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Architecture panel signs off on Stanford's housing proposal

Original post made on Mar 20, 2014

As College Terrace residents prepare to welcome a new housing community for Stanford University faculty into their eclectic neighborhood, many are concerned that the traffic generated by the new houses will disrupt and congest local streets.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 20, 2014, 11:13 AM

Comments (44)

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Posted by Pete
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm

It would be nice if the development included a little corner store or coffee shop or something. There's not much within walking distance over there. A more mixed development would allow people to avoid driving for some daily activities.


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Posted by Ignore College Terrace
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Too bad, CT, the agreement was signed years ago and you have been enjoying the fruits of that agreement for years. Now it is time for you to,honor your side of the agreement. Of course CT never lets an opportunity to complain pass it by, but as was pointed out this board deals with architecture, not traffic. But, I am sure that CT will try to levage this latest " outrage" into concessions from the city.


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Posted by Qs
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 2:08 pm

Will this Stanford housing count toward satisfying ABAG's new housing requirement for Palo Alto? How will PAUSD accommodate the influx of new students?


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Posted by JO
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 20, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I don't understand why some posters seem to have such animosity towards College Terrace. The neighborhood did not have much say in the City of Palo Alto's development agreement with Stanford University, which I consider to have been another City Council sellout of a neighborhood, that time for a soccer field. Referendum should have been pusued back then. The bad feelings from that deal probably fed into the loss of MeasureD in 2013. Hopefully, that will carry over to City elections this year.Time to clean house!


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Stanford's Mayfield project was a complete sell-out by the city council, and one of the most short-sighted real-estate deals since native-Americans sold Manhattan Island for $24 worth beads and trinkets. Palo Alto's citizens will bear the cost to its infrastructure of 200 additional units for ever, while Stanford provides space for a soccer field for only 50 years.

When the kids playing on the those fields today are parents they will still be paying the infrastructure costs associated with the project... but where will their children play?

Every one of the current city council members must go. Clean Sweep!


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 20, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Ahem-- start a recall drive if you feel so strongly. Meanwhile a deal is a deal. In fact many CT residents spoke in favor of the deal back then.
JO-- CT is an elite neighborhood that has a way of using their proximity with Stanford to claim that they are constantly being put upon. They use that to milk the city for benefits and programs that no other neighborhood gets. Plus, CT and the late, unlamented JJ&F are the reason their is no decent grocery shopping in town ( can't have competition with JJ&F, so all stores must be " petite")


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 20, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Way too much whining going on here. Stanford owns all the land involved in this deal. The upper California site was constantly criticized by some CT neighborhood residents (noise, toxics, etc.). Stanford had an empty lot at the corner of Page Mill and El Camino, which was the center of much controversy, especially from some CT residents, regarding commercial development...the bottom line was that nothing would get built on that plot. Stanford made a generous offer to build playing fields there, at its own expense, in return for development rights at the old Syntex site (now VMware).

Stanford also wanted more housing for its faculty...that is the upper California site, which has caused so much concern. There were two main concerns from CT: 1. Compatibility, which was mostly negotiated and solved; 2. Traffic, which has remained a big issue. Traffic studies showed different results, depending on the baseline. When the Mayfield deal was done, there was very little traffic there, because Stanford had to choose between building a new research building, in a hostile environment, or letting it dwindle (until Facebook showed that even a dwindle was valuable). But during the dot.com boom, there was a lot of traffic there... similar to the Facebook surge. So, choose your baseline. I do agree that traffic flow can be an issue, especially during construction.

Very few people seem to realize that the welfare housing push (Jim Burch, etc.) was the crucial element that won the day. And I don't recall anybody from CT complaining about welfare housing in 2005. If I am wrong, please let me know.

Bottom line: Stanford provided a good deal to PA. Stop whining, and try to work out some traffic flow mitigations, if possible.


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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 20, 2014 at 7:52 pm

Craig, you comment above is very helpful. Thank you.

Palo Alto wants the ongoing prestige of Stanford, added to its own prestige. You can't have either without growth, which of course means traffic and population density increases. the other comment about having at least a coffeehouse is smart, too. It'd be nice if at all possible to have amenities like that.


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 21, 2014 at 6:43 am

Note to VTA, it's time to revive the old 88 bus. So short-sighted to have eliminated it, but now that there is this development... Note to College Terrace residents, you needed to notice this issue when the Gunn parents were tireless in their demands, resulting in the old 88 splitting into 88 and 89, with the 89 only being useful to people who use it to go to work (in the direction away from El Camino) and home after work (in the direction to El Camino).
Start working on this now!


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2014 at 12:17 pm

You would think that housing is a much, much better alternative to the office park that was on that site before today. Way more traffic from the office park than the housing....


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Posted by Ignore college terrace
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

You are correct CPD. However CT nevere misses an opportunity to complain about non- existent problems, so that can demand concessions from the city to,alleviate their " suffering". A deal is a deal. CT will have to just " suffer" during the construction. No spine roads or any other concessions for CT


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Posted by College Terrace Dad
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm

To Crescent Park Dad - yes, there will be fewer trips originating from an residential development than an office park. However, most of the office park trips would be to El Camino or Page Mill, not through College Terrace to Stanford. For the residential development, limited to Stanford faculty, most of the trips will be to Stanford and through College Terrace.
To Ignore College Terrace - So, what would you do if there were going to be, perhaps, an extra 180 trips past your corner, every morning and every evening, an extra car every twenty seconds? Is expressing a concern about that really just belly-aching?


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Posted by Ignore college terrace
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2014 at 1:28 pm

CTD- when it comes from CT it is usually just bellyaching. For your claims about traffic through CT, you will just have to deal with it. The extra traffic, if it will come to pass, will be limited to certain times of the day. Get over it. Anyway, you love to complain, when Facebook moved their were complaints about car traffic. Facebook instituted a shuttle system, so CT complained about that . CT is an insufferable, never- satisfied neighborhood that has forgotten that they are part of a city and have only their,own selfish interests to care about


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Blaming neighboring communities for your problems, is a misdirected exercise in futility. "Divide and Conquer" only empowers those who are really responsible for the problems.


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Posted by commute club
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2014 at 2:21 pm

These faculty houses will be roughly the same distance as other faculty housing from the campus core. Most near/on campus faculty housing produces zero car trips to work, as why would these faculty pay $1000 a year for a parking permit to park a block from your office (or $400 a year to park a 15 minute walk) when you can bike on the nice days and take a free bus on the rainy ones. Work time traffic from these 180 housing units will be more like 20-40 trips a day spread out over several hours in the am and pm.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Thanks commute club for blowing a hole in the latest tale of woe from college terrace. Looks to me like college terrace just does not want to honor the agreement that theynhave been benefiting from these last few years. I think the city needs to tell Barker, Balin and associates that they need to take a seat and let the construction begin.


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Posted by Welcome?
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2014 at 3:11 pm

There's something wrong with the lead sentence in this story. It hardly seems that: "...College Terrace residents prepare to welcome a new housing community..." I'd say it was just the opposite.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm

I find it strange that so many people from Midtown (or possibly one person posting under various pseudonyms) are willing to put so much time, emotion, and effort into concocting arguments regarding an issue that hardly even affects Midtown.


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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2014 at 4:40 pm

What about the pre-existing CT roadblocks which inhibit direct traffic routes to campus? Seems to me that the traffic would flow to ECR in order reach Stanford.


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Commute Club writes ...
"Work time traffic from these 180 housing units will be more like 20-40 trips a day spread out over several hours in the am and pm."

So you're predicting that just 10 to 20% of the households will be driving to or from the campus (including Escondido and Bing schools) in the morning or afternoon. Wow! Way, way less than even the very generous values from the transportation consultant the university hired.

We acknowledge that Stanford has an effective TDM program and on-campus parking disincentives, but our all-day traffic counts at Peter Coutts condos show that the decreases in traffic from expected values at that (100% Stanford faculty) development is not nearly as high as estimated for Mayfield.

With 75% of all Upper Cal Mayfield vehicles coming down one internal road (the new Columbia Street) and if future reality is closer to our analysis than your statements and those of Stanford's consultant, things may not be that pleasant navigating internally or living next to those internal roads. All vehicular and bike-ways coming in or out of the development lead onto California Avenue. That will impact us in College Terrace, but that traffic will be split between the direction of the campus and toward El Camino. ALL of it, however, will be part of the development's internal congestion. Upper Cal Ave Mayfield limited area and greater density dictate that reality.

We ask Stanford for an Upper Cal Mayfield-only "back door" easement to Page Mill Road, not only for us, but for the future residents of Mayfield. If you are junior faculty with family, or plans for one, and are interested in Mayfield, check the project out carefully, now, and if you have questions and concerns, make sure the university answers them ASAP and to your satisfaction.

The latest full size plans, a hefty 200 mb in size, but with the circulation clearly evident can be downloaded from Palo Alto's web site at Web Link

Once building starts (and yesterday's was the last scheduled public hearing for this Mayfield site), changes would be hard to make. Now there is still time to incorporate the proper internal circulation that can lead out the back way to Page Mill, if it is needed later.

Stanford owns the land on the parcel directly behind the 112 unit multi-family complex, of course, BUT, they also control the ground lease there. It is completely within their power to keep the "back door" option if they want, -- to relieve pressure inside the development -- but they have to adjust the design now to best accommodate it.

We love our neighborhood and its surroundings, and yes, we have worked hard to keep it livable and desirable. There is a long lineage of positive activism in College Terrace. The late Jim Culpepper lead an "uphill" effort, and won, to keep Kite Hill as open space rather than additional housing in the '70s for the benefit of both College Terrace and future Peter Coutts residents. Would you rather he had lost?

This time, though, we need help help from Stanford: faculty and powers-that-be. We are doing our best (e.g. 600 individual petitions recently bound and delivered to President Hennessy), but we cannot do it alone.

One thing I know for sure: if the plans do not change and/or contingencies are implemented, and the consultant's traffic estimates are off, we in College Terrace will not be the only unhappy folks 4 years down the road when occupancy begins. Stanford Mayfield residents will definitely be with us, but the options for improvement will be severely constrained.

Thank you for reading and considering







 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2014 at 7:08 pm

What is CT willing to give up and/or concede for this easement? Why does Stanford and the city always have to make concessions to CT? We understand how terrible,life is in CT now because of evil Stanford-- that is why residents are selling their homes and moving to more desirable neighborhoods. It's always about CT. And this latest plea form Fred just confirms that.

ahem-- what happens in CT and the concessions and favors they are granted comes at the expense of the rest of the city.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 21, 2014 at 8:22 pm

>What is CT willing to give up and/or concede for this easement? Why does Stanford and the city always have to make concessions to CT?

I fail to see what, exactly, CT got out of the Mayfield deal, other than possible traffic reduction, depending on the baseline considerations. I, personally, supported it, because it was a good deal for the town of PA, and I would support any other similarly structured deal (although with no welfare housing element). Other neighborhoods can step up to plate and take on their share of the burden, like CT has.

CT leads the way, and others, outside and (some) inside CT complain. CT should be commended, not villified.

This Mayfield deal was a good one, in general. It can, possibly, be improved, in terms of traffic circulation. I signed the petition.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Rupert,

Please explain these mysterious concessions and favors you are concerned about, and how they negatively affect the rest of the city. I really don't understand what you are referring to, or how it would possibly affect a resident of Midtown?


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Ahem-- think about grocery shopping in the city and then look up the history of JJ&F and it's role in only letting small grocery stores in the city. Know how many neighborhoods have tried to get permit parking? Guess which is the only neighborhood that has it? Guess which neighborhood has endless traffic calming measures? All these issues affect the remainder of residents of the city. CT is not an island. It is part of Palo Alto.
Any more questions?


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Rupert,

You don't want to be stuck in rush hour traffic on El Camino with everyone else. You want to race through College Terrace to get to Campus (you don't think anyone else has thought of that), and then park for free on the street, instead of buying a campus parking permit? Is that it?


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 6:26 am

Ahem-- actually, no, since my points have nothing to do with Stanford. . But continue to ignore the points I have made. There is an agreement in place. Time to honor it. If there will be changes is CT, then so be it. There is a whole city to consider, not just 1 neighborhood.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2014 at 9:05 am

>Know how many neighborhoods have tried to get permit parking? Guess which is the only neighborhood that has it?

CT led the way with RPPP. We are an example for others to follow. Which neighborhoods have been rejected? What were the reasons?

CT virtues are being attacked, instead of being seen as a beacon. I lived in Midtown for several years, and never once thought that CT had a negative impact on me. In fact, I used it as an example of how to slow down cut through traffic, and I lobbied to get some speed bumps on Cowper St. (they worked quite well).

[Portion removed.]


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 9:11 am

[Post removed.]


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Surprised the editors removed my response to Craig.
So here we go again.
For someone who,claims to know what is going on in the city, you are acting completely out of touch. You know that downtown north and professorville have been asking for a RPPP for a long time.
When you lived in midtown that was a long time ago. What was applicable then is ancient history now.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2014 at 2:34 pm

>You know that downtown north and professorville have been asking for a RPPP for a long time.

Some in those neighborhoods have, but there are also some in those neighborhoods who object, especially about having to buy a permit. There is also the issue of serious pushback from the downtown businesses. However the CPA is supportive of a RPPP in those neighborhoods, so what causes you to say that CT is anointed? I favor city-wide RPPPs, tailored to each neighborhood's needs.

The CPA tried some traffic calming barriers in Downtown North (as I recall)about a decade or so back. The neighborhood had a hue and cry about them, and they were removed. CT welcomed them.

The resentment against CT is misplaced.


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Craig- Some people in CT objected to the RPPP there, so what is your point? You are also aware that the city is considering the plan now. Regarding traffic calming in DT-- they were installed, some people liked them, some people objected. The council ended the trial and removed them. The people that were in favor raised a hue and cry.


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Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2014 at 3:45 pm

>Some people in CT objected to the RPPP there, so what is your point?

We had to get petitions signed, block by block, with a 50% threshold. That is why some blocks do not have an RPPP in CT. Democracy in action.

What is all your complaining about?


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Exactly, Craig, unfortunately some neighborhoods have not been anointed yet by the city to even decide if they can have RPPPs,( in fact the issues faced by DT and professorville are much more serious than the petty, endless complaints of college terrace) unlike the elite neighborhood of CT, which has endless traffic calming, RPPPs, a private library branch etc. now CT wants to slow down and agreement that was agreed to by the city because they may be inconvenienced a little. I am complaining about the fact that CT does not wantbto honor the agreement made by the city. Let's get the building started.
We can deal with any issues that may arise at a later date

Isn't my complaining an example do " democracy in action"?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by JoAnn
a resident of Ventura
on Mar 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm

Go CT. Fight like rabid minks to keep your neighborhood livable. (I don't live there btw.) Why should any area agree to become a traffic route for the convenience of others? The idea that trashing one neighborhood is somehow good for "the city." Wait till they want to put a giant building or cramped housing project on your streets, and wave away traffic and school considerations with a casual "whatever." You can't please everyone but everyone has a place at the table doing negotiations. I'm talking here about the general dissing of CT and not just this project.


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Posted by businessdecision
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 22, 2014 at 5:30 pm

commute club & Fred Balin - what I see: not many faculty in the Olmsted Terrace development in Escondido Village using the ultra-convenient Stanford shuttles through there, so faculty/acad staff farther from any such shuttles would use them?


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Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2014 at 6:14 pm

Business decision-- you see that from menlo park?


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Posted by Fred Balin
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 22, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Fred Balin is a registered user.

Rupert of Henzau writes:
"Too bad, CT, the agreement was signed years ago and you have been enjoying the fruits of that agreement for years.

Rupe, assume you are referring to the soccer fields, which is a public benefit for the entire city and beyond.

Rupert goes on to write:
"Now it is time for you to honor your side of the agreement."

Honor our side of the agreement? This was a development agreement between the City of Palo Alto and Stanford University. Soccer fields then, housing much later, including a public process before housing development could begin. A constrained process, yes, but still a public process as both stipulated and allowed in the agreement.

Thank you for continuing to keep this thread near the top of the "most recent comment" list.

**
Re: Demise of VTA 88 bus line
I was aware of it, BusinessDecision. More of a Midtown than CT issue, and I was not on the CT residents' board at the time. Suggest you bring it up within the current discussion of the update of the Transportation Element of Comprehensive Plan and/or contact someone either in the Palo Alto Neighborhoods (PAN) umbrella organization or Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning (PASZ). Will also look into it again when I get a chance. Thanks.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2014 at 2:15 am

Rupert,

You are obviously very angry about something, but I still do not understand what your grievance is, so I will give it another try...

You are angry about some grocery store (lets call it grocery store "A" which is possibly the horrible Alma Plaza since you live in Midtown), and you think the JJ&F development is somehow connected to grocery store "A", and this is somehow all the fault of College Terrace.

Furthermore, grocery store "A" is causing some kind of parking problem in your neighborhood, which could be mitigated by permit parking. You feel slighted because your neighborhood was denied the one permit parking "grant" that was left. The permit parking "grant" that was rightly yours was given to College Terrace instead, because College Terrace is an "elite" neighborhood, with "friends" on the City Council?

Is that it?


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 23, 2014 at 6:28 pm

Does anyone else find it ironic that a place called "College Terrace" is complaining about traffic caused by a college? And BTW, there is none of the streets go all the way through from Cal Ave to Stanford Ave, they are all blocked at one end or the other.


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Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Palo Alto Resident,

Not quite. If you go on Wellesley and drive around the College Terrace Library, you can get from California Ave to College. Then you turn left and then right on Oberlin to get to Stanford. True, you can't get through on one street, but you can get through with a little effort. It is pretty hard to speed, which is a good thing IMHO.

It seems only right to offer a direct way out of the new housing development to Page Mill to improve traffic flow. Who would be against it but Stanford? It should be part of the cost of the project. I believe when Facebook was there, and for that matter when HP was there, you could access the site from Page Mill. Why should tis be blocked off just so Stanford can get a little more land to develop?


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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Mar 23, 2014 at 9:18 pm

@marie - This housing is on Stanford land and Page Mill is the opposite direction from Stanford University. One would assume Stanford employees (those living in the new housing) would travel to Stanford to work. So why would they head in the opposite direction to avoid a neighborhood that is already really tough to travel through? Again, perhaps it is called College Terrace because it is next to a - wait for it - a college? As far as your request for a road from Cal Ave to Page Mill, Hanover already goes directly from California to Page Mill (and there are a lot of other "dotted line" ways from Cal to Page Mill that don't show up on official maps).

As far as your description of how to travel thru College Terrace to get to campus, you can zig-zag College Terrace and every other neighborhood in Palo Alto to get where you are going (check in with the residents on Hamilton during the morning commute). College Terrace is already harder to zig-zag thru than any other neighborhood because ALL of the their streets are a dead end at one end or another. But yep, try hard enough and you can get from Point A to Point B in Palo Alto.

And why should you be able to complain about Stanford getting a "little more land to develop"? It's their land. They own it.


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Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 25, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Living here since 1960, am good with this new development. I use to work at Stanford, too. I would ride my bike to work. I bet most of those who live in this new development will do the same. At Stanford, they would pay you an additional stipend if you rode your bike. If the weather was really bad, I might drive 10 days a year. Also, SU does a great job on professional housing. The homes along Stanford Avenue are a good example. Although, I confess, that's where I use to play Army but so was most of Escondido Village when they were building that, too! Amazing how those homes look like they have always been there. Also, neighbors who are faculty at SU are high quality and about as low-key new members of the community as anyone could hope for. They will add to the vibrancy of CT.

With respect to traffic in CT: I readily remember when Hanover was a thru street. Wow, what an express way during those years. Running from the tear gas in 1968 at the then SRI building was also an adventure. But that's another story!

If I could muster the votes - I'd close the rest of the streets in College Terrace (on a rotational basis - six months per street on a staggered system) with a friendly but "you get the idea" sign that would state: no thru traffic - residents and guests only. The influx of the silicon valley types (I affectionally call them the silly clones) has increased the speed most cars apply when cutting through our neighborhood: tuff to turn off that "on-line" over sense of self-importance and second Gold Rush mind set I have sadly observed. But I get it, most scramble to make mortgage payments and try to stay ahead of the technology curve. That's why I also favor a moratorium on any future commercial developments and multi-family housing. In my view, these two issues are interconnected to all development issues in Palo Alto. I want the wealth and housing growth to expand South (Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Santa Clara, San Jose, Monterey, Morgan Hill, Gilroy) and beyond the State of California. We are the center of enough success that has been costing us qualify of life issues since he 1990s.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:08 pm

Palo Alto Residaent.

Did it ever occur to you that people living in the Mayfield "projects" might want to go somewhere else, other than Stanford? Even Standford's traffic engineers figured that out.


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Posted by Ahem
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2014 at 11:39 pm

There is a fundamental flaw in the way traffic engineering is done. If you want to engineer a bridge, you first figure out the MAXIMUM load the bridge could ever see, and then you add a safety factor to that maximum load.

If you want to engineer a road system you figure out the AVERAGE load you think that road will see, and then you... well, then you are done.

This is why bridges rarely fail, and why our roadways constantly fail. It rains? Gridlock. Box falls off a truck? Gridlock. Car stalls? Gridlock. Game at Stanford? Gridlock.

Traffic is not engineered to the same standard used for bridges, buildings, aircraft, and many other things in our lives that don't routinely fail.


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