News

Castilleja neighbor launches petition drive

Stan Shore and others say school should get just one year to cut enrollment

A neighbor of Castilleja School has launched a petition urging city officials to crack down harder on the school, which has exceeded its city-authorized enrollment for the past decade.

In a Sept. 25 letter to Castilleja, Palo Alto Advance Planning Manager Steven Turner said the school's current headcount of 448 exceeds by 33 students the enrollment cap authorized by its city use permit, issued in 2000.

But "recognizing the hardship involved with an immediate demand to bring enrollment down to 415," Turner said the reduction could be accomplished over a period of years "through natural attrition and voluntary measures, such as acceptance of fewer new incoming students."

In addition, Turner fined the school and ordered it to implement a plan to reduce traffic, which Castilleja launched this fall and which includes a new shuttle service and other measures.

But Stan Shore, a longtime resident of Kellogg Avenue, which borders the school, said Turner should have ordered the school to cut its enrollment to 415 by next September.

"Castilleja has been over-enrolled for 10 years," Shore said in a Nov. 13 e-mail to Turner. "The school does not need and definitely does not deserve one extra day to reduce their blatant over-enrollment."

The petition, being circulated by Shore as well as nearby property owners Vic Befera and Michael Manneh, calls on the city to withdraw the school's use permit unless it cuts its enrollment from 448 to 415 by the start of the 2014-15 academic year.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 20, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Casty's been a little snotty about this. They've got a contract, they're in violation, and they're still trying to argue their way out of this. If I lived next door I'd be pretty annoyed too.


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm

So Palo Alto prides itself on emphasizing education unless it interferes with the sense of entitlement of the neighbors. Shore et al would have the school throw out 33 students. Turners plan sounds reasonable. I am not sure how shore et al are negatively impacted by the additional students at this time. Unless it us the typical Palo Alto attitude of " nothing must interfere with perfect way of life". By all means, let's close the school to satisfy a few neighbors


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Posted by Neighbor for 2000 CUP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2013 at 10:47 pm

Castilleja School has been in this town for over a century, I don't know how it has benefited our town in the past, but since I have been a resident of this neighborhood, I have only seen them take, encroach, disrespect and bully our City Hall into submission due to long standing personal relationships. This enterprise does not add sales tax revenue or property tax revenue to our town, basically nothing, yet the school generates traffic, congestion and erosion to our streets that have been repaired several times in the last twelve years, costing all of us taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. A great majority of the school's student body is from communities outside of Palo Alto: Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside, Los Altos Hills.


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Posted by Neighbor for 2000 CUP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 20, 2013 at 10:59 pm

TO: Close the school,

Palo Alto does pride itself on emphasizing education and we have many excellent public schools that provide public education to the public, Castilleja is a private school that charges $38,000+ for tuition and generates about $17,000,000 in revenue, plus the school has about $50,000,000 in endowment. One does not elect to apply and go there, a girls has to apply and be accepted. The school has complete control who gets in and how many students get in. Stan is not asking to throw anyone out, just to bring the enrollment down to 2000 CUP agreement starting next school year. Castilleja is not a public school that has to educate everyone living in its district as our nation's literacy laws mendate. As a private institution, again, Castilleja can pick and chose who enters their school and how many. Next school year, they should be able to enroll fewer students into 6th grade and evaluate their attrition numbers and be in compliance fairly easily.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2013 at 8:46 am

Castilleja appears to be a wonderful school with high demand for their educational offerings. I recommend the attrition method to lower the student body count gradually and sensibly. It is nice to have educational choice here - I am very familiar with two excellent private high schools out of area and inclined to honor Castilleja also which has a strong heritage.


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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2013 at 8:55 am

Reducing enrollment is simple, accept only 60 sixth graders and no other new students until the school is at its legal level. No students should be asked to leave, but none should be added either.


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Posted by For CUP Compliance 2014/15
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:33 am

TO Anonymous of Duveneck/St. Francis,

Castilleja perhaps is a wonderful school with high demand for their educational offerings, but it is not an educational choice here for our local girls. A great majority of the students at the school, more than 70%, are from other towns like Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside, Los Altos Hills, etc. It is not a choice in a sense that you apply before the deadline and you are in like one would for a camp or a public school. It it a lengthy application process with tests, essays, interviews, etc., similar to applying to college. Only a small fraction of the applicants are offered spots at the school. Unfortunately, many of these spaces go to the younger siblings, children of alums, and of course, daughters of many of our city council members.


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Posted by Casti neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:34 am

It would be difficult to adjust enrollment by 33 students in one school year because this would necessitate having one class be much smaller than all the others. How about another immediate solution? Gradually reduce enrollment over several years, but require that the excess number be comprised of Palo Alto residents until the correct enrollment numbers have been met? This would reduce congestion immediately because fewer girls would need to be driven to Casti, and it would better serve our community.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:39 am

@ For CUP Compliance 2014/15 - Casti used to accept a lot more Palo Alto kids then about 6-7 years ago, 20-25 mostly Palo Alto girls left between middle and high school. Since then, it seems like Casti cut back on the number of Palo Alto kids they accept.

Between reducing the enrollment of incoming 6th graders, and attrition without replacing ANY of the student that leave, they should be in compliance fairly quickly.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

Promises, promises. This is old news.


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Posted by For CUP Compliance 2014/15
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:47 am

Dear Casti Neighbor of Old Palo Alto,

Right on - agreed 100%.

Our public schools will benefit. Our local Palo Alto girls will have the option of same gender private education. Our neighborhoods will benefit with fewer speeding foreign expensive cars that are here to super quickly drop off their girls and speed out of our town. The school would finally be giving back to the community in which it has stood for over 100 years. Win, win, win.


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Posted by different private school mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:50 am

No sure Casti is accepting fewer Palo Alto kids - my experience is that more PAUSD kids, mine included, are accepted to Casti and turn it down for other private schools (GMS, Woodside Priory, Menlo, Sacred Heart, Crystal, etc).
Casti is a fabulous school, but not always first choice for every girl.


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Posted by Neighbor for 2000 CUP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:02 am

If you read all of Chris Kenrick's articles about Castilleja since the first neighborhood meeting back in July, you will find that the reason for Casti's initial desire to grow the school to 520 student was to be more competitive with our public school offerings at the high school level. I did not know the history of past admission practices as pointed out by palo alto resident, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland community. It seems that the school's bread and butter is in teaching girls from Menlo-Atherton High School towns since Palo Alto has an excellent High School with resources to offer better electives, programs, and sports. Thank you for shedding the light on the admissions process. Casti would do much better as a split campus school, grow the middle school to 415 girls and keep them in Palo Alto and open a huge high school campus closer to the student's residences in Woodside or Portola Valley.


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Posted by Casti neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:08 am

The reduction in the number of P.A. girls attending Casti, combined with the gradual elimination of boarding at Casti and the bloated enrollment is definitely causing congestion. I understand that private schools need to accept more students than they wish to enroll because not all acceptees will attend - this is called "yeild". And while any one year's yield may surprise, excess enrollment for a decade has only two causes: 1) incompetent enrollment management, or 2) deliberate violation.
Casti has three entry portals - 6th grade, 9th grade and attrition replacement. All need to be reduced.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Castilleja Supporter
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:10 am

Castilleja has been a wonderful part of the Palo Alto community for over 100 years. True, schools bring a certain amount of added traffic during drop off and pick up times, but anyone who purchased a home in the neighborhood knew in advance that living near a school had its pros and cons. In all likelihood, Castilleja was in the neighborhood long before those who are now complaining about one of the best assets we have for educating young bay area women.


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Posted by Casti neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:19 am

Castilleja Supporter ignores how much it has changed since most of us bought in the neighborhood. They need to comply with the laws of this town.


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Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:20 am

TO Castilleja Supporter,

Please be more specific how this private school with student body primarily from communities outside of Palo Alto, the school that has over seventy million in assents, yet pays $5K in property taxes to our town and no sales tax revenues, hardly employs our residents, "has been a wonderful part of the Palo Alto community for over 100 years"?


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Posted by Retired Teacher
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:49 am

Some years ago, after having served as an officer and academic instructor for 5 years in US Navy's nuclear program, I went back to school and earned a high school teaching credential from San Jose State University with a 4.0 GPA and specialties in mathematics and chemistry. One day as part of my search for a teaching position I naively walked into the front office at Castilleja to apply for a job. The individual behind the reception desk refused to even look at my resume no less give me a job application form. When I asked her why, I was told , "You can't just walk in here looking for a job. You have to know someone!" Enough said?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto for 30+ years
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:51 am

Casti knowingly violated their use permit for a decade. There should be serious consequences for them. When people build homes in our neighborhood they have to meet requirements of building codes, house size etc. Casti should not be exempt from rules. Relative to their size and wealth, they contribute almost nothing to the community at large.


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Posted by Attack the school
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:58 am

The latest series of attacks on the school are center on two issues-- the claims that out of town girls are educated there ( the horror-- out of town students studying in palo alto-- bring up the draw bridge. The seconds claim is thatbthe school is wealthy and " contributes nothing to the community. IMHO, that is such an ignorant comment that no response is needed. Then we have a number of comments about foreign cars speeding through the area and people being told they are nt worthy of,working at the school-- none of these backed up by any facts.
Looks like the school has become the latest target of a small group of local residents who do not want anything to interfere with their perfect lives.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

One more point to the summary above, Castilleja knowingly violated its 2000 CUP enrollment cap for over a decade.


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Posted by Attack the school
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 21, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Pa neighbor-- did you read the story? The city has told the school what it must do regarding excess students and traffic. Apparentlynthismis not enough for,Stan shore, maybe he would like the school closed and the space replaced with housing ( which of course will not generate any traffic)


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Castilleja is an amazing school that graduates many of the best and brightest women in the Bay Area who go on to do great work. I only wish that Castilleja could enroll more girls and open a boys school as well. I am proud to live in town with a school that encourages its students to think critically and make a difference in the world. As a community, we should be looking at ways to expand rather than shrink schools like Castilleja.


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Posted by The Taliban doesn't want to educate girls, either
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm

To the neighbors: you all moved here knowing that the school was there. It's very disingenous of you to get upset because of an extra 50 students. I know you would like to see the school go away so your property values will increase. But what would you rather have there? More high density housing? Or another high-tech corporation that under pays its employees and has little off-street parking? Shame on all of you for casting stones at a place whose sole mission is to educate girls!! C'mon, lets stop being so jealous of the girls who are lucky enough to go there and get an first-class education. The surrounding communities do not have public high schools as good as ours. And no one has accurately quoted how many girls from Palo Alto attend that school. But every PA student that attends a private school saves the District a lot of money. And Castilleja gives out an awful lot of scholarships and provides work to local businesses and teachers. Would Old Palo Alto Resident want all of the schools and churches pay some sort of tax for the privilege of being in Palo Alto? You dissenters all amaze me.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 21, 2013 at 2:17 pm

The City is asking Casti to reduce their enrollment through attrition and enrolling less new students. There is no reason they need to extend offers to more than 60 girls to make ensure they have enough students, that is what wait lists are for. 60 used to be the incoming class size (and what is authorized by the City).

From Casti's standpoint more students = more income. From the neighborhoods standpoint, more students = more traffic, especially if a greater portion of the students come from out of Palo Alto.

Casti's mission is to educate girls. The City's mission is to make sure people follow the rules.


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Posted by neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I don't think the issue is whether Casti is a good school or a useful resource for potential students. It's simply one of how big a school fits into the neighborhood and how to handle a willful breach of the use permit. I haven't heard anyone ask to get rid of the school if it follows the rules. They used to be good, trustworthy neighbors, but that attitude seems to have disappeared.


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Posted by I read PA Weekly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 2:40 pm

"We owe our neighbors an apology," Kauffman said Thursday.

Web Link

"We were wrong to assume we could attempt to correct our non-compliance and also increase our enrollment, without first effectively managing the existing parking and traffic conditions that our neighbors deal with on a daily basis.

"But I hope the community won't lose sight of the fact that we informed the neighbors we were out of compliance because we wanted to make a correction."

The over-enrollment came about because more students than anticipated have accepted Castilleja's offers of admission, Kauffman said.

Web Link


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Posted by Stan Shore
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm

None of the neighbors are anti Castilleja. Castilleja has been in Palo Alto long before the neighbors. Castilleja is an outstanding school. No one wants Castilleja to leave the neighborhood. The neighbors simply want the school and the City to honor the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) that everyone (Castilleja, neighbors and the City) all agreed to in 2000. No bending the rules.

Stan Shore
For the neighbors of Castilleja


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Stan-- are your representing all the neighbors of the school? Many of the neighbors have posted that the school contributes nothing to the city and educates non- residents. Do you represent them and/or do you share their views?
Why are you against the proposal put forth by Mr. turner? I also think that if rules are to be followed, then all the hand made "no parking" signs need to be removed from the streets near the school. They are not city authorized, they represent a danger to,drivers and pedestrians and they are a form of litter.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2013 at 6:48 pm

I love the argument that Castilleja can do what they want because the school has been there longer than the current residents. My house is older than my neighbors I guess I should have the right to do what I want because neither they nor their houses have been there as long as my house! My neighbors should have known I didn't have to follow any rules when they moved there.

Buildings don't have voting rights. Employees don't have voting rights. Residents do.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 6:50 pm

The hand made "no parking" signs are a property of Castilleja School. They are distributed by the school at the start of each school year and then picked-up by the school crew at the end of the school year, repaired, and redistributed at the start of the following school year. Castilleja is always open to suggestions on how to make these signs more appealing. The CUP clearly outlines "No Castilleja Parking" streets as well as Castilleja's own website. Web Link


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:00 pm

So, the school has been taking steps to deal with the issues. From the comments on this site, you would think they encouraged parking on those streets!!!
But another question is, how can the people that are so concerned about the rules can expect to limit public parking on public streets.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm

[Portion removed.]

I live nearby and I've asked all my neighbors and none of us seem to have any problems. Let's get to the bottom of the disgruntled neighbor before any big pans are made.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

PA Parent - it seems that the petition was started by one gentleman & is also being distributed by 2 others - according to the article: "Stan Shore, a longtime resident of Kellogg Avenue, which borders the school, said Turner should have ordered the school to cut its enrollment to 415 by next September...
The petition, being circulated by Shore as well as nearby property owners Vic Befera and Michael Manneh, calls on the city to withdraw the school's use permit unless it cuts its enrollment from 448 to 415 by the start of the 2014-15 academic year."


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 21, 2013 at 7:56 pm

So, Stan, Vic and Michael are against the solution provided by Turner. They want to close the school. So why does Stan say he does not want to close the school when a solution has been worked out.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 27% Palo Alto students
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 9:22 pm

27%
Somebody asked regarding the number of Palo Alto girls
Web Link
scroll to the bottom and read Casti's letter to the city (pg 5)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 9:48 pm

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Neighbor for 2000 CUP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 21, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Stan speaks for a group of nearly fifty households around the school. We meet, we talk, we email each other, we meet with City Hall officials, we vote, we attend City Council meetings. Stan, Vic and Michael are great, but they do not deserve all the credit, it is a much bigger group effort. We are not picking on the girls, we simply want the school to act as a law abiding entity and comply with their contractual obligation to the city and its neighbors. 2000 CUP = 415 enrolled student
Web Link
Herhold: Last week, I went to a meeting at in the Castilleja cafeteria between school administrators and more than 50 neighbors who were -- well -- testy.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 21, 2013 at 11:06 pm

I'm trying to figure out why people think it's ok for Castilleja to violate their permit. They agreed to it, but now they don't think they need to abide by their agreement. What does that teach the students they are trying to educate? That the rules apply to everyone else? That you can break the rules in the name of whatever you consider to be a worthy cause?

I'm sure they lose a number of girls through attrition every year. Lower the number accepted for the incoming year. They can even the numbers out in one grade over the following years as others leave from the other grade levels. Not rocket science. I'm sure the school already has many plans as to how to solve the issue and are hoping to out wait the city. It's a tactic developers have been using succesfully for years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Michael Manneh - Kellogg Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:07 am

To the community:
My position and that of the neighbors surrounding Castilleja is for the City of Palo Alto to enforce the 2000 Conditional Use Permit (CUP). We have no desire to shut down Castilleja.

For all folks just getting up to speed on the contentious issues between Castilleja and our community, there are many moving parts that have taken a good amount of time to get my head around and not all moving parts have been made transparent to readers from this and previous articles. I.e. City requires Castilleja to post the paint cans and laminated signs around the perimeter of the school, as part of their CUP.

My neighbors and I are asking the City of Palo Alto to enforce the previously approved CUP of 415 students. Castilleja should be asking for "forgiveness, not permission" for breaking the law, not for one but ten+ years, reaping millions of dollars in excess revenue.

For two weeks in August 2013, the 200 block of Kellogg (made of concrete like many streets in Palo Alto) was broken up and repaired. The excess driving from buses and parents picking-up/dropping-off students kept many neighbors from being able to access their driveways and homes while repairs took place. Repairs were paid by our tax dollars.

REMINDER: Castilleja is one of the most profitable non-profit organizations and is exempt from income tax, pays $5k in real estate tax on their nearly 7 acre parcel, and has an endowment of over $50M. This is not Stanford University attracting visitors, families and other academics spending money on lodging and food and local dollars to our community.

I stand behind the statement that Castilleja is a highly respected academic institution for young women, it remains a commuter school, of which, 70% (+/-) are non-Palo Alto residents.

For Castilleja to regain the lost trust with the City of Palo Alto, most importantly the neighbors:
1. No increase in CUP. Not rewarding people for breaking the law.
2. A plan to get in conformance even if it takes one or two (NOT FIVE as the school desires) years through attrition and reduced future enrollment of middle and high school grades.

The CUP is placed to protect the integrity of the neighborhood while allowing the school to operate. Any increase in enrollment will only create greater challenges for the neighborhood and school to enforce parents who will have little to no regard for the CUP in order to ensure their daughters arrive to school on time. If I plan to expand my home, a permit process exists to protect my neighbors from encroachment. Castilleja maintaining its student enrollment and ability to operate under their permit is not different.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by shopping
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:51 am



"This is not Stanford University attracting visitors, families and other academics spending money on lodging and food and local dollars to our community.""

I wouldn't underestimate the shopping power of those Casti girls. I see packs of them at T&C and they are never empty handed.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:53 am

Neighbors turn up the heat on Castilleja
San Jose Mercury News Breaking NewsWeb Link


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Posted by Attack the school
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:12 am

Mr. Manner is playing fast and loose with the facts:
1) he blames the damage done to kellogg street on the school. Are they the only ones that use that street?
2) he also brings up the issue that the school is exempt from income tax and pays very little real estate tax. This is clearly an inflammatory statement, similar to previous ones on this thread, making it sound thatbthe school contributes nothing to the city. Are they breaking any laws by being tax exempt?
3) manner mentions not rewarding people for breaking the law-- the school is not breaking any law. The CUP is a permit, not a law. Manner makes it sund like the school are criminals

Regarding the mercury news story that oldsmobile alto linked to above, the story states that residents suspect that the board of trustees are influencing the city. Perhaps shaw and his cronies should provide proof for these claims instead of engaging is baseless accusations against the trustees


 +   Like this comment
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:46 am

So city use permits need not be complied with? And when they are violated, there should not be any corrective actions?

The neighbors' position is very reasonable: The school should comply with its use permit. Having knowingly violated its permit for 12 consecutive years and reaped the tuition rewards, the school's compliance should be enforced starting with the next school year.

There should be nothing controversial about that position. We all have to comply with the law, including city permits and regulations, on a daily basis. Castilleja is not an exception.


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Posted by Attack the school
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:50 am

PA resident-- the school has been fined and Mr Turner has come up with a plan. Has the school rejected the plan? Why do you say. That there is no corrective action?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by 100 Block Kellogg Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:29 am

As a resident of the 100 block of Kellogg Ave, a majority of the traffic is contrived of parents pickup and drop-off to the school.

The school is zoned R1, which is residential single-family housing. In order to operate on its location in Old Palo Alto, the City of Palo Alto requires a permit. Breaking the permit is breaking the law. Plain and Simple.


Posted by Attack the school, a resident of Stanford
1 hour ago
Mr. Manner is playing fast and loose with the facts:
1) he blames the damage done to kellogg street on the school. Are they the only ones that use that street?
2) he also brings up the issue that the school is exempt from income tax and pays very little real estate tax. This is clearly an inflammatory statement, similar to previous ones on this thread, making it sound thatbthe school contributes nothing to the city. Are they breaking any laws by being tax exempt?
3) manner mentions not rewarding people for breaking the law-- the school is not breaking any law. The CUP is a permit, not a law. Manner makes it sund like the school are criminals

Regarding the mercury news story that oldsmobile alto linked to above, the story states that residents suspect that the board of trustees are influencing the city. Perhaps shaw and his cronies should provide proof for these claims instead of engaging is baseless accusations against the trustees


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:32 am

At the moment, there is no City-approved plan for going-forward compliance. Castilleja has submitted a proposed "plan." The City has yet to respond to Castilleja's proposal, but will do so within the next 2 weeks. Castilleja's "plan" would allow Castilleja to remain in violation of its use permit for 5 more years (on top of the 12 years it has already been in violation), with no reduction in enrollment whatsoever for the 2014-15 school year, so that Castilleja will continue to be out of compliance by 33 students through at least June 2015. That is not a reasonable or appropriate plan to comply with legal obligations, simply an effort to delay and avoid compliance. The petition is the response of the neighbors to Castilleja's proposed "plan," asking the City to reject it.


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Posted by Online Shopping
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:48 am

Palo Alto High School is an open campus and during lunch, their students spend money at Town & Country every day. Casti has lunch made for their students daily as part of their meal plan.

The spending power of Casti students is minuscule compared to the spending power of visitors and Stanford community members for the Big Game, graduation, homecoming, alumni week etc.


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Posted by Attack the school
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:10 am

100 block-- the pickup and drop off occurs during very limited and specific time windows . And only on school days. Is the street empty the Ernest ofthe day and on weekends. And since the school is about 30 students over the limit, that would be a limited impact. Blaming the school for the state of the street is a bt much.

A permit is not a law, it is a permit. No criminal charges can be brought for not adhering to the permit. Stop trying to make it sound like the school is engaged in criminal activity.

PA resident- true, there is no plan currently, but there is a plan on the table from the city. Let's see what comes of that.


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Posted by Neighbor for 2000 CUP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:52 am

Castilleja is a wonderful neighbor to have, they keep their property tidy, they leave for the holidays, and for the most part, they attend to their own business. I like having them in the neighborhood, nonetheless, they need to live by the rules of the land. They are zones as a residential house and were given permission to operate as a boarding school many decades ago. The school is still listed as a house, but was permitted to change their status as a commuter only school provided that they adhere to the city conditional use permit. I want Castilleja to stay in this location for another 100 years and, therefore, I kindly ask them to revert back to their contractual obligation as outlined in 2000 CUP. Although breaking a contract is not a criminal offense and no one will go to jail over this. Still it is an educational institution that suppose to influence future girls of character. As of now, Castilleja is acting like a bully that knows it will not go to jail and paying a fine is a tiny fraction of the financial return they receive by enrolling the extra girls. This is civil violation, which means, much more bad publicity, petitions, lawyers, possible lawsuits against our own city, board of trustees depositions and public discoveries and disclosures. Castilleja, please get back into compliance. The ATTACK THE SCHOOL, a resident of Stanford a comments poster, is not looking out for the school's best interest, it is probably a developer who wants to incite the neighbors to say that we do not want Castilleja here. I speak for many neighbors, we are glad to have a school in our neighborhood, just please be a little nicer to us and follow the rules.


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Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:30 am

How infuriating that only 27% of Castilleja students are Palo Altans. Move it to Portola Valley so we don't have to deal with the traffic. Our PAUSD traffic is just going to get worse in the coming years. All they need is to ask for donations from families and they can build a superb campus elsewhere.


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Posted by Neighbor for 2000 CUP
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:52 am

Not one single neighbor, not even once suggested that Castilleja School should relocate. The school has been here for over 100 years, have become a little over bloated in the last decade, but can easily come back to size. A split campus is not a bad idea if the school sees itself as a bigger educational institution, but ultimately, we are neighbors and we want Castilleja to continue being our neighbor, just a little better neighbor, one that follows the agreed upon contractual obligations. And, yes, enroll more Palo Alto girls to benefit our community.


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Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

If I am reading the facts correctly, the neighbors of Castilleja are simply asking that the school comply with their Conditional Use Permit that was approved in 2000. No one seems to be against Castilleja. This should be a no brainer issue. All Castilleja has to do is apologize to the neighbors and tell the city that beginning with the next school year the school will be in compliance with their Conditional Used Permit. Is there something I do not understand?

Castilleja, are you reading this? My recommendation is for the school to advise the city that the schools enrollment will be in compliance next year with their agreement. What is all the fuss?


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Posted by Opinion999
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 12:25 pm

One reason Castilleja may not attract Palo Alto girls is that the city has excellent public schools. Often families opt for private education when their local schools are not up to par, or they choose to live in less expensive cities so that they can afford private education. Giving the school just one year to come into compliance would cause hardship to current students and their families. Clearly each class must exceed its limit by a few students. The current agreement that the school has made with Palo Alto allows those students to complete their Castilleja education. All students and families at the school are deeply invested academically, socially, and financially in Castilleja. The school could opt a half-sized 6th grade next year, but this would not be fair to them as that class would lack the social diversity and classroom dynamics that is such an integral part of this all-girls education. For a use-permit of 415 girls, and 7 class years, the magic number is 59 per class. Give the school time to reach that number without disrupting the lives and education of its current and future students! Also, the school has a new shuttle bus system, traffic guards, and special-event parking arrangements, so the neighborhood should be seeing both immediate and long term relief.


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Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Gunn High School
on Nov 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Castilleja should reduce its enrollment easily by next year and not spread it out over many years. CITY SHOULD ENFORCE THIS!


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Casti should not be forced to kick out students. However they should:

Enroll only 59 incoming 6th grade girls for 2014-2015 and for ALL subsequent years. Do not send acceptance letters to any more then 59 girls. Period. Start a wait list just like a college.

Do NOT replace any students that leave. Period. Until Casti is at 415 students.

Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, fine them $38,600 per student for every student they are over the limit.


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

Casti should not be forced to kick out students. However they should:

Enroll only 59 incoming 6th grade girls for 2014-2015 and for ALL subsequent years. Do not send acceptance letters to any more then 59 girls. Period. Start a wait list just like a college.

Do NOT replace any students that leave. Period. Until Casti is at 415 students.

Starting in the 2014-2015 school year, fine them $38,600 per student for every student they are over the limit.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Give the school time? The school has been in violation of its use permit for 12 consecutive years. And not just by 1 or 2 students. As you say, the school is in violation by more than half of a grade, 33 students! Now the school wants 5 more years to come into compliance, with no reduction at all in the 2014-15 school year. That is not a reasonable good faith effort to comply. I might have more sympathy for your position if Castilleja had made a reasonable and responsible proposal to come into compliance, not one that appears calculated to further avoid its legal obligations for many years into the future.


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Posted by Mike Alexander
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Nov 22, 2013 at 2:16 pm

The Conditional Use Permit (CUP) is the mechanism by which the City allows uses that don't conform to the zone in which they are located. Its very purpose is to protect the public and especially the neighbors. The law doesn't allow the Planning Director or City Council to issue a CUP unless it is shown to be "not detrimental or injurious to property or improvements in the vicinity, and will not be detrimental to the public health, safety, general welfare, or convenience (PAMC 18.76.010(c)(1))."

In my opinion, the City can only measure the success of a CUP by hearing from the neighbors. In this case the petitioners, in trying to defend their welfare and convenience against unfair intrusion, appear to be representative, reasonable, and well within their rights.


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Posted by Opinion999
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm

PA Resident - That is not what I wrote. I wrote "EACH CLASS" exceeds its limit by a few students adding up to 33. None of the families who enrolled their child knew about the CUP, etc. (No one knew until Castilleja itself made it public last July) Why should students be kicked out and denied the education that they are working so hard to achieve, that there parents are working so hard to afford? The student population will decrease as students graduate, and new enrollment is capped at 59 per class. To demand an immediate reduction would cause undue hardship to the girls and their families.


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm

The daily post stated today that mr turner feels it would be unfair to demand an immediate reduction. That would involve expelling current students, which is not fair. But that is what shore et al are demanding. Too bad.
And why are people still harping about how much money the school has and how many students are from outside of Palo Alto? The pettiness of some people is amazing.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm

Scratching my head in disbelief, kicking girls out of school, closing a school school sounds overboard. Ok the school did wrong, but not the girls, blame the school.

I wonder how many kids attend private schools not inside Palo Alto, I wonder how many of you work outside of Palo Alto.


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Posted by Neighbors of Castilleja
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm

No neighbor or anyone else ever implied or said that the school should expel 30 students. The neighbors never implied that we want to punish the students or the parents that had nothing to do with the over enrollment. These are incorrect statements made by Steven Turner that need to be retracted from the Daily Post. Steven Turner is creating a non existing problem.

The neighbors position is very simple. The school normally enrolls 60-65 new students each year. To correct next year's over enrollment the school need only enroll 30-35 new students. No one needs to be expelled. No parents or students need to be punished. Reducing "new" student enrollment has been repeatedly suggested to the school and to staff, but Castilleja is not listening.

Steven Turner of the city of Palo Alto has not explained to the community why the city cannot require the school to enroll 33 less "new students" beginning with the 2014-15 school year. 33 less "new" students would bring the school into immediate compliance with their Conditional Use Permit.

We the 50+ Castilleja neighbors want the city to require Castilleja to reduce the number of new entering enrollments by 33 students beginning the 2014 school year. NO students need be expelled.


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Posted by Stan Shore
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

James Keene, City Manager City of Palo Alto
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301

NEIGHBORS OF CASTILLEJA
Distribution: Hand delivered to City Manager's Office and the City Council. SUBJECT: Enclosed Daily Post article seriously incorrect.
Dear Mr. Keene,
Enclosed November 22, 2013 , Daily Post article is seriously incorrect.
Our concern is that the city will make a decision based on incorrect information.
No neighbor or anyone else ever implied or said that the school should expel 30 students. The neighbors never implied that we want to punish the students or the parents that had nothing to do with the over enrollment. These are incorrect statements made by Steven Turner that need to be retracted from the newspaper.
Steven Turner's comments...
"It would mean that they would essentially have to expel 30-some odd girls from the school immediately. It's not the parents' fault and it's not the girls' fault that the school didn't abide by its' (permit). It's not realistic or in many people's best interest to require the school to comply immediately,"
The neighbors position is very simple. The school normally enrolls 60-65 new students each year. To correct next year's over enrollment the school need only enroll 30-35 students. No one needs to be expelled. No parents or students need to be punished. Reducing "new" student enrollment has been repeatedly suggested to the school and to staff, but no one is listening.
Steven has not explained to the community why the city cannot require the school to enroll 33 less "new students" beginning with the 2014-15 school year. 33 less "new" students would bring the school into immediate compliance with the Conditional Use Permit.
We the 50+ Castilleja neighbors want the city to require Castilleja to reduce new entering enrollment by 33 students beginning the 2014 school year. NO students should be expelled.
Sincerely,
Stan Shore
for concerned Neighbors of Castilleja c.c. City Council


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Opinion 999: NO ONE, not a single neighbor, has suggested kicking kids out of school. Castilleja can easily come into compliance with its legal obligations starting next year by accepting fewer new students. There seems to be a concerted effort by the pro-Castilleja forces to grossly misrepresent the neighbors' position, which is a very reasonable one, asking nothing more than Castilleja comply with its legal obligations. Castilleja can readily do so without any hardship to current students by reducing new admissions. If Castilleja feels strongly that it needs more than 1 year to comply, then 2 years might be a basis for compromise, but 5 years is absurd. Castilleja violated its use permit for 12 consecutive years, and violated it to the tune of 33 students over the permitted cap, which is a very large overenrollment. Castilleja should accept responsibility and demonstrate to its students the leadership qualities it presumably would like them to emulate. Instead, Castilleja refuses to reduce enrollment by even one student for the 2014-15 school year. That neither demonstrates contrition, nor acceptance of responsibility, after having been found in repeated violation of legal obligations.


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Neighbors of castilleja and Stan shore have posted the exact same comment. I reject mr shores demand. It is unreasonable and damaging to the school. The idea to reduce admissions to 59 over the nest few years, together with the new traffic mitigating steps that the school has taken should address the concerns made by shore and his group.
I think that mr shore and his group are being unreasonable and overly demanding, leading me to think that they want the school to leave Palo Alto. In addition, members of shores group continually bring up the schools wealth and the issue of non- residents being educated at the school. I think they have issues with that as well which is coloring their view of the school.
Finally, I call on shore to address his comments in the mercury news, where he stated the the board of trustees were exerting their influence on the city to delay a remedy to the problem. I ask shore to provide us with his evidence for this.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 7:27 pm

Close the School: Your plan is even more lenient than Castilleja's. Under your plan it would take 6+ more years for Castilleja to comply with its use permit. That would make 18 consecutive years of non-compliance with a legal obligation. Respectfully, your position is not reasonable.


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Posted by Opinion999
a resident of another community
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Mr. Shore - are you demanding that the school enroll an incoming 6th grade class half the size of all the other classes (7-12)? This would offer those students an entirely different education than the one experienced by the older grades. Furthermore it would affect, even end, some of the current programs at the school. Classes would be eliminated, sports programs would get cut, clubs would fold due to under-enrollment. Teachers would have to cut hours or even be fired. It would disrupt the mission of the school, and the dynamic of the school community too. Your demands would leave a deep scar on the school and its current students. Could you give the school a chance to fully implement its new traffic policies and graduated enrollment reduction before you call for its head to roll?

I am sympathetic to your frustration with traffic, but how can you be sure it is all caused by Castilleja? Many cars use the streets in that neighborhood as a short cut to Alma, PALY, and El Camino. Have you considered asking for speed bumps?


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Posted by Rebekah Kleiner
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm

I do not want to see Castilleja close her doors. If I had daughters I would love to send them there. I like to consider myself as a good neighbor with a good fence. Castilleja's headmaster and colleagues need to work with Stan Shore and his neighbors to solve a complex problem with a simple solution: decrease enrollment for the incoming class and abide by the Conditional Use Permit (CUP). This definitely can be accomplished in less than the five years that Castilleja proposes - two to three years MAX to accomplish this feat.

When remodeling our homes here in Palo Alto, we adhere to paying for building permits otherwise we get fined heavily. It is only fair that we play by the same rules set forth by the City of Palo Alto for CUPs, building permits, permit parking, etc.


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Posted by Janet Nakabayashi
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:41 pm

Opinion 999: Speed Bumps are a great idea! Unfortunately, the City of Palo Alto Department of Traffic has been reluctant in placing stop signs at the two-way stop intersections of Kellogg and Bryant and Kellogg and Emerson. These bicycle thoroughfares have been a high-risk area of contention with both neighbors and Castilleja. Both parties have begged and asked the city department of traffic to fix this problem. If the city has been reluctant in replacing the two-way stops into four-way stops, I doubt they would consider putting in speed bumps. You can thank our department of planning.

As a parent of two young children and neighbor of Castilleja, I want my children to enjoy riding their bikes in the street to and from school. Excess students = excess pick-ups and drop-offs, more than our neighborhood can handle for this school. That is simply why the permit was instated for 415 student in 2000.


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Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 22, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Given how schools work in terms of staffing and class size, it is unreasonable to ask that Castilleja immediately comply with its size limit by halving the incoming class or by kicking students out.

So, yes, if Castilleja adjusts its population gradually, it will be out of strict compliance for a few more years, but by less each year.

Yes, Casti should have watched its enrollment, but given that there is a reasonable solution in place I think the I-want-it-all-now attitude of the neighbors comes off as a bit overly entitled.

Sorry, an extra 30 students isn't a huge deal--or haven't you noticed what's been happening to our public schools over the past several years? Any one of them would be grateful to only have gone up by 5 students a year.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 22, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Opinion 999: I seriously doubt that reducing enrollment will have the dramatic negative impact that you predict. There are many fine private schools that are smaller than Castilleja. There is nothing magic about 64 students per grade.

However, I have this suggestion to both you and to Castilleja: If you think that compliance within 1 year is unreasonable, propose a reasonable compromise plan, perhaps 2 years, maybe even 3 at the most. That is what Castilleja has not done. 5 more years, after 12 years of non-compliance, is not reasonable. Refusing to reduce enrollment by even one student in 2014-15 is not reasonable. If Castilleja were to act responsibly, and not only based on self-interest, I suspect that it would find receptive neighbors ready and willing to work with it.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 23, 2013 at 8:33 am

I am not affected by this personally in any way. Castilleja needs to comply with the law, period. They knowingly created the over-enrollment problem, and now they need to do a mea culpa and fix it. Period.


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Posted by Snotz
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:04 am

Cast is so arrogant and flaunts the fact that they have gotten away with breaking the law for so many years! They deserve a huge fine that will actually put a dent on their wallet, like one million dollars!

After that,,they can raise their tuition, like most other private schools have to some really absurd amount, like $60,000 per year. That will drop their enrollment down to legality.

If they can't be good neighbors. Stop imposing on the neighborhood and comply with the law they agreed to, they can move elsewhere and some nice, single family homes can be built on the property--or maybe a nice park!


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Posted by making sense
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

The idea that preferencing Palo Alto girls will reduce traffic comes from the same delusional thinking that would have us believe large dense developments will do anything but cause gridlock. Unless those girls all come from a limited area near the school, they will create as much traffic as girls from outlying areas. We have friends whose girls go to Castilleja via a bus they take from Los Alto - the busses reduce traffic, and is no less needed for Palo Alto girls as from other areas.


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Posted by Kellogg Ave
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Web Link

"Castilleja has not been able to meet what's been an incredibly increased demand for our school, particularly at the high-school level," Kauffman said, adding that it's "truly sad" how many qualified girls the school cannot accept.

In addition, new revenue is needed to meet the cost of offering a top-notch program which, in today's world, includes computer science, Mandarin, digital fabrication and a strong arts component, she said.

I would like to offer my analysis (for free ..... you are welcome): Castilleja wants to grow its high school, yet their attrition at the entry level from eighth grade to ninth is very low so only a handful or less of new girls come to the school at that point of transition.

Increase your high school grades from current 64 to 75 so that would be 300 girls in high school, and make each middle school class of 40. This way you will have new faces coming into 9th grade and it would be much healthier and less stagnating to be practically with the same group of girls for all seven years. This a gradual plan over three years and will be fully functional thereafter.

Start next year with 40 incoming 6th grade girls and continue thereafter, but starting in 2015/16 you can begin expand the 9th grade.

No problem to be in compliance by 2014/15 school year if the school follows my suggested analysis.


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Posted by Opinion999
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I am skeptical that all the traffic woes in this neighborhood are entirely the cause of Castilleja and its 33 extra students, especially now the school is running shuttle bus lines. Traffic has increased all around Palo Alto and the Bay Area due to the recovering economy and new housing. The streets around Castilleja are used by many cars as a short cut between Embarcadero and Alma. Also, the whole area becomes a parking lot on Stanford football game days, but no complaints about that ever surface.

I fully agree that the school should reduce its student population to bring into compliance with the permit. I disagree that the school should drastically alter its educational program in response to a more broad traffic issue. The neighbors seem to have put their teeth into Castilleja's error and are using that as a scapegoat for a problem that all Bay Area residents are having to deal with.


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I agree with your assessment, opinion999. Shore et al are being unreasonable and overly demanding. They cannot even wait until the city decides how to handle the matter. I am wondering if there are more sinister motives at play here, with shore and his clique as the front men.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Opinion 999: If you "fully agree that the school should reduce its student population to come into compliance with the permit," then you fully agree with the neighbors. That is all we want. Nothing sinister. We will be quite satisfied to deal with the broader Bay Area traffic problems, so long as Castilleja coexists as the honest law-abiding good neighbor it has not been for the last 12 straight years.

There is no reason Castilleja can't comply with its legal obligations soon. If not in 1 year, then 2 years. But the reductions must start in 2014-15, and must be completed within a reasonable period (not 5 years).


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Posted by Opinion999
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I refer you to my other comments above.


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2013 at 4:59 pm

For some reason, the people that ate part of the shore group are trying to paint the school as lawbreakers ( see pa resident above s an example) . The school is not breaking any law, they are in violation of a permit. There can be no criminal case brought against the school. There is a big difference, which the anti- school people choose to ignore in their zeal to paint the school in a bad light.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 5:16 pm

To the students posters above, 999 and Close: do your own debate and journalism classes homework and stop asking that we guide you to the answers. Castilleja teaches you curiosity and research skills so go and do your own statutes research and look-up definitions of "abiding the law". Now that you are back from Stanford/Cal game, do some school work so you can be the leaders of tomorrow as your school logo states.


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Posted by Close the school
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Parent-- I am not a " student" . Sorry to disappoint you. Are you one of the disgruntled neighbors? What is the real motive behind your attack on the school? You need to become familiar with what a "law" is and is not. A permit is not a law. I think most people understand that concept. But it is much more convenient for you and others to label the school as ". Lawbreakers". that way your cause sounds legitimate to you. Are you also upset that most of the students are not from Palo Alto? Are you upset that the school has a large endowment? Are you upset that the school does not pay much in taxes? Do you feel that the school contributes nothing to the city?


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Posted by Mon Dieu!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 6:17 pm

Forgive my ignorance as I'm no expert, but my understanding is that a permit is required to meet certain criteria and safety concerns in relation to requirements such as zoning, environmental, and building. For example, as a homeowner, I am required to pull a permit if I have work done on my home. I hire a licensed contractor to do the work because he knows and abides by the codes. If I were not to pull a permit, I not only place my dwelling in danger (and those living underneath it!), but if the city were to discover this, I am slapped with a fine and immediately ordered to pay double the permit price. Meanwhile, the contractor will be turned over to the boards, placing their business in jeopardy, and fined.

I know this scenario is not entirely translatable to a school, but the city would not hesitate to make sure I act immediately on my home for any major repairs sans permit. Why is Castilleja any different? At the end of the day, all the excuses aside (traffic, taxes or lack there of, etc), Castilleja, as one would expect, should move quickly to correct their decade-old violation just like any of their Old Palo Alto neighbors would for not abiding by the practices behind a permit. It's for our safety (the community which includes Castilleja) and the protection of these surroundings.

In light of being diplomatic, I won't name names, but many of you have a je ne sais quoi about you. I suggest you take a break and have a glass of wine. Thank you and good day.


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Posted by Opinion999
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2013 at 6:18 pm

...also not a student.


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Posted by Casti neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Why is this dispute over 30 girls getting so much coverage? The enrollment at Ohlone has increased by 100+ in the last 4 years and not o e single neighbor has made a peep. How can 30 girls cause such a freak out?


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 23, 2013 at 10:16 pm

Close the School: There are many laws that are not criminal laws. Zoning laws, for example. A conditional use permit enables a municipality to allow special uses within a zoning district. Use permits are legal obligations. That is why the City of Palo Alto fined Castilleja $300,000 -- for violating its legal obligations to the City over a period of many years. True, it is not criminal, but it certainly is not conduct that Castilleja should be proud of.


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Posted by Juggler
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 24, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I admire the courage of the neighborhood leaders. Just like Maybell, the neighbors were asking that the landowner simply comply with zoning regulations. Here, the Castilleja neighbors are asking the same. Yet, like in Maybell, distractors cast aspirations on neighborhood leaders (e.g., elitists, want to close school, etc.). Stand tall and press forward neighborhood leaders! There are many in other neighborhoods that wholeheartedly support your reasonable approach: comply with the zoning permit and reduce school by 33 promptly. The Maybell election win has taught PA citizens that (1) City Staff/Council are totally out of touch with citizens, (2) citizens are smart and aren't swayed by propaganda (e.g., S. Turner's claims, NIMBY in Maybell), (3) citizens want rules and laws followed, and (4) if you want change, seek it and make it happen for your neighborhood because it is possible.


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Posted by Let's Get Real
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:15 am

First they came for the car dwellers and I did not object.
Then they came for the apartment dwellers and I did not object.
Then they came for the shoppers and downtown workers and I did not object.
Then they came for the low income seniors and I did not object.
Now they have come for the Castilleja girls....

No one may be allowed to drive or park on the streets in Palo Alto except the monied residents.

You have effectively dealt with those of us who you have deemed unworthy and now you are turning on yourselves.


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Posted by Perspective, Please
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:55 am

I am taken aback by the emotional nerve Castilleja's over-enrollment has stuck in what should be a mutually supportive community. We are talking about 33 girls, which is 8% more than allowed under Castilleja's CUP, amounting to 4 or 5 girls per grade. Instead of 59 or 60 girls per grade, they average 64.

Clearly, Castilleja is in the wrong. We don't know what prompted the creep, or why it wasn't caught and corrected earlier. Someone at Castilleja should be held accountable. However, to assume Castilleja's motivation was strictly greed, as some posters claim as fact is presumptuous and casts aspersions on a school that has long been a good community citizen.

More so, the raving comments about educating kids from out of the community are ridiculous. Have those posters considered the number of Palo Alto students who go to Menlo, Sacred Heart or Bellermine, to name just a few private schools outside the City limits? Surely it is far more than the number of "out-of-towners" who attend Castilleja.

To those concerned about potholes repaired at taxpayer expense, do you honestly think that transporting 33 girls a year -- some of whom must be siblings or were already part of carpools -- actually caused the pavement to buckle? If so, there must be some pretty extravagant desserts being served in the cafeteria.

And to all of those who commented on the wealth of the families who attend Castilleja, all I can say, is PLEASE. If you look at the colleges that Castilleja grads go to, it will be readily apparent that Castilleja students are far more likely to intelligent, hard working and talented than they are to be from "rich" families. Without a doubt, there are girls from privileged families at Castilleja, but probably no more so than at every other school in Palo Alto.

The question going forward is how to get Castilleja into compliance with their CUP. It is comforting to read that the petitioners are not demanding that current students be ejected. However, I think that a reasonable person would see the shortcomings of cutting 33 from next year's incoming class of sixth graders. Instead of 59 or 60 girls, this class would only admit 27. However, the following year, the incoming class would be back up to 59 or 60. The implications of having one skinny class for seven years are vast, both for the girls in that class and the rest of the school. A prior poster described these quite well.

A much more reasonable approach would be to bring incoming class sizes down for the next few years, so compliance is reached, but on a more gradual scale. The school's proposal may be too long, but surely the Draconian demand for immediate compliance is unreasonably rigid.

Being good neighbors goes two ways. Absolutely, Castilleja was wrong. They need to make proper amends, and fix the problem going forward. However, the neighborhood does itself no favors by posting disparaging comments and unfounded accusations, nor by adhering to a completely inflexible stance of immediate compliance. Thirty-three girls is not the end of the world. Surely, these issues can be resolved in mutually agreeable fashion.


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Posted by Casti Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:57 am

The over enrollment problem is a clear violation of the 2000 Conditional Use Permit, the neighbors' property rights are being violated and the city needs to defend them.


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Posted by Really?
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 11:53 am

I live in the neighborhood, and drive by often. Castilleja is on break this week; the parking on the school side of the street is minimal today. However, it is almost fully parked on the resident side. As for the pot holes, perhaps we should look at all the heavy construction equipment in the neighborhood. Perhaps the neighbors are jumping too quickly to blame all their perceived ills on Castilleja.


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Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Web Link "Castilleja has not been able to meet what's been an incredibly increased demand for our school, particularly at the high-school level," Kauffman said, adding that it's "truly sad" how many qualified girls the school cannot accept.

In addition, new revenue is needed to meet the cost of offering a top-notch program which, in today's world, includes computer science, Mandarin, digital fabrication and a strong arts component, she said.

In response to Perspective, Please, a resident of Menlo Park: Even if the process of reducing enrollment is spread over two or three years, in the long run, Castillija still has an issue at their high school level. It is hard to stay competitive and offer a good mix of electives choices with such a tiny high school student body. A split campus is inevitable for the survival of this institution. They have adjusted to the new trends before and converted a dorm school into a commuter school and they may need to change again.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Perspective please: Raving comments? In this thread alone Castilleja's neighbors have been compared to the Taliban, characterized as being opposed to the education of girls, accused of "sinister" motives, and called elitist and jealous, among other things. All because they are asking that Castilleja simply comply with its legal obligations, just like all of the rest of us have to do. I think we can agree on one thing, perspective indeed is needed.

As I have said earlier in this thread, if Castilleja were to offer a reasonable proposal toward full CUP compliance within 1-3 years -- which it has not done -- I suspect Castilleja would find a very receptive group of neighbors willing to work together with it as partners.


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Posted by Janet L
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 25, 2013 at 12:46 pm

If the issue is car traffic and car parking, then the solution is to find ways to deal with the cars. Limit parking, demand that students and teachers use alternate transportation.

Don't limit how many girls can get a quality education because of cars.


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Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm

What's relevant: 1. Casti violated its CUP and, before all this hubbub, was planning to apply to expand the number of allowed students (which they have since, at least for now, put off). There should be consequences that are meaningful to Castilleja financially 2. The neighborhood cannot easily absorb further expansion of the school. 3. I haven't seen or heard anyone asking to expel students already enrolled. 4. It would be nice if Casti opened up what appear to be interesting lectures and discussions to the public.

What is not relevant. 1. Where the students come from. 2. How wealthy they are. 3. Castilleja's finances except how it affects #1 in the relevant section.


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Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 1:33 pm

A neighbor, a resident of Old Palo Alto: If Casti opened up their lectures to the public, there would be even more traffic and parking issues around the campus and they would not have enough seating for their own students, parents, and staff in the auditorium. These events are a part of their budget line and are very expensive. Besides, just like any other neighbor having an event, they have a right to chose whom they will invite. All the great speakers they entertain, also speak at other venues, sometimes at the companies and those are only open to the company employees, and other times at the paid ticket venues. Check out the speaker's websites for more information.

What you find as not relevant, lets just say not relevant to you. Castilleja is a private business that educates students for a fee, yet contributes basically nothing back to Palo Alto. Opening more spaces specifically to Palo Alto girls would help our public schools with current over enrollment. It woudl also reduce traffic since many would be able to bike or walk or take our free city shuttle.

Castilleja needs to comply with its legal obligations, just like all of the rest of us have to do.


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Posted by A neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 2:28 pm

to Old PA Resident: I agree that Casti is not obliged to open its events to the public. It would be just a nice way to contribute to PA. Also increasing the % of palo alto resident students would also be a way to contribute to the City. Intermittent heavy parking is different from daily heavy traffic and parking. I don't think there is much objection to, for example, parking and traffic around the Gamble Garden Center. These are intermittent events and the Center offers a great benefit to the community on an ongoing basis. If Casti wants to expand, they can split the lower and upper class schools and have them at different sites.


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Posted by Perspective, Please
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 25, 2013 at 2:32 pm

To PA Resident, the petition Mr. Shore is circulating is not consistent with your multi-year view. To quote the petition:

"Neighbors want the CUP enforced immediately (i.e. reduce students to 415 at the beginning of the next academic year)"

If you are a neighbor, in addition to being a PA resident, I would suggest sharing your longer-term thoughts on CUP compliance with Mr. Shore and those who live nearby, since it might help achieve a more amicable resolution.

As a side note, my use of the term, "raving" was in connection to comments about Castilleja students being from beyond PA's city limits, not something I believe you posted. I made no mention of the Taliban or anything sinister. If you want to call me out for what you see as an inflammatory adjective, then please be specific to my post. There are far more than two people participating in this forum, and I am only accountable for my own comments.

And to Old Palo Alto Resident, I tend to agree with you, but that is for another article and forum.


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Posted by to clarify
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I'll jump in ...... there were posts all weekend long (many have been removed since) calling the neighbors all the things PA Resident mentioned in his/her post above.

Most of us are willing to work with the school to be in compliance in one to three years.


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Posted by to clarify
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Just to add to what I said above, one to three years to come to compliance but pay a fine to the city per every over enrolled student during that time.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Perspective please: Sorry, it was not my intent to call you out. I was simply asking you to consider that there has been plenty of raving to go around, including raving directed toward the Castilleja neighbors. I did not mean to suggest or imply that any of the raving was coming from you.

Mr. Shore's petition is a response to the position taken by Castilleja. Castilleja's position, after 12 consecutive years of non-compliance, is no reduction in enrollment whatsoever in 2014-15, and 5 years to come into CUP compliance. Castilleja's position is so unreasonable as to be a non-starter. Mr. Shore's view is that Castilleja has a legal obligation, and that it must promptly comply with it. He is entitled to that view, as are the other neighbors, and I don't think their position is unreasonable. However, in the interest of compromise, I could certainly see a solution whereby full CUP compliance is achieved within 2 years, 3 at the most.


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Posted by Oh Well
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Just another issue for Palo Alto residents, or so called neighbors, to complain about in a long list of grievances they find intolerable....What a pity!


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Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

It is good to have a community forum to kvetch, still, Castilleja needs to comply with its legal obligations, just like the rest of us have to do. Enjoy your turkey and Happy New Year!


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Posted by PA Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 9:28 pm

It is a shame that the Weekly is letting this disgruntled neighbor play out his grievances in such a public way. 100 comments over a permit violation that directly impacts only a few blocks in Old Palo Alto. Why does this permit violation and this angry neighbor deserve front page coverage for days on end? Clearly a litigious neighbor and an out of compliance school do not represent Palo Alto at it's finest. Palo ALto Weekly, let the neighbors conduct business privately.


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Posted by Response to PA Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Dear PA Mom:
This issue doesn't only comprise the voice of one disgruntled neighbor as you discuss. Shore's comments are shared by over 50 neighbors within the school perimeter regarding Castilleja's violation of their CUP. His sentiment is echoed by others on the forum within Palo Alto as a whole and not just within a few streets of the school. More importantly, the principle of allowing the school to violate the permit for over a decade and continue without immediate reduction sets a double standard for those of us who follow the laws in our community. Non-profit, school, charity or business establishment, we all apply for permits, conditional and/or building and are required to abide by the rules. Why should the school be any different. Our City is now being run by dovish staff that are bowing to the demands of developers, than honoring the voice of our local citizens. A perfect example is the Maybell issue, Measure D. The city is out of touch with our community and we deserve to all be treated equitably.


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Posted by Another Response to PA Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 10:49 pm

You asked, "Why does this permit violation and this angry neighbor deserve front page coverage for days on end?" Because you and many others are reading about it. You were #105 poster, so you not only read the article 5 days after it was written, but most likely also read many of the comments and took the time to post a view-point. You are a contributing reason this is on the front page of the local news. If you don't read and comment, the popularity of this on-line article will drop and it will no longer be the front page news on Paloaltoonline.com

Castilleja needs to comply with its legal obligations, just like all of the rest of us have to do.


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Posted by Native Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm

More than a hundred years ago, David Starr Jordan as head of Stanford asked Miss Lockey to start a school to prepare more female students for Stanford which local schools both public and private were not producing. So, anyone complaining about Castilleja's existence, please first point fingers at Stanford.

The school was started in a cow pasture dotted with oaks owned by the Seale family on a not-so-desirable piece of land near the noisy train tracks and a soon to be very busy road. About the same time, the Seale family did a subdivision around the school. They wanted it to be the "fancy" part of town. Only single family houses were to be allowed. All to be quality ones, no teeny tiny tar paper shacks. No brewing of intoxicating beverages. No smelly businesses. No stables. No hotels. Read your deeds neighbors! And, do watch out if you violate them. The Seale family can take back your land for a single violation. Home brewers, Air b-2-b users, and chicken keepers: beware!

But, Castilleja was already there. She was, shall we say, grandmothered into that new subdivision and all its rules a well as after the eventual annexation to the City of Palo Alto with its ever shifting zoning. Single family R-1 today, maybe a PUD with required low income housing in the next decade.... Or maybe a new multi-use zone near a high speed mass transit station at Embarcadero-Churchill?

A hundred years from now, virtually everyone reading this thread will be long dead and gone. The sad story of Castilleja discovering and disclosing a use permit violation while trying to expand its student body a few percentage points will be long forgotten. By 2113, Casti will most likely have slowly purchased more nearby parcels to be able to offer more students more eduational choices and faculty nearby housing options.

Hmmm.... maybe Casti will start an animal husbandry class complete with chickens? Fresh eggs everyday anyone? A small farm garden? Maybe the use permit one day will allow the school to let neighbors use its pool, gym and gardens when school is not is session. Maybe it will once again have tennis courts? And a soccer field complete with doggie poop bag stations for neighbors' use. Right now such "intense" use of school facilities by non-students is strictly forbidden by the use permit because in the recent past some neighbors and/or City staff thought such community use of the school was a bad idea. Maybe if the neighbors felt more welcome on the campus there would not be as much hostility now.


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Posted by Old Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2013 at 12:36 am

Only Palo Alto City Council in public hearing setting can adjust a CUP. At this moment in time, Castilleja is zoned as R1 and can not exceed enrollment over 415 students.

The Board of Trustees has known about the over enrollment for over a decade.

There is no hostility towards the school, they just need to comply with the current CUP.


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Posted by really
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2013 at 1:21 am

From what I know of Castilleja, it has been a great school for a long time. Surely providing a high quality education to girls is a benefit to the community. Adding 33 students to the student probably means 20-25 families because of siblings and fewer extra cars because some are close enough to bike, and others take shuttles or the train. So this huge fight could be over 10-20 car a day, a minuscule impact when compared to the traffic on Embarcadero from Paly and Walter Hays.

Obviously the school should have followed their use permit, but the fine seems like a perfectly reasonable punishment, and I'm sure the neighbors have spent more time going to meetings about this issue and writing press releases than they ever did waiting in the extra traffic caused by overenrollment.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 26, 2013 at 6:17 am

As a business owner, I have to comply with my use permit. Please tell me why Casti should not have to.
Is it because they are somehow different than the rest of us?


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2013 at 7:56 am

To Really: The City's fine is not a solution. The fine is small in comparison to the millions in tuition revenues Castilleja has taken in by overenrolling for 12 straight years in violation of the CUP, so the fine is not a disincentive to future violations. All that the neighbors are asking for is that Castilleja comply with its legal obligations, and do so promptly, just like all of the rest of us have to do. That should not be controversial, and it certainly does not warrant the many aspersions that have been directed toward the neighbors in this thread.


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Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 26, 2013 at 8:13 am

I found the following Castilleja petitions on line:

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

Where do I find Mr. Shore et al petition to sign?


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Posted by Palo Alto resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 3, 2013 at 9:42 pm

As a Castilleja neighbor myself, I bought a house knowing that it was near a wonderful school. I also knew I was near a leading academic institution called Stanford that hosted football games that disrupted my ability to circulate and park on some days etc. I am very proud of these institutions and what they bring to our community and chose willingly to live close to them.

Castilleja got a penalty for exceeding the limit and have paid that. They should be given reasonable time to come into compliance. It is not fair for the existing students, the potential students and the school community to ask them to do a 6 grader class that would be half the size.

I find this bickering short sided and vindictive for no good reason.


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