PALO ALTO (KPIX 5) — Neighbors in Palo Alto are preparing for a fight against the planned renovation and expansion of a private, all-girls middle and high school they fear will flood their quiet community with cars.
“They would basically destroy this neighborhood — this section of Emerson street. There’s only three houses on this side of the street and they would bulldoze two of them,” said Rob Levitsky outside his home behind Castilleja.
The city released its draft environmental impact report this week which describe the traffic impacts from the project as “significant and unavoidable.” The school wants to replace aging classrooms on one side of its campus and build a large underground parking garage on the other.
Neighbors say the problem is the new parking structure will funnel virtually all of the traffic into their quiet, tree-lined street.
“We need to work with the city of Palo Alto and look at our plans and see how we can modify our plans to minimize our impact on the neighborhood,” said Lorraine Brown, the school’s communications director.
The project also calls for increasing enrollment to 540 students. In 2013, Castilleja admitted that it had violated an agreement with the city to limit enrollment to 415 students. Neighbors says granting the school approval for the renovations and enrollment increases would be rewarding its bad behavior.
“They have not been a good neighbor,” said Andie Reid, who lives behind the school.
A spokesperson for the school says they are trying to make up for past mistakes.
“We have worked very hard to regain the trust of our neighbors. We realize that we lost trust in the community when it was learned that we were over-enrolled. And we’re working very hard to regain their trust,” Brown said.