Expansion of private school in Palo Alto, Calif., would cause significant traffic problems, report says

July 19, 2019
The Castilleja School, an all-girls school for grades 6 to 12, wants to construct a new classroom building and an underground parking garage.

Additional traffic caused by the expansion of a private girls school in Palo Alto, Calif., would have a “significant and unavoidable” impact to the neighborhood, a draft Environmental Impact Report issued by the city asserts.

The Palo Alto Daily Post reports that, according to the city, if the Castilleja School is allowed to expand so it could increase its enrollment from 430 to 540 students, traffic is projected to increase 23%—from 1,198 to 1,477 car trips a day.

Castilleja wants to update its campus by building a 40,000-square-foot underground parking garage and demolishing five buildings in order to construct a new building for classrooms. The new buildings will result in a loss of 6,649-square-feet above ground, according to the school.

The school has students in grades six to 12.

Lorraine Brown, Castilleja’s director of communications and community relations, says the school has commissioned its own traffic study that arrived at conclusions different from the city. The school's study showed the increase in enrollment to 540 wouldn’t increase rush hour trips to school. The school now has 61 employees, and that number is expected to increase only “modestly” with the addition of new students.

The school has already been working on decreasing the number of single occupancy vehicles that come to campus, resulting in more students and employees taking shuttles, Caltrain, walking or biking to the school.

The planned expansion has caused neighborhood strife since it was proposed. A group of residents have formed a group called Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life, or PNQLnow, and are asking that Castilleja drop plans for the garage.

Ultimately, the decision about whether the expansion will go forward is up to the City Council. No date has been set for council’s review of the project.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy, senior editor, has written for AS&U on a wide range of educational issues since 1999.

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