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Oak Court and Buses

From: domainremoved <Jennifer>
Date: Wed, 24 Aug 2016 13:17:03 -0700

Hello again,

As you may be aware by now, there was a series of contentious public
comments aimed at the District on behalf of residents along Oak Court. They
mentioned, among other things, that they had been told from the beginning
that only one school bus would be accessing the Oak Court gate in the
morning and the afternoon (the Tinsley bus). From what I could understand
(and I'm in no way up to speed on their specific concerns, etc.), they are
looking for a legal agreement to solidify plans for the use of the Oak
Court gate (and they want minimal bus usage).

While I am very sympathetic to the residents on Oak Court, I urge you to
think through the implications of agreeing to limit the number of school
buses. I don't have the magic number of trips needed by buses, but I do
know that the current resident busing program (non-Tinsley) scheduled to
and from Upper Laurel and to and from Lower Laurel is insufficient.
Currently there is no connector busing between the two schools (Upper to
Lower) on Thursdays, and the other days busing can take up to one hour. In
my opinion, busing must increase, not decrease.

When the MPCSD decided to create "One Laurel" in 2014, rather than two
separate K-5 campuses, there had to be thought that went into
transportation (how older kids were going to get across Willow, how parents
could manage 2 drop offs, 2 pick ups, etc.). It now appears that whatever
thought went into all this was inadequate.

You have to make this right. Please think through each option given to
parents on how they will get their child to school: walking, biking,
busing, parking and walking, parking and dropping and carpooling. You (and
by "you" I mean the District, the school, the PTO, the MPAEF, the whoever)
must do whatever you can so that a dangerous and cumbersome traffic
situation doesn't occur on October 17th and beyond. I want to be positive
and patient...but we also must be proactive.

Thank you for your time.

Jen Wolosin

On Wed, Aug 24, 2016 at 9:44 AM, Jennifer Wolosin <jenwolosin_at_(domainremoved)

> Dear MPCSD School Board Members,
> Last night the Menlo Park City Council agreed to direct City staff to
> prioritize a Safe Routes study for Laurel. While the City owns a lot of the
> to-do's regarding making our streets safer for our kids, from what I've
> learned over the past month, there are two main things that the MPCSD must
> do as well: fund more crossing guards and commit more resources to resident
> busing. There must be a crossing guard at Willow Road. In addition, there
> must be a bus route for parents with kids at both schools. If the District
> doesn't have the funds for these items, I would urge you to connect with
> the MPAEF and/or the Laurel PTO to help. These issues must be addressed.
> Thank you for your consideration.
> Sincerely,
> Jen Wolosin
> P.S. Below are my comments from the City Council meeting last night that
> outline the District's role in Safe Routes:
> August 23, 2016
> Dear City Council Members,
> My name is Jen Wolosin and I am writing to urge the City Council to adopt
> the Transportation Commission and Bicycle Commission's recommendations to
> direct City Staff to conduct a Laurel Safe Routes to School study. While
> Staff Report 16-147-CC suggests waiting for the 2017 Council goal
> setting/work plan, I would like the City to begin the 18-month study right
> away. Upper Laurel is set to open on October 17, 2016. Planning for the new
> Laurel campus began in 2014, with the passage of Measure A. We have already
> lost 2 years of planning and with traffic in our neighborhoods only getting
> worse, we can not wait any longer.
> As you may know, I was called to action in July upon reading the
> Transportation Department Staff Report 16-008-TC that outlined
> recommendations for the streets directly surrounding Upper Laurel. Given
> that so many Laurel students would be having to cross Willow Road to attend
> the new campus, and that biking and walking were strongly being encouraged
> by the school, I found the limited to scope of the staff recommendations
> alarming. After attending the Transportation Commission meeting on July
> 13th and expressing my concerns, I took it upon myself to write the Laurel
> Mom Plan, which then became the Laurel Connector Bike Plan.
> The original Laurel Connector Bike Plan (Dated July 21st) was my attempt
> to dream up the optimal route that would allow the safest passage for
> children traveling from Upper Laurel to the San Mateo County Line on
> Coleman Ave. The plan did not take into consideration the needs of
> neighbors and instead was written solely to maximize safety for kids. While
> an online petition I created on Change.org received 96 supporters, many in
> the community voiced concerns with the one-sided nature of my
> recommendations. I also learned that at least some of those who signed the
> petition may not have thought through the black and white nature of the
> proposed changes. The biggest concern regarding the original plan had to do
> with 24/7 No Parking along Gilbert in order to accommodate buffered bike
> lanes. After listening to and meeting with neighbors, including the
> businesses along Menalto at Gilbert, I realized that I would need to revise
> my original plan to better balance the needs of neighbors with those of
> kids on bikes.
> The REVISED Laurel Connector Bike Plan (Updated July 27th), in my opinion,
> incorporated the feedback I had received from community members as to
> parking needs, while still maintaining enough safety measure to ensure that
> children could bike safely to school. Also, whereas the original plan was
> black and white in nature and black and white in terms of how feedback
> could be collected, the REVISED plan was more flexible and open. Instead of
> calling for parking restrictions on many streets, the REVISED plan
> presented trade-offs and various options. I also created a Survey Monkey
> survey that allowed for neighbors to provide feedback on different parts of
> the plan and to share their opinions, whether they were in favor or against.
> Because this issue is of great importance to me (I have an 8-year old
> daughter that will attend 3rd grade at Upper Laurel and a 6-year old that
> will be in 1st grade at Lower Laurel, and I am very concerned about traffic
> safety in our area), I have gone to great lengths to get neighbors to pay
> attention to this issue in our community. I have not only put myself into
> the limelight on NextDoor (which is a bit scary), but I have also held
> meetings with neighbors, businesses, Bicycle Commissioners, Transportation
> Department staff, Menlo Park City School District staff and others. I have
> led a group of stakeholders, including Justin Murphy, Menlo Park Public
> Works Director, on a bike ride along the proposed REVISED Laurel Connector
> Bike Route, attended a National Night Out event on Menalto and Gilbert and
> personally mailed over 370 letters to every resident along the route, which
> included the REVISED plan and link to the survey. I have spent my summer
> trying to make our streets safer, to the great annoyance of my family, all
> with the hope that tonight, you will understand the importance of taking
> action on making our streets safer.
> I am no longer advocating for the REVISED Laurel Connector Bike Plan. My
> plan was a wish list, an amateur's stab at what it would take to get a mom
> to send her kid to school safely on a bike. As I’ve mentioned before, I am
> not a transportation engineer and there are processes set up to make
> changes in our city. I have learned that making transportation enhancements
> is not an easy thing to do...since what is an “enhancement” to many, can be
> seen as a “detriment” to others. The results of the Survey Monkey survey
> clearly show that to be the case (Please note that the numbers below are as
> 8/20/16, with 102 responses. Today, 8/23/16 there are 127 responses, but I
> haven’t yet had a chance to tabulate the new results...I will update as
> soon as possible.):
> -
> Approximately ⅔ of MP Resident not along the proposed route supported
> the plan.
> -
> Approximately ¾ of MP Resident along route did not support any
> restricted parking.
> -
> About half of MP Residents along route supported other aspects of the
> plan.
> -
> The biggest resident concerns included restricted parking, additional
> stop signs, lowering speed limits, the route not being direct enough and
> the fact that the streets were safe enough “as-is”.
> As you know as City Council members, reaching consensus is difficult...but
> I would argue not impossible. On Saturday I met at Cafe Zoe with a handful
> of residents that live along Gilbert and in the Willows that were concerned
> about and extremely opposed to the REVISED Laurel Connector Bike Plan.
> While we did not agree on everything, I am hopeful that over time, we could
> find common ground. These neighbors, many of whom have been living in the
> Willows for more than 30 years, also enlightened me on past traffic calming
> efforts aimed to improve speeding, congestion and safety in the
> neighborhood. Most of these past initiatives failed due to lack of
> consensus. We must try again and we must try harder. I am not only here to
> urge City Council to prioritize Safe Routes, I am also here to urge my
> neighbors to work together to find ways to help each other. It’s easy to be
> cynical. It’s harder to rise above it and seek out creative solutions. We
> are smart people. We can do this.
> I have learned over the past month that this is a challenging, complex and
> emotionally charged issue. I have also learned that it will take efforts
> from three main groups of stakeholders to make Safe Routes a reality;
> residents, the Menlo Park City School District and the City of Menlo Park:
> 1.
> Residents - I have already mentioned that my hope is that residents
> can work together to find common ground.
> 2.
> Menlo Park City School District - Looking at the 5 S’s of Safe Routes
> (Education, Encouragement, Evaluation, Enforcement and Engineering), it
> will be important for Laurel and the MPCSD to do everything they can with
> Education and Encouragement.
> 1.
> Education - In addition to Bike Rodeos that take place in the 4th
> Grade, I would recommend that if Laurel indeed wants kids to bike to school
> (and given that they are installing bike racks at Upper Laurel to
> accommodate 150 bikes, that can be safely assumed), then they should
> prioritize bicycle education among students, starting at the beginning of
> 3rd grade. Parents also should be reminded about bike safety and that bikes
> are vehicles and need to follow the rules of the road (stop at stop signs,
> signal, when to “share” the road, etc.). I would also suggest that Laurel
> hire an organization like KidPower (https://www.kidpower.org/) to
> teach students and/or parents about Stranger Safety and how to help parents
> identify when their child is ready to travel to school alone or with a
> friend.
> 2.
> Encouragement - Laurel needs to encourage families to walk, bike,
> take the bus and carpool. It is suggested that leaders at Laurel reach out
> to GAIS (the former occupants of the O’Connor site) to learn best practices
> on traffic flow and carpool encouragement. From everything I’ve heard, they
> were great neighbors. Laurel can also organize biking and walking school
> buses for families.
> In addition to education and encouragement, there are two other issues
> that the Menlo Park City School District must address; crossing guards and
> busing:
> -
> Laurel is considering having up to 2 crossing guards. One at
> Elliott/O’Connor and one at the school entrance. While the school district
> supports the expansion of City wide efforts to place crossing guards at
> critical intersections, after speaking with staff Transportation
> Department, it has become clear that the City doesn’t provide crossing
> guards for any of the 4 public school districts that fall within its
> jurisdiction. It is unacceptable that the school district can point to the
> City, and the City can point to the school district, and in the meantime,
> kids are left to cross Willow Road on their own. Since the Menlo Park City
> School District already has a crossing guard program set up, it is clear
> that the school district must step up to provide additional crossing guards
> at this time.
> -
> When the Menlo Park City School District decided to have “One Laurel”
> that was comprised of a K-2 at one campus (Lower Laurel) and a 3-5 at
> another campus (Upper Laurel), assurances were made that there would be
> connectivity between the two campuses to ease families’ burdens of having
> kids at different campuses. Sadly, due to a lack of resources, it doesn’t
> appear that this original promise is being kept. In some situations,
> families are being told that at best, they will need to wait one hour for
> children to be bused between the two campuses. On Thursdays, there will be
> no busing available for kids needing to travel from Upper Laurel to Lower
> Laurel to meet up with siblings. The Menlo Park City School District must
> dedicate more resources towards busing, especially given the limited number
> of parking spots available to parents at Upper Laurel (approximately 20)
> and the lack of Safe Routes planning.
> I plan to present these concerns at the next Menlo Park City School
> District School School Board meeting, and I urge my fellow residents and
> the City Council to join me in pushing the School Board for these measures.
> If the District can’t fund these items, then the MPAEF and/or Laurel PTO
> needs to get involved.
> 1.
> The City of Menlo Park - Last but not least is what the City Council
> can do about Safe Routes. Again, looking at the 5 E’s of Safe Routes, the
> City must own Evaluation, Enforcement and Engineering.
> 1.
> Evaluation - As stated at the beginning, the City Council must
> direct City Staff to study Safe Routes to Laurel as soon as possible.
> 2.
> Enforcement - The Menlo Park Police Department must do everything
> they can to enforce existing speed limits (25 mph) and traffic laws. It is
> reported that many cars and bikes run through stop signs and this is a huge
> safety issue for not only kids on bikes but everyone traveling through our
> neighborhoods. Another idea to slow down traffic would be to get neighbors
> and Laurel parents to put “PACE Car” magnets on their cars and to commit to
> driving the speed limit. It’s a way for residents, school families and law
> enforcement to work together.
> 3.
> Engineering
> 1.
> 18 months - Assuming that a Safe Routes study is started right
> away, it is the hope that engineering enhancements can be implemented in
> less than 2 years (as stated, this is already later than it should be given
> that Measure A was passed in 2014). Whether aspects of the REVISED Laurel
> Connector Bike Plan are ultimately adopted or enhancements that come from
> the Safe Routes study are implemented, engineering is necessary to truly
> make biking to Laurel safe for kids. As mentioned, at this point, I will
> leave it up to transportation professionals to determine which combination
> of measures should be implemented.
> 2.
> Short term - Yesterday (July 22nd), I had the pleasure of
> meeting with Transportation Manager, Nikki Nagaya and others on her staff,
> to go over a non-controversial (hopefully!) list of short term enhancements
> that should be considered right away, before school opens on October 17th
> if possible. These include things like light-up crosswalks, fixing painting
> on the ground, striping on Gilbert to narrow the line of sight, and
> additional signage. In addition, while there is a warrant process in place
> for new stop signs, I would strongly encourage the City to look into adding
> a stop sign on Coleman Avenue at Santa Monica as soon as possible. Please
> don’t wait two years for this.
> While I realize that I have potentially added a lot to the City’s plate
> (and I know you have a lot going on), there’s one more thing I’d like you
> to consider. As City Council members, please come out into our community,
> talk to neighbors, get neighbors to talk to each other and do what you can
> to engage residents in any process that takes place. Face to face meetings,
> rather than posts on NextDoor, are a much more personal and effective way
> for our community to communicate with each other. Please lead us… you are
> our elected leaders.
> To close, thank you for your attention and for your consideration. I am
> proud to live in Menlo Park and I plan to live here for a very long time.
> Please help make this community the best it can be.
> Sincerely,
> Jen Wolosin
> 2 Alder Place, MP
Received on Wed Aug 24 2016 - 13:23:16 PDT

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