castilleja.jpg is a grassroots organization committed to protecting Palo Alto residents from commercial development in R1 neighborhoods. Castilleja School is a business operating in a R1 zone and should not be allowed to build an underground garage or continue with permit violations that have been ongoing for 17 years. We ask for managed development with true community input.

Castilleja has been promoting the falsehood that neighbors want an underground garage, when in fact 95% of the households within two blocks of the school have signed statements that they do not want a garage. The design is flawed, as the PA Weekly points out in their editorial, Castilleja's Unwise Stubbornness.

We would be happy to find middle ground where enrollment can increase. But Castilleja refuses to sit down with residents to find a solution.


Neighborhood Meeting Observed by Councilmember Holman
Castilleja neighbors attended the bi-annual meeting (mandated by the terms of Castilleja's CUP violations) and were allowed to express their frustration and concerns over the school's proposed expansion. Only one neighbor spoke out in favor of the project. Castilleja continued to emit the same smoke screen, staying on script, without any intention of changing their plans.

September Newsletter >
Castilleja Ignores Neighborhood Pleas for No Underground Garage

Castilleja Continues to Promote Falsehoods to City Council
School administrators spoke at tonight's City Council meeting, declaring that they are working with the neighbors. The school has met twice with neighbors in the last year, but only because it is mandatory as terms of the violations of their conditional use permit. At both meetings neighbors vehemently denounced the school's plans and their unethical campaign.

Letters between Castilleja School and City Manager/City Attorney published. >

Castilleja shows their true colors by trying to blame the City and residents for delays in their destructive and divisive project.

A Look At The Issues From Both Sides >

PA Weekly Editorial
Castilleja's Unwise Stubbornness >

If you would like a yard sign, please email us at

Neighbors who live next to and near Castilleja School are opposed to the requested 30% increase in enrollment, underground garage, and accompanying multi-year construction project.

Everyone agrees that Castilleja is an outstanding school, but adding 130 underground parking spaces will institutionalize our neighborhood with massive concrete structures opposite homes, and streams of cars, trucks, and buses flowing down our neighborhood streets. And at least six years of construction.

"Build it and they will come."

More parking means more cars. That cannot be disputed. Adding hundreds of car trips at peak traffic times on Embarcadero will further solidify the gridlock in and out of Stanford and Paly. 

There are many precedents in the Bay Area for private schools re-locating or adding satellite locations in order to expand (e.g. Harker School from Palo Alto). Castilleja was originally designed for 70 students (before cars and traffic). 415 students is already too many for that space.

The R1 neighborhood cannot support an increase in enrollment without drastically deteriorating the quality of residential life we all appreciate in Palo Alto. We ask the City to enforce the permit for 415 students and not allow an underground parking garage. 

View PPT showing Castilleja enrollment history and comparison with other local private schools >.

Write, email, and talk directly to City Council and PTC members. 
They have the authority to keep the use permit at the current enrollment, which makes the underground garage unnecessary.



Castilleja has revised their plans to remove mature redwoods and oak trees. But now they claim they can transplant six mature redwood trees. We have talked to arborists who say that the trees most likely would not survive, but if they did they will have to be held up with guide wires and they would not grow. They would be sticks in the ground.

Read the Palo Alto Online story HERE >
Read the NextDoor Old Palo Alto thread HERE >


Castilleja is seeking to reduce the public easement that goes through the campus and re-route water and storm drains. The sewer runs through the campus and the easement may be needed for future utilities. We need to make sure this does not happen.

Some preliminary measurements of the water table were done by Castilleja before the big storms, which indicate they are 25-30 ft below grade. The proposed underground garage would allegedly 20 feet deep. But the water table rises and falls, and is absorbed by earth. The entire site will need extensive geological studies to determine how safe it would be for roads and surrounding properties to remove so much landfill.

When Castilleja built the gymnasium, they dug a basement to 30 feet and disrupted the water table DESPITE the studies what indicated it would not happen. Water was pumped out of the site for 6 months. Millions of gallons of water.

LEARN MORE about Palo Alto Groundwater Issues >

Castilleja plans to demolish the Lockey House at 1263 Emerson Street to make room for a massive underground parking garage.

Palo Alto Stanford Heritage has identified this as a threatened landmark.. 


We need help spreading the word and getting people to write letters to the City review board, planning and transportation committe, and City Council. The City's website makes it look like a done deal and Castilleja is working the system with its own hired guns. Contact us at


Please donate to help us offset cost of attorneys, traffic consultants, arborists, etc.

Follow us on Twitter @pnql_now
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1. Sign the petition
2. Put up a lawn sign
3. Write to City Council
4. Write to PTC
5. Write to local newspaper and social media
More info here >

Petition Update
New online version now available >


We have hired a lawyer and traffic consultant. Thanks for any donations.