The Barron Park Association

Dec 292014
 

posted by Markus Fromherz

Over the summer of 2014 the BPA ran a survey of the Barron Park neighborhood about interests and priorities in the community. We got a wonderful response. 172 people filled out the survey. The number does not describe the amount of write-in comments, though. Before I get into details, I’d like to draw attention to the informal gathering we have planned for January 7, 5-6pm, to discuss two of the top interests. Please see our email on BPA-News and RSVP if you’d like to help and contribute to the BPA.

In this post, I’d like to summarize the survey responses and comments. Full details can be found here.

First, there is strong support for the BPA’s activities. A great majority of the respondents find the annual meeting, May Fete, and casual/cultural gatherings important. There are good ideas on how to improve some of them and what other events to organize. For example, how about a teen event? There is also near-universal support for and interest in the newsletter, website, and email lists. The responses on general activities and interests were more differentiated and will help us understand where to put our energy and look for help. Emergency preparedness scores very high, while the ratings of the other interests (e.g., babysitter list, senior activities) reflect the local demographics.

We asked about a number of safety, livability, and environmental concerns. All safety issues rate high, with the relative exception of crime. Some people would like to see more sidewalks, others fewer bumps on their roads. There is strong support for cycling, but it is recognized that there are a good number of unsafe drivers and unsafe cyclers in the neighborhood. All livability concerns score high, especially (and not surprisingly) housing density, building codes, Barron Park’s rural character, and traffic. However, respondents have diverse ideas about how to address these concerns. On shuttles: “I want to see much more public transit and shuttles.” / “Keep shuttles out.” On sidewalks: The desire for more sidewalks comes up repeatedly, but others want to keep the streets unchanged. On CPI: “I really value that we can speak as one voice through the BPA on the CPI site issues.” / “The BPA has been noticeably absent in helping Chimalus Drive residents.” (Notice that several BPA board members and residents have provided detailed evaluations and recommendations that have clearly influenced city staff dealing with the issue. Some respondents seemed unaware of such valuable contributions.)

People are also divided on the role of the Barron Park Association in these matters. Some want the BPA to take an even more active role in addressing these issues, while others think the board is too activist and anti-change and want it to stay out of politics. The comments remind us that not everyone is against increasing housing density, for example, if it can be done in a reasonable way. Yes, many are siding with this sentiment: “Population density will destroy this area. Barron Park will be the only quiet, graceful, safe place for family’s to live in peace. Stop the madness!” But a noticeable number of respondents expressed this opinion: “The number one problem in Palo Alto is the shortage of affordable housing. That should trump all other concerns.” As one person wrote, “There are many different points of view in the community.” It is an ongoing challenge for the BPA to represent all residents in these matters.

To my delight, there is quite a bit of interest in a Barron Park community center. What would it be like to have a place with meeting rooms, a BBQ patio, perhaps even a swimming pool in Barron Park? A sentiment by more than one respondent was, “This would be AWESOME to have here in the neighborhood! I don’t know where we would put it – but I would LOVE it if we had such a place!” While not everyone agrees there is a need, there are many ideas for location and features.

We also got several pages worth of comments on our request for the top five items of priority for the BPA. I can’t possibly do them justice here, and many fall into the hot topics mentioned previously. As intended, the responses will help us prioritize our efforts. There are many ideas we will have to pass on to the city or county. Clearly, all residents like this neighborhood and would like the BPA to foster community and preserve livability. One respondent reminds us to “Make Barron Park more friendly AGAIN – know, greet and help your neighbors.”

As you have seen in my recent newsletter columns, the BPA board has been quite active on many of these concerns. Most of the work happens outside board meetings and often out of sight, e.g., when Nancy Hamilton and Patrick Coyne spend countless hours assembling the newsletter, Richard Elder manages the mailing lists daily, Lydia Kou prepares for a multifaceted movie in the park evening, and many board members attend regular housing development, traffic, CPI, and Palo Alto Neighborhoods meetings.

However, it is important to remember that the BPA is not a separate entity with paid staff. You are the BPA. The BPA is a group of neighbors volunteering to get things done, and we are all volunteers with families and day jobs. So if something is important to you, please join the board and contribute. More community services via the BPA are very much needed and appreciated.

Looking for ideas? Emergency preparedness got a 95% importance rating, but we need a new chair! Housing development appears in every other comment, but we lost our housing chair to the startup life. There are votes to revive social meetings like the holiday party or the welcoming party, but we need those caring people to organize them. The community needs you! A good way to check out opportunities to help is the aforementioned gathering on January 7.

Thanks again for your input to the BPA. Please consider volunteering for the BPA and working on one of those important issues.

(This is an updated version of my Fall 2014 BPA Newsletter column.)

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.

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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
Oct 062014
 

There will be a Senior lunch Tuesday October 14 at 1 p. m. It will be at the Corner Bakery Cafe, 3375 El Camino Real. It is located at the corner of El Camino and Fernando, where the Boston Market formerly was. There is plenty of parking behind the restaurant.

The Corner Bakery is cafeteria style so you will each pay for your own selection at the counter. They will deliver your order to your table when it is ready. The prices are modest and it is nice because there are no tips. You can see the menu on line in advance at www.cornerbakerycafe.com.

If you are interested in joining us, please notify Bob Frost by Saturday, October 11th. Please reply to Bob Frost until Saturday evening at bobfrost34@gmail.com or 493-8272 so we can make a name tag for you. If you change your plans, please call Bob by 7 PM. Monday the 13th.

Seniors Rosemary Jacobsen & Julie Spengler will be at the door to great new attendees and hand out name tags to everyone. Julie will also have menus available so they can be checked in advance of going to the counter to order.

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.

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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”

 

Jul 022014
 

Please act before July 30th!  We need your input and advice!

Our survey will help guide the BPA’s efforts in 2014 and beyond.

In the following survey, please indicate how important each of the items is to you. Opinions on issues are not asked but can be expressed in comment boxes.

We prefer that you take the survey online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/L8S63FN

If you prefer to mail in your responses, the newsletter version can be downloaded here.

Survey responses should be submitted by July 30.