Stanford Hospital expansion on track for spring approval

City releases Final Environmental Impact Report for massive project

By Gennady Sheyner

Embarcadero Media

Stanford University Medical Center's proposal to dramatically expand and rebuild its hospital facilities in Palo Alto hit a milestone Thursday (Feb. 17) when the city completed a critical environmental document analyzing the project's impacts.

The city's planning staff released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) this week for the Stanford project -- a colossal, state-mandated study that lists dozens of impacts and proposes mitigation measures for reducing the impacts.

The city had released the draft version of the report in May. The final report includes some revisions to that report and staff responses to comments from the public about the draft EIR. The City Council is scheduled to approve the new report in March. At a recent council meeting, City Manager James Keene described the project as being in the "last couple of miles" of a marathon.

The Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project includes the reconstruction of Stanford Hospital & Clinics and the Hoover Pavilion, the expansion of the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and replacement of laboratories at the Stanford School of Medicine. It would add about 1.3 million square feet of development space to Palo Alto.

The project has been making its way through the city's planning process since 2007 and is expected to receive final approval this year.

Mike Peterson, Stanford's vice president for special projects, said in a statement that the medical center is "very appreciative of the hard work of everyone involved over the past four years.

"Thanks to their dedication and commitment to making this important project work for everyone, we will be able to meet essential health care needs with little to no adverse impacts on the community."

So far, traffic impacts have topped the list of local concerns about the hospital expansion. At a Jan. 31 council meeting, Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie told the council that under Stanford's proposed mitigations, traffic impacts would be reduced to "less than significant" status.

Stanford plans to provide all hospital workers with Caltrain Go Passes, hire a transportation-demand manager, improve pedestrian and bicycle connections around the medical center and spend more than $5.1 million on programs relating to AC Transit. The goal is to get 35.1 percent of the commuters to give up their cars for other modes of transportation.

The EIR also lists several "significant but unavoidable" impacts of the hospital project, including increased congestion at three Menlo Park intersections during peak hours (Middlefield Road and Willow Road, Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road, and University Avenue and Bayfront Expressway), increased daily traffic on Marsh Road, Sand Hill Road, Willow Road and Alpine Road in Menlo Park, and a removal of up to 71 protected trees.

The Final EIR is one of two major documents the city has to approve before the project gets the green light. Stanford and Palo Alto are also negotiating on a "development agreement" -- a list of community benefits Stanford will be required to provide to Palo Alto in exchange for permission to exceed the city's zoning regulations.

The goal of Stanford's Project Renewal is to replace outdated facilities, increase the number of hospital beds and seismically retrofit the buildings to comply with state law.

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Like this comment
Posted by Stanford's Project Renewal Behemoth will flood MP with traffic
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Feb 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm

The nerve of the EIR traffic consultants to suggest that since MP already has adaptive timing signalization, that everything is now "below level of significance".
Do they take MP for fools? First they say in the Draft EIR that significant intersection impacts will be mitigated by installing adaptive signal timing at key ECR intersections. Then, when they acknowledge that this technology has been in place for several years, all of a sudden the additional traffic volume will be managed by computers?
Just try driving north on ECR at weekday 6pm, backed up to Stanford like a parking lot.
Caltrain GO passes for a Caltrain that is cutting back service?
What a BS response from Stanford.
Just go out and look at ECR on a weekday.
Remember when Stanford'd ECR frontage was dominated by 'for sale' cars. Now, with that prohibited, the new cars are Stanford workers taking the "don't park on campus" stipend, who park on ECR after driving thru Menlo, and take the Marguerite
Does Mayor Cline and the MP council have the resolve to challenge PA's perfunctory approval of this sham of a Final EIR?
Why not force PA to open up Alma from ECR so that Stanford's generated traffic can get across ECR?
Why not prohibit U turns at Cambridge?
Typical, Palo Alto gets the cash flow, Menlo Park gets the traffic flow.l

Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 21, 2011 at 1:44 am

IT is interesting that some posters believe that Menlo Park only suffers because of the Hospital expansion project and that no MP residents will work there, no Menlo Park physicians will have privileges there, no Menlo Park residents will ever need to go there for medical care and that none of the people who do work there will ever shop in Menlo Park.
I never realized how wide the creek is to some people.

Like this comment
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 21, 2011 at 9:45 am

I'd rather have a modernized hospital with an increased chance of keeping me or my family and friends alive in case of dire need than smooth traffic flow.

Like this comment
Posted by reconstructive surgery
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

Guys, it's not about the hospital and standard of care.
It's the 1.3 MM SF EXPANSION that triggers additional work commute traffic to the expanded med center. And CALTRAIN GO passes won't mitigate the inclination of workers to drive from Fremont/Belle Haven/RWC, thru Menlo Park, park on ECR in front of campus, and take the Marguerite, AND collect a stiped for not parking on campus.
Why won't PA open up Alma to take pressure off MP's ECR? It's downtown North is protected with turn restrictions am/pm peak at Hawthorne/Everett/Alma/Middelfield. There are traffic calming devices thruout the neighborhood.
Let's discuss real traffic mitigation and not get carried away with lamentations for patient care availability

Like this comment
Posted by Old MP
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 2, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Being a regional hospital that serves many communities - the traffic solution should be the same.

So I'll ask "reconstructive" a similar question, why won't MP finally agree to what the plan was 40 years ago --- connect Willow Road with Sand Hill Road?

We know the answer. And it isn't much different than the answer from PA.

Like this comment
Posted by ashamed to be an alum
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 2, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Connecting Willow to Sand Hill wouldn't solve a single problem. It would just ensure that the gridlock that currently does not affect a short section of Willow (between Alma and Middlefield) would migrate to that section, in the process gutting an entire neighborhood.

The level of care at the medical center is likely to deteriorate, not improve, with expansion. Most people I know prefer to go to Sequoia or El Camino because Stanford is already such a factory. The bigger hospital won't serve us locals -- it's designed to draw in patients from all over the state.

If you look at a map, you see that there's a solution: Stanford needs to cut an access road to 280 through its property. But Stanford doesn't want to do that. Much easier to dump its traffic onto Menlo Park streets.

Like this comment
Posted by POGO
a resident of Woodside: other
on Mar 2, 2011 at 9:25 pm

In a prior post, I said, "Let me get this straight. No big box stores. No car dealerships. No Bevmo. No liquor stores. No Facebook."

Now let's add no world-class medical center to the list.

Why don't naysayers just tell us what they WILL allow and save all of us some time?

Like this comment
Posted by Forum topic
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 3, 2011 at 10:03 pm

PA Planning commission meets 3/9 at 6pm to approve the FEIR for the SUMC expansion project.
MP Transportation Commission also meets same time, 3/9 at 7pm to make recommendations to MP city council on comments to the inadequacies of the FEIR responses to the coming onslaught of additional traffic to MP from this massive project.
Here's the EIR consultants response.
Adaptive signal timing at MP intersections, which they previously thought didn't exist. More bike tunnels. More Marguerite bus stops. More Traffic Demand Management to encourage Stanford workers to not drive through MP to get to their jobs at the Hospital.
Adaptive signal timing will mitigate the expected increase? It's already in place and it doesn't work! When MP intersections are already gridlocked at commute times with existing Stanford generated traffic.
GO Passes for Caltrain when Caltrain may cut back service?
More Marguerite buses? So What?
Are all those cars parked on ECR in front of campus Stanford employees collecting "don't park on campus" stipends who drive thru MP to get to Stanford, then hop the Marguerite to get to campus jobs?
MP needs to step up and push back against PA and Stanford. Force Stanford and PA to open up more traffic outlets rather than just dump their traffic on MP.
How about opening Alma in PA to allow all turning movements at the ECR/Sand Hill/Alma intersection.
How about Stanford building a Campus Drive extenstion to 280 to alleviate traffic on Alpine Road?
Aren't there any MP council members with guts to push back against PA and Stanford?

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2011 at 1:14 pm

I grew up in MP. Connecting Willow Road to Sand Hill Road was always the plan.

Let's make a deal, PA opens Alma and MP opens Willow to Sand Hill.

Neither city will do it on their own for obvious reasons. So my suggestion is that you think of another solution because it just ain't going to happen.

Like this comment
Posted by Gunther Steinberg
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Mar 4, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I dread the added traffic on Alpine Road, Sand Hill, and Junipera Serra in the AM and PM. Stanford needs its own 280 ON and OFF ramps to run directly into the campus.

Like this comment
Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Mar 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

On Wednesday night, March 9th, in Council Chambers, the Transportation Commission will be taking community feedback on the Stanford hospital EIR. Community members with questions and/or opinions are encouraged to attend and participate in the meeting.

Like this comment
Posted by ashamed
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm

Sorry, Crescent Park Dad. Menlo Park isn't going to sacrifice an entire neighborhood to feed the Stanford beast. By the way, the original plans for the Willow Expressway cut through downtown north, not through Linfield Oaks. Still gung ho about eminent domaining a few hundred residents?

Like this comment
Posted by truth or consequences
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Mar 5, 2011 at 7:28 pm

The traffic analysis for the Stanford FEIR traffic section are outdated and understate current conditiions.
Intersection traffic counts date back 5 years in MP, and in late 2008-09 during the recession, when traffic dramatically declined with high unemployment and Stanford layoffs.
Anyone who has tried to get around in the commute hours lately notices how traffic has dramatically increased in the area.
Why should Palo Alto get off the hook without providing current traffic congestion analysis?
Seems that MP staff needs to be taken to task for not challenging the PA staff and the Traffic consultant for Stanford.

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

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