News

Palo Alto tries to put Cal. Ave. project back on track

After being rebuffed by a Superior Court ruling, city resumes its plan to cut lanes on commercial street

When Palo Alto officials meet next Monday to approve a plan to cut lanes and add streetscape improvements to California Avenue, the discussion will have a familiar feel.

The plan, which the City Council green-lighted in February, will have to go through another round of approvals because of a recent court decision in which a Superior Court judge concluded that the city made a sequencing error in its environmental analysis for the project. The ruling followed a lawsuit from a small opposition group whose members claim the lane-cutting proposal would create congestion at the prominent commercial district.

In her ruling, Judge Patricia Lucas wrote that the city's decision to cut lanes on California Avenue -- as described in the city's December 2010 application for a grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) -- was made before the city approved its environmental analysis of the lane reduction in February. As such, the application essentially committed the city to the lane reduction before the analysis had been completed.

Though the city's traffic study indicated that the lane reduction would create no significant impacts, the study was conducted concurrently with the grant application -- a sequence that Lucas found problematic.

To correct the problem and get the project back on track, the council will once again approve the environmental review of the project and authorize a Capital Improvement Program to pay for the design costs of the California Avenue streetscape project. The council will also once again authorize a grant application to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission -- an application that would be administered by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority.

City officials are hopeful that these steps will comply with Lucas' decree and allow it to proceed with the project, which has the support of the entire City Council and the vast majority of the speakers who addressed the council on the topic in February. Supporters of the plan say the new design will make California Avenue safer and more attractive for pedestrian and bicyclists. It would also create 17 new parking spaces in the artsy commercial strip, raising the total number of spots to 128.

Jaime Rodriguez, the city's chief transportation officer, noted in a report that "California Avenue experiences a very low level of vehicular traffic.

"The plan proposes a lane reduction to improve the pedestrian/bicycle experience along the street and the connection between the existing land uses and the enhanced streetscape," Rodriguez wrote.

Critics, including the plaintiffs in the recent suit, contend that the lane reduction would create traffic backup, particularly for eastbound traffic flowing in from El Camino Real toward the Caltrain station. Terry Shuchat, owner of the California Avenue camera store Keeble & Shuchat, told the Weekly that while he supports most of the streetscape plan and hopes the city will make improvements to the neighborhood, he believes cutting lanes will doom California Avenue to the type of traffic congestion currently experienced along University Avenue.

Shuchat is one of four plaintiffs in the suit against the city. Resident Joy Ogawa, former Vice Mayor Jack Morton, whose accounting practice is a block from California Avenue, and Antonio's Nuthouse, a California Avenue bar, are also plaintiffs in the suit.

Curtis Williams, the city's planning director, said staff believes the city's actions next week will be enough to comply with the court order and convince the MTC to release the $1.2 million grant for construction (the city is contributing another $550,000 for the design work). The agency has already listed the California Avenue project on its list of approved proposals but has been waiting for settlement of the litigation before it releases the money, Williams said.

Meanwhile, the city is proceeding with design work for the project, Williams said. In a recent discussion of the project, the council directed staff to further refine the project and to consider new elements such as a central plaza between Ash and Birch streets and parallel parking on both sides of the street.

Planning staff will hold a community meeting Tuesday night (Nov. 29) to discuss various design options and solicit suggestions. The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at Escondido School, 890 Escondido Road, Stanford.

Williams told the Weekly that staff is still talking to merchants about the proposed lane reductions and is considering a possible trial in which lanes are reduced for a block or two. So far, however, staff has not found a way to design a trial without making the street unattractive, he said.

Williams said staff has also held discussions with the merchants about bringing in another traffic consultant to evaluate the impacts of the lane reduction. But the city has not backed off its plan to reduce lanes -- a change that city officials consider a key component of the streetscape plan.

"At this point, we're certainly not intending to look at an option of having two lanes going in each way," Williams said.

•: View the latest proposed streetscape changes for California Avenue

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by reckless drivers
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:00 pm

High traffic volumes really do not work on retail-oriented streets. That is why University Ave has only one lane of traffic in each direction. Drivers have learned to use parallel streets if they want to get through more quickly. The same strategy should easily work on California Ave. Reducing the speed and volume of traffic will make it more pedestrian and retail friendly. Shoppers are currently scared to visit California Ave because they don't want to get nailed by cars when they try to cross that 4 lane street with no stop lights except at the far end (but then you have to worry about the El Camino red light runners).

Just fix it already.


Like this comment
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Agree with reckless drivers above.
Can palo alto get anything done?
Stop the endless bickering & obfuscation.
Boycott those stores who get in the way.


Like this comment
Posted by Calif Ave is just fine
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:22 pm

So Sherman and Cambridge are to get turned into the local equivalents of Hamilton and Lytton? Wonder how the current occupants feel about that plan.


Like this comment
Posted by Calif Ave Improved
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:28 pm

"So Sherman and Cambridge are to get turned into the local equivalents of Hamilton and Lytton? "
No CA Ave, not at all, simply because the traffic volumes on each street are so different. I can't wait for the new CA Ave!!!!


Like this comment
Posted by reckless drivers
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Sherman and Cambridge are mostly business streets already, right? Most of the cars that I see on Cambridge seem to be heading to the post office or to Molly Stone's or to the parking lot behind Shuchat's store. I agree that there is not much through traffic now and there won't be a big change after this improvement. People aren't racing to get to Hwy 101 like they are downtown.

And pedestrians are being hit in the crosswalks on California St right now. A family was nailed right in front of Shuchat's store a couple of months ago. I am shocked that he is opposing the effort to make reduce pedestrian casualties.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2011 at 4:21 pm

> “High traffic volumes really do not work on retail-oriented streets. That is why University Ave has only one lane of traffic in each direction.”

Are you saying that the traffic volume on University Ave is NOT high?!?! It's a disaster.

> “A family was nailed right in front of Shuchat's store a couple of months ago.”

Really? A whole family? “Nailed”? A little boy was hit. Fortunately, he was not seriously injured. This accident could have happened if there were only 2 lanes instead of 4.

The judge's ruling on CA Ave.is short and worth reading.
Web Link Web Link

Some excerpts:
- The money from this grant would constitute approximately 68% of the proposed project’s budget: roughly $1.15 million out of an estimated $1.7 million total…The city stated its intention, if awarded the grant money, to “transform California Avenue into a bicycle and pedestrian corridor,” to be “accomplished by DE-EMPHASIZING VEHICLE TRANSPORTATION MODES through a 4- to 2-vehicle lane reduction …” [Emphasis mine. Clearly cars are meant to be bottlenecked.]

- Traffic counts collected by the City do not show any significant impact with the lane reduction on California Avenue….

- These “traffic counts”, presumably taken October 4, 2010, are not further identified in the record, but are apparently not the same taken later in November 2010…

- The statements by City Staff in reports prepared for the City Council and the Planning and Transportation Commission meetings that the program for “streetscape improvements” on California Avenue was consistent with goals of the City’s Comprehensive Plan.

I can’t help wondering how it can be legal for the city to apply for a grant claiming no “significant impact” with lane reduction while the comprehensive plan calls for lots of development along the CA Ave corridor.


Like this comment
Posted by Anne
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Single lane University is a nightmare. People drive right through the red lights, endangering, not 'helping' pedestrians. Single lanes have actually worsened the area, and made it, less appealing to the rest of Palo Alto who cite traffic, lack of parking- and the homeless- as reasons to avoid the area. Why would California Ave want that. This appears to be one person, the transportation 'Czar', forcing his politically correct view of what of what people "should" be doing rather than making it easier for all citizens to function. This is a great town for riding bikes. It is a great town for walking. But not all people can walk and bike, live near a store, nor can shop for a family using those methods of transportation.

Copenhagen, Denmark, keeps being cited as a civic example to follow, but you need the compare apples to apples: Copenhagen evolved over many centuries from a village into town into a city, Palo Alto has only been here since about 1894, and has grown with and been planned for the automobile. So yes, keep up the sidewalks, bike roads, enforce traffic rules- for everyone- but with University at one end of toe=wn, and Arastradero at the other, why is the city adding Cal Ave.to this mess? $$$$$$- and the fact that they are absolutely useless to the citizens of this city.


Like this comment
Posted by stevie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2011 at 6:29 pm

My pedestrian "experience" would certainly be "enhanced" by getting rid of that dirtbag crazy lady always at the Mollie Stone end of the street.


Like this comment
Posted by JT
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 23, 2011 at 7:58 pm

From the 6th paragraph of the story: "... the project, which has the support of the entire City Council and the vast majority of the speakers who addressed the council on the topic in February."

At previous meetings, the project didn't have the support of the majority of speakers. Nothing like it. Then the bicycle advocates caught on and emailed their online friends to pack the chambers. Even gave them a script to read.

I realize the Weekly reporter is hopelessly naive and doesn't realize what astroturf means, but I suspect some of our council members have seen advocates seed the audience before on other issues.

What should matter most are the opinions of property owners and lease-holders (retailers). Despite claims to the contrary, their views are not reflected in two-lane plane. And if the city rams through this project again (as it looks like they're going to do), the judge is going to stop the city again, and possibly impose sanctions this time for ignoring her instructions.

I get the feeling that somebody or several somebodies at city hall are pushing this project through so that they can have another bullet point on their resume, to help them get the next job.

The good thing is that this issue will still be in the public eye next fall when council members Burt, Espinosa, Price, Schmidt and Yeh will presumably run for re-election. If those five shove this plan down the throats of the community, they might not get re-elected.


Like this comment
Posted by Big Al
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 23, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Anne, I disagree with your thoughts. University is most likely the traffic mess that it is because it's a thourofare- connecting palo to stanford and beyond. Cal. Ave., on the other hand, is not. You are comparing apples and oranges in my estimation. Also, people who live in palo alto and abroad might actually enjoy going downtown if the local shops down there were actually selling things that the average citizens wanted/needed. Last time I ventured that way, which was quite some time ago, I saw the same old same old- no, I didn't need to by a new rug at the rug store, eat cheesecake and get fat, or look at all the vacant stores who have closed doors because their business plan failed. Make it practical and they will come.


Like this comment
Posted by A
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 23, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Antonio Nut House - Fail. Seriously this would be good for the area but I guess competition is unwanted.


Like this comment
Posted by MotoBicyclist
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 24, 2011 at 3:44 am

One lane each way works for California Ave. Since most drivers who shop will park on the garages with Cambridge access. Most bicyclists use the underpass to get to the train station or Stanford. And cars can access the station from Park Ave. So I think the traffic study took into account these factors. Now that Facebook is vacating we must wonder what the new corrider will look like given the fact that so many Facebook employees used the train and the shuttle bus. Maybe it will be better in the long run for the merchants? Personally, the enhanced motorcycle and scooter parking on University is also nice as more people will be riding them as gas prices soar. Not everyone can afford a high priced hybrid and scooters get 50 to 100 mph. No parking issue either...just plan to put the motorcycle spots in. And plenty of 'em. The bus can go on Cambridge as well.


Like this comment
Posted by Crystal
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 24, 2011 at 11:18 am

I'll bet Facebook is glad to be leaving after the City came down on them so hard when the College Terrace/Cal Ave people complained about parking & trafffic. The geniuses at the City made the Facebookers come to work on buses. Then Facebook leaves. The people on our City Counsel sure know how to chase businesses away.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm

To Crystal, you are right! The City chases away businesses of all kinds and open their doors to developers and bicyclists. To MotoBicyclist, btw, those who bike to University station, do exactly that bike to the station. They do not eat, shop, or receive services from the local merchants. They go home especially now since it gets dark earlier. I know many in the bicycle community who does this and even admit how proud they are powerful enough to get the City to pay for their bicycle stations/paths/plans. Sorry guys, you it's true. I bike, too but I also older family members and neighbors who needs to drive to get their errands. They're not young as we are and one day we will be in their shoes. And my sister's family with 3 kids, she has to drive. She has no time to ride around on a bike to do grocery or get her nails and hair done (one on California Ave and the other on Birch). She often says this that there is no way she would pay for those services and then get on her bike to go home. Palo Alto needs a face lift with new City council members, staff and fire/police who wants to keep things as they are so they can keep their eyes on their pension, retirement and government paycheck. We're been ripped off by these people, most don't even live in our community. New, bright, energetic younger generation needs to start stepping in.


Like this comment
Posted by Biking works
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I have an 83-year old friend who still uses her bike as her primary transportation. She tells me regularly, "It's just not that hard." She is an inspiration.

See this great link Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by George
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2011 at 4:09 pm

Resident's interest would be to use the money to build the bike bridge over 101. Why do a controversial project where the business's don't agree among themselves.


Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 25, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

To "reckless drivers", "Big Al", ...

The reason that Palo Alto has problems with "Just fix it already" is because too many people like you on both sides insist on flaunting their ignorance, making it difficult to have a rational discussion.

When you say "Reducing the speed and volume of traffic will make it more pedestrian and retail friendly. Shoppers are currently scared to visit ..." you reveal that you are totally clueless about Cal Ave: It has none of those issues. It is 3 blocks long with stops at each intersection. I have far more concerns crossing my residential street than I do Cal Ave.

While you claim to support the reduction to 2 lanes, it is the torrent of stupid, know-nothing statements like yours that stiffens the resistance of those with legitimate concerns.

For others: The 4 lanes on Cal Ave is an "ancient" historical artifact. Prior to the building of Oregon Expressway (1960s or 1970s?), Cal Ave was a major connector between Alma and El Camino. At that point, the tracking crossing was eliminated and it became the deadend it is today, but the street wasn't reconfigured to match its new low volume.

Note: I support the concept of reduction to 2 lanes, but haven't delved into the secondary details of the current proposal.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm

And could we please stop bringing up the 83-year-old poster child to “prove” the wonders of bicycling?


Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2011 at 10:05 pm

To Bike works, what does your 83 year old friend has to do with this? Show me some data that supports that most 83 year olds in PA bike every where to do errands, shopping, dining, grocery, banking. etc... What about when it rains or gets too cold even for young adults to ride their bikes? Please don't bring up one person to illustrate that biking would be easy for others in the same age group. PA in an educated City but has no common sense.


Like this comment
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

To All on this post, & to Palo Alto Weekly's Censor-happy staff:

I am shocked not one person has commented on the post by "Stevie" of Old Palo Alto, 8th comment from the top, calling another human being that frequents Cal Ave, a "dirtbag crazy lady", and saying his/her pedestrian experience would be enhanced if the city got "rid" of the woman. I just read this blog 11/26. The comment was posted on 11/23.

May I point out the woman *never* sits on the sidewalk. She *never* asks for money, or carries a sign. Rather she keeps to herself.

While her presence may not be pretty to look at, she has every right to be where she is. She is merely sitting on a public bench, minding her own business. She has not made herself a sidewalk fixture during working hours at any storefront. In fact, I know a merchant that tried to help her, feeling badly that she was out in the cold -- but she chose to be left alone.

Stevie - not everyone is as fortunate as you, in your Old Palo Alto neighborhood. This woman may have a mental condition that does not allow her the benefits that you and others have to live as you do, or to process information as clearly. Please find some compassion?

Lastly, Doug Moran - Your thoughts in this post are appreciated. Thank you.


Like this comment
Posted by Sherry
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 26, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Ronna, I agree with you. I objected the moment that comment came in. In fact for several days. And nothing. She does not bother anyone. Stevie, think what you may of her but to call her "dirtbag" on this blog is shameful. She is someone's daughter and possibly a mother to someone. However, I completely disagree with Doug.


Like this comment
Posted by marc
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm

to biking works, ask your 83 year old friend, if she biked when she was raising kids, working, and keeping the house? also, does she bike to her full or part time job? she probably doesn't work, possibly volunteer that means she has the leisure of biking at off peak hours. some people have no common sense!


Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 26, 2011 at 11:18 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Sherry,
If you are going to disagree with me, you should offer details. For example, at what hours is the traffic on Cal Ave bumper-to-bumper as far as you can see, as it is on the purportedly comparable U Ave?

Most of the traffic now on Cal Ave is going to the parking spaces on Cal Ave, and failing that, just off it. If you reduce the traffic to the prime parking spots, isn't this effectively the same as taking away customers from the Cal Ave businesses?

As to the speeding traffic, what sort of speeds are you talking about? And how many cars at that speed (and times)? Are there cars weaving back and forth between lanes to pass cars going the speed limit? I was running an errand on Cal Ave earlier today and never got up to 25mph because of the stops at each intersection.

And if there are people who are afraid to cross Cal Ave, by what route would they reach it that didn't have them crossing streets with similar or greater traffic volumes and speeds? I see far better compliance with the stop signs and pedestrian right-of-way on Cal Ave than in residential neighborhoods. Most of the time I cross Cal Ave on foot, I need only a stutter-step or brief pause to fit into the large gaps between cars.

-----

All the official discussion about traffic calming and improving pedestrian safety is a smokescreen necessitate by the bureaucracies and activist groups being dominated by people who love their slogans and ideology and who hate facts because they are so "inconvenient". The biggest benefit to traffic of reducing the lanes from 4 to 2 is that pedestrians will spend less time in the crosswalks and thereby reduce the time cars need to wait for them. But the current urban planning ideology is to impede vehicular traffic, so it is a big no-no to officially mention this aspect as a "benefit".


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2011 at 11:03 am

Thanks for pointing out the smokescreen, Doug.

The PA Bicycle Advisory Commission(PABAC) has huge sway over the planning department. In an email, Jaime Rodriguez told me that PABAC “ ... is a great resource for the City to solicit input on ideas we come up with directly or proposed through other city groups.”

The city starts out with a “green” and “new urbanism” bias, then reinforces its position by soliciting input from bicycle lobbyists. And hires a consulting firm whose website says, “Alta's mission is to create active communities where bicycling and walking are safe, healthy, and fun…. We strive to make biking, walking, and mass transit an integral part of our daily lives. We believe that bicycling and walking are healthy, clean, and fun daily activities. We have seen firsthand how bicycling and walking add positive value, change people's lives for the better, and improve our communities. We are committed to transforming communities with one trip, one step, one street, park, trail, and intersection at a time.” Web Link

There’s nothing wrong with any of this. Biking is good. Walking is good. But it ignores the reality of cars.

In October, 2009, an article in the Daily Post said, “The city’s goal has been improved pedestrian and bicycle safety, not improved traffic flow.”

The irony is that the state has decreed that Palo Alto build 11,990 housing units by 2035! Many of the homes would be built near public transit, e.g., in the CA Ave area. The city is challenging the numbers, Web Link

Squeezing car traffic while building more housing doesn’t make sense. But without squeezing CA Ave. down to two lanes, the city can't get the VTA money. Simple as that.


Like this comment
Posted by Sherry
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Thanks for the explanation Doug and Pat. City Hall is NO different than Congress, who are paid by lobbyist and self interest groups! Palo Alto prides on itself being educated, "green" and compassionate to others(i.e. car dwellers throughout PA) while screwing over the majority of the community that needs their cars, wants privacy (no car dweller near their property for 3 days!), not business friendly (i.e Facebook, now California Ave area) and what's next on the list for the people we elected to run our city. Mike is right the City staff is more concerned about their paycheck and retirement pension! PA is not that great anymore. I know I've lived here for 47 years.


Like this comment
Posted by Donald
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 27, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Calling PABAC "lobbyists" is disingenuous, if not downright dishonest. Lobbyists are paid to push for benefits to those who pay them. PABAC consists of volunteers who spend their evenings giving suggestions and advice to city staff. Their power comes not from money but from their knowledge and experience. The city gets criticized when it pays for consultants and criticized when it gets expert advice for free, so I guess they just can't win.


Like this comment
Posted by Sherry
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Donald, how are they experts? PABAC do get paid. They get paid with bike paths, bike tunnels, bike racks, reducing lanes to name a few. In fact, they are worse than lobbyists who get paid. With lobbyists you know exactly what is going, it's up front. With PABAC they hide behind "free advice". Why would ANY group pour hours and hours of involvement if it weren't for their own self interest? What.....because they're bunch of nice guys who have nothing better to do? Yeah, right.


Like this comment
Posted by Sherry
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 27, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Donald, you wrote "Their power comes not from money but from their knowledge and experience." Who are the individuals and what knowledge do they have that they can assist a local government run a city? As a matter of fact, I have heard at many council meetings individuals with real knowledge whether it is an economist or architect give "free advice" all the time. Often they are professors or professionals in their field. I have yet to see this council use their advice. Perhaps its because these individuals can't bring in a large group like PABAC to vote for them. Now, who are the lobbyists again?? Self interest groups are lobbyists by their own merits.


Like this comment
Posted by murphstahoe
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

There is very little traffic on Cal Ave, ever. Given that, using that space for something useful could make the street a showcase, which will bring more customers. If they take the lanes out, nobody will notice. I utilize that train station frequently and eat at the various restaurants all the time. It's pleasant to sit outside the Mediterranean restaurant because there is not much traffic, but more amenities would improve it.

Surprisingly this is being pushed by the owner of a Camera Store who will claim that the lanes are what put him out of business, not 8 MegaPixel cameras on the iPhones of all those former customers.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:31 am

“Individuals and nonprofit organizations can also lobby as an act of volunteering…” Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2011 at 10:36 am

“There is very little traffic on Cal Ave, ever.”

How much traffic will there be 10 or 20 years from now when dense housing is built along the corridor?


Like this comment
Posted by murphstahoe
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2011 at 11:55 am

How much traffic will there be 10 or 20 years from now when dense housing is built along the corridor?

It's a dead end street to a train station. The whole point of living in dense housing next to a train station and a plethora of retail is that you don't need to drive. There are numerous places that have 4 (or 6) lane roads with no train station for those who prefer (or require)driving. If masses of people who prefer to drive everywhere move to a narrow street next to a train station in a bikeable town, there complaints of congestion will fall upon deaf ears. If that's what they want, let them build a house on I-280.


Like this comment
Posted by Lance Armstrong
a resident of Woodside
on Nov 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

"At previous meetings, the project didn't have the support of the majority of speakers. Nothing like it. Then the bicycle advocates caught on and emailed their online friends to pack the chambers. Even gave them a script to read.

I realize the Weekly reporter is hopelessly naive and doesn't realize what astroturf means, but I suspect some of our council members have seen advocates seed the audience before on other issues."

This is true - you are just jealous that unlike the Cycling Cabal you cannot afford to fly in half of Occupy Wall Street's protesters all the way from New York to give public comment at a City Council meeting in Palo Alto about a 2 bit dead end street.

You will be assimilated.


Like this comment
Posted by Evan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. When I want to go to a bar, or go to a restaurant, or go buy groceries, I do it downtown. Cal Ave just isn't inviting. As a cyclist who doesn't own a car, I feel welcome in downtown, and it's relatively easy to get around. Not so around Cal Ave. My trips usually extend to my chiropractor on Park, or Fry's Equinox. Make it more inviting -- there's no need for four lanes of traffic!


Like this comment
Posted by win
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Nov 28, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Did you finish you two presentations here since yopu have said once before and this time, will it be the last bs?


Like this comment
Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Sherry wrote to Donald, "Why would ANY group pour hours and hours of involvement if it weren't for their own self interest. What.... because they're bunch of nice guys who have nothing better to do? Yeah, right."

A response:
A group of two citizens are responsible for the year-round Farmer's Market being brought to California Avenue, with one of us taking on the task of finding the producer and seeing the project 3/4 of the way through, and then with me, bringing the project to completion after serious hurdles were raised. It was not easy.

But it's a successful event, and has been well received by the public, since Day One. Neither of us benefit from the Market, other than it being rewarding for us to see the community enjoy it.

The same goes for years of putting on CAADA's district-wide Trick or Treat for Kids event that continues even now, the umpteen coat drives, the children's essay & art contests, and arranging for the avenue to have holiday decorations for 20 years - by the way, not one bow was ever put up by the City.

It was just rewarding to see it bring people joy. With Children's Hospital closeby, decorations lifted the spirits of families from out of state, here with loved ones.

Only insiders know who does the *work* on projects. The planning, advertising, working with the city to benefit a whole district. Bringing something from an idea to making it a done deal, albeit with the city or without, such as in the case of the other CAADA projects that did not require city help, is not easy.

Most businesses were concerned with their *own* business, and not with bringing people to the district so their neighbors also won. So people that saw benefits from these district-wide efforts are *not* the ones responsible for doing any work. If you don't think work was involved - try doing it. Ask people *specifically* what they did to *promote the district*, even within the past 5 years.

My point is, Sherry, please consider that your statement says more about you than it does about REAL *community volunteers* in Palo Alto that you've painted with a broad brush?

I know volunteers in other districts of Palo Alto that are also interested in the community benefits from their work, and are not involved due to any self-interest, such as in Emergency Preparation.

And it's not "hours and hours". It adds up to days, months & years of our time given, for the benefit of others.

Secondly, to those claiming there is no traffic on California Avenue, I'd love to know what your idea of traffic is, and how much time you spend on the avenue. Again, FACTS are appreciated.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

“The whole point of living in dense housing next to a train station and a plethora of retail is that you don't need to drive.”

Be realistic. It’s unlikely that everyone living near a train station will take the train for all purposes. Assume two adults. One may be able to commute to work by train, the other may not. How about shopping, family visits, ski trips, .... Assume children. Will they get to school, soccer, sleepovers, piano lessons, etc. by train?


Like this comment
Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

“The whole point of living in dense housing next to a train station and a plethora of retail is that you don't need to drive.”

Based upon experience from existing residences around Caltrain stations, the expected _commuter_ usage of transit is 3-9%, that is, over 90% of the added population will drive.

The plans for densification of Cal Ave do not include "a plethora of retail". First, the area is to small to reach that even with a concerted effort. Second, the City's established pattern is to allow offices (more profitable to the owner) with an insignificant amount of retail. Third, the City's plan is to eliminate the largest retailer in the extended Cal Ave area -- the P/TOD zoning for the Fry's site would make it extremely difficult for Fry's to stay.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Evan: "When I want to go to a bar, or go to a restaurant, or go buy groceries, I do it downtown. Cal Ave just isn't inviting. As a cyclist ..., I feel welcome in downtown, and it's relatively easy to get around."

My experience as a cyclist is exactly the opposite, and you (Evan) need to explain because I expect that many like me cannot conceive of what you are talking about. For example, I have far, far, far fewer problems with traffic in the Cal Ave area than in the U Ave area. And I have less problem finding an open space in a bike rack.

If you are referring to the merchants, how is a 4-to-2 lane going to change, say, Mollie Stone's into a Whole Foods?

Since your neighborhood (Crescent Park) is within easy walking distance from U Ave downtown and quite distant from Cal Ave, isn't it more likely that your choices are based primarily on proximity?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm

"Be realistic. It’s unlikely that everyone living near a train station will take the train for all purposes."

True, some will just walk, others bike and many will still drive. Nothing in this project will stop anyone from driving, but it might just be a little less convenient to do so while a lot better to walk and bike.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 28, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Mike, why should the city make it “a little less convenient” for drivers?


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Posted by murphstahoe
a resident of another community
on Nov 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

Life is about trade offs. A little less convenient for people still in their car, better for people not in their car - including those who came to Cal Ave via a car.

Some argue one way, some the other. Democracy!


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Posted by happy
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 28, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I am glad someone still knows that life is full of tradeoffs,you can not have both.if you choose one way,you need to be responsible for that your whole life not half and half,there is nothing like this.


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Posted by Sherry
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Ronna, please don't go off in a tangent. Do I really need to explain that in the context of the subject "volunteering" is not the same as what you described. I see you need to continue to write what you did for the street. And that's okay because everything I know of your involvement in decorating, organizing Halloween trick or treat, etc.. were really good for the community but to say it brings customers is incorrect. If you must, have a interview with a reporter of your accomplishments and honestly, I think you might deserve it. However, stop using this forum to educate people of it. PABAC's "volunteering" is for their own interest and you know that kind of "volunteering" really isn't a true service. Although self-serving, they are no different from lobbyists as I mentioned before. Click on pat last web link and read for yourself.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: "murphstahoe" and "happy"

This is not about tradeoffs. Making it more inconvenient for motorists is an independent goal of many bicycle advocates, urban planners and other advocates. For example, on the Arastradero restriping project, it has been pointed out repeatedly that there are sections that are confusing to motorists and that improving signage and lane markings would smooth traffic flow and improve safety. But this is opposed by those advocates because it is against policy to improve traffic flow even when those changes have no impact on bicyclists or pedestrians.

If you go to a public hearing on this topic, you will typically hear multiple bicycle advocates being openly hostile and arrogantly dismissive of those that drive.


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Posted by ladyfleur
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 29, 2011 at 9:24 am

I think most of you are missing the point of the lane reduction. The real benefit of reducing the number of lanes is to create a more inviting walking district with sidewalk activity, a destination for leisurely activities like cafes, window shopping, dining, etc. The street already promotes this to some degree, but a streetscape would boost the appeal considerably. I personally think the underlying concern of many of the shop keepers is gentrification--that after suffering through the construction that their rents will increase.

While this project has support of most bicycle advocates, it isn't about bikes vs. cars. It's about creating a pleasant place to visit, like University Avenue and Castro Street, which means wider sidewalks and slower moving cars.


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Posted by murphstahoe
a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:11 am

what ladyfleur said. California Avenue is not a place where cycling infrastructure needs to be improved. But the street could be nicer.

If there is an intersection between "people who ride bikes" and "people who like streets that are more appealing to people patronizing the street", so be it.

There is a reason why when I come to Palo Alto I patronize University Ave and not El Camino or Middlefield, despite the fact that El Camino and Middlefield are ostensibly "easier" - because those streets offer little to someone going out to patronize businesses. Whence goes Cal Ave?


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Posted by nonofyourbusiness
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Nov 29, 2011 at 10:16 am

How do you know it is not a pleasant place to visit, i like itr,stop finding excuses.


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Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

Sherry, you wrote: "everything I know of your involvement in decorating, organizing Halloween trick or treat, etc.. were really good for the community but to say it brings customers is incorrect."

My response:
I respectfully disagree with you. These events drew hundreds of people to the avenue, slowing them down, because they had to walk the district, and many people I know came back and shopped that day, or on another day, noticing stores they never saw before.

These are only a few efforts I mentioned, and I did so, in order for you to see not everyone is as self-centered as you think, which is the point about which I was referring.

By suggesting I speak with a reporter, again, Sherry, it shows how you think, not how I think. Further, one can't believe everything one reads in newspapers-so blogs are far better. Citizens can share views, in a civil manner, and provide facts.

Secondly, goodwill between merchants and customers resulting in benefits that can't be counted came from CAADA volunteer efforts. Merchants did win - and with customers.

Proof about the value of bringing people to the district for events:
Keeble and Shuchat was closed on Sundays, for years. That's why the Farmer's Market was planned for Sunday mornings, an otherwise sleepy time for the district.

If Keeble and Shuchat were OPEN on Sundays, the street would never have been able to be closed. There would be NO market as you know it - unless it was held in a park.

It would have been out of the question to close the street, even the block by El Camino Real. I took flack about the Twilight Concerts closing the street, mid-week when Keeble and Shuchat was open, and the concert only happened once day per year.

But with all the people coming to the district for the Market, Keeble and Shuchat started opening year-round on Sundays - and presumably, to draw upon the number of people that frequent the district during the morning hours, staying for lunch, and shopping afterwards.

Sundays are no longer sleepy on Cal Ave. Hundreds of customers are brought to the district through the Farmer's Market, that was a 100% volunteer-driven effort, and it's a win for everyone.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 29, 2011 at 11:53 am

“… one can't believe everything one reads in newspapers-so blogs are far better.”

And do you really believe everything you read in blogs?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of another community
on Nov 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Pat, did you mean why have we made it SO inconvenient to walk/bike? We have made car use compulsory and a bit more. Multiple trips to multiple single use destinations, partly explain why Americans consume twice as much energy as Western Europeans. Just look at El Camino Real to see what you get if you don't inconvenience cars.


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Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Pat - if a person writes under their own name, providing provable facts in a blog, there's good reason for me to believe what I read. It boils down to acting in good faith and trying to get the facts out to other people that are interested in a certain topic.

For instance, Doug Moran's comments seem sound to me. Whenever I see his name on a blog, I know he's passionate about making the community better, and taken the time to educate himself about topics
so his views are appreciated and valuable to be weighed, prior to making a conclusion about something important.

Remember the "Executive Summary" that was illegally leaked to the press several months ago? Much of it was hogwash, and as one-sided as it could be. Yet it was 'official' and in print. It would have been better to have handled that in a blog & as effective! <grin>


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