Deborah Goldeen accused the council members and residents who have been opposing Castilleja’s plan of obstructionism
Sulev Suvari, who supports the Castilleja modernization, complained about the “small and vocal group” that has consistently opposed the project despite the various compromises made by Castilleja.
“Everything that has diminished quality of life in the city has been from obstructionist decisions by the council,” Goldeen said. “Frankly, the way it’s treating Castilleja is no different.”
Photo by Magali Gauthier
Mayor Pat Burt pushed back against this characterization and the suggestion from project supporters that opposing Castilleja’s plan amounts to a failure to support women’s education.
Burt also argued that the school’s transportation-demand-management program should extend well beyond the Castilleja campus and consider trips to the city in general. Students, he said, should be prohibited from driving to Palo Alto and parking their cars in surrounding neighborhoods before walking to the school. And parents, he argued, should be banned from dropping off their children outside designated satellite locations.
The goal of the transportation-demand management program should be to reduce trips to Palo Alto – not just to the Castilleja campus, he argued.
Most of his colleagues on the council’s slow-growth “residentialist” wing took a similarly skeptical stance toward Castilleja. Council member Greer Stone said he would support reducing the number of “special events” (those with 50 or more attendees) that Castilleja would be allowed to have from 70 per year to 50, along with five “major events” with more than 500 participants. Stone, a teacher, suggested that this could be done without sacrificing any student events such as plays, sporting events or science fairs. Rather, the school would only have to relocate all-adult events such as fundraisers off-campus.
The real issue, he argued, is the intensity of development in a single-family (R1) zone
Castilleja, which historically hosted more than 90 special events per year, has been hoping for the city’s permission to hold at least 70 under its new conditional use permits. After the Planning and Transportation Commission voted on April 20 to reduce the number to 55 (which includes the five “major events”), Castilleja attorney Mindie Romanowsky suggested in a letter that approving “anything lower than 70 would materially frustrate the educational and extracurricular experience, without any rational or legal justification.”
The Palo Alto City Council held a hearing on Castilleja School’s proposed campus modernization plan on . A second hearing on the proposed project is scheduled for .
The council majority also signaled that it’s unlikely to approve Castilleja’s request to gradually ramp up enrollment to 540, provided it meets the “no net new trips” requirement. Stone and Filseth both said they would support allowing Castilleja to get up to 450, consistent with the planning commission’s April 20 recommendation. Additional increases could be approved in the future, once Castilleja proves that its transportation programs work, the council members reasoned.
Supporters of the project have maintained that it is unreasonable to require the school to return for new conditional use permits, particularly given the amount of time the current process has taken. Stone acknowledged the concerns from many residents regarding “not wanting to go through this hell again.” But both he and DuBois said that future reviews could be much shorter because they won’t involve campus reconstruction.
“A lot of comments have been made https://datingreviewer.net/local-hookup/virginia-beach/ about how long this review has been,” DuBois said. “When you put it in context, the school is asking for a lot. If this had been an application that met code, the process would have been very short.”
Tanaka and Cormack were more sympathetic to Castilleja’s proposal and recommended approving the school’s plan to ramp up enrollment to 540 and to have 70 “special events” and five “major events” per year, consistent with what the Planning and Transportation Commission approved in 2020 (the commission changed its recommendation and went with a lower number on April 20 after the council ordered a fresh review of the project).
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