To great applause and cheer from a full house of attendees, the Palo Alto City Council unanimously approved all aspects of what will become the new world-class Stanford University Medical Center on Monday night. The vote was 8-0, with Councilman Larry Klein recusing himself from the vote.
The $5 billion project will add 1.3-million-square feet to the hospital over the next several decades. It is the largest building effort in Palo Alto in 50 years.
“It’s a night for celebration in Palo Alto,” Councilman Greg Schmidt said. “Anyone with a past in Palo Alto has had their lives intersected with the hospital. Some of us are here because of the hospital. We’re blessed as a community to have a hospital like Stanford hospital here.”
The vote wrapped up four years and 97 meetings of public vetting over the much-anticipated project. The 30-year-development agreement with a 51-year-project life won exemption from Palo Alto’s 50-foot building-height limit and 3.8-million-square-foot-development cap.
City Council also approved a $200,000 payment agreement from May 12 between Stanford and East Palo Alto to mitigate future adverse traffic impacts along University Avenue, and Stanford agreed to pay Menlo Park $3.69 million to mitigate increased traffic concerns.
A handful of former Palo Alto mayors, including Liz Kniss and Gary Fazzino, East Palo Alto Mayor Carlos Romero, Stanford physicians and nurses, and Palo Alto residents lined up to voice their enthusiastic support for the new hospital.
“We want to ensure that every patient who walks in through the door has the best medical care available,” said Amir Dan Rubin, president and CEO of Stanford hospitals and clinics. “We have many great firsts that happened at our medical center." The balloon catheter angioplasty first happened at Stanford, among many other cutting-edge medical breakthroughs, he said.
“Four Nobel prizes in last five decades happened at Stanford,” Rubin said, adding that the new hospital will provide the much-needed space to help Stanford pioneer the way in genetic engineering.
“This hospital is going to transform the way health care is delivered and help science serve humanity in a way that has never been done,” said Ron Johnson, hospital board member and senior vice president of retail at Apple Computers. Companies such as Apple, Intel, Intuit, eBay, Oracle and Hewlett Packard are contributing $150 million toward construction of this new hospital and applying the technologies they create, Johnson said. These companies recognize how great health care in the backyard of their employees, combined with great schools, make Silicon Valley an attractive place to move to, he said.
Council members expressed hope and enthusiasm that the approval would meld a new-found, friendly relationship between the city and Stanford.
"We look forward to a different era of partnership and collaboration with the Stanford hospitals as a whole," Mayor Sid Espinoza said.
“It is a momentous evening,” Vice Mayor Yiawey Yeh said. “The city of Palo Alto and the Stanford hospitals—our futures are intertwined. It’s an acknowledgement, the commitment that the city and the Stanford hospitals have to each other, that we’re in this for the long-term, together.”
This hospital is about creating “an environment, creating a site, a facility” that will deliver “passionate health care for human beings, for our generation and those that follow us,” Councilwoman Gail Price said.
Stanford will begin work on the hospital immediately, with the first building permit scheduled for approval this summer, according to Deputy City Manager Steve Emsley.
For more information, visit StanfordPackard.org.