Opinion: City tries to shake down Stanford

April 5th, 2010

By Diana Diamond — Palo Alto Daily Post,

Palo Alto city officials are asking Stanford to suddenly fork out $30 million to help build a new police building in Palo Alto and pay for more police officers.

This feels like pure extortion.

Stanford has been before the city for years with its request for a $3.5 billion hospital expansion and seismic upgrading project, and has already agreed to give $124 million in “community benefits.”

Now the city wants even more.

This request is especially galling because the council was always afraid to get voters to approve a bond measure for a new $60 million police station; it knew residents would turn it down.

The university has already said it did not want to pay for “items unrelated to medical center services and impacts.” Why should it? Stanford has its own police department. So why should it pay for a new police station for Palo Alto?

And that’s not the only demand—there are several others on its revised wish list.

That $124 million the university already agreed to was for what the city council described as “inconveniences” to Palo Alto if Stanford expands its hospital. Part of that $124 million is $23.1 million for affordable housing. Ironically, two of the city council members who were demanding this are no longer on the council—Yoriko Kishimoto and Peter Drekmeier.

I wonder if the four new council members are in tune with their demands.

Guess who will be paying for these increased city demands of Stanford?

We, the residents. If we don’t pay directly, our insurance companies will and our rates will go up.

Stanford should not have to serve as a revenue stream for a city that spends more than any other but still can’t make ends meet, particularly when a renowned medical facility that will take care of so many of us wants to upgrade.

The issue will come before the council’s Finance Committee meeting tomorrow night at city hall.