Under any set of circumstances, assessing and addressing the impacts of such a project would be challenging. But Stanford's application for a General Use Permit represents a particular challenge. That's because the totality of Stanford lands encompasses property in six different, and independent, governmental jurisdictions: unincorporated Santa Clara County, Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Menlo Park and unincorporated San Mateo County.
Simply put, the land use decisions we make in Santa Clara County later this year will affect the quality of life in all of these communities for generations to come.
Of course, when you have a half-dozen local governments involved, it's important to make sure the left hand and the right hand, or in this case almost an octopus-worth of hands, are mindful of each other's thoughts, interests, and actions.
Equally important, the individual residents who live in those communities have to be aware of the development that's being proposed, and have an opportunity to weigh in, even if (perhaps especially if) the decisions will be made by elected officials in another jurisdiction. Sharing their perspectives and interests with decision makers in another jurisdiction may not come naturally to locally affected residents, but it's essential to a good result.
Between the meetings hosted by the county and those hosted by neighboring jurisdictions, there have already been more than a dozen opportunities for people to attend a meeting, learn about the project, and offer comments. We've heard from scores of folks over the past several months, and while their concerns have been wide-ranging, some common themes have emerged. Housing, traffic, open space and protection of the foothills, school impacts, and questions about the maximum buildout of the campus have all been recurring topics.
These comments have been timely and helpful because a draft environmental impact report (DEIR) analyzing the potential impacts of the development was released in October 2017, and the period for public comment has been extended until 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 2.
Kudos to the Menlo Park City Council, and to San Mateo County Supervisors Warren Slocum and Don Horsley, for not just putting a discussion on their council and board agendas, but also holding hearings where members of the community could learn about the project, ask questions, and offer their perspectives.
As the Feb. 2 deadline for draft EIR comments approaches, I'm making a final push to ensure that folks interested in commenting can do so before the deadline. On Jan. 23 from 6 to 8 p.m., I'm hosting a public meeting where members of the public can make comments that will become part of the formal record and will be responded to in the final EIR.
While the meeting will be held in the Palo Alto City Council Chambers, I hope you'll come wherever you're from. And if you can't make the meeting and need to know how to submit comments via email or just need more information about the application and the draft EIR, go to tinyurl.com/SCC01-18. There are hard copies of the draft EIR at the main library in Menlo Park.
It's important that my colleagues and I on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors have the benefit of your thinking. And the only way we'll know what you think is if you tell us. So please, take advantage of the opportunity to comment before the draft EIR comment period closes. We can't take your comments into account if you don't make them!
Joe Simitian is president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors.
This story contains 630 words.
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