Palo Alto would get a new day care center on East Bayshore Road under a proposal the City Council is scheduled to weigh tonight.
The "Mustard Seed" day care center, which would accommodate 117 students, would move into an existing building at 2585 East Bayshore Road, just south of Oregon Expressway. The city's Architectural Review Board and Planning and Transportation Commission have already approved the project.
The proposal would include several changes to the 1-acre site, including a new children's play area, fencing, a handicap ramp and parking stalls in the front lot. The additions would reduce the number of parking spaces on the property from 49 to 31.
At the Feb. 8 meeting of the Planning and Transportation Commission, several neighboring property owners argued that the new day care center would create traffic problems on the block, particularly when cars queue up at the entrance to the new facility. Edwina Cioffi, who owns the property north of the proposed day care facility, said the proposal would be "dangerous to the children" and said the applicants are "grossly minimizing" its traffic impacts.
Yates McKenzie, who represented the owners of 2595 East Bayshore (immediately south of the proposed day care facility), noted the two properties share a driveway and voiced opposition to the project.
"We've got a driveway and a shared easement and the proposal is going to significantly, significantly impact the traffic we're going to have on that shared easement and put an undue burden on our property and our tenants," McKenzie said.
The city's traffic consultant found that the new day care center would have no major impacts on traffic or on driveway congestion.
The day care center would typically be open between 12:30 p.m. at 6:15 p.m. and would possibly include a preschool operation in the future, city Planner Russ Reich told the commission. It would occupy a 16,000-square-foot building that has been vacant for more than a year.
The commission approved the project by a 6-0 vote, with Greg Tanaka absent. Commissioners also urged staff to "work with neighbors to figure out the most harmonious way to deal with potential traffic impacts." They also considered a proposal, offered by Commissioner Arthur Keller, to change the driveways on the property so that cars would enter the center from a northern driveway rather than the shared southern one. Members ultimately decided not to include this change in their approval.
Commissioners were also in general agreement that the city could use more day care facilities.
"I think there's a need for more day care in Palo Alto so I'm happy to try to support this need," Keller said.