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An open letter to Palo Alto City Counicl

Original post made by Stan Shore, Old Palo Alto, on Mar 24, 2017


Below is text of 1/2 page ad that appeared in todays Palo Alto Weekly

Current divisive debate between neighbors and the Castilleja School is a direct result of City Council failing to enforce the existing city approved Conditional Use Permit (CUP). The issue is not whether Castilleja shall have more students or whether Castilleja can tear down residential homes or whether Castilleja can build an underground garage. The fundamental issue is will City Council enforce its own approved Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Failure of City Council to enforce the CUP is dividing the neighborhood. City council, by its silence, is making a mockery of the CUP process.

A little history...
Stan Shore actively participated in the two years (2000 and 2001) of heated negotiations where neighbors, Castilleja and City Council all agreed to an enrollment increase from 385 to 415 students. At the end of the 2001 negotiations, Palo Alto Planning Director, John Lusardi said in his CUP approval letter to Castilleja: "The approved Conditional Use Permit does NOT provide for any increase in students over 415, and any subsequent request for additional students will not be favorably looked upon by the City ... the city is not willing to continue to approach increasing school enrollment for Castilleja in an incremental manner." City Council then assured neighbors, that the 415 student enrollment, is " C A S T I N C O N C R E T E " and the city would NOT allow future enrollment increases.

In 2002, just one year after City Council approved the 415 student enrollment, Castilleja had illegally broken the agreement by having 416 students. Every year thereafter, for 15 consecutive years, Castilleja illegally increased enrollment and violated the CUP. By 2012 student enrollment was illegally at 450 students. As of today, Castilleja has, an illegal over enrollment of 23 students. For 15 years, City Council failed to enforce the 415 student CUP. City Council, by its silence, has communicated to Palo Alto residents that they will not enforce the CUP process and is making a mockery of the CUP process which sets a very bad precedent.

Castilleja has been in violation of their CUP for 15 years. 15 years of CUP violations is ENOUGH! City Council needs to instruct Castilleja, that effective September 2017, Castilleja must reduce enrollment to 415 students for the next 15 years.

A 25 year Palo Alto resident

Comments (8)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:04 pm

Thank you. Totally agree.

Posted by Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 24, 2017 at 12:52 pm

I oppose the Castilleja expansion. The Baptist Church at 305 N California Ave allows the Mozart Music School, with 375 plus students, to operate out of the church. Mozart does not have the required CUP. Another school, I Sing, with 300 students also operates out of the church. They don't have a CUP, either. I Sing is scheduled to run a summer camp at the church this summer. All illegal. There are approximately 20 for-profit organizations operating out of the church. Google 305 N California Ave on a computer. You will be shocked to see all the companies/organizations operating out of that church site. The City is negligent in allowing a church to operate as a commercial building in a residential neighborhood, especially without the required CUPs.

Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 24, 2017 at 4:30 pm

City hall has a drearily consistent practice of not enforcing its end of ANY bargain it makes, including the infamous Planned Community development concession giveaways to favored developers, as well as Conditional Use Permits. It just ain't done.

The city council can wring its hands, but it has little to no real authority over what staff does or doesn't do.

Posted by money talks
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 24, 2017 at 4:52 pm

Castilleja must see no benefit for exceeding the CUP. They must be fined the full tuition for each student that is over the CUP. This must be a standing enforcement, which will be immediately applied if and will continue to be applied until Castilleja meets their CUP requirements. Retroactively changing the CUP is not an option.

Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2017 at 5:38 pm

The City Council has been so apathetic that they must be on the take. What do they have to gain by allowing more traffic and development? Who would allow this unless they are benefitting? Castilleja will probably make them some offers to turn their heads the other way.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 24, 2017 at 6:18 pm

Annette is a registered user.

Curmudgeon makes a good point about the City and enforcement, which is effectively non-enforcement. This contributes to the eroding sense of trust. It often appears that Staff functions independent of CC; like the tail wagging the dog.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 24, 2017 at 8:11 pm

With all the increase in traffic at PAUSD schools, I wish the neighbors had done the same thing protesting about increased enrollment and forcing PAUSD to open Cubberley rather than squash more students onto the high school campuses, causing traffic and commuting problems to students as well as increased parking problems for neighbors.

Posted by resident
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 25, 2017 at 5:47 pm

I agree with the statement on Cubberley. If we keep adding more homes and people than this resource needs to be included in the overall PAUSD available sites. Not clear how decisions are made in the city regarding the available sites for schools - both regular and charter.

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