By Claire Wang
City officials from Menlo Park and Palo Alto have requested an additional 60 days to evaluate the possible impacts of Stanford’s application for a renewed General Use Permit (GUP) as the upcoming Dec. 4 deadline for the official comment period approaches.
The new permit, if approved, would authorize the University to add up to 2.275 million square feet of academic space, 3,150 housing units and 40,000 square feet of additional building space over the next 17 years.
Santa Clara County Director of Planning and Development Kirk Girard has agreed to an extension of a few days, but city representatives worry that this will not be enough time to review the Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and process community input given the size and complexity of Stanford’s proposed expansion.
Several city council members, including Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, have expressed their support of a longer extension to conduct a thorough review of the GUP and Draft EIR.
“I think it’s smart to let all these issues come out now, so that they don’t come up in the 12th hour,” Simitian said in an interview with the Palo Alto Weekly.
Councilwoman Karen Holman agreed, adding that Stanford still has room for nearly 600,000 square feet of development under its current GUP.
Stanford’s own administration has pushed back against the 60-day extension. Associate Vice President and Director for Community Relations Jean McCown acknowledged to the Palo Alto Weekly the importance of public input but noted the already extensive review of the Draft EIR, which has been the subject of over 20 community meetings since its release in early October. She added that, by state law, Stanford is only obligated to provide a maximum evaluation period of 60 days, a requirement which the University has honored.
In a letter to Girard, Associate Vice President Catherine Palter affirmed McCown’s statements and described the call for an extension period as “unwarranted,” adding that there had been “no procedural problem necessitating a lengthy extension of the comment period on the draft EIR.”
The Santa Clara County Planning Commission will decide on Thursday whether to grant the requested extension or to opt for a shorter one.
Contact Claire Wang at clwang32 ‘at’ stanford.edu.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, The Daily incorrectly stated Joe Simitian’s position as “Palo Alto County Supervisor.” In fact, Simitian serves as Santa Clara County Supervisor. The Daily regrets this error.