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No Property Tax: Stanford Development ?

From: domainremoved <Brielle>
Date: Mon, 27 Mar 2017 12:36:29 -0700

Planning Commission Members

Stanford’s most recent news as reported in the Almanac that it will apply for an exemption of property taxes on the two residential units in its project at 500 ECR is disappointing. These are not college dorms. These are residential buildings that have a swimming pool and plaza for the private use of Stanford tenants.

>> http://www.almanacnews.com/news/2017/03/24/monday-planning-commission-public-to-discuss-stanfords-major-menlo-park-development <http://www.almanacnews.com/news/2017/03/24/monday-planning-commission-public-to-discuss-stanfords-major-menlo-park-development>

There will be no property tax because Stanford is exempt for academic uses. What if Stanford fills its 150,000 sq ft office complex with Stanford employees performing Stanford jobs? Again, there will be no property tax for that part of its development either. All this is perfectly legal and is Stanford’s right even though the University has an endowment of $22 Billion.

In December of last year Redwood City approved a 1.5 million sq ft Stanford Campus that will pay no property tax to that City. You wonder how that City feels about it? One of its council members Jeff Ira told Stanford .“I don’t want your money; I want you”

I fear this sentiment is the sentiment of our City Council and our administration.

Perhaps we should just be grateful for the prestige of having Stanford’s presence in our town and that the blight that the University left on EL Camino Real for 10 years will finally be gone.

Did the City think about the absence of property tax from Stanford’s development in 2011 and 2012 when Stanford demanded changes to our Specific Plan that benefitted the University? The Specific Plan had already increased Stanford’s building rights from a .5 FAR to a 1.25 FAR, which will give Stanford a considerable increase on its annual revenue potential for the office buildings. The Plan also changed the zoning on El Camino to allow residential uses. This change gives Stanford the right to build apartments. Will these housing units help Menlo Park with its critical housing deficit? I don’t think so. But building Stanford housing may ease Stanford’s ability to meet the requirements of Santa Clara County’s General Use Permit. It creates housing for Stanford employees, which cuts down on car trips on campus.
Go back to the concessions that Menlo Park made specifically to Stanford in late 2011 and early 2012 as the last details of the Specific Plan were being drafted:
1 The City allowed Stanford to consolidate 8 parcels into one, which resulted in a measly retail requirement of 10,000 sq ft for the entire site. And yet we call this a mixed use development.

2. The City allowed Stanford to reduce the overall open space for the site from 40% to 30%. Open space is in short supply on noisy, congested El Camino Real and this concession should never have been made.

3. After the City allowed Stanford to reduce the open space from 40% to 30%, the City allowed Stanford another reduction of the required open space by counting the private balconies in the apartments as open space. So now the project has 22,000 sq ft less of open space on the ground. This is about ½ acre less open space on site in a noisy congested El Camino Real.

4. The City allowed Stanford to redefine 7 “public access” points on the site. It insisted that language in the Specific Plan be changed from “public access” to “Building Breaks.” Other than Middle Ave. the remaining 6 public access points were deleted from the documents. That included the 90 ft access at Cambridge that extended from El Camino Real to the Caltrain right of way..

So what did the City demand from Stanford for what we gave? Did our Council say: “ok, we’ve been pretty generous with you. You have to pick up the cost of the Caltrain undercrossing that will serve your housing and office tenants.” No, that didn’t happen. The City bought some happy talk about the University wanting to make a “significant contribution.” No amount has ever been mentioned.
4 years after our Specific Plan was certified, Stanford is before the City seeking building permits and now we learn that this development may pay no property taxes ever. We will not get property tax to support the needed infrastructure listed in the Specific Plan. We may not even get an impact fee for the University’s residential units. That remains to be seen and Stanford should clarify this before the Planning Commission tonight. What are all the exemptions Stanford will ask for? Will there be families with school age children attending Menlo Park schools? How will the cost of their education be worked out with the School District?

Because Stanford has been so chintzy with Menlo Park, the City had to apply for a $400,000 Grant from San Mateo County Measure A to study the design of the Undercrossing that accesses Stanford’s development. It’s not right for the City to use Public funds on critical infrastructure that was identified in the Specific Plan and should have been included as part of Stanford’s original design.

The Planning Commission needs to do what our Council failed to do. At the very least, the undercrossing that connects this private development to our Civic Center and all it’s amenities should be fully paid for by Stanford. This undercrossing was the jewel in the crown of the Specific Plan. Stanford is the largest private land owner on El Camino in Menlo Park. The University has always had the ability to work with the City to carve out land for this project.

The City should not be asking its residents to pay for a project that could and should have been negotiated with the prime beneficiary during the Specific Plan process. To use public funds and ask Menlo Park property owners to pay for the Middle Ave. undercrossing is unconscionable. Somewhere in the University’s $22 Billion endowment there must be funds for this needed pedestrian and bicycle amenity

Enough is enough. No more public funds for this pedestrian undercrossing Full payment would be the honorable move from Stanford, especially now when we know there may be no property tax for the entire 400,000 sq ft development.

Brielle Johnck
Received on Mon Mar 27 2017 - 12:42:25 PDT

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