Escondido Village (a 2,423-bed project).

As indicated in Table 1, construction of the academic and housing development authorized under the 2000 GUP is nearing completion. This authorized development is anticipated to be completed by 2020.

Table 1. 2000 GUP Authorized Development


Maximum Development Authorized

Development Implemented[1]

Remaining Available Development

Support Facilities[2]

2,035,000 s.f.

1,849,283 s.f. (91%)

185,717 s.f.


Housing Units/Beds2

4,468 units/beds

4,423 units/beds (99%)

45 units/beds (1%)

Childcare Space/Trip
Reduction Uses2

40,000 s.f.

40,000 s.f.


0 s.f.


Temporary Construction
Surge Space2

50,000 s.f.

11,120 s.f.


38,880 s.f.



2,300 net new spaces over the GUP EIR Base (19,351)

948 net new spaces


1,352 net new spaces



Development pursuant to the 2000 GUP is governed by the 2000 GUP Conditions of Approval (COA), which specify how development authorized under the GUP is to occur on the Stanford lands in the Community Plan area. The full text of the 2000 GUP Conditions of Approval is included as Attachment C. Key elements of the Conditions of Approval are summarized as follows:


·        Development Districts. Divides Stanford lands into 10 development districts, as illustrated in Figure 4, and allocates a certain amount of development to each, except the Arboretum District.

·        Permitting and Environmental Review. Establishes a framework for permitting and environmental review of specific development projects.

·        Housing. Links the construction of housing to construction of specific levels of academic development:

o       For the first 1,500,000 square feet, construction of 605 beds/units is required for each 500,000 square feet of academic development; and

o       Over 1,500,000 s.f., one unit/bed is required for each 884 s.f. of academic development.


The COAs also require Stanford to construct one affordable housing unit on the campus for each 11,763 s.f. of academic development or make a cash payment in-lieu of providing the unit consistent with the below market rate fee the City of Palo Alto.


·        Traffic. Requires Stanford to achieve “no net new peak hour commute trips” in the commute direction as measured at campus gateways along a cordon, or to contribute to the cost of improving individual intersections if it does not achieve NNNCT. Requires Stanford to contribute funds for studies to assess neighborhood cut-through traffic and recommended improvements.


·        Biological Resources. Requires dedication of easements, preparation of a habitat management and monitoring plan, and other mitigations to protect the California Tiger Salamander. Requires preparation of a Special Conservation Plan and implementation of mitigation measures for development in environmentally sensitive areas.


·        Visual Resources. Requires a streetscape design plan for the south side of El Camino Real (El Camino Real Frontage Plan) and project-specific lighting plans, establishes height limits and setbacks along Stanford Avenue, and limits the location of development in the Lathrop district.


·        Geology and Hydrology. Requires measures to reduce seismic risk, prevent storm water pollution, avoid increases in storm water runoff, and maintain groundwater recharge


·        Cultural Resources. Identifies measures for evaluation and protection of historic structures and archaeological resources.


·        Utilities and Services. Establishes requirements for police and fire services, water supply and conservation, and other community services.


·        Noise and Air Quality. Requires implementation of measures to minimize construction and operational noise and air pollution.


Figure 4. Map of Existing Development Districts under 2000 General Use Permit


Use Permit Findings
Zoning Ordinance Section 5.65.030 identifies required findings for approval of a Use Permit that provide key guidance for the review of the Stanford GUP Application.

The Ordinance specifies that if all of the findings cannot be made, the application shall be denied.

The required findings are as follows:

A.   The proposed use conforms with the general plan, with the zoning ordinance, and with all other standards and guidelines applicable to the proposed use that have been adopted by the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors;

B.    The site is adequate for the proposed use, including but not limited to being of adequate size and shape to accommodate all facilities and development features to integrate the use into the surrounding area and to provide any necessary or appropriate buffers between the use and the surrounding area;

C.    The proposed use, by its nature, scale, intensity or design, will not impair the integrity and character of the zoning district or neighborhood, and will not be significantly detrimental to any important and distinctive features of the site’s natural setting;

D.   The proposed use will not be detrimental to the public health, safety or general welfare. In this respect the Planning Commission shall further find, without limitation, that:

1.     Adequate off-street parking, loading and unloading areas (if applicable), and handicapped access will be provided;

2.     Appropriately designed site access will be provided, including safe and adequate access for fire and emergency vehicles (including secondary access where deemed necessary by the fire marshal);

3.     The use will not adversely affect water quality. Adequate wastewater treatment, disposal, and sanitation facilities will be provided and will satisfy all applicable local, state, and federal requirements;

4.     The use will not be detrimental to the adjacent area because of excessive noise, odor, dust, or bright lights;


5.     The use will not substantially worsen traffic congestion affecting the surrounding area;

6.     Erosion will be adequately controlled; and

7.     Adequate storm drainage management exists or will be provided, and will comply with all applicable local, state, and federal requirements.


Affordable Housing Ordinances
Development pursuant to the GUP application will be subject to two new ordinances adopted by the Board of Supervisors in 2018. The Inclusionary Housing Ordinance and the Affordable Housing Fee Ordinance, both of which contain affordable housing requirements for future development on lands within the Stanford Community Plan area. These ordinances became operative on July 1, 2019.


Affordable Housing Impact Fee Ordinance. This Ordinance, adopted by the Board on September 25, 2018, is based on the April 2018 Affordable Housing Impact Nexus Study. The Ordinance is intended to mitigate the demand for affordable housing created by employment growth on Stanford lands within the Stanford Community Plan area. In order to fund the construction of affordable units needed to house future workers resulting from the development of academic space within the Stanford Community Plan Area, the Board, by resolution, set the mitigation fee at $36.22 effective July 1, 2019, and increasing to $68.50 per square foot of net new building area effective July 1, 2020.


This fee amount accounts for approximately half of the $143.10 per square foot amount that the Affordable Housing Impact Fee Nexus Study indicates would be needed to fully mitigate the housing needs of extremely low-, very low-, low- and moderate-income workers expected as a result of Stanford’s additional academic development.


The fee, payable prior to building permit issuance, will be deposited into the County’s Affordable Housing Fund to be used to increase the supply of affordable housing in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, with priority given to locations within a six-mile radius of the Stanford Campus. The Ordinance allows for a fee credit based on development of affordable units by the University.

Inclusionary Housing Ordinance. This Ordinance, adopted by the Board on September 25, 2018 and revised on December 4, 2018, is intended to address the demand for affordable housing associated with members of the workforce in the community who provide residents of new faculty and staff housing with goods and services (including retail, restaurant, healthcare, and education workers). The Ordinance requires 16% of new rental housing units be made available for rent at an affordable housing cost as follows:


·        15% affordable to extremely low- or very low-income households;

·        45% to low-income households; and

·        40% to moderate-income households.


The Ordinance also requires that 16% of for-sale housing units be made available to households earning no more than 120% of the area median income.


Inclusionary units may be provided on the Stanford campus or within a six-mile radius of the campus. Inclusionary units must remain affordable to the target income group for no fewer than 55 years. The Ordinance specifies that the Planning Commission adopt Inclusionary Housing Guidelines to guide implementation of the ordinance.




2009 Stanford Sustainable Development Study (SDS)
The Stanford Community Plan and the 2000 GUP required the preparation of a Sustainable Development Study, to 1) identify the maximum planned buildout potential for all Stanford’s unincorporated Santa Clara County land, 2) to demonstrate how development will be sited to prevent sprawl into the hillsides and contain development in clustered areas, and 3) to provide long-term assurance of compact urban development. The SDS was prepared in 2008 and considered by the Board in 2009. It included an assessment of the long-term growth potential within the Academic Growth Boundary to 2035. The study analyzed three growth scenarios:


·        Minimal Growth – 2.0 million s.f. or 115,000 s.f./year

·        Moderate Growth – 3.5 million s.f. or 200,000 s.f./year

·        Aggressive Growth – 5.0 million s.f. or 300,000 s.f./year


The SDS demonstrated that growth through 2035 could be accommodated within the existing AGB through continued use of existing campus planning principles, even under the aggressive growth scenario. The SDS concluded that continuation of the current trends in campus development were likely to result in increased density without creating undue pressure to expand development into the Foothills Development District. The SDS also concluded that the central campus has the capacity to add development beyond the growth scenarios considered, by further increasing density with redevelopment, renovation, and infill projects.


2018 Sustainable Development Study (SDS) Supplement
The SDS Supplement was initiated as part of the GUP application review process as a planning study to provide a land capacity and constraints analysis for Stanford land within unincorporated Santa Clara County for a longer horizon than addressed in the original SDS. It further satisfies the requirement of the Community Plan and 2000 GUP to identify a maximum build out scenario for the academic campus.


The Academic Growth Boundary (AGB) is a boundary line established in the 2000 GUP to promote compact urban development and preservation of open space and natural resources by focusing new construction within the developed campus area and limiting development in the foothills. The total land area within the AGB is 1,724 acres. The analysis focuses on the 1,018 acres located within the AGB designated Academic Campus in the Community Plan; 536 acres of which Stanford has indicated are suitable for development or intensification. Key considerations in the analysis are summarized as follows:


·        SCP Policies, Zoning Regulations, and Planning Principles. The analysis assumes the low and medium density residential areas will remain consistent with the R1S and R3S Zoning and that no development will occur in areas designated Campus Open Space by the Community Plan (i.e., the Arboretum and Lake Lagunitas areas). It takes into consideration Stanford’s campus planning principles for the central campus that are based on the original Olmsted Master Campus Plan for the campus (circa 1888) and Stanford’s vision for the future.


·        Historic Growth. The analysis assesses historic growth rates for development and population. Annual development since 1961 has averaged 210,600 s.f. Population growth has increased since the 1960s, but the rate of growth has slowed over time to a current 10-year growth rate of 0.8 percent.


·        Existing and Proposed Development. The analysis identifies that Stanford’s current Floor Area Ratio (FAR)[4] of 0.34 would increase to 0.38 in 2020, with completion of development authorized by the 2000 GUP, and to 0.46 in 2035 with full implementation of development proposed by the GUP Application.


·        Densities of Comparable Universities. The analysis identifies that FARs of comparable research universities range from 0.09 to 2.64. Campuses with limited land area tend to have higher FARs: U.C. Berkeley, which has approximately one-third of Stanford’s developable land area, has a FAR of 1.06. FARs over 1.5 are generally associated with campuses in the highly urbanized cores of major cities. The analysis indicates that a FAR of 1.0 is a reasonable level of future maximum intensity for the Stanford campus.


·        Intensification Analysis. The analysis identifies strategies for intensifying development within the AGB (redevelopment of parking lots and low-density areas and relocation of campus agricultural lands and facilities and athletic fields and facilities) and analyzes levels of development these strategies could achieve.


·        Other Constraints. The analysis explores factors, other than land area, that have the potential to constrain development, including energy supply, greenhouse gas emissions, water supply, solid waste disposal capacity, housing availability, and transportation capacity.


The SDS Supplement concludes the following:

·        Land Capacity. Based on implementation of the intensification strategies, development at the moderate growth rate (200,000 s.f. per year) could be accommodated within the Academic Growth Boundary for a period of 50 to 100 years or more beyond 2020.


Such growth would result in a doubling of the current development by 2100, resulting in a FAR of 0.75, and a near tripling of current development levels by 2155, resulting in a FAR of 1.0. In other words, Stanford could accommodate nearly tripling the size of its campus within the AGB, and it would not have a need to develop in its open spaces.


·        Other Constraints. Availability of water supply and other utilities, lack of proximate and affordable housing, increased levels of traffic congestion, and concerns about climate change could constrain this potential development; however, all of these constraints can and will be altered due to evolving technologies and social norms and such changes would likely push further out the point at which resources constrain development.



Stanford University filed an application for a General Use Permit and associated amendments to the Stanford University Community Plan on November 11, 2016. In October 2017, the County circulated for public review a Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) of the GUP Application. In June 2018, in response to public comments on the Draft EIR, the County revised and circulated for public review Recirculated Portions of the Draft EIR. In December 2018, the County released the Final EIR.


The Planning Commission held two study sessions regarding this project – February 28, 2019 and May 9, 2019 at the County Government Center Building.

Planning Commission Public Hearings took place on May 30, 2019 at the City of Palo Alto Council Chambers, and June 13, 2019 and June 27, 2019 at the County Government Center. The Planning Commission unanimously approved staff’s recommendations to forward to the Board of Supervisors except for the denial of the development agreement application, which was approved on a 6-1 vote.


Next Steps

A Public Hearing before the Board of Supervisors on the Stanford University GUP Application is scheduled over the following meeting dates:


·        Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. at the County Government Center;

·        Tuesday, October 22, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at the Palo Alto City Council Chambers; and

·        Tuesday, November 5, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. at the County Government Center.


The Board of Supervisors will consider the EIR, Statement of Overriding Considerations, Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, Water Supply Assessment, SCP amendments, Zoning Ordinance amendments, GUP application, and the Development Agreement application at the close of the public hearing.

[1] Implemented development includes development that has been constructed, is under construction, or is pending issuance of building permits or architectural and site approval.

[2] Source: 2019 Annual Report #18 Dated July 2019. Covers time period 9/1/2017 through 8/31/2018.

[3] Source: Stanford University Parking Space Survey, July 2018.

[4] Floor Area Ratio (FAR) means the ratio of the area of all floors of a building or buildings to the area of the site on which the building/s are located (i.e, square feet building area ÷ square feet site area).

Meeting History

Sep 24, 2019 9:30 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

President Simitian reconvened the meeting at 1:35 p.m. with all members present.

Thirty-nine individuals addressed the Board.

President Simitian recessed the meeting at 2:52 p.m. President Simitian reconvened the meeting at 2:57 p.m. with all members present.

Supervisor Cortese requested that Administration report to the Board on October 5, 2019 relating to the efforts of the Stanford University General Use Permit Ad Hoc Committee including a compilation of shared materials such as off-agenda reports and public materials.

Vice President Chavez requested that Administration schedule time for the Ad Hoc Committee to report to the Board on October 8, 2019; and, that Administration provide all correspondence received with a timeline of the communications.

President Simitian recessed the meeting at 4:10 p.m. President Simitian reconvened the meeting at 4:17 p.m. with Supervisors Wasserman, Cortese, and Ellenberg present. Vice President Chavez took her seat at 4:20 p.m.

President Simitian requested that Geoff Bradley, President and Principal, M-Group, report to the Board on date uncertain confirming that the Escondido housing project was approved by the Planning Commission rather than the Board of Supervisors; and, whether the housing development exceeded what was already approved in the 2000 Stanford General Use Permit.

President Simitian provided Sylvia Gallegos, Deputy County Executive, a joint memorandum from himself and Vice President Chavez regarding school-related Stanford General Use Permit matters and requested that Administration provide responses to the Board prior to the October 22, 2019 Board meeting.