City Council members voted on Oct. 7 to fine developer Sand Hill Property for demolishing a historic commercial Eichler building at the shopping center along Embarcadero Road. The building was to be moved to another location on the property and renovated, but it was inadvertently destroyed. Sand Hill will rebuild the structure with new materials and will pay the fine.
Palo Alto residents and members of Woodland Creek Homeowners Association in East Palo Alto said using the money for the sidewalk or bike lane would make West Bayshore safer and would be a benefit to the public. The winding freeway frontage road between Channing Avenue and the San Francisquito Creek Bridge does not have a sidewalk. Lined with trees and shrubbery, it has blind curves that pose hazards for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, residents said.
The bike lane or sidewalk is identified as a priority in the city's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, East Palo Alto resident Heather Rosmarin stated in a letter to the council.
The petition, which was submitted to the city on Oct. 7, was signed by residents with addresses throughout town.
Liz Carson, a Palo Alto resident who lives near the shopping center, said she is concerned about the traffic being generated by the new market, which will only increase as more stores are opened.
"My grandkids live at that condo (Woodland Creek) and I don't like my grandkids riding their bikes in the street. My concern is that there is not enough parking at the condos, and a lot of people park along West Bayshore. People have to walk out into the street. It's going to kill some kid, and then people will pay attention. It seems more logical to me to build a sidewalk than to have no parking from 2 to 5 a.m. It's much more of a safety issue to me. It's keeping the little ones safe," she said.
The Woodland Creek Homeowners Association also sent a letter in support of the improvements on Oct. 1. The association represents East Palo Alto residents living in 90 single-family homes about 0.2 miles north of the shopping center. Residents raised safety concerns about West Bayshore during the environmental review of the Edgewood redevelopment, and they have sent correspondence to the city in the past, noted Brenda Erwin, association president.
"West Bayshore Road in Palo Alto is particularly hazardous for children walking or biking to the planned new neighborhood park and other attractions at Edgewood Plaza," she wrote.
Residents of both cities use West Bayshore as a key corridor between University Avenue and Embarcadero Road. The increase of pedestrian and bicycle traffic to and from the shopping center has already exacerbated the risk of collisions with motorists, she said.
"Many residents ... have witnessed a number of near collisions between vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists," she noted.
"There is also a serious risk of motorist-motorist collisions as drivers swerve to avoid pedestrians and bicyclists who are traveling on the road."
Jaime Rodriguez, Palo Alto's chief transportation official, stated in an email to the Weekly that the sidewalk design and construction cost exceeds $94,000. Staff plans to return to the City Council within 3 months with a more refined construction cost estimate.
"We need to explore what other impacts the sidewalk construction may have (drainage, tree removal, etc.) so that an informed decision can be made," he stated.
When the Planning and Transportation Commission discussed the project in September, it requested that staff survey residents on Edgewood Drive, behind West Bayshore, prior to the October council meeting, but there wasn't enough time before the submittal of staff reports to the council, he said.
Caltrans is planning to rebuild the San Francisquito bridge at West Bayshore in 2014 as part of a flood-control project along the creek. The temporary closure of that stretch of West Bayshore could provide a window of opportunity to construct the sidewalk/bike lane without re-routing traffic, the Woodland association stated in its letter to the city.
TALK ABOUT IT
Would you support the use of the Edgewood Plaza penalty for improvements to West Bayshore Road? Discuss the topic on Town Square, the community forum on PaloAltoOnline.com.