Statewide Housing Legislation Gains Steam

While Palo Alto’s City Council grapples with ways to address the current housing crisis, legislators in Sacramento are proposing a wide range of bills aimed at spurring development, some of which restrict cities’ abilities to limit or block housing development.

Senate Bill 50 (SB-50), for example, aims to bolster housing development near major transit stops and bus routes, as well as “job-rich” areas, by exempting projects in these areas from local limits on density and parking requirements.

The Embarcadero Institute recently published an analysis of SB-50’s impacts on Palo Alto. It’s worth reviewing the potential impacts on our neighborhood, as parts of College Terrace are within a quarter mile of a “high quality bus corridor” (VTA Routes 22/522) and nearly all of Palo Alto will likely be deemed “job-rich.”

Given Governor Newsom’s aggressive goal to build 3.5 million new homes in California by 2025, it’s worth watching these bills as they progress through the Legislature. The future of Palo Alto housing may be decided in Sacramento and not City Hall.

Stanford/Bowdoin Crosswalk Improvements Coming

This spring, the City of Palo Alto Office of Transportation will install high-visibility yellow crosswalks and required school crossing signage to the Stanford/Bowdoin intersection. This project was initiated by PTA Transportation Safety Representatives of Escondido and Nixon Elementary Schools approaching the City of Palo Alto’s Safe Routes to School and Stanford staff to improve student visibility.

After several observations with PTA volunteers and design iterations by Stanford’s consultants, City staff and the project stakeholders agreed that the striping and signage project was an important step in enhancing safety at this busy intersection for students and other road users due to the proximity to two elementary schools and high use by students of all ages.

After installation, the City and Safe Routes partners will continue to monitor the intersection as a regular activity of the Safe Routes to School Partnership. Questions about the project can be sent to SafeRoutes@cityofpaloalto.org.

In other good news for neighborhood pedestrians, Caltrans is installing Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHBs) at several intersections along El Camino Real, including one at College Avenue.

PHBs are flashing signals that tell drivers to stop when pedestrians are crossing the roadway. The installation process at Palo Alto intersections (Vista Ave, Barron Ave, Fernando Ave, College Ave, and Palo Alto Ave) is scheduled to begin this month and the full project should be completed by summer.

Please see the City of Palo Alto’s Stop for Pedestrians flyer for more information on how drivers and pedestrians should use these crosswalk safety enhancements. For more information, contact Caltrans Public Information Officer for District 4, Victor Gauthier at victor.gauthier@dot.ca.gov.

Bol Park Pathway Survey

Our friends at the Barron Park Association are conducting a survey on the Bol Park Pathway. This is the pedestrian and bike path that connects Bol Park with Gunn High School, the Arastradero/Foothill Expressway intersection, and Hanover Street.

This pathway has seen increased usage over the years, and while the city is planning an official traffic study, the BPA would like to complement it with a survey of the pathway’s users.

If you use this pathway and would like to contribute your observations, please respond to this survey by Monday, January 14. The survey should take about 5-10 minutes to complete. Thanks for your participation!