News

Castilleja School's new plan to rebuild campus gets mixed response

Hearings before planning commission, architectural board show little consensus on contentious project

The interior of Castilleja School's campus on July 16, 2019. Photo by Sinead Chang.

Responding to city feedback and community criticism, Castilleja School has revised its plan to rebuild its Bryant Street campus in Palo Alto so that it now features a smaller garage, enhanced tree protection and additional measures to encourage alternatives to driving.

It includes five different designs for the garage, as well as new restrictions on the number of school events — a source of consternation for some of the school's neighbors. It also includes measures that require Castilleja to prove that its transportation measures are effective before it can gradually increase enrollment from the current level of 422 students to 540.

But as two recent public hearings on the Castilleja project showed, these moves have done little to make Castilleja's project less polarizing. On Wednesday night, as Castilleja held its first hearing in front of the Planning and Transportation Commission on its new plan, the panel heard from more than 50 residents, who in some cases pooled their allotted time to make longer presentation. As in the past, the public was split between those who believe Castilleja is still asking for too much, particularly when it comes to its proposed underground garage, and those who argued that Castilleja's project is worthy of approval and that the city's process has already dragged on for too long.

Bill Burch fell squarely in the latter camp. He was one of many residents and Castilleja supporters who told the commission on Wednesday that the review process has gone on for long enough and that it's time to approve the project, which includes reconstruction of three academic buildings, relocation of the school's swimming pool and construction of a garage.

"Every year spent in process negotiation and compromise has resulted in scores of young women being shut out of joining the Castilleja community," Burch said. "Time is passing. The school has made compromises — many of them — and it begins to feel like (it) will never be enough."

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He and others suggested that Castilleja's project is being unfairly held up by a small but vocal group of opponents who are continuously moving the goal posts.

"It's just a pusillanimous City Council members and commissions who are allowing this to proceed as if this is good government and it's not," Deborah Goldeen said. "It's ridiculous."

Other saw it differently and emphasized the project's impact on everything from groundwater pumping to carbon emissions. Even in its revised form, an underground garage has no business being in a residential neighborhood, critics of the project maintained. Rob Levitsky, who lives near Castilleja, sees the situation differently. He and other members of the group Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life Now (PNQLNow) argued that it is the school and planning staff who are responsible for the process taking so long. While Castilleja has maintained that it added the garage to its plans at the behest of neighbors who wanted cars off the street, Levitsky and other members of the neighborhood group suggested on Wednesday that the facility remains incompatible with the surrounding community.

"We don't need a CO2-belching industrial concrete garage in our neighborhood," Levinsky told the commission. "If Castilleja really wants 500 to 600 students, it's time to move or open another campus like so many others do."

With public testimony stretching until nearly midnight, the planning commission deferred its own discussion of Castilleja's plans until Dec. 15. One commissioner, Michael Alcheck, suggested at the onset of the meeting that the city's concerns about the proposed garage may be overblown.

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"Does it seem to you that this is going to bite us in the rear when we look at this project in the future and ask, 'Why did we make a big deal out of this minor difference in underground parking?'" Alcheck asked his colleagues.

The revised proposal includes five garage designs, though only three of them meet the council's March direction of the underground facility to include no more than 50% of the required on-site parking, which amounts to 52 spaces. Staff's preferred design combines these underground spaces with 11 new at-grade spaces and 26 existing ones for a total of 89 spaces. Because of its aggressive transportation-demand-management program, which includes shuttles, carpool programs and a requirement that staff drive no more than twice per week, Castilleja would also receive a 14% reduction in parking requirement from the city

The planning commission, which had already reviewed and approved an earlier version of this plan, is expected to dive into the details of the current one at its upcoming meeting. Elizabeth Hughes, a consultant who developed the transportation-demand-management plan for Castilleja, assured the commission and the public that the programs in the plan will keep traffic levels steady.

"We are looking at a successful program that has every advantage to perform and every element was reviewed: bicycle, walking, transit, carpool, the outreach, the monitoring and the penalty aspects," Hughes said. "So this plan is quite appropriate for the sustainability and mobility — not just for the school but for the city."

The project encountered a similar division at the Architectural Review Board hearing on Dec. 2, which focused less on transportation and more on the design of the building. Here, however, the split occurred between the five board members, who were charged with further refining the building's façade. Two board members, Chair Osma Thompson and Grace Lee said that the previously approved project remains perfectly acceptable. The three other members requested changes but had no consensus about what needs to be changed.

Board member David Hirsch urged significant revisions to the layout of the project, including setting the building's further back and creating a drop-off and pick-up area for students on Kellogg Street.

"There are elements of the building that could be cut back and there's the space between that no longer needs access to the cellar," Hirsch said. "That can be reduced so the building would be pushed back."

The other two members, Peter Baltay and Alex Lew, found themselves between the two camps, with Baltay suggesting that Castilleja should modify the buildings' cornice line and the middle portion of the building, as well add more variability to its window locations.

With its split verdict, the board gave Castilleja a somewhat confusing message, which was made more so when Lew declined to articulate what exactly he wants the school to change (the middle of the building, he said, is a "little bit muddled"). And because Lew's term is about to conclude and he is not seeking another term, the ultimate decision about whether the new design passes muster could hinge on a board member who has not yet been appointed and who may have other ideas about the building's design.

Lee and Thompson, however, felt that the building is fine the way it is, having already gone through years of refinements and public hearings.

"I feel strongly that no modifications or adjustments are needed," Lee said.

Thompson also suggested that the building, in its current iteration, "has a design intent."

"It's doing something that is really powerful and I want to emphasize that," Thompson said. "There's a lot of breaks happening in its façade, there's a lot of void. It's not one blank wall."

Baltay suggested that by failing to reach a consensus, the board is "doing the applicant a disservice by not providing the applicant with a solution."

"We have not compromised internally enough to give them a fair description of what they need to do," Baltay said.

Both the architectural board and the planning commission plan to hold further meetings on the proposal before it goes back to the council next year for another hearing. Nanci Kauffman, Castilleja's head of school, assured both panels in recent meetings that the school has already made many compromises with neighbors and urged them to approve the project and allow the school to increase enrollment.

"Our plan now checks all the boxes," Kauffman told the planning commission Wednesday night. "We take cars off the street, we save additional trees, we reduce our footprint, we exceed Palo Alto's sustainability goals and we educate more girls."

But Mary Sylvester, co-founder of PNQLNow, argued at the architectural board meeting that the revised design — particularly, the garage — continues to clash with the surrounding context.

"Castilleja operates under a CUP (conditional use permit) which is a privilege and not an entitlement," Sylvester said. "They must take into account the impact they make in the health, welfare and quiet enjoyment of their neighbors."

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

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Castilleja School's new plan to rebuild campus gets mixed response

Hearings before planning commission, architectural board show little consensus on contentious project

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 9, 2021, 9:43 am

Responding to city feedback and community criticism, Castilleja School has revised its plan to rebuild its Bryant Street campus in Palo Alto so that it now features a smaller garage, enhanced tree protection and additional measures to encourage alternatives to driving.

It includes five different designs for the garage, as well as new restrictions on the number of school events — a source of consternation for some of the school's neighbors. It also includes measures that require Castilleja to prove that its transportation measures are effective before it can gradually increase enrollment from the current level of 422 students to 540.

But as two recent public hearings on the Castilleja project showed, these moves have done little to make Castilleja's project less polarizing. On Wednesday night, as Castilleja held its first hearing in front of the Planning and Transportation Commission on its new plan, the panel heard from more than 50 residents, who in some cases pooled their allotted time to make longer presentation. As in the past, the public was split between those who believe Castilleja is still asking for too much, particularly when it comes to its proposed underground garage, and those who argued that Castilleja's project is worthy of approval and that the city's process has already dragged on for too long.

Bill Burch fell squarely in the latter camp. He was one of many residents and Castilleja supporters who told the commission on Wednesday that the review process has gone on for long enough and that it's time to approve the project, which includes reconstruction of three academic buildings, relocation of the school's swimming pool and construction of a garage.

"Every year spent in process negotiation and compromise has resulted in scores of young women being shut out of joining the Castilleja community," Burch said. "Time is passing. The school has made compromises — many of them — and it begins to feel like (it) will never be enough."

He and others suggested that Castilleja's project is being unfairly held up by a small but vocal group of opponents who are continuously moving the goal posts.

"It's just a pusillanimous City Council members and commissions who are allowing this to proceed as if this is good government and it's not," Deborah Goldeen said. "It's ridiculous."

Other saw it differently and emphasized the project's impact on everything from groundwater pumping to carbon emissions. Even in its revised form, an underground garage has no business being in a residential neighborhood, critics of the project maintained. Rob Levitsky, who lives near Castilleja, sees the situation differently. He and other members of the group Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life Now (PNQLNow) argued that it is the school and planning staff who are responsible for the process taking so long. While Castilleja has maintained that it added the garage to its plans at the behest of neighbors who wanted cars off the street, Levitsky and other members of the neighborhood group suggested on Wednesday that the facility remains incompatible with the surrounding community.

"We don't need a CO2-belching industrial concrete garage in our neighborhood," Levinsky told the commission. "If Castilleja really wants 500 to 600 students, it's time to move or open another campus like so many others do."

With public testimony stretching until nearly midnight, the planning commission deferred its own discussion of Castilleja's plans until Dec. 15. One commissioner, Michael Alcheck, suggested at the onset of the meeting that the city's concerns about the proposed garage may be overblown.

"Does it seem to you that this is going to bite us in the rear when we look at this project in the future and ask, 'Why did we make a big deal out of this minor difference in underground parking?'" Alcheck asked his colleagues.

The revised proposal includes five garage designs, though only three of them meet the council's March direction of the underground facility to include no more than 50% of the required on-site parking, which amounts to 52 spaces. Staff's preferred design combines these underground spaces with 11 new at-grade spaces and 26 existing ones for a total of 89 spaces. Because of its aggressive transportation-demand-management program, which includes shuttles, carpool programs and a requirement that staff drive no more than twice per week, Castilleja would also receive a 14% reduction in parking requirement from the city

The planning commission, which had already reviewed and approved an earlier version of this plan, is expected to dive into the details of the current one at its upcoming meeting. Elizabeth Hughes, a consultant who developed the transportation-demand-management plan for Castilleja, assured the commission and the public that the programs in the plan will keep traffic levels steady.

"We are looking at a successful program that has every advantage to perform and every element was reviewed: bicycle, walking, transit, carpool, the outreach, the monitoring and the penalty aspects," Hughes said. "So this plan is quite appropriate for the sustainability and mobility — not just for the school but for the city."

The project encountered a similar division at the Architectural Review Board hearing on Dec. 2, which focused less on transportation and more on the design of the building. Here, however, the split occurred between the five board members, who were charged with further refining the building's façade. Two board members, Chair Osma Thompson and Grace Lee said that the previously approved project remains perfectly acceptable. The three other members requested changes but had no consensus about what needs to be changed.

Board member David Hirsch urged significant revisions to the layout of the project, including setting the building's further back and creating a drop-off and pick-up area for students on Kellogg Street.

"There are elements of the building that could be cut back and there's the space between that no longer needs access to the cellar," Hirsch said. "That can be reduced so the building would be pushed back."

The other two members, Peter Baltay and Alex Lew, found themselves between the two camps, with Baltay suggesting that Castilleja should modify the buildings' cornice line and the middle portion of the building, as well add more variability to its window locations.

With its split verdict, the board gave Castilleja a somewhat confusing message, which was made more so when Lew declined to articulate what exactly he wants the school to change (the middle of the building, he said, is a "little bit muddled"). And because Lew's term is about to conclude and he is not seeking another term, the ultimate decision about whether the new design passes muster could hinge on a board member who has not yet been appointed and who may have other ideas about the building's design.

Lee and Thompson, however, felt that the building is fine the way it is, having already gone through years of refinements and public hearings.

"I feel strongly that no modifications or adjustments are needed," Lee said.

Thompson also suggested that the building, in its current iteration, "has a design intent."

"It's doing something that is really powerful and I want to emphasize that," Thompson said. "There's a lot of breaks happening in its façade, there's a lot of void. It's not one blank wall."

Baltay suggested that by failing to reach a consensus, the board is "doing the applicant a disservice by not providing the applicant with a solution."

"We have not compromised internally enough to give them a fair description of what they need to do," Baltay said.

Both the architectural board and the planning commission plan to hold further meetings on the proposal before it goes back to the council next year for another hearing. Nanci Kauffman, Castilleja's head of school, assured both panels in recent meetings that the school has already made many compromises with neighbors and urged them to approve the project and allow the school to increase enrollment.

"Our plan now checks all the boxes," Kauffman told the planning commission Wednesday night. "We take cars off the street, we save additional trees, we reduce our footprint, we exceed Palo Alto's sustainability goals and we educate more girls."

But Mary Sylvester, co-founder of PNQLNow, argued at the architectural board meeting that the revised design — particularly, the garage — continues to clash with the surrounding context.

"Castilleja operates under a CUP (conditional use permit) which is a privilege and not an entitlement," Sylvester said. "They must take into account the impact they make in the health, welfare and quiet enjoyment of their neighbors."

Comments

Allan
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2021 at 10:45 am
Allan, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 10:45 am

Castilleja was asked by City Council to suggest alternatives to the phasing of construction. One option they suggested was to find a temporary campus, although no location was now known. This suggestion would decrease construction time by 1.1 years from 34 months to 21 months. This option would be a gift to the greater neighborhood surrounding the school and to the health and safety of their students. Surely the large contingent of supporters of Castilleja could pitch in to help them find an alternate location for a temporary campus in existing buildings or in temporary mobile classrooms (ie as now planned on their athletic field) . Let's reduce the pain to all parties, to more quickly get their renovations completed!


Old teacher
Registered user
Community Center
on Dec 9, 2021 at 10:59 am
Old teacher, Community Center
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 10:59 am

I fail to understand why Castilleja school advocates insist on keeping the location on a busy thoroughfare of Embarcadero when like other schools, they could relocate to another, safer location where they could expand. I hope that Palo Alto City Council will press for safety over the desires of the elites who want their cozy Palo Alto location. Castelleja has not keep faith with this community by expanding their student body over many years in violation of the rules.


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:02 am
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:02 am
Castilleja Neighbor
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:21 am
Castilleja Neighbor, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:21 am

This process has dragged on for ten years. Ten years. The goalposts keep moving [portion removed.] The neighbors asked for a garage. Castilleja proposed a garage. Now they don't want a garage. The only reason anyone knew that Castilleja had surpassed their enrollment is because Castilleja got a new head who reported it. [Portion removed.] There is no reason for this project not to move forward. Castilleja has been around before any of the neighbors. They knew they were moving into an area near a school when they moved in. Of course schools have to modernize. It's inevitable. Education changes. Science evolves. Technology evolves. Stop dragging this on, approve the project, and let the amazing accomplishments of these incredible young women continue to enhance the neighborhood and the surrounding area.


Old Palo Alto, New Palo Alto
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:27 am
Old Palo Alto, New Palo Alto, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:27 am

Interesting that this report makes it seem like last night was a balanced showing from the public. Castilleja supporters far outnumbered the critics. Perhaps because the opposing group is such a small but very vocal minority? Even more important than numbers was the message. Castilleja’s supporters made sense, which is easy for them because the project makes sense. I also want to point out that there are underground garages in residential neighborhoods in Palo Alto. The one at Kol Emeth has improved quality of life just as Castilleja wants to do. Finally, one question about the massing on Kellogg. People who live on Kellogg have stated at open hearings that they don’t want a break in the building there because the building creates an effective barrier between life inside and life outside of campus. Why are people who don’t live on the street moving against the wishes of people who do?


Allan
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:53 am
Allan, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:53 am

A related question to massing of the Kellogg building is Why did the ARB reverse its decision of early this year to approve the Kellogg building design, when NO changes had been made to the design since then? Now they propose that the building be 3 feet taller and even more massive than the previously approved design.


Broken Broker
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:55 am
Broken Broker, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 11:55 am
Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2021 at 12:19 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 12:19 pm

"The planning commission, which had already reviewed and approved an earlier version of this plan, is expected to dive into the details of the current one at its upcoming meeting."

Funny how they could do that when, as Rita Vrhel noted in her speech, they were working with incomplete information since various critical reports were never forwarded to the decision-makers A shameful waste of taxpayers money!!

Why did the meeting drag on so late? Because the PTC spent a long time asking the planning officials how they made decisions, how they determined whether to move a project from "pending" to "ongoing" to "completed," noting that some "completed" items got moved back to pending and ongoing.

No one could answer the questions on managerial process. An unfortunate case of "Who's on First."

It also dragged because of the lengthy speeches on how Casti could end misogyny right here in our own times. Yes, misogyny and discrimination are blatant here in Silicon Valley. Maybe the Casti parents could start addressing it in their own companies, law firms and vc firms?? Just a thought!

As a bunch of us joked last night, the Palo Alto process is "Portlandia with extra whine."


Roy M
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm
Roy M, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 3:07 pm

I am one of the Casti supporters who stayed up way too late to speak at the meeting last night. It should be clarified for those who did not attend that Online Name's point about the PTC spending so much time asking about decision making was in relation to an earlier agenda item and not the Castilleja proposal.

The Casti supporters who spoke about the benefits of having an all-girls education were addressing the value that Castilleja provides to the community. If some people thought those speeches are unnecessary, they are probably against having the school in Palo Alto in general or else they don't understand the point of the school's proposed modernization. I am sure Casti supporters are tired of speakers against the proposal coming up with new arguments (ground water?) to oppose something that they don't want to see even though the council indicated it will approve some version of this project.

I have a lot of empathy for the commission members who volunteer their time to go through hundreds of pages of documents and sit through hours long meetings only to go through it all over again because of an inflexible, vocal minority. The school has listened to the Council and incorporated their feedback. It is time to send this back to the Council for their final approval.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 9, 2021 at 3:33 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 3:33 pm

Roy, I'm well aware that the earlier discussion about PTC decision-making wasn't specifically related to Casti but to the "Planning" department's overall performance.

It still has bearing on the abilities and mindset of the "planners" who could appear to recommend proceeding on Casti without having a complete set of documents on which to base their decisions. That speaks to negligence; WHY they weren't given the complete set raises ethical questions and as well as the long-standing question about staff's seemingly consistent bias in favor of the big-money projects.


Leland J.
Registered user
Professorville
on Dec 9, 2021 at 3:43 pm
Leland J. , Professorville
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 3:43 pm

Casti should sell the property to a developer and put in low income housing... then watch neighbors scream "NOOOO, We were only kidding! Please come back!"


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 9, 2021 at 4:19 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 4:19 pm

I also attended and LOL when Alcheck made his comments about the garage; that commissioner has garage history; I think he favors them!

What’s interesting is that when this goes to CC it will be reviewed by 5 council members who, in 2019, were part of a unanimous 7-0 vote to NOT build the promised downtown garage. In explaining her second, Kniss said the times have changed and noted that CC made climate change and sustainability a top Council Priority. Nielsen Buchanan opposed the garage due to its impact on climate change. Another member of the public said a garage would invite more traffic. Yet another said the EIR did not fully address GHG emissions.

That was then and a different garage, but in the interim the climate situation has only worsened. Large parking structures are not environmentally friendly. Nor is concrete. Neither can be avoided 100%, but why add what’s not really needed?

I am watching to see if PTC and CC are serious about climate change mitigation and sustainability. Will the decisions about Casti be consistent with the decision about the downtown garage? Will decisions align with S-CAP goals? Vice Mayor Burt co-chairs those meetings so he hears the community’s concerns. Will his actions on this reflect that? And if it is accurate that Casti added the garage to the plan only b/c neighbors requested it, why not remove it now so that the modernization can begin?

Also, just as Casti continues to conflate the school’s stellar ability to educate young women, which NO ONE disputes, with land use entitlements, neighbors continue to question the likelihood that terms of the CUP and TDM program will be enforced. The skepticism about that is valid; the City is weak in enforcement and the school has a history of exceeding enrollment. It would be great to somehow put both those issues to rest.


tal
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2021 at 6:21 pm
tal, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 6:21 pm

"The review process has gone on for long enough" is perhaps the worst argument for approval I've ever seen. So, anyone with the resources to outlast the opposition should prevail?


sfvalley
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 9, 2021 at 6:51 pm
sfvalley, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 6:51 pm

In response to Leland J.:
You must not be a neighbor. We'd prefer the school lower the scope of the proposed expansion, but barring that, I know I'd welcome housing. Low-income included.


Trisha Suvari
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 9, 2021 at 6:55 pm
Trisha Suvari, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 6:55 pm

Plain and simple. Castilleja needs to modernize. They have revised their plans numerous times and the loud voices of only some of the neighbors are holding up the entire project. No matter what changes Castilleja makes, they are not happy and will find ANY reason to oppose it. While Castilleja has been here longer than the houses and I do not think they need to relocate, I like Leland's comment about selling the land to a developer! Be careful what you wish for neighbors!! You are complaining about construction for a year or two, but what about construction for affordable housing in your neighborhood with underground parking? I bet you wouldn't be able to fight that project! Schools deserve to be in neighborhoods. Let Castilleja modernize and let this project get underway.


Midtown Girl
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 9, 2021 at 7:22 pm
Midtown Girl, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 7:22 pm

I firmly support Castilleja’s right to update its campus. The City Council, ARB & PTC members have had YEARS to consider the school’s many proposals, each of which has sought to compromise in ways that responded to neighbors’ concerns. This process has continued to devolve, as each time Castilleja changes its plan in deference to the naysayers, those [portion removed] pivot to some other minuscule detail to complain about. This has taken way too long to resolve, and has cost the school way too much money. Palo Alto’s government officials should make a decision ASAP so that a storied Palo Alto educational institution can finally start the process of bringing its campus into the 21st century.


PA Community Advocate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 9, 2021 at 7:50 pm
PA Community Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 7:50 pm
Leland J.
Registered user
Professorville
on Dec 9, 2021 at 9:55 pm
Leland J. , Professorville
Registered user
on Dec 9, 2021 at 9:55 pm

To sfvalley:

I absolutely am a neighbor. Living on Embarcadero about 3 blocks from campus. It speaks volumes that your tactic is to accuse someone who disagrees with you of not living here - rather than make a logical argument for your position.

I invite you to subdivide your lot and build a low income unit. That’s legal now. Don’t worry I won’t hold my breath waiting for you to take action.


mjh
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 10, 2021 at 2:49 am
mjh, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2021 at 2:49 am

Why should Casti think it is entitled to continue to increase its impact in a residential neighborhood? Speakers forget that for most of its existence Casti was a boarding school with some local day girls, and very low impact on the neighborhood.

It was only a few decades ago that Casti switched to a day school model. Suddenly, from being a reasonably quiet residential neighborhood, 75% of its students are commuting daily into the neighborhood and the school begins its continual expansion creep with an increasing number of disruptive evening and weekend events.

If Casti were to apply today to locate in a residential neighborhood it wouldn’t be permitted. When is enough enough ?

I can’t but help think that if Casti truly feels it is so important to increase the number of young women benefiting from their education, Casti would want to move to a location where they can grow and not limit this wonderful opportunity to only 540 young women.


rita vrhel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2021 at 10:56 am
rita vrhel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2021 at 10:56 am

Recently, 2 extremely important reports were released to the public: Fehr & Peers 7/23/21 Castilleja Parking Study commissioned by Castilleja School

and Dudek’s 11/17/21 report on Castilleja School Building Survey and Gross Floor Area Assessment.

The information contained in these 2 reports should cause the PTC to send Castilleja’s expansion plans back to the drawing board.


The 7/23/21 Fehr & Peers Castilleja Parking Study commissioned by Castilleja School indicates a parking garage of any size is NOT NECESSARY.

On page 1 this report indicated … “Alternative 4, the Disbursed Circulation/ No Garage Alternative-would meet the City’s Municipal Code requirements providing 104 parking spaces, which is based on the number of teaching stations.

Let me repeat their findings: “Alternative 4, the Disbursed Circulation/ No Garage Alternative-would meet the City’s Municipal Code requirements providing 104 parking spaces, which is based on the number of teaching stations.

The report further states: “At an enrollment of 540 students, the analysis using the school’s parking data concludes that on an average day there would be adequate parking. At peak demand, there would be a small shortage in parking (10 vehicles) that could be addressed through valet parking. Therefore, as discussed above, based on historical parking data, information from other institutions and available published industry standards, 104 parking spaces would be appropriate for an enrollment of 540 students.”

Fehr & Peers have “monitored the peak period generation, on- site parking, and on-street parking adjacent to the school since 2012.”

On page 5, the report details the location of all 330 on -street parking spaces comprised of 54 school- frontage parking spaces and 276 non -frontage parking spaces.

Very bad timing on this report. Likely that is why Planning chose not to include the actual report only a link ARB's or PTC's packet. OOPS!


rita vrhel
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Dec 10, 2021 at 11:11 am
rita vrhel, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2021 at 11:11 am

[Post removed; successive comments by same poster are not permitted.]


Sheri
Registered user
Midtown
on Dec 10, 2021 at 1:26 pm
Sheri, Midtown
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2021 at 1:26 pm

@tal
Yup, that's how we got Alma Plaza.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 10, 2021 at 1:28 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Dec 10, 2021 at 1:28 pm

@Rita Vrhel,

Thanks for posting the specifics about the missing data.

It's much more relevant to the Casti discussion than the long-winded speeches about how only Casti can end sexism, misogyny and discrimination when all those conditions have been and continue to be so blatant in Silicon Valley, Just follow the news for all the lawsuits and multi-million-dollar discrimination.

If Casti supporters and parents really wanted to end the discrimination, sexism and misogyny their daughters -- and all women -- face here, they could eradicate it at the companies, law firms, vc firms etc. where they work and hold top positions.

Now back to the Casti specifics....


JR
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Dec 11, 2021 at 1:18 pm
JR, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Dec 11, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Any proposal that has a garage entrance or exit on Bryant should be immediately discarded. Bryant is a bicycle boulevard and care has been taken over many years to create a street that is hospitable to bikers of all ages and genders. Now Castilleja wants to wreck it all with this proposal. This is not about education, it is about greed and hubris.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Dec 12, 2021 at 11:46 am
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Dec 12, 2021 at 11:46 am

It makes sense that it is time for Castilleja to modernize its campus. Why, then, doesn't the school submit plans that comply with existing code? Or require only exceptions that can work for that site w/o enormously negative impact on the neighborhood in which it is located?

The assertion that the neighbors are to blame for "holding up the entire project" is not credible. Just think about what that means. As has been pointed out, the plans have been reviewed by numerous City bodies (ARB, PTC, Planning Department, City Council). And one member of the PTC is going out of his way to help this along. If memory serves, that commissioner has a niece who attends Casti (she may have graduated by now) and a business relationship with the lawyer representing the school. Despite all that, deep pockets, and an army of experts, repeated trips to the drawing board are not resulting in a viable expansion plan. Even the Fehr & Peers report, which was commissioned by Castilleja concludes that the garage is not necessary,

The problem is not the neighbors.


Bill Bucy
Registered user
Barron Park
on Dec 13, 2021 at 11:07 am
Bill Bucy, Barron Park
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2021 at 11:07 am

Sexism. Misogyny. Climate change. Downtown parking garage. Business relationships. Blah. Blah. Blah. Set aside the rhetoric and focus on the practical issues.

Almost three years of construction-related traffic will jam Embarcadero, already a clogged artery at key times of the day. If Churchill is closed, the situation will deteriorate. Everyone in Palo Alto will be affected, including emergency responders. The mess resulting from the expansions will represent a major hit to the city's quality of life, particularly for the several thousand residents living in the neighborhoods closest to the school.

And for what? To allow a private, tax-exempt educational institution to dramatically expand its enrollment, which largely consists of young women who live elsewhere and will likely contribute absolutely nothing to the community once they graduate.

Process, finger-pointing and arcane arguments should never be allowed to obsucre common sense.




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