The Barron Park Association

art liberman

Nov 202014
 

posted by Art Liberman

The Palo Alto VA is undergoing another phase of significant building construction. In the previous phase of VA building expansion, several new medical facility structures and a parking garage were built along the Matadero Creek side of its property. This second phase is in the rear area of its property, which borders the Bol Park Bike and Pedestrian Shared Path (‘the Bike Path’). The initial projects in this latest phase of construction activity involve moving the VA’s Loop Road close to the VA property boundary (labelled number 3 on the following figure), building a new, five story Parking Garage (number 2) along that Loop Road and adding a Radiology Unit (number 1) to the main hospital building.

VA Palo Alto Campus – Phase 2 project

The projects will proceed in stages over the next several years. As indicated in the figure, future projects include a two story Research Building (number 5) that will also be close to the new rear Loop Road and likely visible from the Bike Path, and several other facilities elsewhere on the VA site (Ambulatory Care Center, number 4; Simulation Center, number 6; Recreation Therapy, number 7; and a second Fisher House hotel for veterans’ families, number 8).

While the planning for this phase of the VA expansion had been in the works for some years, the Barron Park community became aware of it only two months ago, when the VA sent out a notice about the construction project (forwarded to BPA-News), and then six weeks later when construction activity began in earnest. David Boxerman along with Richard Placone (president of the BPA at the time of annexation of Barron Park to Palo Alto in the 1970’s and the person responsible for having the railway line right-of-way donated to the City for the Bike Path) contacted the VA project managers at the end of October. These two Barron Park residents have been joined by BPA President Markus Fromherz, Art Liberman, and Khashayar “Cash” Alaee (a management analyst in City Manager Jim Keene’s office) to form a group that has held several meetings with Ronald Bochenek, Environmental Planning Manager/Facility Planner for the VA who is acting as the VA’s liaison to the community for this project (and who provided the images in this note).

Over the past few weeks, the VA contractors erected a new chain link temporary construction fence covered with fabric screening that is closer to the Bike Path than the previous fence (which was removed), and bulldozers and excavation equipment removed trees and cleared away vegetation along the VA side of the new fence. The construction fence marks the VA property line; the Bike Path and adjacent property beyond the donkey pasture and extending to Arastradero is on Stanford land leased long term to the City of Palo Alto.

The rear entry way for pedestrians and bicyclists, which had been up a steep embankment and through a gateway between the phone booth and the donkey pasture, has been closed; a new rear entry way to the VA property is now open much further along the Bike Path, near the flood retention pond and Gunn High School.

Continue reading »

Oct 212014
 

Posted by Art Liberman

Some very dramatic changes are being proposed by City of Palo Alto Transportation Division to the streetscape in Barron Park to improve safety and enhance the bicycling experience in our neighborhood.

The proposed Barron Park Neighborhood Bicycle Routes project will provide Bike Route signage and Share the Road (Sharrow) roadway markings. The project will tie together the Matadero-Margarita Avenue and Maybell Bicycle Boulevard projects and support both commuter bicycle and student bicycle activities within and through the Barron Park Neighborhood.

The proposals were shown to residents by the  at a Community Meeting on Oct 16th at Barron Park School. You can download the presentation here:  Barron-Park_101614 Neighborhood Bicycle Routes Community Meeting

The streets where improvement are proposed include:

  • Barron Avenue: Laguna Avenue to El Camino Real
  • Los Robles Avenue: Laguna Avenue to El Camino Real
  • La Donna Avenue: Barron Avenue to Los Robles Avenue
  • Amaranta Avenue: Los Robles Avenue to Maybell Avenue
  • Laguna Avenue: Matadero Avenue to Los Robles Avenue

The list of proposed improvements include:

Intersection Treatments – Including landscaped Traffic Circles at:

  • Cerrito Way and Los Robles
  • Ilimia Court and Laguna Ave
  • Amaranta Ave and Georgia Ave

Traditional Bike Lanes on:
• Barron Avenue
• Amaranta Avenue

Green Backed Sharrows with Edgelines on:
• Josina Avenue
• La Donna Avenue
• Barron Avenue
• Laguna Avenue
• Los Robles Avenue

Advisory Bike Lanes (dotted white line or possibly textured pavement on shared shoulders) on:
• Josina Avenue
• La Donna Avenue
• Barron Avenue
• Amaranta Avenue
• Laguna Avenue

On streets with bike lanes, residents will be required to park the cars off the roadway if the bike lane is on their side of the street. The City officials had not conducted a survey of  which, if any, properties might be affected.

You can see the proposed plans and provide your feedback to the Transportation Division by following this link: barron-park-neighborhood-bicycle-routes
Sep 172014
 
CPI :  Risk Assessment Report & Possible Zoning Strategies 

October 6: The Palo Alto City Council will review and discuss the the AECOM consultant’s Risk Assessment for Storing and Handling Hazardous Materials at Communications & Power Industries, LLC (CPI), 607‐811 Hansen Way, and supplemental materials, including an analysis of possible zoning strategies to establish adequate separation between plating shop uses and residences.

Staff Report: • CPI Risk Assessment Report and Zoning Direction

Consultant Report and other Attachments:• Consultant Report and Attachment

From the Staff Report: Recommended Motion 

“Direct staff to prepare a draft ordinance for review by the Planning and Transportation  Commission (PTC) and consideration by the City Council in early 2015. The ordinance should  amend the list of uses in the zoning code to explicitly identify plating shops, prohibit plating  shop uses within a specific distance of residential uses and residential zoning districts, and incorporate an amortization schedule based on updated information on the value of affected  investments.”

October 2:  City staff and consultants will be available to answer questions about the Risk Assessment and the staff report at a pre‐meeting scheduled for October 2, 2014 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at the Barron Park Elementary School, Multipurpose Room, 800 Barron Avenue.

Continue reading »

Sep 152014
 

Below is the postcard mailer that was sent out last week to Laguna Avenue residents regarding upcoming street work.   The meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 23, 6:30pm at Barron Park Elementary School to discuss proposed street resurfacing work on Laguna Avenue from Matadero Avenue to Los Robles Avenue.

Laguna Repaving Community Meeting Notice

If you have any questions regarding the meeting, please contact the Project Engineers, Matt Brunnings at 650.617.3148 or Murdo Nicolson at 650.617.3154.

Aug 162014
 

Open Letter to Hillary Gitelman and Jaime Rodriguez:


Hillary and Jaime:

Your response to residents comments about the Speed Humps that had been installed on Matadero Ave, Update on Speed Bumps on Matadero, suggested that you were uncertain how to proceed. You wanted more input from residents before making a decision about whether to replace the Speed Humps with Speed Tables or, because they turned out to be higher than required, to just grind them down to the appropriate height.

To get input from residents, I ran a survey for the past three days, which was announced on several Barron Park email lists. Background information from Palo Alto’s “Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program – Appendix” was provided for definitions, specifications and uses of Speed Humps and Speed Tables. There were two questions:

1. Which of the following traffic calming options do you prefer?

  • Speed Humps
  • Speed Tables
  • No Preference

2. Do you have any other comments, questions or concerns?

The survey responses are anonymous.

The results are clear; with 61 responses to the question, residents prefer Speed Tables to Speed Humps by more than a factor of two to one.

Survey Results: Speed Humps versus Speed Tables

Here is a link to the results. Survey: Speed Humps versus Speed Tables on Matadero  You can also read here the responses for the second question from 39 residents who wrote about their comments and concerns.

It’s now up to you to make the corrections and changes to Matadero that reflect the will of the people of Barron Park.

Regards, Art Liberman

Aug 122014
 

Many of you have already written to the City of Palo Alto concerning your views of the Speed Bumps on Matadero.  That apparently has not been enough to change the City Staff’s decision as to what to do. THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU AGAIN. And copy Hillary on the email hillary.gitelman@cityofpaloalto.org

Here is the email (8/12/14) I received today  from Hillary Gittlemen, Planning Director, which is similar to ones she has sent to others who had contacted her previously.


” Many thanks to you and to everyone who has written in and provided comments regarding the recently constructed Speed Humps on Matadero Avenue.  Many of the comments we received said the new humps feel very abrupt and expressed a preference  for Speed Tables, like those on Maybell Avenue.

As I think you know, we asked a surveyor to measure the Humps and Tables, to see how they compared to each other and to the City’s standards.  Low and behold, the Matadero Speed Humps are above the standard of 3.5” that we use, as shown below, and we are working to get the contractor back in town as soon as possible to address this issue.
Matadero Avenue Speed Humps
No.
Location
Max Height (Inches)
Hump Width (Feet)
1
Whitsell Avenue
3.84”
12’
2
Tippawingo Street
4.8”
12’
3
Julie Court
4.2”
12’
4
Emma Court
3.54”
12’
5
Chimaulus Drive
3.48”
12’
Maybell Avenue Speed Tables
No.
Location
Max Height (Inches)
Table Width (Feet)
1
Thain Way
4.8”
22’
2
East of Baker Avenue
4.92”
22’
3
West of Baker Avenue
4.56”
22’
4
Frandon Court
5.76”
22’
We can ask the contractor to replace the current Speed Humps with either Speed Tables or with Speed Humps that meet the City’s standard and would welcome continued input on these two alternatives by email to transportation@cityofpaloalto.org.  We would also be happy to come out and walk the street with a group of neighbors, if that’s desirable.
Whichever alternative we use for the five existing locations, we still plan to install the Speed Table at Tippawingo that will double as a raised crosswalk for pedestrians.  This speed table will be constructed at a height of 3.25” and a width of 16-FT due to geometric constraints.
Please feel free to email your additional thoughts/concerns to the email box above.  We anticipate being ready to remove and reconstruct as early as the first week of September and hopefully sooner.
Many thanks,
Hillary & Jaime”

 

Jun 302014
 
The Matadero Bicycle Boulevard plan is moving ahead. The recent June 19th meeting with consultants and Jaime Rodriguez and other staff was devoted to creating / enabling / enhancing other routes (not boulevards) for bicycling in Barron Park, but Jaime provided some information afterward on the status of the plan for the Matadero (Margarita) Bicycle Boulevard.

The proposal for the bicycle boulevard followed two Barron Park community meetings, in May and September of 2013. Images of the design concept were previously posted on the Barron Park Association website, Initial Concept Plan for Matadero – Margarita Bike Boulevard » The Barron Park Association   To reduce automobile speeds, and enhance bicycle and pedestrian safety, Matadero will have a number of speed humps and also a speed table (raised cross walk across Matadero from Tippawingo to Josina) .

The current plan provided by Jaime Rodriguez can be downloaded here. Basemap – Matadero Bike Blvd – Final Speed Hump Sites – 053014 The locations for the speed humps have been finalized [look at the orange outlined rectangles with single chevron in the attached pdf]. What’s not certain is the date for when the work will be begin.

Currently, as you are all too well aware, the Matadero Ave roadway is a real mess, most recently a consequence of the Utilities Department’s gas line replacement program. This work was supposed to have been completed by end of June, but there are still quite a number of steel plates covering holes. Hopefully, this work will be completed within the next few weeks. In addition to the the gas line work, the sewer line replacement repairs have left many scars on the roadway. Because of the present roadway condition, Jaime said that the Public Works will apply a ‘slurry seal’ to the entire length of Matadero, from El Camino to Laguna.

The slurry seal will cover the painted roadway markers, including the yellow center line. The initial Bicycle Boulevard plan had been to leave the yellow line in place. But, as discussed in the June 19th meeting, there are two schools of thought about the yellow line – one is that it keeps the lanes of traffic clearly marked and makes people slow down; the other is that by keeping traffic in the lane, cars are less willing to cross it and instead pass too closely to bicyclists and pedestrians. Jaime said that he is open to repainting the yellow lines if eliminating it turns out to cause issues and the community is not happy with the situation.

One further issue – Jaime acknowledged the many concerns voiced by residents about pedestrian safety along Matadero, especially near the Matadero Creek bridge, just past the Tippawingo intersection.  Here is an image from the file of the plan proposed for that location (click on the image to bring up a full size, clear image – then on your back button on your browser to return to the message):
One possible improvement for pedestrian safety, which Jaime is discussing with  Matt Brunnings (Public Works), would result from the removal of a storm water drain on Matadero near the bridge. Removal of the storm water drain would permit the city to move the metal guard rail in, towards the Creek and away from the roadway, and provide additional room for pedestrians to walk safely in that area. But removal of the drain entails a series of steps that have to happen and all pieces have to fall into place before this proposal becomes a reality. Look for work “By Others” on this figure (2nd panel in the pdf if you download it).  This storm drain receives water from the valley gutter that runs along Matadero and crosses the end of Tippawingo. So removing the storm drain, and the valley gutter leading to it that crosses Tippawingo, would require an alternate path for the runoff – one possibility would be a new section of valley gutter that would wrap around the Matadero-Tippawingo corner, joining with one on Tippawingo that leads to a storm drain at the corner of Tippawingo and Chimalus. This part of the plan is still in the discussion phase between the Transportation Division and Public Works.
Art Liberman
Feb 232014
 

The following article, written by Winter Dellenbach, was published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Barron Park Newsletter.  It is being posted here to provide information to all Barron Park residents about the human costs if the closure of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park proceeds, to remind us all about the people who live in Buena Vista and what is at stake for them.

The City of Palo Alto announced on February 20th, 2014 that they have accepted the Relocation Impact Report (RIR) provided by the owner and deemed it to be complete. The next step in the process towards closure, as defined by the ordinances of the City of Palo Alto, is a hearing by a City appointed Hearing Officer within 60 days of the acceptance of the RIR.

The hearing on the closure application that was previously set for Monday, April 21, 2014 10:00 AM-12:00 PM has been CANCELLED.

The hearing has been re-scheduled to the following dates and times:

1.       Monday, May 12, 2014, 6:30 PM -9:30 PM
2.       Tuesday, May 13, 2014, 6:30 PM-9:30 PM
3.       Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 6:30 PM-9:30 PM

The hearings will take place at Avenidas located at 450 Bryant St., Palo Alto, CA 94301.  Parking is available directly across the street at the Bryant/Lytton Parking Garage located at 445 Bryant St., Palo Alto, CA 94301.

You can find out more information about the issue and view other documents on the City’s webpage City of Palo Alto/Buena Vista and read a companion post recently published on our site, Buena Vista Mobile Home Park RIR Deemed Complete”


Editor’s Note:  The Board of the Barron Park Association has been closely following the closure and planning process for the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park, but has not taken a formal position. As of March, 2013, a relocation specialist is preparing a Relocation Impact Report (RIR) that involves interviewing the individual households (as required by an ordinance adopted 10 years ago after considerable debate and discussion).  There has been no action on the developer’s plans for a 180-rental apartment project since the Winter 2012-13 BPA newsletter article. Winter Dellenbach lives in Barron Park.

By Winter Dellenbach,   Friends of Buena Vista

Seldom has a Palo Alto land use issue had the power to move nearly 400 people out of Palo Alto, redefining our neighborhood and city in the process. Yet that may happen in Barron Park. The 86-year old Buena Vista (BV) is in the early stage of closure, to be sold by the owner. The closure process will likely go well into 2014. A developer quietly waits in the wings. Residents will be the collateral damage of redevelopment and will lose everything. We neighbors know little about our Buena Vista neighbors. This is an introduction to them and the issues they face (names changed for privacy).

Why Live at Buena Vista?

For all the same reasons we live here. BV offers affordable space-rent for residents’ homes. Our safe community, with its high quality medical and elder care, offers needed services, and children get to go to good schools.

To Quote Bruce Springsteen ~ “We take care of our own”.

There are over 60 elders at Buena Vista, several of whom are disabled and dependant on extended family’s support and care. An example is Angela, a Gunn graduate who moved to BV when she was 14. She now owns a home there, as does her sister, and both help support their elderly parents, longtime BV residents. Angela works at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation and her husband is a produce manager at Whole Foods, while their son attends Barron Park Elementary. Angela’s brother is able to pay college tuition because he lives with their parents, sharing expenses. Everyone helps with childcare. BV’s affordable housing makes this critical mutual support possible.

Residents Consider Buena Vista to Be the Land of Opportunity.

Of the 125 children living at BV, 104 are students attending Gunn, Terman, Juana Briones, and Barron Park schools.  They comprise 12% of Barron Park Elementary’s enrollment.

Two autistic students are thriving in high quality programs they will not find elsewhere – a boy at Terman and a girl at Gunn.

Stanford professors and students are working with BV families. An education professor and pediatrician cite studies that repeatedly show the quality of a child’s educational experience is a principal determinant of that child’s life course as an adult, including both socioeconomic wellbeing and health status. Losing the opportunity provided by Palo Alto schools could irreversibly alter the trajectory of these children’s entire lives.

If BV neighbors are forced to leave town, some of us may think, “Oh good, more room in our schools”, while others may think, “Oh no, there go lots of nice families and my children’s friends.”  BV parents will think, “This is a disaster.”

Continue reading »

Feb 222014
 

The City of Palo Alto just announced (February 20, 2014) that they have accepted the Relocation Impact Report submitted by the Jisser family, the owners of the Buena Vista Mobile Home Park. This is one of the steps required by the Palo Alto Municipal Code that would allow the Jisser family to close Buena Vista. You can download the City’s press release – Buena Vista, and read more about the issue and view other documents on the City’s webpage City of Palo Alto/Buena Vista . The next step, as written in the press release is a hearing: ” A  City-appointed hearing officer is now required to hold a hearing within 60 days to decide whether the mitigation measures offered by the mobile home park owner, including relocation benefits, are adequate to mitigate the adverse impacts to displaced park residents, subject to limitations in the law. The hearing officer acts independently of the City and may also request additional information prior to rendering a decision.”

The most recent Barron Park Association Newsletter, Winter Issue 2013-14, contained an article I wrote with background information about the issues involved, from both the property owner and the BV homeowners’ perspectives.  Because this issue has now come front and center, the article is being posted below.


The Buena Vista Mobile Home Park (BVMHP) is owned by the Jisser family who announced about a year ago their intention to close it and sell the property to Prometheus, a large privately held developer of apartment buildings in Silicon Valley. Prometheus disclosed their concept for the 4.5 acre section of the mobile park site directly behind the stores (Barron Park Newsletter, Winter 2012). Their plan is to redevelop the site, removing the 104 trailers and 12 cottages and replace them with a 180 unit rental apartment complex. Continue reading »

Feb 172014
 

Community Meeting

Thursday, Feb. 20th at 6:00 PM
Creekside Inn; Top Floor Tower Room
Presentation of Risk Assessment
By the City’s Consultant
http://www.cityofpaloalto.org/cpi

Please attend this Important Meeting

Some background:

  • A series of spills and releases of toxic materials starting in 2006 alerted Chimalus residents that large quantities of cyanides, acids, and other extremely hazardous materials are used on a daily basis right behind our homes.
  • CPI maintains a plating shop on the second floor of Building 2. This is particularly dangerous in an earthquake environment.
  • CPI was allowed to vastly increase the amounts of hazardous materials on this site without any notice to the neighborhood or any public review.
  • The City of Palo Alto ordered a study of the toxics, possible amortization, and zoning updates that was to have been completed by December of 2012. Now, over a year later, the report will be presented.

What can WE do? What can the City do?

  • Hazardous Materials and Plating Shops should not be near families and children.  Safety requires Distance between toxics and people.
  • We, the residents, MUST DEMAND Zoning Changes – Amortize the CPI Plating Shop – Move it AWAY from our homes!
  • Fire Department oversight is NOT ENOUGH: Accidents and unexpected events occur.

Residents have followed this for 8 long years  – since the nitric acid fume release in February 2006.  Here is the timeline of events and actions.  Click for a clearer, enlarged view.