Officials concerned about hospital expansion


Officials from the town of Portola Valley, the city of Menlo Park, and San Mateo County have expressed concerns over impacts that might not respect county boundaries if Stanford University Medical Center in Palo Alto expands facilities as proposed in a draft environmental impact report (EIR).

The hospital is proposing to increase its floor area by 1.3 million square feet, its staff by 23 percent, and its parking by about 2,000 spaces, said Steven Turner, an advance planning manager with the city of Palo Alto.

The expected completion date is 2025, with the main and children's hospital portions to be built first, perhaps by 2015, Mr. Turner said.

Stanford is requesting that Palo Alto approve a special hospital zone, thereby allowing buildings to exceed the city's structural height limit of 50 feet, Mr. Turner said. Four of the 10 proposed new buildings could reach 130 feet.

Aside from the visual impact from Sand Hill Road, a primary issue is traffic, according to letters from Portola Valley, Menlo Park and the San Mateo County Planning Department.

The public comment period for the draft EIR expired on July 27. The city of Palo Alto, not the hospital, is responsible for addressing all comments and will do so in the final EIR, Mr. Turner said.

Officials based in San Mateo County peppered their letters with complaints.

■ Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline noted that in the draft EIR, construction workers would be prevented from leaving the work site during the heart of the evening commute, between 4:30 and 6 p.m., but appear to have no restrictions on morning arrival times.

■ The draft EIR's proposal to reset traffic lights in Menlo Park to account for new construction traffic characterized this adjustment as mitigation, but that is incorrect, Mr. Cline said, because the lights are already set up that way. And, he added, there is no mention of payment to Menlo Park for the impacts of heavy trucks on city streets.

■ The draft EIR uses pricing formulas other than Menlo Park's to estimate costs to improve Menlo Park intersections and to build a bike tunnel under El Camino Real at Middle Avenue, Mr. Cline said. The county Planning Department has similar complaints with respect to traffic-congestion formulas.

■ The draft EIR does not consider housing for the hospital's new employees on hospital land, Mr. Cline said. Because Menlo Park is geographically nearer to the hospital than many Palo Alto neighborhoods, Stanford needs to consider how its new facilities would affect single- and multi-family housing availability and home prices in Menlo Park west of El Camino Real, he said.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Arch Conservative
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Re: the hospital expansion-
"Sound and fury, expressing nothing". Typical political BS. How long have these expansion plans been known to the entire community?

Like this comment
Posted by Gunther Steinberg
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Aug 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Currently, Stanford traffic on Alpine Road, coming off Sand Hill and moving on Junipera Serra in the morning and evening commute hours is already quite bad between 8 and 9:30AM and 4 to 6 PM. All that traffic is onto and off I-280.
One cannot use 280 south to get off at Page Mill, because the stacked up traffic for the off ramp extends 3/4 to 1/4 mile until 9:30AM. Mostly Stanford traffic that then clogs Junipero Serra north.
The solution might be for Stanford to build their own On and OFF ramps to 280 between Alpine and Page Mill. But then, Stanford has never really cared about others or the surrounding towns that they impact with commute and sporting event traffic.

Like this comment
Posted by Ward Rodriguez
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Aug 24, 2010 at 4:42 pm

As stated by Gunther Steinberg, the solution is (or should be) for Stanford to build its own On and OFF ramps to 280 between Alpine and Page Mill.

And, if such a requirement were instituted, what would Stanford do, choose not to expand the hospital?

Like this comment
Posted by employee
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Aug 27, 2010 at 11:07 am

Neighbor hood beware: its about $$$$$. Hospital expansion will allow more staff into an already tight traffic zone. This will impact more than traffic but the beauty of Palo Alto as well.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

First Sunnyvale, then Australia: Mountain View's Le Plonc plots expansion
By Elena Kadvany | 1 comment | 2,444 views

Juggling Renewables
By Sherry Listgarten | 35 comments | 1,932 views

Premarital and Couples: Living as Roommates?
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,399 views

Homestead Faire at Hidden Villa 4/27
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 678 views

A trial run
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 522 views


The Almanac Readers' Choice ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "The Almanac Readers' Choice" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 27th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 17th issue of The Almanac.