With Castilleja School's plans for expanding student enrollment slapped down last week by the Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission, Head of School Nanci Kauffman on April 21 criticized the panel's decision, which she said was based on innuendos and anecdotes rather than facts and data.
By a series of 3-2 votes, the three-member majority reduced the proposed enrollment figures in the school's conditional use permit from 540 to 450 (the current enrollment in 418) and reduced the number of special events — those with 50 or more people — that the school would be allowed to have from 70 to 50. This in addition to five "major events" with 100 or more people.
Kauffman said in a statement that the majority's decisions appeared to "rely on a handful of public comments with no basis in fact, but that instead spread misinformation, innuendo and personal bias.
"This is no way to govern any city," she said.
In a follow-up interview on April 21, Kauffman said commissioners at numerous times quoted a public comment from an opponent of Castilleja's plan as justifications for decisions to rule against Castilleja. Parent Susie Hwang, who spoke on March 30, said that the school's over-enrollment violation was "commonly discussed among Castilleja parents and staff" even before the city learned about it in 2013. Palo Alto fined Castilleja $285,000 that year for exceeding enrollment restrictions in its permit and forced it to gradually reduce enrollment figures.
Commissioner Bryna Chang also cited anecdotal evidence from neighbors who complained about the noise impacts of special events at Castilleja, which is located in a residential neighborhood. She used that as part of her justification to call for limiting the number of special events to 50 per year.
But Kauffman said that, in contrast, she didn't hear anyone talk about the facts in the environmental-impact report, which predicts the consequences of a development on the surrounding area.
The council is scheduled to consider the commission's recommendation on May 23.
— Gennady Sheyner Four alleged Lululemon shoplifters caught
Palo Alto police have arrested four people suspected of organized retail theft and a hit-and-run collision on April 22, the department said in a press release.
The police dispatch center received a call shortly after 2 p.m. on April 22 from the Lululemon Athletica store at 432 University Ave. near Waverley Street. The caller reported a clothing theft and said that the four people fled in a BMW X5 sport utility vehicle. As officers were heading to the scene, another call came in reporting a hit-and-run collision on Homer Avenue and Cowper Street less than half a mile away, where the description of the car was similar to that of the theft. No one was hurt in the collision.
The Lululemon investigation revealed that two women and one man entered the store, grabbed several items of merchandise and fled in a vehicle without making a payment. Lululemon staff jotted down the car's license plate and provided it to the police.
As the vehicle made its way south on Cowper Street, it ran the stop sign at the intersection with Homer Avenue and struck a Toyota pickup truck. It fled the scene. Both vehicles sustained minor damage.
Officers located the SUV on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge and stopped it in Hayward. Five people in the car were taken into custody without incident at about 2:45 p.m. Officers retrieved the allegedly stolen property of 54 Lululemon items valued at $5,800 inside the vehicle.
Four people were booked into Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose on suspicion of felony retail theft: a 20-year-old man from Stockton and three Modesto women, ages 24, 25 and 26. The man was also booked on suspicion of hit-and-run and for two outstanding felony warrants. The 25-year-old was found with an outstanding felony warrant. The fifth person in the car was released following the police investigation.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the department's 24-hour dispatch center at 650-329-2413. Anonymous tips can be emailed to [email protected] or sent by text message or voicemail to 650-383-8984. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through the police's free mobile app, downloadable at bit.ly/PAPD-AppStore or bit.ly/PAPD-GooglePlay.
— Bay City News Service