Q: What is the Stanford Community Plan?

The Stanford Community Plan refines the policies of the General Plan as they apply to Stanford lands within unincorporated Santa Clara County. The primary purpose of the Community Plan is to guide future use and development of  lands within the Stanford Community Plan Area in a manner that incorporates key General Plan principles including compact urban development, open space preservation, and resource conservation.

Q: Which Stanford lands does the 2018 General Use Permit cover?

Approximately 50% of Stanford University’s 8,180 acres of land are under the jurisdiction of the County of Santa Clara. This area is covered under the 2018 General Use Permit. The majority of Stanford’s academic buildings, student housing, and faculty/staff housing is in unincorporated Santa Clara County. This area includes the Stanford University Campus and a portion of the foothills to the west.

Q: What is the General Use Permit (GUP)?

In 2000, the County of Santa Clara granted Stanford a General Use Permit that allowed it to build more than 2 million square feet of academic facilities and more than 3,000 housing units/students beds, while passing measures that attempted to protect surrounding open space and alleviating housing, traffic and environmental impacts on the County.  That development is nearing completion.

Stanford University is now proposing to expand significantly under a new General Use Permit.  The more than 3.5 million square feet of development would include:

  • 2.75 million square feet of academic and academic support facilities
  • 2,600 new student beds, in addition to
  • 550 new faculty/staff housing units

Q: What is a development agreement?

Development agreements are voluntary contracts that can result in the applicant providing community benefits outside of the regulatory process (General Use Permit) in exchange for the public agency agreeing to “freeze” the development standards applicable to the project for the term of the agreement.

Q: How will the project impact our housing crisis?

The proposed project would add 9,600 new people to Stanford’s campus upon completion of the development.  An independent analysis of the proposal concluded that the proposed project will create the need for an additional 2,172 housing units for faculty and staff. 

However, the project includes only 550 new units, creating a housing deficit of 1,622 units. 

As residents in our community continue to grapple with a housing and affordability crisis, the County Administration is committed to ensuring the final development, if approved, does not exacerbate our region’s housing and affordability crisis.  

Specifically, County Administration has recommended Stanford’s market rate and affordable housing demand be fully addressed with 70% of faculty and staff units and 100% of the student beds be constructed on campus.

Q: How could Stanford’s development project impact traffic congestion?

By adding 9,600 people to its campus, the project will have significant and unavoidable impacts on the volume of traffic at nearby intersections and freeways.  An independent environmental impact report that analyzed the project’s impact noted that the new residents will inevitably contribute to local and regional traffic congestion, stating, “A campus resident travels between the campus and other destinations for a variety of purposes, including shopping, dining out, religion, clubs and activities, recreation and exercise, entertainment, socializing, daycare, school, and off-campus employment. These types of trips can generate both outbound and inbound trips during the morning or evening periods.”

Consequently, the project could make traffic congestion worse locally in the communities surrounding Stanford, but also have negative impacts on regional traffic congestion due to the impact it could have on nearby freeways.  That’s why the County Administration is committed to ensuring that the traffic congestion in the surrounding areas is not substantially worsened as a result of Stanford’s development. 

Q: How will the project impact the Stanford foothills?

The Stanford foothills are a local treasure in our community. Currently, the Stanford foothills are protected by the Academic Growth Boundary and a four-fifths vote requirement of the Board of Supervisors for any modification to the region, but this protection is set to expire in 2025.

As part of its General Use Permit application, the University has made no commitment to ongoing protections for the foothills in excess of the current General Use Permit designation and zoning district.

Any approval of this project must protect our open space and fully address all environmental impacts, including potential impacts on the foothills.  County Administration has recommended extending the Academic Growth Boundary from 25-years to 99-years and continue the four-fifths vote requirement on the Board of Supervisors to ensure our open space is preserved and protected. 

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