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HISTORY OF BCK ESTATE

From: domainremoved <Janet>
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2017 21:01:28 +0000 (UTC)

In response to your request for background on 2131 Sand Hill during the Woodside Bakery get together with Marc Berman, I have compiled a history of the Buck Estate as I remember it.  I went to all the hearings and meetings.  The County Planner that worked on this project was David Holbrook and my memory can be checked against his if needed.
BUCK ESTATE HISTORYWhen the last surviving daughter, Alice Mayer Buck died, shewilled the estate to Stanford.  I checkedthe County Probate files and she willed that the main house be maintained andpreserved for the beneficial use of Stanford University with a life estate ofthe cottage for her gardener and his wife. She had a magnificent garden at thetime of her death which I think was 1978. She also willed the undeveloped portion of the estate for the general useof Stanford University which could be mingled with Stanford assets. (That would be the "meadow" that is sought as a site for the new office structure)  She only wished that should the property besold, the proceeds be used to endow the undergraduate library.  Therefore, there was no restriction in herwill as to future use of the land. The whole property was part of the County of San Mateo and itwas zoned R-2, “Residential Estates”. except for the undeveloped meadow(now proposed under the Mitigated Negative Declaration to be the site of aventure capital office building) which was R1S (Single family residence).  After Alice Mayer Buck’s death the main house was used bythe university as a convention center with an entrance on Alpine Road thatcreated traffic problems.  In 1989 theLoma Prieta earthquake did considerable damage to the house and it was leftvacant for a long time, and the garden was totally neglected.   In 1999 Stanford sought permission of the county to build alarge office structure on the part of the R-2 (residential estates)  zoned land that had been Alice’sgarden.  There was vehement residentialopposition to this on environmental and traffic grounds and various hearingsand meetings which I attended.  Thecounty finally allowed a Use Permit (PLN 1999-00331) on condition thatdevelopment not intensify and that all the facilities be occupied by aPhilanthropic enterprise. (To my knowledge, no check was ever made that alloffices were in fact occupied by charitable entities)  The basis for this was that a use permit canbe granted to a charitable organization when such use is necessaryfor public health, safety or welfare. No such explicit finding was made.It was just stated that they carried out local charitable work. Employees were also limited to 100. However, Mr. Donohoe at the Planning Commission hearing stated that hebelieved the number of current employees was around 200: double the numberapproved.  One huge problem during construction of the Hewlett buildingwas the constant truck traffic up and down Alpine road, sometimes blocking thebike access and the actual road.During the discussions, Stanford emphasized that most of theoffice occupants would be working from home or traveling, that they would havea strict TDM system in place, plus bike parking, showers, carpools and thatvehicular traffic would be very minimal. That has not been the case.  Thereis also a problem with the traffic light at the entrance/exit since cars coming from Safeway thatget the green light to turn left, have to yield for cars coming out of the Hewlettparking lot and this is not readily noticeable. There are a lot of cars parked atthe office structure.Below is the condition as stated in the County Building andPlanning Acela website:  Below that arenotes subsequently added to the file as “Conditions” after inquiries had beenmade concerning the possibility of building an additional office structure on the vacant land.  Stanford was scoping out all the possibilitiesas early as two years ago. 
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| STANFORD UNIVERSITY
 STANFORD UNIVERSITY
 2770 SAND HILL ROAD
 MENLO PARK, CA, 94025 |

  | Project Description:
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 | OFFICE HEADQUARTERS
 Use Permit
 SELF-RENEWING - No RENEWAL required unless development intensifies (non-minor UP Amendment is proposed) or Violation occurs. Use permit to allow development of a professional office headquarters for Hewlett Foundation, as allowed under Section 6500(c)6 for Institutions of a philanthropic or charitable nature.   |

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|  Planning - 2 Applied Parcel Tag HISTORIC BUILDING The house is the historic Meyer-Buck Estate (presently the provost house for Stanford University); it was placed onto the County Historic Inventory on 2/20/2002. Any/all exterior/interior modifications shall be reviewed by the CDD, & possibly by the HRAB prior to approval of any BLD or PLN permits. Applied | Notice | 05/23/2016 |
| Proposed use RJB: 1/26/15 Spoke with applicant at counter regarding use of property. The applicant is proposing the expensing the existing use of admin/offices for the HP Foundation located at APN 074-450-040. In speaking with DH, applicant would amending their existing use permit at APN 074-450-040 to incorporate the uses at the adjacent parcel. Told applicant that CEQA, especially traffic, would be a major factor in the approval of this project. Gave applicant parking and zoning information. Applicant also asked about rezoning the property. Would need rezoning and general plan amendment. The applicant also had a question about annexation into the City of Menlo Park. Applied | Notice | 01/26/2015 |
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 Since the addition of an entire new office building wouldobviously be an expansion of the current use, Stanford opted to proceed withannexation to the City and explore a Use Permit  Below are a couple of newspaper articles about the historyof the Buck Estate: http://news.theregistrysf.com/stanford-seeks-develop-vacant-land-unincorporated-san-mateo-county/ http://news.stanford.edu/news/2003/april16/buck-416.html One of the topics discussed at length during the initialHewlett proposal was the need for bicycle/pedestrian access through the Buckproperty given the dangers of the traffic between Sand Hill and Alpine.  Stanford refused to consider this. TerryBurnes (then the Planning Director at the county) said that this would beaddressed when the Buck Estate main house was restored as a convention center.  Stanford avoided this issue by seekingpermits to restore the mansion as a single family home for the provost, Etchemendy. This eliminated any opportunity for conditions or restrictions.  They have since designed the internalroadways so that there is no direct thoroughfare.At the recent Planning Commission hearing Mr. Donohoe, ofStanford’s Real Estate Dept. stated that the Alpine entrance/exit to the BuckEstate/Hewlett Foundation was not used. That is not true.  It is a sourceof traffic problems since cars (some with Stanford logo) exiting from thereoften make U-turns across traffic to get to Junipero Serra.Another factor is that the notorious 109 gas pipeline goesright behind the property between that and the subdivision at Stanford Hills(which is also owned by Stanford)   This PGEeasement used to be (so I have been told) a Fire Lane.  Beside Alpine Road just to the south of theAlpine gate is an ATT/PGE [?]  utilitybox and trucks are frequently located at the side of the road, blocking traffic.  This is at a very dangerous, short merge lanewhere vehicles compete for space with cyclists. At the time of the city’s Housing Element, the meadow which is now the proposed site for a commercial office building for venture capitalists,was put on the list of sites that the city would like to rezone for affordablehousing since the were pressured to spread such housing throughout thecity.  Stanford (Mr. Donohoe) objected tothis and as I remember, either declined to state what the use would be orclaimed that it was slated for faculty housing. At recent Stanford GUP public meetings grad students, SLAC employees andStanford Staff decried the absence of housing to accommodate them near campus,which meant that they had to commute long distances.  This supports data in the County’s “Closingthe Gap” Task Force, which states that since 2010 the county has created 54,000new jobs but only 2,148 housing units. Based on comparable office leases on Sand Hill it is likelythat Stanford would reap about $5 Million/year for this building. 
Received on Tue Aug 15 2017 - 14:04:04 PDT

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