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Oak Court Encroachment Permit Saga

From: domainremoved <Chuck>
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2016 13:11:46 -0700

Council Members:

After last Tuesday's council meeting, two of you asked me for more
information about the city's issuance of the encroachment permit that was to
be the basis for conditioning the use of a gate on Oak Court. At the
council meeting, I made some statements about the issuance of the permit
that sounded "outrageous." I agree. However, that does not mean that they
were untrue or even exaggerated.

Attached you will find three documents:

€ A copy of the permit that was issued. Please note:

1. It was issued to the "Ravenswood School District" in "Palo Alto."

2. It described some work that appears to be unrelated to a "gate."

3. It specified all three entrances into the school.

4. The value of all the work was estimated to be $1,000 (thereby lowering
the cost of the permit to the contractor?). I have personally installed a
traffic gate on one of our school properties and I know that the cost for
the gate, the controls, the power, and the paving were over $10,000.

5. It was issued (4/16/15) AFTER the start date (1/22/15) of the work.

6. It expired before the work even began (9/30/15), at least the work on
Oak Court which triggered my first e-mail to the city.

7. It was not signed by the school district, which was required to sign it
as the owner; the applicant was not the school district.

8. It was signed on behalf of the city by someone who is not authorized to
approve encroachment permits.

€ A copy of my complaint and inquiry to the city regarding the encroachment
permit, sent on July 11, 2016, to all senior building and planning
officials, as well as the city attorney and the city manager.

€ A copy of my July 11 e-mail to Nicole Nagoya who promised on July 11 a
response "tomorrow," and copied even more city staff. Her e-mail is
appended to my e-mail. No response was ever received, as I indicated in my
comments to the council.

The city now appears to be moving toward issuing a new encroachment permit
with the original conditions that the school board committed to when it
adopted a negative declaration on the project, thereby avoiding the
necessity of conducting an EIR. I concur with the need to issue a new

There is a reasonable question as to whether turning a dead-end cul de sac
into a through street, even on a limited basis, is a significant change to a
long-standing traffic pattern under CEQA. (I happen to believe that an EIR,
at least for traffic, should have been required by the city, which controls
traffic around the site, even if the school board--which has no jurisdiction
in the matter--thought otherwise.) However, it is absolutely clear that any
expansion of use beyond the "project description" that served as the
foundation for the school district's "neg dec" will require an EIR.

I, therefore, request that you either (a) approve an encroachment permit
with the original project description attached verbatim as conditions, or
(b) delay the issuance of an encroachment permit and any use of the gate
pending the completion of an EIR, upon which the staff and council could
make an informed decision regarding the conditions to be attached to a new
encroachment permit.

Obviously, this is an issue of concern to me and other residents of Oak
Court. It also represents an unflattering picture of staff competence and
responsiveness to the public. However, I do appreciate the genuine concern
expressed by individual council members and I am grateful that this matter
was expedited for placement on Tuesday's agenda.

      --Chuck Bernstein

Received on Sat Aug 27 2016 - 13:18:12 PDT

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