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Page Mill & El Camino: Missed Opportunity

Original post made by Gene Coan on Aug 16, 2009

Noting the impending construction on the southwest corner of El Camino and Page Mill, also featured in last week's "What's Going On", I was struck by the opportunity lost to improve traffic at that intersection. Often, those wishing to turn right off El Camino onto Page Mill are backed up for three blocks or more. That corner desparately needs a right-turn lane. Instead, the situation will now worsen with a large buidling on that corner, and the traffic problem will be locked in for decades to come.

Comments (21)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 16, 2009 at 10:25 am

The City of Palo Alto doesn't care a hoot if you drive a gas guzzling vehicle. To get their attention you must ride a non-poluting bicycle. If the bicycle lobby has their way, there will be a wide bicycle path along El Camino and round that corner onto Page Mill Road, and vehicles won't be able to turn right at all.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 16, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

There were plans to have a right turn lane at that location and it was waiting for the buildings on that block to redevelop, at which point enough space for the lane was to be acquired. But when the Old Pro property was redeveloped, reserving the space quietly disappeared. The City Staff review of the site used an old city-wide traffic study to say that such was not needed, ignoring a newer traffic study that targeted El Camino (I was on the Citizens' Advisory Group for that study). I never got any sort of answer for why this happened.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2009 at 8:47 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Time and again, Developers get their way simply by waiting.

Who needs turn lanes when we are going to turn E C R into a 2 lane "Parkway" lined with "Boutique" shops.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:26 am

I could be wrong, but I believe both ECR and Oregon Expy are under Caltrans' jurisdiction, not CPA.


Posted by SteveU, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 17, 2009 at 11:09 am

SteveU is a registered user.

Oregon Expressway is a county road down to W. Bayshore. The section to the overpass is frequently ignored by CalTrans when doing paving (The whole section is considered part of the 101 Freeway according to the County Roads Office).
I don't think the 2 lane proposal is dead, just on a back burner.


Posted by Eric, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2009 at 8:08 am

When I first came to Palo Alto some 40 years ago much of El Camino in Palo Alto was two lanes with dirt strips down the side for parking, in some places in South PA there were no sidewalks.

It was improved to a 6 lane roadway when traffic backed-up on the 4 lane roadway. Now we have 6 lanes, you want to go back to 4 lanes with gridlock!! No wonder Caltrans is stalling, they know that 4 lanes just didn't work. For reference just look at ECR in Menlo Park, they are begging for 6 lanes again because of commuter gridlock.


Posted by Palo Parent, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Aug 18, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Don't you know that things are different here in PA than they are in MP? We are greener and well, different so normal things like gridlock caused by removing lanes won't happen here.


Posted by Douglas Moran, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 18, 2009 at 10:04 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

On the ownership of El Camino (Crescent Park Dad):

El Camino Real is a state highway, but Caltrans assigns various responsibilities to the cities through which it passes. One of those responsibilities is planning: Palo Alto conducts the planning process (I was on the advisory committee for the most recent plan) and submits the plans to Caltrans for approval.


Posted by midtowner, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:09 am

Yes, you are so right about that!
And also to build MORE office space when there's
such a huge glut as it is!


Posted by resident, a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:16 am

"There were plans to have a right turn lane at that location and it was waiting for the buildings on that block to redevelop, at which point enough space for the lane was to be acquired. But when the Old Pro property was redeveloped, reserving the space quietly disappeared. The City Staff review of the site used an old city-wide traffic study to say that such was not needed, ignoring a newer traffic study that targeted El Camino (I was on the Citizens' Advisory Group for that study). I never got any sort of answer for why this happened."

What is the point of citizen participation if all the time and effort we put in is in vain?
I know that the residents in the neighborhoods south of Page Mill have been
very concerned about the safety of that intersection for pedestrians. What happened to walkabilty?
Maybe it's time for the city council to be elected to districts so we have real representation and accountability....till then we can only hope that our tiny residential voices will be heard over the roar of the hungry developers!!!!


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:22 am

Doug: Thanks for the info on the plan for a right turn lane. How does one get any traction with the city on this sort of thing?

Diana Diamond wrote an editorial 8/17 about the "new urbanism" that has crept into city planning, e.g., Arbor Real and the JCC. Apparently there are now "south El Camino design guidelines" that indicate we want buildings right up against the sidewalk.

It seems a lot of stuff is happening that was never part of the old comprehensive plan.


Posted by palo alto mom, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:42 am

I don't know much about the process of "acquiring" private property, but I believe the building on the corner is owned by AT&T and that they are building a new building to use themselves. I also believe it is the 2nd busiest AT&T store in the country (after Times Square) so I would assume they would not be interested in moving.

While I think we are doing some odd and ugly things building-wise as a city, if you own a building, you have a right to sell it, renovated it, etc.


Posted by I Hear Ya!, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:50 am

Just do what I do and make an early right before Page Mill and cut through the neighborhood. Once enough people start doing it, the people that live there will complain about safety and will become the squeaky wheel in the Palo Alto process to get their needs met.

Or get Bob Moss involved.

/s


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 11:47 am

Yes, the owner of a property can build or renovate. But it has to be done within the city guidelines. Problem is, they're not very transparent and when the city/developer wants something done, they just change the zoning.

I think most residents know about the shortcuts. It's unfortunate for the folks who live there, but they already have their hands full with the proposed hotel in their back yards.

I second the call for Bob Moss.


Posted by pat, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 19, 2009 at 11:49 am

PS: I wonder how many Town Square posters also write to the city council. Remember, "civic engagement for the public good" is our number one priority.


Posted by Isabella, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Pat: Which hotel development are you referring to?


Posted by cieboy, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2009 at 1:27 pm

I liked that little building they tore down...


Posted by Hugh, a resident of Terman Middle School
on Aug 19, 2009 at 4:21 pm

Avoid the gridlock and turn right a block before Page Mill.


Posted by Z, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2009 at 6:01 pm

The new 2805 El Camino Building will be set back on the lot in order to accommodate future widening of the right turn lane from El Camino to Page MIll. This was voluntarily offered by the property owner.


Posted by save tires!, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 19, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Even softening the angle of the turn would help. Many, many cars have hit their back right wheel on the tight curb there.


Posted by Mayfield child, a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 20, 2009 at 11:54 am

tHE corner has been demolished, only the soul of it remains in our hearts now..( rest in peace ).
Polly and Jake's and the little building behind it that Hewlette and Packard originally used is now squashed out by modernization for the masses.
Right hand turns got to be so difficult at that corner that the sidewalk was popping the tires on the cars when making them. I just witnessed this action again this last week as I was proceeding down El Camino.
Palo Alto is allowing more building on the property which should had been considered for an historical placq or park.
More greed by people who don't really give a tinkers damn about Palo Alto's past...or future.


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