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Palo Alto in final stage of California Avenue redesign

Original post made on Dec 13, 2012

After two years of revisions, lawsuits and squabbles with area business owners, Palo Alto officials are now putting the finishing touches on their ambitious plan to transform California Avenue into a pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare, with construction set to begin next fall.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, December 13, 2012, 9:57 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by Rene
a resident of Ventura
on Dec 13, 2012 at 11:44 am

I am looking forward to this upgrade. I don't know what the final configuration will be, but hope that bikes don't have to ride between moving cars and parked cars.
I would like to see moving cars in middle, parked cars right on the lane right next to them, a lane for moving bikes next with some sort of separation from pedestrians/restaurant tables, etc. that still allows bikes to easily get off the bike lane to park (and be walked when in the pedestrian area) but that somehow prevent pedestrians and bikes from possible collisions. A smooth small incline would accomplish this.
Some time ago, I saw a proposed design that had bikes riding between parked and moving cars, and while this isolates bikes and pedestrians, it could still create hazards when cars are backing up or trying to park. I can understand that pedestrians might be concerned with no physical separation from bikes; I just think this could be accomplished easily without creating hazards for drivers and bikers.

Posted by Washington DC
a resident of Palo Verde
on Dec 13, 2012 at 12:01 pm

On a recent trip to Washington DC I used the bike lanes that were in the middle of the street on similar busy traffic and pedestrian streets. Has that idea ever been thought of here?

Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I prefers the Washington DC bike lane style, too. Drivers are forced to be more aware of bikes because of better visibility. Much safer.

Posted by Alan
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 13, 2012 at 1:56 pm

"They have also reduced the number of proposed trees at certain locations to keep the area from becoming too cool."

Too cool? This now denuded street is incredibly hot during the Summer months. Those big old oak trees used to help, but once they were clear cut you now can see heat waves.

Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I don't suppose there will be a chance for residents to speak at a city council meeting. This is just the craziest thing. I think it's a case of spend it or lose it. They are getting money from an outside source, so they'd better do it. There are ways they could make this street more attractive (it was charming before they chopped the trees down) without reducing the lanes. It's true that noone will ever drive down this street again as it will be HORRIBLE, so it will be safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. Why don't they close the street off entirely and make it strictly pedestrian and bicycle. It will certainly not be car friendly. Have you had to wait for someone to pull out of a parking place? Other cars can go around you now, but without the lanes, traffic will just back up onto El Camino. Oh, but what will actually happen is that the impatient drivers that zoom down Cal Ave now, will just go around them into oncoming traffic.

Posted by Dennis
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 13, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Alan - I think by "cool" they meant "hip" or perhaps "Euro" - maybe fearing violation of the tree risk/reward principle of public planning theory (TR/RP-PPPT). It goes something like: quantity of tree (qt) = quantifiable risk (qr) > qr increases proportionately with increases in qt. Not to fear, the Anti-Arboristas are here, right here, in PA.

Posted by Rose
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm

What a miserable idea to emulate Castro or Santa Cruz Avenues. They are congested and dangerous, as is University Ave. Newspaper articles regarding the Cal Ave changes always say many merchants are against changing from 4 to 2 lanes. They never mention that plain old residents are against this change too, and have been from the get go. Someone put it correctly....the city chased a million dollar grant to update Cal Abe. It has paid no attention to the residents and the merchants who live, shop, commute through on bikes, and work here.
BTW the Weekly had an article on the "Mayfield" neighborhood a few months ago. How about including Mayfield in your list of neighborhoods? That's where I live--just three blocks from Cal Ave.

Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Thank you, Dennis. You made me laugh like a schoolgirl!

Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

It this the same bunch of Planning Officials, etc. who gave us the Jewish Life Center, 800 High, and the big-hole at the corner of Alma and Lytton? Are these the same city employees who went ga-ga over 27 University. Heaven help Palo Alto.

Posted by Gail
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 13, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Bob, You forgot to mention that these are the same Planning officials that designed the dreadful "park" at University and Emerson, too. What a cold, ugly disaster that turned out to be. The Planning Department needs to be fired, along with a lot of other people at City Hall.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2012 at 12:30 am

Looking forward to the improvements, 20 years long overdue. The cool thing is how easy it is to walk over to CA Avenue from Greenacres and Barron Park along the bike path. Or to bike. Looking forward to actually having a place to hang out and stroll when we take walks.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2012 at 9:18 am

Peter Cao's bizarre rantings yet AGAIN. He needs help, but not here.

PaloAltoOnline: PLEASE BLOCK HIM It is not hard to do.

Posted by annoyed
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Dec 14, 2012 at 10:59 am

Now that we have lots and lots of 1 lane each way of traffic- all we have is traffic. When my friend was late attending a meeting because of traffic, she started to explain but everyone said- yeah, that's Palo Alto.

a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2012 at 12:16 pm

"Everything changes"

Nothing was mentioned about 'for better or for worst' ....

The California Avenue neighborhood streets and parking lots are already on overload.
Castro Street, University Ave. and Santa Cruz Avenue are poor examples to justify your case. Removing trees to keep some areas 'cool' is typical bureaucratic jargon, like 'collateral damage.'

Cherryl Pape

Posted by MadamPresident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm

please dear friends, CA Ave is a #hole as it is; looking FW to improvements

Posted by Anne d'Anecdote
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Dec 16, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I look forward to improvements on California Ave as long as they approve the appearance and function. The recent improvements made a homely street uglier, made the glare and heat in the summer miserable. The improvements planned will make traffic and parking more miserable, and make the appearance worse still.

Many residents shop here and avoid downtown. The proposed improvements will make it unappealing for residents to shop here, too. Which means we will shop elsewhere, and that is where our tax money will go--elsewhere.

Mountain View makes a lot of money already off the tax dollars dropped there by PA residents shopping there rather than here, due to better prices, more parking, etc.

The proposed improvements (they should not really be called that, because they are actually detractions) are no way to control the bleeding.

Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

With amount of lawsuits and other hold up project delays. The Cal Street project would have been on the way to being done, the replacement trees would already growing or being planted by now.

Posted by resident
a resident of Barron Park School
on Dec 16, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Looking forward to the changes on California. I hope they add lots of NEW parking as its already impossible to park there at lunch time (noon to 2pm).

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