News Digest | October 21, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - October 21, 2011

News Digest

Welch Road becomes one-way road

Welch Road in Palo Alto was converted to a one-way, one-lane road between Quarry Road and Pasteur Drive earlier this week, beginning with plastic traffic delineators that will be replaced with concrete barriers on Nov. 7.

The change is being made as part of the massive Stanford University Medical Center Renewal Project and will be in effect for two years, according to a press release.

Construction work along Welch will include widening of the road, planting of new trees, replacement of utility services, and installation of planted medians and street lighting.

Access to the buildings at 730, 750 and 770 Welch will be via Vineyard Lane to the rear.

More information about the project is available at

Palo Alto sees good news on revenue front

Rising revenues and savings in a new firefighter contract have brought Palo Alto a rare bit of good news on the financial front — developments that should stave off personnel cuts in the current fiscal year.

The City Council Finance Committee discussed on Tuesday (Oct. 18) the latest updates for the 2012 budget and agreed that the latest projections have made it unnecessary for the city to consider staff reductions this year.

The projections show that a number of key revenue sources have done better than the city had projected when it approved the budget in June. Revenues from the documentary-transfer tax and from sales tax are each $1.2 million above projections; hotel taxes have exceeded expectations by $600,000.

At the same time, the city will save at least $1.1 million thanks to concessions in the new contract with the firefighters union, a contract the council approved Oct. 17. The new agreement includes a second pension tier for new employees and worker contributions toward retirement and medical costs.

Staff expects to save additional funds, about $1 million, from revisions to staffing levels — revisions made possible by the abolition of the minimum-staffing requirement in the firefighter contract.

This means that the $4.3 million hole in the city's current budget is no longer as daunting as it was when the document was adopted in June. The city plans to cover the balance of the deficit by taking money from the budget stabilization reserve (which increased by $2.7 million) and by obtaining concessions from other public-safety unions.

Stanford a top contender for New York campus

A Stanford campus in New York City would help the country, enhance the university's influence and promote technology innovation, Stanford President John Hennessy told the Faculty Senate last week.

Hennessy updated faculty members Oct. 13 on Stanford's competitive bid to develop a science and engineering research center in New York. The bid is in response to more than $400 million in economic incentives, including land, from the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Stanford and Cornell University have emerged as top contenders among nearly 20 institutions that indicated preliminary interest, the New York Times reported, adding that both universities hired political and public-relations consultants to woo city officials and New York media.

The deadline for proposals is Oct. 28, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said he'll pick a winner, or winners, by the end of the year.

Hennessy envisions a 10-acre Stanford campus on Roosevelt Island, a narrow island on the East River that is a two-minute subway ride from Manhattan.

The $1 billion to $2 billion construction costs would create housing, classrooms, labs, offices, business-incubator space, fitness centers, shops and restaurants, he said.

The campus would grow in phases, from 2016 to 2038, eventually accommodating 100 faculty members and 2,000 masters and doctoral students. When built out, it would have 1.1 million square feet of academic space; 575,000 square feet of housing; 175,000 square feet of amenities and 50,000 square feet of business incubator space.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff


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