SOS Home

Latest Crisis! - see below


Ugly at Any Speed

This icon of urban decay has blighted the corner of Chester and Arnold since 1994, a stark reminder of the fate we residents of the Willows narrowly escaped in the '90s, when a maze of street obstacles (see map below) were planned by the City of Menlo Park in the name of safety and property values.  What sane person could believe that forty-some ugly street obstacles would increase our property values?  And the scraped tire rubber and broken concrete of the circle above refute any safety claims.  Between 1996 and 2001, with the circle in place, this intersection suffered more reported accidents than any other in the Willows.


Plan approved by the City Council in 1993 to appease Willows Traffic Activists, but rejected by residents when allowed to vote in 1996.

This plan was created to satisfy a small band of Traffic Activists who sought to block "cut through" traffic originating in East Palo Alto.  Fourteen of these obstacles were installed in 1994 as Phase I of a one year trial.  Angry neighborhood conflict ensued, but it was two years before the City allowed residents to vote on the outcome.  One traffic circle and a few stop signs are the legacy.

In succeeding years, Activists focused on streets within their power base.  Twenty-one speed bumps were installed on their base streets, despite warnings from the Fire District that fire trucks and paramedics would be impeded by circles and humps.

See History page for year-by-year details.







THE CURRENT CRISIS: Caltrans re-work of the Willow Road / Hwy 101 interchange disrupts local traffic.  City Council to meet 12/5/2017 to hear Willows residents’ concerns.

City's project page      City Council Email


Mayor Keith and Members of the City Council:

We expect Willows traffic activists to seize on the chaos of Caltrans’ Willow/101 interchange work to panic residents and the Council into remapping Willows traffic flow to suit their agenda.  They’ve been at it for over twenty five years.

While this apparent spike in cut-through traffic justifies temporary measures to protect Willows streets which are affected, this is the worst possible time to make permanent changes in our street grid.  The 2017 Willows Cut-through Traffic Analysis introduced in May, must be paused until the Caltrans project is complete and Willows traffic patterns have stabilized.  Only then can a new baseline be established for evaluation of possible street changes.  Only then can a sensible balance be struck between the interests of Willows traffic activists and the rest of us.

Therefore, we urge the City Council to declare the following:

1.  Measures taken at this time shall be explicitly stated as temporary – to be removed by the date the Caltrans project is actually completed.

2.  After completion of the Caltrans project, a sufficient time for establishment of new stable traffic patterns shall be allowed before proceeding with any Willows traffic studies.

3.  Temporary measures taken at this time should adhere as closely as possible to Menlo Park’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program in all regards, especially NTMP limits on traffic diversion to less affected Willows streets and delay of emergency response.

For a graphic review of the history of the Willows traffic calming conflict please see HISTORY.  The most recent instance, 2011's Willows Area-Wide Traffic Study is shown at the bottom of the page.  For a detailed plan English critique of that debacle, with graphics, click the three links.