Town Square

Dish Access

Original post made by Marcia Sterling on Oct 1, 2013

For local walkers and runners seeking access to the Dish trail, Stanford has proposed replacing about half the available parking places on Stanford Avenue with an equivalent number of spots on Coyote Hill Road.

Yesterday at 10:00 am several of us walked to the proposed Coyote Hill Road parking access point from the Stanford Avenue gate to the Dish. This brief walk raised several important and troubling health, safety and welfare issues.

1. Too Long. It took almost 20 minutes, more than 4 minutes of which were spent waiting for the light to cross 7 lanes on Page Mill Road. This will effectively devalue the Dish experience for
many users.

2. Unpleasant. The walk along Junipero Serra is flat, hot, littered and noisy. It was so loud that we literally had to stop talking whenever cars and trucks passed. Traffic at rush hour would have been far more intrusive.

3. Unsafe Crossing. There is a dedicated right turn lane from eastbound Page Mill onto Foothill that is used in the morning by commuters headed for the VA and Stanford Industrial Park. Similarly, there is a dedicated right turn lane on southbound Junipero Serra that is used in the afternoon by commuters leaving Stanford and heading for 280. Hundreds of pedestrians are going to have to cross in front of these drivers, many of whom are late for work or in a hurry to get home. I believe a traffic study is needed to better understand (i) the extent to which pedestrians will slow down these turns and (ii) the extent to which pedestrian safety will be affected by crossing in front of so much traffic.

4. Community Access. Stanford's own publications estimate that 1500 + people walk or run the Dish each day. The majority of these users are women, many of them pushing strollers, many of them finding scarce time to fit in a walk or run before work, most of them busy, engaged members of our community. For these women, health is a great priority, as is the safety that comes with following a paved path used by many other walkers and runners.

The proposed parking on Coyote Hill Road is not a viable solution for these users. In essence, Stanford would be discouraging Dish use, to the detriment of the health, safety and welfare of our communities.

The Stanford Avenue parking location, for all its problems relating to congestion and safety, provides a unique opportunity for busy people. You can park, get an aerobic workout almost immediately on the first steep hill, walk 3 miles in a lovely, hillside setting overlooking Stanford where even a woman alone feels safe, and be back to your car in an hour and 15 minutes.

I believe more effort should be put into finding a parking solution that preserves the wonderful Dish experience so many local residents seek out and enjoy. I hope Stanford will consider how very important it is to provide access to the hills that overlook Stanford and its neighboring communities.


Posted by Caul, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 1, 2013 at 9:00 am

Stanford knows it can do as it pleases, regardless of how the community feels about it. The land is theirs and theirs alone; they do not have to give access to it. In this regard, they are rather poor neighbors of Palo Alto. Think of the problems this dish walk has been for the Palo Alto neighbors who live in the dish walk area. Stanford has done nothing to relieve that, and it is an issue of their own making.

Posted by palo alto resident, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 1, 2013 at 9:44 am

Marcia - I suspect one reason for the reduced parking is to discourage the use of the Dish.

Posted by middle aged, a resident of Stanford
on Oct 1, 2013 at 11:15 am

Are they installing restrooms along with the farther-away parking lot? Its going to be really hard for some people to walk an extra hour plus the loop without any restroom stops at all.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm

Caul-- the people who live in the dish walk area are stanford residents. Stanford allows palo residents access to their private property at no charge and they are bad neighbors? So what do you call palo alto regarding its policy for foothill park?

Marcia- you have a sense of entitlement regarding the dish area. Stanford ha no obligation to provide you access to the dish area. There will still be parking on Stanford avenue. Stanford is addressing problems that Stanford residents are facing due to the dish parking, buti guess keeping palo alto residents satisfied is more important.
BTW, Marcia, door know what happenstoa Stanford resident that tries to get into foothill park ?

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 7, 2013 at 2:21 pm

@not an issue -- I'm not sure the streets where walkers park on are private property. Please let me know if that is not accurate.

In terms of Foothill Park, there is open access five out of seven days a week, so am not sure what the complaint is. Neighboring towns were given the opportunity to share in the development of Foothill Park and turned it down.

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 3:09 pm

@neighbor wrote "there is open access [to Foothill Park] five out of seven days a week." Not quite true. The residency requirement applies at all times, and I have run into gate guards on the occasional weekday. Much of the time during the week, there is no guard at the gate, but non-residents are not permitted.

There are only a handful of publicly owned parks in the nation that have residency requirements; almost all public parks are open to all, regardless of the cost of procuring and developing. I would welcome our neighbors from other towns into Foothill, just as they welcome us.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Oct 7, 2013 at 3:57 pm

@Fred, 5/7 days is pretty decent availability for a citizen-supported park. Foothill is unique in that it allows camping and is intended to provide more of a wilderness-type experience than parks such as Mitchell (which is completely open). It would be a completely different place if the trails were overrun and the city would see considerable expense added for maintenance and patrols. If it was our only city park I would feel differently, but there are a number of very nice Palo Alto parks available to everyone. Limiting Foothill provides for a more peaceful and save experience for residents. As for Stanford residents -- they have access to a number of facilities unavailable to others, so am not seeing why Foothill is an issue.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Neighbor- are you asking about Stanford avenue? I believe that is Stanford property, since they are planning to reconfigure parking on tht street

Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm

I got a ticket for an illegal u-turn on Stanford Ave after running the Dish for the 100th time. They'll see me in court. What am I supposed to do if I don't find a spot the first time around, turn right onto FHill Exwy, right again 1 mile later and then back around?

Someone needs to pop the bubble at Stanford by showing them they're *lucky* to be next to Palo Alto and not the other way around.

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Yes, Chris, you should have turned right on foothill, etc. you admit you made an illegal u-turn, so what will be your excuse in court?
The dish is private property Stanford is under no obligation to let you in. The bubble that needs to be popped is the sense of entitlement by palo alto residents regarding others property

Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I'll raise the stakes, n.a.i.; I'll reveal my argument here after I get the ticket annulled if you agree to actually have a pleasant attitude here for a whole month. OK?

Posted by Not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Chris- not interested in your argument. Save it for the court. Can i forward them your what am i supposed to do comment?

Posted by Fred, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 8:36 pm

"5/7 days is pretty decent availability for a citizen-supported park"

I suppose, if it weren't for that pesky having to work all week thing most of us do. Perhaps they'll make the restricted days Tuesday and Thursday going forward, and allow all comers on the weekend? Kidding aside, in fact, non-residents are never permitted, even when the guard is not present.

If there were other open space parks with residence restrictions, I might see a case. But I'm not aware of any, are you? Wunderlich, Rancho San Antonio, Windy Hill - all free to all. Huddart Park - fees for parking and overnight camping, but open to all. So as far as I can tell, Foothill is the only park that keeps non-residents out.

Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm

[Post removed.]

Posted by not an issue, a resident of Community Center
on Oct 8, 2013 at 5:42 am

[Post removed.]

Posted by Chris Zaharias, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm

[Dish removed.]

Posted by Sparty, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Maybe if StanfUrd took back all the very very very very very generous leases they give the City of Palo Alto people would have their eyes opened.