Mountain View Voice

News - April 19, 2013

LASD eyes former mayor's property

District would like to use site for new school

by Daniel DeBolt

As Target proposes to rebuild its Showers Drive store, Los Altos School District officials are apparently eyeing the land owned by former mayor Matt Pear opened up by the proposed building's smaller footprint.

The City Council voted 6-0 Tuesday to allow city planners to begin processing a plan for a new Target at 555 Showers Drive. Mike Kasperzak abstained because he owns Target stock.

Target development manager John Dewes proposed to demolish Target's old, 118,518 square foot store and build a larger 163,000 square foot store above a ground level parking garage, similar to Sunnyvale's Target. Rather than be tucked behind a parking lot, it would be moved up to the Showers Drive street front, with an entrance and plaza extending toward the sidewalk.

The project would be moved ahead of other development proposals because it will generate additional sales tax revenue for the city, said zoning administrator Peter Gilli.

The use of the parking garage opens up for other development much of the 11.6 acre site — owned for more than half a century by former mayor Matt Pear's family. A city report notes portions along Latham are reserved for future mixed-use development.

In a continued plea for help from the Los Altos School District as it grapples with predicted enrollment growth in Mountain View — over 1,000 homes are in the works within its Mountain View boundary — district board member Tamara Logan asked the City Council to "work together" with her district to find a way to use the property, possibly for "an exciting urban-style school."

"Maybe you could get park space" and "leave a long term legacy for our community," she said.

Council member Margaret Abe-Koga had an intense back and forth with Logan as Logan said there is "not anything the school district can do on our own."

"We can't mandate anybody to do anything," Abe-Koga said of Pear's apparent lack of interest in making a deal with the school district.

"You do need interest by a landowner to make something happen," Abe-Koga said.

"You do have CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) laws that say you have to consider impacts," Logan said. "Mr. Pear has not expressed interest in this, people have talked to him."

Pear was present Tuesday and was noted as the landowner by Dewes, but did not speak. He was known for opposing eminent domain and other impositions on property owners that he frequently referred to as "takings."

In response to a grilling from Mayor John Inks, Logan said the district had discussed acquiring Pear's property with a "real estate professional" but she could not reveal details.

To say, "'We're going to take eminent domain and buy that property whether you like it or not,' I don't think that would solve the problem," Logan said. "That would take years and be outside our budget."

Email Daniel DeBolt at ddebolt@mv-voice.com

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