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Residents form watchdog group around Castilleja plans

Original post made on Feb 10, 2017

Promising vigorous scrutiny of every aspect of a proposed expansion at Castilleja School, Old Palo Alto residents have formed a group with the purpose, they say, of holding city and school officials accountable.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 10, 2017, 12:00 AM

Comments (122)

69 people like this
Posted by Neva Yarkin
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 7:41 am

I would like to add that Castilleja wants to close one lane on Embarcadero by Bryant. Traffic is already a major problem so it will only compound traffic on Embarcadero a major throughway in Palo Alto!


79 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 8:09 am

It is such a small location in a residential neighborhood. Why can't Castilleja stick with its same size? Yes it's to educate girls, that is a great mission, but there are thousands, millions of girls to be educated so that is not the question. First 100 more girls, then they will say that they can accommodate 100 more, and so on. This is ridiculous on their part. With tuition at 40k plus, they have the ability to open a new campus somewhere else if they really want to grow so much.


70 people like this
Posted by No more construction
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 10, 2017 at 9:41 am

Don't destroy our neighborhood!! Too much traffic & constructions already. Please expand somewhere.


61 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2017 at 9:41 am

Closing a lane on Embarcadero is absolutely nuts because it will push traffic back and into El Camino. That's just nuts. As if Embarcadero and the area around Town & Country isn't bad enough!

Please support their worthy effort by signing the petition and getting a yard sign; it goes beyond the immediate neighborhood.


58 people like this
Posted by Casti Neighbor
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 10, 2017 at 9:45 am

They are not closing a lane of Embarcadero. That is one of many "alternative facts" provided by this group


58 people like this
Posted by Bad Neighbors
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:00 am

The Baptist Church at 305 N California Ave is being run as a commercial office building in the heart of Old Palo Alto. Mozart Music School is located at the church and they have 350 or more students. Mozart never applied for a Conditional Use Permit. It is only now that the church located businesses are being scrutinized by the City. I Sing, with 200 or more students is also located at the church. In total, there are approx 20 businesses being run out of the church. None have the required CUP (Conditional Use Permit). The Church is a "front" for a commercial office building located in an R-1 residential district. I suggest people google 305 N California Ave to see all the businesses being run out of the "so called church." I hope the City cracks down on both the Baptist Church and Castilleja. The church could potentially lose its Tax Exempt status, too.
I suggest people contact Claire Hodgkins at the City of PA to voice their concerns. claire.hodgkins@city of paloalto.org
Telephone 329-2116


20 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:03 am

Please show the plans so we know it's not an alternative fact. I wouldn't put anything past the city re traffic and development at this point and certainly wouldn't want to risk it.

Turning traffic backing up while trying to get into businesses/ schools is already a major problem and effectively eliminates a lane of traffic anyway. A case in point is the new bank/ Atms in Midtown on Middlefield.


26 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:07 am

I only wish there were similar concerns about the way our PAUSD schools have grown over the past 10 years or so. They used to be nice sized neighborhood schools where everyone walked to school and everybody knew everybody. Now it seems that the front of all schools are drop off zones and traffic is a bigger problem to the neighbors than say noise at recess.


58 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:28 am

Why doesn't Casti find another site for their middle school like Crystal Springs Upland did when they outgrew their original campus? Stop burdening the neighborhood!


23 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:28 am

Why can't this school mitigate traffic with a shuttle system or school bus? That's what public and the larger private schools do outside of California. It works well and the parents don't have to play chauffeur all the time.


48 people like this
Posted by RDM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:41 am

It is absurd for Casti to be given permission to expand enrollment. Traffic is already very bad around the school at the beginning and end of the school day, so adding 130 or so cars will make it worse. Casti was totally negligent, uncaring and unethical about neighbors when they surreptitiously expanded their enrollment beyond the use permit. While Casti provides a wonderful education for those wealthy enough to afford the tuition or fortunate enough to secure a scholarship, the large majority of students do not live in Palo Alto. Their claim that they provide a beneficial resource to the city and neighborhood is disingenuous and not correct. Under no circumstance should they be allowed to expand.


40 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:44 am

It is fun to see all the houses which have added upper floors and or had other remodeling projects around Castilleja in the last 20 years. So, some of the neighbors are arguing Castilleja shouldn't be allowed to expand while (wink, nod) they should be allowed to do so themselves? I recall fondly the single story Cape Cod house 25 years ago where Mr. Ng now lives.

[Portion removed.]


32 people like this
Posted by Incensed Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 10:53 am

"Kaufman acknowledged the past mistakes, which occurred before she was hired by the school" according to the article. From 2012 when they were caught in the CUP scandal until 2016, there has been ample time for her to regain our trust by going back to 415, the agreed enrollment stated in the 2000 CUP. 4 years is ample time to ask us to review their plans and ask for input rather than springing it on us a few days before they submitted an application for a new CUP as well as major rebuilding of their campus. We as neighbors asked for transparency and what we got were plans shrouded in secrecy, nothing ever revealed until the last minute. We asked for an open dialogue at the neighborhood forum and all we got was a roomful of Castilleja parents who did not live in the immediate area saying how great the school was with no dialogue about the plans. We found them trenching on their property to "study" the roots of trees they want to remove, with no notice, no effort to obey the law and follow the tree ordinance to backfill and protect the health of those trees.

So please answer this... what has been done exactly to help the neighbors to regain that trust? Codes have been violated, application is not even complete though Castilleja is acting as it is a done deal and we still are waiting to see the details of the plans to rebuild aside from some artistic renderings which even a Nuclear Power Plant could be made to look pretty!


25 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:04 am

It should be required that the city conduct in-depth and ACCURATE traffic studies at peak school times and during morning and afternoon rush hours before even considering this project and future instead of doing them at light traffic times of 10AM.

Specific times for traffic studies should be mandated so the city can't just dismiss legitimate concerns with its usual claims of "oh, we monitored it" since the city seems to be determinedly unclear on when school traffic and rush hours occur.


58 people like this
Posted by better idea
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:12 am

How about moving Casti to Woodside and converting the campus to a BMR housing development. This was the Old Palo Alto residents can experience the advantages of mixed-income housing those of us near transportation hubs have been enjoying for a while.


48 people like this
Posted by KM
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:16 am

I support Castilleja's expansion plan. It is a treasured school, and there is much more demand for admissions than there are spots. These neighbors bought homes near a school. They need to work collaboratively with that school to make an expansion plan that is acceptable to all sides. Aren't there bigger issues in our country today that require "vigorous scrutiny" than Castilleja's expansion plan?


31 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto is a University Town
a resident of University South
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:32 am

Ours is a University Town, Our priority, I feel, should remain being a leader in education-- private and public from the first years of life through University and even into retirement years. Cutting back on Schools is at odds with my values. Perhaps we should listen to Castilleja’s reasons for expanding. Is the motivation all financial? Or has a 21st century curriculum genuinely impacted their needs? Neighbors might carefully consider their refrain for Castilleja to move. It seems that high density housing on the Castilleja Campus (near Stanford, Town & Country, and a walk to the transit hub) would serve the greater community well if Castilleja were to relocate. How would those who object to Castilleja’s plans feel about that?


25 people like this
Posted by OMGPA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:50 am

The city and the school are rushing to get this issue in front of the current city council before the mayor is termed out. He should recuse himself. OMG Tanaka will still be on CC. Sorry y'all.


29 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:51 am

When we moved into the area 40 years ago, we did not assume the risk that a R1 neighborhood would be converted into a commercial space, which is what the new proposal is. An underground garage, streaming hundreds of cars into our neighborhood at all hours of the day? Beyond the school hours, Castilleja holds more than 100 events a year plus a summer camp. And what about 6 years of construction? The neighborhood would be the staging site, and Embarcadero would be the main access road for trucks and workers. And Stanford is adding 3,500 units. Come on, there are so many other options! [Portion removed.] They hired a high-paid lobbyist (former Palo Alto City Planner Steve Emslie) to usher this through the planning commission and city council [portion removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:56 am

Traffic in this area can only get worse I imagine, with an expansion. Mistrust runs deep in this community, period. So the onus is on Ms. Kaufmann to re-establish the trust from blatant violations and a disregard for the CUP - there couldn't be a way to not know their enrollment exceeded allowable amounts.

Education is great and certainly Castilleja can be thought of as a business. I hope the community and the school can figure this out so it benefits everyone. What if the school is required to provide scholarships to, and accept a pre-determined number of under-privileged students who live in Palo Alto / East Palo Alto? In addition to being a business venture, which they have every right to be, the school exists to educate children. What an opportunity to provide a first-class education to those who could otherwise not afford it.


29 people like this
Posted by Recusals!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:58 am

So Planning and Transportation Commissioner Asher Waldfogel's family donated a ton of money during the election to Council member Lydia Kou. Asher served for many years on the board of Castilleja. Lydia received $80k from Castilleja related parties (the five infamous families) during the election.

For Asher to participate on the PTC is a total conflict of interest.

Also, Lydia is obviously conflicted and needs to return the Castilleja developer money and recuse herself from Council!


13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2017 at 11:59 am

Here's a link to the petition opposing this expansion. Web Link


Sign the first page and then get in touch with the organizers to request a yard sign and to pick up your signed petition.

Traffic is already horrendous and dangerous; we don't need more.

The CC members with conflicts of interest on this and the Stanford expansion should recuse themselves.


11 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2017 at 12:08 pm

Wow, did not know this about Lydia Kou. I wonder if all of the residentialists clamor for her recusal and [portion removed] call for her recall from council just as they have towards Tanaka.


17 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm

Way back when there was all the outrage about the five families donating to Kuo and the other residentialist candidates, Kuo issued a statement denying that the FORMER trustee's contribution would influence her vote on any issue.

I've yet to see a similar claim from Fine that his mother's position on the Stanford Real Estate Development commission won't influence his, or from Scharff re C. or from the others who have taken developer contributions.

Let's try to fair.


31 people like this
Posted by PL
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 1:06 pm

I live across from Castilleja on 100 block of Kellogg. I support and contribute to PNQLnow.org. I and every household on my block of 100 Kellogg are displaying lawn signs in support of protecting Palo Alto neighborhoods and our quality of life. I voted for Lydia Kou. I trust Lydia Kou to have the integrity to do what is best for the residents of Palo Alto.


17 people like this
Posted by Casti Neighbor
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 10, 2017 at 1:23 pm

[Portion removed.] I've seen quite a few that don't have signs. Not even including those under construction. [Portion removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Corruption
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by PA Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 1:46 pm

[Post removed.]


17 people like this
Posted by margaret heath
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2017 at 1:52 pm

Do you mean Lydia Kou got her money from the company that is building (developing) that will benefit financially from a large construction at Casti? Seems to me there is a difference between donating money to a political campaign in hopes of influence for financial gain and donating money where there is no financial benefit involved.


3 people like this
Posted by PL
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 1:55 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]


17 people like this
Posted by Adrian Fine
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 10, 2017 at 2:04 pm

@Online Name - My stepmother retired from Stanford in 2015, and I've never had a financial connection to the University. I will be sure to clear this with the City Attorney any time a relevant project/decision comes to the city.


30 people like this
Posted by OMG Steve Emslie
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Feb 10, 2017 at 2:49 pm

OMG. "They hired a high-paid lobbyist (former Palo Alto City Planner Steve Emslie) to usher this through the planning commission and city council.."
Steve Emslie was Deputy City Manager, being promoted from Planning Dept. Manager.
After the 27 University mega project debacle and the Grand Jury Report criticizing the city's role in promoting it, he left the city and went to work for
Goodyear Peterson Hayward & Associates (PR firm) which lobbies for major developers, "as Regional Director for the firm, focusing on a wide spectrum of business matters, but with a particular focus on land use and development projects throughout the Peninsula, South Bay and East Bay."
Web Link


25 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2017 at 3:24 pm

Adrian Fine, thanks for the clarification re your mother.

Now that you're on the CC and no longer head of the Planning & Transportation Commission, I'd hope you'll finally support the requirement that transportation studies be conducted at the busiest times of day -- ie morning and evening rush hours, school pick-up and drop-off times -- and not at 10AM and other very light traffic times?


28 people like this
Posted by Just Do It
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 3:31 pm

I agree that Casti should increase the tuition a bit and buy or lease a bus and hire a bus driver!

They can have their cake and eat it, too-- with less annoyance from the neighbors!

PLEASE, Casti, DO IT! Many other private schools do!


31 people like this
Posted by Conflict of interest
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 10, 2017 at 4:24 pm

It's a major conflict of interest that are former Deputy city manager Steve Emslie will be Doing the scoping rices before the City.How can the city let its former members do this kind of work? There are plenty of other people without their integrity questioned ,that could represent Castilleja without this kind of entanglement. [Portion removed.]
Why not follow ISTP, and Keys School by splitting their campus to upper and lower campus?.....or are the so entitled to not follow established norms for school acreage?


24 people like this
Posted by Alternate fact checker
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 10, 2017 at 4:25 pm

"Since we began our master-planning process four years ago" so Nanci says in the article in the the recent Palo Alto Weekly article... "we've had numerous conversation with the neighbors."

In Casti's Fall/Winter Full Circle Magazine titled "From the Head" and signed by Nanci it reads:
"Students, Employees, parents, alumnae and trustees have all played roles in a nearly ten-year process that led to the June 30, 2016 filing of our application to the City of Palo Alto for the new Conditional Use Permit and Master Plan".

Looks to me like the press was being fed an "Alternate Fact". And their is no mention in the magazine that conversations with the neighbors played a roll in the process at all. When they finally sprung real drawing plans on June 22, 2016 to the neighbors only 8 days before filing the application on June 30, 2016... how can they say they were "working with the neighbors"? Please tell me how 5 working days was enough time to give neighbors to to offer input into the drawings they finally unveiled on the 22nd?

And you wonder why we've lost all trust in the school!


22 people like this
Posted by Casti Neighbor
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 10, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Wrong again. Check the City's website here:
Web Link

OVER 150 PAGES documenting over 30 meetings with neighbors to arrive on design details. Final drawings doesn't mean that concepts and layouts weren't agreed upon beforehand. May want to pay a little more attention to the details.


38 people like this
Posted by Pro Schools
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 10, 2017 at 4:54 pm

Don't buy a house near if a school if you don't like the traffic associated with it!

A balanced community has residential areas, parks, schools, and businesses. They all go hand-in-hand and need to work together.


36 people like this
Posted by Schools Too!
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 10, 2017 at 4:57 pm

If you think it's hard for individuals and families to find real estate in Palo Alto (Bay Area in general) it's exponentially harder for a school to find a new site. Having Casti move to another community is not a reasonable solution. Casti is part of the Palo Alto community!


7 people like this
Posted by Old PA resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 5:04 pm

I have read all 158 pages of these notes from 30 meetings. Please go to the City of Palo Alto website and get on the Castilleja page. Click on the right side bar, go down to the second from the bottom link to "March 10, 2016 Statement to Council". This was submitted by the group of neighbors Ms. Kaufman alludes to. They come away with a very different interpretation of the relationship.


32 people like this
Posted by Carolina
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 10, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Castilleja is a core, integral, and irreplaceable part of our Palo Alto community. It is wonderful to see it grow and offer education to more girls. Casti girls come from variety of backgrounds. 20% of students get tuition assistance. I am sad that Casti neighbors are not supporting the growth of Casti and acting selfishly to promote their own interests. If the neighbors are so concerned about the traffic they should fight to limit businesses growth in Downtown. I am a longtime Palo alto resident and I support Castilleja expension wholeheartedly. These neighbors do not represent the opinions of the majority of the population of Palo alto. This is for the girls. This is for the future. Now more than ever, we need to support Castilleja's mission--Castilleja is part of what makes Palo Alto the wonderful community it is.


42 people like this
Posted by Not Me
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 5:40 pm

I did NOT buy a house near the school, nor would I do so knowingly.

Casti encroaches on other streets when they have after school and weekend functions, AND when they park cars for Stanford during some of their events.

Also, there is plenty of empty commercial real estate in San Jose, Milpitas and North San Jose!


38 people like this
Posted by Team Neighbors
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 10, 2017 at 7:32 pm

Nanci Kauffman has been head of school at Castilleja for 6 years. She isn't part of the problem; she is the problem. She is blaming previous administrations for her errors, including the 450 enrollment in 2012 while she was head of school.


45 people like this
Posted by No upside in this for Palo Alto residents
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 10, 2017 at 7:54 pm

Casti is a great school but there is NO upside for the residents of palo alto in this school expansion. If they want to grow, open another campus. Move the middle or high school like Nueva, Keys, and Crystal Springs have done. PAUSD has separate middle and high schools... They should be required to go back to their permitted size, not allowed to grow.


11 people like this
Posted by Get A Life Palo Alto
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 10, 2017 at 9:15 pm

This Castilleja Controversy is just another example that humans just cannot get along with each other. Why is everything constantly questioned from local to national issues? Don't people have their own personal lives? And why are people at least attempting to see the other side on issues, so that compromise is achieved? Everyone wants everything their own way. Sometimes, living on this earth with other people is just too much work.


36 people like this
Posted by Enforcement
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2017 at 7:30 am

Castilleja is a just another example for the lack of enforcement in Palo Alto. 15 years of violations of the conditional use permit enrollment limit. Instead of trying comply with the law, they came back and wanting to increase enrollment by 30%. Is this the example that we want our kids to follow?


7 people like this
Posted by stan
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2017 at 7:33 am

FYI: Casti has two shuttle buses.


14 people like this
Posted by Payoffs
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2017 at 11:13 am

[Post removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2017 at 12:07 pm

I would be inclined to be supportive of Casti... except for the info that emerged sometime back that they have far more students than they were permitted to have at the campus. I don't agree with rule breakers.
This is a tricky situation and I hope a reasonable compromise is possible. Residents of Palo Alto must come before private interests. This applies to other somewhat similar situations raised above, which I was not familiar with, such as private enterprises operating out of church properties. Traffic, noise, etc. greatly affect the quality of life of neighbors, and neighbors must take priority.
I agree with the idea above that Casti should investigate operating a separate campus for the middle school.
What I do NOT want is for PAUSD to lease out a public school to them, though. I think PAUSD property should NEVER be leased out to private schools. Look at the Challenger @ Middlefield and Charleston - an ideal central location that should be used for public uses, as it was built by us taxpayers. Look also at The fantastic location of the old (closed) Cubberley High School, which should be used for public school children.
I am also opposed to increasing traffic on Embarcadero Road, as it is already heavily over-burdened by Stanford interests.


21 people like this
Posted by City attorney
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Interesting... Has the city attorney cleared whether Waldfogel, Emslie, and Kou can legally participate?


29 people like this
Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 11, 2017 at 1:33 pm

Annette is a registered user.

I watched the presentation by the neighbors opposed to the Castilleja expansion and found it compelling. This is not about whether Casti is a great school (it is) or an asset to this community (it is). This is yet another example of forcing something to fit where it should not be. Of course the expansion can be shoe-horned in but at what expense to the immediate neighborhood and traffic congestion? It is easy to agree w/those opposing this project.

I wonder when empirical evidence that planning-to-date has failed to account for cumulative impact will move more Palo Altans to urge City Council to take a much more measured approach to commercial development? If the city continues on its present course the result will be an even more over-built environment that has myriad problems, including that there's no capacity for community enhancing projects.


9 people like this
Posted by stan
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Alternative fact - Casti parks car for Stanford games? Fact - no they don't. There are many misconceptions being listed here. I think everyone should get the facts straight before posting opinions.


18 people like this
Posted by Stanford parking
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 11, 2017 at 7:56 pm

@stan, people with Casti parking stickers use the Casti lots for Stanford games. Been there, parked it.


2 people like this
Posted by stan
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 11, 2017 at 8:21 pm

@Stanford parking - they don't sell parking spaces to the general public, like PALY does. Maybe some staff use the lots.


8 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 11, 2017 at 10:45 pm

[Portion removed.] Here's a thought: maybe providing more kids access to quality education is more important than keeping your perceived ideal character of the neighborhood.


7 people like this
Posted by Kuo and waldfogel recusals
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 11, 2017 at 11:39 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]


29 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 12, 2017 at 8:36 am

The use was capped at 415. Keep it at that. Great school, I am sure, but it isn't right to increase it particular with the school's going over the cap already.


10 people like this
Posted by Stanford parking
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2017 at 8:39 am

@stan, the Casti lot is used by students and their parents during Stanford events


25 people like this
Posted by Stanford parking
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2017 at 8:41 am

Casti shoukd roll back there enrollment to their Conditional Use Permit of 415,


31 people like this
Posted by support more students
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 12, 2017 at 10:28 am

This one's really easy. Casti has a conditional use permit for 415 students. If they want to expand, open another campus.

They could provide double the amount of places easily simply by splitting the school into two campuses: a middle school campus and a high school campus. They can decide which campus goes where but there is no reason they are stuck with a single campus.

Everyone is happy. Why is there so much emphasis trying to shoe-horn a few more students into the current campus when they have such an obvious solution?


25 people like this
Posted by Law Breakers
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2017 at 11:12 am

The city doesn't enforce the law. The Baptist Church at 305 N. California (corner of N. California and Bryant St) is mostly used for commercial, for-profit purposes. The Mozart Music School uses the church as its campus. It has almost 500 students. I Sing, a vocal music school, also is located at the church. It has several hundred students. Neither of these for-profit enterprises has the required CUP (Conditional Use Permit). The city has turned a blind eye to these infractions for many years. Try googling 305 N. California Ave, PA. You will see that there are more than 20 businesses being run out of the church. The church is in a residential neighborhood is is not zoned for commercial use. The City has let both Castilleja and the church break the existing laws.


12 people like this
Posted by Law Breakers
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Asher Waldfogel's daughter graduated from Castilleja. Another reason he should excuse himself from the discussion.


9 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2017 at 12:12 pm

The claim Castilleja broke any use permit on student numbers is a stretch. What Castlleja has admitted in the press is a past head of school interpreted the current "use" permit of 415 students as a daily average attendance rather than an enrollment number. Every day, many students are not present so actual average daily use under the permit was legal. Besides the enrollment number, the use permit allowed unlimited vistiors but for fire occupancy from guest speakers to visiting sport teams. Castilleja is to be commended because when it discovered this use interpretation issue, it fessed up to the City, paid a fine, and started the ball rolling on an application for a new use permit which ended - by law - any claim it was breaking any law with respect to its curent use permit.

Those with lawn signs arguing Castilleja has been law breaker for 15 years might reprint their signs to be accurate. Maybe a correcting sticker across the number "15"?

Meanwhile, Castilleja has reduced car and delivery truck trips to its campus as seen in their planning documents posted on the City website. Those documents also show they would not plan any increased enrollment numbers until their parking and vehicle trips are further reduced.

Has Paly High School shown such a concern for its neighbors with daily traffic monitors and little street signs saying "No Paly Parking" in front of their neighbor's houses at any time as a condition for any enrollment increase or new building permit?


12 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Law Breakers, Should PAUSD School Board members whose children or themselves graduated from a PAUSD school also recuse themselves from any decision affecting those schools?


4 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 12, 2017 at 4:04 pm

@Oldster, I am unaware of any situation whereby City of PA council members have voted on a matter at a PA public school. Has this happened in your experience?


8 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 12, 2017 at 6:01 pm

Someone above stated, "Asher Waldfogel's daughter graduated from Castilleja."
Congratulations and best wishes to her and her family! Congratulations to all high school graduates everywhere.


2 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2017 at 7:45 pm

Anonymous, No idea. Surfed around the City and PAUSD websites this evening to see about any public school building or use permits but couldn't find any. But, that doesn't mean they don't exist. (Couldn't get the City's online permit database to load to check the Paly or PAUSD HQ addresses for any building permits on file.) Did find on City Hall stationary a "policy" on the Cubberley gyms which said the City owned that land.
Web Link

Stumbled on this thead which is entertaining:
Web Link

Next time I drive on Churchill by Paly I'll cruise through the Southgate neighborhood to see if there are any Paly "Don't Park Here" signs.


8 people like this
Posted by Samuel L
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 12, 2017 at 9:33 pm

@Oldster, As a matter of fact, the Southgate neighborhood has asked city council to look at the possibility of an RPP due to the traffic problems caused by Paly students.


37 people like this
Posted by Casti Neighborhood Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 12, 2017 at 11:26 pm

I commend the posters and PNQLnow members who are wisely and respectfully limiting this debate to its merits: the impacts of Castilleja's proposed enrollment increase and campus modifications under a new CUP.

I am disheartened, however, by the number of commenters on other Palo Alto online articles and other forums who have have strayed into ad hominem attacks and speculation as to some ulterior motives by the school or city council officials. It certainly undercuts the claims of a few understandably concerned neighbors to have their vocal allies throwing out unfounded accusations of corruption/unfair dealing or tossing out dog whistle statements about students who "aren't from around here," which I have seen used to suggest that Castilleja exists only to serve the ultra-rich and powerful living elsewhere in Woodside/Portola Valley (as though Palo Alto doesn't have plenty of privilege to go around) or conversely to imply that students from East Palo Alto or others who are not fortunate enough to have PAUSD schools as a public alternative are undeserving of an education at a Palo Alto private school.

I understand that immediate neighbors of the school fear the impact of increased traffic and construction, but I worry that this debate has been hijacked by a narrative in which the Big Bad Snooty Rich School runs roughshod over salt-of-the-earth locals. This argument fails to acknowledge the very real value-add that Castilleja brings to the Palo Alto community, and there is a real ungenerosity of spirit in those who maintain, in essence, that unless the school benefits them in some direct way, it should not be considered valuable at all. I fear this debate reveals some of the uglier predelictions in our community towards scapegoating an institution with a fundamentally worthy purpose based on their own biases.

There are, to be sure, legitimate debates to be had about development and the evolving character of Palo Alto, and it is perhaps fair to make the discussion about Castilleja a part of it—but not a proxy for the entire discussion. Let's focus on the facts and the numbers, like the actual extent to which Castilleja is currently exceeding its current CUP (23, which does not sound like a lot in my opinion), the proposed increase in enrollment numbers, the estimated growth of vehicle traffic under the proposed expansion, and perhaps, if calculable, the increase in property values conferred on homes because of their proximity to the school. When the opposition to this proposed plan strays from the facts to appeal to a false narrative that preys upon larger fears of government overreach and exceptions for the privileged and misappropriates them to rally against a school's efforts to bring its educational offerings to more young women, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


26 people like this
Posted by Stanford parking
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 13, 2017 at 7:35 am

@Casti Neighborhood Resident, serious question, what exactly is the "very real value add that Castileja brings to the Palo Alto community"?


6 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 9:26 am

[Post removed.]


23 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2017 at 11:20 am


I see that the school does bring great value to a small number of girls. I am not in the neighborhood, but do not understand why the neighbors have to bare the brunt of the cost to give this advantage to them? They bought the homes with certain restrictions in place (and even smaller numbers). The city should enforce the limit and not increase it. Please stop making the homeowners feel guilty.


25 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2017 at 12:26 pm

Given Casti's proximity to Embarcadero, it is not just the immediate neighbors impacted. It's everyone trying to travel between El Camino and 101.

Embarcadero has been an increasing disaster for almost a decade with frustrated drivers forming their own lanes and backing up Town & Country parking lots since no one can exit onto Embarcadero and thus can't back out of their shopping center parking spaces. The left turn lane onto El Camino south often extends to the underpass and eliminates on through lane to cross ECR. Turning El Camino backs up past PAMF and also eliminates another through lane heading south.

Getting stuck in the middle of major intersections like El Camino @ Embarcero and elsewhere is dangerous.

This is an unnecessary addition to our traffic mess. Why do it??


37 people like this
Posted by Stanford Parking
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 13, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Stanford Parking is a registered user.

@YIMBY - Most of Casti's students don't live in Palo Alto, so access to a quality education at Casti is NOT a benefit to Palo Alto, it is a benefit to the Casti students. If they want to expand the school, add another campus.


33 people like this
Posted by Cast Parking Stanford Cars
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 13, 2017 at 1:36 pm

Casti DOES INDEED have a couple of fundraisers per year in which they make money parking cars of attendees from Stanford football/ baseball/basketball games. They park these cars on streets around and near Castilleja.

Also, Casti has one short bus they use as a shuttle. They NEED two standard size buses!


14 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 2:18 pm

This is why we can't have nice things. Casti is an excellent school, but if it's not exclusively or even majority attended by Palo Alto kids then it's not worth expanding. The balkanization of the Bay Area is really saddening.


30 people like this
Posted by Stanford Parking
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 13, 2017 at 2:43 pm

Stanford Parking is a registered user.

YIMBY - Not what "this is why we can't have nice things" means. There is no "public benefit" to the expansion, simply congestion, more traffic and construction for Palo Alto. They have already expanded without permission from the City.


8 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 2:52 pm

[Post removed.]


10 people like this
Posted by GMYBY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm

[Post removed.]


27 people like this
Posted by Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2017 at 3:11 pm

YIMBY,

There is a reason there are property rights and regulations. You seem to really benefit from Casti and imply we don't care about education. We do care about education, with a priority on PUBLIC education. We are all for you to create a middle school in another location. [Portion removed.]


9 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 3:18 pm

I'm all for public education, but good private educational institutions exist that are worth supporting for the public good. Stanford comes to mind. Of course I've seen plenty of posts on here that view Stanford as an encroaching behemoth that the fine residents of Palo Alto must suffer with rather than a world-class university that Palo Alto was founded to support. If Casti is providing good education to students then there's no reason to block them. You having a slightly shorter commute is not more important than the next generation getting a good education.


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 13, 2017 at 4:40 pm

A slightly shorter commute? It's not just commutes; it's also the time it takes to run errands and to get through a single traffic light. It now takes 45 minutes to go 10 miles and 4 light changes since only 3 cars are allowed through at a time.

Every college town like Palo Alto and Princeton suffers from the continued unrestricted expansion of tax-exempt educational properties. The residents suffer from increased congestion and increased taxes.

We don't even get discounted or free attendance at events, classes, whatever. We just get gridlock and stupid paid polls asking "Which argument of these 4 arguments would convince you that expanding X is a good thing?" rather than honest polls asking whether we want expansion at all.

Enough.


4 people like this
Posted by stan
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 13, 2017 at 4:44 pm

@CastiParkingCars: Absolutely false.

Casti has 2 full sized shuttle buses each morning plus 1 small van which picks up girls from the CalTrain. Check their website. There is a portal for neighbors that posts information about their shuttle programs and traffic management.

Casti does NOT have any parking fundraisers whatsoever. If this ever happened then it stopped well over 5 years ago.

Ask the school.


26 people like this
Posted by Stanford Parking
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 13, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Stanford Parking is a registered user.

There is no public benefit to the City of Palo Alto and its residents to Casti expanding at that location.


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 5:55 pm

[Post removed.]


16 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2017 at 5:58 pm

When the developer at the Edgewood site failed to provide the public benefit he promised (in the form of a functioning grocery store), the city fined him (I believe) $1000/day. So Palo Alto got its benefit in cash rather than in kind.

Why don't we do the same thing with Castilleja? They're entitled to 415 students. How about they pay us $1000/day for every student over 415 they have enrolled at the school? They (or their benefactors) can decide whether it's worth it to have a larger enrollment and we are compensated for the burden they place on our infrastructure and quality of life. As those closest to the school suffer a disproportionate share of the burden, they could receive some direct compensation - perhaps in the form of an offset to property taxes.

Seems like a win-win situation to me.


7 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm

An offset in property taxes? You guys already have that. It's called Prop 13.


26 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2017 at 6:07 pm

[Portion removed.] Whatever the purposes of City government, it seems like providing zoning exceptions for a rich private school that serves mostly non-resident [portion removed] students is pretty far down on the list. Palo Alto just doesn't have any obligation to do this. If Castilleja wants to be a bigger school, there are plenty of places where it could build one more cheaply than the already built out Palo Alto campus. That's what they should to.

YIMBY's argument seems depressingly similar to the ones he made when telling us we had an obligation to build dense housing projects so that Mt. View residents could afford to live here. We don't. Palo Alto's obligation is to serve the interests of its taxpaying residents. If people from Mt. View want to move here, they should do it the old fashioned way: Earn it.


29 people like this
Posted by @Stan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2017 at 6:21 pm

How do you know all these facts about Castilleja?

My best friend's daughter attended--until she had a bone marrow transplant, and Catilleja would not let her " telecommute" during the five months she was in quarantine at LPCH!

As of 11/2013, Castilleja had ONE bus, ONE van. And my best friend's daughter helped park cars on Emerson before a Stanford Football game in 2011-- in spite of the signs forbidding it. Apparently it's allowed on weekends.


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 6:23 pm

There's the Bay Area Balkanization rearing its head again. All these little city states each saying the same thing: build it elsewhere. This is the main reason we still have terrible to non-existent regional mass transit and a massive housing shortage.


18 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 13, 2017 at 8:09 pm

"There's the Bay Area Balkanization rearing its head again."

Yeah...if only we would just do away with local elections, self government, and all that messy stuff where citizens have a say in how they're governed....just think, we could have some wise benevolent bureaucrats tell us all how we should run our lives, and everything would be so much better. (And most importantly, people in Mt View could afford to live in Palo Alto)


5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2017 at 10:06 pm

This isn't about people in Mountain View wanting to live in Palo Alto (I sure don't), it's about this Nativist mentality of selfishness on the city level that's preventing progress on a regional level. Instead of going "Education is good, let's expand the school" it's "how does this benefit me personally". Instead of building housing to address a regional housing crunch, it's "No new housing! That building is too tall! What about my property values!". There's going to come a time where a line will be crossed, and cities that are still not doing their part to do good and cooperate on a regional level will be penalized until they cut it out.


16 people like this
Posted by stan
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 13, 2017 at 10:07 pm

@@stan I am a current Casti parent. I know about the shuttles because my kid rode on one of these big yellow school buses this morning. I am not posting about the proposed expansion project, but only to correct some of the misinformation cited in some posts. This is an issue to be resolved between Casti and its neighbors.

Here is a link to information about their traffic reduction programs and parking restrictions enacted since 2012:
Web Link




10 people like this
Posted by luvCasti
a resident of Duveneck School
on Feb 14, 2017 at 4:05 am

As someone who strongly believes in girls-only schools and the education benefits it gives for life time, Castilleja is truly a treasure to our city. The school has taken several steps in reducing traffic including multiple shuttles daily, incentivizing everyone to use public transport etc.

Also want to call out that Casti provides a great tuition assistance to several much-in-need families to help support their girls education.

It is heart-breaking at times to see wildly different lens being put on growth of such a coveted institution vs the ones around it and what the time demands.


25 people like this
Posted by everyone's a winner
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 14, 2017 at 7:10 am

@LuvCasti,

And wouldn't it be far better to allow the school to expand to double it's size to allow it to provide that girls-only education to a lot more girls than a select few?
If Casti really cared about providing education to more girls they would be looking at opening up a second campus. Schools open up all the time all over the bay area. It's not difficult to get another campus. It's only Casti's "not built on this location" that is blocking them.


34 people like this
Posted by Casti go somewhere else
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2017 at 8:36 am

Casti should think "out of the box", have a second campus somewhere else. It's very common, other private schools go that.


10 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm

I absolutely agree with the neighbors concerned about Castilleja's use permit updates that while they moved to the "nuisance" of living near a school, they should have an expectation that the impact of the school - especially the vehicle traffic issues - do not increase or risk an increase by increasing enrollment without very significant public benefit mitigation.

Someone above asked what is the "value" of Castilleja to its neighbors and that relates to some mitigation ideas.

First, the value of all-girls secondary education to every family nearby with girls.  Most girls mentally develop a year ahead of most boys which means as both hit puberty, many girls start dumbing themselves down to be more attractive to boys.  if Castilleja could add some classes or other activities after normal school hours, they could offer more local girls the opportunity of all-girl education. Here's what another Palo Alto all-girls school says:
Web Link

Second,  all users of Embarcadero benefit now from the open space Castilleja has there which makes the road less congested than if that block had a solid wall of housing.  Would anyone prefer instead of that grassy field and ornamental plants a wall of multi-family income property houses like the Grateful Dead houses at the corner of Embarcadero, Bryant and Kingsley?  Or a row of large spec houses under construction for years with driveways opening to Embarcadero?

Under the current use permit Castilleja is not allowed to offer use of its facilities such as that grassy field to the public or even their neighbors' dogs except for limited student after school hours activities like plays and art shows.  Past neighbors argued strongly to keep Castilleja's pool, gym, classrooms and open spaces closed to the public at almost all times while Paly is able to host a large number of adult evening classes and other activities after school hours for community benefit.

If the City allowed Castilleja to open any of its facilities to the public, local property values would be increased by that new public benefit.  For example, Castilleja could allow lap swimming at its pool.  Many weekday mornings that pool is not in use.  Stanford has a masters swim program open to qualified community adult swimmers.   Neighbors impacted the most by pool noise could have an early sign up right under the use permit. Pehaps even a free right to use the pool? The gym and baseball field could be opened for pickup games under City Park & Rec control, and some classrooms used by overflow from the Paly adult ed classes. Castilleja might even have room for a dog run.

Third, the current Castilleja proposed plans would remove at the corner of Bryant and Kellogg the unsightly parking lot, shuttle buses' packed parking, truck delivery bay, trash area, and the architecturally unappealing maintenance building. That will improve all properties' values in view of that corner.

Finally, if Castilleja can get more creative with its landscaping plans once a building plan is approved - especially at the exit from its proposed underground garage and the pool screening towards Bryant Street - the neighbors most adjacent to the school might have something much nicer to look at than what has been there for decades.


13 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm

Sorry, but the single-family houses or even multi-family houses wouldn't come close to equaling the increased traffic from Casti's expansion so Embarcadero traffic would still be worse.

How many cars do you think each of those houses would have? Even that 14-bedroom monstrosity proposed for Embarcadero and Newell would only have multiples of 14 cars.


21 people like this
Posted by Stanford Parking
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 14, 2017 at 12:20 pm

Stanford Parking is a registered user.

Oldster - I don't think anyone is arguing that a girls-only school does not have intrinsic value. It has great value for the former and current Casti students, their families and the staff. It has value for the students that attend Casti's summer camps. But that is NOT a reason for Palo Alto to approve an expansion. If they want to expand (and they already have, illegally, for years) they should open an additional campus. Nueva, Keys, Pinewood, Crystal Springs, etc. have more than one campus. I believe the Girls Middle School moved so they could expand their program.


11 people like this
Posted by Oldster
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2017 at 12:47 pm

Just for thinking how City Hall deals with expanding private institutions, how many new car trips on Embarcadero is the most recent Stanford hospital expansion creating? Also, all the new constuction around University Avenue to 101 via Embarcadero?

Isn't Castilleja asking to expand enrollment without increasing vehicle dailty trips by requiring more car pools and mass transit use before they can add more students?


31 people like this
Posted by Hey!
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 14, 2017 at 2:57 pm

When we first moved here, Castilleja was in its last year as a boarding school. Of course neither the seller or the real estate agents knew this, so neither did we. We were told they had very, very little traffic since most students were boarders!

The school had been nothing but dishonest since then! We would not have bought in this neighborhood had we known the truth! And now they want to expand?

Why don't they put grades 6-8 in one location, grades 9-12 in another? There are a lot of empty buildings in San Jose that can be rented, leased or bought!


8 people like this
Posted by luvCasti
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2017 at 5:25 am

When I see comments asking Casti to move to another "less-crowded" location , a question rises in my mind, how would anyone feel if they were asked to move to Portola Valley or Woodside, so that it is "less-crowded"?

Casti is "home" to many girls during their crucial years in life. Cast is what it is not only due to its awesome teaching staff, unique programming, but also due to location next to a wonderful public high school, University and a great neighborhood.


14 people like this
Posted by Everyone's a winner
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 15, 2017 at 7:20 am

@luvcasti,
That's exactly what happens when you've maxed out your space on your lot. If you then want a larger house, you then have to move. Why do you think Castilleja should be any different?

If this is really the only reason tha Castilleja has for not providing more space for more girls, they really need to think again.


12 people like this
Posted by Stanford parking
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2017 at 8:00 am

@luvcasti, no one is asking Casti to "move to another location", they are suggesting that if Casti wants to expand, they should add another campus, just like many other private schools in the area.


15 people like this
Posted by Email city
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2017 at 9:35 am

I don't support the expansion. I just emailed castilleja.expansion@cityofpaloalto.org and Amy French the City’s project manager to voice my concerns.

Amy.French@cityofpaloalto.org

Hope you will act soon too.


5 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 15, 2017 at 11:40 am

Also copy city.council@cityofpaloalto.org on your email to Ms. French


13 people like this
Posted by Just Maybe....
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 15, 2017 at 2:43 pm

[Post removed.]


13 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 15, 2017 at 9:03 pm

@Stanford parking, you say that "no one is asking Casti to 'move to another location.'" How do you square that with comments like the one above from "Just Maybe...." that has the support of multiple other readers in the last few hours, or a since-removed post that referred to the "holier than thou private school" with "students, only two of whom live in Palo Alto!"?

We get it, you think the school should maintain its current campus but expand elsewhere. I understand why that's appealing and don't fault you for seeing it as an intuitive solution. Many posters have cited several examples of schools who have done so successfully. I'd be interested to hear more about the individualized calculations behind and impact of those decisions - how large the proposed enrollment increases were that prompted the split-campus expansions, how easy it was to find suitable property that was not prohibitively far from the original campus and didn't come with its own set of objecting neighbors, how splitting middle and high school impacted the character/quality of the school environment overall, etc.

I understand that suggesting the split is an appealing option for those who oppose Castilleja's expansion proposal, but I'd venture that none of them feel that they have skin in the game regarding the school's success. I think it's only honest to acknowledge that many who take your position are neutral at best with regards to the well-being of this institution that is dedicated to educating and empowering young women.

And you must acknowledge that, at worst, this movement has picked up its fair share of supporters who are outright hostile, if not to the school or its mission, then to what it represents to them. Criticisms of non-local/international students sound coded, myopically localized, and borderline xenophobic (we don't want outsiders here!). It's certainly not the case that Casilleja lacks pupils who are also Palo Alto residents. The fact that some are from neighboring towns and have opted, many with financial assistance, to pursue an education that they may not feel is available to them in their own districts.

I'd like to see opponents who say they support the school and only have an issue with the construction, traffic, etc. make an effort to disavow those taking aim at Castilleja as a whole. Until then, any claims of widespread support for your underlying arguments fall flat.


11 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2017 at 5:38 am

Castilleja is only one of a number of private schools in Palo Alto - for example there is Bowman on Arastradero, Keys on El Camino, Stafford on North California, Challenger on Middlefield & Charleston.

There have been no objection to the enrollment increases at those schools.

The Old Palo Alto neighborhood has no other schools - many other neighborhoods have public schools which have increased their enrollment; Old Palo Alto has no high density BMR housing making it one of the least diverse neighborhoods in the city and it shows in their attitudes.


16 people like this
Posted by Please Help Us, No expansion
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 16, 2017 at 6:36 am

When the proposed expansion will be so harmful to the quality of life of people who have to live in that neighborhood, the expansion MUST be denied.
It's time for little Casti to spread its wings and grow elsewhere if needed, just as every other private school has done. This is a permanent impact on residents that does not have to happen.


16 people like this
Posted by Stanford parking
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2017 at 8:52 am

@common sense, Bowman is expanding by building on another lot on Arastadero. Keys on El Camino is their second campus, their first is on Middlefield. Nueva opened a high school on a separate campus three or four years ago. Harker has at least three campuses. Stafford and challenger havent asked to expand/add on to their buildings as far as i know, and Staffords building belongs to PAUSD. One of Casti's arguments forvexpansion is that more students will allow for a better program, yet Crystal Springs Upland has 350 students and Woodside Priory has 385 and they are both very successful in educating their students.


19 people like this
Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 16, 2017 at 9:37 am

Pinewood has two campuses as well. All these schools are very successful.

I personally think Casti brings lots of good benefits to Palo Alto generally (not the least of which is making our public schools less crowded--that really is valuable, parents with kids in private schools basically pay double).

I'm thrilled to see Casti succeed, but no one has made the case that it needs to expand to succeed. That may be its current leaders' vision (more is better!), but there are many very successful small private schools.

An expansion should really be denied here. Its already bursting at the seams, and out of place in its neighborhood. If the school is to grow, it needs to do something beside grow in place.

If it is so important for it to grow in place, it needs to start acquiring property around it. If that is too expensive, then, well, it needs to find alternatives.


5 people like this
Posted by schooled
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 16, 2017 at 11:33 am

expansion of casti gets pushback and questioned due to traffic concerns among other things. Yet, not once have I seen similar concerns voiced for other projects such as the expansion of the Jr Museum and Zoo - which along with its valuable expanded programs will bring more traffic to Embarcadero road (the same road people are complaining about!!) , have parking challenges etc too.

why cant the city look at this broadly and have a whole vision for the city?


11 people like this
Posted by EaW
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Actually, they're going to start charging at JM so it's likely to result in a reduction in traffic.

In any case, look at the "neighbors" they would disrupt: Rinconada Park, Lucy Sterm Community Center and the girl scout hut.

That's pretty different to Casti neighbors having 5 years worth of building horror finishing with the underground garage exits directly opposite your house! IF Casti did manage to get this, the city should demand that the entry and exits from that underground garage are directly onto Embacadero. If it's not acceptable onto Embacadero, it's not acceptable on neighborhood streets.


4 people like this
Posted by Mary
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 16, 2017 at 12:38 pm

One compromise might be for the expansion in enrollment be allowed, but that in return, all students and faculty who do not walk or bike to school must take shuttle buses from some remote drop off/parking location to the school.

The main worry about the Castilleja expansion seems to be traffic related. If everyone took buses, the total vehicle traffic would be greatly diminished. As a bonus, the school wouldn't have to build the very expensive underground garage.

It would be slightly inconvenient for students perhaps, but the school is getting the enrollment increase in return and the neighbors and other users of Embarcadero Road have less traffic to contend with.

I actually think a "no drop off" policy might be a good policy for all local schools. When one compares the traffic in the summer when schools aren't operating to that during the school year, it's obvious that school-related traffic is a significant contributor to our increasingly gridlocked streets. Everyone should have to contribute to a solution and schools are an obvious place to start.


4 people like this
Posted by jh
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 16, 2017 at 2:12 pm

Does anyone happen to know what percentage of Casti students live in Palo Alto?


5 people like this
Posted by PA
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm

@jh
According to Castilleja, between 23% and 26%.


4 people like this
Posted by schooled
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 16, 2017 at 3:28 pm

JMZ neighbors include homeowners too. Casti has non homeowner neighbors as well - T&C, Paly - the two situations are similar - building to serve more people in a confined space.

Each could bring in more cars that affect not just the immediate area but the roads leading to.

Construction disruption - we all live with it not just casti neighbors - road construction and building construction. In terms of school related construction those near addison, hoover and other PAUSD schools will deal with it for several
years when those projects start.

Enrollment - Jordan is overen rolled - but most of the students take alternative methods of transportation....would love to see that played out more at all schools, private or public, commuter schools and neighborhood.

My point is - lets look at this as a whole across PA and not just one situation.
Maybe we can come up with a repeatable solution.


2 people like this
Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2017 at 9:25 pm

Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
11 hours ago
Pinewood has two campuses as well. All these schools are very successful.
"
I personally think Casti brings lots of good benefits to Palo Alto generally (not the least of which is making our public schools less crowded--that really is valuable, parents with kids in private schools basically pay double). "

That is, IF the girls at Casti are from Palo Alto.


8 people like this
Posted by Palo
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 20, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Around 75% of the students at Castilleja all-girls private school are from other tows, only a tiny fraction are from Palo Alto.


4 people like this
Posted by Stanford Parking
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Stanford Parking is a registered user.

@anonymous - what are the "lots of good benefits" that Casti brings to Palo Alto? As far as making our schools less crowded, there are 12-15 girls per grade that live in Palo Alto - not a significant reduction.


8 people like this
Posted by PA
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 27, 2017 at 10:38 pm

Lots of bottleneck traffic on Waverley and Embarcadero during pick-up time. No need to add more student and perpetuate an even greater traffic mess. PNQLnow.org signs all around town the neighborhood.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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The holidays are here!

From live music to a visit with Santa, here's a look at some local holiday activities to help you get into the spirit of the season.

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