Atherton library: Traffic concerns on residents' minds
• Deadline for public comments on the draft EIR is May 7.
Traffic was on the minds of most of the speakers addressing the Atherton Planning Commission on April 25, as the commission reviewed the draft environmental study of the planned library in Holbrook-Palmer Park.
Lisa Costa Sanders, the town's deputy planner, said that about five people from the public spoke at the meeting, most voicing concerns over the traffic increases expected to result if the town proceeds with plans to build a library of about 10,000 square feet in the park.
The public has until 5 p.m. Monday, May 7, to comment on the draft environmental impact report (EIR).
At last week's meeting, the Planning Commission approved a recommendation to the City Council that it allow the commission to review the final EIR, Ms. Costa Sanders said. The final report is expected to be released sometime in June, and the tentative schedule for reviewing that document doesn't include Planning Commission review.
One resident who has been especially vocal about projected traffic increases on Watkins Avenue resulting from building a new library is Anne McNertney, whose house is near the corner of Watkins and El Camino Real. That intersection has been identified by the draft EIR as being heavily affected by construction of a new, larger library — whether it's built in the park or in the Town Center, where the existing, seismically unsound facility now stands.
Ms. McNertney, who has spoken at the recent commission and council meetings, opposes a mitigation measure identified in the draft EIR that would create a right-turn lane from Watkins onto northbound El Camino Real, telling the council that the street is "enough of a raceway now."
At the April 18 council meeting, she asserted that such a turn lane would directly impact her property, devaluing it to a point that would constitute a condemnation.
The current "level of service," or LOS, at that intersection is already rated F for peak morning traffic. (LOS ratings range from A to F, with F indicating the worst level of delays for vehicles navigating the intersection.)
For peak afternoon traffic, it is now rated D, but is expected to drop to E even without the library in the park. But with construction of a larger library, peak afternoon traffic is expected to cause delays at the intersection that will earn an F rating, the draft EIR says.
A second problematic intersection that will worsen with construction of a larger library is Watkins Avenue and Middlefield Road, according to the draft EIR. But the report recommends a traffic signal at the intersection to solve the existing problem of delays and to make the traffic flow tolerable even if the library is built nearby.
Ms. Costa Sanders said that a few speakers at the Planning Commission meeting also voiced concerns over the loss of the park's Main House, which would be demolished to make way for the new library. A number of residents argue that the building is of historic importance.
Comments on the draft EIR should be submitted to Ms. Costa Sanders by 5 p.m. May 7 by email at email@example.com; or by snail mail: Lisa Costa Sanders, Atherton Town Hall, 91 Ashfield Road, Atherton , CA 94027.