News


Castilleja School changes expansion plans

Controversial garage driveway to shift, reduction in impacted trees

Officials of Castilleja School unveiled revisions to a proposed expansion on Thursday, hoping that changes to an underground parking structure and tree preservation will appease nearby residents who have opposed the project.

School administrators are seeking a new conditional-use permit that would increase campus enrollment to 540 students over four years. Under the permit, middle and high school classroom buildings would be overhauled. But an underground-parking garage, to be built for students and employees, has been among the most concerning aspects of the school's proposal. The garage would replace two single-story homes owned by the school, and cars would exit directly onto Emerson Street.

Residents are concerned that already troubling traffic problems will only get worse. In February, more than 70 households within 600 feet of the project asked the Palo Alto City Council to require Castilleja to roll back its student population to 415 students, a cap required by its current conditional-use permit. The school currently has 438 students; it paid a fine and agreed with the city to reduce its enrollment after admitting it had exceeded the cap for several years.

School officials said the garage was the outgrowth of previous community meetings with the neighborhood to find solutions to noise, trucks, buses and vehicles during peak school hours that currently enter and exit the campus on three sides: Bryant Street, Kellogg Avenue and Emerson. The garage would put most of the traffic in parking underground, which would circulate under the center of campus.

The redesign would set back the garage exit on Emerson and move it toward Melville Avenue, near an existing driveway feeds into parking lots. The existing lots and driveway would no longer be there, Chief Operating Officer Kathy Layendecker said.

But the traffic pattern would remain the same as in the previous proposal. Human monitors would prevent traffic from driving up Melville and traffic would exit mainly to the right toward Embarcadero Road, they said.

The revised proposal would also add more greenscaping features to screen the concrete facade, and it would retain more mature trees, architect Robert Steinberg noted. A new roughly half-acre public pocket park on land owned by the school would focus pedestrian awareness away from the garage exit with trees, lawn and other amenities, Layendecker said.

School officials claim the garage and drop-off area would not increase the number of vehicles traveling to and from campus. The school's desired enrollment expansion from its current 438 students would address traffic increases through more traffic management programs, including adding an afternoon shuttle, they said. The school currently has a traffic-management program that includes van pick up to Caltrain, carpooling, a morning shuttle and staggered bell times.

The school's current traffic-management plan has reduced the total number of peak hour vehicle trips by approximately 23 percent since 2012, before the school had a traffic-management program, according to an April 2016 study by consultants Fehr & Peers. The proposed management plan would further reduce the current vehicle trips by 12 to 22 percent to maintain no trip growth if the school, is allowed to increase its enrollment. The new plan would include an off-site "kiss and ride" stop for parents who want to drive their children to school, expanded shuttle service, bike station and other alternatives to vehicle trips.

Castilleja would also regulate itself if it exceeds maximum enrollment or fails to keep traffic at its current level of 440 peak trips. The first and second violations would require the school to increase its traffic-demand-management efforts; the third violation would force the school to reduce enrollment by five students each year until the number of peak trips drops below the limit.

The school has redesigned its new building and garage to avoid trees that cannot be relocated. The plan will result in a net addition of 22 trees. Nearly 90 percent of the trees will be retained on campus and 70 percent will remain in their current locations. Nine palm trees would be relocated off campus and five trees would be removed, Layendecker said. A sixth tree, a 100-foot-tall redwood, was removed after a consulting arborist and the city's urban forestry department agreed the tree was diseased and hazardous. Some neighbors dispute that assessment, however.

Neighbor Nelson Ng, whose home directly faces the garage opening in the original proposal, said he is "a bit relieved" that the exit has shifted so that traffic won't be coming directly at his front door.

However, he said, "There will still be impact of traffic coming out on Emerson and Melville. I still don't understand why Castilleja can't invest in alternate solutions such as shuttling and satellite parking lots to really reduce the traffic instead of stubbornly push their garage agenda.

He also said there is concern for Paly and Jordan students, who bike through the area.

"The garage traffic flows through the critical intersection of Embarcadero and Bryant Street, the bike boulevard," he said.

Kimbverley Wong, Ng's wife, said that they have told school officials the garage "is a non-starter," she said in an email update on May 2.

"Many of the citizens have said that we do not want the garage. But in the updated plans the overall scheme of things is still the same. Homes are taken down and neighboring trees "moved" to make way for a conciliatory Emerson Park and a garage underneath. There are are still many years of construction, many impacted and upset neighbors and an underground garage for a very modest increase in net new spaces," she said.

Castilleja is also downplaying the contributing and historic aspects of the Lockey House, one of the two homes proposed to be demolished, she said. The home on Emerson Street, which is owned by the school and is part of the campus, was considered by consultants Dames and Moore study to be a potentially historical home on the California Registry.

"So what has changed the except the angle of the garage exit, potentially saving a few more trees, and reducing the number of parking spaces below?" she asked.

"The slight changes to the plan do not change the fact that building a garage and 'squishing' more students onto a small campus is a good idea. Schools of the future should be trying to reduce their carbon footprint and serving to lead the way in reducing traffic reduction instead of increasing traffic congestion," she said.

School officials plan to submit the revised proposal to the City of Palo Alto on Friday.

The Master Plan, including the garage, will be thoroughly reviewed through an Environmental Impact Report currently being developed under the direction of the Palo Alto Planning Department. The comment period on the EIR’s scope ends May 12.

Documents related to the Castilleja proposal can be viewed here.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated one of the streets bounding the school as Kingsley Avenue.

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Comments

72 people like this
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2017 at 9:59 am

Looks like Castilleja is bending over backwards to appease its neighbors, likely having to spend a whole lot of additional money and time in order to do it. Good grief, people, we're talking about educating the next generation of scientists, physicians, leaders... can we not all get behind this? Where is the "bad" in producing more women leaders? The idea that the school should move elsewhere is just silly. Castilleja School has been a Palo Alto institution for over a century, and it adds value to our community. We should be applauding their desire to educate as many young women as possible, not criticizing every single thing they do.

PS: I live on a street that is not adjacent to a school and yet...people park directly in front of my house practically every darn day. Oh well! That is a small price to pay for the privilege of living in this vibrant, wonderful city, with its superior schools -- including Castilleja.


75 people like this
Posted by Samuel L.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 28, 2017 at 10:19 am

Samuel L. is a registered user.

Bending over backwards???? Does Castilleja have ANY plans to abide by the current GUP? How hard is it to reduce enrollment? Don't send out as many acceptances and decrease your incoming class size for a few years. It's not rocket science. They have complete control over how many student attend the school. If you look at the numbers, they were only in compliance of the current GUP for the first year and then they thumbed their noses at it, and their neighbors.

Let's not overstate the importance of the school. If it wants to grow, it does not have to be located in Palo Alto. Plenty of schools educate scientists, leaders and doctors that are not in Palo Alto. Let's not think that the city is responsible for the success of everyone that lives here.


52 people like this
Posted by not so fast
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 28, 2017 at 10:53 am

@midtowner,
You're not in mid-town (Web Link) if you're one street away from Castilleja. So something's wrong with your post or Castilleja's traffic impact is far greater than they're letting on!


In any case, you may not have realized it, but Castileja published their "updated plan" to coincide with the end date for public input. That public input date was already extended but only after the public input extension was denied and had to be appealed.
So it it's pretty clear that Castilleja timed this announcement to minimize the amount of public comment. That's hardly "bending over backwards to appease the neighbors".


66 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 28, 2017 at 10:58 am

Very dirty pool to announce this just as public comment ended.

Just say no. They're already over the max enrollment cap so why should they get to be even more over the cap?

Our streets are clearly maxed out. Parked cars are over-flowing the lots for Paly, Town & Country and this will get even worse as Stanford continues its expansion.

Just say no.


20 people like this
Posted by Midtowner
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2017 at 11:18 am

@not so fast,
Just to clarify -- I don't know what you meant by saying I'm one street away from Castilleja, which I'm not. As I indicated, I live in the Midtown area of Palo Alto. The cars that park in front of my house are - obviously - not related to Castilleja. The point I was attempting to make was simply that our neighborhood streets are public streets on which anyone may legally park.


6 people like this
Posted by Castilleja Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2017 at 11:21 am

The comment period was extended, it says in the article that it ends May 12. That extension was requested by Castilleja to give time for the public to comment. And isn't this just the comment period for the EIR scope?


74 people like this
Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 28, 2017 at 12:19 pm

The changes do not make any difference - if they want to expand, add another site. Reduce the current site back to their legal CUP.


20 people like this
Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2017 at 5:03 pm

Schools are a public good. Traffic is a fact of life in a suburban area like ours. Why begrudge these children their education? And, no, moving the school or expanding elsewhere is a silly nonstarter. All the other neighbors will feel exactly like Casti's current crop of detractors.


48 people like this
Posted by OPA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2017 at 5:16 pm

The notion that Castilleja has engaged in meaningful dialogue with neighbors is farcical. Castilleja indeed has held many meetings. The neighbors express their concerns, then Castilleja simply does what it wants. Castilleja's plans are unveiled at the last minute, with no input from the community. Castilleja's leaders have never engaged in give and take negotiation -- they do not see the neighbors as interested parties with whom they must negotiate. Castilleja only now is changing its plans to address the outrage felt by many at Castilleja's intention to expand enrollment by 30%, completely reconstruct the entire campus over a period that will last many years, and build a commercial garage in the midst of an R1 residential neighborhood. Castilleja only tries to "appease" the neighbors when it wants something from the City. When it did not want something from the City, Castilleja blatantly and willfully violated its legal obligations for well over a decade, to the detriment of its neighbors and the neighborhood. No one who opposes the Castilleja plan is against educating more women leaders. That is a false narrative propagated by Castilleja supporters to garner sympathy. Castilleja simply needs to understand that it has expanded as much as is reasonable and appropriate on a small parcel of land located in an R1 residential community. If it wants to expand further, the answer is quite apparent: Split the middle school from the upper school, and move one or the other to a second parcel of land elsewhere.


33 people like this
Posted by OPA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2017 at 5:21 pm

PA Mom: To your comment that "expanding elsewhere is a silly nonstarter," there are plenty of available parcels of land that are not in the midst of R1 residential neighborhoods.


43 people like this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Apr 28, 2017 at 6:37 pm

This used to be a boarding school which meant a much more reasonable traffic impact on nearby residents. This site was never meant to accommodate the kind of daily traffic now generated by an enrollment approaching 500 students plus staff. Many private schools move, either because their lease runs out or they outgrow their site. If it is considered desirable to house all their students on one site, rather than expand to a second site, then they have the option of raising the money and finding a site that accommodates their long term vision for their school. There is no reason the same high standards and opportunities afforded the students can only be realized if the school occupies that particular piece of land.


42 people like this
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 28, 2017 at 6:44 pm

PA Mom: Private school most definitely is not a public good. It promulgates and underpins a class-based society, and the more leaders that are drawn from private schools, the more entrenched private (vs. public) interests become in all levels of governance.


18 people like this
Posted by Ed
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Apr 28, 2017 at 8:20 pm

I pass by Casti almost every day on Bryant. I do not see the terrible traffic caused by Casti. They appear to have a well run drop off system. I do see a lot of traffic on Embarcadero passing by Casti, that clearly has nothing to do with the school. In all of these stories, I do not recall seeing any traffic studies documenting Casti traffic, so, what metric are the angry neighbors trying to reach? What's too much? My neighborhood school has swelled in attendance by more than 100, I believe, in the past few years. Imagine neighbors trying to cap enrollment at any PAUSD school because of traffic concerns?


18 people like this
Posted by Anna Klay
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 28, 2017 at 8:59 pm

My sister and I went to Castellija for several years before returning to Palo Alto High. We got a wonderful education there which served us both well over the past many years. I am stunned by the angry people who appear to be motivated by jealousy or envy in their vitriol against a great girl's school which has produced many leaders in several sectors and fields over the years. How sad it is to read the angry comments from some people who don't even have a clear connection to the neighborhood. I suggest they find folk their own size to pick on rather than lovely, smart girls and their beautiful campus. I note many do not even live near the school, they just resent it and its success. [Portion removed.]


11 people like this
Posted by Anna Klay trolling this site
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 28, 2017 at 11:10 pm

[Post removed.]


29 people like this
Posted by bemused
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2017 at 10:11 am

Anna Klay, I don't resent an excellent education, it's something that should be available to every child. I do resent an institution of privilege trying to use it's weight to get what they want, affect on the neighbors be damned. I lost respect for Casti when I learned that they have been over their CUP for years. Three of the Casti five C's: character, courtesy, conscience. How can a school claim to promote these values when they violate a permit that affects their community? That's about as far removed from conscience and character as you can get. We don't need leaders who learned their values from a 'rules don't apply to me' institution. And no number of trips to far flung countries to 'volunteer' really matter if you can't have a conscience within your own community. Casti has the means, and smarts (or so we're told), to come up with conscientious solutions. I'd love to see some of that much promoted leadership in solving their problem in a way that is respectful to the community.


10 people like this
Posted by Euclidean Zoning
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2017 at 11:18 am

To OPA and others: I assume that you are aware of the fact that the school at its current location predates the introduction of Euclidean zoning in the United States, California and Palo Alto? Referencing the R1 zoning designation is a little bit of a red herring. The school was not built under the existing zoning code and the code was adopted with very little accommodation for the school. Slapping a blanket R-1 zoning designation on both the school property and the neighborhood seems a little bit irresponsible to me.


16 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2017 at 1:06 pm

The primary complaints about Castilleja and its proposed expansion are related to traffic. These complaints are legitimate - not only when coming from neighbors who have to put up with the immediate impacts, but for the rest of us who see Embarcadero increasingly gridlocked in part because of the teacher commutes and student drop off and pickups.

There's a compromise available that will allow Castilleja to have part of what it wants in the way of increased student population and the rest of us who don't want even more traffic foisted upon us by way of heavy handed lobbying by the school. That compromise is: the school should be required to completely eliminate teacher and student commuting by leasing or buying remote drop-off and parking facilities near highways 101 and 280 and operating shuttle buses to ferry employees and students to school. This would greatly reduce traffic associated with the school operation, and by eliminating parking requirements at the school, might allow it more flexibility in any future expansion.

Everyone has to contribute to the increasing traffic problems in Palo Alto, and this doesn't seem like too much to ask from Castilleja if it wants to be a good citizen organization.


28 people like this
Posted by cyclist
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 29, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Checkout the traffic analysis: Web Link
Several options want to reduce Embarcadero down to three lanes so that Castilleja can have a dedicated lane on Embarcadero all to themselves:
- Alternative 2 – EmbarcaderoRoad Access with 3-lane Embarcadero Road
- Alternative 3a – Emerson Street / Bryant Street Access with 3-lane Embarcadero Road
- Alternative 3b – Emerson Street / Bryant Street Access with 3-lane Embarcadero Road

Even their other options will impact cyclists:
- To avoid conflicts with vehicles exiting Castilleja, eastbound bicyclists would be required to turn right at Emerson Street.
- the addition of a separate bicycle facility would also create conflicts between vehicles entering and exiting the school and eastbound bicyclists.
- While there would be right of way to add bicycle lanes to eastbound Embarcadero Road, school access on Embarcadero Road creates conflicts between vehicles entering and exiting the school and eastbound bicyclists

How can the city even be considering these CUP change, the impact is far too great. This needs to stop now!


32 people like this
Posted by neighbor in MP
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 29, 2017 at 2:55 pm

I completely agree with No Upside for Palo Alto, MJ, and OPA. It may be a fine school, but it needs to move all or part to another campus. The site cannot accommodate more students without impacting traffic and the quality of life of the neighbors. It was originally a boarding school. It isn't anymore.

I was walking in that neighborhood yesterday after visiting a friend on Emerson street, and encountered a group of Castilleja students coming the opposite direction on Embarcadero. It did not occur to them to allow us some sidewalk space. Perhaps they should be taught manners too? I believe the attitude trickles down from the top. No respect for others or their neighbors it would seem...


32 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2017 at 2:55 pm

They want to reduce Embarcadero from 4 to 3 lanes to benefit Casti??? That's totally insane because all 4 lanes are already jammed for much of the day.

At some times of day, drivers are even creating their own 5th lane to avoid the backups at the lights, causing near head-on collisions when turning cars find some impatient jerk hogging the lane they were legally turning into and they have other option than to slam on their brakes because the surrounding lanes are already jammed and there's no other place to go.

This happened to me twice and trust me, it's totally terrifying even at 30 MPH

How utterly nuts and disgraceful.


17 people like this
Posted by Lifelong PA resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2017 at 6:34 pm

@neighbor in MP - Let me get this straight: You live in Menlo Park but think it appropriate to opine on what affects the "traffic and quality of life" of members of the Old Palo Alto neighborhood (many of whom, like me, support Castilleja and its proposed expansion; those yard signs certainly don't speak for all of us). You have also decided to use one encounter in which several adolescent girls had the temerity to walk as a group on the sidewalk without giving you a wide enough berth to indicate a lack of respect from a 100-year-old institution? That brand of logic has absolutely no place in this conversation. [Portion removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 29, 2017 at 7:10 pm

@Lifelong PA Resident, in the case anyone commuting on Embarcadero has a right to opine on our traffic gridlock since Embarcedero is one of the few exits off 101.

Check out the daily commute traffic at rush hour. PA's population triples every work day from 66,000 to 198,000! And that number excludes everyone heading to Stanford.

It's easier for me to shop in MP than to try to brave Embarcadero and I live right near Embarcadero!


13 people like this
Posted by Future
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2017 at 8:10 pm

I am so tired of hearing all these complains. Casti was here first. Let is expand. Let it live, prosper and educate more future leaders. The school is more important then your comfort. If you don't like it then move!


36 people like this
Posted by Been around
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 29, 2017 at 9:07 pm

Why should anyone believe the school will meet future commitments to the neighborhood when they have repeatedly broken commitments in the past?

The school has clearly outgrown its current site. At least part of the school needs to move. If they want to grow, find a site that accommodates the future they envision.


27 people like this
Posted by Love it or Leave it AGAIN?
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 29, 2017 at 10:14 pm

@Future, you're telling all the people younger than Casti -- 100 yrs old -- to leave if they don't like the Casti's expansion plans? All the neighbors? All the commuters? All the Stanford commuters? All the young techies clogging downtown?

Brilliant! You've solved our transportation, parking & housing problems in one fell swoop! Please run for City Council or get on one of the planning & transportation commissions.


12 people like this
Posted by Future
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 29, 2017 at 11:24 pm

@Love it or live it.
Not to all those who are younger then Casti. To a few of you who are against Casti Expansion. I am telling you that you are in a small minority and if you dont like it, move. Dont make Casti a scapegoat.


36 people like this
Posted by wondering
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2017 at 11:27 pm

Future,

Why is the answer to transportation, noise, and overbuilding problems always, to tell the residents to leave!

This town has been desirable thanks to tireless efforts of the residents, be it to pass school bonds, have a lot of parks, keep buildings at 50 feet, build an opportunity house for the homeless. Take a read of all the tall tree awards.

Asking residents to leave if they don't like what is happening to something that they care about, or to ask anyone anywhere to leave their homes, is not the future. At least I hope not.



44 people like this
Posted by Lets remember
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 30, 2017 at 12:43 am

When Casti was first caught over the limit of students enrolled, one of the first responses from the school's leadership was to say that they were going to request an even greater increase of student enrollment. Arrogance at best. Hard to work with an organization that doesn't take responsibility for it's actions.


41 people like this
Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 30, 2017 at 9:30 am

Again - just say no to Castilleja's request to expand. Require them to go back to their legal CUP. If they want to expand, add another site.

@PAMom, to reply to your comment that "expanding elsewhere is a silly nonstarter", other local private schools have done or are doing exactly that. Harker School has 4 sites. Crystal Springs Uplands School is building a new middle school campus, so it will have 2 sites. Keys School has 2 sites. Nueva has two sites, it added a high school in San Mateo 4 yeas ago.

@cyclist - thank you for the links to the proposals for handling Casti's traffic, I can't believe they would even consider eliminating a lane on Embarcadero for Casti to use.


35 people like this
Posted by Public Policy
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 30, 2017 at 11:42 am

Over 600 Palo Alto residents signed a petition asking the city manager to do his job and oversee enforcement of non-compliance. Palanteer, Castilleja, etc. do as they see fit in our town with JK's blessing and looking the other way. This is not how a public servant should serve the public of the community that pays his wage. Why is the city administration allowing this to continue? I read Stan Shore's self paid ads in the paper version of this publication and I feel his frustration with the blatant disregard for the citizens of this community. I see hundreds of signs sprinkled around Palo Alto asking the city council to protect our neighborhoods and enforce their own policies. Castilleja can keep 415 student at its current site and open a second campus elsewhere like all the other nearby private schools have done.


37 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 1, 2017 at 7:08 am

Castilleja has been lying for decades and now they want to direct all traffic onto one street (Emerson) instead of dispersing it throughout the neighborhood like the current system. Emerson and Melville Avenues stand to bear the brunt of all of this construction. This is about fairness to neighbors, nothing else. And this is outrageous that they would ask neighbors and the greater city to sacrifice for about 90 students from Palo Alto.

Everyone who lives outside the area and is willing to sacrifice our neighborhood for a private school needs to learn some compassion. Castilleja can educate as many girls as they like, just not here.


41 people like this
Posted by Public Policy
a resident of Downtown North
on May 1, 2017 at 11:13 am

@Jim,
Excellent and very to the point response. Castilleja is proposing to increase enrollment by 125 girls, only a little over 20% if the girls who attend Castilleja are from Palo Alto. The neighbors would be forced to endure 5 years of massive campus construction, the entire town would have to give up a lane on Embarcadero, dozens of redwoods and oaks would be chopped off, parts of the bicycle lane on Bryant would be closed off to accommodate the mammoth construction trucks, our precious water table would be undermined, and, yes, more traffic, etc.. No uptick for the Palo Alto residents, yet Castilleja would collect extra $5,625,000.00 in tuition fees per year for the extra 125 students ($45,000 per year tuition multiplied by 125 students). Castilleja can split the school and continue its benevolent mission of educating future female leaders.


42 people like this
Posted by Bryant St neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 1, 2017 at 11:19 am

I live on Bryant Street just couple blocks from Casti. The traffic and the traffic guides(wearing orange or green vests) are NUTS every morning, every afternoon and special events.

Some of comments left here are selfish since they don't live in our neigbhorhood. They don't see the impact. And they asked us to move if we don't like it! Casti is a private school they only serve a small number of students. They SHOULD NOT impact our neighborhood. They should fit in the neighborhood!


3 people like this
Posted by Doesn't pass thevsmell test
a resident of Southgate
on May 1, 2017 at 12:03 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 2, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Harker School and the Palo Alto Military Academy moved to larger facilities years ago because of crowding. It's long past time for Castilleja to do the same.


35 people like this
Posted by Here We Go Again
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm

castilleja has proven time and again that they cannot be honest and trustworthy, having violated their restrictions for years.

No expansion-- let them find another location to build another school on. They can simply divide grade levels between the two locations, as many other schools have done!

They made a mistake when they stopped being a boarding school and started accepting too many students who had to be driven from other locations!

They simply have no business in an R1 housing district!


10 people like this
Posted by Acron
a resident of Community Center
on May 2, 2017 at 10:56 pm

The school may want to offer to buy immediately impacted neighbors' houses for above market price and use these houses as classrooms while the school is restructuring.


28 people like this
Posted by Residents First
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 2, 2017 at 11:12 pm

It's not just the immediate neighbors who are "impacted" by the increased traffic; it's all of us getting spillover parking on our streets and all of us suffering the increased gridlock on Embarcadero.

The school is in violation of the law and their expansion should rejected. I wonder who much time and money the city has spent on this when it should have been rejected in the first place and the school fined for being in violation of its enrollment limits.

If this were some bar or restaurant jammed beyond legally allowed limits, you can bet there would have been a crackdown. Of course the bar or restaurant doesn't have highly paid lobbyists and former city officials pushing for it.


27 people like this
Posted by chalk and cheese
a resident of Barron Park
on May 3, 2017 at 7:26 am

Why does Castilleja get to avoid meeting their requirements for the CUP but Sand Hill and Edgewood LLC get daily finds for avoiding their PC requirements?

Why is the city so beholden to Castilleja that they are giving them everything they want?

It's time the city stood up and backed up the residents of this city.


13 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on May 3, 2017 at 8:35 am

@Chalk and Cheese - anything can be violated if there's no enforcement. The City should have held Castilleja to the terms of the CUP when it first became aware of the violation. Castilleja is a superb school but this is not about that even if that is being used as validation for the expansion. As the saying goes, Castilleja was given an inch and it took a mile. For 15 years. That's not an inadvertent oversight. Simultaneously, Palo Alto's traffic, parking, and circulation issues have become crippling - not Castilleja's fault, but a reality all the same.

The nearby residents have to object b/c that's what's left to them. The two entities to which they might turn are not really options: the school chose to disregard the requirements of the CUP and the City chose to turn a blind eye to that.


33 people like this
Posted by rules don't apply to Casti
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2017 at 9:15 am

Mr. City Manager. Please do your job. Castilleja always asks and you seem to always grant them exceptions to the rule. Either be a public service worker or consider that next chapter after a 10 year stint you've been talking about. Palantir will welcome you with open arms after all you've done for them, maybe even Castilleja or Arillaga. We, the citizens are disregarded by our hired city chief.
Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2017 at 10:43 am

The old Castilleja use permit was so vaguely worded on the number of students allowed on campus (total enrolled or total average daily attendence?) that both the city and school agreed when the issue was discovered - discoverd by the school not by the neighbors or City! - that the school paid over $200,000 in fines, decreased its traffc impacts fast, and would submit a new use permit request which is what has been timely done.

Everytime I pass the lawn signs screaming Castilleja has violated the law for so many years I want to scream, "Liar, liar, pants on fire." The City staff and attorney settled the "violation" argument years ago.

The last use permit had neighbors forbidding use of the Castilleja campus by anyone after school hours unless Castilleja students were there so no public or even alumae use of the school pool, gyms, ball field, or classrooms all in the name of not-in-my-backyard while this town wants more pools, parks, sport fields, etc.


23 people like this
Posted by Lawn Signs
a resident of Professorville
on May 3, 2017 at 11:20 am

I downloaded a security video to YOUTUBE, showing a male with dogs pulling out my neighbor's Castilleja School lawn sign and throwing it on the street, then he proceeding away from Embarcadero.


16 people like this
Posted by Residents Forward
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2017 at 12:38 pm

How unfortunately typical of people who can't argue the issues logically or tolerate any disagreement with their rush to profiteer and add to our congestion.

Thanks for filming it and if anyone identifies the man, I hope they'll tell us/


12 people like this
Posted by seriously?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 3, 2017 at 1:06 pm

"The last use permit had neighbors forbidding use of the Castilleja campus by anyone after school hours ... even alumae use of the school pool, "

Oh, the poor Castilleja alumnae. It's really unfortunate that the local residents wouldn't want you driving through their neighborhood and parking in front of their houses to use Castilleja's pool. It's really mean of them.


24 people like this
Posted by Walking The Dog
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2017 at 1:49 pm

While walking our dog before it got too hot this morning, we ran into another dog owner and had such a good talk about PA and what can be done that he walked us home.

Upon seeing our anti-Casti expansioon lawn sign, he complimented our judgment and said that even though his daughter is a Casti alum that he's horrified the city hasn't haven't just said no instead of wasting our time and city resources. We all bemoaned the city's refusal to listen to residents.

Just an FYI.


5 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Seriously?

The proposal on the table is to put all Castilleja car parking underground which had been on city streets by neighbors for decades until Castilleja started asking its visitors to park elsewhere. The proposal is not to add more visitor parking of any kind on neighbors' curbs. The school hopes to pay for that big garage project and other changes to reduce the school's local impact by increasing enrollment only as much as Castilleja can prove total car trips are not above what the old use permit allowed or expected.

I pointed out "alumnae" to show how even in an SR1 neighborhood where householders can invite over their own friends and family after school hours they now forbid Castilleja to do the same. Castilleja can't allow the "public" to use their facilities. Would any neighbors use the school pool if allowed by the City? Every single neighbor of Castilleja bought their houses after Castilleja opened. In that time has Castilleja ever tried to stop or delay a rebuild or expansion of their neighbors' homes?


20 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 3, 2017 at 4:37 pm

Parking is only one part of the problem. The other BIG part concerns TRAFFIC and the ever-increasing gridlock. So unless the students, teachers, visitors etc. are going to levitate their cars off the roads, they'll still be contributing to the traffic problems. Seriously.

As has been pointed out, Casti used to be a boarding school. its above its limit and we're NOW over-run by ever-worsening traffic so your point that the school is older than the homeowners and the houses doesn't make a lot of sense. Unless of course you've got some vested interest in this.


5 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Nope, no vested interest. Just a very long time resident of Old Palo Alto who has seen many houses, other schools and businesses expanding here for decades and decades, and I don't like to see double-standards where "some" are allowed to expand like Paly, Town & Country, and Castilleja's neighbors' homes but Castilleja is not according to this no-expansion-of-any-kind lawn sign campaign and its defamatory interpretation of use permit violations.

I've been here long enough to be living in the last house on my city block which has not had a total rebuild or huge remodel. In the past few years, I've had at least 2-3 rebuilds happening around me so I have little sympathy with the Castilleja neighbors who complain about noise from a project which seems to be planned to be completed as fast as possible...unlike some of the house projects near me which take more than 3 years.

I've also seen the plans Castilleja proposes and they look like quality designs which will improve the value of all the neighboring properties. Yes, the plans can and should be modified to improve the streetscape and impact on neighbors as they have been at least once so far.



23 people like this
Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on May 3, 2017 at 9:26 pm

@oldster, Casti has a Conditional Use Permit from the City for 415 students. They have been over that limit for years. None of this should even be under consideration. They have every right to expand their school, but not there. Add a new middle or high school site. They are already breaking the law. Neighbors who expanded their homes did so within zoning laws, as did Town and Country and Palo Alto high.


1 person likes this
Posted by mj
a resident of Evergreen Park
on May 4, 2017 at 10:41 am

Was the Conditional Use Permit granted when the students were boarders? Or were they given a CUP when they decided to discontinue as a boarding school and become a day school? Does anyone know what year they switched from being a boarding school to day school only?


22 people like this
Posted by 2000 CUP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 4, 2017 at 12:33 pm

2000 CUP was issued in 2000, allowing Castilleja to educate 415 commuter students. They immediately on day 1 violated this CUP by 1 student and continued disregarding the CUP and over enrolling thereafter, including currently. At one point they had 450 students, today it is 438 according to the school, realistically, I suspect it is probably greater than 438. The school is not able self audit and operate their organization/business honestly.


23 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 4, 2017 at 2:09 pm

"The school is not able self audit and operate their organization/business honestly."

Oh, and they were only found out when they asked to increase their CUP from 448 to 515 and were told - "Er, your current CUP is only 415, why do you have 448 students currently enrolled?" Web Link

To put that in perspective, even with their reduced CUP violation, their yearly gain from running over the CUP is: 23 * $44,465 = $1,022,695 (Fees for 2016-2017)

They were slapped with a one-time $300,000 fine for violating their CUP.

So, a $300,000 fine for pocketing way over $16,000,000? No wonder they jumped at it!


23 people like this
Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 5, 2017 at 3:20 pm

@seriously - I also wondered why Castilleja wasn't required to go back to its CUP of 415 when it came up in 2013. Time to enforce the CUP.


25 people like this
Posted by I support PNQLNOW.ORG
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 8, 2017 at 12:06 am

Using its deep rooted political clout in the city hall, Castilleja convinced our city administration to improperly and without any transparency to permit the school to operating in violation of its current CUP. The city sets the rules, the city allows powerful entities like Castilleja and Palantir to break the rules, the city does not consider the residents' rights, Palo Alto political process is very problematic.


31 people like this
Posted by Fine Casti Now
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 8, 2017 at 2:08 am

Casti's violated the enrollment limits for 17 years. Fine them, don't let them expand. Fine them retroactively for 17 years of violations. They're not exempt from the law.


4 people like this
Posted by I support PNQLNOW.ORG
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 25, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Congratulations PNQLNOW.org! Palo Alto administrators and Palo Alto residents won the day. No one and no big powerful business is above the law.

Excerpts from Palo Alto City Manager's letter to Castilleja dated 5/23/17:

". . . l am writing with regard to the School's current student enrollment level, which continues to exceed the limit set by Conditional Use Permit 00-CUP-23, issued November 2, 2000."

". . . Since then, student enrollment has been reduced from 448 students to 438 students, but has remained 23 students above the permitted number of 415 for several years."

"We ask that reductions recommence in the 2018-19 school year and that the reductions remain consistent with the scale of past reductions (approximately 4-6 students per year)."



13 people like this
Posted by OPA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 27, 2017 at 5:05 pm

Dear Oldster, First, the Castilleja Conditional Use Permit is not "vaguely worded" in the least. It expressly uses the term "enrollment." It never references, discusses or alludes to "total average daily attendance." "Total average daily attendance" was a wholly unsupported argument concocted by Castilleja in a (failed) attempt to try to justify its many years of violations. Students are not "disenrolled" when they are out sick for a day, nor are they "reenrolled" when they return to school. Yet that is the fantasy that Castilleja's leaders tried to spin as an excuse for their improper overenrollment actions. The City did not accept that argument, and that is precisely why Castilleja was fined. Second, you can "scream 'liar, liar'" to your heart's delight, but you cannot change the facts -- the lawn signs are accurate. Castilleja has been continually in violation of the 415 student Conditional Use Permit requirement ever since the first year after that Use Permit went into effect. Castilleja continues to be in violation of that requirement to this day. There has never been a "settlement" with the City that has changed this requirement. The City temporarily allowed Castilleja to suspend its reduction efforts to come into compliance with the 415 student enrollment requirement. However, the City now has told Castilleja that it must renew those reduction efforts and come into compliance, thus substantiating the accuracy of the lawn signs.


12 people like this
Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 27, 2017 at 9:49 pm

Casti should go back to their CUP of 415. Period. No upside for Palo Alto for anything else.


2 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2017 at 12:39 am

Web Link
NANCI KAUFFMAN HEAD OF SCHOOL 40.00 $415,377
enrollment: 438 students

Web Link
Kimberly J Diorio MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Palo Alto Unified, $164,458.06
enrollment: 1,994 students

Castilleja's principal earns 260% more than a public school principal two blocks away. Student body at Castilleja is one fifth that of PA High School. We need Bernie Sanders to straighten out income inequality in Palo Alto.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 7, 2017 at 1:31 am

Those salaries indicate that Casti must have a higher tuition.


Posted by @PA Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jun 7, 2017 at 8:13 am


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6 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 7, 2017 at 8:49 am

Castilleja, private girls' school, tuition - $44K, enrollment - 438 students
Kauffman makes half million with benefits to run this tiny school

Palo Altp High School, public high school, tuition - $0; enrollment - 1,994 students
Diorio makes around $200K with benefits to run a two thousand student school with many times the staff of Casti



Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Old Palo Alto

on Jun 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


2 people like this
Posted by No upside for palo alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 7, 2017 at 3:56 pm

@Palo Alto, do you know when the salary data is from, the current head of finance is Kathy Layendecker, not Susan Reyner.


3 people like this
Posted by Another pa mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 7, 2017 at 5:45 pm

With respect to how much Casti's head of school earns vs Paly's- it's absolutely true that you get what you pay for.


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Posted by Kya
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 8, 2017 at 3:27 pm

I really agree with the comment OPA made "Castilleja has expanded as much as is reasonable and appropriate on a small parcel of land located in an R-1 residential community". That should be the City's position if they are really representing their constituents. However, there is so much $$$ and such a clever marketing campaign being launched by Castilleja to PUSH this expansive development project through that the basic issue is getting obscured......less and less transparency. Also, there are some wealthy philanthropists/Business CEO's used to getting their way. Of course if I was earning a salary of $415,000 I might have pursued the same strategy as Nancy Kauffman. Another strategy: ...... Castilleja has so many scholarship girls who would get kicked out if the school enrollment had to decrease back to 415.
Wake up City Staff, Please stand strong against these clever marketing and heavy-handed pressure from Wealthy patrons to just say NO!

Salaries of Castilleja Administrators:
Executives Listed on Filing
Total Salary includes financial earnings, benefits, and all related organization earnings listed on tax filing

Name Title Hours Per Week Total Salary
NANCI KAUFFMAN HEAD OF SCHOOL 40.00 $415,377
SUSAN REYNERI FINANCE DIRECTOR 40.00 $227,266
KIMBERLY ROBERTS ASST. HEAD OF SCHOOL 40.00 $205,662
ANNE CAMERON HEAD OF MIDDLE SCHOOL 40.00 $182,307
SUSAN DEAN DIRECTOR OF COLLEGE COUNSELING 40.00 $177,178
JOSEE BAND DEAN OF TEACHING & LEARNING 40.00 $175,102
CONSTANCE RICHARDSON TEACHER 40.00 $174,539


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Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 9, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Castilleja discussion link:
Web Link


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

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