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Stanford Medical Center Upgrade Hits Health Bump

Impacts of construction on the Stanford Arboretum Childcare Center next to Hoover Pavilion by construction of a 9-story garage were never adequately considered, causing parents of children at the preschool great concern.

Final approval of the Stanford Medical Center upgrade and replacement hit a bump last week when action was continued to July 13 at Stanford’s request so that they can address serious concerns about health and safety at two nearby childcare centers.

These issues arose after parents were formally informed on June 6 of planned construction on the new garage next to Hoover Pavilion that involves extensive excavation and construction within a few feet of the Stanford Arboretum Childcare Center, including removing a classroom. This created great consternation among parents of the children, some as young as two months, who use the center or another childcare center, CCLC Stanford West, a few blocks away.

Interestingly the FEIR issued Feb. 2010 has a section on health and safety dangers to hospital patients and construction workers at and hospitals, but never mentions the Stanford Arboretum Childcare Center or CCLC Stanford West.  It says there are no K-12 schools within half a mile of the site so children will not be exposed to construction health risks.

In the SUMC Stanford Hoover Pavilion Renovation Project report, 1/18/2011, 'Figure A' names Hoover Pavilion, a new office building, and the garage, but the childcare center that is shown as a distorted C in the lower right corner isn’t identified, nor is it noted or discussed at all in this report.  Attachment C of the 4/7/2011 staff report to the ARB on Hoover Pavilion Renovation identifies Children’s Center with an area of 7375 square feet, reporting it exists but requiring no mitigations to prevent health hazards to children during construction.  Neither the EIRs nor SUMC reports were copied to the childcare center or to parents. During Planning Commission hearings on the project commissioner Keller warned that impacts on the Arboretum Childcare Center must be considered, so knowledge of health hazards existed at City Hall.

After parents found out that the 9-story garage was planned a few yards from the childcare center, and that construction would be even closer and very intrusive, they asked managers and staff at the center about the situation.  Child care staff replied that they were not allowed to say anything about the plans before July 15 – a week after the deadline to file a lawsuit about the project.  Apparently they were told about the construction and encroachment impacts in April, but forced into secrecy.

Stanford Hospital representatives say they want to negotiate with childcare parents to try to come to an agreement on reducing or eliminating adverse impacts on children at the Arboretum center, possibly by temporary relocation of the childcare center during construction.  Reportedly calls and e-mails by parents to Stanford Hospital representatives last week were not returned.

Many of the parents of Children’s Center attendees are health professionals, toxicologists, or lawyers.  A dozen of them spoke to the Council June 20 asking that the SUMC agreement not be finalized and approved.  It is very likely that if a satisfactory agreement between Stanford and parents is not reached a lawsuit against Stanford and Palo Alto will be filed July 7, the last date for suing.

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