A July 10, 2013, memo by City staff regarding the Maybell rezoning places the bulk of the blame for Arastradero traffic problems as "due to the change in start time for Gunn High School from 7:55 a.m. to 8:25 a.m. beginning in August, 2011."
The memo also blames an increase in enrollment at Barron Park and Juana Briones Elementary. (Which is strange since BP Elementary traffic has no bearing on Arastradero and Maybell traffic as the school is on the other side of Barron Park, and JB may have actually had a small decrease in students in that time period, contrary to staff report.) The City memo went on to say "The striping of Arastradero Road may have contributed to a lesser degree [than Gunn start times and elementary school enrollments]."
The staff report makes no account of the traffic problems on Arastradero at intervals in the afternoon when the schools let out at very different times.
So, they don't think the Arastradero Road restriping had anything to do with the traffic problems of the last few years, and they fail to mention any of the other major development in the area, especially along El Camino (but then, their traffic study failed to use current data, so it's difficult to say - see the independent analysis of the City's traffic report Web Link).
The solution to the traffic problem on Maybell, City Council has decided, is to paint some new stripes on Maybell and a few other cosmetic "safety improvements", and to direct City staff "to work with the School District on staggering start times, expanding the School Pool Program and to market the Safe Routes to School program."
**Maybell underwent a six-figure safety improvement already in the last few years but is of substandard width and still has traffic signs knocked to the ground about once a month,
**the school start times were changed after significant study for the students' wellbeing and it was believed would actually improve traffic on Arastradero at the time, Web Link, and
**Safe Routes to School are already heavily marketed, with around 40% of high school students commuting to school by bike or foot.
The neighbors opposing the new development, which was rezoned by the City to bring 12 densely packed tall houses and a 60-unit, nearly 50-foot tall complex with only 47 parking spots for residents, visitors, and employees, to a property in a residential neighborhood across from Juana Briones Park that currently has only 4 ranch houses and an orchard with about 100 trees (to be torn down) - neighbors point out that traffic for the new development can only go out onto Maybell and Arastradero, and City policy is to accord heightened scrutiny to developments on school commute routes, which was not done. The City traffic study failed to even study the impacts on the student bicyclists and pedestrians at all.
What about it parents?
Do you believe the City staff vision here, that the Gunn start time is mainly to blame for all the traffic problems on Arastradero and Maybell, that the students don't really need the later start time, and moving the start time back to earlier again will solve the traffic problems to such an extent that the area can take a large high-density development that puts all of its traffic onto Maybell and Arastradero?
Or do you believe, as neighbors do, that the infrastructure is already overburdened, and schoolchildren and their families deserved an honest traffic and safety review, and fair consideration of alternatives for that location depending on the results? Particularly since, as the memo says, the City has the option of "purchasing the site itself" and turning it into a low-traffic use such as a community orchard, or placing deed restrictions on it for future developers? And since the transportation element of the general plan puts safety as the highest consideration for all development? And that infrastructure should serve the interests of the residents, especially the children, not the other way around, and careful decisions made for the well-being of our children should take priority and should not be casually reversed for political convenience?
If you have any comments about this situation for the City Council, please send them to email@example.com
If you are supportive of neighbors' efforts to put the PC rezoning (which allows development of that parcel to such a massive scale) to Palo Alto voters, you still have two days left to sign the petition for a referendum. (The earlier referendum regarded the inclusion of the rezoning in the comprehensive plan, this one regards the actual rezoning.)
P.S. FYI, Neighbors find the rest of the memo grossly one-sided in the same way as their blaming the daily traffic problems on Arastradero on Gunn morning start times, by a staff that has taken the role of advocacy for the project rather than objective reviewer. See recent Weekly stories/editorial, e.g. Web Link
"[... in the case of the staff report on the recently approved Maybell senior housing project, only policies that supported the project were cited"]