Massive Stanford project for El Camino up for approval; will increase traffic

This development that Stanford plans to build at 500 El Camino Real in Menlo Park would be exempt from property taxes for the most part, which will hit the Menlo Park City School District hard. Illustration from Stanford.

Daily Post Staff Writer
If Stanford’s 8.4-acre project at 500 El Camino Real is approved tomorrow (Sept. 26), local streets may see an added 2,658 cars a day on El Camino Real, Middlefield Road and other large arteries for the area.

Concerns about road congestion have prompted some residents to say the city ought to push Stanford to do more about the traffic that would be created by the project, which extends from the Stanford Park Hotel to Big 5. The project could be approved by City Council on Tuesday.

More than 40 residents have written to the city about the office, retail and housing project, according to Associate Planner Corinna Sandmeier. Some welcome the replacement of the abandoned car lots that currently sit there.

“It looks lovely and it’s better than what we have now,” resident Sharon Delly told the Post in March. “But, of course, I’m worried about traffic.”

“How do we add homes and offices to our community without traffic? I would like those ugly lots developed ASAP,” resident Karen Greenlow wrote to the Planning Commission.

Resident Perla Ni wrote to council saying the project should not go forward until there is a discussion with residents about traffic solutions. She points out in her letter that El Camino Real in Menlo Park is already “failing,” according to traffic standards, and “for the sake of Menlo Park residents, as well as the future residents/workers in the Stanford development, adequate measures to mitigate traffic are essential.”

Stanford’s points

The project calls for 215 apartments, 10,000 square feet of retail and 144,000 square feet of office space. In its project’s transportation demand management plan, Stanford points to the location of the project, near both Palo Alto and Menlo Park Caltrain stations, and notes it is along lines for both SamTrans and Stanford’s free Marguerite Shuttle.

Stanford says that it also will reduce traffic by giving residents subsidies to ride public transit, in- stall changing rooms and showers in the office area for bicyclists and offer preferential parking for carpoolers.



The project is expected to cause a “significant” impact to 12 intersections in Menlo Park and Atherton that will not be fixed due to railroad crossings, so there is a need to acquire extra space to expand the road, according to Sandmeier’s report. Another issue is that Menlo Park does not control El Camino since it’s a state highway.

The affected intersections are: Middlefield and Marsh roads, Middlefield and Glenwood Avenue, Middlefield and Ravenswood Avenue, Middlefield and Willow Road, El Camino Real and Ravenswood, El Camino Real and Live Oak Avenue, El Camino and Middle Avenue, El Camino Real and College Avenue, El Camino Real and Partridge Avenue, El Camino Real and Harvard Avenue, El Camino Real and Creek Drive and University Drive and Middle Avenue.

Other concerns

While traffic is a concern to residents, more have been concerned about the amount of money Stanford is giving the Menlo Park Atherton Education Foundation, which raises funds for the Menlo Park City School District.

The project is estimated to add 39 or so students to the district, but because of Stanford’s nonprofit status, the school district will not be getting the property tax revenue from the development to help make up for the cost of new students.

Stanford was originally going to give the schools $100,000 a year for 10 years, but has changed the amount to a lump sum of $1.5 million so the foundation can begin an endowment.


Comments from residents saying they are ready to see the lots go despite the added traffic echoes those made about the project less than a mile down the road at 1300 El Camino Real, the Greenheart project.

The environmental impact report for Greenheart, which was approved earlier this year, said it would increase traffic at nearby intersections by 25%.

The Stanford project will be the third major devel- opment before council this year. The others are Green- heart and the Facebook expansion along Constitution Drive.

Greenheart will have 200,000 square feet of office space while Facebook will add about 1 million square feet of office space to the city.


John Arrillaga, the billionaire developer and Stanford benefactor, is involved in the Stanford project, according to Stanford’s John Donahoe. Arrillaga is the developer for the office space, but the project is a Stanford development, Donahoe said.

Arrillaga also is working with the city to potentially fund up to $35 million for a new main library at Burgess Park.

Menlo Park City Council meets Tuesday (Sept. 26), 7 p.m., 701 Laurel Street.