Stanford offers Menlo Park more money

Proposes revised payout plan -- as long as city doesn't sue

Stanford and Menlo Park continue to negotiate how much the university should pay to ease traffic snarls induced by its proposed hospital expansion.

The $3.5 billion project would bring about 1.3 million square feet of new development and more than 2,200 new employees to Palo Alto by 2025. But it could also add an estimated 10,000 new daily car trips to the area, with 51 percent of the traffic passing through Menlo Park.

The university initially offered $312,000 as a one-time payment to Menlo Park as a "fair share contribution" toward traffic mitigation. That figure has now risen to $3.7 million, which includes $2.4 million with the flexibility to be used for infrastructure and community improvements instead of just traffic solutions.

Stanford also agreed to disperse the money in three payouts instead of a lump sum – one third after final project approval, and the remaining amounts estimated to arrive in 2013 and 2018, respectively, as triggered by permit issuances.

In exchange, Menlo Park would agree to spend $290,000 before 2018 to install adaptive traffic signals at the intersection of Middlefield Road with Willow Road and also Ravenswood Avenue.

Another $1 million would fund traffic improvements throughout the city, not limited to those spelled out in the hospital's environmental impact report.

Money-back guarantee

Towards the end of the document, a clause appears to ask Menlo Park to promise not to sue. If it does, the payments stop -– and the city would also have to refund any money already received. That also applies if a third party files a lawsuit against the project's environmental impact report.

"The idea is that the hospital don't want to pay all this money irrevocably, if project can't get built," said Jean McCown, Stanford Director of Community Relations.

She said that since there's only a 30-day window to file a legal challenge, odds are the university will find out before any money is disbursed.

The City Council will consider approving the new agreement at its meeting on Tuesday, May 10. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St.

If the council votes yes, the Palo Alto Planning Commission will consider the agreement as part of the project's entire package at its meeting the following night, and make a recommendation to present to its council in early June.

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


Like this comment
Posted by chuck house
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on May 6, 2011 at 12:28 pm

When a story headlines that 2,200 new employees will result in 10,000 new daily car trips, it's always tempting to imagine how each employee will manage their four or five cars. I'm sure that this reflects assumed increases in patients for the expanded hospital as well, but that's left to the reader to consider.
The thrust of the story, and the sizable payment from Stanford to Menlo Park being offered, seems to me to point out one more time that the goal of rethinking and reconfiguring our public transit systems is still as elusive for local systems as for High Speed Rail.

Like this comment
Posted by John Wilson
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 6, 2011 at 1:04 pm

A considerable portion of traffic congestion in Menlo Park arises from the El Camino -Ravenswood intersection, with its fast light cycle. CalTrain is a factor in why this works the way it does, since lowering the crossing gates creates impediments to the natural flows on these two streets, helping to drive the need for the fast cycle. CalTrain is a system with very definite utility, in spite of the sometimes inefficiency of its operation, and it would be a shame to lose it. Creative approaches to the interaction of these flows need to be developed further, with a view toward accommodation of the much needed expansion of the hospital and the increased vehicle traffic that it will generate. An element of the required creativity is a look at new concepts for grade separation, completely outside the context of HSR.

Like this comment
Posted by Will
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 6, 2011 at 2:18 pm

John's assessment is correct for the most part. The El Camino/Ravenswood/Caltrain "trisection" is a mess already and further increase in traffic flow will only increase, exponentially, the gridlock that will occur. All of the parties, City of Menlo Park, Caltrans, and Caltrain are going to have to work together to create a decent traffic flow. It is a good thing that Stanford has upped their offering to MP, as Menlo Park is more than just the "city to the north" of the Stanford community. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Like this comment
Posted by gunste
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on May 6, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Stanford probably found the solution to quiet Menlo Park government.
Money will take care of any and all politicians.

The area streets are all at or near saturation, especially at rush hour times. So ow about Stanford staggering its various sectors and have them arrive and depart with two hour differentials as a permanent feature. OR, construct new access roads specifically to the campus - one from 280 across the golf course and Junipera Serra into the campus for starters.

Like this comment
Posted by Frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 6, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Did I miss something, or where do I read what Palo Alto is getting for their 49% of the traffic?

Like this comment
Posted by acomfort
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 6, 2011 at 3:59 pm

<snip> "the city would also have to refund any money already received. That also applies if a third party files a lawsuit against the project's environmental impact report." <snip>

What is to keep Stanford from encouraging a third party suit as it would be financially beneficial to them?.?.

Menlo Park will be in the position of having to fight to keep anyone else (third party) from suing Stanford even if MP agrees with the third party.

Maybe I didn't read this article right.


Like this comment
Posted by acomfort
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 6, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Is bribery now legal if it is public knowledge and between cities?

Like this comment
Posted by menlo park driver
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 6, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Menlo Park is only six miles long and one mile wide.

It now takes over 20 minutes to cross town during commute times when Stanford is in session on a weekday.

The same trip takes just 5 minutes in Summer or when Stanford is on a break.

Stanford must invest in satellite offices, campuses and services located in other communites and reduce their need for all employees, patients and students to crowd into this single campus.

Stanford should use their funds to pay for their own traffic solutions. Explore access from I-280 through Stanford land on a road between Alpine Road and Page Mill Road, along the South edge of the golf course, to connect with Campus Drive and the hospital.

Paying off surrounding communities with meager sums to further degrade our quality of life and property values is not the solution.

Like this comment
Posted by deflated
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm

"We already know what kind of politicians you are; now we're just negotiating the price." The benefits package to Palo Alto is $43.6mm by the way. Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

No, Menlo is wider than 1 mile - what are you thinking? Did you mean to say a portion of Menlo, incl downtown? Or along ECR? Or am I thinking in the wrong direction - what I think of as long. In other words, that Menlo is 1 mile from Atherton to Shallow Alto, along ECR?

Like this comment
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of another community
on May 7, 2011 at 12:35 am

Menlo Park is to receive money to unsnarl traffic? Surely they won't accept it. The the central planning principle of the town has always been to make use of cars as difficult as possible.

Like this comment
Posted by menlo parker
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 7, 2011 at 9:53 am

Hate to tell you Menlo Park Driver, but Stanford already has moved a lot of its activities to satellites, throughout Redwood City, Palo Alto, and Menlo Park. This has been done so both the med center and campus can continue to grow. And it has added unexpected traffic already between those locations and campus.
A huge problem is the fact that Sand Hill Rd and Alma do not connect properly. A lot of Menlo Park's current traffic problems are due to longer lights at Cambridge to accommodate u-turns for people wanting to go west on Sand Hill Rd from northbound El Camino, and people wanting to go across El Camino onto Alma from Sand Hill Rd. An extremely high percentage of drivers at El Camino/Cambridge are doing u-turns. This will only get worse.
Where are enhancements to bike lanes? the intersection of Sand Hill Rd is extremely complex, and doesn't support well many of the routes Menlo Parkers might want to take (such as to southbound caltrain). The previous bike path to the San Mateo bike bridge now is a silly and poorly marked "shared lane", since the creation of the luxury senior housing complex on Sand Hill Rd. Don't get me going on how useless a bike undercrossing at Middle will be for Menlo Parkers who want to go to and from downtown. How do they get there?
I hope the Council pushes for practical solutions to the real problems we already have because of Stanford's traffic.

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

Be the first to know

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

Peek inside the fine-dining Selby's, opening in Redwood City this summer
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,670 views

Juggling Renewables
By Sherry Listgarten | 42 comments | 2,088 views

Premarital and Couples: Living as Roommates?
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,477 views

Homestead Faire at Hidden Villa 4/27
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 898 views

A trial run
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 557 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.