Viewpoint - June 16, 2010

Letter: Stanford sees disconnect in editorial

The June 2 editorial ("Can Menlo Park live with the hospital project?") ends with a puzzling statement: "Menlo Park must go it alone on this development, without any support from Stanford or Palo Alto."

The author must not have read Palo Alto's recently released draft environmental impact report or been aware of the collaboration between Palo Alto and the city of Menlo Park staff during the preparation of the DEIR. Those discussions lead to specific traffic mitigation measures in the DEIR to be implemented in Menlo Park, if feasible and desired by Menlo Park. These are in addition to the extensive alternative transportation programs for commuting employees to be offered by the Stanford University Medical Center (SUMC) sponsors. Menlo Park features to be supported financially by SUMC sponsors include:

• Traffic adaptive signal technology at Menlo Park intersections;

• Fair share contribution to the proposed bicycle underpass under the Caltrain tracks at Middle Avenue;

• Coordination with Menlo Park on potentially feasible intersection improvements;

• Fair share payment of the Menlo Park shuttle fee on an ongoing annual basis;

• Fair share payment to increase the frequency of the "U-line" bus service from the East Bay.

The combination of these and numerous other measures described in the DEIR show that no intersections in Menlo Park would experience increased congestion due to future SUMC traffic in the morning peak hour commute period and only three in the evening. And those three can be improved by Menlo Park with contributions from the SUMC sponsors.

It is expected that feasible mitigation measures will be actively discussed with the city of Menlo Park staff while review of the DEIR is under way. But most importantly, the community will receive the benefits of modernized and expanded hospitals, including critically needed emergency facilities.

Jean McCown, Director of Community Relations, Stanford University

The Editor replies: Ms. McCown correctly notes that Stanford may help Menlo Park mitigate the 10,000 new vehicle trips per day the new hospital will bring into the area, but mostly through "fair share" negotiations. The editorial's final point was that the university is willing to make upfront impact fee payments to Palo Alto, which must approve the project before construction can begin, while help for Menlo Park comes in "fair share" fees of considerably less value.


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