Town Square

Post a New Topic

Editorial: Castilleja's unwise stubbornness

Original post made on Jun 16, 2017

Castilleja School, the highly regarded middle and high school that has educated girls for 110 years and around which has developed one of Palo Alto's most desirable and expensive neighborhoods, is doggedly pursuing a major expansion plan that is alienating the very neighbors whose support it needs to head off a contentious community-wide controversy.

Read the full editorial here Web Link posted Friday, June 16, 2017, 12:00 AM

Comments (47)

Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2017 at 8:46 am

Castilleja is alienating the community with its aggressive tactics. It is brazen that they are pushing an extreme expansion when they have flouted the prior cap. Education is important, but that is not the issue -- that is the red herring to try and legitimize their out of scale plans . It is question of size and fit within a residential neighborhood. They need to respect the limits of the site they are on. If they want to grow extensively, then they need to do like Crystal Springs and launch a second campus.

Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 16, 2017 at 9:07 am

The appropriate compromise would be that Castilleja can rebuild its old buildings but stay at its current size. As Concerned Citizen said, if they want to expand, they should add another site just like Crystal Springs, Pinewood, Keys, Nueva and Harker.

Posted by Palantir tent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2017 at 9:47 am

Seems to me that trust is frazzled with issues like ADU, and the Palantir tent.

Letting go of illogical burdens on streets should be a no brainer but giving a pass on enforcing code?

I don't live near Castilleja but this issue concerns me and like with Maybell, I would probably jump in to support a resident initiative.

Posted by mbc
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 16, 2017 at 11:07 am

Castilleja's persistent over-enrollment smacks of plain old greed. More students = more tuition money received. In return, they've become a neighborhood nuisance. Reduce enrollment to the limits agreed upon several years ago & conform to regulations.
Collect the delinquent fines & increase them. Expansion of the campus & enrollment at the expense of nearby residents is abusive. Parking problems? Create an off-site shuttle collection area & ban parking for students. Admins will come up with excuses & pseudo-facts to support flaunting regs.
Is it possible to yank the use permit unless they reach compliance, soon? Some present & former council members have put their girls @ Casti, but, really, what benefits does the existence of this school really provide to the town of Palo Alto?
Note that many of the girls don't even live in Palo Alto.
Do as suggested above & establish satellites as Pinewood et al have done.

Posted by Honor Spitz
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2017 at 12:28 pm

You can't jam ten pounds of nails into a five pound box. Simple as that.

Posted by Neighbor close to the school
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 16, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Not all the neighbors are against the expansion of Castilleja. Castilleja can offer the community more by serving more students. Small schools are in most cases uneconomic. We live a block away across Embarcadero and we have no parking problem. We have a lot of pedestrian traffic from both Castilleja and Paly, and that's fine. A few times a year it's noisy in the evening, and that's normal. Let Castilleja grow and maintain its excellent reputation.

Posted by Neighbor and Castilleja alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Castilleja has been in our town far longer than the families surrounding the school. It serves an important need and is not just a strange outsider school for "others" or "rich others" as the opponents would have one believe. The irritation by the neighbors focusses on cars and not the many children served by the school. The writers of this article use dangerously high conflict words such as "Armageddon". Why? Does this help ease the increasing tension? No. Greed, if any, is at least equally shown by the neighbors who refuse to compromise and focus on their own immediate needs and the fear that their standard of living will be undermined or that the value of their already incredibly overvalued houses will be affected instead of working with the school to try to accommodate children. The school give full scholarships to Palo Alto students, local students and not just the rich. I know as my family benefitted from the school's generosity as did many of my daughter's friends. I am astounded, in a negative way, by the vitriol of the neighborhood groups. Same people often. This article seems very one-sided to me.

Posted by Neighbor and Castilleja alum
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2017 at 2:08 pm

Castilleja has been around and has contributed to the Palo Alto community for longer than most of the neighbors surrounding the school. I find this article very one sided. The school helps many "local" girls with scholarships (full as in our case) based on merit or need. The neighbors in my experience have failed to compromise and focus on their ability to park cars or are worried about the affect on the value of their already highly valued residences at the expense of countless children who attend the school There is incessant vitriol and stigmatizing of other peoples children by the school by trying to tag or talk about how the school caters to "outsiders' or "rich outsiders" and little attempt to compromise. Why can't they accept that they purchased houses (or inherited them) near a school that has been around for over a hundred years and that has been part of what gave their neighborhood value? Why not try to compromise

Posted by @alum
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Castilleja is the one that wants change. They are the one's that need to compromise.

There would be no issue here if they stuck with their current CUP, which, unfortunately, they are still exceeding. The fixation on the garage as a solution means the school has lost sight of its priorities.

Castillleja has never explained why they even need to increase their enrollment or why they can't split the campus into middle and high-school campuses if they really did have a valid reason for increasing enrollment.

All we've heard is "we want a garage and we want to up our CUP on this location". Hardly a great starting point.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 16, 2017 at 2:34 pm

"Castilleja is alienating the community with its aggressive tactics."

Dogged stonewalling worked for the Alma Plaza developers; it will work for the Castilleja developers too. And it's a real-world education for the students.

Posted by wind is blowing ....
a resident of Community Center
on Jun 16, 2017 at 2:38 pm

Typical weekly editorial. The weekly waits to see which way the wind is blowing and then writes an "editorial"
Toy don't read the Weekly for balanced coverage.

Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 16, 2017 at 3:42 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

"With a City Council that has shown little capacity this year for compromise and constructive problem-solving..." Ain't it the truth!

Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: Neighbor and Castilleja alum: "The writers of this article use dangerously high conflict words such as "Armageddon". Why? Does this help ease the increasing tension?"

I did a search for "Armageddon" and it did not appear in either the editorial or any of the earlier comments.

So we have a belligerent commenter using false accusations.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 16, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Editorial subheading as I see it above:

"Without a new approach, expansion plan may become a political Armageddon"

Posted by Annoyed to Death
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 16, 2017 at 4:28 pm

Castilleja wants to expand so badly, and won't budge an inch, even destroying a heritage tree before their plan is approved.

So why don't they buy the surrounding houses for double their market value, and tear them down!

Casti will have rooom to grow, the neighbors can buy ina better location.

Posted by Pushy Casti
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm

@Annoyed to Death, given all the people Casti's annoying, it like they'll have to buy all the houses on Embarcadero and all the houses near it.

Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 16, 2017 at 5:11 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

Re: my previous comment on "Armageddon"
Apologies. I somehow missed the mention in the subhead. I did a cut-and-paste
and used my browser's Find and it didn't highlight it (I cycled through twice).

Posted by Reasonable Citzen
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2017 at 8:14 am

Everyone seems to ignore that Paly, Jordan, Walter Hayes, Addison, Ohlone, etc... have ALL expanded greatly over the last 10 years. These schools are all "neighborhood" schools surrounded by single family homes. Yet, there has not been a public outcry by those neighbors. I am impacted by the growth of Ohlone, cars now fill my street on certain occasions. Do I complain, NO. I understand that this happens in our City and we all have to live with some of life's inconveniences. But the neighbors around Castilleja are different, they are entitled, they are special, they are RICH. They have a private school next to them, and they have more rights than those of us around the public schools. And they are not going to allow any growth at Castilleja no matter what. It is a very sad state of affairs in our City when one group of neighbors can flex their muscle and avoid ANY growth of their neighborhood school, and the rest of us bear it with our neighborhood school

Posted by Peace
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2017 at 9:25 am

A residential neighborhood is not zoned for an underground parking garage for a large school. No one is putting in underground parking garages at any neighborhood schools last I checked. Ohlone is not a high school commuter campus, many people can walk and there are no large afterschool sports and other events the way a true commuter school like Castilleja would have. (Palo Alto elementaries and middle schools hardly have any afterschool anything.) Paly, Cubberley, and even Gunn, are not asking for their traffic to exit onto neighborhood streets.

I am agnostic about the issue, but squarely on the side of residents when people use rhetorical arguments to bully them. Castilleja has a conditional use permit, meaning they are there by the grace of the community. The usual response is gratitude. You had a right to object to the Ohlone expansion and apparently did not, but it is not okay then to say everyone should be okay with anything any school wants to do anywhere, especially since the impacts are so much greater for the residents near Castilleja. As has been mentioned, before the Maybell site became a battleground, neighbors successfully fought off a school going there, even as they work congenially with another school expanding on Arastradero within feet of the Maybell site, with a more appropriate design and location. Note that the school decided to expand by opening a nearby satellite location, they did not propose underground parking garages in a residential neighborhood.

Neighbors have a right to prevent Castilleja from moving forward with those plans, whether anyone approves or not. It's for Castilleja to decide its priorities. Do they want to spend their money fighting a political battle that will engender mistrust that could last forever? Do they want to risk disillusioning the parent community when the fray begins in earnest? Can they spend their money meeting their mission in a better way? They are not a neighborhood school, and can move if their priority is to grow larger. If they think the rights and yes, wishes, of the people living nearby are irrelevant, I expect they will probably learn some real life lessons the hard way (distracted from their mission). I hope they take tgis editorial to heart and start again.

Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 17, 2017 at 10:08 am

@Peace - Well said. One small correction, assuming you were talking about the Bowman school, they are expanding their campus, but not adding any students. And thank you for pointing out that a Conditional Use Permit is just that, conditional.

@Reasonable Citizen - Castilleja is not a neighborhood school, it is a commuter school with students primarily from other towns. Our public schools have grown, but we have no control over that. We are obligated to educate our students. Castilleja has no such obligation, they are free to pick who they choose to educate. They are are a terrific school, but that doesn't mean we need to allow them to grow at that site.

Posted by Reasonable Citzen
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2017 at 2:02 pm

@Peace and @No Upside

I believe that about 1/3 of the students at Castilleja ARE from Palo Alto. I'm not sure, but I think that is close? So, I think of Castilleja as a neighborhood school. Especially when you consider that Castilleja was there BEFORE the neighborhood. Just because they are a private school, they are held to a completely different standard than our public schools.

Exactly what are my "rhetorical arguments" and how am I bullying anyone? I am stating my opinion and some facts about the demographics of the neighborhood.

You are flat out wrong about my ability to object to Ohlone expansion. We as citizens have no right to OBJECT to the expansion of the public schools. We can comment and complain, but we have no right to OBJECT or stop such expansion. I do not believe we can file a referendum which has been threatened by the Castilleja neighbors.

I can't believe that you can argue that Castilleja is that much different than Addison or Walter Hayes. Walter Hayes has expanded greatly and has had a huge impact on traffic on Middlefield and Embarcadero. Where were all the signs and neighborhood outrage for that?

As far as the garage goes, my understanding is that a large group of neighbors (those along Kellogg) lobbied for the underground parking. Now, a larger group of "other" neighbors do not want that. I can't believe the school "wants" an underground garage since they are extremely expensive. So, maybe the school reworks their plans to do away with this underground parking. My guess is the neighbors will just find something else to complain about.

Castilleja gives girls a great education. These girls go out and do great things, and will make up our future leaders. I see Castilleja as a real asset to our community. Just like I see Paly, Jordan, and Walter Hayes as assets. I have been told PERSONALLY be some of the neighbors that I know socially that they "want to close down Castilleja". I think this is despicable.

Posted by Palantir tent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2017 at 3:40 pm

@"Reasonable citizen"

Surely you would say that enforcing enrollment cap codes is reasonable.

If any of the local schools were violating codes, they and the world would hear about it.

You are fanning comments (about closing Castilleja) to make neighbors "sound" unreasonable.

Maybe that's not bullying, but it fuels the poor climate for this project which seems like a lot of trouble for what is a limited amount of students served compared to the large schools.

Is Palo Alto that important for Castilleja? Why not build a new campus elsewhere with the strengths it has?

Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 17, 2017 at 3:42 pm

@reasonable citizen - I think 20-25% of Castilleja students are Palo Alto residents, I'd guess more of the middle school student are Palo Alto residents and less high school students. I agree they give girls a terrific education and they are an asset as such. I certainly don't think it should be shut down. But there really isn't any benefit to the residents of Palo Alto to allowing this expansion and Castilleja has not given us any reason for the expansion aside from "we want to".

Posted by Casti''s Recent Mailing
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 17, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Anyone else get a mailer from Casti purporting the explain their plans? I've never seen such small illegible type as the one they used on their map. It's almost like they didn't want people to understand their plans. HAH.

The arguments that people hate education for girls is laughable and an insult to our intelligence. They might as well claim that we hate foot if we don't allow restaurants in the middle of Crescent Park.

Posted by bottom line
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 17, 2017 at 5:54 pm

As a casual observer with no skin in this game, I feel no sympathy for the folks at Casti giving they willingly and knowingly exceeded their enrollment guidelines for many years. Sorry you lost my support.

Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 17, 2017 at 7:03 pm

If Castilleja gets its enrollment down to the exising CUP limit (415?) for the classes enrolled in Fall 2018 as it's now ordered to do and before a new permit is granted and shows its vehicle traffic for the 2018/9 academic year is - let's pick a number to "hurt" the "evil" school which many think has not been punished enough - 375? - would the "No expansion" signs come down?

But, is the lawn sign campaign really about enrollment numbers? Or, is it really about vehicle trips? Or, is it just "no expansion" of building space or student numbers for any reason under any conditions whatsoever? If the school could have all the students parachute down, bicycle in, or live in dorms on campus would the lawn signs still be jammed in the ground, nailed to trees, and stuck on houses?

I often wonder as I see those signs how girls and women feel who did not get into the school, wanted very badly to go and were well qualified but there wasn't enough classroom space for them. It's for them the school - a nonprofit - wants to be allowed to expand on the land it has as all other nearby schools have expanded classroom space on their lands.

Posted by Casti's Recent Mailing
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 17, 2017 at 7:15 pm

@Oldster, why does it have to be one or the other? Being disgusted with Casti and being disgusted by the number of vehicle trips by all the commuters rushing past Casti down Embarcadero to Stanford and throughout Palo Alto aren't mutually exclusive.

It's just more egregious that Casti has the nerve to request its on Lexus Lane off Embarcadero.

Similarly, being disgusted with the growing class sizes throughout the PAUSD doesn't preclude being disgusted with the over-crowding at Casti. It just makes us more likely to opt out of paying the school parcel tax because it's one of the few protests available to us since the CC is so intent on creating more density. more over-development and more gridlock.

Posted by Peace
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2017 at 8:09 am

"I can't believe that you can argue that Castilleja is that much different than Addison or Walter Hayes."

Yes, based on the facts, I can. Addison and Walter Hayes are neighborhood elementaries. The majority can walk or roll to school, they are not coming from all parts of town. Like all PAUSD elementaries, they have little to no afterschool activity.

Castilleja is a commuter campus with high- school- age kids. Many students are even driving age, and there is no nearby train they can take to school such as DTech has. You yourself even admit that a majority of Castilleja'sr students are from outside Palo Alto. They have a robust afterschool and even evening presence, unlike Palo Alto elementaries which do not have afterschool sports, for example, and would never have teams of teens from other towns to play on weekends. The traffic from Castilleja is necessarily worse and over more of the day and week.

Even having some students from all over PA is not like having them from the neighborhood, even choice schools in PA tend to come majority from the neighborhood. Familiies I know from most parts of PA are still driving to Casti or driving to a shuttle location.

This editorial is right, there are many similarities to Maybell. Olster with the argument that makes it seem as if the expansion will mean every girl who wants to go to Casti will magically get to go. And so on. The point is that neighbors can referend and Casti will have to pay a lot of money to fight a referendum. The process will bruise its reputation and relationship with the neighbirhood and town. If their priority is to expand only if they can at that location, and they have nothing better to do with their funds and energy, like educate their students, then they are letting themselves in for a battle in which they are up against all the could in town and setting an example for their students of first fighting when collaboration, compromise, and a sober look at priorities would have better served the students' needs.

Although Ohlone doesn't have nearly the impacts, you absolutely did have the power to object to its expansion. The school district is created in Palo Alto in the City charter. Changing the charter is a similar process to referendum. I did not see a huge citizen movement objecting to the expansion, though. And as has been pointed out, a private school with a conditional use permit is different than a public school that has to educate everyone. Your arguments that you think the neighbirs will never be satisfied are one of the many rhetorical manipulations above. Of course they will be, if Castilleja agrees to stick with their conditional use permit and continue efforts to control its traffic. If they prioritize expansion, they can find other sites more appropriate as other schools have done.

Posted by Peace
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2017 at 3:48 pm

I would like to add, as an agnostic on the issue: neighbors, a referendum is hard work for you, too. If Castilleja does decide to leave, you will have to deal with the impacts of what will go there and a City Council dominated by those of the Build Baby Build persuasion. You will not solve the City's development problems by fighting with this school, and I already see signs that you are not as organized as the Maybell neighbors. I could be wrong, but I strongly advise you not to pick a fight unless you have plans to win it, or your ability to negotiate anything into the future will be weakened.

The best course for all parties is to work together.

Posted by Hal
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 18, 2017 at 4:19 pm

Yesterday I got a brochure in the mail, about the Castilleja Master Plan. Under "Setting the Record Straight: Myth vs Fact", there is a Fact item that begins, "Castilleja has been in compliance with City directed enrollment caps since 2013."

I don't live near Castilleja, and have not had a strong opinion about them either way. But this statement confused me, since it seems to contradict what I read in various newspaper articles.

I sent email to someone whose address I found on, to ask about it. I asked for the enrollment numbers for 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, as well as the numbers for the "City directed enrollment caps" for those years. I also requested some sort of indication of where the enrollment cap numbers come from.

Here is the entire Myth/Fact item. It's the only mention of enrollment in the entire brochure.

"Myth: Castilleja has been willfully out of enrollment compliance for 15 years.

"Fact: Castilleja has been in compliance with City directed enrollment caps since 2013. In 2012, Head of School Nancy Kauffman came forward to report that the School was over-enrolled. Castilleja paid a fine of $265,000 and began reductions to achieve a new City-authorized 438-student cap. Palo Alto reiterated in recent months that Castilleja's enrollment should remain at 438. The City has now changed its position and requested that Castilleja recommence a gradual enrollment reduction to 415 starting in the 2018-2019 school year, which will result in the loss of opportunity for 23 potential students. Just as it has over the past several years, Castilleja will comply with the enrollment limits set by the City."

Is there any way to interpret that first sentence ("Castilleja has been in compliance with City directed enrollment caps since 2013") that makes it true?

Posted by WilliamR
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2017 at 4:28 pm

@ Hal,

The interpretation may be that if the current enrollment is not over 438, Castilleja would be in compliance with the City's enrollment cap. That's the number they agreed to.

Posted by alternative facts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 18, 2017 at 6:39 pm

"Castilleja has been in compliance with City directed enrollment caps since 2013") that makes it true?

It's down to your interpretation of "compliance". Casti was allowed to continue at 438 while applying for a new CUP.

Now, most people would realize that it didn't mean that Casti was in compliance just because the city let them continue to exceed the CUP while they waiting the outcome from the application. If this wasn't clear to Casti, the fact the city has now told them to get back into compliance with the CUP and start reducing student intake should have given them a hint.

That mailed brochure was so full of holes and mis-representations, such as the above, that it really tells you all you need to know about the state of leadership at Casti. They really believe their own alternative facts.

Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 18, 2017 at 7:46 pm

Why can't they move to the Cubberley campus and pay rent?

Posted by Peace
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 7:17 am

@Palo Alto resident,
No need to bully Castilleja, either. Assuming you are serious, here are a few reasons:
The Cubberley site is owned by PAUSD and the City, who wouldn't even sell 8 acres for a new Foothill campus. They will not sell to Castilleja. The site is far too rundown to rent out, even if Castilleja did want to go from owning their wonderful site to renting Cubberley. Having to deal with PAUSD and the City on a landlord basis? No.

Again, as an agnostic on the issue, I am proud to have Castilleja in this town, and hope they decide to work out a solution. I am as affected by overdevelopment as anyone, and will side with residents when anyone tries to bulldoze over their rights with tone deaf arguments. Neighbors need to remember that a referendum is hard work, and making idle threats WILL come back to bite them, though, and Castilleja needs to remember that they have to convince neighbors and that they, too, benefit from having a school in such a nice safe rich neighborhood near so many civic amenities. (Instead of sending out mailers, how about walking neighborhoods and knocking on doors?) A lot of Palo Altans can't access those amenities so well anymore because of traffic. Context is important. I am constantly surprised by everyone with a development request who thinks overtaxed infrastructure is irrelevant. Everyone who hopes to redevelop their own property someday should see these flashpoints as cautionary notes: the brash overdevelopment by some will end up reducing what you can do in the future.

Posted by Palantir tent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 7:41 am


It sounds like a referendum happens when no choice is left so why would it be an idle threat? If the City is allowing or has allowed the school to exceed enrollment caps, what's the point of these codes? People bought houses nearby possibly thinking the school will have the same footprint or feel and not turn into a compound. It seems that more is at stake than reaching a compromise between the neighbors and the school. This will need to smell good for all residents.

Posted by Peace
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 19, 2017 at 8:52 am

A referendum happens when no choice is left, AND residents are willing to do the hard work leading up to it, including showing up in person en masse many many times and trying to work out compromises, AND they are willing and able to convey their message to everyone in town. Castilleja, like PAHC, seems to believe their good work will be enough. Unlike PAHC, there are no other majotpr overdevelopment issues except what serves education, and this town supports education. You need to realize that there were a lot of in-your-face overdevelopment issues at Maybell and safety issues the public could never understand, that aren't the case here. A lot of this town will see the neighbors near Casti as whiny and overprivileged. If they threaten referendum and don't see it through (win), they will damage their ability to negotiate with the school in the future. In other words, a referendum will win or lose, it will not just be status quo if they lose. The residents seem to be a little tone deaf, too, and are headed for a loss if they continue as they are, I think. Both sides have every reason to compromise.

Posted by Stepped-On Toes
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2017 at 10:00 am

Castilleja has fewer than 20% Palo Alto resident girls as a portion of their student body.

Other neighborhood schools have students who bike or walk to school, as a majority.

The overwhelming majority of Castilleja students are driven to school.

When Castilleja has after and during school hours activities-- including during summer and on weekends-- the parents often park where they should NOT!

Recently, shortly before school let out for the summer, there was an afternoon event at Castilleja, and two blocks of Emerson, clearly marked as NO Castilleja Parking, were fully parked with parents' cars!

One weekend four years ago, Casti students were parking cars for a Stanford game, in the small Castilleja lot. However, the lot filled up fast, and the students were directing drivers to park on Emerson.

[Portion removed.]

Posted by alternative facts
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 19, 2017 at 10:04 am

"You need to realize that there were a lot of in-your-face overdevelopment issues at Maybell and safety issue"

How much more "in your face" can you get:
Web Link

There is definitely a will to follow this through wherever it leads. It's Casilleha's move now.

Posted by Casti please move!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 20, 2017 at 8:52 am

I live on Bryant, just few blocks from Casti. I'm so tired receiving Casti's newsletters about their expansions and their free coffee coupons to neighbors in August(because majority of the parents park on our streets on their first day of school).

I want to live in a quiet neighborhood. I enjoy watching our neighborhood kids biking or walking to PALY, Jordan and Walter Hays every morning. I have a headache when I see so many cars waiting in lines dropping kids off to Casti.

Casti, please be considerate. Expand your campus somewhere!

Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 25, 2017 at 9:32 pm

Facts, Figures, Myths, and Reality

Castilleja continues to spin their story with incomplete, out of context statements in an effort to mask the true impacts of their proposed expansion.

Castilleja seriously considered options to move to a larger parcel or split the middle and high schools into two campuses, and it was deemed to be too expensive and impractical.

REALITY: PUBLIC RECORD, page 24 > Web Link">Web Link

Castilleja stated in one of the first neighborhood meetings (September 18, 2014) that the board would not consider moving or splitting the campus, because of its proximity to Stanford. There was no mention of cost.

"Reaffirmed, stay where we are, the value of the Stanford synergies, not move or split the school" (page 24)
Web Link">Web Link

The 6 acres Castilleja owns could buy a much larger site for less money. Other private schools have done this successfully (e.g. Harker).

The Arrillaga family is standing by to donate millions for the underground garage -- that money could go towards a new campus instead of re-building. There is no doubt a parcel that could be donated as well. There are many possibilities. Castileja feels the Stanford connection helps their school rating and admission rate, which supports a higher tuition.

As usual, it's all about the money. And without the illegal enrollment and $12,000,000 in tuition, they would be losing money (see tax records). This is the true motivation for increased enrollment, not education.

Castilleja incorporated neighborhood input into their plans.

The plans unveiled in June 2016 were a complete surprise. Neighbors had always insisted on enrollment decreases and remote parking. The first plans had the exit of the underground garage pointed directly at a residence on Emerson. They moved the exit to point directly down Melville Avenue.

The City of Palo Alto let Castilleja extend their illegal enrollment by a year while they investigated the possibility of an Embarcadero entrance or exit to the garage. When that was determined to be unfeasible, they put the exit directly into the neighborhood at a dangerous intersection of Embarcadero and Emerson.

PNQLnow sent a letter to City Manager Jim Keene and the city attorney in May 2017, asking them to enforce the law and insist that Castilleja take measures to reduce enrollment. Upon review of their legal and governmental rights, Keene sent a letter to Castilleja telling them to begin a reduction of their enrollment to the legal limit of 415. Castilleja has yet to reply with any proposed action, because they are confident that the current City Council will approve a new CUP (conditional use permit) to retroactive legalize their enrollment of 438 or more.

Castilleja is asking for 540, in increments, but if a new CUP is approved, there is no legal requirement that it be done in increments. That would need to be stipulated in the new CUP.

(Same public record as above) Castilleja at one point entertained the idea of turning Melville Avenue into the "Grand Entrance" to the school. Typical of their arrogance and contempt for the neighbors since NK came on board in 2010.

Traffic and parking impacts to the neighborhood will be minimal with the underground garage.

This myth refers only to peak time traffic during school hours, which is one of the smallest impacts of the project. The underground garage would add an ONLY 60 parking spaces to the campus, but would require the removal of six 100-foot redwood trees, 2 single family homes, rerouting of public utilities, and 2-3 years of excavation and construction.

Castilleja plans to hold more than 100 events plus summer camp in 2017-2018, many on successive nights and weekends, while all other private schools are limited to 10-20 event. The larger events could have 750-1,000 attendees, much larger than current events. Cars would be streaming through the neighborhood to enter and exit the garage all hours of the night, day, and weekends.

The garage design is seriously flawed, requiring all cars to enter on Bryant, a bike boulevard, then exit onto Emerson then back onto Embarcadero heading east.

Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 27, 2017 at 2:37 pm

@Jim - Great post! I enjoyed reading the non-responses from Casti. I have Casti's propaganda mailing and I'd like to add my responses to a "Myth"

Casti Myth - "Castilleja can splits its campus or move to another location."
Per Casti - "Fact" - "After 100 years at its current location, these are not viable options, especially given today's real estate climate.
Alternative facts (couldn't resist that) ALL the following have multiple locations.

Nueva added a high school at a new location 4 years ago (2 site, one middle, one high)
Crystal Springs Upland is adding a new middle school, (2 site, one middle, one high which allows them to grow both programs) Web Link
Keys School added a middle school in 2009
Harker has 4 campus, Preschool, Lower School, Middle School, High School
Pinewood has 3 campuses

Casti Myth - The proposed parking garage will result in more cars and traffic...
Casti "Fact" - The number of car trips would remain the same.
Alternative Fact - If you increase enrollment, you will have more students and more faculty and more cars. Pretty simple.

Casti Myth - the have been out of compliance for 15 years.
Casti Fact - Not we haven't and we paid a fine for being at 438.
Alternative Fact - Casti's CUP is 415.

Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jun 27, 2017 at 3:28 pm

It's a ridiculous location for a school. Back in the day, Embarcadero Rd. was not a cut-through street for all the non-residents. There wasn't even a traffic light between Paly and T&C because there was so little traffic on Embarcadero. There was only a crosswalk and small cement triangle in the middle of the road. Castilleja allowed boarding so there was little traffic concerns. Times have changed and it's no longer a practical location for their students and it impacts the city too much; they should relocate the entire school.

Casti continues to churn-out many super feminists. No wonder the administration is still fighting—they don't like losing—it's just in the culture there.

Posted by nearby resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 27, 2017 at 4:08 pm

So Arillaga has his millions behind Castilleja expansion?
That explains alot. He likes to win, no matter the cost.
It sheds light on the Stanford connection, he is deeply involved in Stanford development. He tried to mega-develop 27 University Ave and it flopped of its own weight and arrogance [portion removed.]

Posted by education
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 28, 2017 at 9:55 pm

Perhaps the most offensive theme regularly promoted by the pro-Castilleja crowd is the notion that the poor girls who are not admitted to Castilleja are being deprived of a good education. Let's be real. The vast majority of those girls will have alternative options at very good private or public schools. They will not suffer. They will not be deprived of a quality education if they are not admitted to Castilleja. To all the school's supporters who continually bemoan the fate of the girls who are not admitted, please realize that your message comes across as incredibly arrogant, especially to the many parents who send their girls to other schools.

Posted by What a Laugh
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 29, 2017 at 11:35 am

If Cari moved to another, larger location, or added an additional location, they COULD accept more girls.

It's a laugh that they are using that lame excuse that girls will be deprived of a good education if they can't expand where they are!

As it is, most girls rejected by Casti end up going to another-- often BETTER--private school! It just isn't an all girls' school!

There are many parents who want their adolescent daughters at Castilleja because they don't want them distracted by boys-- and that's their first priority. Good education is often secondary, and there are MANY private schools that provide an equal or better education-- for less money!

Posted by Old Palo Alto neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2017 at 12:48 am

Castilleja's mission to educate girls in a single gender environment is honorable. Maybe the neighbors can negotiate a modest enrollment increase to about 448 girls if the majority of the student body are from Palo Alto, currently, about 25% are from Palo Alto. These local students can bike or walk to school, so no garage would be necessary. Herhold explained in his article dated 8/19/13 the rationale behind Nanci Kauffman's justification for divisibility by 4, "Castilleja’s head of school, Nanci Kauffman, says there are “programmatic” reasons for 448 — it allows classes of 16 that can be split into four groups of four (Presumably, it’s harder to deal with 15 in a classroom and divide by three)." Web Link

Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2017 at 12:34 pm

No upside for Palo Alto is a registered user.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday who has a couple friends that work for Castilleja. The staff said they are puzzled why people who live no where near Casti are protesting the proposed expansion. I think there are two reasons - pretty much anyone who uses Embarcadero would be affected by the years of construction. Second, Casti displayed quite a bit of arrogance in presenting this as a done deal instead of first asking for a change to their CUP and IF they got that, then they should have submitted drawings and plans to the City. When asked to return to their legal CUP, they did just the opposite and asked to grow even larger.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

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

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,997 views

Banning the public from PA City Hall
By Diana Diamond | 26 comments | 2,156 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 1,883 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,423 views

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 7 comments | 1,413 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.