The diamond lane used to imply environmentalism — carpooling and electric vehicles (EVs). It provided incentive for people to do the right thing. Not anymore.
Without public involvement, comment or vote, Caltrans remodeled the diamond lane on U.S. Highway 101 and made it a toll road. Diana Diamond, in her Feb. 18 column ("Express lanes will cost drivers masses of money") called it exactly right when she said "Gone is the concept that our roads are for all, day and night."
Now "diamond lane" means "diamond-studded," since it's the rich who can afford to use it anytime they want. The toll, which varies depending on time, traffic and whatever other secret algorithm Caltrans has designed, is a regressive tax, hitting the poor, lower-middle class, Uber/Lyft drivers, workers that commute on Highway 101, etc. There is a charge unless you have at least three people in the vehicle.
Tolls are charged 15 hours a day, not just during commute hours!
It's a bad idea, and it doesn't encourage carpooling or sales of EVs. CalTrans already gets money for every gallon of gas we buy. They don't need to tax us even more.
How did they get away with this? We need to get this disaster disabled and the digital display permanently set to "no toll."
Voters should have had a say in this. I hope we can get a county proposition on the next ballot to overturn this boondoggle and return our roads back to the taxpayers.
Creekside Drive, Palo Alto
Wrong location for a gym
I was surprised to read that Mitchell Park is being suggested as one of the sites for a city-owned gymnasium. I would remind both the City Council and the Parks and Recreation Department that Mitchell Park was rejected by the voters of Palo Alto in the past as a site for the library. At that time, city residents wanted to keep Mitchell Park as large and green as possible and forever open space. A building the size of a city-owned gym would not be accepted in Mitchell Park.
As a nearby resident, I would like to see a new building such as a city-owned gym at Cubberley. It could very possibly start to revitalize the site.
Sutherland Drive, Palo Alto
Wrong location for a gym
I want to commend the Architectural Review Board members for their unanimous support of Castilleja's proposal to modernize the campus. Even the newest members who were not able to vote yet "signaled that they support the compromise" that the three voting members forged. Bravo to all members of the board for coming into the process ready to work together and move this process forward with benefits for the neighbors, the city and the school.
The board also was unified about the proposed garage, sending a clear message to the city council that parking as many cars as possible below ground — without impacting trees — is by far the best option. I know that many neighbors agree. If the impacts for the trees remain the same, then optimize underground parking to benefit the neighborhood. Car trips are capped, so more spaces below ground won't bring more traffic. It will simply move cars out of sight.
I appreciate the spirit of compromise that the school and the board are clearly showing at this point in this process. The school has offered several different options for the board to review, all of them further preserving trees, moving parking below ground, reducing square footage, lowering roof lines, increasing setbacks, and reducing impacts on the neighborhood. Meanwhile, the board members collaborated to compromise and approve a plan that pulls all of the most important improvements together to bring this important project closer to approval. This is an example of city leadership at its very best.
Military Way, Palo Alto
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