Pesky ponding after a heavy rain may become a problem of the past for residents of the Southgate neighborhood. The City of Palo Alto plans to install roadside flower planters and porous crosswalks to drain and absorb extra water along neighborhood streets, preventing flooding.
The strategy, which carries a capital cost of $750,000, has never been implemented in Palo Alto. It has seen success elsewhere in the state, however, according to city consultants RBF Consulting and Gates and Associates.
The most recent version of the plan includes adding 20 planted "bioretention" areas, porous crosswalks for two intersections, and a rock swale to the neighborhood, which lies between Churchill Avenue, El Camino Real and the Caltrain tracks.
In recent years, tree roots have lifted the streets, leading to the pooling and runoff of water that contains pollutants.
The so-called bioretention areas allow excess water to be absorbed into the ground and also purified before it enters the city's drainage system.
The porous crosswalks act as another way for water to exit the street.
At one of three recent neighborhood meetings, however, locals voiced concern over a loss of parking spaces due to the planters, which extend into the narrow streets.
But the consultants said at a July meeting that planters would be located on corners, to minimize the loss of parking spaces.
The consultants will present the plan to the city's Architectural Review Board this fall and hope to have the project design completed by the end of the year. Construction could begin in the summer of 2013.
The project is funded by utility fees that Palo Alto homeowners pay to the city. Those fees were approved by a 2005 ballot measure.
RBF Consulting and Gates and Associates also applied for $1.5 million from the Storm Water Grant Program (Proposition 84), but that funding was not approved.
This story has been updated to reflect the following corrections:
Corrections: The project does not need the approval of residents. The city is no longer considering paying residents to irrigate new bioretention planters. And the storm-drain project is funded by just one source: the citywide storm-drainage fee.==