News

With new fountain in place, California Avenue project nears finish line

Palo Alto plans to celebrate completion of $6.9 million project on May 7

With just weeks to go until the finish line, the reconstruction of California Avenue hit another milestone Tuesday afternoon when workers lifted the veil off the street's new fountain sculpture.

"Confluence," a slender, vertical sculpture created by artist Michael Szabo, made its debut around lunchtime at the new California Avenue plaza near the Caltrain Station. The 14-foot-tall sculpture replaces the traditional bowl fountain that has long graced the plaza near Park Boulevard.

Though the old "bird bath" fountain had been cracked and damaged for years, its old-time charm had plenty of admirers. In 2011, city officials sided with the Public Art Commission in accepting the Szabo proposal over a more traditional bowl-shaped one. The decision went against an online opinion poll in which a traditional design was favored by Palo Alto residents who voted, by 130 votes to 208.

The new sculpture is one of the last remaining components of the ambitious $6.9 million streetscape project on California Avenue. The street, often referred to as the city's "second downtown," now has a freshly paved street and sidewalks, colored crosswalks, new bollards and trash cans, fresh landscaping and two lanes for traffic rather than four.

The project began a year ago and was initially slated to be completed in December. Construction experienced some delays because of complications involving the replacement of a water main under the street. The city also ran into an unexpected hiccup when pedestrians began complaining that the glass shards embedded in the sidewalks protruded too far for comfort. The city agreed to smooth things out with some cement slurry.

City Manager James Keene said Monday that officials are planning to celebrate the occasion on May 7, with a 2:30 p.m. celebration featuring area merchants, city officials and a ribbon-cutting.

Keene said it will take about two weeks to put the final touches on California Avenue, which includes new lighting, landscaping and the new fountain.

Comments

35 people like this
Posted by sidewalks?
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 21, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Although I generally like the renovated Cal Ave, I'm surprised that the various portions of the sidewalk do not match well. Some areas with the embedded glass seem to be covered with a grayish layer that makes them appear dusty (cement slurry), whereas others are not. And some portions of the sidewalk are just regular cement. Is this something we can anticipate changing in the next couple of weeks?


33 people like this
Posted by pedestrian
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

Any chance that the city can rehabilitate the pedestrian tunnel to make California Ave more inviting to residents living on the other side of the train tracks?


11 people like this
Posted by Sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm

The City Council just walked right into that sidewalk debacle. (No pun intended.) This is a thing that happens a lot in construction. Builder leads you into picking a garish house paint that you would only realize when it's on the house, or some other thing that's going to cost you to fix. Don't fix it, and you live with the mess until you have to. (We have a friend who just stayed with their neon mustard house color because they couldn't afford a change and they got hate mail from their neighbors.)

It's going to be much more painful and expensive to replace it later. Just do it now. I do not enjoy saying "I told you so."


25 people like this
Posted by Annie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 9:41 pm

I agree about the pedestrian/bike tunnel - it's miserable. Can ANYTHING be done to improve it?


19 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:48 pm

The pedestrian tunnel needs to be widened to reduce congestion and let more light in. Also, remove the silly traps that make it even more congested. The Homer Ave tunnel downtown is a tremendously better design, mostly because it is much wider. There is plenty of room for a wider tunnel at California Ave if the city cared about pedestrians.


13 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:52 pm

I don't understand the complaints about the pedestrian/bike tunnel. I use it a couple times a day, and aside from it being crowded at certain times, it is fine. It serves its purpose well. My only complaints are sometimes the school kids are a little pushy about going through the baffles, but that is minor.


1 person likes this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 21, 2015 at 10:55 pm

[Post removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 21, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Marie is a registered user.

So they will miss the end of April deadlline too. What a mess. I walked CA Avenue today. The recycled glass sidewalks are as dangerous as ever. Even after the dangers were pointed out, more of those sidewalks were installed. it looked like there were a couple areas that were ground down, or "slurried" but very few and they still had sharp edges poking up. Mostly there are jagged pieces of glass sticking up everywhere. I guess we will have to wait until several lawsuits from those injured by falling on the glass before the city will admit that the only way to fix this problem is to remove and replace the recycled glass.

And the new fountain? One more ugly sculpture alongside the existing ones. Thank goodness for the sunflowers in front of Country Sun and the various Greg Brown murals or we would have nothing lovely to look at. As far as I know, Brown's murals were all paid for privately. The city never took advantage of his talent. His whimsical murals were clearly not ugly enough.


25 people like this
Posted by same garbage
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:58 am

As far as the glass sidewalks, the City never corrects its mistakes. The "Go Mama" sculpture attests to that, it's still there,apparently it's permanent and symbolic of everything wrong here,and the City's lack of response. The City's embrace and proliferation of the ugly and overdone in land use and development in FAR's and setbacks and sign clutter and painted streets,and dewatering for basements, goes on and on. It's business as usual. That's the essence of the last decade plus. We need a new perspective in City Hall, a new sensitivity, a new understanding, a rollback and correction of mistakes and a new course, not the same garbage. We have a new Council majority which has the right values-now we need action, implementation of these values at the street level,in our commercial areas, in our neighborhoods.


15 people like this
Posted by Customer
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:53 am

We got "lucky" and found a parking space on the street last night, but those square blocks you can drive between are a disaster waiting to happen. Cars have run into store fronts when there were no curbs, now an aisle is provided! Are we supposed to trade in our low emission vehicles for huge SUVs in order to safely park on California Ave.? And, of what use are the ugly orange stripes decorating the street?


9 people like this
Posted by JD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:20 am

Keep it dry until the drought is over; to make a statement about our unflagging commitment to water conservation efforts.


10 people like this
Posted by tunnel
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:33 am

Yes, get rid of the traps in the Cal Ave. tunnel. put in a speed hump. Also, put up no smoking signs everywhere. When I walk through with my children after a smoker it's like a hotbox and it's awful. And that fountain sculpture is ugly! Palo Alto has the ugliest art. I went to art school by the way and grew up around good tasteful art.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:53 am

While I find Cal Ave has improved after the remodel I have two peeves. One is the ugly newspaper stands that liter sidewalks and another is that some restaurants are taking over them.


10 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:56 am

Wonderful, we have a new tunnel, decades after the old one broke, and probably just in time to never be able to use it. Par for the course City of Palo Alto, par for the course.

Leave the pedestrian tunnel alone, it works, it may not be perfect, but stop spending money and wasting time over things that work fine.


4 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:24 am

I've used the tunnel regularly for years. It is rarely congested and works just fine. We don't need to waste money on this. I agree with "tunnel" that No Smoking signs would be a good idea.

I also kinda like the new look of Cal Ave. Didn't think I would when it was proposed, but it's growing on me.


21 people like this
Posted by Nearby neighbor
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

Yay Marie! I totally agree about the CA Avenue art - and especially the gorgeous Country Sun sunflower umbrellas. I have to note how bitter it was to be asked which fountain we preferred, have one come out a clear winner, and then have the city overrule that and give us another cold and inhuman structure.

The new brick sidewalks with sparkles in them are so great - they should have made sparkle-sidewalks instead of embedding glass (this is similar to some pavement on Grant street near Market in downtown San Francisco - so appealing!).


13 people like this
Posted by Long time resident to Palo Alto
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:37 am

The glass embedded should be taken out. Anyone who falls will hurt themselves. Please replace it.


6 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:59 am

What happened to the bike lanes?


7 people like this
Posted by Jeanie Smith
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:17 pm

I think it's looking quite lovely, and appreciate the new wider sidewalks and new landscaping. Parking is actually easier now. Having resided near Calif. Ave. most of my life, I'm pleased with the renovations and thank the City for paying attention to our second downtown. What a great street to hang out on now!


38 people like this
Posted by SJ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:41 pm

The exposed glass sidewalks are both a design mistake and improperly installed concrete.

The City's design team called for the embedded glass shards in the plans and specifications issued for construction. If the shards are a hazard, they should not have been called for OR they should have been installed in a manner that would not produce a hazardous situation.

What should have happened is the concrete subcontractor should have prepared a sample (3' x 3' minimum) of the exposed glass sidewalk for the City and the City's design team to approve. Once a sample of high enough quality (and not hazardous) was approved, that sample should have been the standard for all concrete pours to meet. Obviously, this didn't happen.

The quality of the exposed glass sidewalks poured along California has got to be some of the lowest quality concrete work ever installed anywhere. There is no consistency from one section of concrete to the next section. The quantity of glass seeded into each section varies by a huge amount (and it shouldn't). The amount of exposing (or rinsing of the cement paste off the concrete surface after the concrete was poured and prior to the final hardening of the concrete) varies hugely from one section to another (and it shouldn't). Clearly, there was no plan implemented by the design/construction team to attain a quality result for these sidewalks. Clearly, there was no supervision of the project by the design team to monitor ongoing work quality as the concrete pours progressed over many months (Shouldn't the designer have been watching to see that their "signature" look for the sidewalks was resulting?). Clearly, the General Contractor was not supervising the concrete subcontractor for consistency or quality over the many months it took to complete the sidewalk work. Clearly, the concrete subcontractor didn't give two hoots about the quality or consistency of their work.

Even after complaints were made on the quality of concrete sidewalks, the work crews still did not take steps to improve the quality of the concrete sidewalks.

There is all around blame to be awarded for the resulting crappy appearance of the California Avenue sidewalks (City Project Manager, City Design Team, City's General Contractor, City Inspector, Concrete Subcontractor). EPIC FAILURE. After this and Mitchell Park, the City should rethink its design/construction delivery process.

Most all of the exposed glass concrete sidewalks should be removed and replaced (in a correct fashion).


9 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 12:59 pm

>> What happened to the bike lanes?

Don't know if this was by design, but I hope so, at least on California St. itself.

Urban walking areas in cities do not benefit from having bicycles being able to
ride amongst people, it is an invitation to an accident. Crossing CA St. would
be good, but - and even on University, as a bicyclist myself, bicyclists, like
skateboards do not belong.

It is only a small imposition on bike to be asked to ride around an area like
CA or University, or to walk your bike through it which is probably just as
fast. It makes sense to me anyway.

As a pedestrian, since there are not bikes on University for the most part, I
am not much on the lookout for them and they can come out of nowhere;
and if there were bicyclists everywhere both people and car traffic would
slow way down.

As we witnessed today up in the foothills, bicycles are capable of enough
speed to seriously hurt people, and the tendency always is to take that
for granted and speed up anyway thinking that nothing will happen to me.

Did they remove the bike lanes, and why did they do it? If they did I think
it was good.


12 people like this
Posted by wmconlon
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:01 pm

wmconlon is a registered user.

I walked by as the concrete apron was being poured around the fountain at 12:40 today. I was surprised that there was no wire mesh, but in checking the CPA specs [Web Link] I see it is not required for sidewalks. Still there are tree plantings nearby and these concrete pads are more expansive than sidewalks, so I'm surprised wire mesh isn't specified. I also saw no evidence that the ground had been compacted prior to pouring (I was looking for marks from a vibratory compactor). However the specs require that the Engineer sign off before pouring, so presumably this was done. We'll see how long before we have to pay to replace this too.


8 people like this
Posted by SJ
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:06 pm

Here is a link to an article written on how to achieve quality exposed aggregate concrete from 1990. This is not rocket science, but the participants need to plan the work carefully and then execute it properly.

Web Link


6 people like this
Posted by Peace
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:28 pm

Bikes do not need specified lanes. In areas where there are bike lanes, bikes must ride in them but if there are no bike lanes and there is not enough room to safely ride side by side with a car, the cyclist may take use of the full lane.
There is a bike lane, you see, its the same lane the cars drive in.
One lane, one people, one love.


30 people like this
Posted by Incompetent Staff
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:45 pm

The California Avenue redesign is hideous! The crosswalks (crossing California Ave) look like fake plastic brick laminate with glitter sparkles. I've never seen anything quite so tacky looking. The mismatched sidewalks are of poor workmanship. Old cracked sidewalks abut the new sidewalks. California Avenue had the potential to become a lovely downtown area. I've never seen a more ugly hardscape redesign project. The staff members that approved and oversaw the project should be fired. Oh, I forgot, Jaime Rodriguez, Chief Transportation Officer, was pushed out!


34 people like this
Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

When will City Manager Keene be fired???? If this latest disaster isn't a good enough reason to fire him, I don't know what is. I was speechless when I visited California Avenue, to see how the project was progressing.
It is tasteless, classless and downright tacky. It is an embarrassment. The city manager, staff and city council should be ashamed. The incompetence is stunning. It left me shaking my head in disbelief.


23 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:04 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@SJ - You have really nailed the issue. It is really sad, because done right, the embedded glass could have been safe, and looked great. There are small sections that do look great, but most of the sidewalk suffers from really terribly craftsmanship. The overall inconsistent effect makes the whole sidewalk look shoddy. Where was the city oversight during all the construction - the problem was apparent very early.


8 people like this
Posted by AlexDeLarge
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:09 pm

No complaints here.


16 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

Remember how it used to look, before the city cut all the trees down?

Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 2:25 pm

A couple of weeks ago, they began to put out the new trash/recycling bins (sadly, no composting). They've either run out of bins or they're waiting until the last minute, because there are a number of long stretches with no trash bins. (This after the entire street has been without any bins for about a year. They removed them all at the beginning of the project.)


Like this comment
Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:23 pm

I'm glad to see big "sharrow" signs marked on the streets so drivers can see that they have to share the lanes with bicyclists. I would have preferred to keep the street to four lanes and while I think the whole project is way over the top, especially given that it is a dead-end street, it will be good to have it finished. But -- Where are the bicycle racks? This is a major north/south and east/west bicycle route with restaurants and shopping. There need to be many bike racks to serve cyclists and to encourage more drivers to get out of their cars and onto their bikes.


30 people like this
Posted by glass lover
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:28 pm

It is incredulous to me that the city, the concrete contractor and anyone connected to the concrete and glass work could let this happen. The glass is uneven, one can pick up shards just laying loose on the sidewalk, and the glass is unevenly dispersed.

Whoever is employed by the city and had the oversight of this part of the project should be fired. It should all be ripped up and redone. Perhaps when the lawsuits start when bare foot kids and animals are cut then will the proper steps be taken.

Oh and please leave the tunnel alone, it is just fine and a welcome thru back to when things were normal in this town.


9 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:05 pm

@ Rose....we live in a car culture and although I agree there could have been additional bike racks, you can't force people to become bicyclists no matter how many racks are installed.


8 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:07 pm

I haven't been out to see the new fountain yet, but clearly those who wanted to retain a more traditional fountain were overruled.

If it looks as bad in life as it does in the photo I can only think that taste was not a factor in choosing the design. Fortunately I don't go down to that end of California Ave. very often and if the functionality of California Ave. is crippled as it seems to promise, by the "renovation," I'll not be visiting the street at all.

Pity the politically powerful are so esthetically deprived.


3 people like this
Posted by Mimi Wolf
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 22, 2015 at 4:27 pm

If the city plans to actually run water through the fountain they should disclose how this is in compliance with Jerry's rules for water conservation. It's likely that California will experience drought for many, many years. Rather a fountain, a native valley oak would be tasteful, provide shelter from the sun, is drought tolerant and would likely withstand Palo Alto critique.


21 people like this
Posted by jane
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 5:01 pm

How long will it take for us to recoup the 5.5 million the city spent in sales taxes? (Not counting the 1.5 million VTA grant, although that still comes out of our taxes.)

Our previous director of transportation, Jaime Rodriguez, who was responsible for the California Avenue remake, was running two of his own companies on the side at the same time. One of them a sidewalk paving company. Mr. Rodriguez resigned when his private enterprises came to light so cannot be held accountable for his choice of paving and the glass shards. However, although Mr. Rodriguez will not be found on the city hall roster on resigning he was awarded a consulting contract by Mr. Keene to continue working for the city.


22 people like this
Posted by Among the Injured
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 22, 2015 at 6:16 pm

My children have been injured on those sidewalks. The 4-yr-old required three sutures in her knee. I am surprised that ther have been no lawsuits yet.

Or maybe there have, and we have yet to be informed. Most of the restaurateurs know of people injured on the new glass-embedded sidewalks, and have witnessed some of it, especially on Sunday mornings.

Just wait until some elderly person breaks a leg or hip by catching a toe on that crap!


24 people like this
Posted by same garbage
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:03 pm

I went to look at the project. It is a disaster. Tacky, cheap looking,
a visual hodgepodge. The red colored fake brick crosswalks,with the glitter, the orange stripes, the discordant sidewalk sections with the
sun reflected off the glass shards. It looks like a third rate amusement
park. But above all this is hazardous for dogs, small children, and
infirm seniors because of the sidewalks. It is a moral outrage and
legal liability to not put warning signs at the entrances to the project
for those at special risk due to the glass shards, with an apology while
the City undertakes a complete reconstruction of the sidewalks.

The hideous Go Mama sculpture ironically now has found a suitable home
in this project. This project is a backbreaker and should lead the new
Council majority to understand the full dimensions of the problems in City Hall if they somehow don't get it yet. Let this project mark a turning point. We need to take back our City,first redo what we can,where possible,
throughout the City,and move forward with a sense of purpose and new direction.




7 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Re: the fountain

Who wants to hang out down by the Caltrain station, in the area the streetscape project refers to as 'the plaza'? (Answer: I'm guessing... nobody)


1 person likes this
Posted by DOn
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 22, 2015 at 8:37 pm

This was in this week's Streetscape Project email update:

The California Avenue Streetscape Project is nearing conclusion. Please join local merchants and city officials to celebrate the completion of the project on Thursday, May 7th, at 2:30pm. More details will follow!


17 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 9:33 pm

Boy I thought the remodel was supposed to make it safe for Bicyclists? seems more dangerous with all those tight chock points. what a waste of money. would of been a lot cheaper just to repave the street and take out two lanes for a bike lane


5 people like this
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 22, 2015 at 10:56 pm

Slow Down is a registered user.

@38 year resident - I agree about being a car culture, but if you are going to the effort cutting 4 lanes to 2 and adding bike lanes, you might as well install some bike racks.


21 people like this
Posted by I could cry
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:03 pm

I could cry looking at the picture of the angular fountain. The old one was so charming and graceful and appropriate. It should have been repaired or replaced with something similar. The public spoke up and voted but the former Council overruled us.

The sidewalks are a mishmash of different materials. Amateurish.
The city's choice in art is deplorable - the fountain, the GoMama, and the meaningless sculpture on Middlefield next to the Mitchell Park Library is called art (a pile of concrete boxes).


17 people like this
Posted by JD
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 22, 2015 at 11:30 pm

How about some kind of time limit on all the pieces of modern art littering our fair "green" city? After X number of years, they get sent to auction or to the scrap yard.


8 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

Those LED streetlights are so efficient they can burn them 24 hours a day.


4 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:58 am

"Those LED streetlights are so efficient they can burn them 24 hours a day."

About a month ago I talked to the guy overseeing the project. He said they hadn't yet received the controller for the streetlights, but that it should arrive soon. I guess they still don't have it.


19 people like this
Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2015 at 12:51 pm

JD,

I don't think the art on Cal Ave should be called modern. Kitch really better defines the artistic style of the artwork, and really all of the new Cal-Ave developement.

Cal-Ave's Kitch is not the older type that most people are familiar with, so it might be better to call the style modern-kitch, or nouveau-kitch.


3 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 23, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Thanks Don. I figured the explanation would be something like that. The LEDs were still lit up at 10 this morning.

My other observation is of the couple dozen workers out there I watched today, zero were female. I guess that's part of the gender gap Jay Thorwaldson wrote about recently.


8 people like this
Posted by History Buff
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:30 pm

Silly question, but can anyone think of a Palo Alto project that came in on time and on budget?


17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 23, 2015 at 10:09 pm

We went to dinner at La Bodeguita Del Medio on Cal Ave tonight and for the first time ever saw backed up traffic and a constant stream of red tail lights due to the new parking configuration.

Narrowing Cal Ave to 2 lanes and replacing the formerly convenient nose-in parking with parallel parking causes backups as any sensible person could have anticipated because cars can't levitate around cars trying to park.

We met a friend there and had a good giggle about the waste of $7,500,000 to create wide sidewalks fronting the old outside dining areas while there's still no place in town to go hear live music.

Want some exhaust fumes with your outside dining, hon? It's our $7,500,000 Special while we brag about cutting Co2 and greenhouse gas! Dumb, dumb.


6 people like this
Posted by Darwin
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2015 at 10:34 am

@38 year resident "we live in a car culture and although I agree there could have been additional bike racks, you can't force people to become bicyclists no matter how many racks are installed."

That's actually untrue. More people will ride to places if they know their bikes can be secured in a safe place. And we need to stop with defeatist sentiment that we're a car culture. We're only a car culture because that's nearly the only thing we've spent infrastructure money on for the past 100 years. If we just spent 1% of the money we spend on cars then Palo Alto would be a better place for all involved.


19 people like this
Posted by Sandy J.
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 24, 2015 at 11:49 am

*Slow Down: loved the old photo of CA Ave with the beautiful trees.

The tunnel doesn't need to be widened, but it does need to be steam cleaned on a regular basis. When I go through I often have to hold my breath because it smells like urine after a Friday or Saturday night.

That hideous mam sculpture should be moved to University Ave if they city planners like it so much -- no one here does. And why have us vote on the choice of fountain and then ignore the residents.

Mismatched sidewalks, hideous orange stripes in the street -- looks like this was designed by five different people with blindfolds on.


5 people like this
Posted by Judith
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 24, 2015 at 3:01 pm

@ History Buff: Rinconada Library was ahead of schedule and under budget. The other libraries, except for Mitchell, were on time and on budget. The Art Center was on time and under budget. However, no one wrote about it.


Like this comment
Posted by Very old resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 24, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I'm glad this project will be finished during my lifetime. I like the new two lane street. As a pedestrian, I feel safer in those crosswalks now.

The few back-ups of cars waiting for others to park is reasonable in time. It's not a long wait and well worth 30 more seconds.

I also like most of the art (not all of it, but most of the cal ave pieces) including that Go Mama sculpture that others say they dislike.

After all these years of nothing at the plaza, it's nice to have a fountain again, even if it's more sleek and not a splashy birdbath. Just in time too, with summer coming. I'm happy for all the new benches too.

But I agree with comments here that those sidewalks were not well thought out. Too many surface varieties and embedded glass is a mistake that may cause consequences to limbs of people and pets, and glass glare is hard on older eyes. Maybe glare will be less, when the trees grow taller.


2 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 1, 2016 at 7:18 pm

The new fountain is quite awesome. The craftsmanship and design of it are truly impressive. I'm intrigued about how they made the water flow the way it does, such a nice flow and it make a soothing sound. Also the way the crescents are tilted and fit perfectly together is quite the design feat. Overall the plaza has been greatly improved. In my opinion the fountain is definitely the star of the show.


12 people like this
Posted by HUTCH 7.62
a resident of Portola Valley
on Feb 1, 2016 at 7:52 pm

Should of left it the way it was. In a Nutshell.....Parking sucks and the road is too narrow for delivery trucks at every stop sign.


8 people like this
Posted by Meany
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2016 at 7:57 am

How about stationing Palo Alto police at the entrances of the tunnel to ticket bicyclists who don't know how to read the signs that say "WALK BIKES" and nearly run over pedestrians in the tunnel?


8 people like this
Posted by Too narrow
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 2, 2016 at 8:32 am

I don't think anyone thought about all the VTA buses that go down Cal Ave from the train station. The new lanes are so narrow that, if one bus is going each way, the one coming from the train station has to back up to the fountain so the bus going to the train station can pass.


1 person likes this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 2, 2016 at 11:22 am

Annette is a registered user.

Nearby Neighbor - thank you for your comment about the fountain vote. The outcome stands as a perfect example of audacious disregard for residents. We were ASKED to vote on 3 acceptable choices. A winner was chosen and then *they* ignored the outcome and chose the one that was recently unveiled. Why they bothered with a vote is beyond me. Many pieces of the Cal Ave beautification project could have been handled better - let's hope the City engaged in a post-project debriefing so that mistakes are not repeated.


4 people like this
Posted by @Meany
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2016 at 11:43 am

The crash bars in that tunnel make it too narrow for people to walk their bikes. I've seen mothers with bicycle baby trailers tip over trying to push through those traps. Bicyclists should be detoured to Page Mill Road instead.

Why was widening the tunnel not part of the California Ave project? The existing tunnel is clearly too steep and too narrow to be ADA-compliant.


6 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 2, 2016 at 3:30 pm

Somebody put a very nice tunnel under the tracks 150 yards south. Unfortunately they didn't think to connect it to anywhere else like under Alma to the park. Getting to a northbound train from the Alma side of the tracks now takes two tunnels, when in the old days you could just run across the street.


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

He said – she said – who is lying? Justice Brett Kavanaugh or PA resident Christine Ford
By Diana Diamond | 69 comments | 5,318 views

Let's Talk Internships
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 1 comment | 769 views

Zucchini Takeover
By Laura Stec | 0 comments | 507 views

Couples: Sex and Connection (Chicken or Egg?)
By Chandrama Anderson | 1 comment | 486 views