I was glad to see the "Shoreline revenue may be running out" editorial last week. The issue of funding our civic priorities is complex. But the Shoreline District (and downtown redevelopment district) distorts those priorities in simplistic ways.
That is why I spoke up before the city to urge them to go slowly and carefully about borrowing against future diverted school-tax revenue. Why borrow $10 million for a fire station that is almost paid for with current income? Why borrow half-a-million to pay for traffic studies for an enlarged Googleplex?
The $30 million one-time payment for a 50-year land lease at Shoreline is another area in which the council needs to keep its promise of fiscal prudence. Led by Laura Macias in the 2008 council election debates, we were promised that Shoreline funds were absolutely needed for basic Shoreline infrastructure like dump maintenance and sea-level rise protection levees. Many of us take that promise with pig-headed stubbornness. This money should not be used for pension promises, development subsidies, a boutique hotel, or World Expo studies.
On Monday I read that Palo Alto will receive the following from its largest employer, Stanford Medical Center, for transportation related to new development: $115.8 million, for infrastructure and housing: $23.2 million. New Shoreline District commercial development is great, but it needs to carry its own weight. If Google is slated to grow here, it needs to "assure no harm" to local elementary schools relative to the funding levels of Los Altos elementary schools.
This is what I warned the Shoreline Board and their bond attorney about. I will take the matter of equal school funding to court in the matter of Shoreline District school tax diversions. If 100 percent of the diverted taxes are restored to our elementary schools, this may start to affect paying back bonds pledged against future property tax revenue from the district. Shoreline needs to be fiscally prudent — the day of judicial reckoning will come.
The community that supported Share Shoreline also needs to be aware — as the Shoreline District has officially stated in their financial documents for the new bonds — that the extra money for schools will not continue past the current contract. The warning from the Voice editorial is correct and serious.
Steven Nelson lives on Bonita Avenue.