Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, December 12, 2000
It's official: County approves 10-year development plan


After nearly two years of negotiation and debate, Stanford's controversial campus development plan finally won approval from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

By a 4 to 0 vote, the board adopted a compromise version of the university's General Use Permit (GUP) and Community Plan hammered out between Stanford officials and the supervisors two weeks ago.

Under the plan, the university will be allowed to add 4.8 million square feet of academic and residential construction during the next decade, while preserving 2,000 acres of the campus foothills for 25 years.

"We're quite satisfied with the board's decision," commented Larry Horton, university director of government and community relations.

"The overall package is positive," he said, "and provides us with academic facilities and housing that we need."

Stanford officials have 60 days to approve the plan, after which they can apply to begin the first project through the county planning commission -- a process that could begin early next year.

Horton said that graduate student housing would be the university's first priority, adding that none of the square footage has been designated thus far.

He called the agreement the most detailed planning requirement of any university in California -- public or private.

"We're going to work for positive implementation of the plan," he commented, "but we could run into a severe problem of micro-management by the county."

The agreement grants the university permission to build 3,018 units of housing for faculty, staff and students, plus 1 million square feet of academic construction. Stanford will be allowed to construct an additional 1 million square feet of academic space, but only after submitting to the board of supervisors a "Sustainable Development Study" -- a restriction requested by former Supervisor Joe Simitian and unanimously agreed to by the four sitting supervisors.

Simitian surprised many observers last October when he proposed a 99-year ban on developing 1,000 acres of the foothills. He dropped the proposal in late November after failing to win the support of fellow supervisors.

Simitian was elected to the state assembly on Nov.7 and no longer sits on the county board. He attended Tuesday's meeting as a spectator.