Monday, 5/23: Tell PALO ALTO CITY COUNCIL TO SCALE BACK CASTILLEJA’S EXPANSION PLANS

Castilleja’s expansion project, which comes before City Council on Monday, May 23rd, 2022, 5:30 PM for final deliberations, poses a significant threat to Palo Alto’s groundwater and construction will result in the release of as much CO2 as is emitted by driving a Prius over 4 million miles!  This project contradicts Palo Alto’s goals of sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD

Step 1: Write to the City Council ASAP and ask that the pool be built at ground level and relocated to where the environment will not be harmed, and neighborhood noise levels will remain within City codes:

City.Council@cityofpaloalto.org

Step 2: Make a public statement at: May 23rd City Council meeting in person or via zoom

https://www.cityofpaloalto.org/files/assets/public/agendas-minutes-reports/agendas-minutes/city-council-agendas-minutes/2022/20220523/20220523pccsm.pdf  Meeting begins at 5:30.

Visit Preserve Neighborhood Quality of Life’s informative website.

On June 30th, 2016, Castilleja filed its expansion plan for its existing site located at 1310 Bryant St. in Palo Alto, surrounded on 3 sides by a residential neighborhood.  The school is seeking to demolish most of their existing buildings and replace them with a Costco-sized building that is 47,300 square feet over what existing codes allow, along with an underground garage (on City land) which is not normally allowed in residential neighborhoods.

Neither the City’s Environmental Impact Reports (2019/20) nor Castilleja’s geotechnical study examined the impact of the underground pool, nor the change from an at-grade pool to a pool with the deck one story underground, on groundwater or greenhouse gas emissions.  Despite concerns raised by neighbors and Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater about the environmental implications of deepening the pool excavation to more than 25 feet below ground level, neither Castilleja nor the City’s Planning staff have studied the geotechnical, groundwater or greenhouse gas implications of this new proposal.

Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater in December, 2021 and January, 2022 submitted our analysis of the groundwater implications of the Castilleja project. The deck of the proposed new pool is to be 15 feet below ground level. The pool excavation is expected to well into the groundwater table. A ground-level pool could be constructed without significant groundwater considerations, and would not require additional concrete to counteract buoyancy from groundwater, greatly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As stated in our report to Palo Alto Planning and Transportation Commission, January 19, 2022,  “unless a proper cutoff wall or sheet piling are required and properly used to minimize groundwater flows as a condition of approval, pumping and dumping of a very large amount of groundwater and associated subsidence extending well beyond the subject property should be expected.”   Castilleja had a similar problem when they built their new gymnasium in 2006 and hit groundwater, resulting in millions of gallons of groundwater being released into storm drains for months.

In addition, huge amounts of concrete will be needed to counteract buoyancy from the pool, adding to the environmental destruction.  Of the total 1,270,000 pounds of CO2

estimated to be released by construction of the underground garage and pool, “approximately 1,520 tons of concrete, resulting in nearly 550,000 pounds of CO2 emissions from the manufacture of the concrete will be needed to counteract buoyancy.”  (Report to Planning and Transportation Commission, January 19, 2022).

Lastly, the pool will be within 50 feet of neighboring homes. Castilleja chose to squeeze the pool into a small, untenable space, in order to keep the massive buildings intact on the main campus.

PLEASE MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD BY MAY 23rd WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME TO AFFECT CITY COUNCIL’S VOTE TO PROTECT OUR GROUNDWATER!

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