Lawrence Station in Sunnyvale, California has been the subject of a years long process to transform the auto-centric environment near this Caltrain station into a transit oriented, pedestrian friendly development. The Lawrence Station Area Plan seeks to investigate options and identify strategies that maximize benefits for Sunnyvale that come from the area’s proximity to Lawrence Caltrain Station. The goals of the effort are intended to transform the station area, broaden and strengthen the range of viable transportation choices, and encourage efficient use of available land and infrastructure.
The Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Friends of Caltrain, and Sunnyvale Cool are sponsoring a walking tour of the Lawrence Station area to help you learn about plans developed by the Lawrence Station Plan Citizen Advisory Group to allow a walkable, vibrant, compact neighborhood to evolve around the Station.
Current land use with huge parking lots fronting the commercial / industrial uses and low density housing within a half mile of the train station are not conducive to transit oriented development. New developments in the immediate area in the works, and city planners foresee changes due to the age of the current structures. They’ve reached out to current residents and other stakeholders to ensure that the mix of uses and pattern of development supports transit ridership and provides convenient access by all modes (pedestrian, bicycle, transit, and auto) to the station. There’s a proposal, for example to raze the 16 acre Extreme Networks site (within the city of Santa Clara) and replace it with a mixed use development with 600 residential units, 56,000 square feet of commercial office and 32,000 square feet of retail. Extreme Networks sold their Santa Clara R&D center to a developer and will move their headquarters to Rio Robles Drive in San JOse next month.
Snacks will be served at 9:30 AM; the walking tour begins at 10 AM and lasts until 11:10 AM (but see my transit access notes below — you may need to bail early if you hope to catch the train or bus afterwards).
RSVP is not necessary, but event organizers ask for an RSVP so they can more accurately judge food and handout quantity.
Saturday transit to and from Lawrence Caltrain
Northbound trains arrive at Lawrence from the south at 9:10 AM and 10:10 AM, so you can show up 20 minutes early and help with snack setup, or show up 10 minutes late and hope you find the walking tour. Southbound train arrives at 9:38.
After the walking tour, northbound participants either need to leave early to catch the 11:10 train, or wait an hour for the 12:10 train. Those returning to Santa Clara or San Jose can wait for the 11:38 train.
VTA service is available via the 32 bus on Reed / Monroe, with a stop about a half mile from the Caltrain Station on Reed next to Lawrence Expressway. Eastbound buses stop roughly a half hour past the hour ever hour from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Hourly westbound buses pass by about 10 minutes after the hour, so like with Caltrain, you’ll have to bail the walking tour early if you hope to catch that westbound bus.
If you plan to bike there, bike access is via Lawrence Expressway, where you’ll negotiate a busy intersection at Kifer Road with heavy Costco traffic and, depending on which way you come, access Lawrence Station via either San Zeno Road or Lawrence Station Road. If you’ve never accessed Lawrence Station by bike before you will get lost, so study the online bike directions carefully. From other parts of Sunnyvale you can take either Kifer Road or Reed Avenue to access Lawrence. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but there’s was lots of construction on Reed the last time I rode that way so be prepared to take the lane where necessary. This is a walking tour, so bring a lock for your bike.
The Caltrain parking lot has 122 spaces available. $5 to park all day, I think, though I don’t know if that’s enforced on weekends. There might be street parking nearby.