Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, November 21, 2000
Open Space Alliance's ads a 'gross misstatement' of Stanford's plans

Larry Horton, director of government and community relations, on Tuesday sent a letter to the chairman of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors denouncing "a gross misstatement of fact" being circulated by opponents of the university's land use plans.

Contrary to advertisements that have been placed in newspapers and on television by the Stanford Open Space Alliance (SOSA), the university has "no plans whatsoever" to develop in its foothills and particularly in the popular "Dish" area, Horton says in the letter to Donald Gage, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.

The advertisements refer to a 1987 public report which, as the news media reported at the time, specifically stated the university was not encouraging development of the foothills, Horton noted.

A copy of Horton's letter follows.

November 21, 2000

The Honorable Donald Gage
Chairman, Board of Supervisors
County of Santa Clara
70 W. Hedding Street
San Jose, CA 95110

Dear Chairman Gage:

I wish to correct a gross misstatement of fact being circulated by opponents of Stanford's land use plans. Using newspaper ads, comments to the press, and even a television ad, the Stanford Open Space Alliance (SOSA) asserts that a Stanford plan for development of the foothills has been "uncovered." By such tactics as showing a picture of a bulldozer and claiming that immediate action is necessary to save the foothills, SOSA is misleading the public and implying that Stanford plans to develop its foothills, particularly the popular "Dish" area.

The truth is that Stanford has no plans whatsoever to develop beyond the academic growth boundary, which protects 2,400 acres, including foothill lands and the popular "Dish" area.

To correct the record, here are the facts:  

  • The television ad is deceptive and factually wrong. The ad's claim that "Stanford documents reveal plans to develop the popular recreational area of the foothills known as the 'Dish' " is an outright falsehood.
  • The "uncovered" document referenced in the ads is a 67-page public report prepared in 1987 that studied many aspects of the foothills. The report specifically states that it does not encourage development in the foothills. The document is an historical artifact. The complete report is on-line at:
  • The 1987 report was widely distributed and commented on in the press. As the Palo Alto Weekly reported in 1987, "The plan also states in several places that the university does not mean it to encourage development...."

  • Since the 1987 report was published, Stanford proposed and the County adopted in 1989 a General Use Permit concentrating development in the core campus and protecting the foothills. The Planning Commission's compromise plan for a new General Use Permit, which Stanford has accepted, continues compact development in the core campus and protects the foothills.

  • Contrary to SOSA's false assertion that Stanford plans to develop the "Dish," Stanford has, in fact, designated the "Dish" area for environmental restoration, habitat conservation, and public recreational use consistent with sound environmental management.

Unfortunately, demonstrable distortions of facts, deceptive arguments, and false charges have created confusion and given the public the wrong impression of Stanford's intentions regarding the foothills. Stanford has a century-long record of environmental stewardship and preservation of open space. Stanford's own proposals and the compromise plan recommended by the Planning Commission continue preservation of the foothills.

I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight. Please let me know if you have any questions.


Larry N. Horton
Director of Government and Community Relations

cc: The Honorable Blanca Alvarado
The Honorable James T. Beall, Jr.
The Honorable Peter A. McHugh
The Honorable S. Joseph Simitian