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Castilleja's ambitious development plan would create significant traffic woes

With release of environmental-impact report, school's growth plan will get public scrutiny

When Castilleja School in Palo Alto first unveiled its plan in 2013 to expand student enrollment and reconstruct its Bryant Street campus, criticism from the neighborhood came hard and fast.

The redevelopment, residents argued, would overwhelm their quiet neighborhood with more noise and more cars; endanger bicyclists on the city's pioneering bike boulevard; and make parking harder to find.

More importantly, one critic after another argued, allowing the project would reward bad behavior on the part of the private girls' school: For 12 consecutive years, Castilleja had exceeded its city-designated enrollment limit of 415 students — a violation that prompted the city in 2013 to issue a $265,000 fine and demand a gradual reduction in its student population.

Now, six years later and with project plans still winding their way through the Palo Alto process, the school is entering a critical phase of the application review with the city's July 17 release of the much-anticipated draft environmental-impact report (EIR) for the project. The analysis' release followed months of delays and hiccups, including the city's scrutiny of the school's enrollment figures and queries over technical issues like height limits and bike plans.

Neighborhood opposition is every bit as vociferous as it was when the plans first surfaced.

Stan Shore, who lives near Castilleja, wrote in a May letter to the council that the school has "willfully violated" the 415-student limit and has "made a mockery of the Palo Alto (conditional-use permit) process."

"Castilleja should NOT be rewarded, for 17 years of violations, with more students," Shore wrote.

Castilleja leaders have consistently argued that the "modernization" project is necessary for the school to carry out its mission of creating the leaders of tomorrow. Lorraine Brown, the schools' director of communications, said the foremost reason for the project is Castilleja's belief in "the unique transformational power of an all-girls education" and the school's desire to give more young women the opportunity to learn and pick up leadership skills.

But while Brown has pointed out that many of their neighbors support the school's project, Shore is hardly alone. As the Castilleja project has evolved from an abstract concept to a formal application, residents formed a group called PNQLnow.org (which stands for "Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life") to oppose the expansion. Dozens of signs, both supporting and opposing the project, sprang up around the school. There were followed by accusations and counter-accusations of vandalism and sign-thievery, as well as a restraining order from Castilleja against one neighbor who admitted to taking several pro-Castilleja signs.

Now the debate will take place fully in the public eye: The release of the draft EIR kicked off a 60-day review period that will include meetings in front of the city's Planning and Transportation Commission (Aug. 14) and the Historic Resources Board (Sept. 12).

The document, published by the consulting firm Dudek, is also sure to provide fresh ammunition for both sides of the debate. It concluded that the campus project would cause significant and unavoidable traffic problems, even if Castilleja adopts an aggressive new "transportation demand management" system as part of the campus expansion. Specifically, the analysis found that the project would increase traffic at several intersections and roadway segments. It would conflict with existing traffic-management systems that encourage students and staff to use alternate forms of transportation.

The report also finds that the redevelopment would create another "significant and unavoidable" impact in terms of land use, concluding the project — located in a residential neighborhood — would "create land use incompatibility or physically divide an established community."

Specifically, the project would potentially heighten conflict between the school and its neighbors by "increasing the disturbance to neighbors associated with special events, increasing traffic volumes in the project vicinity and generating noise levels that could exceed the Municipal Code standards" (though the noise impacts could be mitigated and reduced to less-than-significant levels, the report found).

While these findings could fuel criticism of the project, the EIR also concluded that the school's modernization would not significantly affect neighborhood aesthetics, air quality, geology or demands for services, issues that were raised during public meetings and in written comments prior to the report's release.

The analysis also concluded that the proposal is consistent with Palo Alto's Comprehensive Plan, including its broad policy of maintaining and prioritizing the city's "varied residential neighborhoods while sustaining the vitality of its commercial areas and public facilities."

"The project would enable the school to redevelop its facilities for increased safety, sustainability and programmatic space to better serve its student population," the report states. "The project would also include features to minimize existing school-related disruptions on the surrounding neighborhood with regard to traffic and noise. ... In addition, the project would provide amenities that would benefit the community, including the landscaping, the preservation of mature trees, and construction of a 0.33-acre privately owned open space area."

The report's findings mean that for Castilleja to win approval, the City Council would have to adopt a "statement of overriding considerations," indicating that the benefits of the school's modernization project are so great that they compensate for the significant impacts that Dudek identified.

The council may also require Castilleja to downsize its ambitions. The report offers the city and Castilleja a path toward compromise by analyzing two other alternatives for the school's expansion. Under both of these scenarios, the maximum number of students would be capped at 506 rather than 540. In one of them, however, the school would only provide 52 parking spaces in its underground garage, potentially reducing the footprint of the controversial facility.

On Wednesday, Brown highlighted the report's determinations that the Castilleja project is consistent with the city's Comprehensive Plan and that the underground garage is consistent with city zoning (notwithstanding the report's conclusion that it would significantly impact the Emerson Street block where the exit is located).

"We are pleased that the report validates many aspects of our proposal," Brown said.

She acknowledged, however, that the report's findings about the three "significant and unavoidable" impacts indicate that the school still has more work to do when it comes to preventing traffic problems and designing the garage. The school will also consider in the coming weeks other alternatives for its modernization project, she said.

"We will continue to look at what is the enrollment number and what is the design that we need to pursue in order to have a plan that does not have a negative impact," Brown said.

Four phases of redevelopment

If Castilleja's project is approved as proposed, it would occur in four phases. First, the school would demolish two residences on the north side of the campus and construct an underground parking garage, with an entrance from Bryant Street and an exit to Emerson Street.

Second, it would establish a temporary campus by installing portable and modular classrooms above the garage. In the third phase, the school would demolish the Fine Arts building and build a below-ground swimming pool. Finally, Castilleja would demolish the existing Campus Center building and the at-grade pool and construct a new classroom building. It would also build a new half-acre neighborhood park and remove the temporary campus facilities.

For Castilleja, the pending plan is "comprehensive in that it reflects the school's plans for growth and modernization for the foreseeable future," Head of School Nanci Kauffman wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to the city. It calls for a new conditional use permit that would allow enrollment of up to 540 students. It also includes a traffic-management plan to ensure the school's growth doesn't bring more cars into the neighborhood.

Ironically, the one element of Castilleja's redevelopment that school staff believes will be most effective in driving cars away from neighborhood streets is the one that is now causing the most community consternation: an underground garage.

Brown said that, during the school's outreach meetings, many neighbors expressed an interest in an underground garage.

"They gave us feedback that they want to see cars removed from neighborhood streets," she said. And we believe the garage can help us in terms of our plans to be better neighbors."

Some residents, however, don't see it that way. In January of this year, PNQLnow members Rob Levitsky, Andie Reed and Mary Sylvester submitted a letter lambasting Castilleja's proposal. One of their objections is what they call a "massive concrete underground garage exit" that would be next to the proposed neighborhood park.

The facility, they wrote, "would also contain the exhaust chimney for the garage, spewing exhaust from more than 400 cars a day, plus events."

The garage design, the residents wrote, is "seriously flawed, with one entrance on the Bryant Bike Boulevard and the exits dumping directly into the neighborhood." They also argued that parking is not an issue around the school.

"Castilleja states there would not be an increase in car trips with the expansion," the letter states. "Then why build a garage? Because it lays the groundwork for more expansion."

Nelson Ng, who lives next to Castilleja, called the garage a "clear example that Castilleja is ignoring and misrepresenting what the neighbors want."

"The real issue impacting the neighborhood is traffic and parking is just a byproduct," Ng wrote to Kauffman in June 2018. "The focus should be on reducing traffic to Palo Alto and our neighborhood instead of building a garage that could invite more traffic."

The neighbors also took issue with other components of the application, including its request for variances relating to setbacks on Embarcadero Road and its "floor-area-ratio" calculations.

The Castilleja proposal calls for demolishing five buildings that add up to 84,572 square feet (the Fine Arts building, a maintenance building, the "Campus Center," the classroom building and the pool equipment building) and constructing a modern three-story building with 84,238 square feet above grade and an additional 46,768 square feet below grade, according to an application the school submitted in April.

While the application would keep the level of above-grade development relatively steady in terms of square footage, opponents have characterized the plan as one that would remove five modest buildings and replace them with one "Walmart-sized" structure.

Castilleja notes that for all the talk about an "expansion," the school is in fact not increasing its above-ground footprint. The project, Brown maintained, would address many of the existing concerns from neighbors. This includes moving the swimming pool below grade and installing a sound wall.

"We appreciate that we are in a residential neighborhood, and we really want to honor and respect the personal lives of the families who chose to live around Castilleja," Brown said.

Class warfare

Just about every significant development proposed in Palo Alto must contend with public outcry about potential traffic, noise and parking impacts as well as the city's litany of design guidelines and zoning regulations.

For the Castilleja redevelopment, the typically lengthy approval process has been further compounded by skepticism over the school's enrollment figures, the school's complex phasing plan and intense scrutiny from the vocal opposition — factors that prompted the city to repeatedly delay the release of the draft EIR, according to documents obtained by the Weekly through a Public Records Act request.

As part of the review, City Manager Ed Shikada and Planning Director Jonathan Lait had repeatedly asked Castilleja to verify its student enrollment by hiring an independent auditor, which the school did. In March, the firm Vavrinek, Trune, Day and Co. LLP, submitted a letter on behalf of the school confirming Castilleja's enrollment of 434 students — 16 fewer than it had in 2012.

During the verification process, school leaders emphasized their recent efforts to regain the community's trust. Kauffman acknowledged in an April email to Shikada that when she came forward in 2012 to report the school's over enrollment, the school "initiated a process that brought about a high level of distrust of Castilleja School." The increase, she added, took place at a time when the school's previous leaders were increasing each incoming sixth-grade class from 60 to 64 students to account for attrition at higher grade levels. The intent was to retain the graduating senior class at 60.

"However, attrition diminished over time, and in the course of seven years, this led to an inexcusable over enrollment of 30 students," Kauffman wrote.

Despite the history, "current leadership of the school has paid all fines, abided by all requests, and recently paid an auditing firm to verify our enrollment," she wrote.

"Since my tenure as Head of School, I have never falsified a report nor misrepresented our enrollment, and I never will," Kauffman, who assumed her role in 2012, wrote on April 14. "It is my hope that over time, Palo Alto staff and community members will begin to recognize our myriad efforts to regain trust."

Kathy Layendecker, Castilleja's chief of finance and operations, confirmed in a separate email two days later that the school plans to enroll 430 students in the 2019-2020 school year, consistent with the city's 2017 directive that it reduce enrollment by four to six students annually.

The school will continue to reduce annual enrollment until such time as the city approves its new conditional-use permit (CUP), Brown said.

"Our hope is to put the new CUP in place that stems the decline, but we will continue to abide by the drops in enrollment until we have a new CUP in place," she said.

Counting cars

Yet even as it is reducing its student population in the near term to comply with city requirements, Castilleja is also planning to significantly expand it in the long term to 540 students. That number, Brown said, is consistent with the schools' traffic analysis, which indicated that the school can get to 540 students without worsening traffic impacts, provided it institute an aggressive transportation-demand-management plan.

Brown underscored that Castilleja's application explicitly ties enrollment figures to traffic impacts.

"What's in our proposal is that we cannot increase enrollment if car counts increase," Brown said.

Since the violation was publicly disclosed in 2012, Castilleja already instituted some programs to reduce traffic: two morning shuttles to bring students in and staff-directed traffic control around the school to maintain a smooth traffic flow and discourage parking.

A transportation-demand-management plan that the school adopted in 2013 also calls for the school to encourage carpooling and biking (the latter effort is made more difficult by the fact that only 27% of students in 2013 lived in Palo Alto and 12% in Menlo Park).

These efforts have led to a 22% drop in vehicle trips, according to 2016 report from Nelson/Nygaard, a consulting firm that helped put together Castilleja's transportation plan. In addition to the measures adopted in 2013, the school has introduced a Caltrain van service and an offsite parking area for faculty and staff members, about 70% or 80% of whom drove alone to work in 2012.

Beginning in the 2015-2016, employees were required to use alternative travel modes at least three times per week, park remotely five days per week, or monitor student drop-offs and pick-ups two days per week, according to the Nelson/Nygaard report.

The efforts have borne some fruit. According to Castilleja's traffic counts, the total number of daily trips in and out of the campus has dropped from 511 in May 2012 to 396 in April 2016, according to traffic surveys, a 23% decrease, the report states.

Even so, Castilleja will need to reduce trips by 11% to meet its goal of generating no new net trips while enrolling 540 students. To do that, the 2016 transportation-demand-management plan suggests a suite of new programs, including two new morning shuttles to serve students and employees from San Francisco to San Jose; a late afternoon shuttle that would depart Castilleja at about 5 p.m.; and off-site stops where parents drop off students about 15 minutes before school starts so that shuttles can take them to school. A program of this sort would not eliminate the trips, the consultants note, but it would "re-distribute them out of the neighborhoods immediately adjacent to Castilleja and reduce the school's vehicle trip count."

The new plan also recommends an expanded carpool/trip planning program, with a designated transportation coordinator offering personalized trip-planning information and a parent representative contacting households to help foster new arrangements. Under the proposed program, the school would take a more proactive role in identifying carpool matches, in contrast to merely providing parents with a link to the website and leaving the matching to them.

Other measures in Castilleja's TDM plan include a cash program that gives employees financial incentives to not drive; "ZIP code parties" in neighborhoods with high concentration of Castilleja families to encourage stronger community relations (and, ideally, more carpooling); and a program in which students are dropped off at a designated location off campus and then walk to class with a chaperone.

If these programs don't reduce the traffic counts to the desirable levels, the TDM plan suggests more stringent and expensive measures: buying Caltrain GO passes for all employees and purchasing several bicycles for a "bike share" program. The most ambitious and potentially controversial proposal is a mandatory requirement that all students arrive by carpooling, van, transit, walking or biking (with special exemptions for those with disabilities or for other extenuating circumstances). As a variation, the school can only allow certain students to drive alone to school.

"For example, seniors could be designated as the only group of students who drive alone as a 'bonus' for their last year at Castilleja," the report states.

The environmental-impact report makes the case for adopting all of the measures in the TDM plan — including mandatory ridesharing and transit passes for staff — and adding a few more, including potentially staggering the bell schedule to reduce queues of cars on Bryant and bicycle-safety education for students, parents and staff.

The report also calls on the school to host events to encourage biking, walking, carpooling and transit use to reinforce "active transportation" as a community-held value.

Even so, the analysis concludes that the transportation impacts would be significant, specifically when considering the high number of vehicles that would be added to Emerson, between Melville Avenue and Embarcadero, because of cars exiting the parking garage and turning right onto Emerson.

Consultants analyzed the potential impact of cars being allowed to turn left, right or go straight out of the garage instead, but they determined that this would shift traffic to other blocks and would not appreciably reduce traffic problems.

The report also concluded that Castilleja's proposed TDM measures would not ease the conditions on this section of Emerson or bring the level of impact down to a "less than significant" level.

In addition, the traffic analysis concluded that the project would add traffic to the intersection of Alma Street and Kingsley Avenue during peak commuting hours. While this problem can be eased by adding a traffic signal, it would be up to the city to decide based on a variety of factors.

Given the uncertainty of whether the signal would be added to the city's capital-improvement plan, "the impact would remain significant and unavoidable," the report states.

When asked whether the report lends credence to neighbors' complaints about the new garage, Brown said that the report gives Castilleja an "an opportunity to work with the city, to think about how we can modify our plan to reduce those impacts."

"There is an opportunity for us. We ultimately want to find a solution that meets our objectives for educating more young women and for reducing the impact in the neighborhood," Brown said. "Further study needs to be done."

Agreeing that they disagree

During the many years that they have sparred, about the only thing that the two sides have agreed on is their shared belief that the city is unfairly biased against their respective positions. Castilleja staff have pointed out they are the ones that first brought the violation to the city's attention and that, since then, they have done everything the city had asked for to make things right, including reducing the enrollment.

The school has already hosted more than 30 meetings with neighbors, including one that involved a facilitator, wrote Mindie Romanowsky, an attorney representing Castilleja, in a June 7, 2017, letter. Yet at every step, Castilleja was asked to pause the process to address specific requests, which it had tried to do.

"To date, Castilleja has concerns that the city's handling of the (conditional-use permit) application may be unfair and inefficient," Romanowsky wrote. "At every step, the school has been faced with an unreasonable heightened degree of scrutiny, while it appears that detractors have been given extreme deference by the city.

"Throughout the process, Castilleja has endeavored to provide truthful, fact-based data. However, the school has grave concerns about the city's reliance on misinformation disseminated by members of the public."

Residents, meanwhile, have argued that the city, if anything, has been too lenient toward Castilleja. In a January interview with the Weekly, James Poppy and Reed of PNQLnow.org said they were very concerned about the city's failure to enforce its conditional-use permit with Castilleja, which governs enrollment figures and the number of major events the school is allowed to host every year. Poppy said neighbors had taken to complaining to the city through the 3-1-1 website about unauthorized events. One recent event, he said, began at 7 a.m. on Saturday and lasted all day.

"It's been a systematic increase in violations of the CUP without any repercussions from City Hall," Poppy told the Weekly.

Reed noted the zoning exceptions that Castilleja had requested, including variances relating to floor area and to encroachments associated with the underground garage. While she, Shore and other neighbors have lauded Castilleja for its record in educating young women, Reed said she and others are concerns about the zoning concessions that the school is expecting to get from the city.

"We feel there is a general bias with the city to allow these plans to get as far as they have when you're so non compliant with code on many different levels."

In the coming months, it will be up to the city's various commissions and, ultimately, the council to reconcile the competing views. To date, the council has not had any meetings about what is shaping up to be the city's controversial land-use project. The closest members had come to discussing Castilleja was on April 8, when Vice Mayor Adrian Fine asked members of the Palo Alto Youth Council for their take on the latest developments.

Divya Ganesan, then a sophomore at Castilleja, said she sees a "culture of fear" developing around the project. It's hard, she said, for a student to go to school and see signs everywhere calling for a halt to the expansion.

"I think the heart of it is a lack of clear communication between neighbors and the Castilleja community," Ganesan said. "What I hear from both sides are two very valid arguments but arguments that don't align with each other.

"It's almost like people are talking at each other but not talking with each other in terms of the same information. So, I think what needs to happen is a very clear communication forum where people have the right sense of what's gonna happen and what are the complaints that we need to address if that's gonna happen."

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Comments

35 people like this
Posted by EEM
a resident of Los Altos
on Jul 17, 2019 at 5:28 pm

EEM is a registered user.

I think that the fact the the report is out will help all parties begin to be more productive and move forward toward resolution. I see from this article that traffic is a central concern. I also read that Castilleja has a very long list of ways to respond. I know that they have been extremely effective about reducing traffic in the past. So I can imagine that all of these new tactics will help address these concerns. I hope that the strong feelings can be addressed and a compromise that suits everyone can be reached. You just can't convince me that a school has bad intentions.


32 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 5:44 pm

Jim H is a registered user.

What is Castilleja's current enrollment? Have they been able to get down to 415 students?


30 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto, New Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 5:45 pm

I'm so glad this report is out. Finally. We need to move forward, not remain stuck in some halcyon past. Palo Alto has long been a great and forward thinking city and community, and it will continue to be a great place to live, work, and raise families. Let's appreciate the value of education and our wonderful educational institutions. Meanwhile, it is clear that there are concerns about growth in Palo Alto due to many factors. I'm sure there are ways to satisfy all parties.


48 people like this
Posted by The Future is Now
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 6:34 pm

The report seems to have concluded that the mission of the school is in line with the city's long term plan and that the school is willing to work with neighbors to mitigate concerns. The neighbors seems to be offering knee jerk negative responses to everything Castilleja offers simply because they don't agree with the vision for the city's future.

As a resident of the St Francis area, I'm living with some increased traffic due to the success of the Edgewood Shopping Center, but I'm also living with the benefits of that center.

Castilleja neighbors need to see the big picture and move away from their backwards views about what Palo Alto is and needs to be.


55 people like this
Posted by JT
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 6:41 pm

Castilleja is a nationally renowned institution that develops women leaders. It's a Palo Alto gem. They want to modernize their facility and offer the experience to more girls. It's encouraging to read that this is possible, without adversely affecting living conditions in the neighborhood.

The reduction in total trips as a result of the TDM plan was impressive. It's encouraging, and it gives one confidence that they can also execute successfully on the other facets of their overall plan. They're adding a park, saving trees, building a garage to keep cars off the street, and more.

The most impactful thing that I read in this article, tough, is that Castilleja wants to stand by it's traffic commitments. That is, if their traffic management estimates are off, they won't get their enrollment additions. Such a structure has Castilleja taking the risk -- that's a constructive and cooperative approach.


87 people like this
Posted by YP
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 17, 2019 at 6:53 pm

YP is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


90 people like this
Posted by Jim H
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 7:17 pm

I just checked Castilleja's website. They state they have 430 students. So, that would mean that Castilleja has never met the 415 student agreed in their 2000 agreement with the city, nearly 20 years.

How about we mandate that they maintain 415 students for 20 years before they can be trusted to expand enrollment.


64 people like this
Posted by sfvalley
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 7:40 pm

sfvalley is a registered user.

The school is not taking the risk if their enrollment causes problems in the neighborhood. For one, who will determine this? The City has not enforced the school's CUP over many decades. Historically, the school is not trustworthy. And secondly, by that time, they will have demolished the Lockey House and another residential property and replaced them with an underground garage exit, increasing the school's tax-exempt site and reducing the tax base by removing rental properties. The damage to the residential neighborhood will already be done. How would you like to have the house across the street torn down so that hundreds of cars can spew out in its place? The school needs to expand the shuttle program and forget about digging a large hole to store cars.


102 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:01 pm

Read the fine print. Castilleja wants to determine the fate of Embarcadero Road and the Bryant Bike Boulevard, not the tax-paying residents or city “experts.” A single entrance to an underground garage on Bryant? Besides the obvious dangers, and it will obviously not be used and side streets will be dangerous drop-off spots.

Then you add the Stanford GUP, which will exacerbate traffic on Embarcadero, while Castilleja feels they should be able to take over a lane between Emerson and Bryant to facilitate entry to the garage.

Then you add the closure of Churchill for train electrification, and the wild scramble for Paly drop offs along Alma?

Castilleja is in the wrong location for such a project. Blind loyalties are not reasonable arguments. Castilleja’s project is not compliant and will not enhance the neighborhood or surrounding community.

STOP CASTILLEJA EXPANSION


73 people like this
Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:09 pm

We have too much traffic on Embarcadero Road now. When I grew up here in the 80s, we didn't even have a traffic signal between T&C and Paly, no need for it, so few cars. No to expansion. Casti should find another location since students commute from everywhere. Why should our city of 67,000 (which expands to 200,000 during the day from commuters) have to deal with more traffic on Embarcadero Road for 506 students who are residents and non-residents? Old Palo Alto is affected by the traffic too, with drivers cutting through our streets. Send 'em all up to Portola Valley or Palo Alto Hills.


7 people like this
Posted by Fairness
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:22 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


90 people like this
Posted by Old teacher
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:34 pm

Old teacher is a registered user.

As a graduate of an all women's private high school and college, I certainly support women's education. However, as a resident of Palo Alto since 1965, I think Castilleja has shown bad faith in exceeding its legal enrollment for so many years, and for pushing to keep expanding in a densely residential neighborhood, putting at risk other children and residents.
I think a proper move for such an expensive and exclusive girls school is to relocate to a more spacious area such as Portola Valley or Woodside if they wish to expand. I live close to Embarcadero Road, and it simply cannot handle more traffic. Castilleja can and should move if they wish to expand. I hope that Palo Alto does not cave in again to the demands of its wealthiest residents who simply want their private school in their backyard.


56 people like this
Posted by Enlightened Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 9:58 pm

Castilleja is a top-ranked school of national prominence, and one of the many reasons why real estate values in Palo Alto remain so robust. Our collective educational institutions are arguably the best in the region.

Most of the criticism that I hear for Castilleja's modernization plans comes from neighbors directly adjacent to the school. As a resident of the neighborhood as well, it's not lost on me that none of us were even born when Castilleja first opened its doors over 100 years ago. And every single one of us bought our ever-increasingly valuable homes knowing that we would be living in direct proximity to a school.

Everywhere I drive in Palo Alto, there is more traffic. Our town is at the epicenter of one of the greatest economic expansions in the history of our country. I'm hopeful that an enlightened City Council won't bow to a handful of vociferous NIMBY citizens, or over-react to your misleading headline about "traffic woes." From everything I read in your article, there is plenty of room for further monitoring of traffic patterns to ensure that the sky is not falling. And under its new leadership, Castilleja appears to be bending over backwards to address all of the many issues raised by its neighbors.

Oh, and did I mention how important it is to be educating the next generation of women leaders? Particularly at this moment in history when diversity, inclusion and equity are the social issues of the day? How is this not the headline and focus of your article? Let's not lose sight of what is most important here. Our future women leaders deserve our support.


58 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 17, 2019 at 10:06 pm

I’m concerned about more gridlock on Embarcadero Rd as a result of higher student enrollment at Castilleja and attendant staff, services, impacts. My sympathy to neighbors who will suffer during lengthy construction. We know how awful that is. The City should consider impacts on the thousands of neighboring Palo Alto residents - but I believe they won’t.


72 people like this
Posted by NY Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 17, 2019 at 10:18 pm

NY Old Palo Alto is a registered user.

I feel the same as a previous comment that was made. Embarcadero Road will be severely impacted,
the Bryant Bike Boulevard will be a hazard for anyone riding a bike, and all the surrounding areas
and streets will be clogged. Don't we have enough traffic right now? Do we need to add to this
mix?

Once construction starts there will be heavy equipment, hundreds of cement trucks that will traveling
on Embarcadero to reach Castilleja. Would any of you want that in your neighborhood for a private
school that most of the students come from outside of Palo Alto??

If the underground garage is allowed to be built I would never be caught underneath which will surely take
time to exit. I would probably drop my daughter in surrounding neighbors and rush to work.



38 people like this
Posted by Move forward
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:22 am

So glad the process can move forward. After Castilleja came forward to correct the over enrollment issue the school has worked in good faith with the city and the neighbors. The mitigation and traffic management plans continue to show their willingness to continue to do so. The report seems to show places where the plan can continue to be improved and the important benefits the city gets from having such a world class institution.


71 people like this
Posted by Save the Safe Route
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 5:17 am

For those believing that there are only a handful of neighbors opposed and that Castilleja has bent over backwards, the article failed to mention that 47 households sent in letters opposed to having a garage to Castilleja. Really, what concessions have they made? Not only did they NOT respond to the hand delivered letters, they are still proposing to build the garage as the first stage of construction. Their plan was to have 135 spaces and now in this article they may only provide 52 spaces? So what is the reason for having an industrial sized garage that will introduce more traffic congestion on Embarcadero and endanger school aged and adult bike commuters on a major Bike Boulevard in the first place? The school says it will not expand if they can’t reduce traffic enough? So let them try to maintain their traffic counts before building such a permanent structure. Seems to me that if it is really their goal to modernize, then that should come first in the plans. If their goal is to genuinely reduce traffic then no girls should be allowed to drive to campus at all. Nueva school had intelligently split their campus and doesn’t allow driving onto campus. The seniors instead of getting driving “privilege” should instead be happy set a great example by sacrificing their right to drive for as a part of the school’s goodwill to the community.


99 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:08 am

mauricio is a registered user.

The fact Castilleja is a nationally renowned institution that develops women leaders is irrelevant. They can remain a nationally renowned institution elsewhere, where their presence would not worsen an already nightmarish traffic crisis. They can buy land where their presence would not have such a negative impact on the safety and quality of life of residential neighborhoods.

Their plan should have been DOA.


40 people like this
Posted by Progress
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:36 am

Yes, Palo Alto is getting busier. Is limiting access to quality girls' education really the best way to address the situation?

Now, more than ever, it is of the upmost importance to empower young women and give them opportunities they may not have in a traditional classroom environment. Castilleja has been a Palo Alto establishment for decades, teaching women leadership and critical thinking skills.

Is this really the battle we want to fight?


37 people like this
Posted by Casti Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:06 am

Casti Dad is a registered user.

So glad that the report is out and now we can have a real discussion. The report does seem to support Casti's overall mission along with the suggestions on how to mitigate traffic impacts. I am confident that the current administration of Casti will do all it can to work with city and the neighbors to come to a solution that allows the school to look towards the future while respecting the neighbors' legitimate concerns.


110 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:51 am

"Supporting women's education" is a poor and illogical defense for an institution that's broken the law for 20 years. If that's the type of logic, they're teaching, shame on them. Parents should demand a tuition refund.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 18, 2019 at 8:56 am

The article says that the EIR determined the proposed expansion is compliant with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. EIR’s are required to review how projects conform with a pretty broad, defined set of environmental impacts that are defined by state law. The Comp Plan includes references to those impacts, but covers far more than CEQA and some of its policies can compete with each other. The result is that a complex project requires a subjective decision, ultimately by the city council about whether a project is compliant, and then the council decides whether to approve the project due to “overriding considerations”.
I don’t recall ever seeing a consultant’s EIR wading in to provide a determination of Comp Plan compliance like this report has done. Is this within their purview? Does anyone else have insight on this?


36 people like this
Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:00 am

I've always wondered why Castilleja did not use its established name to start a second campus northward on the Peninsula, in San Francisco or in San Jose. There's definitely demand for a private school with a proven ability to create well rounded students. I suspect most students are not from Palo Alto and are actually commuting long distances from up and down the Peninsula.


25 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:07 am

This project seems like a perfect example of the so-called "Edifice Complex". Why is the management of Castilleja so convinced that increasing enrollment will make it a better school? If Castilleja was so successful at developing women leaders with its previous intimate size, why would anyone think that gigantifying it would make it better? Likely, just the opposite. No evidence has been presented for anything other than the management trading on the "Castilleja" brand.

OTOH, more traffic around Castilleja will make it that much harder for commuters entering Palo Alto from the 101 direction-- always a good thing. Between the EPA office buildings in the works and the Castilleja growth, we could see a significant reduction in rush hour traffic further west.


5 people like this
Posted by Long time Palo Altan
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:08 am

[Post removed.]


26 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:42 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Maybe Casti can move to East Palo Alto and pay for an expansion there by selling its current campus to Sobrato.


3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 9:48 am

[Portion removed.]

If this project proceeds, can we please, please use the excavated dirt as part of a project to raise the level of the levees? We're going to need higher levees, a couple of feet fairly soon, and, moving the dirt down Embarcadero would minimize the distance, along with the GHGs, and diesel particulates. Anyone else finding their windowsills more rapidly getting coated with soot lately?

** Web Link


5 people like this
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 10:04 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

Per previous:
Matt Sonsini, the new CEO of Sobrato, before Dartmouth and Boalt, graduated from Gunn High and actually grew up in Evergreen Terrace, less than a mile from Casti, so perhaps he would be uniquely qualified to envision the highest and best use for the campus, for housing.


14 people like this
Posted by Mark
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2019 at 10:16 am

That's a very well-written and helpful article, very balanced and clear. Kudos to Gennady Sheyner and Palo Alto Weekly!


14 people like this
Posted by No more Hillarys
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jul 18, 2019 at 10:58 am

[Portion removed.]

I think in the end, people will be paid off to support the cause. No one really cares about the Palo Alto residents. No resident be supportive of more traffic it would bring, in addition to the nightmare of 3 years of construction. The school adds to our real estate value, someone dared to post. Haha!


36 people like this
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:13 am

Casti has been at its location for more than 100 years. So every neighbor moved to old Palo Alto knowing that a private girls school is a neighbor.

Rebuilding classroom, [portion removed], and investing in educations sure seems like their right and good for Palo Alto. If Casti moves, would the neighbors prefer an apartment building?

It sure seems like they have been tortured in the long planning process and protest signs...


25 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:15 am

This is a very unbalanced report of the Castilleja expansion. [Portion removed.] Castilleja is commuted to traffic mitigation which you can see if you drive there. It is time to investigate the motives of the people who are against expansion.


75 people like this
Posted by not a close neighbor of casti
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:30 am

What is the overriding community benefit? The large majority of students do not live in Palo Alto. The school does not pay taxes. Their special events (e.g. guest speakers) are not open to the public. Regarding the comphrensive plan of " maintaining and prioritizing the city's 'varied residential neighborhoods while sustaining the vitality of its commercial areas and public facilities', keeping the status quo would "maintain" the varied nature of a neighborhoos and the school has no commercial impact or benefit to the community.


72 people like this
Posted by Move AwayGX
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2019 at 11:40 am

I favor strong girls’ education, but Casti has outgrown its neighborhood. The school is an elite non-profit institution that effectively seeks to expand at the expense of the quality of life of Palo Alto. Casti can make a fortune selling it’s land, ideally to a housing non-profit, and move to EPA or Woodside/PV. Casti is not what makes PA schools great and has minimal tangible contribution to the community. Let’s not permit the school to make our community worse.


19 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 12:15 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

What women leaders has Castilleja developed and in what fields ? I'm more curious than doubtful. Having asked the question, the school has been in violation of an issued CUP for 20 years. When will it stop ? It seems that the school will get the support of City Council because of council's penchant for identifying Palo Alto as a "leader" in everything and anything.


31 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 18, 2019 at 12:30 pm

As one who led a mixed-result, multi-yeared, jousting tournament with the City and developers about overparking in the residential neighborhoods near downtown, it would seem unusual that I would side with Casti, but I do. I also taught at an all-women's college(at the time) in Massachusetts that was run by the Sisters of St Joseph. I was one of three teachers on the faculty who were not nuns(we were teaching business courses). I am sold on the idea of educating women in an atmosphere that is conducive to learning, especially in a school with a reputation for excellence. I think that has great relevance at this time when social media can, and does, spread such demoralizing and divisive information that education is imperative in developing analytic ability and appreciation of the arts. Much has been said about the effects of Casti's ambitions and they are complex, but hardly a word has been said about their mission. I believe that is worth supporting that mission and working out the complexities of delivering it. I live near the school and see students passing by and it must be disheartening for them to see the signs, as one student mentioned, that reject out-of-hand, the place of learning they attend. I hope that the City and neighbors use wisdsom and compassion in their decisions.


45 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Posted by Ray, a resident of Professorville

>> I live near the school and see students passing by and it must be disheartening for them to see the signs, as one student mentioned, that reject out-of-hand, the place of learning they attend.

The signs were a reaction to the offensive PR campaign with the "I support women's education" slogan on them. At best, that campaign and slogan were very counterproductive. I haven't heard anyone attack the students, or, deprecate them for pursuing their goals. In the meantime, we, as residents, are entitled to question the wisdom of this -expansion-. Personally, I don't see the benefits to the future students.


39 people like this
Posted by It's magic
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Magical words: transportation-demand-management
Makes autos disappear.
Ask Stanford, their huge huge expansion will produce no new traffic.

Yes, developers can do magic!


52 people like this
Posted by Nancy Tuck
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:29 pm

I'm glad to see that the DEIR is finally out; hopefully progress can now begin. I live within a block of Castilleja and can unequivocally state that I experience zero traffic or noise issues due to the school. Paly yes, but not Castilleja. I also pay exorbitant property taxes, but am happy to support our local excellent public schools, in spite of the fact that my only child attended Castilleja 6th thru 12th. I am living proof that property values in the area are higher due to Castilleja -- the school's proximity was the only reason I bought my home. I am exhausted with my [portion removed]
neighbors who blame Embarcadero traffic on this school, want it to move to Woodside/PV/EPA (but still support women's education - ha!), or imply that the drastic reconstruction of the campus into housing would not be disruptive or entail cement trucks, etc. I'll support Castilleja's endeavors with every last breath, knowing how my daughter flourishes from the skills and confidence gained there. I'll never really understand the agenda of the PNQLnow, but I have picked up on a strong bias against private school education. They've used descriptions of "spoiled", "rich", "entitled" to describe the students, in addition to pummeling the neighborhood with their STOP signs. The fact that there was less traffic and fewer lights when they grew up or moved here 40 years ago could be said of every single community on the Peninsula. Palo Alto is a vibrant and growing community - I say embrace [portion removed.]


60 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 1:40 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

To Resident....no investigation necessary. Neighbors have been clear about their motives from the beginning. Castilleja lied about their enrollment numbers and violated the CUP. Now they want to bring enrollment up from 430 to 540. There is already too much traffic in this residential neighborhood and no parking. Bryant street is a bike boulevard. You can commit to mitigating traffic all you want but you can't change reality.The Embarcadero is a traffic nightmare and there is no neighborhood parking available for current numbers of cars.

[Portion removed.]


67 people like this
Posted by Dog and pony show
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:08 pm

Castilleja says they have held 30 community meetings to work with the community in their expansion plans. I have attended about 5 meetings and felt that the meetings were basically pr for the Castilleja brand. Students and school parents spoke about the wonderful school without really listening to neighbors legitimate concerns. For an elite school such as Castilleja , they should increase their student population by splitting the middle and high school into 2 campuses, like most private schools have done with this dilemma. The fact that they are not pursuing this course really makes me wonder if there is something going on behind the scene.......Getting to a decision that works for both sides means Castilleja shouldn’t put all their eggs in 1 basket! Please stop the commercialization and over development of what little land is now left in Palo Alto.


17 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:16 pm

Posted by Nancy Tuck, a resident of Old Palo Alto

>> my only child attended Castilleja 6th thru 12th.

Can you explain why you think it would have benefitted your daughter if Castilleja had been a lot larger? Isn't it more likely that your daughter would have received less personal attention and been more likely to be lost in the shuffle? This is about Castilleja -expansion-. Saying Castilleja was a good school isn't an argument for why it would be better for it to be bigger.


38 people like this
Posted by Nancy Tuck
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:38 pm

Sure Anon, I can explain that. More girls would enable the school to offer more electives and fringe classes, like languages, arts, engineering, etc... More robust clubs, a debate team, maybe a rowing team. The more students, the easier to fill out the necessary numbers for the different interests. And I've personally known many families whose daughters were turned away, although they were talented, smart and passionate about getting a single-gender education. I'd add the fact that the integration of middle and upper school girls enhanced her experience. In middle school, she was mentored by high schoolers; in upper school she became a mentor. It made a material impact on the experience, built compassion, eliminated bullying, created role models and fomented leadership skills. I could go on...


17 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:50 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Jul 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

The people who want Castilleja to move should put their money where their mouth is and by them out. They have made a tremendous profit since they bought their houses.
Unless the neighbors buy them out, where do they think Castilleja would get the money to build a new campus?

Maybe it is time for these neighbors to really negotiate instead of continuing to blow smoke about how Castilleja is hurting them.

To put it in perspective, how would the neighbors feel if Castilleja were replaced by housing for 500 people. Thought so. Time to seriously compromise on your [portion removed] positions.


3 people like this
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2019 at 3:01 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


15 people like this
Posted by Ugh
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2019 at 3:08 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


58 people like this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 18, 2019 at 3:24 pm

Looking just at the facts, in a town already drowning in traffic, this project will make it worse, both the end result and presumably during construction. Getting to and from Paly or Stanford at prime time is already so painful. Town and Country is overwhelmed. Seriously, we don’t need geniuses to explain what we experience on a daily basis. In addition, probably most readers support girls’ education. Claiming that positioning as unique to Casti is disingenuous—Casti is an elite private school, with many students not from the town. Third, the school has [portion removed] [mistated] repeatedly over two decades about its enrollment. They willingly chose not to comply. So...why isn’t no this a straightforward “no”?


43 people like this
Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 18, 2019 at 4:19 pm

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Casti should have moved to a larger site that would provide for growth years ago. Harker School/Palo Alto Military Academy saw the future and moved to a larger site with room for expansion years ago.

Why is Casti bound and determined to stay in Palo Alto to their last dying breath? They can make a killing selling the Palo Alto property and build a facility that will serve 1,000 plus students. Everyone wins!


42 people like this
Posted by Working class Casti parent alum
a resident of another community
on Jul 18, 2019 at 5:21 pm

This is getting old. Time to move on and move ahead with this project and stop punishing the current students and staff for mistakes made years ago. Castilleja paid a hefty fine for the CUP violations which were caused by previous administrators who have long since left the school. They have also made significant changes to their traffic impact by adding student shuttle buses, hiring traffic guards and imposing limits and rules for on-site parking and traffic flow. Castilleja is closed on weekends and has zero impact on Stanford game traffic, and despite false rumors do not use their grounds for game day parking. By the way if you live in Palo Alto, you are part of the elite so enough of the pot calling the kettle black. As for the construction complaints, this neighborhood has little ground to stand on. Drive through this area and you will see many houses undergoing extensive reconstruction and rebuilds. Do neighbors protest the impact, noise and necessity of these projects?


48 people like this
Posted by boarding school
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:21 pm

"Casti has been at its location for more than 100 years. So every neighbor moved to old Palo Alto knowing that a private girls school is a neighbor."

Not so fast. Twenty odd years ago the enrollment was something over 300 and many of them were borders, with a greater percentage of local girls then who didn't need to drive or be driven here from other towns and adding to the commute traffic.


34 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:01 pm

@Nancy Tuck, [portion removed.]

Traffic is not a big issue now, but the proposed project would completely re-route traffic into one garage entrance on Bryant, plus add 130 students. It’s obvious to anyone with a grain of objectivity that the garage would be avoided and the situation would become worse by a thousand fold.

Drop-offs would be Helter Skelter throughout the neighborhood, and the danger to cyclists on Bryant is incredibly obvious.

Your [portion removed] loyalty to the school is not a reasonable argument against the obvious impacts.


53 people like this
Posted by JR
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 18, 2019 at 7:37 pm

A parking garage entrance on Bryant should be a non-starter. The city has spent many years and millions of dollars turning Bryant into a bike-friendly street and Castilleja's proposal would undo it all. It's a slap in the face to residents and anyone who rides a bike.


7 people like this
Posted by Grew Up Here
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2019 at 12:05 am

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Ray
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 19, 2019 at 11:21 am

At JR. I appreciate your sentiments about Bryant Street being a "bike Friendly" street but that's not entirely true. I live on Bryant and bike it often (having more than 8,000 miles on my bike.) I'm old enough to know to wear a helmet and obey traffic signs and signals. I was coming home on Bryant and had just crossed University with the light. Just passed Keen shoes, someone opened a car door and stopped my bike cold and pitched me into Bryant Street. Had a car been coming, I would have been hit. My helmet cracked, I was brought to Stanford Hospital in an ambulance and spent the afternoon getting scanned for internal injuries or concussion. Fortunately, nothing serious. There is little that makes Bryant safer than any other street. the Blue street signs are pretty and a couple of closures help with cross-town traffic, but not every cross street is a stop street, Bryant is not clear sailing for a bike at all intersections, and downtown parking, while necessary, is a danger to bikers. That was the second time I had the open door thing happen, the first was on Ramona but I was able to stop. Further, when driving, bikers can be annoying by pedaling far enough away from doors and impeding traffic. I have sympathy, but it is annoying. One cyclist I was talking to at the Bryant/Embarcadero light (I was on my bike too) told me he deliberately does it to show drivers he has a right so to do. He is wrong and it is dangerous given that not all drivers are polite and would win a contest about who can go faster, bike in the way or not. Not arguing with you. Just saying, Bryant is not all that bike friendly. By the way, I have biked throughout Holland and THAT is a bike friendly country.


7 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2019 at 1:45 pm

Posted by Ray, a resident of Professorville

>> Further, when driving, bikers can be annoying by pedaling far enough away from doors and impeding traffic.

My modus operandi as well at times. But, the point is not to show that you have a right to do, the point is to ride where it is safe, and, not get "doored". Normally, in these conditions, the bike is going as fast as auto traffic most of the time anyway.

>> I have sympathy, but it is annoying. One cyclist I was talking to at the Bryant/Embarcadero light (I was on my bike too) told me he deliberately does it to show drivers he has a right so to do.

Just because someone is riding a bike doesn't mean that they aren't a jerk, sigh.

>>He is wrong and it is dangerous given that not all drivers are polite and would win a contest about who can go faster, bike in the way or not.

Normally, if a bike rider is riding safely, it will only be necessary to impede traffic for short periods. As an auto driver, bike rider, and pedestrian, I'm more worried about those big electric bikes with the fat tires that can go 35 MPH. There are a couple of unsafe riders out there on the bike boulevards zooming along in those things apparently not realizing how they are endangering themselves and others. Not to mention the speeding electric skateboards.


39 people like this
Posted by boys n girls
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 22, 2019 at 5:25 am

Did you know Paly educates women too?
Even Greene MS educates women!!
Some of them will become leaders!!!


27 people like this
Posted by Long Time Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 5:47 am

I remember when Castilleja was not a burden to our community.
It was simply a small boarding school within our residential neighborhood - on the outskirts of Paly and Stanford.
Now that it is no longer a boarding school, it would be helpful if these parents consider buying or renting a home in this area, and allow their daughters to bike or walk to school like the rest of the girls in Palo Alto.
Hello, Casti parents - most college courses have more than 6 students in them, and they are diverse. Perhaps it is time to stop the doting.


27 people like this
Posted by Now it's clear, Casti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 22, 2019 at 10:09 am

Now that it's clear the expansion would make traffic for the community horrible, it's time to put into action your claim that you care much about the surrounding community.
It's time to stop this madness. There is no more room in the current area.
You actions WILL negatively affect the surrounding neighborhood.
Do you still care about being a good neighbor? Time to show it instead of saying it.


33 people like this
Posted by Barbara Hazlett
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 22, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Having lived near Castilleja for 40 years, I can attest to its many contributions to our community. With respect specifically to environmental impact, Castilleja is a very respectful neighbor having gone to great lengths to mitigate traffic and parking demands as the town has grown up around it, and also to manage its footprint in all areas. The administration, faculty and students all are dedicated to best efforts in this area and to be monitored and measured. In my view, the school provides a park-like buffer for the lucky residents that surround it. The school's master plan proposes a green and architecturally inspired design and asks for no additional square footage above ground. Everywhere we look in Palo Alto there is construction and expansion. Why should one of our most historic and consequential neighborhood treasures, the 100+ year old Castillja, be denied critical improvements and to extend its reach to a modest number of new students. To do so is foolish and very short-sighted.

We all need to be reminded that, much like Stanford, Castilleja is a nationally ranked school. How lucky are we to have these kinds of educational institutions in our back yard. I believe we need to fully support the schools that have proved they are the best in America.


3 people like this
Posted by Person of interest
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 3:48 pm

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


18 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 4:23 pm

“The administration, faculty and students all are dedicated to best efforts in this area and to be monitored and measured.”

This is contradicted by the reality that for years the school violated its use permit and overenrolled (cheated) and lied about it.

It is teaching by example, the deepest and most effective form of teaching, that power and money means you can lie, cheat, and bully your neighbors. And if you say a false thing often enough, it becomes a shield for bad actions.

Why is this expansion possibility even still alive?

The entire board and administrative leadership of the school would need to be replaced before any commitments from the school become credible.


31 people like this
Posted by Casti Dad
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 22, 2019 at 6:46 pm

Casti Dad is a registered user.

@Seriously. You do realize that the current administration of Castilleja was not responsible for the over enrollment and worked out an agreement with the city to gradually reduce enrollment? Not only that, but it was the current administration that voluntarily admitted the violations in the first place, way back in 2012. Is seven years of keeping their word and reducing enrollment and traffic impact enough time to regain a modicum of trust?


22 people like this
Posted by new resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 22, 2019 at 6:53 pm

RE CASTI Dad's comment: Although trust is still an issue to some, it is really besides the point in this debate. The key question is is whether the neighborhood should be subject to the expansion, parking garage, construction etc. Clearly if a plan is adapted it can be monitored closely; but it's really what does Cast contribute to Palo Alto that makes it so unique as to warrant special dispensation in an R1 neighborhood. In my view, not nearly enough.


25 people like this
Posted by BobH
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 23, 2019 at 4:38 am

BobH is a registered user.

I do support women's education, but I don't support the Castilleja School expansion plans.

I urge the city council to not approve this project.


22 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jul 23, 2019 at 5:57 am

mauricio is a registered user.

@Casti Dad:So, based on your logic, a financial advisor who violated SEC regulations and then eventually admitted to the violations and promised to not do repeat them, deserves a larger office.


23 people like this
Posted by Barbara Hazlett
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 23, 2019 at 10:18 am

I found the latest headlines and articles in the Weekly and Daily Post regarding Castilleja to be front-loaded with negative comments. You had to read well into the articles to find the positives, which most readers won't do. As in most news these days, I find there is little fair and balanced reporting. One thing that stupefies me in all of this is the argument that "redevelopment would overwhelm their quiet neighborhood". Are they living in the present? Development, growth and increased traffic are the norm given the extraordinary economic growth of the day. Why are they to be the one protected island in town? The notion that Castilleja has no business being in an R-1 neighborhood is laughable. Castilleja was there first and, news flash, if Sacramento has its way, there won't be any more R-1 zoning in the so called "jobs and education rich" towns. I see four story apartment buildings, with NO parking requirements, coming to their backyards. They should be very grateful that Castilleja protects them from the ever encroaching madness of Embarcadero, is vigilant in monitoring traffic and parking impacts and protects their home values (wait until Stanford's GUP adding 3.5 million more sq. ft and 10,000 more employees are here).


11 people like this
Posted by It's magic
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2019 at 2:36 pm

It has been asked above:
>Why is Casti bound and determined to stay in Palo Alto to their last dying breath?

This question I think is at the heart of their behavior.
Or maybe the board has the developer-mentality: demolish and build bigger and bigger. More money to be made. And the heck with the consequences to others.


11 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2019 at 4:31 pm

Posted by Barbara Hazlett, a resident of Professorville

>> I found the latest headlines and articles in the Weekly and Daily Post regarding Castilleja to be front-loaded with negative comments. You had to read well into the articles to find the positives, which most readers won't do.

I had just the opposite reaction. I thought the article was too uncritical. They need to ask the hard question: "Why?" There really isn't any good answer to that question. This project is growth for growth's sake. Expensive, inefficient construction that will drag on, in an appropriate location, eventually resulting in more traffic, all because somebody is stuck in the "grow or die" mentality. Maybe, if Castilleja was "right-sized", then, the number of students would shrink, not grow?

>> As in most news these days, I find there is little fair and balanced reporting.

"ROTFL". You have to be kidding.

>> One thing that stupefies me in all of this is the argument that "redevelopment would overwhelm their quiet neighborhood". Are they living in the present? Development, growth and increased traffic are the norm

You've inspired me to post again. Seriously, you are trying to minimize the impact, and then, you turn around and say that, well, there is already so much noise and traffic what does it matter? Seriously?!?!


15 people like this
Posted by rsmithjr
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 23, 2019 at 6:56 pm

rsmithjr is a registered user.

There is something that doesn't seem to have come up in this discussion.

In 1992, the city allowed Castilleja to use the section of Melville Avenue that stands between the school and Embarcadero Road. [See SJ Mercury 3-18-92.] I do not believe that the city actually transferred ownership to the school, but it may have. It appears to me that the school is rather freely using the former street for its own exclusive purposes, which may not be consistent with what the city allowed.

Since this valuable strip of property is now likely to be part of Castilleja's renovations, the ownership and rights to the property should be clearly established.

PS: In reading through clippings at the Historical Society to find the above-mentioned article, I found many instances over the years where the school was talking about, proposing, or doing an expansion. For the first time, I had the feeling it is time for this school to find a location that will meet their long-term growth needs.


11 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2019 at 9:26 pm

Posted by rsmithjr, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis

>> There is something that doesn't seem to have come up in this discussion.

>> In 1992, the city allowed Castilleja to use the section of Melville Avenue that stands between the school and Embarcadero Road. [See SJ Mercury 3-18-92.] I do not believe that the city actually transferred ownership to the school,

Interesting if true, because, they've just long since incorporated Melville into their sports/athletics fields. That section of Melville is gone. I assume that was all done above-board?


5 people like this
Posted by dejiii
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 11:40 am

dejiii is a registered user.

Well that report is sure a shocker...... NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Simply look around the neighborhood of Castillija. 95% of
the homeowners DO NOT WANT EXPANSION. Where you find support of
residents are neighborhoods in Midtown WHERE THEY ARE NOT IMPACTED.
I donno, been driving by or riding my bike by Castillija since 1970.
I think I have seen 25 girls in all these years. Even when the new
field was put in. When and where do they even practice. It always seems
clear of student athletes.....................
Wake up, is nothing more than a expansion for profit and makes it a
problem for surrounding HOME TAX PAYING OWNERS and their families.


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