Neighborhoods roll out their agendas for 2012
Emergency prep, bike, parking and traffic issues top the lists
Palo Alto's neighborhood leaders say they plan to address a variety of issues in 2012. But cars in neighborhoods, whether driven or parked or with people living inside of them, most commonly top their lists.
The city's trial restriping of Charleston Road-Arastradero Road has impacted the neighborhood of Barron Park, residents there report, and evaluation of the project continues through June.
The redesign, which reduces the number of lanes along Arastradero, is designed to slow traffic and reduce accidents along the road, which is a route for school children attending Barron Park and Juana Briones elementary schools, Terman Middle School and Gunn High School.
But the trial met with consternation among some residents last year who said that the restriping is confusing and has led to traffic cutting through their neighborhood.
Gunn High School, which is located on Arastradero, started a new bell schedule in the fall, and the trial will be evaluated at the end of the school year.
Bicycling will also be a topic for discussion in the neighborhood, with last July's release of a draft of the City of Palo Alto Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation Plan. It includes several recommendations, including possibly removing barriers on the Bol Park bike path, potentially extending the Bol bike path to El Camino Real and creating a new "bicycle boulevard" along Matadero Avenue.
Barron Park emergency-preparations leader Lydia Kou is also organizing another emergency campout drill, "Quakeville," in 2012. Kou has coordinated the past two years' Quakevilles and is working on this year's event with Ken Dueker, the city's new director of the Office of Emergency Services, she said.
The College Terrace Residents Association this year is looking ahead at potential impacts of the planned Mayfield housing projects on California Avenue and redevelopment of the block at El Camino and College Avenue housing JJ&F Market. With both construction projects, traffic and parking are likely to become concerns, association President Brent Barker said.
Residents fear that the Mayfield development, which would involve the removal of 17 acres of building materials, could bring construction vehicles onto California Avenue and rumbling past residences, Barker said.
Neighborhood leaders are currently in discussions with Stanford University, which owns the Mayfield land, and the City of Palo Alto to consider adding a road parallel to California to take construction traffic.
The neighborhood this year will also continue to work on the issue of people living in their vehicles as well as a related problem of people storing their cars on streets near El Camino Real, Barker said.
The city last year proposed an ordinance to ban vehicle dwelling after residents complained they were tired of sanitary issues caused by some of the homeless persons. The city is currently working with the homeless and residents to find a solution.
A plan to redesign California Avenue between El Camino and the Caltrain station, which is currently in litigation, will also be an issue in 2012 as its concept designs continue to evolve. A community meeting on the concept design will take place Jan. 26 at Escondido Elementary School in College Terrace.
The big issue in Downtown North will be developing a residential parking-permit program that people living on both sides of University Avenue can accept. Residents in Professorville, south of University, have been working with the city to develop the program, which would limit what they call the inundation of downtown employees leaving their cars all day on neighborhood streets.
Downtown North residents said they fear that creating a permit plan in Professorville would only shift the problem to their streets. They will be consulted but won't have a seat in the city's new Downtown Parking Community Group, which includes business representatives and Professorville residents, said Curtis Williams, director of planning and community environment.
Sally-Ann Rudd, Downtown North's neighborhood association president, said people are waiting to see what form the parking-permit program will take.
Also in Downtown North, Cogswell Plaza is scheduled for a landscape renovation this spring and summer, according to city landscape architect Peter Jensen. The patch of green and redwoods on Lytton Avenue and Bryant Street, which has become a hangout for some homeless persons, will get improved lighting, new plantings that will eliminate hiding places and a configuration that is more community friendly, Jensen said at a community meeting at Avenidas Wednesday night.
The biggest story in 2011 for the Greendell neighborhood in south Palo Alto — located between Ferne Avenue, San Antonio Avenue and Mackay Drive — was the sale of the old Peninsula Day Care property at 525 San Antonio Road to the Palo Alto school district, said association President Srini Sankaran.
In 2012, "we are hopeful that the Palo Alto Unified School District will involve the Greendell community as they go through their planning and design," Sankaran said.
The neighborhood is also looking forward to the tree replacement, sidewalk repairs and repaving taking place on San Antonio Road. But Sankaran said the neighborhood faces traffic issues that the road renovation won't affect, Sankaran said.
"We continue to be concerned about the hundreds of new housing units (along Central Expressway) that are planned or approved for development along San Antonio Road. Although most of these units are technically on the Mountain View side of San Antonio, it affects Greendell as we are at the border. We are concerned that San Antonio Avenue, especially its intersection with Middlefield, will face extreme traffic challenges," Sankaran said.
In the Southgate neighborhood, located between Churchill Avenue and Park Boulevard, southwest of the Caltrain tracks, the city's planned Park Boulevard bike corridor could become a hot topic this year, neighborhood association leader Jim McFall said. The bike corridor would run through the neighborhood.
Southgate already experiences a high level of bike traffic, as numerous Palo Alto High School students bike to school along the narrow neighborhood streets. The city is considering possible traffic modifications, such as relocating stop signs or a roundabout to aid bike traffic. This has raised the interest and concerns of Southgate residents regarding possible neighborhood and traffic impacts, he said.
Storm drainage is a fairly significant issue in the Southgate neighborhood, McFall said.
In 2005 Palo Alto residents approved a ballot measure to increase the city Storm Drainage Fee to fund various storm-drainage projects. Storm-drainage improvements in Southgate, which currently has no piped storm-drainage system, were planned. But project costs were greater than expected, and a number of projects have not proceeded.
Some funding now exists for Southgate, McFall said. The Public Works Department, which is looking at a variety of innovative and green techniques to address neighborhood storm drainage, has reached out to Southgate to help find new solutions. The neighborhood anticipates a meeting within the next month to start this process, he said.
Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be emailed at email@example.com.