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Castilleja's ambitious development plan would create significant traffic woes

Original post made on Jul 17, 2019

With project plans still winding their way through the Palo Alto process, the school is entering a critical phase of the application review with the city's July 17 release of the much-anticipated draft environmental-impact report.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, July 17, 2019, 5:00 PM

Comments (73)

35 people like this
Posted by EEM
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 17, 2019 at 5:28 pm

EEM is a registered user.

I think that the fact the the report is out will help all parties begin to be more productive and move forward toward resolution. I see from this article that traffic is a central concern. I also read that Castilleja has a very long list of ways to respond. I know that they have been extremely effective about reducing traffic in the past. So I can imagine that all of these new tactics will help address these concerns. I hope that the strong feelings can be addressed and a compromise that suits everyone can be reached. You just can't convince me that a school has bad intentions.


32 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Jim H is a registered user.

What is Castilleja's current enrollment? Have they been able to get down to 415 students?


30 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto, New Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 5:45 pm

I'm so glad this report is out. Finally. We need to move forward, not remain stuck in some halcyon past. Palo Alto has long been a great and forward thinking city and community, and it will continue to be a great place to live, work, and raise families. Let's appreciate the value of education and our wonderful educational institutions. Meanwhile, it is clear that there are concerns about growth in Palo Alto due to many factors. I'm sure there are ways to satisfy all parties.


48 people like this
Posted by The Future is Now
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 6:34 pm

The report seems to have concluded that the mission of the school is in line with the city's long term plan and that the school is willing to work with neighbors to mitigate concerns. The neighbors seems to be offering knee jerk negative responses to everything Castilleja offers simply because they don't agree with the vision for the city's future.

As a resident of the St Francis area, I'm living with some increased traffic due to the success of the Edgewood Shopping Center, but I'm also living with the benefits of that center.

Castilleja neighbors need to see the big picture and move away from their backwards views about what Palo Alto is and needs to be.


55 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Castilleja is a nationally renowned institution that develops women leaders. It's a Palo Alto gem. They want to modernize their facility and offer the experience to more girls. It's encouraging to read that this is possible, without adversely affecting living conditions in the neighborhood.

The reduction in total trips as a result of the TDM plan was impressive. It's encouraging, and it gives one confidence that they can also execute successfully on the other facets of their overall plan. They're adding a park, saving trees, building a garage to keep cars off the street, and more.

The most impactful thing that I read in this article, tough, is that Castilleja wants to stand by it's traffic commitments. That is, if their traffic management estimates are off, they won't get their enrollment additions. Such a structure has Castilleja taking the risk -- that's a constructive and cooperative approach.


87 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2019 at 6:53 pm

YP is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


92 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 7:17 pm

I just checked Castilleja's website. They state they have 430 students. So, that would mean that Castilleja has never met the 415 student agreed in their 2000 agreement with the city, nearly 20 years.

How about we mandate that they maintain 415 students for 20 years before they can be trusted to expand enrollment.


64 people like this
Posted by sfvalley
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 7:40 pm

sfvalley is a registered user.

The school is not taking the risk if their enrollment causes problems in the neighborhood. For one, who will determine this? The City has not enforced the school's CUP over many decades. Historically, the school is not trustworthy. And secondly, by that time, they will have demolished the Lockey House and another residential property and replaced them with an underground garage exit, increasing the school's tax-exempt site and reducing the tax base by removing rental properties. The damage to the residential neighborhood will already be done. How would you like to have the house across the street torn down so that hundreds of cars can spew out in its place? The school needs to expand the shuttle program and forget about digging a large hole to store cars.


104 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:01 pm

Read the fine print. Castilleja wants to determine the fate of Embarcadero Road and the Bryant Bike Boulevard, not the tax-paying residents or city “experts.” A single entrance to an underground garage on Bryant? Besides the obvious dangers, and it will obviously not be used and side streets will be dangerous drop-off spots.

Then you add the Stanford GUP, which will exacerbate traffic on Embarcadero, while Castilleja feels they should be able to take over a lane between Emerson and Bryant to facilitate entry to the garage.

Then you add the closure of Churchill for train electrification, and the wild scramble for Paly drop offs along Alma?

Castilleja is in the wrong location for such a project. Blind loyalties are not reasonable arguments. Castilleja’s project is not compliant and will not enhance the neighborhood or surrounding community.

STOP CASTILLEJA EXPANSION


75 people like this
Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:09 pm

We have too much traffic on Embarcadero Road now. When I grew up here in the 80s, we didn't even have a traffic signal between T&C and Paly, no need for it, so few cars. No to expansion. Casti should find another location since students commute from everywhere. Why should our city of 67,000 (which expands to 200,000 during the day from commuters) have to deal with more traffic on Embarcadero Road for 506 students who are residents and non-residents? Old Palo Alto is affected by the traffic too, with drivers cutting through our streets. Send 'em all up to Portola Valley or Palo Alto Hills.


7 people like this
Posted by Fairness
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:22 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


94 people like this
Posted by Old teacher
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:34 pm

Old teacher is a registered user.

As a graduate of an all women's private high school and college, I certainly support women's education. However, as a resident of Palo Alto since 1965, I think Castilleja has shown bad faith in exceeding its legal enrollment for so many years, and for pushing to keep expanding in a densely residential neighborhood, putting at risk other children and residents.
I think a proper move for such an expensive and exclusive girls school is to relocate to a more spacious area such as Portola Valley or Woodside if they wish to expand. I live close to Embarcadero Road, and it simply cannot handle more traffic. Castilleja can and should move if they wish to expand. I hope that Palo Alto does not cave in again to the demands of its wealthiest residents who simply want their private school in their backyard.


56 people like this
Posted by Enlightened Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Castilleja is a top-ranked school of national prominence, and one of the many reasons why real estate values in Palo Alto remain so robust. Our collective educational institutions are arguably the best in the region.

Most of the criticism that I hear for Castilleja's modernization plans comes from neighbors directly adjacent to the school. As a resident of the neighborhood as well, it's not lost on me that none of us were even born when Castilleja first opened its doors over 100 years ago. And every single one of us bought our ever-increasingly valuable homes knowing that we would be living in direct proximity to a school.

Everywhere I drive in Palo Alto, there is more traffic. Our town is at the epicenter of one of the greatest economic expansions in the history of our country. I'm hopeful that an enlightened City Council won't bow to a handful of vociferous NIMBY citizens, or over-react to your misleading headline about "traffic woes." From everything I read in your article, there is plenty of room for further monitoring of traffic patterns to ensure that the sky is not falling. And under its new leadership, Castilleja appears to be bending over backwards to address all of the many issues raised by its neighbors.

Oh, and did I mention how important it is to be educating the next generation of women leaders? Particularly at this moment in history when diversity, inclusion and equity are the social issues of the day? How is this not the headline and focus of your article? Let's not lose sight of what is most important here. Our future women leaders deserve our support.


58 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 10:06 pm

I’m concerned about more gridlock on Embarcadero Rd as a result of higher student enrollment at Castilleja and attendant staff, services, impacts. My sympathy to neighbors who will suffer during lengthy construction. We know how awful that is. The City should consider impacts on the thousands of neighboring Palo Alto residents - but I believe they won’t.


74 people like this
Posted by NY Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 10:18 pm

NY Old Palo Alto is a registered user.

I feel the same as a previous comment that was made. Embarcadero Road will be severely impacted,
the Bryant Bike Boulevard will be a hazard for anyone riding a bike, and all the surrounding areas
and streets will be clogged. Don't we have enough traffic right now? Do we need to add to this
mix?

Once construction starts there will be heavy equipment, hundreds of cement trucks that will traveling
on Embarcadero to reach Castilleja. Would any of you want that in your neighborhood for a private
school that most of the students come from outside of Palo Alto??

If the underground garage is allowed to be built I would never be caught underneath which will surely take
time to exit. I would probably drop my daughter in surrounding neighbors and rush to work.



38 people like this
Posted by Move forward
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:22 am

So glad the process can move forward. After Castilleja came forward to correct the over enrollment issue the school has worked in good faith with the city and the neighbors. The mitigation and traffic management plans continue to show their willingness to continue to do so. The report seems to show places where the plan can continue to be improved and the important benefits the city gets from having such a world class institution.


71 people like this
Posted by Save the Safe Route
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 5:17 am

For those believing that there are only a handful of neighbors opposed and that Castilleja has bent over backwards, the article failed to mention that 47 households sent in letters opposed to having a garage to Castilleja. Really, what concessions have they made? Not only did they NOT respond to the hand delivered letters, they are still proposing to build the garage as the first stage of construction. Their plan was to have 135 spaces and now in this article they may only provide 52 spaces? So what is the reason for having an industrial sized garage that will introduce more traffic congestion on Embarcadero and endanger school aged and adult bike commuters on a major Bike Boulevard in the first place? The school says it will not expand if they can’t reduce traffic enough? So let them try to maintain their traffic counts before building such a permanent structure. Seems to me that if it is really their goal to modernize, then that should come first in the plans. If their goal is to genuinely reduce traffic then no girls should be allowed to drive to campus at all. Nueva school had intelligently split their campus and doesn’t allow driving onto campus. The seniors instead of getting driving “privilege” should instead be happy set a great example by sacrificing their right to drive for as a part of the school’s goodwill to the community.


101 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:08 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The fact Castilleja is a nationally renowned institution that develops women leaders is irrelevant. They can remain a nationally renowned institution elsewhere, where their presence would not worsen an already nightmarish traffic crisis. They can buy land where their presence would not have such a negative impact on the safety and quality of life of residential neighborhoods.

Their plan should have been DOA.


40 people like this
Posted by Progress
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:36 am

Yes, Palo Alto is getting busier. Is limiting access to quality girls' education really the best way to address the situation?

Now, more than ever, it is of the upmost importance to empower young women and give them opportunities they may not have in a traditional classroom environment. Castilleja has been a Palo Alto establishment for decades, teaching women leadership and critical thinking skills.

Is this really the battle we want to fight?


37 people like this
Posted by Casti Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:06 am

Casti Dad is a registered user.

So glad that the report is out and now we can have a real discussion. The report does seem to support Casti's overall mission along with the suggestions on how to mitigate traffic impacts. I am confident that the current administration of Casti will do all it can to work with city and the neighbors to come to a solution that allows the school to look towards the future while respecting the neighbors' legitimate concerns.


110 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:51 am

"Supporting women's education" is a poor and illogical defense for an institution that's broken the law for 20 years. If that's the type of logic, they're teaching, shame on them. Parents should demand a tuition refund.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 18, 2019 at 8:56 am

The article says that the EIR determined the proposed expansion is compliant with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. EIR’s are required to review how projects conform with a pretty broad, defined set of environmental impacts that are defined by state law. The Comp Plan includes references to those impacts, but covers far more than CEQA and some of its policies can compete with each other. The result is that a complex project requires a subjective decision, ultimately by the city council about whether a project is compliant, and then the council decides whether to approve the project due to “overriding considerations”.
I don’t recall ever seeing a consultant’s EIR wading in to provide a determination of Comp Plan compliance like this report has done. Is this within their purview? Does anyone else have insight on this?


37 people like this
Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:00 am

I've always wondered why Castilleja did not use its established name to start a second campus northward on the Peninsula, in San Francisco or in San Jose. There's definitely demand for a private school with a proven ability to create well rounded students. I suspect most students are not from Palo Alto and are actually commuting long distances from up and down the Peninsula.


26 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:07 am

This project seems like a perfect example of the so-called "Edifice Complex". Why is the management of Castilleja so convinced that increasing enrollment will make it a better school? If Castilleja was so successful at developing women leaders with its previous intimate size, why would anyone think that gigantifying it would make it better? Likely, just the opposite. No evidence has been presented for anything other than the management trading on the "Castilleja" brand.

OTOH, more traffic around Castilleja will make it that much harder for commuters entering Palo Alto from the 101 direction-- always a good thing. Between the EPA office buildings in the works and the Castilleja growth, we could see a significant reduction in rush hour traffic further west.


5 people like this
Posted by Long time Palo Altan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:08 am

[Post removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:42 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Maybe Casti can move to East Palo Alto and pay for an expansion there by selling its current campus to Sobrato.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:48 am

[Portion removed.]

If this project proceeds, can we please, please use the excavated dirt as part of a project to raise the level of the levees? We're going to need higher levees, a couple of feet fairly soon, and, moving the dirt down Embarcadero would minimize the distance, along with the GHGs, and diesel particulates. Anyone else finding their windowsills more rapidly getting coated with soot lately?

** Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 10:04 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Per previous:
Matt Sonsini, the new CEO of Sobrato, before Dartmouth and Boalt, graduated from Gunn High and actually grew up in Evergreen Terrace, less than a mile from Casti, so perhaps he would be uniquely qualified to envision the highest and best use for the campus, for housing.


14 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2019 at 10:16 am

That's a very well-written and helpful article, very balanced and clear. Kudos to Gennady Sheyner and Palo Alto Weekly!


14 people like this
Posted by No more Hillarys
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 18, 2019 at 10:58 am

[Portion removed.]

I think in the end, people will be paid off to support the cause. No one really cares about the Palo Alto residents. No resident be supportive of more traffic it would bring, in addition to the nightmare of 3 years of construction. The school adds to our real estate value, someone dared to post. Haha!


36 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:13 am

Casti has been at its location for more than 100 years. So every neighbor moved to old Palo Alto knowing that a private girls school is a neighbor.

Rebuilding classroom, [portion removed], and investing in educations sure seems like their right and good for Palo Alto. If Casti moves, would the neighbors prefer an apartment building?

It sure seems like they have been tortured in the long planning process and protest signs...


25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:15 am

This is a very unbalanced report of the Castilleja expansion. [Portion removed.] Castilleja is commuted to traffic mitigation which you can see if you drive there. It is time to investigate the motives of the people who are against expansion.


75 people like this
Posted by not a close neighbor of casti
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

What is the overriding community benefit? The large majority of students do not live in Palo Alto. The school does not pay taxes. Their special events (e.g. guest speakers) are not open to the public. Regarding the comphrensive plan of " maintaining and prioritizing the city's 'varied residential neighborhoods while sustaining the vitality of its commercial areas and public facilities', keeping the status quo would "maintain" the varied nature of a neighborhoos and the school has no commercial impact or benefit to the community.


72 people like this
Posted by Move AwayGX
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:40 am

I favor strong girls’ education, but Casti has outgrown its neighborhood. The school is an elite non-profit institution that effectively seeks to expand at the expense of the quality of life of Palo Alto. Casti can make a fortune selling it’s land, ideally to a housing non-profit, and move to EPA or Woodside/PV. Casti is not what makes PA schools great and has minimal tangible contribution to the community. Let’s not permit the school to make our community worse.


19 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 12:15 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

What women leaders has Castilleja developed and in what fields ? I'm more curious than doubtful. Having asked the question, the school has been in violation of an issued CUP for 20 years. When will it stop ? It seems that the school will get the support of City Council because of council's penchant for identifying Palo Alto as a "leader" in everything and anything.


31 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 18, 2019 at 12:30 pm

As one who led a mixed-result, multi-yeared, jousting tournament with the City and developers about overparking in the residential neighborhoods near downtown, it would seem unusual that I would side with Casti, but I do. I also taught at an all-women's college(at the time) in Massachusetts that was run by the Sisters of St Joseph. I was one of three teachers on the faculty who were not nuns(we were teaching business courses). I am sold on the idea of educating women in an atmosphere that is conducive to learning, especially in a school with a reputation for excellence. I think that has great relevance at this time when social media can, and does, spread such demoralizing and divisive information that education is imperative in developing analytic ability and appreciation of the arts. Much has been said about the effects of Casti's ambitions and they are complex, but hardly a word has been said about their mission. I believe that is worth supporting that mission and working out the complexities of delivering it. I live near the school and see students passing by and it must be disheartening for them to see the signs, as one student mentioned, that reject out-of-hand, the place of learning they attend. I hope that the City and neighbors use wisdsom and compassion in their decisions.


45 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Posted by Ray, a resident of Professorville

>> I live near the school and see students passing by and it must be disheartening for them to see the signs, as one student mentioned, that reject out-of-hand, the place of learning they attend.

The signs were a reaction to the offensive PR campaign with the "I support women's education" slogan on them. At best, that campaign and slogan were very counterproductive. I haven't heard anyone attack the students, or, deprecate them for pursuing their goals. In the meantime, we, as residents, are entitled to question the wisdom of this -expansion-. Personally, I don't see the benefits to the future students.


40 people like this
Posted by It's magic
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Magical words: transportation-demand-management
Makes autos disappear.
Ask Stanford, their huge huge expansion will produce no new traffic.

Yes, developers can do magic!


52 people like this
Posted by Nancy Tuck
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:29 pm

I'm glad to see that the DEIR is finally out; hopefully progress can now begin. I live within a block of Castilleja and can unequivocally state that I experience zero traffic or noise issues due to the school. Paly yes, but not Castilleja. I also pay exorbitant property taxes, but am happy to support our local excellent public schools, in spite of the fact that my only child attended Castilleja 6th thru 12th. I am living proof that property values in the area are higher due to Castilleja -- the school's proximity was the only reason I bought my home. I am exhausted with my [portion removed]
neighbors who blame Embarcadero traffic on this school, want it to move to Woodside/PV/EPA (but still support women's education - ha!), or imply that the drastic reconstruction of the campus into housing would not be disruptive or entail cement trucks, etc. I'll support Castilleja's endeavors with every last breath, knowing how my daughter flourishes from the skills and confidence gained there. I'll never really understand the agenda of the PNQLnow, but I have picked up on a strong bias against private school education. They've used descriptions of "spoiled", "rich", "entitled" to describe the students, in addition to pummeling the neighborhood with their STOP signs. The fact that there was less traffic and fewer lights when they grew up or moved here 40 years ago could be said of every single community on the Peninsula. Palo Alto is a vibrant and growing community - I say embrace [portion removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:40 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

To Resident....no investigation necessary. Neighbors have been clear about their motives from the beginning. Castilleja lied about their enrollment numbers and violated the CUP. Now they want to bring enrollment up from 430 to 540. There is already too much traffic in this residential neighborhood and no parking. Bryant street is a bike boulevard. You can commit to mitigating traffic all you want but you can't change reality.The Embarcadero is a traffic nightmare and there is no neighborhood parking available for current numbers of cars.

[Portion removed.]


67 people like this
Posted by Dog and pony show
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:08 pm

Castilleja says they have held 30 community meetings to work with the community in their expansion plans. I have attended about 5 meetings and felt that the meetings were basically pr for the Castilleja brand. Students and school parents spoke about the wonderful school without really listening to neighbors legitimate concerns. For an elite school such as Castilleja , they should increase their student population by splitting the middle and high school into 2 campuses, like most private schools have done with this dilemma. The fact that they are not pursuing this course really makes me wonder if there is something going on behind the scene.......Getting to a decision that works for both sides means Castilleja shouldn’t put all their eggs in 1 basket! Please stop the commercialization and over development of what little land is now left in Palo Alto.


17 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Posted by Nancy Tuck, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> my only child attended Castilleja 6th thru 12th.

Can you explain why you think it would have benefitted your daughter if Castilleja had been a lot larger? Isn't it more likely that your daughter would have received less personal attention and been more likely to be lost in the shuffle? This is about Castilleja -expansion-. Saying Castilleja was a good school isn't an argument for why it would be better for it to be bigger.


38 people like this
Posted by Nancy Tuck
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Sure Anon, I can explain that. More girls would enable the school to offer more electives and fringe classes, like languages, arts, engineering, etc... More robust clubs, a debate team, maybe a rowing team. The more students, the easier to fill out the necessary numbers for the different interests. And I've personally known many families whose daughters were turned away, although they were talented, smart and passionate about getting a single-gender education. I'd add the fact that the integration of middle and upper school girls enhanced her experience. In middle school, she was mentored by high schoolers; in upper school she became a mentor. It made a material impact on the experience, built compassion, eliminated bullying, created role models and fomented leadership skills. I could go on...


17 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:50 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

The people who want Castilleja to move should put their money where their mouth is and by them out. They have made a tremendous profit since they bought their houses.
Unless the neighbors buy them out, where do they think Castilleja would get the money to build a new campus?

Maybe it is time for these neighbors to really negotiate instead of continuing to blow smoke about how Castilleja is hurting them.

To put it in perspective, how would the neighbors feel if Castilleja were replaced by housing for 500 people. Thought so. Time to seriously compromise on your [portion removed] positions.


3 people like this
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2019 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


15 people like this
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2019 at 3:08 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


60 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Looking just at the facts, in a town already drowning in traffic, this project will make it worse, both the end result and presumably during construction. Getting to and from Paly or Stanford at prime time is already so painful. Town and Country is overwhelmed. Seriously, we don’t need geniuses to explain what we experience on a daily basis. In addition, probably most readers support girls’ education. Claiming that positioning as unique to Casti is disingenuous—Casti is an elite private school, with many students not from the town. Third, the school has [portion removed] [mistated] repeatedly over two decades about its enrollment. They willingly chose not to comply. So...why isn’t no this a straightforward “no”?


43 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2019 at 4:19 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Casti should have moved to a larger site that would provide for growth years ago. Harker School/Palo Alto Military Academy saw the future and moved to a larger site with room for expansion years ago.

Why is Casti bound and determined to stay in Palo Alto to their last dying breath? They can make a killing selling the Palo Alto property and build a facility that will serve 1,000 plus students. Everyone wins!


42 people like this
Posted by Working class Casti parent alum
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2019 at 5:21 pm

This is getting old. Time to move on and move ahead with this project and stop punishing the current students and staff for mistakes made years ago. Castilleja paid a hefty fine for the CUP violations which were caused by previous administrators who have long since left the school. They have also made significant changes to their traffic impact by adding student shuttle buses, hiring traffic guards and imposing limits and rules for on-site parking and traffic flow. Castilleja is closed on weekends and has zero impact on Stanford game traffic, and despite false rumors do not use their grounds for game day parking. By the way if you live in Palo Alto, you are part of the elite so enough of the pot calling the kettle black. As for the construction complaints, this neighborhood has little ground to stand on. Drive through this area and you will see many houses undergoing extensive reconstruction and rebuilds. Do neighbors protest the impact, noise and necessity of these projects?


50 people like this
Posted by boarding school
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:21 pm

"Casti has been at its location for more than 100 years. So every neighbor moved to old Palo Alto knowing that a private girls school is a neighbor."

Not so fast. Twenty odd years ago the enrollment was something over 300 and many of them were borders, with a greater percentage of local girls then who didn't need to drive or be driven here from other towns and adding to the commute traffic.


34 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

@Nancy Tuck, [portion removed.]

Traffic is not a big issue now, but the proposed project would completely re-route traffic into one garage entrance on Bryant, plus add 130 students. It’s obvious to anyone with a grain of objectivity that the garage would be avoided and the situation would become worse by a thousand fold.

Drop-offs would be Helter Skelter throughout the neighborhood, and the danger to cyclists on Bryant is incredibly obvious.

Your [portion removed] loyalty to the school is not a reasonable argument against the obvious impacts.


54 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:37 pm

A parking garage entrance on Bryant should be a non-starter. The city has spent many years and millions of dollars turning Bryant into a bike-friendly street and Castilleja's proposal would undo it all. It's a slap in the face to residents and anyone who rides a bike.


7 people like this
Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2019 at 12:05 am

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2019 at 11:21 am

At JR. I appreciate your sentiments about Bryant Street being a "bike Friendly" street but that's not entirely true. I live on Bryant and bike it often (having more than 8,000 miles on my bike.) I'm old enough to know to wear a helmet and obey traffic signs and signals. I was coming home on Bryant and had just crossed University with the light. Just passed Keen shoes, someone opened a car door and stopped my bike cold and pitched me into Bryant Street. Had a car been coming, I would have been hit. My helmet cracked, I was brought to Stanford Hospital in an ambulance and spent the afternoon getting scanned for internal injuries or concussion. Fortunately, nothing serious. There is little that makes Bryant safer than any other street. the Blue street signs are pretty and a couple of closures help with cross-town traffic, but not every cross street is a stop street, Bryant is not clear sailing for a bike at all intersections, and downtown parking, while necessary, is a danger to bikers. That was the second time I had the open door thing happen, the first was on Ramona but I was able to stop. Further, when driving, bikers can be annoying by pedaling far enough away from doors and impeding traffic. I have sympathy, but it is annoying. One cyclist I was talking to at the Bryant/Embarcadero light (I was on my bike too) told me he deliberately does it to show drivers he has a right so to do. He is wrong and it is dangerous given that not all drivers are polite and would win a contest about who can go faster, bike in the way or not. Not arguing with you. Just saying, Bryant is not all that bike friendly. By the way, I have biked throughout Holland and THAT is a bike friendly country.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2019 at 1:45 pm

Posted by Ray, a resident of Professorville

>> Further, when driving, bikers can be annoying by pedaling far enough away from doors and impeding traffic.

My modus operandi as well at times. But, the point is not to show that you have a right to do, the point is to ride where it is safe, and, not get "doored". Normally, in these conditions, the bike is going as fast as auto traffic most of the time anyway.

>> I have sympathy, but it is annoying. One cyclist I was talking to at the Bryant/Embarcadero light (I was on my bike too) told me he deliberately does it to show drivers he has a right so to do.

Just because someone is riding a bike doesn't mean that they aren't a jerk, sigh.

>>He is wrong and it is dangerous given that not all drivers are polite and would win a contest about who can go faster, bike in the way or not.

Normally, if a bike rider is riding safely, it will only be necessary to impede traffic for short periods. As an auto driver, bike rider, and pedestrian, I'm more worried about those big electric bikes with the fat tires that can go 35 MPH. There are a couple of unsafe riders out there on the bike boulevards zooming along in those things apparently not realizing how they are endangering themselves and others. Not to mention the speeding electric skateboards.


42 people like this
Posted by boys n girls
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2019 at 5:25 am

Did you know Paly educates women too?
Even Greene MS educates women!!
Some of them will become leaders!!!


30 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 5:47 am

I remember when Castilleja was not a burden to our community.
It was simply a small boarding school within our residential neighborhood - on the outskirts of Paly and Stanford.
Now that it is no longer a boarding school, it would be helpful if these parents consider buying or renting a home in this area, and allow their daughters to bike or walk to school like the rest of the girls in Palo Alto.
Hello, Casti parents - most college courses have more than 6 students in them, and they are diverse. Perhaps it is time to stop the doting.


30 people like this
Posted by Now it's clear, Casti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 22, 2019 at 10:09 am

Now that it's clear the expansion would make traffic for the community horrible, it's time to put into action your claim that you care much about the surrounding community.
It's time to stop this madness. There is no more room in the current area.
You actions WILL negatively affect the surrounding neighborhood.
Do you still care about being a good neighbor? Time to show it instead of saying it.


33 people like this
Posted by Barbara Hazlett
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 22, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Having lived near Castilleja for 40 years, I can attest to its many contributions to our community. With respect specifically to environmental impact, Castilleja is a very respectful neighbor having gone to great lengths to mitigate traffic and parking demands as the town has grown up around it, and also to manage its footprint in all areas. The administration, faculty and students all are dedicated to best efforts in this area and to be monitored and measured. In my view, the school provides a park-like buffer for the lucky residents that surround it. The school's master plan proposes a green and architecturally inspired design and asks for no additional square footage above ground. Everywhere we look in Palo Alto there is construction and expansion. Why should one of our most historic and consequential neighborhood treasures, the 100+ year old Castillja, be denied critical improvements and to extend its reach to a modest number of new students. To do so is foolish and very short-sighted.

We all need to be reminded that, much like Stanford, Castilleja is a nationally ranked school. How lucky are we to have these kinds of educational institutions in our back yard. I believe we need to fully support the schools that have proved they are the best in America.


3 people like this
Posted by Person of interest
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 3:48 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names.]


21 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 4:23 pm

“The administration, faculty and students all are dedicated to best efforts in this area and to be monitored and measured.”

This is contradicted by the reality that for years the school violated its use permit and overenrolled (cheated) and lied about it.

It is teaching by example, the deepest and most effective form of teaching, that power and money means you can lie, cheat, and bully your neighbors. And if you say a false thing often enough, it becomes a shield for bad actions.

Why is this expansion possibility even still alive?

The entire board and administrative leadership of the school would need to be replaced before any commitments from the school become credible.


31 people like this
Posted by Casti Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2019 at 6:46 pm

Casti Dad is a registered user.

@Seriously. You do realize that the current administration of Castilleja was not responsible for the over enrollment and worked out an agreement with the city to gradually reduce enrollment? Not only that, but it was the current administration that voluntarily admitted the violations in the first place, way back in 2012. Is seven years of keeping their word and reducing enrollment and traffic impact enough time to regain a modicum of trust?


27 people like this
Posted by new resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 6:53 pm

RE CASTI Dad's comment: Although trust is still an issue to some, it is really besides the point in this debate. The key question is is whether the neighborhood should be subject to the expansion, parking garage, construction etc. Clearly if a plan is adapted it can be monitored closely; but it's really what does Cast contribute to Palo Alto that makes it so unique as to warrant special dispensation in an R1 neighborhood. In my view, not nearly enough.


30 people like this
Posted by BobH
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 23, 2019 at 4:38 am

BobH is a registered user.

I do support women's education, but I don't support the Castilleja School expansion plans.

I urge the city council to not approve this project.


25 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 23, 2019 at 5:57 am

mauricio is a registered user.

@Casti Dad:So, based on your logic, a financial advisor who violated SEC regulations and then eventually admitted to the violations and promised to not do repeat them, deserves a larger office.


23 people like this
Posted by Barbara Hazlett
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 23, 2019 at 10:18 am

I found the latest headlines and articles in the Weekly and Daily Post regarding Castilleja to be front-loaded with negative comments. You had to read well into the articles to find the positives, which most readers won't do. As in most news these days, I find there is little fair and balanced reporting. One thing that stupefies me in all of this is the argument that "redevelopment would overwhelm their quiet neighborhood". Are they living in the present? Development, growth and increased traffic are the norm given the extraordinary economic growth of the day. Why are they to be the one protected island in town? The notion that Castilleja has no business being in an R-1 neighborhood is laughable. Castilleja was there first and, news flash, if Sacramento has its way, there won't be any more R-1 zoning in the so called "jobs and education rich" towns. I see four story apartment buildings, with NO parking requirements, coming to their backyards. They should be very grateful that Castilleja protects them from the ever encroaching madness of Embarcadero, is vigilant in monitoring traffic and parking impacts and protects their home values (wait until Stanford's GUP adding 3.5 million more sq. ft and 10,000 more employees are here).


11 people like this
Posted by It's magic
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2019 at 2:36 pm

It has been asked above:
>Why is Casti bound and determined to stay in Palo Alto to their last dying breath?

This question I think is at the heart of their behavior.
Or maybe the board has the developer-mentality: demolish and build bigger and bigger. More money to be made. And the heck with the consequences to others.


13 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2019 at 4:31 pm

Posted by Barbara Hazlett, a resident of Professorville

>> I found the latest headlines and articles in the Weekly and Daily Post regarding Castilleja to be front-loaded with negative comments. You had to read well into the articles to find the positives, which most readers won't do.

I had just the opposite reaction. I thought the article was too uncritical. They need to ask the hard question: "Why?" There really isn't any good answer to that question. This project is growth for growth's sake. Expensive, inefficient construction that will drag on, in an appropriate location, eventually resulting in more traffic, all because somebody is stuck in the "grow or die" mentality. Maybe, if Castilleja was "right-sized", then, the number of students would shrink, not grow?

>> As in most news these days, I find there is little fair and balanced reporting.

"ROTFL". You have to be kidding.

>> One thing that stupefies me in all of this is the argument that "redevelopment would overwhelm their quiet neighborhood". Are they living in the present? Development, growth and increased traffic are the norm

You've inspired me to post again. Seriously, you are trying to minimize the impact, and then, you turn around and say that, well, there is already so much noise and traffic what does it matter? Seriously?!?!


18 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2019 at 6:56 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

There is something that doesn't seem to have come up in this discussion.

In 1992, the city allowed Castilleja to use the section of Melville Avenue that stands between the school and Embarcadero Road. [See SJ Mercury 3-18-92.] I do not believe that the city actually transferred ownership to the school, but it may have. It appears to me that the school is rather freely using the former street for its own exclusive purposes, which may not be consistent with what the city allowed.

Since this valuable strip of property is now likely to be part of Castilleja's renovations, the ownership and rights to the property should be clearly established.

PS: In reading through clippings at the Historical Society to find the above-mentioned article, I found many instances over the years where the school was talking about, proposing, or doing an expansion. For the first time, I had the feeling it is time for this school to find a location that will meet their long-term growth needs.


11 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2019 at 9:26 pm

Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> There is something that doesn't seem to have come up in this discussion.

>> In 1992, the city allowed Castilleja to use the section of Melville Avenue that stands between the school and Embarcadero Road. [See SJ Mercury 3-18-92.] I do not believe that the city actually transferred ownership to the school,

Interesting if true, because, they've just long since incorporated Melville into their sports/athletics fields. That section of Melville is gone. I assume that was all done above-board?


8 people like this
Posted by dejiii
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:40 am

dejiii is a registered user.

Well that report is sure a shocker...... NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Simply look around the neighborhood of Castillija. 95% of
the homeowners DO NOT WANT EXPANSION. Where you find support of
residents are neighborhoods in Midtown WHERE THEY ARE NOT IMPACTED.
I donno, been driving by or riding my bike by Castillija since 1970.
I think I have seen 25 girls in all these years. Even when the new
field was put in. When and where do they even practice. It always seems
clear of student athletes.....................
Wake up, is nothing more than a expansion for profit and makes it a
problem for surrounding HOME TAX PAYING OWNERS and their families.


Like this comment
Posted by OPA
a resident of another community
on Sep 4, 2019 at 10:21 pm

Why?? Why?? This tiny plot of land one sq. block in R1 neighborhood is Casti's Jarusalem? The administration has been pushing their agenda onto the neighbors. Why? Not fair. Consider moving.


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

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