Churchill Rail Crossing and College Terrace

I am a resident of Southgate, reaching out on behalf of a coalition of northern Palo Alto residents who are trying to increase awareness about proposed changes to the rail crossing at Churchill.

You may be aware that the Extended Community Advisory Panel (XCAP), a group of mostly residents, were charged by City Council to arrive at a “consensus recommendation” for grade separations at Churchill, East Meadow, and Charleston.  Through many disruptions, loss of membership, and limitations of funding and information, XCAP spent months studying the alternatives, including two citizen-generated designs.  Our focus has been on the options for the Churchill crossing.

On September 2, XCAP voted 6-3 to recommend that City Council pursue Churchill Closure with Mitigations.

In addition to what we see as the serious limitations of the Traffic Study and mitigation plan on which the feasibility of Closure is based, one of our concerns about the process is the limited engagement of other neighborhoods, including College Terrace, that may be affected by the closure of this route to Alma and Palo Alto west of the tracks.  If you would like to be more informed, there are two things going on right now that might be of interest: 

1) Our coalition is running a short survey that gives people an opportunity to weigh in on the alternatives for grade separation at Churchill.  The survey is accompanied by an informational email describing the designs and giving links to images, engineering drawings, etc. for those who want to know more.  (You may have seen some of this if you visited the Virtual Town Hall last month.)

Visit to read the letter and access the survey.

2) We are holding the second of two Zoom meetings this Saturday at 10am for a moderated dialogue with City Council candidates Ed Lauing, Steven Lee, Greer Stone, and Raven Malone.  The goals for the meeting are twofold: 1) to share concerns about the City’s process and the impacts of a possible closure of Churchill; and 2) to learn about candidates’ approaches to this important issue.  Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions via chat.  Use the Zoom coordinates below to join us:

Meeting ID: 994 4826 1250
Passcode: 584913
One tap mobile
+16465588656,,99448261250# US (New York)
+16699006833,,99448261250# US (San Jose)

To see a recording of last week’s Zoom meeting with Pat Burt, Lydia Kou, and Rebecca Eisenberg, follow this link:
Access Passcode: 1zpJ+rVN

Feel free to contact me, Susan Newman, at if you have questions or would like to be included in future updates.

Key Community Input Meetings Next Week

Two projects with potentially huge impacts on our city and neighborhood are having community input meetings in the coming week. These are excellent opportunities to share your ideas and voice your concerns.

Rail Crossing Grade Separation
Wednesday, November 28 at 6pm (Mitchell Park, El Palo Alto Room)
The city is hosting a community meeting to discuss ideas for separating the street from the railroad at Palo Alto’s four existing railroad crossings. This particular meeting will focus on the Charleston Road and Meadow Drive crossings; another meeting on January 23 will cover the Churchill Avenue and Palo Alto Avenue crossings.

For more information on the Palo Alto rail corridor, visit

Stanford GUP Community Benefits
Thursday, November 29 at 6:30pm (City Hall)
Santa Clara County Supervisors Simitian and Chavez will host a Community Listening Meeting to hear from the public about community benefits the county should consider in a negotiated Development Agreement regarding Stanford’s application for a General Use Permit for its proposed 2.3 million square foot academic expansion.

For more information on the Stanford GUP Development Agreement, visit

And one more thing… on the City Council’s agenda for Monday, November 26, is a series of revisions to the zoning code intended to make it easier for residential developers to get their projects approved. These revisions, which range from new density bonuses to reduced parking requirements for residential projects, are likely to generate a spirited debate. Read the proposal (or at least the Weekly’s summary) and then decide if you want to add one more meeting to your civic/social calendar.

Local News Roundup: September 10, 2018

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

California Ave Public Safety Building and Garage Meetings
A community meeting will be held Wednesday, September 12, to discuss the project and upcoming street and parking changes to the area during the construction. The Public Safety Building will also be presented to the City Council and Architectural Review Board in the coming weeks.

Study: Stanford Can Triple Its Density (September 5)
How big can Stanford truly become? According to a study commissioned by Santa Clara County planners, Stanford can roughly triple its density and expand to 44 million square feet without infringing on the foothills.

Caltrain Launches Construction in Palo Alto (August 29)
After a year of work in other parts of the line, work on the electrification of Caltrain has finally started in Palo Alto. Local impacts include work performed at night (between 7pm and 7am), some weekend service disruptions, and the removal and pruning of trees.

Local News Roundup: May 7, 2018

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

City to Narrow Down Redesign Options for Rail (April 25)
The Palo Alto City Council is hoping to reduce the current list of design options for Palo Alto’s rail crossings from 34 down to about 10 at its May 14 meeting. This includes deciding whether to officially abandon one of the most popular options: an underground tunnel through Palo Alto.

Palo Alto Approves Permanent Office Cap (May 1)
The Palo Alto City Council agreed to make permanent the 50,000-square-foot limit on office and research-and-development projects in downtown, around California Avenue and along El Camino Real. However, there is a separate citizen initiative underway to limit commercial growth citywide and make sure it remains at or below the city’s historical average.

Agilent, HP Companies Strike Back at Stanford Lawsuit (May 4)
Back in February, Stanford filed a lawsuit against HP and Agilent, claiming that the companies  contaminated the property now used for Stanford’s University Terrace development (1601 S. California Ave) with hazardous PCBs and TCE for over 30 years. Now, Agilent and HP have filed a response and counterclaim, claiming that Stanford knew about a chemical spill but did nothing about it.

Local News Roundup: April 23, 2018

This is the first of a (hopefully) regular series highlighting news stories of interest to College Terrace and the surrounding area.

Palo Alto’s Vin Vino Wine Sold to New Owners (April 13)
Vin Vino Wine, which has been on California Avenue for more than thirty years, has been sold to new owners who plan to renovate the space and expand the business.

Supervisors Set Aside $6M For Teacher Housing in Palo Alto (April 17)
The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to set aside $6 million in an affordable-housing fund toward the potential construction of a below-market-rate complex on Grant Ave. (near the California Ave. business district) for teachers and school staff.

Worried by Rail Redesign, Residents Seek to Save Their Homes (April 17)
Neighbors in Southgate (just across El Camino from College Terrace) and Old Palo Alto have created an alliance to influence the city’s decision on the railroad reconfiguration at Churchill and Alma. The group is concerned that some of the options the city is considering may involve seizing up to 36 residential properties through eminent domain.

“Workforce Housing” Project Scores a Victory (April 22)
On Thursday morning, Palo Alto’s Architectural Review Board (ARB) endorsed the 57-unit development proposed at 2755 El Camino Real: the corner of El Camino and Page Mill currently used as a VTA parking lot.