News

Palo Alto mulls 'pedestrian-only' University Avenue

City Council agrees to study plan to restrict cars on downtown strip

The idea of turning a section of University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto into a pedestrian-only zone picked up some steam Monday night, when the City Council unanimously agreed to explore it.

The unexpected consensus came during the council's wide-ranging discussion of the city's new Comprehensive Plan, the city's guiding land-use document. The decadelong update of the Comprehensive Plan is now in its final phase, with the council scheduled to approve the document later this month.

On Monday, the council dedicated its discussion to reviewing recommendations from the Planning and Transportation Commission, which discussed the document over the course of six meetings and which identified more than a dozen "priority" areas that it felt warrant revisions. These include a stronger emphasis on below-market-rate housing (including a quantifiable goal of housing units produced), a commitment to get local employers participating in the Palo Alto Transportation Management Association (a nonprofit that aims to reduce traffic) and the inclusion in the plan of "community indicators" -- measures for gauging the city's progress in areas such as vehicle-miles traveled, greenhouse-gas emissions and the jobs-housing imbalance.

The council accepted the bulk of the commission's recommendations, including the addition of community indicators (the council will decide at its next meeting exactly which measures, exactly, should be included), stronger language on affordable housing (albeit, with no quantifiable goal) and new wording on enhancing community character.

On other issues, council members were more skeptical. They voted down, for instance, a recommendation that the Comprehensive Plan include a stronger policy on encouraging infill housing (only Councilman Cory Wolbach and Vice Mayor Liz Kniss supported the recommendation) and were split over whether the city should pursue a "coordinated area plan" for the downtown area -- a vision document put together with extensive community participation that would propose new land uses and amenities in the area.

Kniss and Councilman Adrian Fine both argued that a coordinated area plan for the downtown area is badly overdue. A policy for creating one is included in the existing Comprehensive Plan, though the city had never initiated the effort. Kniss pointed to the city's experience with the South of Forest Avenue (SOFA) area plan, which the city completed in 2003 and served as the blueprint for the area's redevelopment in response to the relocation of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.

"I don't know how we can get to a point to where we can look at dramatically changing downtown in some way without some type of area plan," Kniss said.

But while SOFA is widely considered a success story, the city's record with coordinated-area plans is, at best, mixed. Its last two efforts to put such plans together fizzled despite years of meetings, community workshops and consultant studies. The concept-area-plan for the East Meadow Circle/Fabian Way was officially approved by the council in 2012. Since then, however, it has been largely sitting on a shelf. None of its recommendations had been implemented, it did not undergo an environmental review and the council's politics have changed. Planning Director Hillary Gitelman acknowledged Monday night that the policies in the East Meadow plan are more growth-friendly than those favored by the current council.

The California Avenue concept plan fared even worse. After more than five years of work, it was approved by the Planning and Transportation Commission in February 2014, only to be tossed out later in the year by a council that felt it went too far in encouraging development.

Despite the recent setbacks with area plans, the Planning and Transportation Commission generally agreed during its review that the city should pursue one for downtown. Some members, particularly Eric Rosenblum, also favored a study of designating a portion of University Avenue a pedestrian-only zone.

Councilman Adrian Fine was among those who supported this recommendation. Working on a new vision for downtown, he said, would be a "nice way for the community to watch and participate, as the wheels really hit the road after we finalize the Comprehensive Plan.

"It's an opportunity for the community to come together, get some drawings on the wall and figure out what downtown looks like," Fine said,

Others showed less enthusiasm about moving ahead with another complex and time-consuming planning effort. Mayor Greg Scharff said he was surprised to learn that the policy for creating a downtown plan was already in the Comprehensive Plan and suggested that the council remove it (the council will consider this issue at its next meeting).

He was far more receptive, however, to the idea of a pedestrian-only University Avenue -- a concept that he said should be considered apart from the broader plan.

"I think a lot of people have said they'd like to see parts of downtown be pedestrian only," Scharff said. "I don't know if it's the right thing to do ... but we should look at it."

The council unanimously supported studying the issue, even as it reserved its judgment on the downtown concept plan. Councilwoman Lydia Kou said she was worried about the prospect of drivers switching to neighborhood streets to bypass the pedestrian-only zone, exacerbating traffic and parking problems in residential areas.

"If it's a study, I can go along with it, but I'm still greatly concerned about just making the problem worse and pushing it off to other places," Kou said.

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Comments

14 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2017 at 3:14 pm

If they make the conversion to all pedestrian, they will have massive security issues associated with preventing vehicle attacks. Effectively they would need to build vehicle barriers at all entry points. As much as I would like to have it be all pedestrian, this would make it prohibitive not to mention the associated parking and traffic issues.


48 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Oct 31, 2017 at 3:57 pm

@Jack

What on earth are you talking about, in what way would there be more "security issues" than there are now?


77 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 31, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Maybe we can save the city the money on the study by reminding them that University Ave is one of the three main feeder routes to and marked exists from 101 in Palo Alto.

At a time when Stanford is planning a major expansion, when Alma will be under construction for years and when our commuter/office population continues to skyrocket etc etc., perhaps someone could give us a hint on where all the University Ave/101 traffic is supposed to go.


31 people like this
Posted by Norman Beamer
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2017 at 4:44 pm

Downtown pedestrian malls become very sad very quickly.


37 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2017 at 4:55 pm

Downtown pedestrian malls work very well with several criteria.

There needs to be plenty for the pedestrians to do and that means more than just restaurants and high end retail. They need music, food stands, quirky art and crafts, outside seating, good weather, clean streets, etc.

They also need to be easily accessible with plenty of available, affordable parking, and plenty of signage.

People have to look on the vibe as a destination they want to be part of. It has to be something to do on a Sunday afternoon or a Friday evening. It has to be good for after school kid hangouts and a place to be seen as well as to people watch.

We have some of these, but a great number of these things are just not here.

We can't just put up some barricades and allow restaurants to spill out into the street. If this is to be successful, and I have seen some streets turned into great pedestrian areas, then a lot of work and effort have to be invested in this.


53 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 31, 2017 at 5:15 pm

I'm sure the Downtown North and University South residents will enjoy the additional cut-through traffic that this will cause.


18 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2017 at 5:33 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

@Jack - $100 worth of cement would be plenty to put up some bollards. If security were a real risk, then the Farmer's Markets and Stanford games are bigger problems.

@Norman - "Downtown pedestrian malls become very sad very quickly"

This is the real problem. Sometimes they work, but they often end up like Fresno's Fulton St or Sacramento's K street which have been from street to pedestrian mall and ultimately back to street. According to this study, 85% of pedestrian malls end up getting converted back to streets:

Web Link


49 people like this
Posted by Mark Hyde
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 31, 2017 at 6:44 pm

In Bologna, Italy, cars are kept out of the downtown area by use of poles that can rise from and descend to the pavement when needed. This is a great feature because there are times when it would be suitable for cars to travel through University Avenue, such as between midnight and 7 AM, for instance, or to permit deliveries to downtown merchants. Police and other emergency vehicles can trigger poles to descend to pavement level to allow access when necessary for public safety reasons.

The problem with University Avenue, however, it that it is a key access road to Stanford from 101 so a pedestrian mall, no matter how desirable, would undoubtedly cause traffic on adjacent streets to increase, degrading downtown neighborhoods significantly and causing safety concerns to shift from University Ave. to nearby residential streets.


15 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2017 at 7:32 pm

A bit of context on this discussion: the comp plan calls for Coordinated Area Plans, including one of downtown (Program L4.6.1). The policy in which it appears (L4.6) has language suggesting what sorts of things should be included in the downtown/ University ave (eg., "Use public art, trees, bicycle racks and other amenities to create an environment that is inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists")

I had suggested that language get inserted to encourage that the Coordinated Area Plan study some form of pedestrianized section of University Ave.

There are several things that are important to realize
1) it's just a study: it's possible that no configuration of a pedestrianized zone is workable and acceptable
2) there are a lot of potential configurations: 2 blocks of Cal Ave are pedestrianized on Saturdays for Farmer's Market. One could easily imagine something similar with University ave (ie., 2 blocks, weekends only). Or, something more permanent.

Why did I want to study this? If we're going to go through the trouble of a Coordinated Area Plan, it seems obvious that some degree of pedestrianization would be worth studying. It's a hallmark of many other walkable, people-centric downtown areas, and we have the sort of weather and town that could make this a gem.

I didn't actually anticipate that calling for this to be _studied_ as part of a Coordinated Area Plan would be controversial (although I get that many people would be opposed to various implementations of this idea).


39 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2017 at 9:07 pm

Driving on University Ave. is ridiculous, especially when its busy. So many people jaywalking and motorists running red lights, people looking for parking, and overall pandemonium. You're gonna just hit the brakes a lot. Anyone with some experience would always choose to drive on Hamilton and Lyton.

However, shutting down University will only worsen congestion.
Congestion is a huge problem. It causes pollution and road rage and many times is totally unnecessary if it weren't for some misled "traffic calming" decisions that modified our roads to accommodate LESS traffic, even while our populaton explodes. There's a major void in logic here! (stop building excessive infrastructure for nonexistent cyclists!!!)

If we're gonna have a population explosion in the bay area and our politicians don't care about it, then at least don't try to "encourage" human beings to bike/take a train instead of drive. This will never, ever work. You might as well make driving illegal in some places if you want to go that route, but government policies and incentives to "encourage" people to cut down on solo-driving is proven to be a failed experiment. The result is simply more cars and more congestion.


28 people like this
Posted by Cc
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 31, 2017 at 9:15 pm


Many city centers in Europe are getting closed off to prevent vehicle/truck terrorism. We really need this for this and to improve the quality of life of the City of Palo Alto.


13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2017 at 9:20 pm

I agree. I never drive on University, I will always choose one of the parallel streets. The freeway signs for Stanford do not use University but I don't know about Google or Waze maps.

When I walk University I think most of the traffic is looking for parking, hoping for an empty space.

I doubt very much that there is a great deal of through traffic using the downtown area as the means to get from Stanford to highway 101. Only someone who wants to get stuck in traffic would do that route by choice. Otherwise it is tourists who want to get to see downtown Palo Alto thinking they are seeing something worth saying they have seen. Or, they got there by mistake.


143 people like this
Posted by Downtown Grandma
a resident of University South
on Oct 31, 2017 at 9:40 pm

To all of the "naysayers" -- there are LOTS of examples of very successful pedestrian malls: Boulder, Aspen, 4th St Santa Monica, just about every small city in Europe. The reason it doesn't work in Sacramento is because the streets are too wide and there isn't the intimacy that you need for a good pedestrian zone.
Also, for all those who are dismissing it because of traffic - it NYC can do it on Times Sq, a MAJOR thoroughfare, we can certainly do it in Palo Alto.
We have the perfect place to do it with lots to do and see, streets that aren't boulevards and a commitment to be a more friendly community. If you keep kowtowing to cars and making everything about how to accommodate them then we'll be enslaved by them forever. Have some vision of how great a gathering place it could be with street art, music, games, children playing, restaurants etc.
I'm so tired of reading all the negative comments on this forum and wish you could provide some vision instead of complaints.


32 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 31, 2017 at 10:15 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Just because something's in the Comp Plan doesn't make it sensible, desirable or workable. (We all cite have our own pet peeves so I'll spare you mine.)

The pedestrian malls like Boulder's are designed to appeal to tourists and they have cute and charming stores suitable for browsing -- just the sort of stores that PA has so recently gotten rid of like University Art, Shady Lane, etc. Will the city now be bringing them back?

Times Square has lots of parallel streets and avenues that will still get people to the bridges and tunnels.

I don't think pedestrian malls in office parks have too much appeal.

The proponents of this still haven't explained how the traffic is going to get from Stanford / El Camino to 101. Will they be diverted through Menlo Park to Willow? Or via Middlefield which was just put on a "traffic diet" because of neighbor complaints? To Embarcadero which is already gridlocked and where Casti is still lobbying for its own Lexus Lane?


12 people like this
Posted by Just a Thought..
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2017 at 11:25 pm

This does seem like one of those where it actually would not be that hard to test it out for a set period of time. Also it might be interesting to close it off during specific times of the week such as on the weekends, or maybe just Sunday.

An existing example would be how they close down major portions of Golden Gate Park on Sundays.


21 people like this
Posted by Gus L.
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2017 at 7:33 am

I already hate to go downtown, this will only make it worse..


15 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2017 at 9:07 am

What tourists are going to downtown Palo Alto? If you're going to cut off a major artery, then you have to provide the necessary public transportation to compensate.

Problem is that we can never have adequate public transit because we simply aren't dense enough as a region. Don't have the critical mass of people going from any place to another to make it work in Silicon Valley.

(no matter what that waste-of-public-funds nonprofit hopes to accomplish)


25 people like this
Posted by Learn from smarter
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2017 at 11:21 am

Yes, look at ways how European cities handle their pedestrian-only zones!
They had downtowns and town squares for thousands of years ...


21 people like this
Posted by Katie
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 1, 2017 at 12:56 pm

I love the idea. Plus, with so much outdoor seating on University Avenue currently, we pedestrians need more space anyhow. There is enough vitality downtown now, and with some creative design effort, it could be a really wonderful addition to the area.


24 people like this
Posted by Hugo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Given that University Ave. is barely drivable most of the time anyway, this is a terrific idea... as long as the city and local business fully dedicate to developing it and turning it into something worth having.


14 people like this
Posted by Thinking
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 1, 2017 at 1:35 pm

University Ave as a primarily pedestrian zone is an idea worth considering. It would likely be vibrant enough to make for a wonderful area. However, it only makes sense if a few things are addressed:

1) Vehicular traffic needs an efficient place to go. U Ave is a slow moving but primary street for the area. Ideas could include:
1a) Connecting Alma and Sand Hill by allowing traffic to cross ECR. Oh no say the NIMBYs. Well, there is a cost for things.
1b) Reconfigure the ends of the closed zone to make easy flow to alternate routes. For example, imagine if NE bound U Ave was all directed right to High street and Hamilton was converted to one way toward 101. Make Lytton one way toward Alma and divert traffic smoothly onto it from Cowper, Waverly, Webster (wherever the ped zone starts). Implement coordinated lights on these new one way streets so that traffic can flow non-stop from the first green at a slow speed (say 20mph). That would make for efficient driving AND peaceful streets.

2) More parking garages need to be made available near the closed zone. Perhaps a garage north of U Ave replacing the surface lots between High and Emerson or Emerson and Ramona.

3) Active programs to drive activity on the new mall. U Ave is already in use this way several weekends a year and there is growing outside dining but more.

4) Consider time of day closures. For example from 9am to 9pm only. This would allow deliveries and extra road capacity when no pedestrians need it anyway. This may prevent some ped conversions such as removing the crowned and curbed roadway or built out infrastructure (tables and benches for example) in the former street for example but worth considering. Perhaps restrict ped zone infrastructure to the area that is now streetside parking. This could be made safe with retractable bollards like in many other cities in the world.


19 people like this
Posted by Midtown
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2017 at 2:34 pm

This is a terrific idea. No one (very few) actually commutes using University Ave though the heart of downtown. Most of the traffic goes up Embarcedro, Oregon or Willow. If you want to improve traffic to Stanford, finish the Willow expressway to Stanford. This is an idea that has been blocked by Menlo Park for at least 50 years. For over 30 years they blocked a left turn out of Stanford Shopping Center north on El Camino. It is time for them to help on traffic given they are going to be building hundreds of apartment units on El Camino.


14 people like this
Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2017 at 2:38 pm

commonsense is a registered user.

This is an idea worth exploring. Lytton becomes one way toward Alma and Hamilton becomes one way toward Middlefield. When driverless cars become the norm in the next ten years we won't need much parking. Can't wait for all this!


17 people like this
Posted by Carl Jones
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 1, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Pearl Street in Boulder Colorado is an excellent example of how a section of a downtown street can be turned into pedestrian only. I believe that it could work in Palo Alto, too.
And as to traffic, I know that no one likes to hear one-way streets, but a simple matter of timing the traffic lights on Hamilton (to flow toward 101) and Lyton (to flow toward Stanford) is something that should be considered in any case. High Street is already one-way in the correct direction where it crosses University. The same thing could be done (on Webster) at the other end. Let traffic flow logically around the central part of University and time the lights accordingly.
AND - it is an experiment that could be easily tried with only simple, temporary concrete barriers at the ends of the closed portion of University.


4 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Annette is a registered user.

If this is a serious consideration that is likely to meet with approval, PLEASE, CC do your level best to retain as much of the remaining downtown retail as possible so that any future mall has a variety of interests and appeal for a broad range of people as well as downtown workers.


7 people like this
Posted by five coats
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2017 at 5:30 pm

What is the plan for vehicles coming into and out of Palo Alto to Stanford University and Stanford Shopping Center?
Embarcadero is inadequate with existing quantity of autos and trucks, Oregon is at full capacity a.m. & p.m.commuter times. Willow Road getting to El Camino is through residential streets picking to connect to Alma in Menlo Park.
The Arastadero/Charleston corridor to/from 101 is inadequate.

I agree with Resident from Midtown


3 people like this
Posted by Steve Dabrowski
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 1, 2017 at 7:29 pm

Hey, it will be just fine, we can even rename the area the "Palo Alto Food Court", like San Antonio mall had years ago, if anyone remembers that. Sounds like a Liz Kniss winner.


Like this comment
Posted by Gene
a resident of Meadow Park
on Nov 1, 2017 at 7:41 pm

If I remember correctly Lytton and maybe Hamilton were one way at one point 60/70's, from Middlefield to High, Lytton one way toward Stanford, Hamilton toward 101. Through traffic to Stanford was expected to use them to get through downtown faster. At some point they changed to two way.


Like this comment
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 1, 2017 at 7:59 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Denver has the 16th Street Mall. RTD has FREE BUSING from one end to the other. Denver also has MANY parking garages with special all day earlybird rates ( $4.00 ALL DAY PARKING ).
Since Boulder HATES CARS, few parking garages are there and the rates for parking a car are extreme.
Either system still costs large sums of $$$.
I suggest you try temporary blocking off University on weekends to see if this idea works. Your Boulder commenter didn't mention the horrible way the Boulder CC, " fixed " the traffic system downtown.


6 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 1, 2017 at 8:29 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

We'll see if the study actually takes place, and if so, what it recommends. But one thing I know I'll be requesting is a baseline traffic study from Palo Alto Avenue south to Embarcadero, from Alma to Middlefield, of *every* intersection. Follow that with additional measurements when the trial closures take place. Let's have no handwaving about effects on traffic, especially cut-through in the neighborhoods.


15 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2017 at 8:56 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

Preach, Downtown Grandma! A pedestrian only University Ave could truly be an amazing community space - one that could keep University Ave vital. Let's do it!!!


9 people like this
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Nov 2, 2017 at 9:12 am

University Ave is absolutely used by Stanford commuters from HWY 101. All it takes is one visit to the area to see these traffic patterns.

If University Ave becomes pedestrian only then I'd like to see the University exits off of 101 closed as well.


12 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 2, 2017 at 9:16 am

I think it is really a bad idea to restrict cars on University Ave. Any time cars are restricted, there is an accumulation of homeless people and vagrants, and it really kills the vitality of the place. A constant flow is really necessary for the health of the street. It is like restricting the blood flow to a tissue. You need the flow to be renovated every second, otherwise the tissue dies. It is the fastest way to kill the vibrancy of the beloved University Avenue.


13 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 2, 2017 at 10:56 am

Fantastic news!

Hands down, University Avenue should be pedestrian only so toddlers can enjoy the space safely.

You American fools that are saying no, need to go travel to Europe and educate yourselves as to what you are missing. Stop being so addicted to your cars and be get on a bike instead!


18 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Nov 2, 2017 at 11:05 am

I have a toddler and two middle schoolers. Absolutely, we need to close University Avenue for the safety of our children. This way, our children will have a place to go and hang out safely. The arts and music will come and are already there. Tables in the walking areas and fun little kiosks with shaved ice and crepes!

I would love a pedestrian street only! Yes yes yes!


16 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2017 at 12:36 pm

The idea that University should be a place for children to "hang out" is absurd.

This is a business district that is not intended to be a playground--any more than Middlefield Road should be closed to traffic so that the neighbourhood kids can "play safely".

Palo Alto has an incredible inventory of recreational opportunities which children can use safely. There are parks in most residential sections, the school grounds are open after school with plenty of room to run, play ball and in the case of the middle schools and high schools--tennis courts and basketball courts are available. The City has spent an inordinate amount of money on that ugly library in Mitchell Park, as well as investing in libraries in the downtown area and Newell Road. There is a rebuilt Art Center next to this Library. There is a golf course for youth inclined to play that sport. There are numerous afterschool soccer leagues which attract children and teens all over the City.

Across El Camino, there is a large pedestrian mall called Stanford Shopping Center--which has security guards to ensure patrons' safety.

And now we have people wanting to shut down this main street in town so that their children don't have to take advantage of the billions of dollars of municipal assets invested for their enjoyment.

What happens in the winter--when it's cold and rainy? Will the kids be "hanging out" on this otherwise barren street? Hard to believe.

This is another of those crazy ideas that we come from "progressives" who believe that if we rebuild our city in their image that we will all be better off. Another reason for us to demand the right to veto Council choices for the various commissions--such as the Planning and Transportation Commission.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2017 at 2:05 pm

I miss the old Mitchell park library (they just had to cut down all the trees and build that new monstrosity). Its symbolic of what Palo Alto used to be. I also detest the "magical playground" they had to build there, whereas before there was a quiet bench and trees and kids could toss a football, play tag, or climb the trees.

They love to use "safety of the children" as an excuse to justify anything and it is sickening. In the long run, "traffic calming" (which should really be called: traffic enraging) measures are making kids less safe because congestion makes drivers more likely to try dangerous moves, such as making a right turn on red without checking that it's completely clear. This is such a common way for pedestrians or cyclists to get hit.


Like this comment
Posted by Calming causes road rage?
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 2, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Well well well and my my my. Arwe there that many people in control of cars but not in control of the way they act in them? Scary.

Auto-driving cars are coming to ride the world of the VILE drivers who lack they ability to control themselves and drive safely. That will address the road diet insanity brigade who apparently cannot be in a car that isn't going fast enough for them without endangering us all. Can't wait.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Again, more of this holier than thou stuff. You people never stop.

No one is immune to road rage.

Here's an educational video for you: Web Link


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 2, 2017 at 2:57 pm

Personal autonomous vehicles still need parking places and hence won't make a dent in the number of cars on the road or the number of parking spaces needed.

Do recall the Menlo Park fire chief's warning about how gridlock is preventing them from reaching victims in a timely manner. One guy already died on 101 when the MP emt's couldn't reach him after an auto accident.

So how will blocking off University Ave help emergency vehicles get where needed in a timely fashion?

I hope any studies of this will be done during morning and evening rush hours, not during the lightest times of day as is often the case.


3 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 2, 2017 at 6:34 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

The one commenter is right: The 16th Street Mall has vagrants and some homeless but not in the winter...And the DPD has beat cops ( who do actual beatdowns sometime ) that patrol the area. Are you ready for the extra expenses?


3 people like this
Posted by Dan
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Let's make University Ave. one-way (out) and Willow one-way (in) while we're at it! Sure it'll massively decongest downtown!


4 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 3, 2017 at 10:56 am

I find it amusing that all the examples of successful pedestrian malls in Europe, Denver, etc. have a density around them that is probably 100x what we have around downtown Palo Alto. Pedestrian malls work because there are a lot of pedestrians (duh).

This is just some imaginary dream in the residentialist environment that we have today.

With not enough density for a good public transit system and just a bunch of long time residents around University, you're basically killing retail and hospitality in downtown Palo Alto.

Maybe that's what they want.


10 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2017 at 12:27 pm

As Yogi Berra would have said "No one drives on University Avenue because it's too crowded." Anyone who has any knowledge of the area *never* drives down University to get to 101, but closing it off will make the two parallel streets a parking lot. If you're going to shut down a street to make a pedestrian mall, make it California Ave - it doesn't have a direct connection to any highway or expressway.


5 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2017 at 1:43 pm

cvvhrn is a registered user.

Hmmmm......

Just approved 2 hotels on San Antonio Road = more traffic
Stanford expanding left and right = more traffic
High speed rail construction will basically cut Alma down to two lanes = more traffic (albeit some sort of grade separation would help long term)

Oregon expressway is already packed at rush hour
Ditto Embarcadero which will always have a choke point unless they redo the overpass at T&C

Now we want to shut down University?


11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2017 at 2:49 pm

Speaking of San Antonio... I am appalled. What an abomination! As if one "The Village" wasn't enough! The place is becoming a concrete jungle. It's sad to watch the Milk Pail being crushed by that hideous abomination they just had to build there. *shudder*


6 people like this
Posted by sunshine
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 4, 2017 at 11:06 am

I like the idea. Then we can make Hamilton one way and one of the other streets (perhaps Channing or Lytton) one way the other way. There is excellent access to Palo Alto from 101 on Embarcadero and then one can switch to the new one way street. Making the 2 streets one way would eliminate the problem of left turns from a 2 way street. However, we would need to clearly make both of the new one way streets as one way and make the lane from which a left turn is allowed.
We need to make it clear that Homer is one way towards Alma and only the left lane is a left turn. Too many try to go the wrong direction and/or make a left turn from the right lane into Whole Foods. This can lead to accidents.


8 people like this
Posted by Allen Akin
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 4, 2017 at 1:08 pm

Allen Akin is a registered user.

"There is excellent access to Palo Alto from 101 on Embarcadero and then one can switch to the new one way street."

How much of the traffic diverted from University to Embarcadero will drive through the neighborhood streets in Professorville and University South to get to this new one-way street? How much will be added to the already-large loads on Middlefield and Alma? What will happen along Embarcadero?


5 people like this
Posted by Misc.
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 6, 2017 at 12:43 am

Closing University Avenue is a fantastic idea because it will be much safer for pedestrians. There are too many drivers recklessly making turns.

Back in the 80s, Alma north allowed traffic to continue Sand Hill but now it spits out Alma traffic onto El Camino north. What happened? Too much back-up traffic on Alma?

My son is a CS major and some CS students were talking about doing a road trip to Palo Alto. When he told them he grew up here, there was silence. Palo Alto may be no big deal to us old timers but it’s a destination for many. I wonder how many visitors drive from other cities.

My daughter met a girl from San Jose who wanted to visit downtown Palo Alto due to curiosity.


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Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm

Pedestrian-only works very well in many places that I have seen it. One problem that I would anticipate is that many of the businesses and attractions that make pedestrian malls interesting have already gotten priced out. Bookstores, movie theaters, sporting-goods stores, used-item stores, etc, all get pushed out in favor of expensive restaurants and clothing stores. There is no easy way to keep interesting and funky enterprises going in such a high-rent district.


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