Menlo Park’s appeal of Stanford med school project denied

Daily Post Staff Writer

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors yesterday (Jan. 23) unanimously denied Menlo Park’s appeal of a Stanford development that officials and residents worry will worsen traffic on Sand Hill Road.

The project, a four-story, 153,821-square-foot office building for medical school faculty called the Center of Academic Medicine, will be built on a parking lot at 453 Quarry Road.

Menlo Park Mayor Peter Ohtaki and Menlo Park Assistant Public Works Director Nikki Nagaya told the board that even though Stanford says it has created no new net car trips under its 2000 General Use Permit (GUP) from the county, the city is still seeing a large amount of traffic on Sand Hill Road.

“We’re not here to stop the project, but we are here to ask Stanford to contribute their fair share to this dramatic growth along Sand Hill Road,” Ohtaki said.

Growth putting cars on the road

Menlo Park officials were also worried that county planners hadn’t taken into account the cumulative traffic impact of the project in the Sand Hill Road area in its analysis of the medical school building, including 1 million square feet of growth at Stanford Hospital and the Middle Plaza project, approved on Sept. 26, which will add 2,658 cars per day to the area.

Stanford’s proposal for the building on Quarry Road took Menlo Park officials by surprise. An aide to County Superivsor Joe Simitian tipped off Councilman Ray Mueller to the project just before it was to go to the county planning commission in October. This lack of notification from the county was another aspect of the city’s appeal, and both supervisors Cindy Chavez and Simitian said it was worrisome that the county did not have a process set up to alert neighboring cities about Stanford projects.

County planning officials also said they have added Menlo Park to its list of “interested parties” for Stanford development proposals.

Consultants disagree with city

In their response to Menlo Park’s appeal, county planning officials say that a traffic consultant hired by Stanford did evaluate cumulative traffic impacts, and determined the medical school building would not have any new significant impacts. The county retained a traffic consultant who agreed with that conclusion.

While the county turned down Menlo Park’s appeal, the university may have already paid the price in its dispute with the city. Menlo Park City Council on Nov. 14 revoked its approval of another Stanford project, a 40,000-square-foot office building the university wanted to build at 2131 Sand Hill Road across from Sharon Heights Shopping Center.

The battle over the project erupted as Stanford is seeking approval from the county for a new General Use Permit that would allow 2.3 million square feet of new development by 2035. The county is now working on the environmental impact report for the the new Stanford GUP.