News

Residents give yellow light to Cal. Ave. plan

Reduction of street lanes to two a sticking point for some but not all Palo Alto residents

A city vision to revitalize California Avenue in Palo Alto was met Thursday evening with both vocal opposition about changing the aging avenue and caution about not wanting divisiveness to sabotage the streetscape-improvement project.

City officials presented the latest version of the streetscape plan -- its seventh iteration – at Escondido Elementary School. Approximately 30 people attended.

The plan would narrow the street from four lanes to two, could broaden sidewalks for a European-boulevard look, and add landscaped seating areas, a shared bike lane, benches, a redesigned plaza near the Caltrain station, lighting fixtures, bicycle racks, information kiosks and inviting gateway signs.

The design concepts incorporated residents' feedback from a Sept. 9 meeting. City officials want to firm up a concept to take to Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) by Oct. 4, when the city will apply for a $1.5 million VTA Community Design for Transportation Grant to beautify the retail area. The grant is given to cities to improve transit connections, calm traffic, promote bicycle and pedestrian uses and increase economic development.

But some residents and business owners urged the city to slow down the process. Reducing the lanes to two is a major sticking point. They said they fear traffic backups as cars attempt to pull in and out of the diagonal parking spaces.

One concept would widen sidewalks by three feet and increase diagonal parking angles to 45 degrees. A three-foot buffer zone between parked cars and vehicle traffic would be painted on the roadway. The traffic lane would be 12 feet wide. Parking spaces would be slightly reduced from 111 to 108 and would add a loading zone. The plan would cost an estimated $2.1 million, Chief Transportation Engineer Jaime Rodriguez said.

A second concept does not widen the sidewalks but places parked cars at a 60-degree angle. The three-foot buffer zone is included in this option. The traffic lane is 16 feet wide and would be marked as a shared bike lane. Parking spaces would increase to 135 and two loading zones would be added. The plan cost would be $1.7 million – less costly because sidewalks remain the same, he said.

Three other improvements would cost extra: street resurfacing costs $500,000 and is funded already to take place in the next two years; lighting costs $500,000. Recognizing the lack of parking during lunchtime, city officials are considering additional parking structure(s) on side streets, but that concept has not reached the costs or locations stage.

Residents wanted a "greener" California Avenue. One option is a permeable-paving area for the diagonal parking that would reduce contaminated street-water runoff to the San Francisco Bay would cost $400,000, he said.

People questioned the feasibility of trying to "brand" California Avenue as a destination-shopping district, similar to University Avenue. The mix of stores serve local residents and would attract few outside shoppers, they said.

"California Avenue is the last local downtown of Palo Alto. It would be nice to have something smaller scale and more personal," said William, a resident who asked not to be identified with his last name.

Other people felt the plan caters to vehicles, not pedestrians.

"I like the idea of getting parking off California Avenue -- period. It's short-sighted to approach with a car-centric concept," resident Becky Fuson said. She wanted a more "long-lived idea" to be developed with "a more human scale," she said.

But others said the four-lane concept is outdated and they did not agree with fears that two lanes would jam up traffic or be any more dangerous to pedestrians.

James Cook said he liked the idea of branding and beautifying the area.

"It has a tired look. The four lanes must be a remnant of another time. It's like a freeway look," he said.

Some residents of the adjacent Evergreen Park neighborhood said they welcome the changes and questioned some assertions that "if it isn't broken, you shouldn't fix it."

"We need a more pleasant place to visit. Beautifying the street has got to be a goal. We should be careful. We don't want to kill this thing. To say it's not broken -- I would question that," a resident who remained anonymous said.

But Terry Holzemer, of the Palo Alto Central Homeowners Association near the Caltrain station, said a survey of residents there found people did not want to change the four-lane configuration. Congestion and bikes sharing lanes with cars is "a recipe for disaster," he said.

Rodriguez said the designs could still be modified before construction takes place. The Architectural Review Board, Planning and Transportation Commission and City Council still must review the concepts before the plans move forward. Those reviews are expected later in fall.

Reducing the lanes would slow down traffic and make the area more pedestrian and bike friendly, Rodriguez said. One idea includes 6-inch raised tables at crosswalks and a flashing-light, pedestrian crossing signals.

Colored crosswalks and parking areas would alter the "sea of asphalt" look of the current roadway, he said.

Residents and business owners liked a previous concept for landscaped seating areas that would form nooks with tables and chairs. But some businesses were concerned that only businesses adjacent to the seating would benefit.

Another concept would create a landscaped, tree area with seating, chess tables, a new water feature and bike racks at the plaza near the Caltrain station. Nine parking spaces would be removed, Rodriguez said.

The city surveyed other surrounding municipalities that have converted shopping districts form four lanes to two, including Menlo Park, Los Altos and Mountain View. www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=24669.

Those cities had greater retail sales afterward and were satisfied with traffic flows and pedestrian and bike safety, Chief Planning Official Julie Caporgno said.

A general illustration of the plan, which the city posted Sept. 14, can be viewed at www.cityofpaloalto.org/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=24727. It is closer to the 60-degree parking option and does not show the expanded sidewalk option.

Additional, updated drawings of both plans will be posted in several days on the city's website www.cityofpaloalto.org/depts/pln/transportation/default.asp.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2010 at 10:34 am

What retail?

I use Cal Ave for restaurants but find that there is no parking at lunch times anywhere in the area.

I am worried that this will just be a waste of money. True, it may look prettier, but I don't think it will bring people to shop unless there is somewhere to shop. At present, the draw are the restaurants, and if there is no parking available it is the restaurants that suffering. But, since there is nowhere to find parking, then perhaps all the restaurants are doing fine anyway.


Like this comment
Posted by Steve T
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:01 am

They narrowed Castro street more than a decade ago and it works fine. Why wouldn't it work for California avenue which has far fewer businesses and restaurants.

Personally I think we should expand the parking structure and get rid of the on-street parking completely to promote walking and biking. But that's probably not popular idea.


Like this comment
Posted by marco
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:05 am

I like the more 'intimate' appeal of the two lane design, but hopefully with wider sidewalks and some barriers along the roadway so that diners at tables outside don't cringe when a car turns in toward them to park. Two lanes is far, far better than the current four lane, 'highway to nowhere,' route 66 look.


Like this comment
Posted by driving around hungry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:05 am

Any plan should include adding more parking within two blocks of either side of California Avenue. With that, the reduction from four lines to two (or none even) will be a welcomed improvement. Learn from Town and Country's redevelopment growing pains. It was great to make the area more attractive to diners and shoppers, but until they added additional parking it was a nightmare.

Given how long it will take those tiny new trees to grow, we should have the time to think this one through.


Like this comment
Posted by anciana
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:29 am

I walk to several businesses in the Cal Ave area and I also use CalTrain. I'm really against a two-lane street. There would seldom be a natural break in traffic for pedestrians, and when pedestrians do stop traffic to cross the street, there will be backups.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:45 am

4-way stops at every corner solves the "natural" break issue for pedestrians. Unless you like to jay-walk...


Like this comment
Posted by bridge it
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2010 at 11:54 am

California Ave. badly needs to improve access from the neighborhoods east of Alma Street. Currently the only pedestrian access is that dark narrow steep crime-plagued tunnel near the Caltrain station.

How about building a airy bridge over Alma Street? Look at that beautiful and heavily used pedestrian bridge that Mountain View built over the Caltrain tracks.

I would visit California Ave. a lot more often if it was easier to get to.


Like this comment
Posted by Talking to deaf ears
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2010 at 12:23 pm

I was at the meeting. I thought we were told that sidewalks would not be broadened. In fact, the take home message I got was that the number of vehicle lanes would be reduced, but there would not be a dedicated bike lane, that bikes would share the single lane with cars in each direction. The sidewalks would not be widened. So what exactly is the improvement? I left with the feeling that the proposal would only worsen the problems, while offering no real improvements.

The other message I got was that staff has spent all this effort pushing the lane reduction, against what seems to me to be the majority of nearby-resident voices, because they are chasing after grant money that will only be available if they reduce the number of lanes. How many staff hours and how much effort has gone into forcing this concept down the throats of unwilling residents in this pursuit of questionable grant money -- and to what end?

Staff is planning to push ahead, never mind what the majority of nearby residents think. Staff plans to submit this grant application within a couple of weeks, before Council gets a say. So Council will be left in a bind. Will they have the nerve to tell staff to withdraw the grant application? More than likely, Council will just make a few comments amounting to, "Gee, we should have had an opportunity to weigh in before you submitted the grant application." Not even a slap on the wrist.

Sitting there last night, I felt that I was experiencing a version of the HSR authority, where staff was pushing a bad, poorly considered concept down our throats. They were not really interested in considering conflicting opinions except those that involved only minor tweaking of their lane-reduction concept. They did not address all comments; they selectively responded to a few comments ("we'll look into it"). I was pretty upset that staff is spending so much of their time and effort in this way. Why are we paying staff salaries and benefits (including a PR person) so that they can spend their time doing this?


Like this comment
Posted by Millie
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Parking is really a problem on Cal Ave, especially during lunch. I was meeting friends for lunch this week and we made a conscious decision to eat in Los Altos because of the parking problems.

So brilliant, eliminate parking.

So now they're planning a new treescape???? How about letting those poor new little trees grow?

Sounds like the planning department has too much time on their hands.


Like this comment
Posted by Sue Dremann
Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on Sep 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Talking to deaf ears --

Two concepts were presented. One had a 3-foot-wide increase in sidewalk width, the other doesn't. The bike lane isn't dedicated, but in the option without the sidewalk, it would be marked as a shared lane to let drivers know bicyclists also use the lane. One concept also adds 24 spaces; another drops three. The city would add additional parking structure(s) on side streets. See additions to the story.


Like this comment
Posted by south PA resident who loves to shop and eat on California Ave.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I love this plan. California Avenue is my favorite Palo Alto "downtown". It is the perfect application for this kind of lane reduction that has been successfully done elsewhere on streets with thousands more cars per day than this street ever carries. This will work. It will be GREAT for business. It will transform this area into a much nicer community and shopping center.

Just say yes.


Like this comment
Posted by Eva
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 24, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I'm all for reducing the lanes from 4 to 2. It would be great to also see extra parking off-Cal added in to the deal. Castro street is a good model for what Cal Ave could become. I've always envisioned alfresco dining and a relaxed atmosphere for Cal Ave; it would provide PA with an alternative vibe to University Ave. Adding three feet to the sidewalks seems hardly enough.


Like this comment
Posted by love Castro St
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Mountain View did a great job with their Castro Street. It is much more inviting than California Ave. or University Ave.


Like this comment
Posted by Talking to deaf ears
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2010 at 2:56 pm

To Sue Dremann,

Thanks for the clarification.

I do question the article's description of the two plan versions. I understood that the 45-degree steet-parking plan would provide a few more parking spaces and that the 60-degree parking plan would reduce the number of parking spaces(i.e., opposite of what the article states). Wasn't that the reason we were getting the hard sell from staff for the 45-degree plan? [Current parking is about 60-degrees we were told; 45-degrees would make parked cars' rear ends stick out further into the street (That was what I saw in the diagrams) . One resident pointed out that 45-degree parking would make it more dangerous for bicyclists because visibility of oncoming bicycles would be reduced for drivers of parked cars backing out -- she cited studies that support this. However, it has become clear to me that the safety and usability for bicyclists is not a real goal here, it is just being used as an excuse.]

Granted, staff's presentation was rushed and unclear. We got thrown this "45-degree," "60-degree" jargon, without explanation, and only later were questions sort-of answered partly explaining what the jargon meant. (I still am unclear about it. 60-degrees as measured from where? I am guessing as measured from an imaginary line perpendicular to the sidewalk. A few seconds of explanation at the beginning of the presentation would have helped everyone's understanding immensely.) Also, there were no handouts and the room was dark, making it difficult to take notes. Perhaps you can get staff to provide you with a copy of their Powerpoint presentation. Perhaps staff could make this available to the public so that we could have a better understanding of each plan. How were we supposed to be able to give well-considered feedback on the 60-degree plan versus the 45-degree plan based on that presentation? (I re-iterate, no handouts were provided).

When it comes down to it, staff is going to decide for themselves which of their two plan versions to pursue. They will likely say that most of the comments didn't indicate a preference for the 45-degree or the 60-degree plan (notwithstanding that we didn't really understand the details of each plan), so they're just going to pick the one they want. I'm guessing they go with the 45-degree one; that was the one they seemed to be pushing the hardest.


Like this comment
Posted by Midtown Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2010 at 3:04 pm

Palo Alto has one of the best climates in the world, yet compared to European cities with far worse climates, it has few restaurants where you can eat outside.Let's widen the sidewalks so we can have more outdoor eating areas, take out the street parking, and increase parking spaces by building additional garages in the streets near California Avenue.Just think of what a pleasant place Califoria Avenue would be then.As others have noted, reducing the number of lanes on these types of streets has worked well elsewhere.


Like this comment
Posted by Train Neighbor
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 24, 2010 at 3:09 pm

I love to dine outside on Castro and find it very pedestrian friendly.

Widen sidewalks & reduce traffic lanes.


Like this comment
Posted by Glenn
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 24, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Construction today costs about $50,000 per parking garage parking space, not counting the land value. Right now there are 111 parking spaces on California Avenue. Take all 111 street parking spaces away, then build a parking garage on a city lot (taking more parking spaces) to replace them, add a few net spaces to your garage, and you are talking about a $10 million or so parking structure.

Why not do something really cool like turning a portion of California Avenue, say from Birch to El Camino, into a permanent walking promenade like the Sunday Farmers' Market? Build the parking structure off Sherman which already has several walk-throughs to The Avenue. California Avenue could become a destination dining and shopping experience.


Like this comment
Posted by encourage pedestrians
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 24, 2010 at 6:47 pm

If we make California Ave. more inviting to pedestrians, then we won't need to build expensive parking spaces. Build a pedestrian bridge over Alma Street from Midtown to California Ave and the customers will come.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm

Resident,
Maybe you don't remember what a ghost town Castro used to be before they made similar changes. The changes would make California more inviting for customers, hence more inviting for businesses. As the article says, sales improved after those changes.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 24, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Parent

If it is my comment you are replying to then I will say this.

Retail, there is no retail there that would entice me to Cal Ave. If there was better retail, then I might be enticed there. The ambience will not make me go there for the retail at present.

Restaurants, since the parking lots are all full at lunchtime, then the restaurants must be doing very well. If there was more parking, there may be more people going for lunch which would make the popular restaurants more crowded.

The last time I was there for lunch I deliberately went late, found it very hard to find a parking space, and still had to wait over 30 minutes for a table at the restaurant of choice (my kids badly wanted to go to the Counter before school started). We did not have any need to go shopping, just to get lunch. I also like to meet friends occasionally at the Olive Garden which is always busy and their own lot is always full. Once again, getting into the public lots is always difficult.

For these reasons, I wonder just what is the reason for encouraging more people to crowded restaurants?


Like this comment
Posted by Talking to deaf ears
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 24, 2010 at 9:03 pm

I agree that either more parking is needed, or preferably (in my opinion)a better mix of businesses that don't just cater to the lunch crowd, thereby spreading out some of the parking demand.

But who is going to pay to provide additional parking? A new or expanded parking structure costs millions, as mentioned by others. The city is not going to pay for parking structures. Such parking structures would need to be paid for by increased parking assessments to property owners in the California Ave business district. These parking assessments usually get passed on to the businesses who rent the properties. So, of course, the businesses don't want to have to pay for parking structures through increased parking assessment fees. I think that's why they're pushing for more street parking. The increased street parking would be paid for by the city and by any grant money the city gets. (The city usually has to pay matching funds to use grant money, though, so, it's the Palo Alto taxpayer who will be underwriting at least some of the additional street parking for the businesses).

So I'm skeptical that the driving force for this plan is to make California Ave more bicycle-friendly and pedestrian-friendly. I don't think either plan accomplishes this. I think that the real driving force is to get the city to foot the bill for more street parking for the property owners and businesses. The plans that have been put forward seem to bear this out. The plans sacrifice pedestrian and bicycle-friendly features in order to maximize street parking.


Like this comment
Posted by CA Ave shopper
a resident of Nixon School
on Sep 25, 2010 at 10:29 am

California Ave. is pedestrian friendly as is. And, what would happen to the atmosphere and ease of shopping at the Farmer's Market?? I don't think you can compare CA Ave. to Castro St., MV. There are so many more retail shops there and it is not the same kind of community. I don't think that model should be the goal. There is ample parking if you're willing to walk a block or two at the peak times. Has anyone asked the restaurant owners if they want more al fresco dining? Sure, maybe it would increase their seating capacity but what about the costs of security, upkeep of the outdoor areas, kitchen capacity?


Like this comment
Posted by jardins
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2010 at 11:39 am

Cal Ave is (to me) delightful precisely because it hasn't been fiddled with--EXCEPT for the city's disastrous cutting of all the trees.

The only reason the city wants just two lanes of traffic there is to increase restaurant sales (from sidewalk seating) so that it (the city) gets more sales-tax revenue.

The rents will go up once the area is "beautified" and a lot of independent businesses will fail. Then the chain-stores will move in. Just like at Midtown, thanks to Carol Jansen (city planner).

It ain't broke, so don't fix it!! And there's little parking possible off Cal Ave anyhow--unlike off Castro Street.








Like this comment
Posted by love Castro St
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm

What does "not the same kind of community" as Castro Street mean? The only difference between California Ave and Castro Street is that California is harder to get to from the nearby neighborhoods. Build a pedestrian bridge over Alma Street from midtown and people will come.


Like this comment
Posted by robit noops
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 25, 2010 at 2:25 pm

As long as the wider sidewalk doesn't attract more bums. I dont want crime to increase in nearby neighborhood.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm

For those advocating a no-car pedestrian mall, why do you think all the parking spaces are full at lunch and dinner time? Businesses would suffer if it was hard for cars to get to them and to park near them.

> “The only difference between California Ave and Castro Street is that California is harder to get to from the nearby neighborhoods.”
Not quite. Castro is a very long main street with MANY more shops, restaurants and businesses than CA Ave or even University Ave. It’s also got the city hall and performing arts center.

Castro does have the same parking problems as CA Ave, University or any other thriving business district: impossible to find a spot during lunch and dinner hours.

> “Build a pedestrian bridge over Alma Street from midtown and people will come.”

How many people? Not nearly enough to pay the cost of the bridge.
Speaking of money, where is VTA getting the money to give to PA? Isn’t VTA having its own financial problems?


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 26, 2010 at 2:57 pm

For clarification: there is NO plan at this time as part of Phase 2 of the Cal. Ave street scape project for this Grant application to increase the width of the sidewalks.

To be clear; the available space for a shared bicycle/car lane would vary in width depending on the angel of the parking spaces ( 60 or 45 degrees), but the sidewalks would not be widened in either scenario.

I can understand the confusion surrounding this issue; the presentation was confusing and no handouts were made available.

The variation in the plans presented would result in, in one case a parking space reduction and in the other a slight increase.

Resurfacing of the street is not included at this time.




Like this comment
Posted by jt
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 27, 2010 at 2:00 am

I'd vote for wider sidewalks. Wider sidewalks create more options, such as more outdoor seating for restaurants. Look at Castro in Mtn. View. It's really changed for the good in the past few years, and the sidewalk seating of restaurants is part of it's appeal.


Like this comment
Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 27, 2010 at 7:57 am

2 lanes and wider sidewalks - I'm all for it. Use Castro St for a model; not exactly the same but as a guide (actually Cal ave has much less traffic).


Like this comment
Posted by Talking to deaf ears
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

Castro street has parallel parking which allows for wider sidewalks. But both proposed California Ave. plans have diagonal parking in order to maximize the number of parking spaces. Parallel parking would mean loss of parking spaces, which the merchants and property owners would resist. So we seem to have ended up with two proposed plans that reduce the number of vehicle lanes without providing bike lanes and without widening the sidewalks. Why are we wasting money and effort on this? Whatever is done now to California Ave. will probably stay that way for maybe 50 years, so if you're going to make changes, do it right. Otherwise, leave it the way it is and don't waste taxpayer or VTA money.


Like this comment
Posted by Margie
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Why has it taken so long for this topic to be in the news?? I read the papers every day and this is the first time I am hearing about the reduction of the lanes!! I am beginning to think the cutting of the trees was not a mistake by the city and the purpose was to finally to do whatever they please to our neighborhoods. Are they going to reduce the lanes and if people don't like, they'll just say "we made a mistake and let's move forward"!


Like this comment
Posted by I live on California Ave
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 27, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I was at the last residential meeting. I like to know how Jaime Rodriguez, originally from VTA (where the grant will be coming from)was hired to be the "salesperson" for California Ave. If the city wanted to do reduce the lanes why was this not told to the community after the cutting down of our healthy, beautiful, and shady trees. What else is the city doing behind our backs? Please repave, restripe, replace old benches, trash receptacles, and add a parking structure nearby but leave the lanes alone. Does Jaime and other city workers live in Palo Alto? These people do not use our streets the same way as we do, for day to day living. When they leave work at the end of day, they do not dine or frequent the businesses along California Ave. And when they find another job that pays more or gain a new title, they will leave and we are struck with their poor decisions. The staff talked about have a community stage or platform as a gathering place. We do not have a "gathering" issue. Are we suppose to have events every week because people in Palo Alto need a "gathering" place? I don't get it. One of the many things I love about living on California Ave. is that the area offers a little of everything. Grocery stores, bank, dentists, diverse restaurants, shoe repair, cafes, dry cleaners, hair salons, yoga studio, optometrists, spa, etc... Please don't try to fix something that is not broken. I love this area.


Like this comment
Posted by I live on California Ave
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

It was brought up in the last meeting that constructions costs for repaving and restripping was down approximately 40% in the last year. Why has the city or the departments who oversee this did not take advantage of the reduction costs as many other local agencies did. The city has another agenda and the Council members does not seem to put much thought about saving costs. Is there a favored company that will be doing the proposed work, in particular, the reduction of lanes? Shouldn't we try to save costs where it is applicable? Can the city explain this to the taxpayers of Palo Alto? Thank you Sue for caring, for writing this piece. Maybe the Council members will wake up and listen to the community before it's too late like the tree fiasco.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 27, 2010 at 2:28 pm


I agree that CA Ave. is not broken. Why is the city wasting time and money on this -- as well as on the El Caino/Stanford Ave. project -- when it has a $500 million infrastructure backlog?

Key city structures vulnerable in a disaster
Web Link
News - Friday, September 24, 2010




Like this comment
Posted by I live on California Ave
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 27, 2010 at 2:51 pm

One more to add about my earlier comment about saving costs. City costs on this project was brought up. What costs has the city incurred from drafting these plans, outside consulting fees, architecture costs, time spent by other departments reviewing/advising which slows these departments from running efficiently thus, spending less time on their own projects? I like to know how much of our money has the city spent so far on this "sales pitch". Its beginning to smell fishy......I wonder which city departments are benefiting the most this time.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2010 at 2:55 pm

Posters PLEASE quit saying The sidewalks will be widened!!!! That is not part of either plan. You a confused and misleading others!!!!!

I agree with "I live on California ave, A resident of evergreen Park's " post of 1 hour ago!


Like this comment
Posted by Cal O'Fornia
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 27, 2010 at 8:54 pm

A number of people here want Palo Alto to copy Mountain View and make California Avenue like Castro Street - wide sidewalks with a two lane street. There is a lot more to Castro Street than that. It also has a number of parking garages, so there is always adequate parking. Mountain View is also much more business friendly than Palo Alto. Rents are lower, too, so businesses aren't here today gone tomorrow. There are a variety of shops on Castro Street, not just restaurants, and most are reasonably priced.

I doubt any of this really matters. The article makes it sound like the commercial property owners - the small, elite club that actually runs our city - have already decided the issue.


Like this comment
Posted by frank
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 27, 2010 at 8:57 pm

Let's see, if you ask ten people if there's a problem on California Avenue nine or ten of them will say "parking". What do most of the businesses say? "Parking". The City knows there's a parking problem so they want to fix it by NARROWING the lanes? Do the City employees run the City or do we--the residents, the businesses, the people that have lived in our neighborhoods for a hundred years and need to drive to do things on California Ave. so we can go to work or take the kids to school? I don't care about flashing crosswalks I care about something that works so I don't have to drive to Sunnyvale or Redwood City to get the basics...get the basics...I guess our City Planning experts and consultants forgot that.


Like this comment
Posted by Maggie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 27, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Just a thought, shouldn't we get a grant to make sure all the gas lines in the city are safe before we reduce the traffic lanes on California Ave and make the sidewalks wider? What's wrong with this picture?


Like this comment
Posted by Mark
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 27, 2010 at 9:25 pm

I am surprised to hear that now the City is planning to destroy the rest of California Avenue with this plan by reducing lanes to make the area more "walkable". We live in an area with Nobel Prize winners, inventors, medical innovators, national political figures, yet in City Hall, we house a group of people who lack understanding of the needs of the community. The community needs to support existing businesses and the jobs they provide. It appears, once again, the City is out of touch with reality.


Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 29, 2010 at 12:27 pm

From a city official re funding:

"The VTA grant has two fund source options, CMAQ (Congestion Management and Air Quality) and TE (Transportation Enhancements) programs. CMAQ is administered through the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA). Transportation Enhancements (TE) funds are from the State. The sources for those agencies come from the Federal and State budgets, including but not limited to gas taxes and various transportation fees. The City is requesting CMAQ funds only but depending on requests and number of funded projects the VTA may dictate what projects are derived from which source."

Bottom line: it's all taxpayer dollars.


Like this comment
Posted by Larry
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Pat, thanks for information. I think this is a waste of taxpayers money. It is hard to understand why the city did not take advantage of what sounds like a substantial savings. So at the expense of the savings, the reason was perhaps getting a grant to reduce lanes was more important so the people behind it can get raises or even avoid getting laid off. This makes a person think....why? I have lived in Palo Alto long enough to know that there individuals in the city hall that have no interest to what is best for community other than to collect their high paying salaries. Is there a group or department who wants to look good to other agencies to show how they were able to "transform" California Ave without listening to the majority of the community. It is such a shame. Palo Alto is slowing losing the very foundation is was built on - community & residents needs, being friendly to businesses, visitors, and small venues to maintain a local neighborhood environment. A prime example was chopping down the trees on California Ave. I still can remember when they were planted, just beginning high school. Once you get non-residents working and looking after your city then you can bet on it will not be to the best interest for residents and local business.



Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Populism: A response to the failure of the elites: Palo Alto edition
By Douglas Moran | 10 comments | 1,694 views

Mountain View's Hangen Szechuan to close after 25 years
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,402 views

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 1,400 views

Couples: Sex and Connection (Chicken or Egg?)
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 1,179 views

Zucchini Takeover
By Laura Stec | 4 comments | 948 views