On Thursday, November 29th, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors hosted its first community outreach meeting to gather input on a potential community benefits to accompany approval of a 17-year General Use Permit for growth on Stanford University Campus.  The opportunity for expanded community benefits would come with a negotiated Development Agreement between the University and the County that would determine which of the existing fees and regulations might be better addressed through alternative actions.  The County Board of Supervisors has recently passed strong ordinances to produce affordable housing to mitigate the housing demand created by new jobs and students at the University.  The ordinances approved both a fee on non-residential development, and an inclusionary policy to set aside affordable units in residential development.

The meeting was very well attended with over 100 people in the chambers and close to 75 speakers providing comment.  This stage of the community outreach process is being sponsored by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Board of Supervisors empowered to oversee the negotiations over the Development Agreement.  The two members of the Ad Hoc Committee, Board President Joe Simitian and Vice President Cindy Chavez were joined by county planning staff, Kirk Girard and Rob Eastwood.

While the focus of many of the speakers was the financial impact that school-age children of Stanford faculty, staff, and students, would have on the Palo Alto Unified School District, the importance of affordable housing was a major theme of the evening.  From the critical need for housing affordable to the University’s non-academic employees, to the environmental and traffic benefits of bringing housing closer to campus, many of the commenters highlighted the impact of job growth on the current housing crisis.

Future dates and locations have yet to be announced, but public outreach on the Stanford Development Agreement will continue through February, and the results of negotiations is expected to be announced next Spring, with a final agreement deadline of July.  For more information about the process, visit the County website at www.countystanfordda.org.

If the County and the University cannot reach agreement on the details of a community benefit agreement, the mitigation process will be addressed through the existing fee ordinances for affordable housing, and the required mitigation items identified in the Environmental Impact Report required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

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