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Cal Ave Redesign Likely to Begin in Fall 2013

Palo Alto is expected to finally move forward with the controversial plan to redesign California Avenue

The plan to reinvent California Avenue that has been swirling around the news for the past year or so is finally moving forward, Palo Alto Online reports. Palo Alto will begin the ambitious redesign project in the fall of 2013, assuming the needed funding can be acquired.

The hope for the redesign is to transform California Avenue into more of a “destination,” like University Avenue. Included in the plan are more parking spots, wider sidewalks and overall a more pedestrian-friendly environment. Perhaps the biggest change would be reducing the street from four to just two lanes.

Controversy has surrounded the project since it’s inception. A group of storeowners sued the city claiming the plan was not well described and the effects it would have on the number of customers were not properly analyzed. Although it stalled the project temporarily, the Santa Clara County Superior Court ultimately rejected the suit.

There are an equally large number of people who support the redesign, though.

"The California Avenue plaza concept revitalizes and improves functionality of the existing space by creating a larger, flexible space with ample seating and enhanced landscaping," Palo Alto Chief Transportation Official Jaime Rodriguez wrote in a report.

College student and Paly graduate Chad Smith supports the plan, as well. 

“Parts of the landscaping and the pavement are messed up, so I’m glad there are plans to renovate it,” he said. “I’d like to see California Avenue become a new alternative to Downtown.”

Other residents nearly echoed Smith.

"I feel that California Avenue is in need of investment," Peter Godfrey said at a City Council meeting. "We should enthusiastically support this so we don't miss out on this chance to invest in California Avenue."

The city plans to complete the design work by next spring and, provided it gets the expected grant funding, to begin construction in fall 2013.

Irvin Dawid July 08, 2012 at 12:17 AM
Bravo to the city staff and council for pushing forward. I was very disappointed that opponents dragged the project out with environmental lawsuits (the irony - the redesign promotes walking and biking - opponents see the redesign as impacting driving speed and congestion). See: CEQA Lawsuit Delays Another Streetscape Improvement http://www.planetizen.com/node/52599

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