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City blames Gunn start time for Arastradero traffic

Original post made by Parents need to know this on Jul 24, 2013

A July 10, 2013, memo by City staff regarding the Maybell rezoning places the bulk of the blame for Arastradero traffic problems as "due to the change in start time for Gunn High School from 7:55 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. beginning in August, 2011."

The memo also blames an increase in enrollment at Barron Park and Juana Briones Elementary. (Which is strange since BP Elementary traffic has no bearing on Arastradero and Maybell traffic as the school is on the other side of Barron Park, and JB may have actually had a small decrease in students in that time period, contrary to staff report.) The City memo went on to say "The striping of Arastradero Road may have contributed to a lesser degree [than Gunn start times and elementary school enrollments]."

The staff report makes no account of the traffic problems on Arastradero at intervals in the afternoon when the schools let out at very different times.

So, they don't think the Arastradero Road restriping had anything to do with the traffic problems of the last few years, and they fail to mention any of the other major development in the area, especially along El Camino (but then, their traffic study failed to use current data, so it's difficult to say - see the independent analysis of the City's traffic report Web Link).

The solution to the traffic problem on Maybell, City Council has decided, is to paint some new stripes on Maybell and a few other cosmetic "safety improvements", and to direct City staff "to work with the School District on staggering start times, expanding the School Pool Program and to market the Safe Routes to School program."

Remember that:
**Maybell underwent a six-figure safety improvement already in the last few years but is of substandard width and still has traffic signs knocked to the ground about once a month,
**the school start times were changed after significant study for the students' wellbeing and it was believed would actually improve traffic on Arastradero at the time, Web Link, and
**Safe Routes to School are already heavily marketed, with around 40% of high school students commuting to school by bike or foot.

The neighbors opposing the new development, which was rezoned by the City to bring 12 densely packed tall houses and a 60-unit, nearly 50-foot tall complex with only 47 parking spots for residents, visitors, and employees, to a property in a residential neighborhood across from Juana Briones Park that currently has only 4 ranch houses and an orchard with about 100 trees (to be torn down) - neighbors point out that traffic for the new development can only go out onto Maybell and Arastradero, and City policy is to accord heightened scrutiny to developments on school commute routes, which was not done. The City traffic study failed to even study the impacts on the student bicyclists and pedestrians at all.

What about it parents?

Do you believe the City staff vision here, that the Gunn start time is mainly to blame for all the traffic problems on Arastradero and Maybell, that the students don't really need the later start time, and moving the start time back to earlier again will solve the traffic problems to such an extent that the area can take a large high-density development that puts all of its traffic onto Maybell and Arastradero?

Or do you believe, as neighbors do, that the infrastructure is already overburdened, and schoolchildren and their families deserved an honest traffic and safety review, and fair consideration of alternatives for that location depending on the results? Particularly since, as the memo says, the City has the option of "purchasing the site itself" and turning it into a low-traffic use such as a community orchard, or placing deed restrictions on it for future developers? And since the transportation element of the general plan puts safety as the highest consideration for all development? And that infrastructure should serve the interests of the residents, especially the children, not the other way around, and careful decisions made for the well-being of our children should take priority and should not be casually reversed for political convenience?

If you have any comments about this situation for the City Council, please send them to city.council@cityofpaloalto.org

If you are supportive of neighbors' efforts to put the PC rezoning (which allows development of that parcel to such a massive scale) to Palo Alto voters, you still have two days left to sign the petition for a referendum. (The earlier referendum regarded the inclusion of the rezoning in the comprehensive plan, this one regards the actual rezoning.)
Web Link




P.S. FYI, Neighbors find the rest of the memo grossly one-sided in the same way as their blaming the daily traffic problems on Arastradero on Gunn morning start times, by a staff that has taken the role of advocacy for the project rather than objective reviewer. See recent Weekly stories/editorial, e.g. Web Link
"[... in the case of the staff report on the recently approved Maybell senior housing project, only policies that supported the project were cited"]

Comments (41)

Posted by Waddajoke, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 8:16 am

This is just a lame excuse, very lame indeed! The city is trying to deflect and detract from the real cause, which is the narrowing of Arastradero. Since most people who useArastradero at those times of day do so to get to the freeway, not to ride bikes to work as the city city had stupidly claimed, the narrowing caused huge pileups of traffic during the extended Silicon Valley rush hours. People hoping to avoid this parking lot of backed up traffic found a route around it by diverting to Maybell.

nothing to do with Gunn or its starting/ending times!


Posted by seriously, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 9:41 am

If the start time at Gunn is the problem can you explain why the traffic at 4:30pm is stop and go from Foothill to El Camino on a week day? All three schools have long been out and there is still a backup that gets worse through the commute time. Someone needs to explain the difference between a study that is made up to win the argument versus a true study of the actual impact of the narrowing of Arastradero. Please allow yourself to admit a mistake. One of the commissioners from the planning department even said that if he had seen the traffic issues on Arastradero (after he finally went to look before he voted yes on Maybell) then he probably would not have voted for the permanent change. I do not remember his name but he sits on the far right as you face the commissioners.

So, we have a planning person who admits that he never went out to look at the issues of changing a major artery from 101 to 280 in Palo Alto until after he voted for permanent change. And they say that there was not enough residents against the change. How many residents have the time to attend endless meetings, express their views and then be ignored over and over again.

The commissioners said that the Maybell group made up the largest group of people opposed to anything, even if you combined all of their meetings. Did that make a difference? The decisions were made before the public spoke both at the Planning Dept and the Council. The changes that were made to appease the Maybell group were already in the Council's back pocket before the meeting with the mayor. It was not hard to read what the outcome was going to be before they spent 8 hours on the weekend in a meeting pretending that they were trying to help. PAHC was not willing to change anything until the council told them what would have to change to make it work. Only then did they agree to any changes to their plans.


Posted by Local Neighbor, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:01 am

The City blaming Gunn for increased traffic on Arastradero Road simply tells me the inept Transportation Department under the leadership of Jaime Rodrigues simply did not evaluate "future needs" of either Arastradero or Charleston.

To blame the School District for increased enrollment and moving the start time at Gunn is simply a pathetic excuse for their misguided experiment into road diet.

Also, the Transportation Department did not listen to the neighbors who wanted to keep four lanes. Why? Because they wanted to get their hands on the "grant money" to make the so called improvements. This is all about money and keeping Jaime Rodriguez gainfully employed.


Posted by seriously, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 11:29 am

And now we can add Gunn's increase of students, Google on one end and VM Ware doubling their facilities on the other end to add to our two lane road. Where is the common sense?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

And as yet we have not seen what the neighbors will think when the center plantings are done. I feel sure that when they have to do either an outward or return trip going the "wrong" way to get to their driveways that their thoughts will change.


Posted by snd, a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Jul 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Well everyone else is blaming the district to deflect their ineptitude so why not the city?


Posted by stuck-in-traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 4:07 pm

> "The striping of Arastradero Road may have contributed to a lesser degree [than Gunn start times and elementary school enrollments]."

If you believe that, I have a bridge to sell you.

See how much you can believe the city's transportation department at Web Link

Narrowing Arastradero increased traffic on Maybell 24 percent.

Gunn start time changed in 2011: Web Link

June 2, 2011 Gunn to move to later morning start time
Principal announces shift from 7:55 to 8:25 a.m., citing benefits of sleep

'In her "principal's message" to parents, Katya Villalobos cited both pluses and minuses of the change, mentioning extra sleep for students as the No. 1 positive. The later start time "can also have a positive effect on traffic along the Arastradero Road corridor," she said.'

But Councilman Berman apparently favors the transportation staff rather than school kids: Web Link

'Berman said he had spent four mornings on the intersection of Maybell and Clemo avenues, where the development would be built, and confirmed residents' assertions that Maybell gets "extraordinarily busy" during the morning school commute. But Berman also observed (and showed photos to back up his observations) that these streets are relatively calm outside the period of 7:45-8:15 a.m. The traffic issues, he said, can be worked out by modifying curbs, making other traffic improvements and working with the schools to stagger the opening bell times to lessen the traffic.'

Let's make those ornery kids leave for school at 6 am! Anything to prove the traffic department right.


Posted by stuck-in-traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 4:15 pm

Could you please post the URL for the July 10 staff report? Thanks.


Posted by Parents need to know this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm

See if this works:
Web Link


Posted by Parents need to know this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm

It seems to work. Point #9 is where they blame the traffic on Arastradero mainly on the change in Gunn start times and say the Arastradero restriping is a "lesser" influence.


Posted by City of Palo Alto, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2013 at 6:24 pm

Below is a web link to the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) issued by the City of Palo Alto on July 10th regarding the 567-595 Maybell Avenue project:

Web Link

The original article references the FAQs as a memo but didn't include a link to the FAQs directly.

Jaime Rodriguez - Chief Transportation Official


Posted by Parent, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm

Is the posting based on a different city staff report because the FAQ's don't seem to make the assertion that is central to this posting?


Posted by Parents need to know this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:04 am

Per the link "See if this works"

FAQ #9
"Why has traffic on Maybell increased? What is the City doing to minimize impacts of traffic increases?

"Staff believes that an important factor in the increased traffic is that the school commute peak period has been compressed from 50 minutes to 20 minutes due to the change in start time for Gunn High School from 7:55 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. beginning in August 2011.

"In addition, there is a small increase in school enrollment at Barron Park and Juana Briones Elementary Schools and some of those students travel from outside attendance areas, meaning they are more likely to be driven to school. The striping of Arastradero Road may have contributed to a lesser degree. However, traffic counts during the trial did not show reduced traffic on Arastradero Road, which would have indicated cut-through on Maybell or other streets.

"In addition to the Maybell safety improvements, the Council also directed staff to work with the School District on staggering start times, expanding the School Pool Program and to market the Safe Routes to School program."

In other words, the staff are saying Why has the traffic increased on Maybell? They have just primarily blamed it on the start time at Gunn.

They make no account of the traffic problems in the afternoons when the schools get out at very different times. They also make a strange charge the increased enrollment at Barron Park school is related even though the school is on the other side of Bol Park. So much else wrong with those assertions, it's hard to even know where to begin.


Posted by Parents need to know this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:23 am

I'd like to point out that first bell rings at Terman at 8:05am, so a start time of Gunn at 8:25am rather than 7:55am would more likely help traffic on Arastradero by "uncompressing" the Arastradero school crowd, than "compressing the start time". School arrival time at Juana Briones is between 8:05 and 8:15am too, so start time at Gunn was moved from 10 minutes before the start of arrival to 10 minutes after their start. This does put more of the late Gunn bicycles on Maybell in the morning rather than driving across Juana Briones campus, but by then, Juana Briones traffic is over.

Saying traffic counts did not show reduced traffic on Arastradero means nothing in relationship to the school start times because many other things have happened that put more traffic on Arastradero in the last few years, including a lot of development nearby and which has been done without regard to the traffic it would add. As the traffic analysis by an independent engineer pointed out, the traffic study for the Maybell project didn't include the current data it should have.

Bottom line, schools and the wellbeing of our students should take priority. The start time at Gunn was changed after a lot of study and soul searching. Blaming the change in the morning doesn't account for the traffic problems at intervals throughout the afternoon.


Posted by Jake Hartinger, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 8:49 am

Our neighborhoods are overburdened and the City needs to start thinking about sustainability rather than building denser with poor planning.

I believe that the start time at Gunn was changed for two reasons: Primary being the amount of traffic at 7:50 due to similar start times at Terman and Juana Briones. Secondary being that it would help with learning in 1st period due to sleep studies done on teenagers. I can't remember if the re-striping occurred before or after. Does anyone know? The traffic on Arastadero was congested before the re-striping at 7:50 AM but only got worse afterwards.

But certainly: Traffic was immediately worse on Maybell after the re-striping due to excessive traffic on Arastadero. I believe the time change at Gunn was done to help alleviate that due to the similar start times at Terman and Juana Briones. Sort of Ironic that the City is blaming Gunn since they probably were the only ones that helped the situation.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Barron Park School
on Jul 25, 2013 at 9:37 am

It's almost comical how the City Council keeps coming back to striping as the solution to our traffic problems. They feel they can continue to over develop as long as they paints stripes on the roads. Stripes don't change the volume of traffic and they won't make kids safer on Maybell either. Though the heaviest congestion is during the start of the school day, starting at lunch time, there are flocks of kids using Maybell to go to lunch and get to after-school activities. These kids walk/ride in social packs and will ignore the Council's recommendation to travel in single file lines. Furthermore, Maybell is simply not wide enough for two-way striping and traffic. Striping didn't help Arastradero and won't help Maybell either. But more and more it looks like the Council doesn't care about the residents and is more interested in helping out the Palo Alto Housing Corporation.


Posted by PaloAltan, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

We all have been serving the city well. Less motors, more bicycles, more trees, more green, more money...


Posted by pamom, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 10:17 am

We were told that reducing lanes on Arastradero was done to "calm" traffic, slow down traffic, so as to protect children walking/biking to school. We were assured traffic would move just as well, although a little slower. Those of us who live here knew that was wishful thinking. And, there also seems to be another reason for reducing lanes: get people to drive less. Again, this seems to be wishful thinking.

What's worse, is added to the "traffic calming" is the "new urbanism" building plans for Palo Alto, resulting in more crowding and much more traffic. So reducing lanes and adding more dense apartment buildings are supposed to be good planning?

The results are less safety for children going to school. And more congestion on our streets, especially when all the dense apartment buildings going up around Arastradero/El Camino is finished in a year or so.

Our city leaders are doing a very poor job of planning for our future.


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 25, 2013 at 10:52 am

Has anyone stopped to ask why the Council has not only ignored the residents, but has thumbed their collective noses at a loud and clearly articulated reasonable request from the residents?

The only reason I can postulate is that we are just seduced by fancy mailers and campaigns funded by special interest, and then are surprised that the votes favor those special interests and ignore the residents.

I think the Tiger has woke up. Nevermore. We really want to believe in the notion of a representative government that acts for the greatest good for all -- but we have discovered that wolves campaign in sheep's clothes. Collectively, our eyes are little more wide-open.

For now we just have to make sure we get all of our friends and neighbors to support the referendum to preserve neighborhood zoning.

Best regards and please step up and take an active role in getting your associates to vote to reverse the Council's harmful and deceptive actions.

Tim Gray


Posted by Michele, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 25, 2013 at 10:54 am

Traffic was terrible on Arastradero and Maybell even with the 7:55 start time. What about too many cars, too much building in that area, and many schools starting at similar times does the City not get?

Perhaps the solution is to relocate Gunn altogether.


Posted by agree, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2013 at 10:56 am

@pamom;resident BP School Community;Jake Hartinger
Agree. Exactly right. It's a two-headed monster. Bad land use policies lead to more striping,etc, used to justify more bad
land use,and on and on in a downward spiral all over the City.
Cumulative result- more traffic, unsafe streets, ugly streetscapes.
This is a nightmare.


Posted by Bob Moss, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 11:40 am

The city claim that moving GUnn starting time back is hilarous. In fact when they were doing the justification for narrowing Arastrdero they delayed doing traffic counts and studies on nearby streets until after the Gunn starting time was moved back, saying how much that would reduce congestion on Arastradero since school starting times would be more stagered.As for the increase in school population, at one time staff claimed Barron Park and Briones gained 350 students since 2008. Barron Park alone hasn't had that many students any time in the past 10 years. Currently they have less than 340 students. Briones student population is down by almost 20 in the past few years to under 400. Gunn and Terman numbers are up.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

All Barron Park/Green Acres residents concerned about bicycle safety should keep an eye out for a city notice of a community listening session, similar to one already held for Matadero, to hear details of problem locations and conditions that need to be addressed in implementing the bicycle corridor project. Careful, thorough listing of the problems is the first step. Please bring your expertise to the process of designing a project worthy of the neighborhood.


Posted by cityview, a resident of Community Center
on Jul 25, 2013 at 1:11 pm

The city should start by relocating the Barron Park neighborhood first. If that doesn't work out, then move the school as well. No problem!


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

@Don't be ridiculous, a resident of the Green Acres neighborhood

You're right about not being able to put that many single-family homes in. My fault for imprecise terminology. They could build that many "private market housing units" on the land. Creative developers will find a way to build attractive multi-family housing--condos, townhouses, I don't know what format, on the property.

I don't consider this to be acting as, to use a phrase that may have been in one of your posts, a "predatory developer". It's just doing what developers do, maximizing profit. If a developer who bought the land could make more from it by selling it all to a very wealthy person for a nice in-city manor and estate, I'm sure that would happen and we'd have even less traffic than we do now. But it's far more likely that it would be built out to hold as many units as possible.

If PAHC builds, it's with a 50+-year time horizon in mind. (Please correct me here, if anyone has more accurate information.) In the case of the proposed project, the private developer doing single family homes on the edges would produce 12 homes that could be sold several times in those 50 years, generating tax receipts for the city and sales commissions for real estate firms. But the rest of the property, with the apartments, would be off the market for that long time, housing low-income seniors.

If, however, the property is built out by a private developer, it would result in approx. three times the number of private market homes for sale. The city is willing to forego the tax receipts they could get for those 50 years by approving the Maybell project because of the "public benefit" of providing low-income senior housing.

But there's nothing in it for the real estate industry. I think they'd probably not want to see product (housing) they'd like to help folks buy and sell locked up indefinitely. So I think they have an interest (legitimate, from their point of view) in seeing the rezoning rejected.

About the orchard preservation concept, I'd love to see it happen. I'd be willing to pledge $100/yr. towards a realizable plan that would keep the four single-family homes on Maybell and a rejuvenated orchard on the rest of the property. I've appreciated that view for close to 40 years and would like to see it maintained. But I'm skeptical about the feasibility.


Posted by Jerry Underdal, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

My apologies for misplacing the previous post. It was intended for a different thread, but it's still relevant to the issue of what happens at Maybell/Clemo and how it impacts traffic.


Posted by seriously, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Just please do not let the city paint green lanes down Maybell. Teenagers will not care and it will be a waste of money as well as look commercial.


Posted by Parents need to know about this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm

@ Jerry Underdahl,

Yes, an all private developer would want to maximize profit. That does not mean the most number of units you can pack on a piece of land, because they make the most money on desirable properties with more than 2,000 sq ft, whether townhouses or duplexes. It's why they like to violate height restrictions. If you have to live with height restrictions under the zoning rules, that means no one in their right mind is going to build that many units of such small size that they wouldn't do well.

But again, the City has the ability and the right in this case to temporarily take over the property, study the safety issue, and place whatever deed restrictions on the property it wishes, subdividing, etc., to ensure the worst case scenario never happens. Given their clear belief that such building is a problem, they have a duty to do so if the current deal falls through. (As it may well do, as City staff report says zoning only takes effect 31 days after the 2nd reading - apart from any referenda - which is long after PAHC's deadline for their July 3 funding application. They turned it in, but it's a competitive situation and they are asking for millions - it wouldn't be right for them to misrepresent that they had the zoning in place, which is a basic application requirement. I think they get penalized in future applications if they are found to have misrepresented anything.)

You said:
"About the orchard preservation concept, I'd love to see it happen. I'd be willing to pledge $100/yr. towards a realizable plan that would keep the four single-family homes on Maybell and a rejuvenated orchard on the rest of the property. I've appreciated that view for close to 40 years and would like to see it maintained. But I'm skeptical about the feasibility."

Thank you for saying that! The four single-family homes on Maybell are what make the community orchard possibility feasible, because selling them would make back more than enough to repay any of the other lien-holders on the loans. If the City wanted to, the community orchard could be an irreplaceable asset, one of the things it could do with (a small fraction of) the Stanford funds.

And let's face it, finding a piece of historic orchard land across from an existing park, facing the hills, with 100 established trees, near so many schools, so centrally located in a neighborhood -- THAT can't just be had anywhere else.

Add to that the possibility that the Julia Morgan building could be put there, at someone else's expense no less - where it would be put to its historic use and cherished, not shuttled aside somewhere. Even without the Julia Morgan, the location across from the existing park makes for some amazing possibilities.

We neighbors get castigated for saying so, but that location really isn't a great place for seniors because there is no adjacency to services seniors need, and PAHC didn't even originally decide to make it a senior complex, it was only decided after they realized a multi-generational was probably not politically feasible because of the schools. Nearer downtown, with Avenidas, amazing transit, medical, etc etc. is so much better. We should all be clamoring to make City Council increase in lieu fees so it can be possible to put an affordable senior complex closer to downtown instead. Councilman Schmid pointed out that there was some development where the affordable senior units were on the top floors, and when someone said, 'oh, you mean those seniors are going to get those great views?' they took it all off and paid the in lieu fees instead! (Wish I knew which development he meant...)

And putting a development at Maybell means tearing out the trees.

There are people in the neighborhood today who have spearheaded projects very similar, who would be willing to see it to reality if that became an option. City Council keeps making disingenuous statements about how if we want one, we need to come up with the money. But fundraising for something like that will not happen while the zoning is in such controversy and donors face the same controversy and accusations as the neighbors are now enduring. The City would have to proactively decide on that option and allow neighbors a chance to help make it happen. They would.

If the deal fell through, though, a community orchard would be a healing option, a great asset, a way for the City to actually shield PAHC from any negative financial consequences if the deal fell through and the site really won't do well on resale because of the safety issues now disclosed, and a way to develop that location with no additional traffic, etc. It would also be a way for the politicians to save their political necks, as this side of town votes and they are angry.

There are lots of too-high-density projects going in on this side of town especially, but that one is getting all the pushback because it really, truly is a bad location for it because of the infrastructure/traffic/safety problems inherent in the circumstances and location. But it couldn't be more perfect as a community orchard.



Posted by Parents need to know about this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

P.S. There was supposed to have been a meeting about the Matadero bike corridor that included Maybell, but it was advertised as for Matadero, and as soon as neighbors got wind of it and advertised it on all the neighborhood lists, suddenly, the City canceled it and said it was reschedule to an indefinite time in the future.


Posted by Suzanne Keehn, a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm

I agree with many of the comments above, especially keeping the land mostly open space with the orchard and trees. The houses there could be up graded inside, and sold for a lot, as we have seen in this neighborhood.

As a community, we can make a difference, we must begin looking at the whole issue, how do we want to live, when is enough enough? There are a lot of questions about senior housing, how are they chosen, what are the income parameters, can seniors live in senior housing in PA who do not have back up finances, such as selling their home. Can folks move in that have only their income?

We are overbuilding, we're seeing the results in increased traffic, ugly architecture, etc. What is sustainable development? What about water, we are experiencing less rain, and I've read we will have more drought in California, including the Bay Area. We cannot deny our climate is changing. It seems that our City is not considering the larger issues that are truly of concern.

There could be a way of keeping the orchard, let's be creative and work together to save it.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2013 at 6:06 pm

At the time the Gunn morning bell was moved forward 30 minutes last year, there were all sorts of claims about how much improved the mental health of the students would be.

Has Gunn produced any evidence that this later starting time has improved anything?

Not suggesting that the time be restored to what it was--but if it isn't doing anything good, why not consider returning to what it was. It will be interesting to see what excuse the City transportation people give then for the traffic problems on Arastradero.


Posted by Bike safety matters, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 26, 2013 at 8:14 am

Safety is our community's highest need, and the government's highest priority, or it's supposed to be. So how about we choose a use for that land that adds NO more traffic directly onto the "safe routes to schools."


Posted by Bike safety matters, a resident of Gunn High School
on Jul 26, 2013 at 8:25 am

@Wondering...
Hmnn. There is ample evidence that the sleep cycles of teens are different than that of the adults . And pretty much every teen and HS teacher will tell you that teens struggle to be alert in morning classes. Maybe we should take the differing needs of children more seriously, instead of forcing kids to alter their natural cycles for the convenience of the adult work day. Then we might have measurable happiness changes.


Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

> There is ample evidence that the sleep cycles of teens
> are different than that of the adults

Be that as it may .. was there any measurable difference in Gunn student performance, attendance, mental health, or any of the many other claims that were advanced at the time the start of school was advanced 30 minutes?

By the way, teens can go to bed earlier if they need more sleep.


Posted by Parents need to know this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm

@Wondering,
You may wish to contact Project Safety Net, because the change was made in light of signficant input, research, careful study, and they are almost certainly monitoring the effects.

More importantly though, the City has made unsupported CYA claims, with our children's wellbeing in the balance. They offered no solid evidence of their claim that the Gunn start time has so negatively impacted traffic as to overwhelm all other factors including mad development in the area - in fact a discussion of recent development is glaringly absent - or that moving Gunn start time back would suddenly solve the mess. The traffic study they did for the Maybell rezoning didn't include current enough data to account for the worsening in the last two years, and did not look at cumulative effects of other development.

The explanation doesn't explain the mess all afternoon, either. And no matter what the start time, there's no way to add an actual full sidewalk or bike lane to Maybell. There will be hundreds more kids going to Gunn in the next few years. Many of them will be traveling across town, up Maybell to Arastradero by bike. They are owed the heightened scrutiny of developments on school commute routes that City policy promises, and which was NOT DONE. Instead we get ths ridiculous excuse/rationalization that scapegoats the schools. Is the infrastructure there to support the citizens, or the other way around?


Posted by Parents need to know this, a resident of Green Acres
on Jul 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Correction - I of course meant "up Maybell OR Arastradero by bike"


Posted by soccer mom, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jul 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Since the traffic re-striping and road narrowing Tesla, VMWare and the Veteran's Administration hospital have all increased capacity. The route to these businesses for many workers is 101/Charleston/Arastradero. There appears to be no mention of the role that this residential street plays as a direct route to some of the City's major employers. The morning commute is not only families dropping off students but many workers commuting to work. The idea that Palo Alto is a residential community best served by narrow roads filled with cyclists does not represent the reality that our City is a regional employment hub with a large contingent of commuters entering and exiting at peak hours. With 3 major employers served by Arastradero in addition to the three schools, it defies logic why the City would chose to reduce this major traffic artery to one lane in either direction.


Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 26, 2013 at 10:11 pm

@soccer mom
If Arastradero were 2 lanes to start with, they would have recommended that it be expanded to 4 lanes for the reasons you
sighted. But since it was 4 already, they made the mistake of
restriping it, etc. to demonstrate that the City is dealing with
the worsening traffic situation with "traffic calming". So you
end up with a perverse outcome in which the situation is made
worse by the City.



Posted by resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 10:26 am

@soccer mom
sorry- previous post should read "cited"
To extrapolate the result at Arastradero citywide means that
any "traffic calming" installation put in by the City, like signage, restriping, barriers,etc is as likely to have a negative impact as any net positive impact and must be evaluated project by project from that standpoint.


Posted by stuck-in-traffic, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 11:48 am

What happened to the city's priority of "youth well-being"?


Posted by seriously, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2013 at 12:17 pm

So, the City was supposed to have a meeting with neighbors about making the streets in Barron Park safer. A postcard was printed and mailed out to the neighborhood announcing a meeting in June. Then the meeting was cancelled with no hint of another meeting. If the City believes that they want to help the student commute why is the meeting not rescheduled? School begins in just a few weeks......


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