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Adecades-long dispute over a Stanford University proposal for development and extension of Sand Hill Road was finally settled by Palo Alto voters. After months of the highest profile campaign in local elections, the plan backed by Stanford and the Palo Alto City Council won in November with 55 percent of the vote over a competing citizens' initiative that called for a smaller version of the project.

The $342 million initiative will extend Sand Hill Road from its current dead end in the parking lot of Stanford Shopping Center to El Camino Real and widen most of it from two to four lanes. It will also build a 628-unit rental apartment complex for faculty and employees and 388 units of market-rate senior housing along that road, and will expand the Stanford Shopping Center by 80,000 square feet.

The controversial Stanford project, one of the largest developments in the city's history, is expected to ease Palo Alto's housing crunch and improve Sand Hill Road's bottle-necked traffic, including emergency trips to Stanford medical facilities.

"The public did trust Stanford and the city council and the process the project went through," said Larry Horton, director of government and community relations for Stanford.

Historically, the struggle over the Sand Hill corridor has divided the mid-Peninsula for decades. Since the 1950s, Stanford has sought to extend the road. In 1971, Palo Alto voters rejected a plan to connect Sand Hill Road to Alma Street. In 1984, a Menlo Park citizens' group blocked a Sand Hill project by contending that the environmental reviews for it were inadequate.

After months of an intense and costly campaign (Stanford reported it had expended about $272,000), the voters' decision was a relief to many. "Thank God it's over. Let's move on," Joe Huber, Palo Alto's mayor, said. ST

Sand Hill Road (Plain text)

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