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As Castilleja plans its expansion, city seeks firm assurances on traffic impacts

Planning and Transportation Commission calls for 'no net new trips' requirement; Architectural Review Board approves school's proposed design

On Nov. 4, the Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission took numerous votes on conditions for Castilleja School's expansion plan. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

If Castilleja School moves ahead with its ambitious plan to rebuild its campus and increase enrollment, it may have to do so without adding any new car trips to the neighborhood around its Bryant Street campus under a proposal the Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission backed Wednesday night.

During a long and wide-ranging discussion, the commission also signaled that it would support slightly increasing the number of special events the all-girls school at 1310 Bryant St. would be allowed to hold and requiring Castilleja to install equipment that measures real-time traffic data.

The meeting was the commission's second hearing in as many weeks on Castilleja and the first in which commissioners had a chance to fully discuss some of the most contentious issues surrounding the project, which has been going through the planning process for the past four years. Much like at the Oct. 28 meeting, the commission heard from dozens of residents, with many supporting the school's expansion proposal and others urging the city to reject or scale back Castilleja's plan.

The Wednesday meeting focused on conditions of approval that the city would impose on Castilleja as part of its new conditional use permit. While the commission took numerous votes on the conditions over the course of the six-hour meeting, it adjourned at midnight without completing its task and agreed to hold a third hearing in the coming weeks.

The majority agreed, however, that in evaluating Castilleja's proposal, the city should focus less on the number of students and events and more on the actual impacts that these students and events would have on the surrounding neighborhood. Several commissioners, most notably Michael Alcheck, argued that the commission should not micromanage the details of the school operation but focus on these impacts — particularly car trips.

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Commissioner William Riggs agreed and suggested applying to Castilleja the same standard that Santa Clara County applies to Stanford University: a requirement for no net new car trips. While two commissioners, Alcheck and Barton Hechtman, argued that the standard is too stringent, the rest of the commission voted to advance Riggs' recommendation.

Riggs and Commissioner Ed Lauing both noted that Castilleja already has a robust transportation-demand management program (TDM), which includes bus lines, Caltrain shuttles and remote parking for employees within walking distance of the campus. The school also requires employees to use alternative modes of transportation at least three times per week. These measures, and others, have helped it reduce peak traffic by 31% since 2013 when the program was launched.

"I think Castilleja is well-intentioned and they have good results so far … The risk goes up as traffic goes up, so managing the TDM in a tight way makes good sense to make sure it happens correctly," Lauing said. "It also helps with trust."

Commissioner Chair Cari Templeton agreed and said imposing the "no net new trips" requirement would make the project "more manageable."

"We'd be managing impacts and not methods," Templeton said before the 5-2 vote.

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Alcheck and Hechtman both opposed the requirement, with Hechtman saying he is concerned this would set a difficult precedent for future projects to follow. Hechtman proposed a different alternative that would cap new trips at 9% over the course of the school's enrollment expansion. Applying the stricter "no net new trips" standard would send "ripples" through the community, he said.

While the commission majority took the strict approach when it comes to traffic, they were more lenient when it came to special events. The city's planning staff had recommended requiring Castilleja to reduce the number of special events it holds on its campus from the current level of about 90 to 70 annually. The commission supported raising that to 74, consistent with what Castilleja officials said they would need to fulfill the school's mission.

Alcheck suggested going further and allowing even more. He said he found the provisions in the proposed conditional use permit pertaining to special events "repugnant to the values of the City of Palo Alto" and suggested loosening the restrictions to both allow more events and to permit higher capacity at these events. The definition of a "special event," he said, should be those with more than 120 attendees, rather than 50 attendees, as proposed by staff.

Another alternative, he said, is increasing the number of weekday special events that Castilleja would be able to hold annually from 32 to 40.

While the rest of his colleagues declined to go that far, they agreed by a 5-2 vote, with Lauing and Commissioner Doria Summa opposing, to recommend raising the number of annual events to 74 as part of a broad motion that also called for real-time traffic data.

Both Lauing and Summa both objected to the process, which involved crafting a motion on the fly in the late hours of the night. After the commission took two votes, Summa moved just before midnight to continue the meeting to a later date.

"The worst thing we can do right now from my point of view is rush a process and end up with a project that's not successful," Summa said.

While the commission generally supported Castilleja's plan to increase student enrollment from the current level of 426, both Lauing and Summa proposed a more gradual change than the school had proposed. Lauing said that while he supports Castilleja's plan to expand, he wants to see the school move to 450 students, rather than the 540 it is proposing, and to pursue further enrollment increases after demonstrating its ability to manage the impacts of this growth.

Others had no objections to the school's proposed enrollment increase, a subject of considerable neighborhood debate. Many residents who oppose the project have consistently pointed to Castilleja's history of failing to stay within its enrollment cap. In 2013, the city fined Castilleja $265,000 for exceeding the 415-student cap by 33 students. The school was also required to gradually reduce enrollment.

Many neighbors remain concerned about the school's current plans. At both the Oct. 29 meeting and on Wednesday, critics of the proposal urged the commission to reduce the number of new students, require the school to shuttle its students from remote parking lots and eliminate from the expansion plan a proposed underground garage, a project element that they argue violates the city's zoning laws for single-family neighborhoods.

'The worst thing we can do right now from my point of view is rush a process and end up with a project that's not successful.'

-Doria Summa, planning and transportation commissioner, city of Palo Alto

Mary Sylvester, who lives near the school and who is one of the leaders of the neighborhood group PNQLNow ("Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life Now), recited on Wednesday a list of negative impacts that the project would bring to the neighborhood, including increased traffic, pollution and the need to remove trees.

"There's little doubt that the school needs modernization," Sylvester said Wednesday. "No one I know is opposed to that, as long as the school has a code-compliant project that is uniformly applied to all applicants to the community and considers the comprehensive needs of Palo Alto, and looks at it in a comprehensive manner. A project that serves the best interests of Palo Alto."

Others suggested that city staff is applying special rules to Castilleja to help it advance the project, including permitting an underground garage in a single-family zone. Planning staff had argued that the code provision banning underground garages only applies to residential projects.

"We have a right to expect that the Palo Alto Planning Department will uphold the laws and not break them," said Ventura resident Rebecca Sanders.

Many others argued Wednesday that the process has gone on for long enough and that Castilleja's plans should be approved. A majority of the roughly 40 people who spoke on Wednesday praised Castilleja as a considerate neighbor and a valuable community institution.

Resident Tony Hughes called the school's plan "an excellent proposal and should be supported" while Kathleen Hughes, founder of Ada's Café, told the commission that the expansion would further the school's laudable mission of educating young women.

"Getting into the high school program in Castilleja is incredibly difficult because there's so few spots. Gradually increasing enrollment … while keeping daily car trips capped will open more opportunities for more girls and many will be from Palo Alto."

Cathy Williams, who lives on Bryant Street, near the school, and pushed back against the criticism from some of the school's neighbors.

"It is beginning to seem like no matter what, they will never be satisfied unless Castilleja moves away," said Cathy Williams, who lives on Bryant Street, near the school. "How sad and disappointing it would be to have these few voices drive away this excellent school."

Mindie Romanowsky, a lawyer for Castilleja, also objected to a request from PNQLNow's attorney to delay the process and consider mediation. She told the commission that the school had already tried that in 2013, going as far as hiring a mediator and holding numerous meeting with neighbors. The school tried to go to mediation again in April 2018, after it had filed its application, but neighbors canceled the scheduled mediation meeting at the last minute, she said.

"We can't help but wonder if it's another opportunity to delay, deflect, distract from a decision that was ripe for consideration," Romanowsky said.

While the school has yet to get formal approval from either the planning commission or the City Council, it did score a major victory in the protracted process on Thursday morning, when the Architectural Review Board voted 4-1 to support its application. The board's Nov. 5 vote followed three lengthy public hearings on the project, during which time board members had asked for revisions to the new buildings' Kellogg Street façade, additional information about landscaping and fencing on the Emerson Street side and a myriad other changes.

On Thursday, the board found that Castilleja has adequately responded to its concerns and voted to move the application forward, while directing a subcommittee of its members to work with the school on some outstanding issues. These include requests that the school consider adding an acoustic barrier at the terrace level and that the school provides updated elevation plans.

Board Chair Peter Baltay, who dissented, said that while he generally supports the project, he believes the full board should continue to work on refining the project's details, rather than refer them to the subcommittee.

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As Castilleja plans its expansion, city seeks firm assurances on traffic impacts

Planning and Transportation Commission calls for 'no net new trips' requirement; Architectural Review Board approves school's proposed design

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Nov 5, 2020, 9:15 am
Updated: Thu, Nov 5, 2020, 12:36 pm

If Castilleja School moves ahead with its ambitious plan to rebuild its campus and increase enrollment, it may have to do so without adding any new car trips to the neighborhood around its Bryant Street campus under a proposal the Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission backed Wednesday night.

During a long and wide-ranging discussion, the commission also signaled that it would support slightly increasing the number of special events the all-girls school at 1310 Bryant St. would be allowed to hold and requiring Castilleja to install equipment that measures real-time traffic data.

The meeting was the commission's second hearing in as many weeks on Castilleja and the first in which commissioners had a chance to fully discuss some of the most contentious issues surrounding the project, which has been going through the planning process for the past four years. Much like at the Oct. 28 meeting, the commission heard from dozens of residents, with many supporting the school's expansion proposal and others urging the city to reject or scale back Castilleja's plan.

The Wednesday meeting focused on conditions of approval that the city would impose on Castilleja as part of its new conditional use permit. While the commission took numerous votes on the conditions over the course of the six-hour meeting, it adjourned at midnight without completing its task and agreed to hold a third hearing in the coming weeks.

The majority agreed, however, that in evaluating Castilleja's proposal, the city should focus less on the number of students and events and more on the actual impacts that these students and events would have on the surrounding neighborhood. Several commissioners, most notably Michael Alcheck, argued that the commission should not micromanage the details of the school operation but focus on these impacts — particularly car trips.

Commissioner William Riggs agreed and suggested applying to Castilleja the same standard that Santa Clara County applies to Stanford University: a requirement for no net new car trips. While two commissioners, Alcheck and Barton Hechtman, argued that the standard is too stringent, the rest of the commission voted to advance Riggs' recommendation.

Riggs and Commissioner Ed Lauing both noted that Castilleja already has a robust transportation-demand management program (TDM), which includes bus lines, Caltrain shuttles and remote parking for employees within walking distance of the campus. The school also requires employees to use alternative modes of transportation at least three times per week. These measures, and others, have helped it reduce peak traffic by 31% since 2013 when the program was launched.

"I think Castilleja is well-intentioned and they have good results so far … The risk goes up as traffic goes up, so managing the TDM in a tight way makes good sense to make sure it happens correctly," Lauing said. "It also helps with trust."

Commissioner Chair Cari Templeton agreed and said imposing the "no net new trips" requirement would make the project "more manageable."

"We'd be managing impacts and not methods," Templeton said before the 5-2 vote.

Alcheck and Hechtman both opposed the requirement, with Hechtman saying he is concerned this would set a difficult precedent for future projects to follow. Hechtman proposed a different alternative that would cap new trips at 9% over the course of the school's enrollment expansion. Applying the stricter "no net new trips" standard would send "ripples" through the community, he said.

While the commission majority took the strict approach when it comes to traffic, they were more lenient when it came to special events. The city's planning staff had recommended requiring Castilleja to reduce the number of special events it holds on its campus from the current level of about 90 to 70 annually. The commission supported raising that to 74, consistent with what Castilleja officials said they would need to fulfill the school's mission.

Alcheck suggested going further and allowing even more. He said he found the provisions in the proposed conditional use permit pertaining to special events "repugnant to the values of the City of Palo Alto" and suggested loosening the restrictions to both allow more events and to permit higher capacity at these events. The definition of a "special event," he said, should be those with more than 120 attendees, rather than 50 attendees, as proposed by staff.

Another alternative, he said, is increasing the number of weekday special events that Castilleja would be able to hold annually from 32 to 40.

While the rest of his colleagues declined to go that far, they agreed by a 5-2 vote, with Lauing and Commissioner Doria Summa opposing, to recommend raising the number of annual events to 74 as part of a broad motion that also called for real-time traffic data.

Both Lauing and Summa both objected to the process, which involved crafting a motion on the fly in the late hours of the night. After the commission took two votes, Summa moved just before midnight to continue the meeting to a later date.

"The worst thing we can do right now from my point of view is rush a process and end up with a project that's not successful," Summa said.

While the commission generally supported Castilleja's plan to increase student enrollment from the current level of 426, both Lauing and Summa proposed a more gradual change than the school had proposed. Lauing said that while he supports Castilleja's plan to expand, he wants to see the school move to 450 students, rather than the 540 it is proposing, and to pursue further enrollment increases after demonstrating its ability to manage the impacts of this growth.

Others had no objections to the school's proposed enrollment increase, a subject of considerable neighborhood debate. Many residents who oppose the project have consistently pointed to Castilleja's history of failing to stay within its enrollment cap. In 2013, the city fined Castilleja $265,000 for exceeding the 415-student cap by 33 students. The school was also required to gradually reduce enrollment.

Many neighbors remain concerned about the school's current plans. At both the Oct. 29 meeting and on Wednesday, critics of the proposal urged the commission to reduce the number of new students, require the school to shuttle its students from remote parking lots and eliminate from the expansion plan a proposed underground garage, a project element that they argue violates the city's zoning laws for single-family neighborhoods.

Mary Sylvester, who lives near the school and who is one of the leaders of the neighborhood group PNQLNow ("Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life Now), recited on Wednesday a list of negative impacts that the project would bring to the neighborhood, including increased traffic, pollution and the need to remove trees.

"There's little doubt that the school needs modernization," Sylvester said Wednesday. "No one I know is opposed to that, as long as the school has a code-compliant project that is uniformly applied to all applicants to the community and considers the comprehensive needs of Palo Alto, and looks at it in a comprehensive manner. A project that serves the best interests of Palo Alto."

Others suggested that city staff is applying special rules to Castilleja to help it advance the project, including permitting an underground garage in a single-family zone. Planning staff had argued that the code provision banning underground garages only applies to residential projects.

"We have a right to expect that the Palo Alto Planning Department will uphold the laws and not break them," said Ventura resident Rebecca Sanders.

Many others argued Wednesday that the process has gone on for long enough and that Castilleja's plans should be approved. A majority of the roughly 40 people who spoke on Wednesday praised Castilleja as a considerate neighbor and a valuable community institution.

Resident Tony Hughes called the school's plan "an excellent proposal and should be supported" while Kathleen Hughes, founder of Ada's Café, told the commission that the expansion would further the school's laudable mission of educating young women.

"Getting into the high school program in Castilleja is incredibly difficult because there's so few spots. Gradually increasing enrollment … while keeping daily car trips capped will open more opportunities for more girls and many will be from Palo Alto."

Cathy Williams, who lives on Bryant Street, near the school, and pushed back against the criticism from some of the school's neighbors.

"It is beginning to seem like no matter what, they will never be satisfied unless Castilleja moves away," said Cathy Williams, who lives on Bryant Street, near the school. "How sad and disappointing it would be to have these few voices drive away this excellent school."

Mindie Romanowsky, a lawyer for Castilleja, also objected to a request from PNQLNow's attorney to delay the process and consider mediation. She told the commission that the school had already tried that in 2013, going as far as hiring a mediator and holding numerous meeting with neighbors. The school tried to go to mediation again in April 2018, after it had filed its application, but neighbors canceled the scheduled mediation meeting at the last minute, she said.

"We can't help but wonder if it's another opportunity to delay, deflect, distract from a decision that was ripe for consideration," Romanowsky said.

While the school has yet to get formal approval from either the planning commission or the City Council, it did score a major victory in the protracted process on Thursday morning, when the Architectural Review Board voted 4-1 to support its application. The board's Nov. 5 vote followed three lengthy public hearings on the project, during which time board members had asked for revisions to the new buildings' Kellogg Street façade, additional information about landscaping and fencing on the Emerson Street side and a myriad other changes.

On Thursday, the board found that Castilleja has adequately responded to its concerns and voted to move the application forward, while directing a subcommittee of its members to work with the school on some outstanding issues. These include requests that the school consider adding an acoustic barrier at the terrace level and that the school provides updated elevation plans.

Board Chair Peter Baltay, who dissented, said that while he generally supports the project, he believes the full board should continue to work on refining the project's details, rather than refer them to the subcommittee.

Comments

Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:02 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:02 am

Not one word about how the closure of Churchill combined with Casti will effect traffic on Embaradero! Don't these people talk to each other??

As for the "no net new trips," what a laugh! We were told that about the huge Stanford expansion, too. It's absolutely incredible anyone could believe that.

As for Casti students taking the bus, who knew there were bus routes in Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley and Woodside. Live and learn!


No upside for Palo Alto
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:40 am
No upside for Palo Alto, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:40 am

Casti should NOT be allowed to grow their enrollment at this site. If they want to grow, add another campus. It is ridiculous that we are wasting our City's time and money on this.


eyeswideopen
Registered user
Professorville
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:50 am
eyeswideopen, Professorville
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:50 am

I agree 100% with "No Upside for Palo Alto" commenter. Let them create another campus somewhere else.
They do not want that, of course, because the Palo Alto address brings in more wealthy families/girls. This elitist institution has been wasting our time and money for years. IT BRINGS NOTHING TO OUR COMMUNITY BUT TRAFFIC, NOISE AND A SAD HISTORY OF LIES (regarding enrollment.) They can't be trusted to police themselves. They are bad actors.


Paly Parent
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:52 am
Paly Parent, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 10:52 am

Why can't the answer to Casti just be "no"? Does every organization have a right to grow their footprint in Palo Alto? In this case, allowing Casti to expand at all clearly means taking away some part of the quality of life from the neighborhood plus increasing traffic and risk for anyone who traverses the Embarcadero corridor.


Becky Sanders
Registered user
Ventura
on Nov 5, 2020 at 11:08 am
Becky Sanders, Ventura
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 11:08 am

I want to thank Commissioners for voting to continue to a date certain last night. They adjourned at midnight and there was much substantive work to do. Ask me how I know.

During the meeting, I kept wondering why some commissioners were cracking the whip and making motions before discussion had occurred. One commissioner, in order to hurry things along, insisted that city staff act as notetaker, a most irregular request, which the Planning Director quashed. Some commissioners accused other commissioners of delaying tactics because they wanted to adjourn at midnight after meeting for six hours, but it wasn't until the end of the evening that I realized the reason for all the vaudevillian antics.

Continue to a date certain meant that one of the commissioners will not be there to vote on the item because they have a competing commitment on Wednesday nights. The light bulb went off. Ah ha! That's why they are racing around the corral like mustangs.

So yeah, sorry about that scheduling conflict which I don’t understand how one would schedule commitments at the same time, but maybe there’s more to it than that. I was so relieved to have the Commission call it a night. This is a VERY important item and will have long lasting repercussions throughout the city. It deserves a thoughtful, considered approach.

As a POST SCRIPT, I want to invite people to tune in to the good amusement afforded by the PTC meetings. A certain set of commissioners talk over, shout over, ignore other commissioners but won't brook such treatment to their person. They just shout and raise the volume. Several times the Chair tried to maintain order, but was summarily silenced by their colleague. And that’s typical. It is a circus. I have an acquaintance in Atherton who finds the antics at such city meetings excellent cocktail hour diversion, but they don't have the stomach for such fare beyond say an hour or so. Certainly not six hours of such ill manners.

Remember the meetings are Wednesdays at 6 pm, twice a month, often the second and fourth Wednesday… but check the website: Web Link because schedule is subject to change.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 5, 2020 at 11:44 am
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 11:44 am

@Becky Sanders -- Absolutely fascinating that his is how the PTC conducts its -- or OUR -- business. When do new commissioners get named?


jones
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2020 at 12:06 pm
jones, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 12:06 pm

The only reason for all the contention on this subject is that Castilleja wants to increase enrollment. Without this increase there is no need for a garage or for any additional traffic abatement. Castilleja can get their enrollment increase immediately and with out any bad feelings in Palo Alto if they find another location. That simple. All their problems go away. They can get what they want and maybe even a higher enrollment. Other schools have done this, Crystal Springs, Keys School, and have been very successful.
Why does Castilleja believe that it is so special that it can maneuver around our zoning laws to get what it wants? They tried to use "the importance of woman's education" as a ruse to get their garage. No one believed them because this controversy has nothing to do with educating women. It centers on what Palo Alto wants daily life and that experience in its R1 neighborhoods. to be.


Ardan Michael Blum
Registered user
Downtown North
on Nov 5, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Ardan Michael Blum, Downtown North
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 1:24 pm

Old Palo Alto was built to allow for housing for teachers at Stanford. Castilleja continues that initial purpose of being a place made for educators and needs to expand as success is something to support. Speaking of Old Palo Alto - has anyone counted the little library free book sharing "huts" (seems to me that there are more than in most parts of the Bay Area) promoting education between parked Teslas and high walls.


Novelera
Registered user
Midtown
on Nov 5, 2020 at 1:50 pm
Novelera, Midtown
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 1:50 pm

Of course, I live in Midtown and thus my ox is not being gored. But I am really confused by all the anger toward Castilleja. Such an excellent school for girls seems to me to be an asset to Palo Alto. I know the fees are high, but my understanding is that they have scholarship kids there.

The people against the expansion paint apocalyptic traffic scenarios. I find that hard to believe.


sfvalley
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 5, 2020 at 6:48 pm
sfvalley, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 5, 2020 at 6:48 pm

When the article states that a majority of the speakers praised the school as a considerate neighbor, please discriminate between parents and others with connections to the school who spoke from a script and actual neighbors who live nearby, have years of experience with the school trying to lower this project's profile; we speak from knowledge and history. When you hear that the "neighbors want the underground garage" and the school met with the neighbors 50 times in the last 5 years, please note those are school-provided talking points. If the neighbors wanted the underground garage, why would they oppose it as soon as the plans were submitted in 2016? If the school "met with neighbors 50 times over the last 5 years", again, I'm sure they are neighbors of someone but not of the school. The school is required to meet with neighbors within 600 ft twice a year, where we make our points about how impactful huge increases in attendees and traffic will be for us and the school officials nod and we get nowhere. None of these "neighbors" show up. Get a grip, this applicant has resources and connections and are pulling out all the stops to send this train dashing down the track towards approval. Why would Palo Alto dedicate resources and underwrite infrastructure so that a private school can overwhelm a R-1 neighborhood? This could set a precedent - an underground garage could potentially be exiting into your front yard next.


Bill Bucy
Registered user
Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2020 at 12:19 pm
Bill Bucy, Barron Park
Registered user
on Nov 7, 2020 at 12:19 pm

Who is going to count the number of daily car trips, audit enrollment levels, count the number of people at events to determine if they are major and monitor other requirements the city is imposing to justify Castilleja's expansion? The school's rather casual relationship with the truth in the past makes me skeptical that "self regulation" would work. And penalties for non-compliance should be made part of the public debate to ensure wrist-slapping isn't built in.


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2020 at 10:03 pm
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 8, 2020 at 10:03 pm

Is Castilleja interested in buying Foothills Park? They can expand all they want over there and not detract from Palo Alto.


Old teacher
Registered user
Community Center
on Nov 9, 2020 at 10:36 am
Old teacher, Community Center
Registered user
on Nov 9, 2020 at 10:36 am

I attended a private girls high school in Seattle and a private women's college. But I oppose the expansion of Castilleja. The school did not follow the rules for many years and illegally increased its enrollment for profit. Palo Alto is endangering the safety of anyone in that area, especially students attending our own public school at Palo Alto High School. Traffic will be negatively affected and if the school wants to expand, they should find another site. Palo Alto should not be pandering to the needs of an expensive, exclusive private school. Where are our priorities? Safety and ethics should prevail. Castilleja has shown that they don't follow the rules.
Say NO Palo Alto, say NO!


Jim
Registered user
Professorville
on Nov 9, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Jim, Professorville
Registered user
on Nov 9, 2020 at 12:23 pm

Castilleja violated their prior enrollment agreements with the city and the community for nearly two decades. Why would anyone believe that they will honor a new agreement?


Referendum Castilleja
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 9, 2020 at 1:09 pm
Referendum Castilleja, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 9, 2020 at 1:09 pm

Should a Castilleja expansion be approved by Council, a referendum could be put on the ballot worded any way opponents desired. I'd love to see what the community really wants.


Why would anyone believe the city will enforce an agreement?
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2020 at 1:25 pm
Why would anyone believe the city will enforce an agreement?, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Nov 9, 2020 at 1:25 pm

People don't believe Castilleja will comply with an agreement because they have demonstrated their trustworthiness with their previous failure to comply.

People don't believe the city will enforce an agreement because the city's track record on enforcing CUPs is abyssmal.

City Council, there is only one fair path here because of the city's previous inaction on matters related to CUP enforcement. If you had made staff do their job on enforcement (citywide, not just on this site), another path would be open to you--but you have NEVER done that. The root of this problem is lack of trust in both Casti and the city. I live nowhere near Castilleja, but there is private school in my backyard and the city has never enforced that school's non-compliance with their CUP. In every case, it has been left to the neighbors to pressure developers and private schools to comply. I'm sorry, but that is obnoxious and unprofessional given that the city makes these approvals. I no longer trust the city to enforce CUPs.

City of Palo Alto and Castilleja, if you want people to trust you, behave in a trustworthy way. Demonstrate good character through your behavior. Council, if you are not willing to put in place requirements that force staff to do this work, then you should walk away from Castilleja's request. Otherwise, build robust enforcement mechanisms into the CUP and then put in place policies that REQUIRE staff to follow-up without fail. Castilleja should be willing to do this because it really is the ONLY way anyone can feel confident that they will follow through. If you act with earnest, good intent, in time you might earn trust.

The root issue is TRUST. Earn some.


Old Palo Alto
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Nov 13, 2020 at 2:52 pm
Old Palo Alto, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Nov 13, 2020 at 2:52 pm

So Casti should control traffic? Why not control the weather too?


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