Almanac

News - May 11, 2011

Stanford offers Menlo more money for hospital expansion

by Sandy Brundage

Stanford and Menlo Park continue to negotiate how much the university should pay to ease traffic snarls induced by its proposed hospital expansion.

The $3.5 billion project would bring about 1.3 million square feet of new development and more than 2,200 new employees to Palo Alto by 2025. But it could also add an estimated 10,000 new daily car trips to the area, with 51 percent of the traffic passing through Menlo Park.

The university initially offered $312,000 as a one-time payment to Menlo Park as a "fair share contribution" toward traffic mitigation. That figure has now risen to $3.7 million, which includes $2.4 million with the flexibility to be used for infrastructure and community improvements instead of just traffic solutions.

Instead of paying a lump sum, Stanford agreed to disperse the money in three payouts — one third after final project approval, and the remaining amounts estimated to arrive in 2013 and 2018, respectively, as triggered by permit issuances.

In exchange, Menlo Park would agree to spend $290,000 before 2018 to install adaptive traffic signals at the intersection of Middlefield Road with Willow Road and also Ravenswood Avenue. Another $1 million would fund traffic improvements throughout the city, not limited to those spelled out in the hospital's environmental impact report.

Money-back guarantee

Toward the end of the agreement, a clause asks Menlo Park to promise not to sue. If they do, all payments stop — and the city would have to refund any money already received. That also applies in the event of a third party filing a lawsuit against the project's environmental impact report.

"The idea is that the hospital doesn't want to pay all this money irrevocably, if project can't get built," said Jean McCown, Stanford Director of Community Relations.

She said that since there's only a 30-day window to file a legal challenge, odds are the university will find out before any money is disbursed.

If the City Council approves the agreement at its meeting Tuesday, May 10,, the Palo Alto Planning Commission will consider it as part of the project's entire package at its meeting the following night, and make a recommendation to present to its council in early June.

MEETING

The Menlo Park City Council is scheduled to discuss the new proposal on the Stanford Medical Center expansion during its meeting on Tuesday, May 10, in council chambers at the Civic Center, 701 Laurel St. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

• Visit tinyurl.com/StanfordMPMOU to read the proposal.

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