The City Council adopted the Rail Corridor Study policy document and incorporated it into the Comprehensive Plan on January 22, 2013 to “generate a community vision for land use, transportation, and urban design opportunities along the rail corridor, particularly in response to improvements to fixed rail services along the tracks through Palo Alto.” The Study provides land use and transportation policies under a variety of scenarios, allowing Palo Alto to be proactive to changes to the rail system. The Study will guide staff and the City as decisions are made regarding land use and transportation improvements, such as private development and the Capital Improvement Program. The study area encompasses approximately 1,000 acres, and is bounded by Palo Alto Avenue on the north, San Antonio Road on the south, one half block east of Alma Street, and one half block west of El Camino Real.
The City Council initiated the Palo Alto Rail Corridor Study in July 2010 to evaluate land use, transportation and urban design elements of the rail corridor, particularly in response to potential improvements to fixed rail services along the Caltrain tracks. To provide guidance for this effort, the Council authorized the appointment of a 17-member citizen Task Force to work with staff and to provide an additional conduit and voice for the public. The Study is the outcome of the two and a half years public process, including community meetings and various public meetings. The Study analyzed the City’s existing land use and transportation policies and the potential impacts from the range of possible rail improvements, including Caltrain upgrades, such as electrification and/or grade separations, and/or the potential options for the High Speed Rail project. The study was intended to provide a vision and context for all potential rail improvements, both with and without HSR, and the City’s land use, transportation and urban design responses to those actions.