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May 18, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, May 18, 2005

News Digest News Digest (May 18, 2005)

Final Mayfield approval delayed

A communications breakdown has led the Palo Alto City Council to postpone its final approval of the Mayfield agreement to next Tuesday, following objections from Los Altos Hills City Council members.

The deal, which the Palo Alto council initially endorsed May 2, promises to bring soccer fields to the corner of Page Mill Road and El Camino Real; housing to California Avenue; and development to south Palo Alto in the Stanford Research Park, which includes two traffic signals on Arastradero Road, along the border of Los Altos Hills and Palo Alto. One would be placed at Hillview Avenue/Fremont Road, the other at Deer Creek.

This past Monday, the Palo Alto council had been scheduled to give its cursory final authorization, until they received calls from Los Altos Hills council members who were upset over the traffic signal at Fremont.

In a case of "they said/we said," staff of both cities debate whether Palo Alto had adequately notified Los Altos Hills of the Mayfield plan. Maureen Cassingham, city manager for Los Altos Hills, said her staff has no record of receiving any documents.

However, Lisa Grote, chief planning official for Palo Alto, said her staff sent the Los Altos Hills planning staff proper and plentiful notification, including the environmental-impact report, a thick document that runs hundreds of pages.

To make up for the snafu, the staff of both cities will meet this week to discuss the Mayfield plan. On Thursday, the Los Altos Hills council will deliberate on the matter. It is unclear if either city's council would be able to reverse course on the Mayfield deal, however, which was made between Stanford University and Palo Alto and is not subject to adjustments.

Los Altos Hills resident Kim Cranston sounded the alarm to his elected representatives and thinks the traffic signal is a bad idea. He predicts cars cutting through his neighborhood and traffic backing up at the Fremont/Arastradero intersection, which currently only has a stop sign.

He acknowledges receiving a postcard from Palo Alto about the plan, but said it was unclear to him what the impact would be, since most of the focus was on the soccer fields and housing along El Camino.

"We'll see what happens Thursday. It's kind of bizarre that Palo Alto can try to mitigate traffic on their side of two towns, without regard to other town," Cranston said.

But Cassingham said she hoped that Los Altos Hills residents might simply need more information, in order to approve of the signals.

"Many people don't understand that a signal can be good ... in a way that moves traffic through better than a boulevard stop," she said.

Grote said that the impact of additional traffic in both towns had been considered by the Palo Alto staff and their consultants.

-- Jocelyn Dong


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