News

Menlo Park, school district reach consensus on Oak Court gate

 

Tensions between residents of Oak Court and parents of the soon-to-open Laurel School, Upper Campus, located at 275 Elliott Drive, have been escalating in past weeks, with emails flying and hackles raised on both fronts.

Some Oak Court residents have expressed worry that when the new school opens on Oct. 17, the school district will not sufficiently restrict access to an automated gate it has installed that opens onto their street and connects to the school's parking lot on Elliott Drive. Residents of the street, many of whom are parents too, say it is often used by pedestrians and kids on bikes, and can be dangerous for drivers to safely navigate with kids around. They don't want too many buses clogging up the road.

Ultimately, however, a rough consensus was reached at the Menlo Park City Council's Aug. 30 meeting: Get the Menlo Park City School District to sign a legally binding agreement that on Oak Court no cars will be allowed through the gate, and that access through the gate is limited to service and emergency vehicles and student shuttles and buses.

Meanwhile, neighborhood parents say they don't want to have to drive their kids to school, but that they don't feel entirely safe letting them walk or bike because of all the traffic. So they want the option to bus their kids.

Valerie Frederickson, who said she was speaking on behalf of at least 10 other families, said in a public comment that kids' safety should be prioritized over "convenience for the neighbors."

"We would like our kids to be able to walk, scoot, bike, skip, hop and ride buses to school whenever possible. We sure don't want to be driving them," she said, describing the traffic. "It's hellacious."

According to a presentation given by the city's transportation manager, Nikki Nagaya, the school district plans to use the gate only as necessary, for large vehicles that won't be able to turn around using the main entrance: service and emergency vehicles and shuttle and school buses. The number of school buses the district proposes to use has not been clear, however.

Initially the district said it planned to operate just one bus in the morning and one in the afternoon to accommodate students who have transferred into the district from the Ravenswood City School District via the Tinsley program, plus occasional field trip buses, with the possibility of a shuttle bus between the upper and lower Laurel School campuses.

However, that shuttle is already scheduled to run, and parent demand for further bus service has been indicated. The district may also need a disabled-access bus, which would run according to individual student needs.

The City Council supported the terms of a draft agreement that would require the automated gate to be closed and locked except when letting permitted large vehicles through. The number of permitted buses could be flexible.

City Councilman Ray Mueller said, "Residents have adapted so that busing can go ahead and happen," but added that he had concerns with how the district had presented a less-frequent use of the gate to Oak Court residents.

City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith lives on Oak Court and recused herself from the discussion.

The final language of the agreement will be determined by City Attorney Bill McClure and the school district attorney Tim Fox.

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2016 at 10:28 am

is there anything that the NIMBYS of MP will not complain about?


4 people like this
Posted by CCB
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 6, 2016 at 12:56 pm

MPer, this isn't really a NIMBY issue as much as a safety one. There are going to be a lot of kids on bikes and on foot using that back entrance to school and cutting through the pedestrian-only section of Oak Ct and if there are lines of cars dropping kids off in the same place, accidents will happen. It's better to funnel the cars through one entrance and encourage bikes to use the other.


3 people like this
Posted by NIMBY?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm

It seems that safety, especially the students' safety, should be the priority. With that in mind I am surprised that a legal agreement will be signed which limits future access on Oak Court.


4 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Sure safety is an issue, but the folks on OAK court are using that to restrict access to a PUBLIC street and they want a legal agreement to boot.

I am fine with it if we ACTUALLY cared about this in MP. We have multiple streets that are dangerous to pedestrians, including children because we don't have adequate sidewalks and in many cases, no sidewalks.

No, they just don't want any extra traffic on "their" street. Actually the street belongs to me too!



3 people like this
Posted by Willows Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 6, 2016 at 6:41 pm

It sounds crazy that the city would even entertain such an agreement. What about the safety along other designated school routes such as Gilbert, Menalto O'Connor etc.? These streets will have more kids and will bear the brunt of the car traffic. Keeping the Oak Court option open seems not just prudent, but imperative.


3 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 6, 2016 at 11:40 pm

Oh those poor people. Seriously, traffic on any street near any school in Menlo park is busy and dangerous at 3:00. Try to go down ringwood at 3:00 pm. With all the kids walking home from m-a and kids being picked up at Laurel it much worse then any little street next to laurel. Poor people on oak ct. Pull the blinders off and realize that traffic in Menlo park is gridlock everywhere and the Oak ct residents have nothing to complain about. Living on Ringwood or Coleman during the mid afternoon hours on weekdays is much worse then Oak Ct traffic will ever be. Quit your crying


4 people like this
Posted by This IS NIMBY. Stop your whining you entitled...
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 7, 2016 at 10:37 am

Don't kid people that this is a purely safety issue. It is 99% NIMBY. The folks on Oak Ct. have had the benefit of a huge open space next door (the school) without any of the social consequences for decades. Whining about HOW MANY busses are to be 'allowed' on 'their' street is downright selfish. This is MPCSD and a school of less than 300 kids. Figure all took the bus (not a bad ecological outcome vs how many actually get driven) at probably at least 30 per bus and you have 10 bus runs in the morning and another 10 in the afternoon. Bah. Who cares. Suck it up. Those folks living on O'Connor and Elliott will have all of those busses AND hundreds of cars each way each day. And the so-called safety measures for pedestrians and bikes are not in place and weak even by plan.


2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 7, 2016 at 12:43 pm

Children will be attending this school from a fairly large geographical area. How is it NIMBYism to want to minimize the chances of their getting involved in an accident?

Some of you are way too quick on the NIMBY trigger -- until someone comes along and suggests changes to your street. So you are also NIMBYs, and hypocritical ones at that.


2 people like this
Posted by be happy
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm

be happy is a registered user.

Speaking as a Palo Alto parent - I'm jealous of the fact that you have school buses!


4 people like this
Posted by Yes NIMBY
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 7, 2016 at 1:58 pm

@Parent

"Children will be attending this school from a fairly large geographical area. How is it NIMBYism to want to minimize the chances of their getting involved in an accident?
Some of you are way too quick on the NIMBY trigger -- until someone comes along and suggests changes to your street. So you are also NIMBYs, and hypocritical ones at that."

It's NIMBY because these are people complaining about traffic on THEIR street. No discussion about the traffic on other streets. They are using 'safety' as a cover. a) We are talking about buses driven by people we trust to transport our children. You don't think they would be able to safely navigate down a street used by children and other non car traffic? b) We are only talking about at most a handful of buses every day. c) If the buses don't exit on Oak court, they will turn around in a small parking lot (full of people dropping off kids and the same bike riding/walking kids) and exit on Elliot and O'Connor. O'Connor has nice, safe bike lanes and sidewalks all along. Oh wait, no it does NOT!

So the safety 'improvement' is zero. But the nice, quiet artificial cul de sac next door to a 70 year old school site is still there.

Still think not NIMBY?


4 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm

This direct quote from the article says is all "They don't want too many buses clogging up the road." Looks like a duck walk like a duck.

I really hope that the city tells them NO and spends no more money on this. Honestly the residents of Oak Court should be ashamed of themselves.

A binding agreement to limit how many SCHOOL BUSES can access the SCHOOL on a public road. I'm sorry this is just plain NIMBYism at its finest.


5 people like this
Posted by Favoritism?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 7, 2016 at 5:47 pm

A binding agreement for this situation seems highly unusual.

City Attorney Bill McClure and City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith (who has recused herself from this matter) have a strong working relationship. This agreement restricting future use of the public street for public purposes doesn't seem proper.


1 person likes this
Posted by Favoritism?
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 7, 2016 at 6:43 pm

City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith lives on Oak Court (from Almanac main story).


1 person likes this
Posted by influence
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 7, 2016 at 9:21 pm

@Favoritism implies that a council member can influence public policy by dealing with others in a respectful and professional way. I'm please to read that Menlo Park City Council has a reputation for this kind of behavior.


5 people like this
Posted by OConnor Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 8, 2016 at 11:27 pm

Being a resident of this area, I initially thought it would make great sense to designate 1 enterance for busses and the other for cars.

Upon walking the area now more and more I realize that by doing this plan it is going to create a bottleneck on the single entrance rather than spreading out the flow of traffic. Watching how they have diverted construction vehicles across 3 enterances has worked to minimize that one street does not 100% of the construction traffic (although 2 of the 3 will flow into the super highway known as O'connor). Pushing traffic away from one street onto another is how the City historically tried to pass traffic measures in the Willows to divert traffic onto other streets causing those residents to complain and cause the measures not to pass. Can't all streets shoulder some of the load rather than have one take on 100% of it all?

It is poor planning on all the money to revamp this school that they did not have the forethought of having two entrances/exits to provide better traffic flow. Admittedly both streets are not ideal for heavy traffic, but at least it will split up the traffic from all being sent to one street.

Now if the city can actually implement a continuous sidewalk (present plan has gaps) in O'CONNOR and at least try to make one designated safe route to the school would be a good first step.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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