Car Free Streets Community Workshop: December 7

The City of Palo Alto is hosting an in-person interactive Community Workshop on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, from 6:00pm to 7:30pm at 310 California Avenue (Performance Gains Gym) to discuss priorities, opportunities, and challenges of Palo Alto’s car-free streets: California Avenue between El Camino Real and Birch Street, and the half block of Ramona Street between University Avenue and Hamilton Avenue.

This community workshop will include a presentation on the Program’s background, the existing conditions, an update on where the Program is going, and a chance for you to share your experience and ideas to help shape a future study for the streets. This engagement effort is a part of the Uplift Local: Car-Free Streets, California Avenue and Ramona Street Program—a Council-supported initiative launched during the COVID-19 pandemic to allow for outdoor dining, retail, and personal services on certain portions of Ramona Street and California Avenue. 

For more information, visit the Program page. To RSVP for the workshop, use this link:

https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/Events-Directory/City-Manager/Car-Free-Streets-Community-Workshop

Around the Terrace: October 23, 2022

Here are some recent announcements and news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

  • Annual AlertSU Test on Thursday, October 27 at 12:05pm
    Stanford will conduct its annual test of its AlertSU system this Thursday around noon. In addition to text and email alerts to the Stanford community, the outdoor warning system will sound an audible tone for about 30 seconds from each of the 7 sirens around campus.

California Avenue Business District Observer Report

Ann Balin reported on Wednesday, May 18, 2022:

City Council approves California Avenue and Ramona Street closures through December 2023

Monday night’s city council meeting was mainly focused on whether or not to add two bike lanes down the avenue’s corridor. The city staff’s transportation professional, Philip Kamhi, presented this directive policy which Mayor Pat Burt firmly embraced. The mayor and fellow council member Greer Stone advocated for the bike lanes as they would conform to the Comprehensive Plan. Council member Greg Tanaka followed their lead and all three voted for the corridor to include these bike lanes. Central to their argument was proximity to Stanford’s research park allowing for access to the train station. 

Three opponents to this proposal were Tom DuBois, Lydia Kou and Alison Cormack. Eric Filseth was absent. With the 3-3 vote the issue did not pass.

The owner of the Pakistani Indian restaurant Zareen’s, Zareen Khan lead the speakers stating that she wants to keep California Avenue a peaceful pedestrian promenade free of cyclists whizzing by. She was firmly opposed to having vehicles including cars and cyclists riding on the avenue.

Another merchant, Lisa Robins, the owner of Vin Vino Wine said, “Now just when it seems like we ought to be making a thoughtful transition to permanent parklets and a return to relatively gentle traffic patterns and open access that we used to have, you have decided to extend what was an emergency closure to infinity, run a bicycle superhighway down the middle of California Avenue and risk the continued decline of the retail environment of the whole district.”

Mike Stone of Mollie Stones is fervently against the closure of California Avenue. Stone said, “You are shutting off the main artery.” Please, for the life of the street, open it. It’s hurting more businesses than it is helping.”

In the city’s survey only 43 percent said they would dine next to a road open to vehicles.

Tom DuBois responded to Cormack’s view that cyclists can use alternative streets including Sherman and Cambridge. She stated that including bike lanes would go against the original plan in keeping with a pedestrian friendly avenue. DuBois supported keeping the corridor free of bicycle lanes remaining faithful to the original dining area concept.

The council did agree on other specific elements including the banning of tents and instructing staff to to work with restaurants regarding future parklets. They also were in accord that planters and barriers will be required to separate structures from the street. Sidewalks will need to be designated eight feet.

All guidelines were embraced by the majority except for Greg Tanaka voting no. The vote was 5-1.

Tanaka did join Cormack and voted against directing staff to work on a marketing plan to support retail businesses. The vote was 4-2.

The council respected the residents in keeping the avenue closed to traffic be it cars, trucks or cyclists. The regulation right now is that cyclists must walk their bikes on California Avenue.