IN THEIR OWN WORDS
Neighbors speak out at November 6 City Council meeting.
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 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. They are now spoon-feeding these lies to young students, who are reading scripts provided by the school at City Council meetings.
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.
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.
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 >
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 email@example.com
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.
We would be happy to find middle ground where enrollment can increase. But Castilleja refuses to sit down with residents to find a solution.