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Paly Solar Panel Project


We've just been made aware that the PAUSD is planning to place one-story, Solar Array Panels all along the parking lot on the El Camino Real at Embarcadero side of the campus obstructing the historical Tower Building at Paly.  Additionally, it will apparently completely obstruct that side of Paly. Yesterday an "emergency meeting" was surreptitiously convened to push through this agenda. Only a few people got wind of it at the last minute and attended. We are asking that you take immediate action as part of a grass-roots effort in objecting to the placement of these panels in this location as there are many other options on campus where they would be less obtrusive or aesthetically disruptive.The solar panels were neither known about nor included in Paly's Master Plan wherein they've continued to design improvements on the campus to be cohesive and aesthetically consistent with the community of Palo Alto's beautification concerns as well as it's historical and architectural heritage. 

Please see letter below (along with photos and drawings) written by Rachel Kellerman, teacher and librarian at Paly along with information on who to contact to express your objections.  She is trying to raise awareness to stop this project before the plans are fully drawn and go to the state architect.  She has been told that the plans are about 50% complete.  You can contact rkellerman@mac.com if you need more information after reading her letter below.  She is working with Anne Anderson and others from the Paly Facilities Landscape Committee to try to get the planners of the project to consider other locations.  She has also notified the history and preservation societies.  Thank you in advance for your assistance. 

Message below from Rachel Kellerman (Paly Librarian and member of the Palo Alto Historical Association) to Rebecca Navarro et al.

"I am writing to you because I know you are all deeply concerned with preserving Palo Alto’s architectural heritage.  I need your help and the help of other concerned citizens to stop a solar array project that is being planned to obstruct Paly’s historic buildings and ruin a thoughtful landscape design.  Don’t get me wrong—I love solar— just not in Paly’s “front yard” and not in front of the Tower Building and Haymarket complex,  some of the most cherished and iconic buildings in town. 

Background: On Friday (March 16) I became aware that a group of people in charge of sustainability at PAUSD have a plan to put large industrial solar arrays in front of the Tower Building and along Embarcadero Road in the Paly parking lot, which will entail taking out trees and limiting the views of these historic structures from the street. (See attached.) Apparently there was a community meeting on this subject,  but I was not aware of it.   I am both a faculty member and a member of the long standing Paly facilities committee on campus,  and if I was not aware of this meeting, so I assume those of you in the Paly alunmi world were not aware of it either.  

As you can see from the drawing I obtained this morning from PAUSD, the solar structures (about the size of a one story building) would be placed in front of the Tower Building and would block the view of our new Performing Arts Center and Haymarket from El  Camino Real.  People have enjoyed a view between the trees of these structures for 100 years and I think it is a very bad idea to obstruct this view now, especially as there are other solar array options available on campus and indeed in the entirety of PAUSD.  

This morning I spoke to Rebecca Navarro, the Sustainability Program Manager at PAUSD about the project, and she is more than willing to talk to and hear from all stakeholders about this issue now that she is aware of possible concerns.    Rebecca is a dedicated professional and is doing a terrific job at helping PAUSD to become Greener, but she is working with Ron Ellis (Maintenance) at the District and because of a lack of communication between people working on new buildings (the Bond) and people keeping the old buildings running (Maintenance) she was unaware that Paly had a Master Landscape Plan and an existing Facilities Committee that was formed with the managers of the Building (Bond) group ten years ago.  This Committee worked hard to include all stakeholders whenever big decisions were made.  

Neither the existing landscape plan nor the Facilities Committee was consulted about the placement of the panel arrays.  I will note, that  the landscape plan was crafted by our architect (DLM) with the help of legendary local landscape architect Mary Gordon along with Anne Anderson among others. It is a thoughtful plan meant to enrich the campus with lovely green spaces as well as Paly's borders so that we can remain good neighbors to our community.  

Advocacy: I encourage you and others (please feel free to forward this message) to reach out to Rebecca Navarro and Ron Ellis, and Cathy Mak at the District Office and the Board of Education and others listed below to tell them that the solar arrays need to go someplace else and not block the view of our historic buildings and ruin our front landscape.  If you need more information please feel free to contact me.  I am trying to get all stakeholders involved so that Rebecca, Ron and their team can make a better decision about where to place the solar arrays. Please do this NOW while there is still time to look at other locations."  


Rebecca Navarro rnavarro@pausd.org

Sustainability Program Manager, PAUSD

(650) 329-3745


Ron Ellis rellis@pausd.org

Cathy Mak cmak@pausd.org

Robert Golton rgolton@pausd.org

Jerry Berkson jberkson@pausd.org


and PAUSD Board of Education Members:   https://www.pausd.org/explore-pausd/board-education

In addition to the above, you may also wish to direct your objections and concerns to: