Report on Castilleja expansion due this week

Daily Post Staff Writer

An environmental report for the proposed expansion of Castilleja School on Bryant Street in Palo Alto, which has caused neighborhood strife, is expected to come out by Wednesday (July 17), according to the city.

Castilleja, a 112-year-old girls middle and high school at 1310 Bryant St. that costs $46,115 a year to attend, wants to expand its campus and increase enrollment from 438 to 540 students.

In June 2016, the school submitted requests for new permits with the city to increase enrollment and to redevelop the school. The first phase would include building an underground parking garage.

The project would entail years of construction, including the lowering of the center of campus and the pool to help keep noise down for neighbors and relocating delivery pickups from the street to the garage. Homes at 1235 and 1263 Emerson St., which the school owns, would be removed.

Plans also consist of demolishing at least four buildings and consolidating them into one.

The expansion plan has been met with neighborhood opposition. Shortly after the project was announced, signs popped up around town saying “Stop Castilleja expansion: Protect Palo Alto neighborhoods” and “Castilleja, put your project on hold. Work with residents to find a solution.”

School sought restraining order

Earlier this year, Castilleja sought a restraining order against a neighbor who they say has been vandalizing and stealing lawn signs supporting the expansion.

In an email to parents, Head of School Nanci Kauffman said that the police had encouraged the school to get a restraining order against the man after he allegedly trespassed on campus to vandalize and steal the “We Support Castilleja” signs.

After the restraining order, residents Rob Levitsky and Nelson Ng released four security videos showing people knocking over or stealing their signs that oppose the expansion of the school.

The draft environmental impact report is expected to come out by Wednesday. It will be viewable via a link to the city’s website,, and will be available at the downtown library (270 Forest Ave.), Development Center (285 Hamilton Ave.) and City Hall (250 Hamilton Ave.).

Public comment for the environmental report will begin on Wednesday and end on Sept. 16. The Planning and Transportation Commission will review the report on Aug. 14, while the Historic Resources Board will look at it on Sept. 12.


  1. Just say NO. We don’t need years of construction on one of our already jammed Embarcadero Rd, one of the few direct access roads to/from 101. Isn’t traffic bad enough already?

    Casti’s ALREADY in violation of its enrollment cap. WHY are we wasting time and effort when on Casti’s expansion when the city should be FINING them for their years of violating their cap.

  2. Two comments re: jam’s comment:
    1. There is not any proposed construction on Embarcadero. Please also note that Casti has reduced traffic by 25-30% since 2012.
    2. Casti has adhered to the agreement put in place the city since 2014 and paid the agreed to fines for the over enrollment they had. There are no outstanding fines.

    While we are at it, let’s note that the article itself says “people knocking over or stealing their signs that oppose the expansion of the school.” Note there is no evidence re: the motivations of the people knocking over the anti-expansion signs as those persons were not caught and/or identified … it is pure speculation that the people knocking over those few signs are opposed expansion, it could have easily been staged or just done by random vandals with no opinion on the matter. There however was clear evidence that the vandalism of pro-Casti signs was an anti-expansion Casti person based on the police action taken. That is the one fact we do have re: the signs.

  3. Casti – no, not in favor of expansion for an entity that chose to ignore use permits, disturb the neighborhood, and now will disrupt the whole community for years.

  4. Let me see if I’ve got this right. A school violates a city ordinance for years, and when fined, initially blows off the fines. Then, when it discovers it will have to get approval from the city for an expansion, pays the fines. Now the school is asking for permission to violate existing zoning. What part of the phrase “bad faith” don’t they understand.

  5. Classic rich entitled Palo Alto. Everyone claims to be liberal until it becomes a tradeoff for their property values and cushy way of life. No, let’s oppose educating women because it might mean more NOISE or more TRAFFIC, both of which are regular aspects of city living. It disgusts me how selfish this city can be.

  6. Casti’s claim that you oppose educating women if you oppose their expansion is like saying you oppose food if you oppose building McDonald’s on Crescent Park residential streets.

  7. huh, Jp, you aint really gettin it.
    it has nothing to do with being “entitled” nor does it have anything to do with “oppose educating women.”

    think about the radius of which the school is situated on. embarcardero is a major artery in this small city. speaking from a community and regional development standpoint, how can constant traffic jams and construction noise contribute to a more just, equitable environment not only for the girls being educated, but those who live in and commute to palo alto?

    furthermore, your point where palo altans inherently oppose educating women is so wrong — who gave casti the RIGHT to sit on top of the land that they are on? they can easily move their school elsewhere (and expand ELSEWHERE, such as opening a 2nd location ELSEWHERE) if they truly believe in educating and giving women educational opportunities. (ex: Foothill College had a 2nd location at the Cubberley Community Center for 30 years. Guess what? Lease was up, they had to move and rather than create commotion for Palo Alto people, they MOVED this location to Sunnyvale.) See, Jp? There are alternatives, just that people who are so insistent on their own agendas fail to see other opportunities.

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