County supervisors warned about entering into a development agreement with Stanford

Daily Post Staff Report

Santa Clara County officials are cautioning the county Board of Supervisors about a proposed development agreement from Stanford that they say offers even less housing and housing funding than the university is legally required to pay the county.

In their report, Deputy County Executive Sylvia Gallegos and Planning and Development Director Kirk Girard point out that Stanford is offering $119.8 million less than it’s required to pay by county ordinances.

A negotiated agreement

Stanford is asking to negotiate a development agreement with the county in connection with its 2018 General Use Permit, which would allow the university to expand its academic facilities by 2.3 million square feet and bring nearly 10,000 students and employees to campus.

It’s up to the county to require Stanford to build housing and mitigate other impacts, like transportation, that its massive expansion will have on surrounding cities.

What about a school?

Gallegos and Girard are recommending that the county only negotiate a development agreement with Stanford if the university first agrees in writing to provide more than $155.8 million and express a willingness to include other benefits, such as opening a new public elementary school on campus or providing ongoing funding to the Palo Alto school district.

Stanford’s proposal

University officials submitted a proposal for a development agreement on July 27, offering to provide 200 affordable housing units on campus — 100 of which would be units that already exist, but would be reserved for low-income renters. Stanford offered to pay $14.3 million for the county to build 38 housing units for extremely low-income renters.

The university also offered to provide $21.7 million to capitalize a revolving low-interest loan fund for affordable housing development in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

But last month, the board voted unanimously to approve an ordinance would require Stanford to pay $155.8 million in affordable housing fees, or $68.50 per square foot of new construction. Stanford had offered to pay between $17 and $20 per square foot, or between $38.7 and $45.5 million.

A county study had initially suggested $143.10 per square foot, a lower sum than was suggested in a study conducted by the city of Palo Alto. That study found that the highest lawful developer fee within city limits could be $264 per square foot.

Discussion Tuesday

The Board of Supervisors, a five-member body that includes Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, is scheduled to discuss the matter Tuesday (Oct. 16) at 10 a.m. at 70 W. Hedding St. in San Jose.