To get OK for school expansion, Castilleja proposes plan with lesser traffic impacts | Town Square | Palo Alto Online |

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To get OK for school expansion, Castilleja proposes plan with lesser traffic impacts

Original post made on Jul 30, 2020

A new alternative that seeks to reduce traffic impacts of Castilleja School's proposed expansion is included in a much-anticipated final environmental impact report released Wednesday evening.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 30, 2020, 5:04 PM

Comments (27)

40 people like this
Posted by Just Follow the Law
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 30, 2020 at 5:41 pm

Doesn't the school need a conditional use permit to operate in a residential area? And don't such permits require there that be no impact on others, both immediate neighbors and others further away?

It sounds like the latest EIR says there still will be impacts. If so, Castilleja needs to come up with a different plan with no impacts so as to comply the law. It's not whether one likes the school or not. It must follow the law.

Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North

on Jul 30, 2020 at 5:41 pm

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61 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 30, 2020 at 6:36 pm

Castilleja violated a previous to the agreement to limit the number of students. When they were caught exceeding the agreed-upon number they decided that they weren't going to honor their agreement and they weren't going to reduce the number of students to the number they had agreed to.

A school that doesn't abide by at agreements should not be allowed to expand and impact its neighbors. If they need more room they should find another campus that they can grow onto, but the city should not reward their dishonest past Behavior.

53 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto, New Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 30, 2020 at 7:11 pm

Congratulations to Castilleja on submitting an excellent new plan. It is great to see that the EIR recognizes the positive changes made to the proposal in the spirit of compromise--such an accomplishment and benefit to the city of Palo Alto. As recent circumstances make crystal clear, educational opportunity is more important every day. As the world continues to evolve around us, let us keep sight of the importance of education and Castilleja's century-old positive contributions to our community. Moving forward together.

4 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:15 pm

It would be helpful if you could specify the ways in which the new proposed plan is worse than the status quo?

45 people like this
Posted by Roy M
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:19 pm

This is great news. The demand for what Castilleja offers will only increase given current circumstances, so this plan will only increase the value of what the school offers and allow it to continue to be an asset to the community as it has been for over a century.

56 people like this
Posted by Jennifer F
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:38 pm

We need an enlarged fancy private school in our midst like we need a hole in the head. I can't even begin to say why this is a bad idea. Why can't we just say no to this kind of expansion and find ways to make this a more useful and equitable town?

51 people like this
Posted by Eduardo F Llach
a resident of Southgate
on Jul 30, 2020 at 8:50 pm

My Grandmother went to Castilleja over 100 years ago, and the great education she received continues to this day. My kids needed different help at different times, and benefited from options available to them. They graduated from Paly but went to the German American school for the first 7 years which helped them get a perspective they wouldn't have been able to get. My kids benefited from scholarships, similar to the ones available from Castilleja. Options and variety are key to the success of our children. Palo Alto is proud of its history, Castilleja has been part of it for over 100 years. I'm proud of my Grandmother and I'm proud to support Castilleja.

55 people like this
Posted by Trisha Suvari
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:44 pm

Thank you Castilleja for thoughtfully adjusting the remodeling plan in response to the neighbors desires. A smaller garage, a traffic pattern that will not impact the neighborhood, saving two houses to keep the neighborhood feel, seems like a win for both sides. Castilleja should be able to update its buildings to meet the needs of a 21st century learning environment. Schools belong in neighborhoods and we are fortunate that Castilleja calls Palo Alto home.

51 people like this
Posted by Casti Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 30, 2020 at 9:46 pm

Kudos to Castilleja on putting a great plan together. We support you and your mission. The school enriches our community and we are thrilled to see this project continue to move forward. Now here’s hoping the NIMBY naysayers will finally take those ugly signs down. Imagine what this community could accomplish if they put that time and energy toward a good cause. And no, opposing the growth of a school because construction is annoying is not a good cause.

48 people like this
Posted by Misuse of the word NIMBY
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2020 at 11:19 pm

You’re seriously calling people opposed to the ruthless expansion of an extraordinarily expensive private school NIMBYs? I’m not arguing that Castilleja is a wonderful school. I’m arguing that the size should remain unchanged; there is no reason to expand this school. Instead, put those dollars into improving more of the public schools while reducing the unbelievable pressure on kids in Palo Alto, and the Peninsula in general.

10 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:07 am

I think Casti, Cubberley and Fry's are the three most important issues facing voters, so I hope some good ideas get generated during the campaign ("good ideas" in my book does not include paying millions to consultants to stifle not encourage debate).
Do average Palo Altans have any say in their self-governance?
Do aspiring leaders care about their neighbors or the powers that be?
Do we self-govern locally any better than we do nationally?

Palo Alto needs parks more than we need housing, but we could use housing (for tax purposes) more than we need private schools.

1 person likes this
Posted by Enough is Enough
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:13 am

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

40 people like this
Posted by Long time Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2020 at 7:19 am

Congratulations to Casti! And thank you for being so responsive to the community. A smaller garage, a traffic pattern that will not impact the neighborhood, saving two houses and several trees all seem like fantastic solutions. I can't wait to see the updated campus!

23 people like this
Posted by sfvalley
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 8:44 am

Nice job summarizing where this project stands. One issue that is confusing in this article is about Events. Please note that nowhere in the Current Conditions of Approval does it say the City allows Castilleja an "undetermined" number of events. That is a school misinterpretation that they continue to propagate and is factually inaccurate. The CUP reads "5 major" and "several other" events are allowed. The school determines that "several" means undetermined, and undetermined means 100, which is the current number of events the school sponsors during the school year. Any other private school in a residential zone is allowed zero to 10 weeknight and weekend events.

47 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:19 am

How long has this dragged on and how much of TAXPAYERS;' money has been spent on this nonsense.

Casti's deceptive attempt to smear anyone opposed to their expansion as against education and women's education is ridiculous, illogical and an insult to our intelligence

If that's the type of spin they teach, shame on them and their supporters. Just say no.

35 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 10:44 am

Time for Casti to open a Middle School campus on some closed or closing elementary school in the area. As other such private schools have done.

24 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:02 pm

Once again Castilleja has listened to its neighbors to come up with a new plan. This new school will have very little impact. They should be commended for the time and energy that has been put forward to address the concerns voiced by the surrounding community. It is my hope that neighbors can actually read the new plan (or a summary) instead of a knee-jerk rejection. I am also hoping that some of the signs asking Castilleja to listen to its neighbors can be taken down. This new plan is reasonable.

2 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 31, 2020 at 12:52 pm

>> "because they were determined to be infeasible and/or incapable of reducing the project's environmental effects," the document states. Those alternatives were relocating the entire campus, relocating some Castilleja students to another site,

Since they obviously -would- reduce environmental effects, those alternatives must have been "determined to be infeasible". Why?

12 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:02 pm

Neutral on the school, but believe 1)rules/agreements must be honestly followed and 2) pkease do not excessively negatively impact our thoroughfare, Embarcadero Road.

44 people like this
Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 31, 2020 at 1:30 pm

Every developer waves a "transportation demand management program" in front of the Planning Commission and Council who then fall over themselves to use this as an excuse to approve the development application.

What a joke. In reality the city doesn't have the resources to monitor these transportation demand management programs so they are meaningless. Just another way around getting approval for oversized developments that clog up our main arteries and bring traffic and parking to residential areas.

41 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:02 pm

It is ridiculous to call this a Final EIR when there are still many unanswered questions to the impact on the neighborhood. How can significant and unavoidable impacts to the surrounding residents be acceptable? Why is impact to Embarcadero not even studied? This rich privileged private school continues to use its deep pockets to push their ambition of expansion with no regard to what is right for the residents of the city. Please read the Final EIR. It is full of inaccurate information and many unanswered questions many residents have of the EIR. To the city staff in Planning, please do your due diligence to review the accuracy of the report before publishing it. And stop trying to push this project through during the current pandemic by scheduling back-to-back ARB and PTC meetings in August and September without allow ample public response time.

52 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 31, 2020 at 3:29 pm

Given the level of community opposition and past self-admitted breaches of contracts by the school itself, is there really much downside to just saying "no" to further enrollment expansion?

This following is not in dispute and there has been no remedies made: "Castilleja violated a previous to the agreement to limit the number of students."

33 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Eisenberg
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2020 at 2:28 am

We need to end this. Castilleja is one of the best schools in the world - certainly. Single-sex education for girls is essential and life-changing-true. Castilleja changes lives:yes.

But: Castilleja has been in violation of its conditional use permit for 20 years. It has outgrown its current location. It resides on 55 residentially zoned lots during the biggest housing crisis in the state's history, at a time when Palo Alto risks state intervention because it is last on the list of cities in terms of cities' success in legally-mandated housing goals. While Castilleja insists to continue to over-build on 55 RH-1 lots, other residents have genuine reasons to fear that the state is going to mandate multi-familly high-rises on their blocks due to the lack of housing in our city.

As part of my campaign, I have spoken with a number of Castilleja families, and I truly believe that they want to do the right thing. They are good people who seek the best possible education for their daughters, and I support them in that goal.

But even they agree that it likely is time that Castilleja seek a more appropriate campus that can serve the exceptional school's expansion needs. What I understand is that Castilleja has a strong relationship with Stanford (my own undergrad alma mater) and they want to be close to Stanford. In that regard, the City of Palo Alto could and should be helping Castilleja negotiate with existing landowners (including Stanford itself) for a more appropriate parcel for its school. There are a lot of underutilized parcels even closer to Stanford than Castilleja's current location, just south of Stanford near Stanford Research Park. To me, helping Castilleja move to a more appropriate location and freeing those 55 lots for their zoned purposes of single family homes strikes me as a real win-win.

Can we talk about moving in that direction instead? Hey Castilleja, call me :)

31 people like this
Posted by Concerned citizen of Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2020 at 2:31 pm

It is great to embrace the memories a school older than any living resident but Castilleja has changed from a small quiet school of less than 200 students to a bustling school (pre-Covid) of 400+ students. And now the school wants to expand even further to 540 with a garage.

Let's remember a few facts:
* The proposed garage entrance introduces potential hazards to bicyclists on the Bicycle Boulevard aka Major Safe Routes corridor.
* Underground garages are not environmentally friendly in contradiction to the school LEED building goals.
* A garage with 125 spaces instead 143 spaces will need to be dug just as deep and construction and use impact will be just as great. The reduction is insignificant. A garage is a garage!

Number of Events:
* “Several” events as stated in the CUP does not even come close to proposed 90 events
* Residents submitted suggestions to look at the impacts of these 90 events.
* The Environmental Impact report did not study traffic flow of these events, a majority in the off hour hours of evenings and weekend.

These are only two but major concerns I have with the project. During the Draft EIR hearing, several PTC commissioners requested that a no garage option be studied and that was not considered. Public requests to broaden the scope of traffic in the greater Palo Alto area during these events was not studied.

It appears that many of concerns of Palo Alto residents were completely ignored which really begs the question... is this EIR really an unbiased 3rd party review? Who is steering the decision makers to turn a blind eye to the "significant but unavoidable impacts" to the neighborhood? Why is the City allowing a private entities not paying their fair share of taxes to infringe upon the rights of residents who do pay hefty property taxes that live near the school 24/7? Why cram the ARB and PTC meetings just ahead of the City Council elections? One has to wonder!

40 people like this
Posted by No upside for Palo Alto
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 1, 2020 at 5:37 pm

Casti is a great school and should either reduce its enrollment to its CUP, move or split into to two campuses. Please stop wasting our City's time and money.

14 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
10 hours ago

Online Name is a registered user.

It really takes nerve to violate the enrollment cap for years and then to demand another "legal" increase in enrollment. Curious about how much they've paid in fines over the years.

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