Menlo Park yanks approval for Stanford building on Sand Hill Road

Above is a rendering of the 40,000-square-foot office building that Stanford had hoped to build at 2131 Sand Hill Road. Illustration submitted by Stanford to the city.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Menlo Park City Council last night (Nov. 14) voted to revoke its approval of a Stanford office building on Sand Hill Road after council members said they were frustrated the university hadn’t informed them about an office project for Medical School faculty on Quarry Road.

Council members are concerned that the two projects will increase traffic on Sand Hill Road.

Council decided to rescind its approval of the 40,000-square-foot project at 2131 Sand Hill Road after the university failed to supply the city with all of the information it wanted regarding the 170,000-square-foot Quarry Road project.

Councilman Ray Mueller discovered Stanford intended to build the Quarry Road project by checking an agenda for the Santa Clara County Planning Commission. Nobody from Stanford mentioned the Quarry Road project during the hearings Menlo Park held on the Sand Hill Road project.

During those hearings, residents objected to the Sand Hill Road project, saying it would add traffic and noise to an already congested corridor.

Mueller was critical of the limited amount of information Stanford provided to the city after it discovered the Quarry Road project. He called the data a “fantasy land temporal mirage” because it didn’t include car-trip data estimations for the Stanford Hospital expansion or the 8.4-acre development Stanford plans to build at 500 El Camino Real in Menlo Park.

Stanford has previously said that neither the Sand Hill Road nor Quarry Road project would add much traffic.

No additional trips?

Councilwoman Catherine Carlton, who requested the reconsideration of the office project at 2131 Sand Hill Road, said she “doesn’t buy” Stanford’s claim that its growth won’t result in additional car trips beyond what is allowed in its 2000 general use permit, or GUP.

Stanford went to the Santa Clara County Planning Commission to move square footage allotted under the GUP from the east side of campus to Quarry Road to allow for construction of the medical school faculty building. The move, Stanford contends, won’t result in more car trips.

“In terms of a macro level for Stanford that’s the same number of trips, (but they’re) moving from the one major road, Page Mill, over here (to Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park),” Carlton said.

The council also unanimously voted to have Mayor Kirsten Keith and Mueller to work with Assistant Public Works Director Nikki Nagaya to rewrite the letter Nagaya and Senior Transportation Engineer Angela Obeso had prepared to send to the Santa Clara County Planning Commission about the Quarry Road project.

‘Taken by surprise’

All of the council members said that the letter needed to have stronger wording regarding the lack of notification the city got from both Stanford and the county.

“Everyone was taken by surprise by Quarry Road,” Carlton said. “We need to stop and take this into account.”

Mueller and Keith both mentioned the possibility of suing Stanford over the lack of notification of the Quarry Road development. Mueller asked City Attorney Bill McClure if suing Stanford is a possibility, and McClure said it could be an option for the city if the council makes the proper objections to the project.

The Santa Clara County Planning Commission will be reviewing the Quarry Road project tomorrow (Nov. 16).