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Oak Grove University Crane Bike Improvement Project

From: Christine A. Wichrowski <"Christine>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 01:24:29 +0000

Dear Menlo Park City Council Members,
I am writing to share my concerns and opposition regarding the Oak Grove University Crane Bike Improvement Project (the “Bike Proposal”). I have been a resident of Menlo Park and Atherton for the last 8 years. Together with my husband, we have 6 children and both work full-time. We have been active supporters of the Menlo / Atherton school system and sports programs for many years and have had children at Laurel, Encinal, Hillview for the last 8 years and M-A for the last 5 years. We currently have a 7th grader at Hillview and a sophomore at M-A and 3 young children at Nativity School so we have a long and wonderful history with Menlo Park schools and firsthand knowledge of the commute to and from them. I am a member of the Church of the Nativity parish, am on the Nativity School Consultative Board and am the Treasurer of the Nativity School Parent Teacher Group (PTG) and next year’s incoming PTG President. I served as a Hillview Lead Academy Parent for 5 years, receiving a service award last year, and was an active volunteer and also served GeoKids preschool in Menlo Park as Treasurer and Board member for 5 years. My husband has coached at least one sport a season in Menlo Park and Atherton for many years and just won the basketball championships with his 7th Grade Hillview Girls team. He is currently coaching Menlo Atherton baseball and serves as a commissioner and member of their Board so our family has a long history of giving back to our schools and community through service with a demonstrated emphasis on our children and the Menlo Park schools.
I have reviewed the Staff Report for the Oak Grove University Crane Bike Improvement Concept Plan (the “Staff Report”) and believe it to be materially deficient in several regards. First, I do not believe adequate and sufficient notice with respect to the Bike Proposal was provided to the community impacted by the Bike Proposal as parents and parishioners of Nativity only recently were informed of this matter and were not given the opportunity to comment and be heard before the vote on this item on 12/6/16. I also understand that several of our neighbors have only recently found out about this matter as well and have not been provided the opportunity to comment. Second, I believe certain of the data in the Staff Report to be inaccurate, incomplete and/or misleading in several regards and also believe that material information with respect to the Bike Proposal is not included in the Staff Report and by implication was not provided to the Council before your vote in order to permit you the opportunity to review all relevant information that impacts this decision. Frankly I was shocked to learn that the street parking usage statistics, which form the basis for the premise that there would be no real loss in removing most of the street parking with a 24/7 no parking restriction on Oak Grove between Laurel and Middlefield, were gathered on days and times when it would be unlikely to see the frequent and regular use of parking on Oak Grove by members of the Nativity Community and not the 58% parking space utilization recorded during off peak times. The selection of days and times seems almost intentionally designed to yield a skewed result and was not “robust” as stated in the Staff Report. Conducting a usage study for a Church and a school on a Thursday (9/15/16) at 10am, a Tuesday (9/20/16) at 11am, a Friday (9/30/16) at 7pm and Sunday (9/18) at 2pm would not accurately reflect our long standing and regular use of parking on Oak Grove and Laurel. Only by our request were additional studies conducted and again the date and time was problematic as off peak and had to be redone. The Staff Report states that it will improve traffic conditions in the area; however, it fails to reflect an understanding of the real and detrimental impact of the Bike Proposal on Nativity and its surrounding neighbors and fails to adequately reflect the utilization of parking on Oak Grove surrounding Nativity School and Church. Furthermore, it appears that no study at all was done on the actual bike usage of Oak Grove which seems to be a material oversight. Based on our recent meeting with the City Engineers at Nativity School, it was stated that this would now be conducted in the next few months although I am mystified as to how a decision to implement dedicated buffered bike lanes and eradicate a majority of the parking spaces on Oak Grove was made without this key data point. It appears that there is a lack of complete and accurate data in order for the Council to have exercised its due diligence when considering and voting in favor of the Bike Proposal and I respectfully ask that you defer any further approvals of this matter, including the trial metrics approval and authorizations to move forward, and reconsider the Bike Proposal in full taking into account the oppositions and concerns that have been received by the Council from community members detrimentally impacted by the Bike Proposal since December.
It also appears that the Bike Proposal is being driven by a special interest group consisting of the Bicycle Commission proposing this as a “priority”, however, the Staff Report notes that in Menlo Park only 7.7% of residents bike/ride to work while 92% do not and 8,700-9,600 vehicles per day use Oak Grove Avenue east of El Camino Real with less than 1 accident (non-bike related) per year on average at the intersection of Oak Grove and Laurel clearly indicating no demonstrated need for such drastic changes as provided for in the Staff Report. However, the Staff Report calls for the removal of a majority of the parking spaces on this section of Oak Grove to the detriment of the predominant users of this road and making the already strained parking situation even more challenging forcing parents to search for parking when most of the surrounding streets are zoned for no parking in order to drop their kids off at school. They will now have to search longer, walk farther with young children and be even more delayed getting to work. Given the lack of data that is material in completing the picture of usage on Oak Grove, I have conducted a usage study of the number of bicyclists using Oak Grove Avenue east of El Camino Real on Monday, March 27th, and Tuesday, March 28th, during ideal weather conditions for maximum results. Bike usage of Oak Grove is minimal compared to motorized traffic and is focused during very short windows of time and then dramatically decreases by 90-93% after 9:00am and 4:00pm to just a handful of bicyclists heading in each direction on Oak Grove intermittently. These results very clearly show that usage of this stretch of Oak Grove by bikers is minor and a 24/7 no parking ban and removal of a majority of the parking spaces is overbroad, unwarranted and unnecessary. That this usage was not studied previously seems suspect. My understanding after attending a meeting with the City engineers held at Nativity School is that there is no solution or proposal regarding where Nativity parents and parishioners and M-A students are supposed to park during the Trial Period and going forward as most of the streets surrounding both Nativity Church and School and M-A High School are parking restricted leaving very few spaces with a laissez-faire plan of we will just see what happens during the first few months of the Trial Period. This demonstrates a lack of analysis and solutions as to how to deal with the very obvious and real parking needs in that area and seems pretty cavalier and haphazard as a process. Working parents competing with teenage drivers for limited parking spots in order to add bike lanes is not ideal and will push our inexperienced teenage drivers into residential areas or right on top of elementary schools as they park closer to both Nativity and Laurel School (where they also have constrained parking and parents there are also walking young children to school). It also seems there is a lack of awareness about Nativity events and our longstanding and historic usage (Nativity School was established in 1956) of the surrounding street parking and no thought was given to this as part of the Bike Proposal other the annual Nativity Carnival, which while it does attract a vast number of visitors, it is one of many community and fundraising events we hold.
Public policy should be about benefiting the greatest good for the greatest number of citizens not about fulfilling the ideology of a very small subset of the population. In this case, it appears there has been a failure to establish a demonstrated need for the elimination of parking on Oak Grove in light of the disparate impact on surrounding community members, particularly when 1 street over on Ravenswood already has dedicated bike lanes as does Encinal two streets the other direction. “Sound policy requires that we consider long-run effects and all people, not simply short-run effects and a few people.” Further, the desire to have the Bike Proposal in place by “Ride to Work Day” in May is not a compelling reason to short cut or rush the evaluation process and seeking the involvement of the community and users of Oak Grove most impacted by the proposed changes and coming up with positive, thoughtful and responsible solutions. I strongly believe that both Nativity Church and Nativity School will be materially and detrimentally harmed by the elimination of 94 parking spaces and installation of dedicated bike lanes on our section of Oak Grove. We hold regular large scale events which require the use of street parking. In just the last 2 months we have had several events with a few thousand attendees (averaging Annual Auction – 190 -240 attendees; annual Spiritual Warfare – 400-500; Men’s Club Fundraiser Dinner – 300-400, First Communion – couple hundred; Grandparents’ Day – 400-500) and that is just to name a few and does not include the several hundred residents who attend weekly mass services, weddings, baptisms, funerals, etc. where need the additional parking and often requires the use of street parking and we cannot predict the number of attendees in all cases. Please see the attached pictures of street parking from recent Nativity events for First Communion on Saturday and Grandparents’ Day on Monday from 9am – 12:15pm. Many of our events utilize our blacktop as we have limited campus space so without street parking available we would not be able to continue to hold these longstanding events many of which are key to our fundraising efforts in order for us to operate our school as we, like the other Menlo Park schools, are severely budget constrained and the Bike Proposal would put Nativity Church and Nativity School both at risk financially and potentially impact the quality of education and services we can provide which far outweighs adding another dedicated single use bike laned street particularly given only a very small % of MP residents bike. I noted yesterday while picking up at Hillview on Elder that there are no bike lanes on Elder (just those being added to Santa Cruz) leaving parents able to still utilize street parking for student pick up and drop off on one side of the school and I ask for the same consideration and treatment for Nativity School.
In summary, I oppose the removal of the 94 parking spaces on Oak Grove Ave East of El Camino and the related changes with respect to installation of bike lanes and zoning the road no parking 24/7. I do not object to the portion of the Bike Proposal that would upgrade the signal heads on Laurel Street to 12” with a split phase signal although this will cause additional delays and congestion. I also oppose removal of parking on the section of Oak Grove between El Camino and University as this area is also highly congested and I have many times had difficulty finding parking and I am in that area several times a week. A parking structure in that area would alleviate parking issues here and likely free the needed space for improved biking space / lanes in this area to make it safer for all users. I respectfully ask this Council to remove from the Consent Calendar the approval of the trial metrics for the Oak Grove University Crane Bike Improvement Project and reexamine the purpose and scope of this project before area residents and active users of Oak Grove are intentionally and detrimentally harmed (even during a 1 year trial period) and expend $236,200 of taxpayer dollars on a trial project that needs further thought and planning along with input from the community most impacted by the changes. More thorough, relevant and comprehensive data collecting and analysis needs to be conducted in order to adequately assess the real need for the Bicycle Improvement Plan before any trial period begins or funds are spent and any changes to Oak Grove in front of Nativity should be discussed in concert with impacted members in the area. In the event you move forward with the Trial Period, at a minimum, any parking reduction or ban on Oak Grove between Middlefield and Laurel should be as narrow as possible and should EXCLUDE weekends, holidays and in fact should only be for a very short window (7:30-9am; 3-4pm) on week days given the pockets of actual usage of Oak Grove by bicyclists utilizing 5 foot bike lanes while retaining most of the parking on Oak Grove. I believe a modified and better solution is available that addresses the concerns with respect to the Bike Proposal and preserves Nativity’s use while also promoting the safety of bicyclists on the shared road space. For example, adding painted bike lane lines without any parking restrictions, which given the noted low number of accidents in this area should be a workable improvement, would seem like a possibility that could be further pursued to determine its feasibility and help bicyclists and motorists more safely share the road with decreased collision risk. There are likely several positive and impactful changes that can be evaluated with more time and feedback from the community. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I will be in attendance at tonight’s City Council meeting and am prepared to discuss this matter and answer any questions you may have.
Best,
Christine Goudey,
Nativity Parent and Parishioner


Christine A. Wichrowski
[cid:image0ccc1f.GIF_at_(domainremoved)
Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian, LLP
1200 Seaport Boulevard
Redwood City, CA 94063
Phone: 650-463-5360 | Fax: 877-881-0453
cwichrowski_at_(domainremoved)/www.gunder.com>

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Received on Tue Mar 28 2017 - 18:30:45 PDT

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