News

Stanford wants to dump 300,000 cubic yards of fill on former Christmas tree farm in SM County

As Stanford pursues its massive campus expansion, it will dig up a lot of dirt that needs to be disposed of somewhere -- up to 300,000 cubic yards of it.

The university is proposing to dump the fill from new basements and underground parking on its former Christmas tree farm located southwest of Sand Hill Road and in the State Scenic Corridor west of Interstate 280 in unincorporated San Mateo County. The 143-acre site is across Sand Hill Road from the Horse Park, adjacent to the Stanford Linear Accelerator, and uphill from San Francisquito Creek and Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

The proposal for the vacant land, which has not been used as a Christmas tree farm for several years, faces critics, including neighbors, the Portola Valley Planning Commission and the Committee for Green Foothills.

The county Planning Department is working on the environmental review of Stanford's application for a grading permit to place up to 300,000 cubic yards of imported soil on the site over a period of 10 years. The application has been collecting comments from the public and government agencies for an environmental document called a "negative declaration" (when the county declares that a full environmental report is not required).

Planner Camille Leung declined to estimate when the grading permit will be ready for hearing before the county Planning Commission. "It won't be this year," she said.

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Mark Bonino, Stanford's manager for special projects, sees the project as a good match to meet two Stanford needs: a place to put the fill from intensified building on campus; and restoration of the land used for years for growing Christmas trees, which left stumps and furrows. "The land is not in such great shape," he said.

The building surge on campus stems from the general use permit granted by Santa Clara County in 2000, which allows Stanford to add almost 5 million square feet of new building.

As a result, Mr. Bonino said, "Stanford is becoming more dense, with more subsurface construction."

Stanford's application proposes placing the fill in six zones, with about two to five feet added in each. In a limited area, the fill would be seven-feet deep. Six big, unhealthy trees would be removed, and many more trees planted. "At the end of the day, the site will be restored and revegetated," Mr. Bonino said.


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Critiques

Many neighbors are worried about 10 years of major grading, traffic and disturbance as the open land is re-sculpted and restored. The Portola Valley Planning Commission and the Committee for Green Foothills, among others, have submitted detailed critiques of the massive project.

"The proposed location has the advantage of helping minimize the length of truck trips and the resulting emission of air pollutants," wrote Portola Valley Town Planner George Mader. "At the same time, it is incumbent on the county and Stanford University to run a model project."

The Portola Valley letter questioned a 10-year permit for such a major project; it suggested separate permits for each stockpile area. It also asked for strict controls on truck traffic, which could generate 15,000 to 30,000 round trips by large trucks over 10 years, particularly since the Portola Valley loop is so popular with bicyclists.

Portola Valley also highlighted issues of erosion, protection of wetlands and streams, dust control, views, and invasive, non-native plants.

On behalf of the Committee for Green Foothills, Lennie Roberts questioned the purpose, need and scale of the project. She asked whether alternatives had been evaluated, such as sites in Santa Clara County or a smaller project that would avoid the most prominent hills. "We believe that further review of visual impacts is needed," she wrote.

The county's draft negative declaration addresses many of the concerns. It proposes 29 measures to mitigate the impacts of grading the site, ranging from control of erosion and protection of wetlands, to haul routes, revegetation, dust control, and protection of archeological deposits.

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Stanford wants to dump 300,000 cubic yards of fill on former Christmas tree farm in SM County

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 8, 2007, 11:46 am

As Stanford pursues its massive campus expansion, it will dig up a lot of dirt that needs to be disposed of somewhere -- up to 300,000 cubic yards of it.

The university is proposing to dump the fill from new basements and underground parking on its former Christmas tree farm located southwest of Sand Hill Road and in the State Scenic Corridor west of Interstate 280 in unincorporated San Mateo County. The 143-acre site is across Sand Hill Road from the Horse Park, adjacent to the Stanford Linear Accelerator, and uphill from San Francisquito Creek and Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve.

The proposal for the vacant land, which has not been used as a Christmas tree farm for several years, faces critics, including neighbors, the Portola Valley Planning Commission and the Committee for Green Foothills.

The county Planning Department is working on the environmental review of Stanford's application for a grading permit to place up to 300,000 cubic yards of imported soil on the site over a period of 10 years. The application has been collecting comments from the public and government agencies for an environmental document called a "negative declaration" (when the county declares that a full environmental report is not required).

Planner Camille Leung declined to estimate when the grading permit will be ready for hearing before the county Planning Commission. "It won't be this year," she said.

Mark Bonino, Stanford's manager for special projects, sees the project as a good match to meet two Stanford needs: a place to put the fill from intensified building on campus; and restoration of the land used for years for growing Christmas trees, which left stumps and furrows. "The land is not in such great shape," he said.

The building surge on campus stems from the general use permit granted by Santa Clara County in 2000, which allows Stanford to add almost 5 million square feet of new building.

As a result, Mr. Bonino said, "Stanford is becoming more dense, with more subsurface construction."

Stanford's application proposes placing the fill in six zones, with about two to five feet added in each. In a limited area, the fill would be seven-feet deep. Six big, unhealthy trees would be removed, and many more trees planted. "At the end of the day, the site will be restored and revegetated," Mr. Bonino said.


Critiques

Many neighbors are worried about 10 years of major grading, traffic and disturbance as the open land is re-sculpted and restored. The Portola Valley Planning Commission and the Committee for Green Foothills, among others, have submitted detailed critiques of the massive project.

"The proposed location has the advantage of helping minimize the length of truck trips and the resulting emission of air pollutants," wrote Portola Valley Town Planner George Mader. "At the same time, it is incumbent on the county and Stanford University to run a model project."

The Portola Valley letter questioned a 10-year permit for such a major project; it suggested separate permits for each stockpile area. It also asked for strict controls on truck traffic, which could generate 15,000 to 30,000 round trips by large trucks over 10 years, particularly since the Portola Valley loop is so popular with bicyclists.

Portola Valley also highlighted issues of erosion, protection of wetlands and streams, dust control, views, and invasive, non-native plants.

On behalf of the Committee for Green Foothills, Lennie Roberts questioned the purpose, need and scale of the project. She asked whether alternatives had been evaluated, such as sites in Santa Clara County or a smaller project that would avoid the most prominent hills. "We believe that further review of visual impacts is needed," she wrote.

The county's draft negative declaration addresses many of the concerns. It proposes 29 measures to mitigate the impacts of grading the site, ranging from control of erosion and protection of wetlands, to haul routes, revegetation, dust control, and protection of archeological deposits.

Comments

Martin Engel
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 8, 2007 at 12:44 pm
Martin Engel, Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Nov 8, 2007 at 12:44 pm
Like this comment

And, when there are so many other wonderful places to dump it so much closer in town!
What a waste! For a few provocative suggestions, just call me.


So Telling
Atherton: West of Alameda
on Nov 12, 2007 at 9:22 pm
So Telling, Atherton: West of Alameda
on Nov 12, 2007 at 9:22 pm
Like this comment

You MP people can spend time hurling insults at one another over nothing while you can't even see that Stanford is asking the county for a permit to dump their development spoils in your back yard and use your streets to haul it there.
Wake up and stop your fighting with one another over housing for human beings, affordable housing for people like your adult children who want to live in their home town and a run down movie theater that the owner has intentionally left to ruin.
Grow up and be a city. Get your mayor off her cloud and stop your whining.


new guy
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 11:49 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 11:49 am
Like this comment

Housing for "human beings"? We should build it where? My backyard?

I guarantee that you could build housing for "human beings" in your backyard, and you would not even notice, since you are from West Atherton. Lets see, I think we should build all new housing units in Atherton. Lots of space there.

Peace.


helping our neighbors
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:52 pm
helping our neighbors, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 13, 2007 at 12:52 pm
Like this comment

NG, Atherton and some of the other high-rent suburbs managed to have themselves exempted from the ABAG requirements. ABAG was sympathetic to their professed need to maintain their community culture. However, given that Athertonian gardeners and housekeepers need a place to live, we Menlo Parkers need to step up to the plate and built more affordable housing!


odd geezer
Menlo Park: other
on Nov 13, 2007 at 9:06 pm
odd geezer, Menlo Park: other
on Nov 13, 2007 at 9:06 pm
Like this comment

Is this news? Stanford dumps its traffic on Menlo because it can get away with it. They've been handling Palo Alto with kid gloves. Alma blocked off, etc. . Menlo's so embroiled in internal power struggles it has no fight left for Stanford. "They're too powerful to stop".
But, ever since Schmidt opened the floodgates for Stanford overdevelopment at Menlo's expense (read Sand Hill widening in Menlo Park, not Palo Alto, just go look at Sand Hill) , it's no wonder Stanford thinks it's AOK to haul their trash, medical waste, excavates over Menlo streets to the front yard of Portola Valley/Woodside. Hey, Schmitty, nice piece in the op/ed Almanac today. Kind of late now that you rolled over for your alma mater. How about they haul it past your house every nite on the way to the baylands like LEnnie suggests?


Mazy
Atherton: other
on Nov 14, 2007 at 12:02 pm
Mazy, Atherton: other
on Nov 14, 2007 at 12:02 pm
Like this comment

Not that this has anything to do with the topic, but in response to "helping our neighbors," Atherton isn't exempt from the A/BAG housing requirements, but the town did managed to get its quota lowered.


new guy
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 15, 2007 at 7:33 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 15, 2007 at 7:33 am
Like this comment

So how many units do the elite in Atherton need to build to house their gardeners and maids? Hey they have a train station too (I know it is no longer in use), but if they build all the units in Atherton I am sure it would be a good area with easy access to the train.


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