County Releases Final Environmental Impact Report for Stanford Development Agreement



San Jose – Santa Clara County has released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) for Stanford University’s general use permit (GUP) application.

The Final Report includes responses to public comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), which was released in October of 2017. The County collected more than 2,400 separate comments on the DEIR, including those made at public meetings.

The FEIR also includes responses to the public comments made in reaction to the information and alternatives contained in the recirculated DEIR. The recirculated DEIR contained two new alternatives that looked at the environmental impacts associated with amounts of housing that were more closely aligned with the demand generated by the project when ultimately 9,610 new people are expected to come onto the campus.

“I realize the document is a large one,” observed Simitian about the 2,400 page FEIR, with almost 8,000 pages of appendices, “but it’s important the public review the portions of it that are of greatest interest to them. That way when it comes time to consider approval, we’ll have the benefit of hearing from them one more time. This is the largest project ever reviewed by the County in its 168-year history, and we owe it to the community to get it right.”

The document is actually so large that it is being released in two phases. The Response to Comments portion is being released today electronically. The Consolidated Draft EIR which incorporates the changes stemming from the public comment period is scheduled to be released the following week on December 21. Together, these two documents comprise the FEIR.
The release of the FEIR is important in another way as well. At the University’s request, Stanford and the County of Santa Clara are entering into development agreement discussions. The potential public benefits that Stanford may be able to provide to the surrounding communities and neighborhoods will be part of that discussion, and to understand what constitutes a benefit, it’s important to understand what baseline mitigations will already be in place.

The FEIR includes mitigation measures that will be used to ensure the University mitigates the impacts of the 2,275,000 square feet of new academic facilities, 550 housing units and 2,600 beds it has requested, all told about 3.5 million square feet of new development.

Simitian has consistently maintained that it is necessary for the County, its negotiating team, and the public to see the FEIR prior to substantive discussions about a possible development agreement taking place. “It’s impossible to know what you would like to request,” observed Simitian, “if you don’t know what you can require.” With publication of the FEIR, we have a much better sense of the project’s impact and the universe of potential mitigations.”

Development agreements are voluntary contracts that can result in the applicant providing community benefits outside of the regulatory process. Usually those benefits come in exchange for the public agency agreeing to “freeze” the development standards applicable to the project for the term of the agreement. In Stanford’s case the lifetime of the General Use Permit is expected to be something like seventeen years, the year 2035, or when they run out of authorized square footage. 

“With a project as large and complicated at the Stanford General Use Permit, it’s difficult to predict exactly when it will come before the Board of Supervisors,” noted Simitian, “but the public should know we’re doing all we can to ensure a quality process, where their concerns are heard and the impacts of the project are fully addressed.” The previous General Use Permit was approved in December 2000.
Interested members of the public can find a link to the newly released FEIR by visiting this webpage:

For those who prefer to review hard copies of the documents, they can be accessed at these libraries in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and East Palo Alto:

  • Mitchell Park Library - 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto
  • Rinconada Library - 1213 Newell Road, Palo Alto
  • College Terrace Library - 2300 Wellesley Street, Palo Alto
    Menlo Park Library - 800 Alma Street, Menlo Park
    East Palo Alto Library - 2415 University Avenue, East Palo Alto

or by visiting the County Department of Planning and Development on the 7th floor of the County Government Center located at 70 West Hedding Street in San José.



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