Business

Stanford offers to spend $4.7 billion on housing and transit relief in the Bay Area

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A construction worker builds a single-family home in Palo Alto. The median price of an existing home has soared to $1.2 million in Silicon Valley, the highest of any market in the country.
(Noah Berger / For the Times)

Stanford University is offering to spend $4.7 billion to relieve pressures on housing and transit that are plaguing residents of the San Francisco Bay Area.

The offer would be part of an agreement with Santa Clara County to support the school’s application for a long-term land-use permit, according to a statement Monday from Stanford. It would invest $3.4 billion in housing development and more than $1.1 billion in transportation upgrades and “other community benefits,” according to the statement.

Stanford, which is planning a significant expansion, has been embroiled in a dispute with officials over whether it is offering sufficient affordable housing. The plan calls for 2,172 workforce housing units, including 575 “front-loaded below-market-rate housing units.”

“This offer clearly exceeds what can be achieved through the county’s current approach and includes billions of dollars in housing and traffic relief that Stanford wants to provide and our neighbors are asking for,” Stanford representative E.J. Miranda said in an emailed statement.

The university, which has a $26.5-billion endowment, did not specify the timespan of the investment proposed Monday.

Stanford submitted the proposal earlier in the day to Santa Clara County, where the university is located. A spokeswoman for the county didn’t immediately comment on Stanford’s offer.

The success of Silicon Valley technology companies — many of them started by Stanford grads — has contributed to massive housing cost increases in the San Francisco Bay Area. The firms employ tens of thousands of high earners who have bought or rented homes, leaving fewer options for poor and middle-income residents. Meanwhile, the supply of new houses and apartments has not kept up with demand.

That’s driven median existing-home prices to $1.2 million in Silicon Valley, the highest of any market in the country, according to the National Assn. of Realtors. The San Francisco and Oakland metro area is second with a $930,000 median price.

Increasingly, tech companies and their executives have been taking steps to directly address a crisis they’re often blamed for creating. Last week, Google pledged $1 billion to support the construction of 20,000 new homes in the area. The philanthropy started by Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, is also backing an effort to address the housing shortage in the region.