News

California Avenue redesign stalled by lawsuits

Palo Alto plan to reduce lanes, improve streetscape loses grant funding because of litigation

Palo Alto's ambitious quest to turn California Avenue into the next University Avenue or Mountain View's Castro Street is facing major delays and uncertainty over funding because of legal challenges from a small group of merchants opposed to the proposal.

The long-debated project was unanimously approved by the City Council a year ago after public testimony from dozens of area residents and business owners, with most speakers enthusiastically supporting the proposal and urging the council to adopt it. Council members argued that the largely grant-funded project would make California Avenue more vibrant, walkable and economically prosperous.

Now, the much-touted project is in danger of losing its funding because of two lawsuits brought by a handful of area business people. The courts have rejected many of the arguments in these lawsuits, but the project's opponents have succeeded in at least one important respect: By tying up the project in litigation, they have forced the city to delay construction and to forego the $1.2 million grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) that officials were banking on to implement the lane-reduction plan.

Planning Director Curtis Williams told the Weekly in an interview that the city is still confident it can get the state money for the project in the next round of grant applications. City officials are now looking at other grant sources as well.

"The MTC won't move forward until we clear the lawsuit," Williams said. "But we're still very comfortable that we'll move forward with the project and have a grant."

Officials had hoped to launch construction this spring and complete it by fall. Now, it looks like the project will be pushed forward by at least six months to a year, Williams said.

While Williams called the delay "disappointing," he said the project still enjoys enthusiastic support from the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), the agency that disperses MTC funds to local jurisdictions.

Opponents of the streetscape project -- a group that includes owners of Mollie Stone's supermarket, Antonio's Nuthouse, the camera store Keeble & Shuchat Photography and the California Paint Company -- have argued in their lawsuits that reducing lanes on California Avenue would slow down traffic and, as a result, decrease their business. They have also maintained that the city violated state law in its environmental analysis of the impact of the streetscape project.

The courts have already dismissed the first lawsuit that challenged the project -- one that was filed by Terry Shuchat and resident Joy Ogawa. But Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Patricia Lucas determined that the city approved its environmental documents and grant applications in the wrong sequence, a ruling that forced the council to revote on these documents in November. Lucas also upheld the validity of the city's environmental analysis, which indicated that the streetscape project would bring with it few traffic impacts.

Related story: Judge dismisses challenge to California Ave lane reduction (April 13, 2011)

But the city's legal victory in the Shuchat case rings somewhat hollow these days. First of all, Shuchat and Ogawa are now appealing the court's dismissal of their case. They are now joined in their appeal by the owner of Antonio's Nuthouse and by former Vice Mayor Jack Morton, an accountant whose office is located in the business district.

William Ross, who is representing the plaintiffs, recently submitted a notice to the city stating the plaintiff's intent to appeal the court's decision to dismiss the Ogawa suit.

Then there's the second case, filed by Robert Davison of the California Paint Company. Earlier this month, Lucas agreed to hear his challenge, despite the city's prior argument that it does little more than rehash the arguments from Ogawa and Shuchat's suit.

Related story: Plan to cut lanes on California Avenue challenged again

Davidson argues that the city violated the California Environmental Quality Act by splitting the streetscape project into segments rather than evaluating the impacts of the full project. It also argues that the city failed to evaluate the full impacts of the proposed lane reduction.

The city's environmental analysis, Ross had argued, "did not consider either the temporary or permanent impact of the Project construct, which is still undefined, or the permanent lane reduction that would impede access to existing businesses."

"Specifically, customers would be unable to reach businesses in the Project area, which could result in business disruption and closure," Ross wrote. "Business closures and resulting economic blight is an impact on the physical environment that must be assessed in an environmental document."

In a response to the Davidson lawsuit, City Attorney Molly Stump argued in a March 15 brief that the suit should be dismissed because Davidson did not bring his concerns forward at the "administrative level" during the planning process. She also contested Davidson's arguments (which were also the arguments brought forward in the Ogawa case) that the city failed to accurately describe the project in its environmental documents and that it illegally "segmented" the project (that is, split it into phases) to get environmental clearance.

"Planning, funding, designing and constructing a project is not segmentation; it is the logical course of events for completing a public improvement," Stump wrote in the March 15 response.

Stump acknowledges in her response to the Davidson suit that the merchants had provided "substantial evidence in the form of personal observations" that the lane reduction would create traffic and economic impacts. But "mere observations without factual support that contradicts an analysis or study do not rise to the level of substantial evidence that the agency must consider," she wrote. Palo Alto's analysis concluded that the lane reduction would have a "less than significant" traffic impact.

"In this case, the personal observations consist only of speculative lay opinions challenging a highly technical traffic engineering report," Stump wrote.

While the court cases slog ahead, city planners are proceeding with design work on the streetscape project. In addition to the $1.2 million in grants Palo Alto hopes to receive, the city is chipping in about $500,000 in local funds for the project. The council had recently asked staff to consider widening sidewalks at California Avenue and explore other improvements -- including creation of a new plaza -- on the commercial strip that stretches from El Camino Real to the Caltrain tracks.

Williams said staff is tentatively scheduled to discuss the project with the Planning and Transportation Commission on April 25 and with the council in late May. The city hopes to finalize the design, he said, "so that once we get the grant funding renewed, we are ready to roll."

He said staff is also meeting with merchants to discuss the phasing of construction.

"Regardless of when it begins, it will involve a certain level of disruption," Williams said. "We want to get their input before we proceed."

Comments

Posted by stop stalling, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 9:31 am

NIMBYs are just wasting the city's money (our money). This project is a big safety improvement that needs to go forward ASAP. I'm boycotting whiner companies listed in this article until this project is complete.


Posted by Local resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 9:48 am

The City wasted our tax dollars long before the law suites when they cut down the trees.


Posted by Kir, a resident of Ventura
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:38 am

I will be sending a letter to the businesses listed above telling them that I will not be patronizing them unless they withdraw their lawsuit. This is an annoyance for me, but I now feel that I must take a stand.

Mollie Stones is my local grocery, and is on my husbands bike route home, so we often shop there. I am an interior designer, and love California Paint because they carry my favorite paint brand. But I cannot, in good conscience give my money to local businesses that have taken actions that show they do not care about me and the community. I know my tiny boycott will make no difference to them, but I am just so mad!

These businesses are wasting the city's money with their lawsuits, (not law suites, as mentioned above, not sweet at all!)

This upgrade and repaving has been studied to death, and creates no slowing on this quiet business cul-de-sac. I attended many of the public input sessions, and found the studies to be convincing and well thought out. They even adjusted the street plan turn pockets based on feedback from the public outreach.

These businesses are showing a disregard for all of their patrons that arrive walking or on bicycle, by blocking a street plan that would make it safer for those transportation modalities.

An exclusively car centered transportation plan is a 1950's mentality. Wake up and join the 21st century, where vibrant neighborhood centers have pedestrians. Cal. Ave is ideally suited to actively support bicyclists because it is at the junction of the Park Blvd. bike corridor, the underpass under Alma, and a safe route up to the Stanford research park and Stanford.

So from now on- I will get my groceries at Country Sun, Paint from Kelley Moore or Greys Paints in Menlo Park, beer, hot dogs and peanuts at the Oasis or Dutch Goose.

Shame on you Mollie Stones, California Paint, and Antonio's.


Posted by supporter, a resident of Southgate
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:38 am

Castro St and University hardly suffer from lack of customers. Castro is well designed and very pleasant to eat/shop. I believe California Ave business will in fact increase after the modification. So, we have a couple of business owners putting the project in jeopardy, a project I suspect most residents would both approve of and benefit from.


Posted by A neighbor, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:52 am

Castro Street and University Avenue do not dead end. If the plan is to make a vehicle over, underpass below or thru cal-train and Alma, the comparison would be fair. I live 3 blocks away and from an aesthetics angle, the plan sounds great. From a merchant angle, I absolutely understand their parking and accessibility concern (during construction and after).


Posted by Kim S., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:55 am

I really hope this two lane plan goes away. If we turn this into another University, Castro, Arastradero it will simply move traffic to the residential areas creating situations like North of University where the residents are asking for help in stopping the cut through traffic. I almost never go to University Avenue and know many who feel the same because of all the lights and the gridlock created as cars are waiting or exiting parking spots. Can't we leave one shopping district with free moving traffic where those of us who are like-minded have a pleasant and stress free means of shopping? I plan on always using California Avenue for my shopping to support the sensible businesses there.


Posted by Silly City, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:02 am

Good for the merchants! The idea is stupid to begin with.

And the analogy with Castro St. is wrong; Castro is dominated by restaurants, not merchants. That's almost the same with University unless you could all the empty stores downtown.

Parking is non-existent near Cal Ave now; try finding a place to park when you go to the cobbler or cleaner.

The city knows how to waste our money and destroy small business.


Posted by helene, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:12 am

There is always gridlock on University Ave and Castro Street. I take side streets in order to avoid the congestion. There is no way California Ave.
will be any different when the lanes are reduced. I can see back up onto El Camino, when someone is trying to exit a parking spot. Leave well
enough alone and use the money for something truly important......maybe the infrastructure of our City? My raised sidewalk in front of my house
is just waiting for someone to fall and sue. You have done enough damage with the trees and that fiasco on California Ave.


Posted by Jeanie Smith, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:13 am

Like Kir, I'm angry that these few businesses keep denying the will of the majority on this project, even after years of analysis where they were given plenty of opportunity to have input and give feedback. They've known about this plan much longer than the general public, as members of the CADA.

If your side is pitted against another side and the vote goes to the other, you accept your loss gracefully and move on; that's the way of democracy. Keeping the plan tied up in courts and jeopardizing the funding is NOT fair to all those who have done the diligence and worked hard to optimize this plan, with mountains of evidence that it will enhance the Avenue and IMPROVE parking, not the other way around. I'm extremely mad and disappointed with merchants I have known for decades.


Posted by mec, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:14 am

I frequently patronize California Ave businesses.
These unrelenting NIMBY antics by a few businesses mean I will no longer take my camera and lens purchases to Keeble or a drink at Antonio's. These businesses should be made to know the bridges they are burning.


Posted by sandy, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

Although I live closer to University Avenue than to California Avenue, I go south whenever possible; University Avenue has become so tarted up that it's no longer pleasurable to shop or eat at a restaurant there. California Avenue has a greater variety of businesses, the pace is slower, the crowds (including the hordes of tourists) are absent, and I can find parking without intruding on surrounding neighborhoods. In short, I can do all my errands without feeling as if I'm running with the bulls in Pamplona.


Posted by 4-Lanes-Are-Better-Than-2, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:17 am

> These businesses are showing a disregard for all of
> their patrons that arrive walking or on bicycle, by blocking
> a street plan that would make it safer for those
> transportation modalities.

Really? And what evidence do you have that the current California Avenue is "unsafe", and if this land reduction is effected, that it will be "safe" and "stress free"? The City has not produced any data, or other kinds of evidence, that the current California Avenue is "unsafe". Given that it dead-ends, and that there are two stop signs and a traffic light (requiring stops most of the time), there is very little danger to people walking. Bicyclists tend to run the stop signs, and sometimes ride on the sidewalks, so there is some danger from being hit by these miscreants.

By all means – stop shopping at the stores that have stood up for their rights, and the future of their businesses. It's doubtful that very many people will actually start driving to other grocery stores when they live close enough to walk to Molly Stones. It's also doubtful that the paint store gets a lot of walk-in business, where people carry 10-15 gallons of paint home in a shopping bag.

Hopefully, the merchants will stand their ground, and will prevail in the appeal.


Posted by Tired of the Whiners, a resident of Ventura
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:23 am

I'm with Kir, et al. California Ave. needs upgrades. There are other stores that can serve our needs if the suing ones don't want to do what's best for the community. I'll shop elsewhere. Yes, they can do what they think is best for their businesses, but I can in turn do what what I think is best for my needs and the neighborhood's.


Posted by Gethin, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:30 am

California Ave needs to be modernized and improved. The locals who want to block everything and anything can always come up with an excuse not to make a change. I hope the law suits lose fast, that as little of our money is wasted as possible on this sad NIMBY obstructions and we can get a revitalized California Avenue area.


Posted by rem, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

rem is a registered user.

HOT DOG - Something finally stopped this stupid "remodeling" of a nice street...


Posted by Teddy Bear, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:38 am

All the trees were cut down at the same time to make it easier to get approval to convert properties to office buildings, just like Downtown. Once the office buildings are filled with workers patronizing restaurants we won't need any residents coming to California Avenue. Get with the program!


Posted by Kim S., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

@ gethin – California Avenue needs to be modernized and improved - Yes it does need repaving, bike racks and benches but going back to single lane streets isn't modern, it dates back to when cars were first invented.


Posted by Cal Ave Resident, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:49 am

Whether or not this goes through, can they at least repave the roads? They are abhorrent for cyclists and drivers alike to use, and some of the potholes are pretty sizable.

College Terrace receives much less traffic, and yet was repaved recently. Whether Cal Ave is 4 lanes or 2 makes no difference to me, since I've never seen that much traffic on the street. There are often times some trucks that double park and block a whole lane, so if there is a move to 2 lanes only, I hope they know better than to block traffic completely.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:52 am

Bike safety - there is no room for a bike between the parking and the traffic lanes. You essentially have to ride in the lane of traffic.

Shall we take bets on whether the merchants will relent if they're given some sort of "compensation" for their pain and suffering during the construction phase?


Posted by Julian, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:55 am

Speaking as an existing customer - good for the merchants!

I lived in Mtn View when they converted Castro. WIth what it turned into, I started avoiding it.

Now the city wants to "improve" California with a plan to cut down the number of parking spaces while at the same time (supposedly) increasing the number of people going there. Can anyone else do the math? California already has a parking problem.

I'll have to send letters to those businesses supporting them, and also pointing out that the only thing the opposition can come up with is to call names.

BTW, has anyone else noticed that there were no ramifications for cutting down the trees?


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I'm sick of this "Palo Alto Process" garbage.

No more Mollie Stone's, Calif Paint, Nut House, or Keeble & Shuchat for me. These organizations are cry-babies getting in the way of beautifying our city and rejuvenating our revenue stream.


Posted by A long-time shopper, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:02 pm

So, Gennady, how did this plan come about, in the first place?

Was the City working from a General Design Plan, when "The Project" commenced a few years ago? If so, how did that design come to be?
Will you please ask the City and those merchants responsible for the loss of the VTA grant for us Weekly readers?

Was the work that began a few years ago (tree replacement) not known as "Phase One" back then? I remember reading it was "Phase One". So I thought The Project always had two phases:

Phase One (tree replacement and street resurface/lane reduction) and Phase Two (bike racks/trash cans/benches/newsracks)

Am I wrong?

Was the Business Association ever made aware of ALL the City had planned for this district, when The Project commenced a few years ago?

The Business Association that was made to look bad about the tree cutting. Remember? So was the Association only involved with the decison of the trees? Was their Board totally kept in the dark about ALL the rest of The Project?

That doesn't add up to me. I can't imagine the City shot from its hip, for the whole Project. Palo Alto can be daffy. But is it *that* daffy?

Are merchants that unaware of what's going on around them, staying quiet for years, then taking legal action against the city to stop a project that involved funds from a VTA grant? Seems odd to me.

How many times did the City request a grant for "The Project" over the past several years? Didn't The Project always include a lane reduction from four to two? I remember having read about the lane reduction from four to two, years ago. So I thought it was old news.

Yet none of these questions have been covered in recent newspaper articles, for us shoppers/pedestrains/drivers to that district.

If we shoppers talk of boycotting business, ought PA Weekly readers not be able to have the benefit of all the historical FACTS first?

Losing $1.2 million in improvements for a district with potholes in its streets the size of easy chairs, and where pedestrians have been hit in crosswalks, seems like it deserves in-depth reporting, so a proper determination to be made. Then again, that's just me. I happen to like facts. Gennady, how about you?

By the way, it's physically impossible for California Ave. to turn into University Ave or Mountain View's Castro Street. A better comparison is Los Altos' downtown, with Main Street/State Street. Upon reflection, wouldn't you agree?


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Silly merchants. How DARE they fight to stay in business.

How DARE they fight the city's desire to spend money they don't have just so they can spend money from the state that it doesn't have.

What we need are painting contractors riding bikes to their jobs.

What we need are more traffic disasters like Town & Country so we spend our money in Menlo Park to avoid that mess.


Posted by Katie O., a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

yes, A., you are wrong. the 2-lane plan only surfaced very recently because California Avenue merchants never approved it. A few months ago, in just a few hours, over 300 signatures opposing the 2-lane plan were obtained from people shopping on the Avenue. Basically the only ones not signing were those who arrived on bicycles. Why don't we let merchants and shoppers on California Avenue decide what is best for them, instead of people who live elsewhere, and certainly not the City who never cared about California Avenue until $1.2 million suddenly was obtainable. Money for re-surfacing the street has been in the city budget for years.


Posted by Kim S., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

@ Katie O, is the list to keep California Avenue to 4 lanes on the internet? It should be, I'd sign it in a heartbeat.


Posted by KP, a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:47 pm

They need to leave California Ave ALONE! Spend some money where it is REALLY needed. (a great project in Mitchell Park, the Magical Bridge for instance).

Like everyone says, University and Castro are so congested with one lane, why add another. OH, and speaking of congested...Driving past the new Mitchell Park Library on Middlefield Rd., I see that we are going to have some traffic jams due to a lane narrowing for left turns! Ridiculous! Oh, well. I guess they had to rack up those millions some how.

Also, to those bike riders that will have to "share the lane with cars"...ummm, most of you already act as if you are cars in the traffic left turn lanes, etc.!!! Don't give me that line of malarkey!

Seriously, our Palo Alto Council should really consider what they waste money on and what needs real financial support. Right now, they just agree to spend and spend and smile in our faces, saying it's what's best! LMFAO


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I don't know enough about this project to criticize individual elements. However,I have great respect for Mollie Stones, Keeble and Shugat, the California Paint store and other longterm businesses on California Avenue. I think the city needs to come up with a plan that the businesses who have to live with the improvements will approve. It sounds like the city has ignored or rejected many of their suggestions, preferring opinions of regional agencies whose agenda is not aligned with the businesses or citizens of Palo Alto.

Helping businesses on California Ave. thrive is more important than reducing lanes in order to get transportation grants. I would be willing to bet the local businesses would approve and support a plan with bicycle friendly features, as long as it doesn't reduce parking. This does not have to be win/lose between bicycles and cars. Let's find a win-win plan like the SOFA development downtown for the property sold by Palo Alto Medical Foundation when they moved years ago to El Camino. This is a wonderful development, due to lots of neighborhood and business involvement, that enhances downtown. Of course, consultants from SF hired by the city for the Railroad Corridor Project, were not enthusiastic! They preferred the pre-existing 7-8 story apartment buildings (not permitted by current zoning) and were unexcited about the space "wasted" on townhouses and "horrified" by surface parking. SOFA was not nearly dense enough for them.

I have more confidence in the judgment of our local successful businesses and neighborhood organizations, than the VTA, which recovers only 12% of its costs at the farebox. The VTA is also the agency proposing that we dedicate two lanes of El Camino to buses only, which would make a street already at capacity, a disaster, shoving even more traffic into the surrounding neighborhoods.

I think the city planning office and its expensive consultants are more interested in turning Palo Alto into another San Francisco, cramming in more businesses and houses for the benefit of everyone but the citizens of Palo Alto who pay their salary. Planning should be for the benefit of the local public, not regional authorities with their own agenda, construction unions or developers. Otherwise, you get developments like "Arbor Ugly", built by a Texas firm and the Alma Plaza plan, whose housing will be built I think by the same firm. As I watch the flimsy construction (particle board not plywood) go up, I wish the city had not given in to the developer who was not willing to come up with a plan that conformed in any way to existing zoning or the General Plan, ignoring most neighborhood input. He held out for 10 years for an overly intense plan that maximized his profits but will do little for the city of Palo Alto. Had he conformed to the existing zoning, which the value of the property he paid for was based on, Alma plaza would have been rebuilt long ago.

Maybe what we need is an initiative to eliminate "planned community" zoning and substitute more specific zoning for transportation corridors that isn't just "anything goes."


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Somebody should edit stories like this to eliminate obvious bias, or the Weekly should just admit that it's abandoned objectivity and is a shill for City Hall.

Paragraph 1 — "a small group of merchants" sounds like a put down, as if you're minimizing the opposition to this project. Most of the merchants are on record opposing it. Yes, only four or five are involved in the suit, but that may be because litigation costs money. Anyway, instead of saying "small group" just give the number, don't opine.

Paragraph 2 — "business owners, most of whom enthusiastically supported the proposal." Almost everyone agrees with improving California Avenue, but not the idea of reducing it from four lanes to two lanes. You're mixing up the two ideas. Either it's unintentional because your reporter is inexperienced and doesn't have the background, or it's intentional because you're trying to mislead people.

Paragraph 3 — "A handful of area business people" Again, give the actual number rather than using a phrase that minimizes the opposition. How about, "Four businesses and two residents are spending tens of thousands of dollars to fight the lane reduction."

Paragraph 3 — "The courts have rejected many of the arguments in these lawsuits." Really? Have you bothered to look at the court files in each case? The first lawsuit succeeded in forcing the city to redo its approvals of the project. The second suit's claims have yet to be heard.

I can go on, but you get the point.

One serious factual error: The first suit wasn't "dismissed" as you claim in Paragraph 9. It was "discharged." Dismissed means the judge threw it out, as if it were meritless. No, Judge Lucas actually found for the plaintiffs (the merchants and residents) and ordered the city to re-do its approvals. Once that happened, she "discharged" the suit, which essentially means she ended it because there was outstanding claims. I realize the plaintiffs disagree and are appealing, but the case was discharged not dismissed. There's a world of difference between those two words. You should be more precise and less biased.

In the end, we all know that the City is a major advertiser in the Weekly and your stories need to follow to the City Hall line, so I guess we should expect that you'd be against the merchants suing the city. But you should take some pride in your work and avoid obvious examples of bias. Just for the sake of professionalism if nothing else.

I also realize that you're going to take down this post as soon as you read it.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Anonymous, thanks for that. I agree.

Yesterday, there was an article in the SF Chronicle about how short-sighted recycling policies have inflated utilities bills by a huge amount, sometimes 30% in a single year.

Will we read that story here?


Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Mar 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Mollie Stone's supermarket, Antonio's Nuthouse, the camera store Keeble & Shuchat Photography and the California Paint Company

4 companies I will never be patronizing again.


Posted by Long-time Shopper, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Katie O - Re: your facts for readers of this story, as I requested--

How do we know what you're saying is true? How do we know you're not one of the few opposing people, creating your own version of facts, to push through your own position, or a child, having some fun?

Why would I have a vivid recollection of the lane reduction from several years ago if, as you say, this is a new development?

I've been keeping track of this story for a long time. I even attended a few meetings about it, after the trees were replaced.

I specifically remember there was Phase One and a Phase Two. I don't remember lane reduction being brought up only a few months ago, as you wrote in your post. I remember the lane reduction was broached a few years ago, and became an issue of more discussion & study, within the past year or more, with the City reaching out to everyone, all during the time it was discussed.

The few people opposed to the lane reduction have not said anything worthwhile to stop it, even at the public meetings I attended. Whereas the many people in favor of the lane reduction are giving valid reasons for supporting it.

I specifically remember reading this is not the first grant requested for "The Project" either, and lane reduction was a proposal submitted in the other grant applications too. This is not a new thing, as I recall.

Katie O - your post indicates the lane reduction idea is a brand new thing, and was a surprise to many. That's just not how I remember it.
How long have you been keeping abreast of this issue, Katie O?

Will you please identify yourself to us? Do you work at the City? Are you a member of the Business Association? Is there a contact information for you, Katie O, so you can answer other questions for us?

$1.2 million is at stake. Residents deserve answers, and pedestrians deserve a safe environment in which to shop.

Katie O - What makes you qualified to questions regarding the details of this story, instead of Gennady Shyner, a Palo Alto Weekly reporter that I presume is assigned to California Ave issues? You told me my earlier post was in error. What makes your details accurate, Katie O?


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Missing from this and earlier articles is why merchants who originally supported the conversion to two lanes now oppose it.

I have no inside knowledge, but from listening carefully to what is being said, I have several speculations.

1. The merchants explicitly state that one of their concerns is about the loss of business _during_ construction. One needs only to have experienced what happened on Cambridge (one block over) to understand worries about construction that could disrupt the street for years. Or look across El Camino into College Terrace for a similar project that took forever.

2. Concern that the City will disregard promises make to stakeholders such as them. As someone with experience on multiple issues, I can tell you that this is so routine that many people see participating in early meetings as a waste of time and wait until the issue reaches Council.

3. There is a strong element in the City and supporting activists who treat bicycle and pedestrian issues not as providing safety or better access by for those group but as providing an excuse to impair safety and access for drivers. Yes, I did mean "impair safety". Although those advocates won't admit it, when these safety issues arise, they dismiss them. For example, on the Arastradero Restriping Plan, when I and others pointed out that inadequate signage was creating safety problems at lane merges, we were admonished by recently-resigned P&T Commissioner Daniel Garber. If you are merchants depend upon customers who arrive by car, and you see a City that uses Bike&Ped projects as an excuse to impede motorists, why wouldn't you be worried?

4. The two-lane plan is based upon _current_ traffic levels. However, the City is advocated (at the prompting of ABAG) massively increasing the density of the CalAve area, both offices and housing. The theory is that these residents and workers will use public transit, but the experience is that at least 90% will be drivers. If/when this increase occurs, the two-lane configuration could easily be overwhelmed. And the ideological bent of the City would prevent it from returning to 4-lanes.

So we have a City that ignores needs of major stakeholders, doesn't honor its promises to stakeholders, that fails to have contractors execute competently on projects, that has ideology trump data and experience, and that hasn't taken into account future changes that it wants to happens. How could anyone have reservations about such a project.

BTW, I was a supporter of the early versions of the project when its focus was on practical improvements to CalAve for the merchants, with part of that being Bike&Ped improvements, as opposed to the current ideologically-driven plan.


Posted by Grumpy Granny, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm

We use the California Avenue shops and post office frequently. Changing the configuration of the street would be a big mistake! On thinking about it, how would the big trucks that bring in the merchandise manage, if California Avenue is only two-lane? I confess I don't pay much attention to the workings of our City Council, nor do I think much of them as a group, but...they are as they are. I hope all will be well with California Avenue and its merchants, come what may. We like the neighborhood.


Posted by Real E. Stater, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm

Look at you all...this is why Palo Alto will continue to regress as a town you want to live in. Nothing can get done because of all the know-it-alls bickering about anything and everything. The Facebook kids are looking in to live in Mtn View, which is very progressive compared to do nothing, Stagnant Alto. Enjoy what you all do best: fighting with one another insisting you know what's right all the time for everyone while nothing gets done to improve the livability of the city.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm

> The merchants explicitly state that one of their concerns
> is about the loss of business _during_ construction

And they should. There is little evidence that anyone involved on the City's side of this cares one wit about their businesses, or their loss of revenue. Moreover, it is virtually impossible to hold anyone but City Council members accountable.

> There is a strong element in the City and supporting activists
> who treat bicycle and pedestrian issues not as providing safety
> or better access by for those group but as providing an excuse
> to impair safety and access for drivers

This is very true, and it doesn't get nearly enough visibility in the press, or among Palo Alto drivers.

> The two-lane plan is based upon _current_ traffic levels.

Again true. ABAG wants to force Palo Alto to build 8,000 new residences, and who knows how many new businesses will be started in Palo Alto in the next three decades. So, using current traffic levels is not acceptable as a planning tool.

> So we have a City that ignores needs of major stakeholders, doesn't
> honor its promises to stakeholders, that fails to have contractors
> execute competently on projects, that has ideology trump data and
> experience, and that hasn't taken into account future changes
> that it wants to happens.

Again true. The Office of the Auditor does not ever look at anything meaningful. It is by-and-large a waste of taxpayers' money. And the normal Public Works management also does not normally plan for internal auditing to determine just how close to the project proposal the end product ended up. Only a resident/business suit is about the only way to hold the City accountable.

> How could anyone (NOT) have reservations about such a project.

Ditto.


Posted by David Pepperdine, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Real E. Stater: Well said. We have so many gifted people who know what's best, who can't believe that someone who's studied city planning and traffic patterns could actually do a better job than their untrained selves.

The businesses need to realize that the revitalization is in their interest. Else California Avenue deteriorates to the point that it's an deserted urban wasteland.

Change is not always pleasant but it is eternal -- and necessary -- for future success.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Why don't all of you who want to destroy the Cal Ave merchants bike or walk over to Los Altos and check out all the empty stores.

Ask the surviving merchants whether they think the new curb cuts and embedded lights were worth the many months of disruption.

Go on. It's only about 10 miles each way, the same distance you want US to walk or bike our groceries home from Molly Stone or you want to see painting contractors carry their paints, ladders, tarps, etc. to their jobs.

Unlike Cal Ave. now, you'll be sure to find parking because the city and others living in fantasy land haven't yet destroyed the vibrant business scene. YET.


Posted by Marrol, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm

My only problem with this project is it being yet another example of non-essential, irresponsible spending on the part of our city leaders and elected officials. I realize that the project is being subsidized in part through county grant money, however, the cost to Palo Alto tax payers will undoubtedly be in the millions. Millions quite frankly that the city cannot afford to expend on another beautification project when there is a long list of vital, essential infrastructure and public safety needs that have not been funded. It makes absolutely no sense. Our city leaders decry unprecedented financial hardships and annual budget deficits. Basic infrastructure and public safety needs have been clearly identified as the top priorities. So what is their response? They continue to spend millions of dollars in public funds on non-essential projects like this, the bike bridge, new playground construction, park upgrades, and the list goes on. If that irresponsible spending wasn't enough, they actually suggest a bond measure and tax increase to have us pay for the important civic work that they have chosen to neglect. They've been catering to these special interest groups and proponents of niche projects, and it's time for them to set some real financial priorities and have their action back their rhetoric.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 6:06 pm

After an extensive search of the cityfs website, the FIRST mention I found of lane narrowing was a 2009 document: Web Link

gThe California Avenue Streetscape Improvements have been divided into two phases. Phase I is comprised of the replacement and addition of approximately 65 street trees (see attachedmap) and Phase II is comprised of various upgrades that may include replacement of street benches, news racks, waste receptacles, replacement and addition of bicycle racks, crosswalk improvements, additional parking and *possible restriping of roadway lane configuration to reduce travel lanes and make the street more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.*h

The VTA grant request was submitted in October 2010: Web Link

gThe California Avenue]Transit Hub Corridor Enhancement project between El Camino Real and the California Avenue Caltrain Station includes c traffic calming improvements such as 4]to 2]traffic lane reduction c With the amount of regional transit activity in Palo Alto, this project provides a unique opportunity to transform California Avenue into a bicycle and pedestrian corridor with local and regional amenities that continue to promote transit use, support local growth and business, and provide a safer environment for commuters as transit activity in and around the region intensifies. This will be accomplished by deemphasizing vehicle transportation modes through a 4] to 2]vehicle lane reduction, c.h


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 6:09 pm

From the 2010 traffic study at www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=25743
"According to the City of Palo Alto, there are no pending projects or planned projects in the foreseeable future. Therefore, traffic volumes on California Avenue between El Camino Real and Park Boulevard will remain unchanged with the current land uses."

This is patently untrue, since the CA Ave. area is a transit-oriented corridor, thus a prime development target.


Posted by Silly, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Marol makes a good point about pushing unnecessary spending projects like Cal Ave. and THEN asking us to approve a bond issue to pay for backlogged unfunded projects.

Remind the city council of that.


Posted by Can't believe the opposition, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Keeble & Shuchat opposed to the project ??!?

I went many, many times to Keeble & Shuchat and NEVER, read NEVER, drove or parked on California to do so. I always park a block or 2 away on the parking lots on Birch.

Unbelievable attitude in my opinion.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

FYI: Re: Pat "After an extensive search of the city's website..."

The City's website is notorious for poor search results and for documents being removed or not rolled forward during re-orgs.

My notes have the current initiative starting in 2009 (as Pat states), but there were at least two earlier efforts that died out from a combination of staffing changes and reduced potential for grant money. These didn't get beyond the workshop level, so although there was substantial involvement by the staff and the community, it didn't reach a level where it was likely to receive press coverage or generate the sort of documents that the City might retain on its web site. My recollection was that these workshops were not widely announced and hence were attended primarily by the leaders of the various obvious stakeholder groups ("the usual suspects").

Some cryptic notes in my old e-calendar suggest that these considerations started in 2005.

Again, simply FYI so that people understand why others may have very different perceptions of how long this has been going on.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm

> The City's website is notorious for poor search results and
> for documents being removed or not rolled forward during re-orgs

Not only that, but the City does not keep records along the lines of a complete project time line. It would not be all that difficult to put all of the records for a project in a given folder, or some such.

To make matters worse, there is no retention period in place for department records. The City Clerk has a retention schedule, but the departments do not. This means that Department employees can dump/shred and otherwise deny the existence of various records, as they see fit.

Long overdue is a requirement that all projects run by the City be on a common document management system, indexed, and accessible to the public. This is something that a competent City Manager should have required by no later than 1990--but we have not had competent City Managers for a long, long, time.


Posted by JM, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 22, 2012 at 12:30 am

There has been much misinformation posted above by those who have not followed or understood the Cal Ave debacle, beginning circa 2005.

At the time, $500,000 was approved and set aside in the city budget for PAVING Cal Ave, and a few small improvements. This money has been sitting idle ever since. It cannot be spent on anything else.

Grant proposals have never included paving. This has always been a city responsibility, and the money is still there.

Most of the merchants were only notified of city plans when they came to work and AND FOUND THE TREES WERE BEING CUT DOWN!!!

There has been a very long and murky history concerning the city's various plans for Cal Ave, mismanagement, stakeholders views overridden. The city has paid consultants and untold hours of staff time over the years. Yet here we are.

The whole thing continues to be one big morass.



Posted by JM, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 22, 2012 at 12:31 am

There has been much misinformation posted above by those who have not followed or understood the Cal Ave debacle, beginning circa 2005.

At the time, $500,000 was approved and set aside in the city budget for PAVING Cal Ave, and a few small improvements. This money has been sitting idle ever since. It cannot be spent on anything else.

Grant proposals have never included paving. This has always been a city responsibility, and the money is still there.

Most of the merchants were only notified of city plans when they came to work and AND FOUND THE TREES WERE BEING CUT DOWN!!!

There has been a very long and murky history concerning the city's various plans for Cal Ave, mismanagement, stakeholders views overridden. The city has paid consultants and untold hours of staff time over the years. Yet here we are.

The whole thing continues to be one big morass.


Posted by JM, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 22, 2012 at 1:43 am

to Joe and others,

Yes, impossible to track what went on unless you talk to one of the few local people who went to the trouble of carefully investigating all that went on from the very beginning. Using facts pieced together from various sources, most of which no longer exists, to understand what really went on over the years.

It's a complicated story. Some of the original players are no longer around. Some will not talk. Or likely to re-frame their part in a more favorable light. Most seem to have just one bit of the story, and may not now remember accurately who wrote what, who said what, the order of meetings, and notes from meetings or emails that no longer exist, etc. No one comes out well, except for the city landscaper who was assigned to the Cal Ave project after the trees were cut down, and no longer works for the city.

Back copies of the PA weekly are not a good source as reporters always only got part of the story, thus contain perpetuating inaccuracies. And I read every one of them. Plus anything the POST wrote.









Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2012 at 8:49 am

> Yes, impossible to track what went on unless you talk to one

While may be true, why should it be true? At issue here is simply good project management and public access to information about publicly-funded projects. Why should something so small, such as a $1.5M project be so difficult to manage, track, and so difficult to document?

We pay upper-level management a lot of money in this town. If they can not even manage a simple project like this one, why should we persist in the claims that "Palo Alto employees are the best in the world"? Why should we persist in paying Department heads upwards of $200K for not having any idea how to manage projects in a procedural fashion?

Why is it that the project manager is not required to keep an Project Event Log/Time Line, that lists all milestones, events, and has links to all papers, and engineering documents, so that if there are issues that are generated by a project, the Project Manager can provide a meaningful, and accurate, chronology of the project? And why can't this project log be kept on-line, so that everyone interested in the project can see it?

While there is a fair amount of sophisticated project management software around, a simple Excel spreadsheet provides more than enough capability to track any project adequately. I wonder how many project managers currently are tracking their projects the same way project managers in the private sector are likely to be tracking their projects?

Having employees refuse to answer questions about projects, or how aspects of projects came to exist—is simply unacceptable in a democracy. Yet, it happens all the time here in Palo Alto. And what does the City Council say when these problems are brought to their attention? Well, it seems that during the Yeh—Year the Council's answer is: "Let'em play Ping-Pong!"

Well .. we elected these people .. so I guess we get the government we paid for ..


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2012 at 9:55 am

Having been a city planner in several towns and cities for many years, I can suggest a scenario for how this project came about:

-- PA was informed (by a state/fed rep) that they could get new $$ for doing a commercial street project
-- PA changed existing plans to qualify because a new plan was required to get the money
-- PA thought it could be rushed through the "Palo Alto Process" if focussed on "traffic calming"

BTW-- Both of those phrases are actually transparent misnomers. The "Palo Alto Process" has become a ludicrous, divisive community-killer, and "traffic calming" now equals congestion-creation.

Rather than being creative change processes, they are both ugly and sad (and expensive) to Palo Alto. The community will not accept that change cannot be stopped. but it can be accommodated rationally, fairly, and even attractively.

This plan never cared a whit about the existing businesses. PA wanted access to the government money before it went away. They assumed national chains will be able to afford the new rents....but how long will even the new tenants last if customers can't get there?

Before the bike/walking advocates go ballistic, how about recognizing all kinds of customers: those who buy large/bulky items, those who do errands while their 3 kids are at lessons, elderly or disabled folks -- all people. Some need to use cars.

Listen up Palo Alto: More empty storefronts are coming.


Posted by John Murphy, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:56 am

"This is patently untrue, since the CA Ave. area is a transit-oriented corridor, thus a prime development target"

This comes out from one side of your mouth and from the other side of your mouth you say that nobody can realistically take transit. Which is it?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2012 at 11:42 am

Whereas I don't have a particular opinion on the redesign of Cal Ave, I think that this is a bad move. Of course businesses and residents should have input in the process, it is a bad precident to use threatening lawsuits to get your own way - or prevent something going through. If this were common practice, nothing would ever happen and we would never have any progress moving forward anywhere!


Posted by Proud to live in EAST Palo Alto, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 22, 2012 at 11:44 am

And you wealthy people in Palo Alto want BIGGER government, for the entire United States now, thinking that will be better for you? And HOW MUCH do you pay your city workers and retirees, for bloated government?

It's because of you residents & your ilk that our country, counties, and your own city is in such sad shape.

No information given on your own city web site? No information reported by the press? You're still speculating about data? You're satisfied? Try to run a business like that.

Neighbor from elsewhere that's a City Planner -- you call for no facts either, just giving more silly speculations. Are you a wealthy retiree? Did you just speculate, at your own job? Phooey-


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2012 at 12:06 pm

TO: Proud" from E. P. A. .....Wow! What a misreading of my post. 180 degrees wrong, Calm down and read it again.

I'm not a wealthy retiree...pretty silly charge. Actually, I'm a former city planner who is on YOUR side.


Posted by Alan, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm

The two lane project goes back at least to 2006. A brief history is available at Web Link

Here are some excerpts (I suggest reading the whole article):

"The CAADA plan of February 2006, included replacing all the street trees at the same time ...

"DPW refined the plan and decided to apply for outside funding....

"The final grant proposal increased the number of new trees to 50, and it also revised the CAADA plan to remove the existing trees all at once .... the proposal also called for the elimination of one lane in each direction on California Avenue....."

"The total funding request in 2006 was $1.65 million, about a half million more than the current program proposal, with a city matching grant of $520,000, including $12,500 from CAADA.

"The grant proposal was submitted in late June 2006 to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and then a month later to the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). Both requests were turned down."

Again, the article is at www.paloaltoonline.com/square/index.php?i=3&t=16683




Posted by Community Engagement, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

The comments above are reassuring to all those who might have been worried that Palo Alto residents were not longer among the most disputatious people on the planet. Put three Palo Altans in a room together and you'll get four conflicting opinions out of them. Good work, Palo Altans!


Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Just wanted to echo a prior post -- many are confusing the issues by assuming that California ave. improvements and lane reductions are one and the same. There certainly can, and should, be improvements (starting with road resurfacing and improving bicycle access), but these can be accomplished without bottle-necking traffic through lane reduction. There are too many examples of how these types of changes don't succeed -- unless you see the only way to calm traffic is to create congestion.

As to those who repeatedly decry NIMBY as if it is the root of all evil and irrational protest: People have every right to chime in on issues that can impact them directly and to advocate vehemently if they believe the outcome will be damaging to them. More often than not, those who criticize NIMBY-ists are those who would be unaffected by the changes being questioned and live in other neighborhoods or even in other towns. It's easy to believe in changes that may provide you with all the advantages while those in close proximity are forced to live with all the downsides of the change. If it is supposedly for the "greater good", what does that mean exactly? Everyone but those locally affected?


Posted by Choice, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2012 at 1:55 pm

Why all the arguing? There has to be a way to make both sides happy.
Think about it... your all smart people right????????


Posted by Long-time Shopper, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 22, 2012 at 2:12 pm

As a senior citizen that still drives, park further from businesses, and walk to where I want to go, just for excercise. The two business districts I go to most are California Avenue and downtown Los Altos.

When downtown Los Altos was under construction, I never had any problem finding parking. I just continued my walking habit, and I go there at least once a week, to get my hair done.

Instead of parking on Main Street, I park in lots behind stores, where there is always plenty of parking. Or I parked at the library, and with the nice lit crosswalks on San Antonio Road, even as a senior, I feel safe to cross that busy street. The same parking plan is on California Avenue, where if main street is blocked off, I will drive Cambridge, Sherman (or Sheridan?), Park, or other sidestreets.

I love the improvements to Los Altos. For you young people that must park right in front of a business - you are wimps. You are heading for a heart attack, unless you exercise more. Of course, you could go to a gym and pay good money for what you can get for FREE, plus enjoy the fresh air and the scenery. I watch my pennies.

California Ave businesses that are complaining need to be concerned about the welfare of their patrons, especially seniors, like me. We are the cornerstones of your businesses.

Thank you, Pat, for providing the link from October 2009, showing I remembered correctly that the project's history indicates it's essentially the same as it is now, and it was always in two phases, and that is not a new thing. At my age, it's nice to remember something correctly.

I remember it even going back further though, to maybe 2007, or 2006. I know this because I went to a meeting long ago, with my granddaughter, when she worked in that district. I remember it was even recorded.

That meeting was open to anyone, residents, businesses, anyone interested, and it was held at a business that did so well, it moved to Town and Country Village because it needed to expand. I can't remember the name. Some craft store, like the one in Los Altos.

Pat (or Katie O) do you know who speaks for the Business Association now? After the trees were replaced, the granddaughter of the former pharmacist on California Ave, Stanley Bishop (I knew his nice wife) spoke for merchants.

More recently, a man (not Terrie Shucat) claims to speak for merchants, but I never read about any election happening in the newspaper. I find that odd. If merchants complained about not being made aware of what was happening when the trees were replaced, what's their excuse now? It's been 3 years. Seems like not much has changed for the few merchants that complain.

$1.2 million is available to be used for this district that needs attention. It would be a shame to let it slip away, after all these years. Los Altos was wise to do their improvements now, and they now have LuLu's too. Business is doing fine, when I walk by.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Doug Moran wrote, gThe two-lane plan is based upon _current_ traffic levels. However, the City is advocated (at the prompting of ABAG) massively increasing the density of the CalAve area, both offices and housing. The theory is that these residents and workers will use public transit, but the experience is that at least 90% will be drivers. If/when this increase occurs, the two-lane configuration could easily be overwhelmed.h

In fact, he cityfs 2011 SEA report shows that only 3% of residents use any transit and less than the 9% that walk to work. The 2006-07 survey also had 3% using transit, 7% walking, 7% working at home and 8% other, probably biking. So the ratio of transit users didnft change in 4 years.

A 2012 staff report designated CA Ave. as Palo Altofs ONLY Priority Development Area (PDA) -- an area where gmost of the growth from 2010-2040 [is] to be locatedc areas that typically would accommodate higher density development near transit stations or corridors.h

Yet when the city commissioned a traffic study in 2010 gto validate the proposed 4] to 2]lane reduction,h the city told the consultants gc there are no pending projects or planned projects in the foreseeable future. Therefore, traffic volumes on California Avenue between El Camino Real and Park Boulevard will remain unchanged with the current land uses.h www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=25743

Can we have ANY confidence in the city planners, given this outright deception?

Alan wrote, gThe two lane project goes back at least to 2006. A brief history is available at Web Link g

This is one manfs (Fred Balin) version of the CA Ave history. He may be 100% accurate or he may have a faulty memory. In any case, he offers no documents as proof of the events he describes.

Doug and Wayne point out the difficulties of finding information on the cityfs website. If Balin has any documents that would provide more insight into the tortured CA Ave. process, I think we would all be glad to see them.


Posted by Fed-up, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2012 at 9:24 pm

OPEN YOUR EYES! You do NOT want reduce the lanes, you don't want it to become a bottleneck with snail-pace driving ...
Stop mambling about boycotting the vendors; we ALL should be stopping this nonsense.
Use your head!


Posted by Misha, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:57 pm

Katie O and Merchants ~

I'm with you and am happy to sign any petition in support of the merchants who are trying to make a living and provide services to the community! Let's let those who have invested in building and running their businesses on California Ave have a very clear and loud voice here.


Posted by TWO LANES!, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:00 am

BOYCOTT all the businesses that support this nonsensical delay! To Keeble and Shuchat, Antonio's, California Paint - you have lost me and my family's business! Period!

About Joy Ogawa: How many times has Ms. Ogawa sued the city and cost our good citizens valuable tax dollars, even as she has LOST every time?! Ms. Ogawa is perennially at City Council meetings, almost always disagreeing with progressive, forward-looking ideas. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

As for Jack Morton, here we see another good reason why his peers never saw fit to appoint him as Mayor during his 2-term, 8 year tenure. Mr. Morton is a pure contrarian who seems to delight is kicking up dust. Thank goodness he's off the City Council!


Posted by TWO LANES!, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:16 am

Doug Moran: "In fact, he city'fs 2011 SEA report shows that only 3% of residents use any transit and less than the 9% that walk to work. The 2006-07 survey also had 3% using transit, 7% walking, 7% working at home and 8% other, probably biking."

I just can't let this pass. Doug Moran has, for years, along with a few others (like Joy Ogawa and Bob Moss) used the intricacies of legal maneuvering, a detailed knowledge of city code, and piles of numbers that don't present the whole picture, to obfuscate any and all attempts at progressively managing growth in our city.

Just look at the developments that Ogawa, Moss and Moran have held up, and how much those holdups have cost our city; how they have made our city UGLIER (look at the mess on Park Blvd.; look at the unconscionable delays at Alma PLaza; look at the silly lawsuit that tried to hold up downtown development (that has turned our to be an award winner).

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2012 at 2:00 am

TWO LANES: if you are going to say these horrible things about people who stands for their beliefs then identify yourself! [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Because of your words, I'm on Joy, Jack and others' side. Good for them to stand up to City Hall.


Posted by TWO LANES, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:27 am

Hi, Mike,

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

California Avenue will be developed with two lanes; this is going to happen because the majority want it, and it's good for the future of Palo Alto. Of course, like so many of these developments, Palo Altans will have some of their tax dollars stripped away by posturing lawsuits, issued by a few citizens who are misguided, and in my opinion very careless with their neighbor's tax dollars.


Posted by TWO LANES!, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:41 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2012 at 8:58 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2012 at 9:41 am

> "California Avenue will be developed with two lanes; this is going to happen because the majority want it,"

I must have missed that poll or survey or vote that shows the majority want it. Could you please let us know where to find it, TWO LANES?

BTW, I was the one who posted the data from the SEA report, not Doug Moran.

As for Wayne Martin, he may not have all the answers, but he sure has a lot of good suggestions. Too bad the city doesn't pay attention.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:00 am

> This comes out from one side of your mouth and from the other
> side of your mouth you say that nobody can realistically
> take transit. Which is it?

Well .. why can't both be true? Where the future of the California Business District is concerned, we are talking a multi-year scenario that will have City planners, and elected officials involved, private sector developers and their "money people" involved, and then eventually, the public, that either buys into the claims of those pushing Transit Oriented Housing/Business Centers, or they don't.

There is every reason to believe that developers will build wherever there is a postage stamp of free land to be found. There is every to believe that developers will endorse all of the silly social engineering claims/goals/agendas of those who have gravitated into being "central planners", for City/County/Federal government agencies that have come to believe that they have the power to determine who the future looks like, and how we will live in their highly regulated and highly contrived "new urbanism" (just one of many of their questionable ideas).

An example--at the Mountain View/Palo Alto border is a Transit Oriented Housing complex known as "The Crossings".:

Web Link

It has been touted as "smart growth" by the big government people, particularly because of its propinquity to the Caltrain line. However, very few people from "The Crossings" seem to actually use Caltrain, according to Caltrain ridership numbers. Those who do use Caltrain at this location don't seem to live at "The Crossings".

So .. in this case, development followed a government wish for a Transit Oriented Center. People ended up living there, but given the large number of cars in that project, and the low ridership at that stop, it's pretty clear that people living there can use transit to get where they want to go, or at least not conveniently, and quickly. So the people living at "The Crossings" ended up using cars for their transportation, just like people everywhere else.

In the end, the "Crossings" ended up a high-density "smart development" where the basic ideas of high public transit use have proven false.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:03 am

City staff must be two lanes because what I wrote an hour was not bad. Two Lanes can write to boycott and horrible things about people and businesses but the STAFF doesn't NOT remove it!


Posted by Solve problems, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Interestingly enough not many of the comments offer a solution on compromise. The neighborhood and Palo Alto should be grateful to Mollie Stone, Keeble and Schuchat and Antonio's for making California Avenue a destination of all these years. They have good businesses and want to protect them.

Does that mean that California Avenue can't be modernized without hurting these dedicated businesses?
- NO, it doesn't.

The businesses and the area will need more parking and yes in the form of a parking structure (behind Kinkos, maybe). I am sure this will create a different NIMBY reaction.

Think how much more pleasant California avenue traffic would be if people easily found parking before getting to California avenue and think how much happier the business would be if they knew their patrons could get to there location easily.

Yes the lots of people can bike to California avenue but they probably aren't buying significant amounts of groceries, expensive cameras or pints.


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Staff does NOt remove it!


Posted by TWO LANES!, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 2:05 pm

MIKE, You and Wayne Martin need to play some ping-pong, and blow off some steam. Maybe go to the tournament? Watch out for Wayne, because no doubt he will have his own ideas about how big his paddle should be; he may improvise on a tennis racquet.

Also, what boggles about these mass transit criticism is that mass transit needs *infrastructure* to work! That means great local bus service, and other transport services that get you where yuo want to go, when you want to go there (any time of day or night( at prices people can afford. Example: almost any large European City! Do it! Then, watch people leave their cars.

Anyone who says mass transport doesn't work, or that dense housing near mass transit is folly, simply doesn't know what they are talking about! There are examples all over the world. But the, some people are too busy living in their own fantasy world about the way things "should" be, and hiring attorneys to alter our reality, at our taxpayer's expense.

Wayne? Doug? Joy? Terry? Mollie Stones? California Paint? Keeble & Shuchat? Does that ring a bell?


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: The post by Mike that PAOline Staff removed
I saw nothing in that post other than a civil call for civility on the part of "TWO LANES".


Posted by Mike, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Two Lanes, please give your name if you are going to trash people publicly. At least, let those reading it know the source. It appears you are shouting. I have no steam to blow off. My comment was when I read a blog from someone who writes harshly (and naming publicly) about individuals is not the side the I want to be associated with. Perhaps you do have good logically reasons behind what you have written but nevertheless, who wants to be teamed up with an angry individual that will do the same to you.


Posted by Long-time Shopper, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Having read these comments, it's no wonder my granddaughter moved out of Palo Alto. She and her family went where the weather is cold, but people in her area are warm and friendly, unlike Palo Alto is now.

There, neighbors can disagree and discuss civic issues graciously. Palo Alto has changed in the 62+ years since I've been here. What happened to this city? All these intelligent people that can't get along and create a community.

I miss my granddaughter. I miss the way Palo Alto was too, before narcissists took over and businesses put profit margins over the welfare of customers. Pharmacist Stanley Bishop would value his customers' safety, were he still here in business. I know that.

My vote is for the lane reduction from four to two, simply because it makes walking in crosswalks safer for pedestrians, and not just for seniors, but for everyone.

As someone that remembers the Depression days, it's a hard pill to swallow to see a district lose $1.2 million, over quibbling due to fears of a few people, fears that remain without substance.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

On the question of why if transit works in _some_ other areas in the world, it can't work here.

Transit works when there is (1) a level of population density to support widespread coverage by transit and frequent schedules, and (2) transit routes that correspond to patterns of travel. Studies by transit researchers have found that there are relatively few such places. And the Peninsula is not one of them, and unlikely to ever become such.

The rule-of-thumb from transportation engineers is that people will take transit when it takes 1.3-1.6 (different studies) as much time as driving. People moving here from areas where they had used transit (major East Coast cities, European cities) have found local transit unusable, taking 3-5 times longer than driving, and sometimes worse.

The Bay Area transit agencies have a long history of being hostile to their potential customers and to each other. For example, consider the Caltrain-to-BART connection at SFO. It is hard to image that something that bad was accidental or simple incompetence, and the refusal to correct the problems when they were widely and loudly pointed out only confirms that. Or take Caltrain to SF and have the Muni bus continue to sit at the station for 20-30 minutes after it has completely filled up. Or consider that it wasn't until 8 years after the Fremont BART station opened that the bus lines and schedules were modified to acknowledge it presence.

When you sit in meetings where increasing transit usage, making the service more usable rarely gets more than lip-service from the professionals and the transit advocates -- the focus is almost always on coercion (including making the alternatives worse).

And the transit professionals and advocates use an unrealistic model based on the assumption that the only travel people make are commutes. Yet the data for housing is that a unit generates 6-10 trips per day. If you locate housing in a Transit-Oriented Development where there is no nearby school (such as Cal Ave), parents are likely to drive their children to school and then continuing driving to work, rather than returning home and taking transit. But the professionals and advocates refuse to let such inconvenient details interfere with their dogmatic approaches. Similarly when a commute by transit prevents you from doing necessary shopping on your way home from work.

Transit professionals and advocates routinely ignore that the issue is having transit _between_ your origin and destination: Having transit "accessible" at only one of these is useless, as is having poor connections.

It is impossible to believe the claims of the professionals and advocates when key parts of the same presentation appear to be obvious contradictions and they are unable to answer simply questions about that.

And when they make the claim that transit will work here because there are other places that it has worked, they are routinely flummoxed by the obvious questions: (1) what were the important factors in its success in those other places, (2) where has this approach failed and what were the factors there, and (3) what do the successes and failures predict about our situation.

Summary: A change in approach to the problem by the government and the advocates could improve transit usage somewhat, but the problem remains of not having anything close to what are thought to be the enabling densities.


Posted by Long-Time Shopper, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 23, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I will continue to drive to California Ave. and downtown Los Altos, and then walk to wherever I need to go, as long as I am able.

But I feel safer crossing San Antonio Road in Los Altos right now, with the safety features they installed about a year ago for pedestrians, than I do crossing California Ave., with its four large lanes, and cars and bikes coming at us from all directions.

San Antonio Road is only a problem for pedestrians when the lights go out, or when the button is removed- right now, there is a button that's just gone, and one has to walk almost a block to cross safely.

I think the City of Palo Alto and business should give consideration to their existing customers first, over potential future customers, that may or may not come to this district due to mass transit.

I don't ever plan to walk to California Ave. from my home. It's too far. I'm long past bike riding, even on a 3=wheel, although former councilmember Ellen Fletcher promotes it, and she may even be older than me. Mass transit is not available everywhere. Outreach is an option. But I still drive right now.

Please just do what makes sense. This street is a scant 3 blocks long. California Ave. is not like University Ave., or a long street in Paris, London or in Madrid.

Just please, make California Ave. crosswalks safer, and use the $1.2 million that is available for doing this for residents and shoppers in the district. Two lanes with narrower crosswalks is ideal.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 23, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Long-time Shopper

I have supported the generic reduction from 4 lanes to 2 and argued in these forums against a range of specious claims about why it wouldn't work
Examples: March 19, 2010, "Plans for California Avenue discussed, debated" (Web Link) and November 18, 2011, "Judge halts plan to cut lanes on Cal Ave" (Web Link).

The biggest problem I have with the current proposal is that it puts an island down the middle of the street, making it impossible to pull around a vehicle blocking a lane (delivery, person waiting on parking space). I have heard no explanation of why this feature makes sense, other than it is part of planning dogma.

On pedestrian safety: The arguments that the reduction would improve safety for this particular street appear to be simply irrelevant dogma or smokescreen for other agendas. The benefit of shorter crossing times for pedestrians on CalAve seems to be for drivers: pedestrians are "interfering" with vehicle traffic flow for shorter periods.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Why not put some of the pedestrian controlled flashing lights on the crossings on Cal Ave similar to the ones on Fabian? This would be a much cheaper option than all the lane changing which is only causing dissent.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 5:58 pm

> Make the cross-walks safer.

There is virtually no evidence that the cross-walks on California are "unsafe". Neither the City, nor the advocates for this project, have provided any historical data about accidents, injuries, etc. that can be shown to be caused by the cross-walks.

Last year, there was one pedestrian accident at the intersection of Birch and California. Although the pedestrians were said to have been taken to the hospital, there was no follow-up about injuries.

I went down to that intersection the afternoon of the accident, and made a short video to help people understand what it is like to walk across that intersection—

Traffic At Intersection of Birch and California Avenue In The California Avenue Business District:
Web Link

There is no doubt that people don't spend a lot of time stopped at the stop signs, but pedestrians, and cyclists, have an obligation to make certain that they are entering intersections properly. From watching foot traffic on a couple of occasions, it's clear that both pedestrians and cyclists don't always follow the rules for crossing the street.

California is now about 66 feet across. The 2-lane solution would reduce the distance to about 44 feet. If there were an island, then presumably this would reduce the trip to two 20-foot segments. If people cross at the stop signs, and the cars stop at the stop signs—does it matter how long it takes to cross the street? If cars don't stop at the stop signs—then how are you safer with two lanes, rather than four?

As to the suggestion about an on-demand stop light—that would seem to be an easy thing to experiment with. Yet, the City does not seem to have even given the idea any thought. The City has plenty of use data with which to model such a solution. What's keeping them from at least running a simulation to see what traffic backups would occur, given the known foot traffic at that intersection?


Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 23, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Pat,

The unsuccessful June, 2006 DPW / CAADA grant application to the MTC, which includes the two-lane concept can be found on the citys web site in at least two locations: one as a standalone at Web Link and another as part of the PTC Staff Report of 10/28/09, which also includes the environmental study you referenced via link within your earlier comments. Web Link

The grant application was not available to the public via the web site before the trees came down (i.e., 9/14 to 9/16/09)

My December Town Square article covers the matter of CAADA and the tree removals, but it does, as was pointed out by Alan, include information related to the lane reduction. If there is any aspect of that article for which you need additional documentation, let me know, and as soon as I get a moment, I will to go my records in the garage to find, scan, and post.

A significant part of my research and reporting, is via the benefit of public record requests, and it is very important to me that people who undertake serious research clearly understand what happened with regard to that sad matter of the trees.

One final note:I realized after your post that the one item from those records linked from my article, I had moved to make something else available and not confuse folks. I have now restored that document. I have also posted the 2006 MTC application there as well.


Posted by Long Time Resident, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2012 at 9:36 pm

The first thing the city should do to in it's efforets to revamp/cleanup/improve CA Ave is to close down that creepy night club.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2012 at 11:32 am

Fred,

Thank you SO much for providing this 2006 document – which clearly shows that the city planned lane reduction long before the 2010 grant proposal.

You say, "The grant application was not available to the public via the web site before the trees came down (i.e., 9/14 to 9/16/09)." This is clear from the document properties, which shows the document was "Created: 9/29 /2009 10:28:58 AM" Strange.


Posted by Long-time Shopper, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Yes! Thank you, Fred Balin. I am sure the meeting mentioned in your 2006 web link is the one my granddaughter and I attended, when she still worked there.

I knew I heard of the lane reduction long ago, and it was not a new thing, as mentioned in this story. I remembered it was supported by many people, and for a long time. I have always been in support of the two lanes.

Since you have been so helpful, does anyone know about this:
My daughter and son-in-law came for dinner last night, and of course, this California Avenue story was something we discussed. Now I cannot read smaller local daily newspapers every day, so I was surprised to hear the Daily News reported a meeting was held within the past few days for California Ave. merchants and the city.

My daughter told me the article said 30 merchants went to the meeting but they said the city didn't make it clear where the meeting was to be held, and merchants that came did nothing but complain about the lack of information, so the meeting ended early.

I find that odd. When I spoke with merchants last fall, people I know from that street, they wanted the lane reduction to happen, and they wanted the work to start.

So none of this makes sense to me. How can 30 merchants attend a meeting when it wasn't clear where it was to be held? Are merchants telling customers one thing, and then telling the city another?

How come the PA Weekly did not report about this supposed meeting, if it did indeed happen? I know for a fact the Weekly built an office on Cambridge Ave, so they would be considered a key business for that district as well as reporters that should be following this story. Right? Unless that big building is just for the production of the newspaper, and their management offices are elsewhere.

But I still find it odd that Fred Balin and Mr. Moran are giving us more details than are the reporters. Well, Sunday I will call my granddaughter for a phone visit, and our California Ave. Soap Opera will be a topic of discussion, yet again.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Fred,
How did you find the 2006 streetscape plan at Web Link ? It is a PDF IMAGE, thus not searchable. Thanks again!


Posted by Fred Balin, a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 24, 2012 at 4:12 pm

In Google do a search for "Capital Grant Application City of Palo Alto"
Somehow a document by that name shows up; don;t ask me why, especially as it takes a different name after you download it.


Posted by Anne, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm

First, I'd like to express my sincere appreciation to the owners and employees of California Paint and Wallpaper, Keeble and Shuchat, Molly Stones, and other long-time businesses on California Avenue. As a 40-year resident of Palo Alto, I've been shopping at your businesses for decades. Your dedication and service to the community are greatly appreciated. I am sorry to see that some members of our community are solely interested in the appearance of the street at any cost--including detriment to your businesses--and have reduced a complex issue to "NIMBY," which it is not. I am also sorry to see that they are not willing to take time to truly understand your concerns and instead say that they will no longer be shopping with you. You can count on me to increase my shopping on California Ave. at this time.

There are a number of extremely important concerns with this project that should be 1) clarified and 2) addressed.

Most important is why, all of a sudden, the plan for the street was reduced to 2 lanes. Under no circumstance is this going to increase the flow of traffic or safety in the area. University Avenue, an example of a two-lane street, is clogged from one end to the other. The congestion makes going there a nightmare, and deters me from shopping there when alternatives are available. Substantial traffic travels down the side streets.

And congested traffic is not just an issue of time and access: Constant stop-and-go traffic and idling cars cause greatly increased local air pollution, contributing to health problems of store employees, customers, and nearby residents, as well as to larger problems, such as climate change. When you have the same amount of traffic in fewer lanes, and cars pulling out from parking spaces into the sole lane in each direction, traffic flow is most certainly reduced. The City needs to return to a plan in which the dual lanes in each direction are maintained. If funding for improvement is contingent on creating a traffic jam, then a new source of funding must be found.

Second, while some residents may judge that any business can simply be replaced, I would like to differ. Businesses on California Ave. such as Country Sun, Keeble and Shuchat, Molly Stones, and California Paint cater to local residents and provide pleasant, well-stocked atmospheres for shopping, as well as considerable valuable face-to-face expertise. This is most certainly not something to take for granted at a time of shrinking local retail. Every effort must be made to ensure that these businesses are not hurt in the process of "improving" California Avenue. In the end, it is these individual businesses that add up to a great place to shop.

Third, the City needs to look at impacts on our new California Ave Farmer's Market, both during construction and in the permanent design. Hundreds of Palo Alto residents shop this the Farmer's Market every weekend.

I'd like to sincerely thank the merchants who spent funds on delaying this project until such time as the City takes a sincere look at important issues and problems with this project. Just because grant funds are available for a large project is not the reason to spend them on a poorly thought out plan. Ending up with a business district that "looks good" but is missing our favorite businesses and is congested with bumper-to-bumper traffic is not a favorable outcome.

As a final comment, I was disappointed with the article in the Palo Alto Weekly, which sounded more like an opinion piece in support of the project than unbiased reporting on a complex issue.


Posted by Annoyed with factless critics, a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Commenters like Anne are completely ignorant of the facts about traffic volumes on California Avenue, and clearly never read the volumes of information provided in a long, long public process. Even the blocks closest to El Camino Real have maximum of 6,000 vehicles per day. Peak hour traffic is 600 per hour.

Do the math. This is 10 cars a minute.

California Avenue has less than 1/3 the vehicles per day of through streets like University Avenue or Castro Street. The design provides turn lanes wherever needed, so drivers will not be impeded in reaching their destination.

People who repeat the nonsense about traffic backups, "bumper to bumper traffic" and other uninformed statements from Jack Morton, Terry Shuchat and others are not engaging in any fact-based, logical discussions. The traffic study on the California Avenue project page makes this crystal clear to anyone with basic numeracy.

Thank goodness, the City Council members actually read the information presented to them. They listened to the complaints from the business people, made sure that authoritative answers were obtained, and voted unanimously for a project that would make a much better shopping environment for retail merchants.

Enough of scare tactics and childish tantrums and frivolous lawsuits!


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2012 at 4:38 am

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: Annoyed with factless critics:

The nonsense about high traffic volumes on CalAve comes from people on both sides. As Annoyed noted, the _current_ volumes can easily be handled by a reasonable 2-lane street. What Annoyed missed were the scare tactics about traffic being so bad that people are afraid to cross the street. If one has actually been on CalAve, the likely reaction is that pedestrians are not concerned enough before stepping out into the street. And I found that I felt safer bicycling on CalAve than many residential streets.

The original idea (circa 2006) was to convert the unnecessary lanes into additional sidewalk space for pedestrians and for outdoor tables for the restaurants ..., and to use some of that space for additional bike racks.

The anti-auto tenor of the current proposal is probably partly in response to the anti-auto agendas of the funding agencies (eg MTC), but also reflects the policies of the City.

While there are certainly hidden agendas and irrationality among some on both sides, the City doesn't seem to recognize that the dismissiveness of the concerns of businesses and drivers that I have seen in a range of meetings on various issues inevitably breeds a distrust of the City's analysis. If someone doesn't trust the presented facts, it is not irrational to reject the conclusions derived from those purported facts.

Aside: The previous City Manager (Benest) fostered an environment where such dismissiveness flourished. The Director of Planning Curtis Williams has done a lot to improve meaningful community input, but there is still lots of institutional inertia. And I have heard a couple of stories of the current City Manager admonishing staff members who made derisive comments about public input.


Posted by DonaldTrump, a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2012 at 5:12 pm

Cal Ave. can easily be the next Saratoga, lined with upscale restaurants
where family friendly folk go to enjoy a stroll or ride a bike to.
We need the improvements on Cal. Ave. all we see now is a blighted shopping area. I avoid shopping there since the trees were downed and the area left unimproved. I think it can be a significant new dining and shopping experience for South Palo Altans when the improvements go forward, soon.


Posted by Sara, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 27, 2012 at 1:18 am

Donald Trump, you got to be kidding! Where do these people come from? Stop making comparisons to other towns! If you like Saratoga, live there! Those of you that think Castro, University or Santa Cruz is so great, go there! Do you actually think businesses don't want the street looking nice? There is a issue here and it's not just California Ave Project, it's 195 Page Mill, Recycling Center, AT&T antennas, childcare center near Stanford Hospital, Arastradero St, Town & Country, list goes on.... Take a look at our City Hall. They are overpaid employees who could care less about Palo Alto? At the end of the day, they go home, not in PA of course. They just want projects to move ahead so they have a job. They are in business of creating projects, most of them does not benefit the community as a WHOLE and at our expense!


Posted by ide, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

Today I saw a well written statement in an ad in the Post. Over 50 (55 I think) businesses from the California Avenue business district (only 3 blocks long) have gone on the record for small responsible upgrades but are against the lane reduction.

This is considerably more than the "few" or "small group" as we keep reading about in articles. They are the ones most invested in the area and know what is best to keep the street successful and vibrant. Hopefully the city council will realize that it is not too late to make the upgrades but leave the lanes in tact.

Who is the source that it is just a "few" who don't want the reduction? Did the city survey the property owners and merchants before spending over $300,000 on consultants alone? I don't think they did... This is an outrageous and irresponsible use of our tax dollars. It shouldn't cost this much time and money to improve safety on the street.


Posted by Evan Thomas, a resident of Los Altos
on May 2, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Evan Thomas is a registered user.

Any place deserves an improvement in order to go with the fast changing world. Besides, if there were trees cut down, i am sure that they have papers. Come to think of it, if the project will continue, i am sure that business owners will be attracted then eventually it will create jobs. Don't you think that's worth it?


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