Stanford is currently seeking a new long-term land-use permit, called a general-use permit (GUP), from Santa Clara County, which is responsible for overseeing land use on Stanford's academic campus. This permit would authorize the next generation of academic facilities and housing at Stanford over the next 17 years.
The permit will allow the university to add facilities that adapt to changes in existing fields of study and the emergence of entirely new fields, along with much-needed on-campus housing. Just as with our existing permit, all of this will be done within a regulatory framework that supports environmentally friendly practices and holds us accountable to local government and the community for delivering on our commitments.
Recently, there has been substantial discussion in the community about the potential impacts on Palo Alto schools from new students generated by the on-campus housing proposed in the general-use permit. As Stanford's chief external-relations officer, I want to address this directly and also invite continued engagement over the coming months.
Last fall, Stanford entered into discussions with Santa Clara County regarding a possible development agreement — essentially, a contract through which Stanford would commit to providing certain community benefits over the life of the general-use permit. Support for local schools will be one of the topics addressed through the development agreement. The draft negotiated development agreement will be included in the public approval process when county decision-makers consider the general-use permit application in the coming months. Talks with the county are ongoing and we are not yet permitted to publicly share details while that process continues.
Stanford intends to offer additional support for Palo Alto schools through this development agreement. The form this support will take will be one of many subjects negotiated between the county and Stanford. But PAUSD is already informing the discussion: Stanford and PAUSD administrative leadership began a series of meetings last summer, continuing into the fall, in an effort to examine the potential effects the general-use permit might have on Palo Alto schools.
As those discussions were ongoing, the PAUSD board passed a resolution in November outlining its requests for consideration in our talks with the county and seeking a decision directly from the supervisors. Since November, we have attempted to continue exchanging information with school district administrative leadership on general-use permit topics, including a meeting as recently as Feb. 8.
We understand that our inability to discuss specific proposals right now is causing anxiety among some members of the community, which we deeply regret. We look forward to being able to share in more detail how Stanford proposes to support our local schools as soon as we are able to do so.
In the meantime, I want to share a few pieces of context that I hope will help build awareness and constructive community conversation on this very important issue.
First, according to Santa Clara County's independent environmental analysis, Stanford's proposed on-campus housing is estimated to produce no more than 275 additional students enrolled in Palo Alto K-12 schools over the next 17 years. Stanford has not proposed any housing configuration that would produce 1,446 students in Palo Alto, a figure that many have seen. The 275 students is a conservatively high estimate, as the student-generation rate used in the county's analysis is higher than has actually occurred in similar housing elsewhere on Stanford's lands.
Separately, the county conducted a theoretical analysis of what would happen if Stanford built much more employee housing than we have proposed. That is the source of the 1,446 number.
It's also important to note that PAUSD enrollment declined by 292 students in the current school year, more than the total number of K-12 school-age students projected to come from new Stanford housing over the next 17 years. Additionally, Santa Clara County's environmental analysis concluded that there is sufficient capacity in existing schools to accommodate Stanford's estimated new students from on-campus housing.
That doesn't end the discussion, but it's an important factual foundation for our community to have.
Second, while some of Stanford's land is exempt from property tax because it is used for academic purposes, similar to other California universities and nonprofits such as Palo Alto Housing, as a whole Stanford lands provide high tax revenues to PAUSD compared to the relatively small number of K-12 students living on university lands.
In 2018, Stanford lands generated 6 percent of PAUSD student enrollment, with more than three-quarters of those students residing in homes that pay property tax. Meanwhile, the property-tax revenue from Stanford lands, both commercial and residential, generated approximately 17 percent of PAUSD total property-tax revenue — worth $30 million. That level of support will increase in the future as existing commercial properties, such as those in the Stanford Research Park, are regularly redeveloped.
Stanford treasures its more than century-long relationship with families and schools in our local community. As an academic institution whose primary mission is to advance knowledge and learning, Stanford supports a range of programs that serve local educators and K-12 students. These include afterschool enrichment programs; professional development for local teachers; summer programs for teachers and students; placing teachers in neighboring communities; and free art museums.
As Stanford plans for its future, we are doing so with a renewed emphasis on our partnership with Palo Alto schools and our shared goal that every student can thrive. We will continue to support our local schools, and we look forward to the ongoing conversation about this with our community.
More information can be found at gup.stanford.edu/schools.
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