Palo Alto camera shop opposes streetscape plan

I’ve shopped at and pointed people to Keeble & Shuchat on California Avenue in Palo Alto, CA. They have a huge supply of every kind of photo gear imaginable. Given their apparent opposition to pedestrian safety, I’m not sure I can recommend them anymore.

Traffic surveys on California Avenue show pedestrians and cyclists outnumber people who drive here (locally pronounced “Cal Av”). The mom and pop shops and bistros make a go of livening up their business district, but they’re hamstrung by a crumbling four-lane dead end road with outdated street design. The district is devoid of any sense of place or identity. If any place screams out for a streetscape renovation, this is it.



Cal Ave directly in front of Keeble & Shuchat Photography. You can see how heavy traffic is on this street.

Most local residents and business owners support the proposed streetscape project, which reduces four lanes to two, enhances safety for walkers and bicycle riders through traffic calming, and adds a sense of place and distinctiveness, all while adding more parking. This 1500 foot long section of California Avenue begins at the heavily traveled El Camino Real and is anchored by the California Avenue Transit Plaza. The Caltrain station at the Transit Plaza sends several hundred people walking and biking down Cal Ave every workday.

The four lanes currently running down California Avenue are unnecessary. Parking might be limited, but traffic congestion is not an issue here (as you can see in the Google Streetview image above).

I’m surprised that a couple of local businesses, including Keeble & Shuchat Photography, oppose the plan so much they filed a lawsuit alleging environment review violations and prevailed. Shuchat and the other plaintiffs believe cutting down the lanes will result in less traffic for their store, but given the existing level of traffic on Cal Ave, that’s hard for me to believe. Did I mention they’ll get 20% more parking, and that people will probably be encouraged to linger in the neighborhood longer?

Can somebody explain the opposition? Do they believe they’ll see less traffic due to the road diet?

3 Comments

  • ark
    November 18, 2011 - 4:09 pm | Permalink

    You can always contact them at http://www.kspphoto.com/contact_information.html
    or if you have shopped there you can leave a review at http://www.yelp.com/biz/keeble-and-shuchat-photography-palo-alto-3

  • November 21, 2011 - 12:23 pm | Permalink

    When we had a similar issue,  one particular business owner who wanted angle parking up and down the street really talked up the “hazards” of having bike lanes on Main Street.  At the city council meeting where it was discussed, some how lots of them had the idea that there would be restrictions on when trucks could load and unload, and a few other … lies.  Not exactly sure where that came from (but um, yes, I have a pretty good idea), but… at any rate, it could be in your situation that there are other sources of misinformation happening.  Once it was established that our problem was with people not being aware of the parking garage, and oh, yea, you’ve been fed a feast of bogusity, people were talking much more productively by the end of the meeting.  (That first person did, however, initiate a crackdown on sidewalk cycling so that people on their bikes for the 10 feet from road to bike rack were slapped with $100 tickets.)  
        Could be people have the image in their minds of the streets being as nasty-looking as they are now, and thus only attracting The Wrong Element (who Can’t Afford Cars).   
         We’ve managed to sway quite a few Main STreet entrepreneurs by wearing our Right Element costumes at the right times… I’ve heard that one of ‘em is checking out sponsoring a Bike Share thing from New Balance.   Lots of it was from patiently informing people that actually, road diets work…

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