Huge land deals: 30,000 acres in Solano County purchased; 50,000 available straddling Alameda and Santa Clara counties
By Nick Sestanovich, Mercury News, July 8, 2019.
“The purchase of up to 30,000 acres of agricultural land between Suisun City and Rio Vista has taken many by surprise. The purchased land stretches from outside Suisun City’s Walmart on Walters Road alongside Highway 12 to Rio Vista, with some parcels bordering Travis Air Force Base.”
According to “a person who lives on the property, the land was purchased by a Flannery Associates, a limited liability company that has filed for foreign status to do business in California. That application listed Flannery Associates as an agriculture business, but Fairfield City Councilwoman Catherine Moy said it is unclear what the land would be used for. ‘We want to make sure that it’s not anything that could hurt the base and that it’s not a foreign investor,’ she said. ‘Travis brings $1.5 billion to this area [and is] part of the city of Fairfield. It’s my responsibility to take care of that.’
“Moy suggested the Assessor/Recorder’s office flag for the public when large amounts of farm land are purchased so they could be more aware of such projects.”
Meanwhile, 70 miles to the south, a massive East Bay ranch is for sale for $72 million
By Ted Anderson, San Francisco Business Times, July 8, 2019.
A piece of original California, “The N3 Cattle Company ranch, 80 square miles of undeveloped land” northeast of San Jose and southeast of Livermore, “is currently the largest land offering for sale in California.”
“The [50,500 acre] ranch cuts across Alameda and Santa Clara counties, as well as San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties to the east.
“Even though the land is zoned for agricultural use, the listing agent sees the property as perfect for a wealthy conservationist, ‘someone who wants to preserve the land.’
“One family has owned the property as a working ranch for 85 years. The parents passed away about 20 years ago and the daughters have continued running it as a cattle operation but are now ready to move on.”
The American Planning Association, California Chapter – Northern, offers membership to city and regional planners and associated professionals primarily living or working in California, from and through Monterey County to the Oregon border, including the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area and Lake and San Benito Counties. APA California Northern promotes planning-related continuing education and social functions in order to:
- Provide a forum for communication and exchange of information about planning related activities;
- Raise member awareness and involvement in APA affairs;
- Increase public awareness of the importance of planning;
- Encourage professionalism in the conduct of its members; and
- Foster a sense of community among the members.
APA California Northern publishes Northern News 10 times each year for the exchange of planning ideas and information. Current and back issues are available for download here. Entirely the effort of volunteers, the News is written and produced by and for urban planners in northern California. Circulation (downloads per issue): 4,000.
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Just under 500 APA members passed the AICP Certification Exam administered in May. The 30 Northern Section members listed below include five who are enrolled in the AICP Candidate Pilot Program and may now use the AICP Candidate designation. Congratulations to all!
Della Acosta, AICP
Cristina Bejarano, AICP Candidate
Barry Bergman, AICP
Jeff Bond, AICP
Sarah Bowab, AICP
Brian Chambers, AICP
William Chui, AICP
Stein Coriell, AICP
Jesse Davis, AICP
Alison Ecker, AICP Candidate
Stefanie Farmer, AICP
Jessica Garner, AICP
Matthew Gilster, AICP
Anna Harkman, AICP
Jordan Harrison, AICP
Brendan Hurley, AICP Candidate
Ashley James, AICP
Ethan Lavine, AICP
Joseph Lawlor, AICP
Xinyu Liang, AICP
Rafael Murillo, AICP
Trever Parker, AICP
Colin Piethe, AICP Candidate
Garrison Rees, AICP
Annie Ryan, AICP
Margaret Smith, AICP
Stephen Tu, AICP
Atisha Varshney, AICP
Matthew Wiswell, AICP Candidate
By James A. Castañeda, AICP, July 12, 2019
Welcome to summer
After a whirlwind spring for those of us in the Northern Section, what with APA’s NPC19 in San Francisco and our annual Awards Gala in Oakland, summer has arrived. For many of us, it’s an opportunity to bask in the longer days, take family vacations, or take a little R&R. But it’s not a slow period for your Northern Section board! We’ve been working on what’s coming up in the second half of the year in keeping with our “Clarity and Focus” theme for 2019.
On June 7th, we hosted the annual Northern Section Awards Gala. A packed house at the Starline Social Club enjoyed a fantastic evening, caught up with colleagues, and honored 26 award recipients. Please join me in acknowledging and thanking this year’s awards jury: Rebecca Kohlstrand, AICP; Hanson Hom, AICP; Aaron Welch, and Martin Alkire. Please also thank the firms who sponsored the event: ARUP, Dyett and Bhatia, AECOM, and RRM Design Group. And a very special thank you goes to our amazing Awards Co-chairs Carmela Campbell, AICP, and Florentina Craciun, AICP, without whom this signature annual event would not be possible.
Many at the gala donated generously to the California Planning Foundation’s Diversity Scholarship. We collected $542 to help get the CPF Diversity Scholarship program closer to its $20,000 endowment goal. You can learn more about the Diversity Scholarship — and contribute — here.
The Young Planners Group is now the Emerging Planners Group
At our July 10th Northern Section Board meeting, we took action to rebrand our very successful and engaged Young Planners Group as the Emerging Planners Group. Under the stellar leadership of Veronica Flores and Danae Hall, the group has continued to be one of APA’s leading ambassadors for the planning profession among those in the early years of their careers. The rebranding recognizes the group’s tradition to engage, involve, and evolve, and signals that the EPG will continue to reach out to all planners who are starting their careers — regardless of age — with programming and networking opportunities to help them succeed. We should all be excited about EPG’s potential for engaging and helping the growing field of planners.
Northern Section partners with SPUR
The Northern Section is again partnering with our colleagues at SPUR to offer AICP CM credits and co-present several significant events and forums this summer in all three SPUR locations: Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose. Several of the events are free to APA members. If you haven’t done so recently, make sure to check our calendar for upcoming events.
New board members
Please welcome James Hinkamp, AICP, whom we appointed to the Board as Northern Section’s East Bay Co-RAC (Regional Activity Coordinator) and Megan Porter, AICP, who has been appointed to the Board as San Francisco RAC (Regional Activity Co-coordinator). You can see their photos and read more about them in this issue’s “Who’s where” column.
Halfway through the year
It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through 2019, but I suppose that’s what happens when you start the year with a national conference! For me it’s been an exhilarating start, and we still have a lot more programming coming in the months ahead. I hope you are enjoying the summer, and I look forward to seeing you at one of our many upcoming events!
Guardian Cities has been exploring the phenomenon of cities built from scratch. Here are excerpts from two recent articles in The Guardian.
By Wade Shepard, The Guardian, July 10, 2019
“People have been building new cities from scratch for millennia. When countries rise up, when markets emerge, people build new cities. Today, though, we are taking it to unheard-of levels. We have never before built so many new cities in so many places at such great expense as we are right now.
“We are standing on the precipice of a new city building boom unlike anything we’ve seen before. These shiny new metropolises hold the dreams and aspirations of people and nations from east Asia to the Middle East to Africa. Will they deliver a bright new urban future or a debt-fueled bubble of historic proportions?
“The new city has been sold as a one-stop cure-all for an array of urban and economic issues facing emerging markets around the world — overcrowding, pollution, traffic congestion, housing shortages, lack of green space, and economic stagnation. By starting from scratch, governments hope to move on from their current clogged and dysfunctional urban centers and develop new economic sectors. City building itself can also be a highly profitable endeavor.
“ ‘The major reason for new cities is that there is so much migration,’ says John Macomber, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School who has studied new city development in depth. ‘People are moving to cities all over the world to seek opportunity.’
“ ‘The sad thing is that we’re going to develop more urban area in the next 100 years than currently exists on Earth,’ says the Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Romer of New York University. ‘If we stick to business as usual most of it is going to be disorderly and less functional than the stuff we already have. … They’re also an inappropriate response to the real need, which is not for the rich to have a place to retreat to but for people who want to get a first position on the kind of urban, modern escalator that can help lift them and their kids to a better life.’
But, “Macomber says: ‘If you build a new city you don’t have to relocate or work around existing roads or rivers or factories or houses. You also don’t have to work around existing political processes, community groups, civic organizations … or even existing regulations and rules. … The new cities that struggle are the ones pushing against what market forces want to do.’ ”
‘Spectacular time-lapse satellite images show boom in cities built from scratch across Asia and Africa.’
By Antonio Voce and Nick Van Mead, The Guardian, February 15, 2019
“ ‘We’re in the midst of new cities fever,’ says Prof Sarah Moser. The head of the new cities lab at McGill University has documented more than 100 cities that have sprung up across Asia and Africa since the early 2000s for her forthcoming Atlas of New Cities.
“There’s Eko Atlantic, a ‘new Dubai’ taking shape on reclaimed land off the coast of Nigeria, and Forest City, a ‘new Singapore’ being built just over the Johor Strait from the original. There’s the New Silk Road city of Khorgos rising from the barren steppe that separates Kazakhstan and China, the ‘sustainable city’ of Neom in Saudi Arabia, the Norman Foster-designed Masdar in Abu Dhabi, a few in Latin America … and even a Robotic New City in Malaysia.
“Most are in places where rapid urbanization and population growth have overwhelmed existing cities. Sometimes master-planned cities are a way for countries in the global south to kick-start an economic transition out of agriculture or from resource-based economies. They can also allow governments to write their country’s image afresh.
“ ‘The computer-generated models look beautiful – all the old city problems are gone and it looks magically real. It’s compelling for people who live in overcrowded and polluted places,’ says Moser. ‘And the money to be made is staggering – in the trillions of dollars.’ ”
The article shows time-lapse satellite images for
- Ordos, one of ‘The Ghost Cities of China’ that is starting to fill up;
- Putrajaya, Malaysia, 25 miles south of Kuala Lumpur;
- New Cairo, 20 miles east of Cairo, Egypt; and
- Songdo, South Korea, built on land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea.
By Gennady Sheyner, Palo Alto Weekly, July 9, 2019
“Palo Alto is preparing to effectively ban contractors from demolishing entire buildings starting in July 2020.
“Instead, workers will now be required to systematically disassemble structures, with the goal of reusing or recycling the bulk of the material on the site. Based on experiences in Portland, Oregon, which has a similar law in place, staff believes that up to 95 percent of the construction debris can be salvaged — either reused or recycled — through ‘deconstruction.’
“The newly adopted ‘deconstruction’ ordinance aims to help the city meet its goal of diverting 95 percent of local waste from landfills by 2030.
“Construction and demolition materials — about 19,000 tons of waste annually — represent more than 40% of Palo Alto debris that gets disposed in landfills. Under the old method, excavators smash and knock down the structure, reducing its materials into rubble that gets placed in containers and shipped to a waste-sorting facility. The operation takes a few days and a crew of two to three, and costs between $8 and $12 per square foot to complete.
“The new model calls for buildings to be systematically disassembled, typically in the reverse order in which they were constructed. Based on two recent pilot projects, deconstruction would take about 10 to 15 days to complete and require a crew of four to eight people, with the cost ranging from $22 to $34 per square foot.
“City staff estimates that the deconstruction-collection program will cost the city $243,000 in one-time expenses and $567,000 in annual ongoing expenses. In addition, the city plans to spend about $118,000 for consulting services related to outreach and education.
“Even so, city staff believes the environmental benefits outweigh the rising costs. Public Works staff pointed to Portland, where up to 25 percent of materials in residential buildings were deemed reusable and up to 70 percent recyclable, for a total recovery rate of 95 percent. Mixed construction-and-demolition debris, by contrast, typically nets recovery rates between 71 Percent and 80 Palo Alto adopts ‘deconstruction’ ordinance.
“The city will initially apply the ordinance for total demolitions of commercial and residential projects starting on July 1, 2020. The ordinance is expected to affect about 114 projects, according to staff.
“The ordinance will attain a broader reach in January 2022, when it becomes applicable to all projects valued at $100,000 or more, and in January 2023, when the threshold is lowered to $50,000.
“Councilwoman Alison Cormack acknowledged that the ordinance comes with ‘significant costs,’ both to the city and to the residents and businesses undertaking deconstruction. Even so, she said the new requirement is ‘absolutely worth doing.’ ”
“Residents of wealthy neighborhoods are taking extreme measures to block much-needed housing and transportation projects.”
By Michael Hobbes. This is an excerpt from HuffPost, July 6, 2019.
“[L]ocals are losing their minds over issues related to housing, zoning, and transportation. Ugly public meetings are becoming increasingly common in cities across the country as residents frustrated by worsening traffic, dwindling parking, and rising homelessness take up fierce opposition.
“[Meetings] cut short after boos and jeering repeatedly interrupted speakers … are usually sparked by projects or policy changes intended to address America’s worsening housing crisis. … And yet, despite the urgency of the need and the expert consensus on solutions, individual efforts to increase density, improve transit, or alleviate homelessness can spend years bogged down by local opposition.
“Rowdy public hearings are nothing new in city politics. In the 1970s, white parents mobilized to prevent racial minorities from attending their children’s schools. In the 1990s, affluent voters organized in favor of tougher policing despite living in the neighborhoods with the lowest crime rates.
“Examples of this can be found in nearly every city experiencing job and population growth. In San Francisco, residents of a wealthy neighborhood opposed the construction of low-income senior housing, citing concerns that it was seismically unstable. Seattle homeowners sued a homeless housing project over a technicality related to its permitting. In Boise, by some measures the fastest-growing city in the country, one of the arguments employed by residents fighting the construction of new townhomes is that they will reduce pedestrian safety.
“And it’s not just ideology fueling the backlash; it’s also technology. Facebook groups and the hyper-local app Nextdoor have made it easier to get signatures on petitions and pack public meetings. GoFundMe allows neighborhood groups to raise six-figure trust funds for legal challenges. Video sharing encourages campaigners to turn public meeting testimony into deceptively edited viral clips.
“In the short term, anti-growth activism is likely to increase urban inequality. Nearly three-quarters of the jobs created since the Great Recession were added in cities with populations over 1 million. As cities continue to swell with new workers, their inability to build dense housing and high-quality bus and train service will push low-income residents even farther away from jobs and schools.
“Cities can redesign community outreach to encourage input from groups that have traditionally been excluded. According to a 2017 study, older male homeowners are more likely to participate in town hall meetings and other public participation processes than other demographic groups. Another, published in June, found that becoming a property owner motivated individuals to participate in politics and to express their views on housing, traffic, and development to elected leaders more often. [But] it’s not clear if longer or more inclusive citizen engagement will lower the temperature of local debates over density and growth.
“ ‘The only thing that gives me hope is that the most radical voices don’t represent the will of the majority,’ said Robert Getch, a Seattle housing activist. ‘Most people want more homes and more transit and have compassion for the homeless. We just need politicians to stop listening to the people who are shouting the loudest.’ ”
This excerpt is 538 words. Read the full article here (2476 words, or 4.6x).
Jonathan Atkinson, AICP, is now Senior Planner at the City of Vallejo, where he once interned. Over the past six years, Atkinson has been an associate planner with the City of Fairfield — where he assisted in implementing the adopted Heart of Fairfield Plan — and an assistant planner for the City of Sebastopol. Atkinson holds a master of city and regional planning from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a B.A. in sociology and criminal justice studies from San Francisco State University. In his free time, he enjoys photography, hiking, exploring new places, and attending festivals and sports events.
Jim Bergdoll, AICP, is, since April, Senior Planner for Housing, City of Dublin. There he will implement affordable housing programs, develop housing policies, and lead the effort to produce additional affordable housing. Before Dublin, Bergdoll contracted for two years with the Alameda County Community Development Agency on developing housing and planning policy and programs. Over the course of his career he was a housing and urban planning consultant, a director of real estate and development programs with Habitat for Humanity (East Bay for 11 years and Virginia for three years), and an urban designer/planner with the San Francisco planning Department, 1991-1997. Bergdoll holds a master’s in planning from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in architecture from the University of Virginia. He has resided primarily in Oakland for the past 30 years and enjoys biking on the regional park trails and in the city.
Jim Carney is now Principal Planner with the Metropolitan Planning Group, Santa Rosa. Early in his career, Carney served 12 years with the Santa Clara County Planning Department (1974–1986) and five years with the San Jose and Sacramento redevelopment agencies and housing departments (1986–1991). He created and directed the Nevada County (CA) Department of Housing and Community Services and Housing Authority (1991–2003), and has been a housing, planning, and government agency consultant for the past 18 years. Carney holds a master of urban and regional planning from San Jose State University and a B.A. in urban studies and economics from Temple University (Philadelphia). You can reach him at email@example.com.
Sharon Grewal, AICP, is now Aviation Project Manager for The Port of Oakland, where she will be working on capital improvement projects for the Oakland International Airport. Grewal had been Alameda County’s policy planner for renewable energy, environmental planning, current planning, transportation, and housing for nearly four years. Before that, she worked for the California Dept. of Conservation for 10 years. She holds a land use and environmental planning certificate from UC Davis and a B.A. (public administration/urban studies) from CSU Fresno. Grewal was Northern Section’s Director, 2017–2018, and is APA California’s Vice President of Professional Development. For APA related matters, you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shayda Haghgoo has been promoted to Transportation Planner III at SFMTA. She has been with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency since 2017, most recently coordinating with the Livable Streets Project in developing and implementing bicycle and pedestrian projects. Haghgoo had twice interned with SFMTA (2015 and 2016) and was a Transit 511 data analyst at Leidos (formerly SAIC) in Oakland before that. She holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania (sustainable transportation and infrastructure) and a bachelor’s degree in geography and environmental studies from UCLA.
James Hinkamp, AICP, has been appointed as Northern Section’s East Bay Co-RAC (Regional Activity Coordinator). He is the associate transportation planner at Contra Costa Transportation Authority, responsible for monitoring programs and projects funded by the Measure J countywide transportation sales tax, implementing the Countywide Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, and supporting local and regional plans and studies. Earlier, Hinkamp was transportation planner for the City of Lafayette. He holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning + engineering from CalPoly SLO and a B.A. in urban studies/history from Loyola Marymount University.
Noah Housh is now Community Development Director for Cotati. He was, until June 11, planning and community improvement director, St. Helena. Before St. Helena, Housh was a planner with the City of Santa Rosa from 2005 to 2015. He holds a master of public administration from Sonoma State University and a B.A. in economics and planning from Humboldt State University. Housh and his family live in Santa Rosa.
Catarina Kidd, AICP, has joined FivePoint in San Francisco as senior development manager, focusing on the multi-phase planning of Candlestick Point. Previously, she was senior planner for the City of Cupertino, and in prior years, directed a private practice providing planning and program management for multiple city clients. Kidd holds a bachelor of arts in cultural anthropology from Temple University and a project management certificate from Cornell University. Since 2015, she volunteers on the APA California–Northern Board of Directors as associate editor of Northern News. When not working, Kidd enjoys travel, skiing, and spending time with her spouse, twin daughters, and dog.
Edgar Maravilla recently joined the City of Hayward as Associate Planner. He previously worked in the planning departments of South San Francisco and Watsonville. Maravilla began his public service career as a community outreach coordinator for the City of San Rafael. He holds a master’s in urban and regional planning from San Jose State University and a B.A. in community studies, immigration, and social justice from UC Santa Cruz. Maravilla, who lives in Oakland with his partner, strives to improve the daily life of individuals by encouraging equitable, sustainable, and functional cities.
Steve McHarris, AICP, who has been deputy city manager for the City of Milpitas since June 2018, is now that city’s Interim City Manager. From 2015 to 2018, he served as planning official and deputy director for the City of San Jose’s Planning, Building, and Code Enforcement Department. McHarris had earlier worked for Milpitas in Planning and Neighborhood Services, from 2012 to 2015. He holds a master’s degree in public administration with an urban planning concentration from CSU Fullerton and a B.S. from Cal Poly, Pomona.
Megan Porter, AICP, has been appointed to the Northern Section Board as San Francisco RAC (Regional Activity Co-coordinator, San Francisco). A planner at AKRF, Inc., she holds a master’s in regional and urban planning from University College Dublin (Ireland) and a B.A. in urban studies and environmental studies from CUNY Hunter College. Originally from Long Island, NY, Porter moved to San Francisco two years ago and enjoys the running, hiking, and snowboarding northern California offers. She looks forward to collaborating with fellow board members to bring unique and engaging activities to our Northern Section APA members.
Avalon Schultz, AICP, is now Principal Planner, City of San Leandro, where her primary focus will be long-range planning. Schultz had been with Union City for nearly 14 years, most recently as senior planner working on a variety of current and long-range planning projects. She holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s in comparative urban development from UC Berkeley.
Jason Su is now Executive Director, Guadalupe River Park Conservancy. He will lead the organization’s advocacy, education, and stewardship initiatives to enhance the accessibility and activity of San Jose’s river park. The Knight Foundation recently recognized Su for his role in placemaking, and placemaking is exactly the task ahead at Guadalupe. Su is a lecturer in urban and regional planning at San Jose State University and had been street life manager at the San Jose Downtown Association for five years. He holds a master’s in urban planning from San Jose State University, a certificate in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley, and a BA in business economics and sociology from UC Irvine.
Kristy Weis has been promoted to Principal Project Manager at David J. Powers & Associates, Inc. Over her 16 years with the firm, she was the project manager on environmental documents for notable projects including the Vallco Special Area Specific Plan, Main Street Cupertino, Avaya Stadium, Downtown San José Health Center, and Newby Island Sanitary Landfill expansion. Weis holds a master’s in urban and regional planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor of arts in environmental studies from UC Santa Cruz. She lives in Santa Clara with her husband and two daughters.
By Jared Brey, NextCity, June 13, 2019.
This article, originally published in Next City, is republished in entirety, with permission.
Like a lot of big universities, Stanford is almost a small city of its own.
Operating in the unincorporated town of Stanford, California, in Santa Clara County, Stanford hosts 16,000 students and employs 13,000 people on faculty and staff. It owns more than 8,000 acres of land in six jurisdictions. And it has plans to build. The university is seeking approval for around 2.275 million square feet of new space through a General Use Permit, a periodically updated document that guides the university’s growth.
As part of the process to update the General Use Permit, Stanford is negotiating with various county officials. A group of students sees this as a once-in-a-generation chance to set the right course for the university’s relationship with the community. They have been working to pressure the school into doing right by its workers and its neighbors by providing more housing, offering more transit benefits to its employees, and giving more money for public investments in housing and transportation. In the process, the group, called the Stanford Coalition for Planning an Equitable 2035 (SCoPE 2035), is seeking to elevate the voices of the labor unions and community groups that are most affected by the university’s growth.
“As students, we have a lot of privilege and leverage, but we don’t want to speak over community members,” says John Zhao, a 2018 Stanford graduate who helped start the group in 2016.
At the center of the dispute over Stanford’s General Use Permit is a question of how much housing to build. As part of its growth plan, Stanford says it will build 3,150 new housing units, including 500 faculty apartments, by 2035, and contribute $93 million to affordable housing projects in neighboring communities during the same period. The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors has called on the university to do more to mitigate the region’s housing crisis by building at least 1,622 faculty and staff units in the next fifteen years, as Palo Alto Online has reported. In its Platform for Equitable Stanford Development, SCoPE is calling for the university to provide more than three times that: 5,300 new housing units for staff, to match what the group has determined will be the growth of the workforce.
“We’re really trying to support the service workers on campus who always get kind of slighted in this process, especially housing-wise,” says Kate Ham, an urban studies major who’s expecting to graduate in 2020.
So far, the group has worked primarily on research and teach-ins. The group has been digging through Environmental Impact Reports and other documents that Stanford releases, holding public demonstrations and discussions about Stanford’s development plans, and reaching out to community groups and other stakeholders like SEIU Local 2007, the service workers’ union on campus.
Zhao says the Stanford student body didn’t know how to engage in the GUP process right away, as the first public meetings were happening during finals in 2016. But as the permit has moved through the approval process, kicking up controversies along the way, more people have gotten involved. Last fall, after Santa Clara County passed an inclusionary housing ordinance requiring that 16 percent of Stanford’s new housing units be rented below market rate, the university sued the county, saying that it was being unlawfully singled out. SCoPE 2035 held protests over the lawsuit, which is still ongoing, in February.
“I think what we wanted to do was to really use our leverage as part of this community,” Zhao says. “We can really make a ruckus and try to point out the injustices in Stanford’s intended development plans, which is kind of what we’ve been able to do: Get people to pay attention to what’s going on.”
Stanford has also been working on negotiating a development agreement with Santa Clara County that would supplement the General Use Permit. This spring, the university made a deal with the local public schools, Palo Alto Unified School District, involving contributions that would help the schools manage the influx of students they’d be expected to receive as part of the university’s expansion. But that deal was contingent on the approval of the development agreement between the university and the county. Joe Simitian, president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, said that the university was using that deal as a bargaining chip in its negotiations with the county over the development agreement, and temporarily stopped discussion with the university in April, according to reports.
“We want everyone in this conversation to recognize that Stanford tries to pit the stakeholders against each other, but there are holistic solutions, and they can be viewed through a different lens,” says Shelby Parks, a graduating chemistry student who has been working on media outreach for the student group. “It’s not like [the university can only provide benefits to] Palo Alto Unified or affordable housing — those two things can 100 percent work together.”
Simitian was not available for an interview. In response to a request for an interview, Stanford sent Next City roughly the same statement it shared with a student magazine in December.
“We have heard and understand SCoPE 2035’s areas of interest regarding the 2018 General Use Permit,” Joel Berman, the university’s community relations and land use communications officer, wrote in an email. “Stanford staff have met directly with students in the SCoPE group several times and we welcome their participation in this process. We will continue to stay engaged with them and other organizations and groups that have an interest in the future of Stanford as the 2018 General Use Permit proceeds.”
The Santa Clara County Planning Commission held its first meeting about Stanford’s General Use Permit late last month, with two more scheduled in June. SCoPE 2035 is concerned about the negotiation of the development agreement between the university and the county because, Parks says, “The only thing that the county has to give in exchange for whatever benefits Stanford offers is some sort of loosening or adjustment of the original conditions of approval.” The Board of Supervisors is expected to hold hearings and vote on the permit in the fall.
“When we get back to campus in the fall, it’s going to be kind of an all-hands-on-deck thing, because that Supervisors vote is the last opportunity for us to change anything,” Parks says.
Jared Brey is Next City’s housing correspondent, based in Philadelphia. He is a former staff writer at Philadelphia magazine and PlanPhilly, and his work has appeared in Columbia Journalism Review, Landscape Architecture Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Philadelphia Weekly, APA California Northern News, and other publications. Brey’s “article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable, and more environmentally sustainable.”