The County of Santa Clara

Board Referral

Approve referral to Administration to move forward with specified items related to implementation or update of the Stanford Community Plan (part of the County’s General Plan, now being updated) and 1985 Land Use Agreement. (Simitian/Chavez)


Department:Supervisor S. Joseph Simitian (Supervisorial District Five)Sponsors:
Category:Board Referral



To the extent additional expenditures are necessary, they will be approved by the Board of Supervisors through a separate action. Additional appropriation of funds is not being requested as part of this referral.



The County’s General Plan is in the process of being updated.  The current version of the Stanford Community Plan, part of the County’s General Plan, is 20 years old and requires updating. 


Updated amendments to the Stanford Community Plan were expected to be enacted upon approval of Stanford’s application for a General Use Permit (GUP) this past year.  When Stanford withdrew its GUP application, these changes to the Community Plan were not considered by the Board of Supervisors.  Therefore, it is appropriate to move forward with a County-initiated update to the Stanford Community Plan.




Stanford University submitted an application for a new General Use Permit in November 2016. For three years the County of Santa Clara processed the permit; on November 1, 2019, the University withdrew the application.


As part of the application review, several public hearings were held. Some of the issues that came up in the public hearings transcend the specific GUP application, and are related to a Community Plan that is now 20 years old and simply requires updating. These issues were publicly discussed, and the County received comments from both the public and the University; consequently, County staff made recommendations to the Board which would have been considered, while independent of the GUP application, at the same hearing as the GUP application.  These matters can and should now be pursued independent of an application.


The specific issues staff are directed to consider include:


·        Relocation of the “possible future school site” designation.

·        Extension of the Academic Growth Boundary for 99-years, subject to the 4/5ths vote requirement to modify.

·        Other changes, as suggested by staff.


One of the opportunities presented by the withdrawal of the GUP application is for the County now to conduct the additional research necessary to address more fully the issues raised during the public hearings. Two issues that were raised in the public hearings that require additional review are listed below.


By considering them at this time, we take advantage of an added potential benefit of updating the Stanford Community Plan with these specific issues in mind.  Should the University submit a future application for a General Use permit (GUP), these issues will have already been vetted. Consequently, the future application could be considered more quickly by the County, and the Administration could recommend Conditions of Approval that provide the University with more certainty.


·        Graduate student housing affordability – this issue was not studied as part of a prior nexus study, and so affordability issues specifically related to graduate student housing were not considered as part of the 2018 GUP application. Staff should take this opportunity to consider available additional measures, if any, that might be taken to ensure the affordability of housing to graduate students.


·        Municipal services study – the University raised concerns about the open-ended nature of the municipal services study that was included in the recommended conditions of approval associated with the 2018 GUP. Such a study is warranted based both on the policies, specifically SCP-GD(i)2, contained in the Community Plan which the County continues to implement and based also on the implementation of the 1985 Land Use Agreement. In addition, its completion prior to a new GUP application being submitted by the University will increase certainty for the applicant which should be beneficial.


o       Childcare – because the County is already doing work in this area and has consultants under contract, looking at the childcare needs of faculty, staff and students independent of other municipal services makes sense. The scope of the study should include accessibility, affordability, and location of services.

o       Municipal Services – the 1985 Land Use Agreement clearly states that the University will provide and fund municipal services for its population. It became clear during review of the 2018 GUP application that there was a difference in understanding between the City, the County and the University as to the nature and extent of such services as contemplated under the 1985 Land Use Agreement and furthered in SCP-GD(i)2 of the Community Plan. Specifically, such a study needs to clarify the nature and extent of the University’s obligation, and whether they are meeting it. Because the City of Palo Alto is the other public agency party to the Land Use Agreement, staff must work in collaboration with the City as well.



As mentioned, the University withdrew its GUP application on November 1, 2019; however, because the Community Plan states that development at the University must take place under a GUP, they will need to re-apply for a GUP if they want to develop more than about 175,000 net new square feet. Because the University gets development capacity credit for structures that are removed, it’s unclear exactly when the existing permit will be exhausted.



There are at least three negative outcomes associated with not moving forward with this referral:

·        The regular, periodic update of the County’s General Plan will be incomplete;

·        The issues identified for study in this referral will not be studied and will contribute to ongoing uncertainty; and

·        The extent to which the University is fulfilling its obligations under the 1985 Land Use Agreement will remain unknown and unaddressed.



Staff will report quarterly to HLUET with updates on progress, and to the Board for acceptance of final studies and consideration and action on Community Plan amendments in accordance with State law provisions to amend general plans.




Meeting History

Feb 11, 2020 9:30 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting

Four individuals addressed the Board.

MOVER:S. Joseph Simitian, Supervisor
SECONDER:Cindy Chavez, President
AYES:Mike Wasserman, Cindy Chavez, Dave Cortese, Susan Ellenberg, S. Joseph Simitian


Feb 11, 2020 9:30 AMBoard of SupervisorsRegular Meeting


3:02 PMThis concludes our presentationand we're certainly availablefor questions on any details. Thank you.
3:03 PMThank you, I have one commentcard on this item.i'm thinking i'll just take thatand we'll go to discussion if that's all right.wendy?welcome.
Silicone valley is please to support the administration'srecommendation to establish onetime reserve to support childcare affordability. According to study from thesanta clara county office ofeducation, there are nearly32,000 children ages 0 to 5 years in our county that are inneed of, do not have access tolicensed, quality child care. Since 2014, monthly child care cost have climbed by 40% in ourcounty. Not surprisingly, it's the mostcostly expense. My income has not grown 40%since 2014. Over the past few years, I workto expand child care facilities throughout the county. We applaud the board for theirleadership and investment in ourcounty's residents. As county continues to bring adepartment children policy andadvocacy online, we look forwardto partnering with you and building a countywide system ofcare that really focuses on thedevelopment of the whole child. Thank you.
3:04 PMThank you very much.are there any comment orquestions for my colleagues onthis item? i'm going to go down to susan. I'm concerned the hiring freezewill hurt important function andservice. Like to identify the vacancieswill do the most to decreaseovertime in extra help. Second, I like you to identify the i. T. Projects that wouldlead to the greatest costsavings and savings in employeetime. Third, I would encourage you,encourage administration to askthe workers, ask our employeesat every level for their idea. Dr. Smith has been working totransform the county into alearning organization andcentral to the idea of being learning organization is thatideas for how to improve shouldcome from everywhere. I deeply embrace that idea. We can find ways to work betterthat cost less but to do so, weneed to go to the experts whoare not necessarily me, the department heads oradministrators. They are people that are doingthe work, day in and day out who know best where theinefficiencies lie. One of our strategies needs tobe asking workers at every level of the organization for theirideas. Not only because it's a smartthing to do, it really is the right thing to do. They are the ones who will barethe brunt of potential hiringand purchasing freeze. If we're asking them to do morewith less, we need to ask themtheir ideas for how we can dobetter. When we get to the budgetworkshops in may, through theadministration, I like to askfor a report back on how those strategies would have beenimplemented.
3:07 PMYes.every year we encourage and force our managers andexecutives to talk with as manyof the employees on the groundas possible. We will definitely do that. We are going through a processright now with our departmentheads and executive leaders where we're asking them to talkwith each other about crossdepartmental and cross-agencysavings that can occur. For example, right now, we knowthat there's lot of inefficiencybuilt into the criminal justicesystem because of communication between the courts and, thesheriff, custody, probation,pretrial and we've identifiedthose and we're trying to work out structural ways to fix thoseproblems. We still have improvement tomake. That's just one example.
3:08 PMGreat, I appreciate that.i want to emphasize once more, ithink it's really critical that before we start thinking aboutfreezes, which potentially feelslike a short-term solution,we've heard consistently over the year plus that i've beenhere about people beingunderstaffed or using anexcessive amount of overtime. Let's really think about howmany people we need to have inthose positions.
3:09 PMImportant question for Dr. Smith regarding the reserveperfume debt service hospitalsystem, which is to be found inour packet 508 and 509. I want to make sure i'm readingthis correctly. The expectation coming fiscalyear budget as well as current year budget contain whether debtservice budgeting necessary forthe project that I call the teambed project called psychiatric care at the vmc campus.
3:10 PMWe have a placeholderallocation there because wedon't actually have a cost identified but that's ourstandard process. We're not recommending cancelingthose kind of projects. The projects we're looking atcritically are things like i. T. Projects or smaller projectsthat can be delayed that won't have an impact directly uponclient services. All of that being said, we'relooking at this from a number of different perspectives. Number one, we've known andtalked to the board for overyear about something that's bad forthcoming in the economy. We're watching that. Number two, we also know that wehave some reserves. Number three, we can improveoperations and improveefficiency, number four, there'ssome budgeting techniques which we can use and number five,there are some general savingsin big picture that we can makethat we're fairly sure we'll at least get us through potentialdown time. The last thing that I shouldremind the board of, that this is a projection of revenue basedonly what we know as ofdecember. Every year, the those numbers can be guaranteed they willchange again by May and june.
3:12 PMThat being said, thank you for that assurance, I wanted toconfirm as well that in yourthinking and budgeting, the softreconstruction costs associated with the project that we justdiscussed, i'm thinking aboutdesign, architecture, are alsoincorporated in your budget thinking.
Right, we got the architecton board.>> we had some conversation about this at the health andhospital committee most recentmeeting. We'll be having conversation about it at our next meeting.
If I can make an additionalrequest.that would be that the -- I know if you got the architecture inthe process figuring outfootprint and costs, I wouldlike to recommend after you've heard it at committee, that wehave a full presentation to theboard as time line, the budgetwhere each of the slices of that are going to come in prior tothe big event. I think this is such asignificant item of importance that I want to make sure thatwe've all said, we understandwhen this is happening.
3:13 PMFrom it committee stand point, happy top accommodatethat.
Thank you.supervisor wasserman.