Palo Alto Thinks Over Additional Changes to California Avenue

The City Council will weigh and potentially approve tonight (Monday) the latest California Avenue renovation plan by Palo Alto, which includes a proposal for the addition of pedestrian streetlights to the business street.

The project was planned for over two years and includes a variety of changes with the shifting from a four to a two lane street being the most controversial. The council will however deliberate on other streetscape project elements which includes the proposition for the addition of lights. The Planning and Transportation Commission of the city signed on the proposal last month, that could add over a million dollars to the budget.

Apart from the lane reduction, sidewalk replacement, two plazas and wider crosswalks are also part of the streetscape project. A plaza will be built between Ash and Birch streets which can be converted to a special events plaza and another at Park Boulevard proximate to Caltrain station. The project likewise incorporates new game tables, trash bins, newspaper racks and benches.

The project cost will be bumped up to over 4 million dollars with the streetlights addition. Around 1.8 million dollars in grants was received by the city—Santa Clara Valley Transportation gave 1.1 million which the fees from VTA’s car-registration accounted for 700,000. The balance would be paid by the city which reportedly has a 3.4 million dollar budget, excluding expenditure for the lights. Construction will hopefully start this fall according to the city.

The council will deliberate at tonight’s meeting whether they will hold the status quo, retrofit 1960’s installed lights or install new ones. Staff recommends the removal and replacement for present street lights with shorter lights as well as roadway-height poles which is valued at 1.2 million dollars.

A Planning and Community Environment report states the replacement of the existing light ensures California Avenue’s best roadway illumination and sees to it that the new streetscape is not damaged by costly repairs.

The California Avenue streetscape project aims to make a second city downtown out of the commercial strip. Mayor Greg Scharff, in his February 27 “State of the City” address pushed the project to be among the major initiatives of the city for 2013. He said that California Avenue will stand toe to toe with Castro Street once finished, referring to the busy downtown strip of Mountain View.

Tonight’s council meeting starts at 6PM. The council will have a meeting at City Hall Council Chambers following a closed session.



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