Neighbors support Castilleja's mission to educate young women, but they have outgrown the small 6-acre parcel. If they truly want to educate more young women they could easily educate hundreds of additional students by splitting the campus or moving to a new location, as Harker School and many other local private schools have done. A modest increase in enrollment may work, but many neighbors are adamant that the school be forced to abide by the current CUP of 415 students.
We oppose the construction of an underground garage. The design is seriously flawed with a single entrance on the Bryant Bike Boulevard and the exit on Emerson Street and Embarcadero. Motorists will avoid the garage, so it would not be used during peak traffic times. Instead of homes and trees on Emerson there would be a massive concrete garage exit and a 10-foot high exhaust chimney.
5-6 years of construction along Embarcadero Road is not acceptable for all of Palo Alto and surrounding communities.
The Issue At-a-Glance
Castilleja is a private school operating in a R1 residential neighborhood under the terms of a conditional use permit (CUP) issued by the City of Palo Alto. The CUP sets the enrollment cap for the school at 415 students. Castilleja has violated the CUP since it was established 17 years ago, with a current enrollment of 438 students. Castilleja clears a profit of $1.2 million per year from the illegal enrollment. They pay no property taxes.
In June 2016, Castilleja unveiled plans to build an underground garage, destroy 2 single family homes, remove mature trees, and increase enrollment by 30% to 540 students, without any input or feedback from neighbors. The proposed garage would require all cars to enter on Bryant, which is a bike boulevard used by students commuting to Jordan, Paly, and Addison, as well as downtown workers and commuters. All cars would be required to exit onto Emerson, then onto Embarcadero Road heading east, where cars are coming out of the Embarcadero underpass at high speed. Castillleja proposes to take over one lane of Embarcadero during commute times. There would be 5-6 years of construction with thousands of truck runs up and down Embarcadero Road.
Castilleja serves about 100 students from Palo Alto.
Castilleja has lied on their project application and in public, stating that they worked with neighbors who "have always insisted" on a garage. 47 individual households within a two block radius of the school have signed statements submitted to the school that they are opposed to the garage.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS: Neighbors speak out at City Council meetings.
ITEMS OF INTEREST:
Letters between Castilleja School and City Manager/City Attorney >
Castilleja shows their true colors by trying to blame the City and residents for delays in their destructive and divisive project.
PA Weekly Editorial
Castilleja's Unwise Stubbornness >
PNQLnow.org 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.