Plan for dedicated El Camino bus lanes fizzles out

Mountain View Voice – by Mark Noack / January 29, 2018

Unpopular BRT project called off after $10.5M in preliminary work

After years of spinning its wheels, the controversial proposal to build dedicated bus lanes along El Camino Real appears to be dead in the water.

Originally proposed more than a decade ago, the $223 million project known as Bus Rapid Transit has languished in recent years amid pushback from residents and many elected leaders. Valley Transportation Authority officials say they are now pulling the plug on the idea after gaining insufficient support from cities along the El Camino corridor, even for a scaled-down version to test out the idea.

North Palo Alto residents ramp up traffic battle

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sue Dremann / January 26, 2018

Neighborhood warms to new and creative activism to unclog residential streets

Riled by daily traffic snarls on their residential streets, about 70 Crescent Park residents met with Palo Alto police and transportation officials on Jan. 18 to discuss how to end commuters’ occupation of their neighborhood.

Greg Welch, a Center Drive resident, spearheaded the neighborhood advocacy.

“As our next steps, we will have almost weekly meetings and will be coordinating (with the city),” he said, noting they plan to form a stakeholder group to develop a pilot traffic-management program. The group would work with Palo Alto’s transportation department on creating the program.

The meeting, just the latest movement in a wave of neighborhood activism, covered the expected discussion of pavement markings, traffic circles and stop signs — but also ventured into the realm of politics, with residents talking about potential candidates to support during this year’s City Council election.

Pope-Chaucer bridge: Replacement hits a snag

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Allison Levitsky / January 25, 2018

Replacement of the Pope-Chaucer Street Bridge — which was blamed for much of the damage in the 1998 flood that inundated Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park — could be delayed by a bureaucratic snafu between the San Francisquito Creek Joint Powers Authority and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board.

The creek authority plans to replace the bridge with one that doesn’t have concrete blocks that constrict the flow. Currently, so much sediment is built up at the bridge that there are large trees growing out of it, said Len Materman, the creek authority’s executive director.

Creek authority leaders are currently studying the environmental impacts that the project would have in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act.
But on Jan. 18, the water board sent a letter to the creek authority, urging them to take into account the expected increase in sediment loads flowing from Searsville Dam, a 65-foot masonry dam on Stanford lands upstream in the foothills.

Menlo Park appeals Stanford project — will new med school building worsen Sand Hill Road traffic?

Palo Alto Daily Post – by Elaine Goodman / January 22, 2018

The city of Menlo Park’s attempt to block a Stanford development project that officials fear will worsen traffic on Sand Hill Road will be reviewed by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors tomorrow (Jan. 23).

The project is a four-story, 153,821-square-foot office building for medical school faculty that Stanford calls the Center for Academic Medicine. It would be built at the site of a 245-space parking lot at 453 Quarry Road. The building’s three-level underground parking garage would include 830 spaces, for an increase of 585 spaces. The building would also include a cafeteria and fitness center.

Menlo Park says that county planners haven’t taken into account the cumulative traffic impacts of the project in the Sand Hill Road vicinity in its analysis of the new proposal, including 1 million square feet of growth at Stanford Hospital and the recently approved Middle Plaza project at 500 El Camino in Menlo Park.

Mountain View Council won’t insist on new neighborhood school

LASD to decide whether to put Bullis charter at San Antonio site

Mountain View Voice – by Kevin Forestieri / January 18, 2018

Despite concerns about traffic and a desire to bring a local neighborhood school to families living in the San Antonio area, a majority of Mountain View City Council members agreed Tuesday night to let the Los Altos School District decide whether to relocate Bullis Charter School to Mountain View.

The council was split on a 5-2 vote, with members Margaret Abe-Koga and Pat Showalter opposed. The council majority said district officials should decide what kind of school would occupy a future campus in the San Antonio area, despite the major financial support from Mountain View to ensure that the densely populated neighborhood gets a local school and acres of park space.

Hotel plan draws opposition in south Palo Alto

Residents concerned about building’s density, traffic impacts

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / January 9, 2018

For Palo Alto’s elected leaders, the hotel boom that is transforming south El Camino Real is a trend to be embraced: a welcome boost to the city’s revenue stream at a time of rising infrastructure costs and growing pension obligations. The City Council signaled as much last year, when it voted to explore allowing greater density for new hotels, particularly in the downtown area.

But for residents of Palo Alto Redwoods, the promise of new riches comes at a high cost. On Dec. 21, a group from the 117-unit condominium complex came to City Hall to protest the latest entry into the crowded field: a 90-room hotel proposed for 4256 El Camino Real, site of Su Hong restaurant. From their point of view, the new project will cause traffic havoc, threaten the health of area redwoods and create parking problems.

If approved, the new hotel would occupy a stretch of El Camino that has become a magnet for hotels, big and small. These include two recently constructed hotels — Hilton Garden Inn and Homewood Suites — as well as Crowne Plaza Cabana, Palo Alto Inn, Americas Best Value Inn, Oak Motel and Dinah’s Garden Hotel.

Navigation Apps Are Turning Quiet Neighborhoods Into Traffic Nightmares

New York Times – by Lisa W. Foderaro / December 24, 2017

With services like Google Maps, Waze and Apple Maps suggesting shortcuts for commuters through the narrow, hilly streets of Leonia, N.J., the borough has decided to fight back against congestion that its leaders say has reached crisis proportions.

In mid-January, the borough’s police force will close 60 streets to all drivers aside from residents and people employed in the borough during the morning and afternoon rush periods, effectively taking most of the town out of circulation for the popular traffic apps — and for everyone else, for that matter.

For new bike boulevard, it’s not smooth sailing

Palo Alto Weekly – by Sue Dremann / December 8, 2017

New Ross Road fixtures are confusing bicyclists and drivers, creating danger, residents say

The city of Palo Alto’s effort to turn a south Palo Alto street into a bicycle-friendly boulevard is encountering a chorus of complaints from residents who say that the changes are making the road more dangerous.

City seeks more protection from Stanford expansion

Palo Alto Weekly – by Gennady Sheyner / December 1, 2017

Palo Alto officials, residents question university’s plans to manage anticipated traffic and housing problems

The City Council plans to approve on Monday night a comment letter on the project’s voluminous draft Environmental Impact Report, which assesses likely consequences of the expansion. The letter takes issues with Stanford’s assumptions about traffic, groundwater and fire-service demand, among many other things.