Vice Mayor (Lydia) Kou and PNQL (Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life) head Andie Reed and her associates deserve enormous thanks for their valiant and sustained efforts to constrain Castilleja School's ambitions. They did have some modest successes at the edges of the project, but Castilleja's campaign and resources overwhelmed the city staff and council. The underground garage and 30% enrollment increase was never changed. Fortunately, the near neighbors are strong and resilient. They will adapt to the inevitable increases in traffic and noise.
One is less optimistic regarding the new neighborhood committee effectiveness. Already there are complaints about the number of events. Look for supporters to stack the new neighborhood committee and work to give Castilleja an easy path to get approval for more.
Let's hope that in the future Castilleja, by its actions, will transform itself into a trusted neighbor.
Bryant Street, Palo Alto
Castilleja can't be trusted to self-govern
Champagne must have flowed at Castilleja School the night our docile City Council voted to bow to the school's construction variances, enrollment increases, underground garage in an R-1 neighborhood and more demands.
My family attended all of the 22 public hearings, and it became evident early on that the Council would eventually side with the school while tossing a few bones to the immediate neighbors and other Palo Alto residents who tried in vain to curtail the vast overreach of this private commercial entity.
After 16 years in violation of its previous permit, it's a laugh to think the school will self-govern to meet the Council's flabby conditions. Castilleja has shown a relentless history of obfuscating, finding loopholes and willfully misinterpreting its conditions for remaining in an R-1 zone. The Council has rewarded their duplicity with pretty much everything the school demanded.
Council member Eric Filseth zeroed in on the issue when he noted that if a new applicant asked to put this oversized private school on a 6-acre lot in the middle of an established residential neighborhood, no question, the City Council would have turned this project down. And yet, based on the not-very-persuasive argument "We've been here a long time and therefore should be able to continue growing as much as we want," the Council rolled over.
We give high praise to Vice Mayor Lydia Kou for her courageous and enlightened sole dissent.
Bryant Street, Palo Alto
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