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The City has extended the comment period for the Environmental Impact Report to March 28, after repeated requests from residents.
Castilleja is again trying to manipulate the system by submitting new plans AFTER the public comment period. They had planned to reveal new plans to a select group of invited people on March 17, after the public comment period closed on March 15.
The City Planning Department initially denied the request but when the request was escalated to the City Attorney and City Manager, the request was granted. The Planning Department continues to show bias in favor of Castilleja. Public opinion is our only leverage to make government more accountable. This is a blatant disregard for fairness.
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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.
HOW TO MAKE AN IMPACT
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.
February 10: Palo Alto Weekly >
Residents form watchdog group around Castilleja plans
January 26: San Jose Mercury News >
Palo Alto residents wary of traffic, housing shortage as Stanford grows
November 21: Local NBC News Coverage >
November 18: Local Residents' Letter to City Council >
February 8: Preliminary EIR Scoping Report >
March 8 PTC meeting was a great success. The commissioners are listening and realize the project needs special attention. Castilleja was encouraged to find a new site if they want to expand.
The project has identified 168 trees to be "impacted," including 57 to be removed and 25 to be transplanted.
The mature oaks and redwoods are protected BY LAW so Castilleja will be seeking a variance to kill these trees. They cannot be replaced and are part of Palo Alto heritage.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW YOU CAN MAKE AN IMPACT
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We have hired a lawyer and traffic consultant. Thanks for any donations.