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School district expresses fears of selling Cubberley

Original post made on Jun 17, 2010

Palo Alto school board members Wednesday expressed deep-seated fears about selling any portion of the dilapidated Cubberley Community Center to the Foothill De Anza Community College District, saying the school district may need space there to educate generations yet unborn.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 17, 2010, 10:37 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 17, 2010 at 12:48 pm

What did I tell you? The city of PA and its school district do not want to sell that property. They want to hold onto it and have a HUGE say in what is done on it.

Foothill needs to stop the nonsense of dealing with such whishy-washy sellers. They really don't want to sell, they want a long term lessee who will do exactly what they want done to the property (and not do anything they don't).

It's long since time to cut bait on this. Foothill needs to just move on and find a new satellite campus. It is just silliness to keep dealing with the city and school district. Let them find other buyers/lessees and let them be their problem.

Posted by Jim Doughty, a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2010 at 3:03 pm

At first blush, I agreed with John the Man and figured just to he-- with it and move on. Then I started thinking of the time I spent at the Cubberley Center as a Foothill College student. The place has a certain charm about it that is very conducive to an educational process -- hard to pin down in nuts and bolts; just know it when I feel it.

This appears to be a negotiation between the City of Palo Alto and Foothill College over the 8 acres in question. Would it really be that difficult for these two parties [with the involvement of the school district] to come up with a plan that will satisfy the needs of everyone. We are not talking about off-the-wall projects here -- just a new educational facility for the college. I have seen some mention of accommodating the needs of the city and the school district. If that is true, then they are more than half-way home. Please, folks -- do not let the partisan politics on the state and national level filter down to us here on the ground. Put some heads together and sort things out -- or maybe have some heads knocked together...


Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 17, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Jim, the problem is that it is NOT a negotiation between Foothill and the city of PA; the land in question is actually owned by the PAUSD. It's always been a horrible three-way dance, with Foothill having to always put on a fake smile and listen to the city and PAUSD fret and wring its hands... all the while wanting the rental income and promise of someone buying them new buildings.

They are not even close to 'half-way home'; this is not a new issue or negotiation, it's been going on for at least 15 years now. PAUSD doesn't want to sell the land but they don't have the money or political guts to build new structures on the property. Ideally what they want is for Foothill to sign a long-term lease and pay for building new structures but with the city of PA residents and PAUSD itself to have final approval of all plans AND to have first-dibs at scheduling to use those structures. Basically, they want the same arrangement as now but for Foothill to pay for new buildings.

Obviously, Foothill wants none of that. Naturally, if Foothill pays for improvements or new buildings, they want full say over use of those buildings.

Either way, PAUSD and the city of PA desire for control over all this waxes and wanes with each election... and it has gotten really old and stale for Foothill. It's time Foothill simply find new digs.

Foothill will not find itself in a better climate to buy or long-term lease property adequate for its used for years. They can find exactly what they can get from PAUSD for at least as good a price and without all the drama and hysterics.

The city of PA and PAUSD should continue to find the buyer/lessee they want. They have their own goals and that's fine. But Foothill should just move on and find a new satellite campus site. This silliness has been going on WAY too long. Foothill students deserve a better campus than Cubberley, which is totally decrepit.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 18, 2010 at 7:43 am

John, you say that "the land in question is actually owned by the PAUSD."

But the article clearly states "The district – which owns all but the eight acres of Cubberley that Foothill-De Anza wants to buy," and "The City of Palo Alto owns eight of the 35 acres at Cubberley – specifically, the eight acres sought by the school district." So I think Jim is correct, this is really a negotiation between the college district and the city. The PAUSD can weigh in, but they don't own those 8 acres, if I'm reading this correctly.

Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 18, 2010 at 10:19 am

Observer, it's a difference without distinction. The negotiation involves the city of PA, Foothill, and PAUSD. The PAUSD may not own those eight acres, but you can make book that their wishes will be part of any deal. It's NOT a two-way negotiation, it's always been a three-way negotiation.

Posted by Observer, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 18, 2010 at 10:49 am

I'm sure you are right that the school district will be consulted, but the point is just that the city does own the land, and can sell it to the college district if they want to.

I also understand the school district's concerns. Selling off property in the 80's came back to bite a lot of school districts. PAUSD had to buy back a site when they needed to open a third middle school a few years back. But still -- they own the vast majority of the Cubberly site, and can retain it even if the city sells its 8 acres.

Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 18, 2010 at 11:27 am

'...but the point is just that the city does own the land, and can sell it to the college district if they want to.'

On paper, that looks good. But do you REALLY think the city would sell that plot of land without a PAUSD blessing? Do you really think that would happen?

And do you think for a second that the PAUSD wouldn't run and file a suit to make it stop if they didn't agree with it?

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2010 at 11:30 am

Sue for what? Unless there are specific carve-outs in the city's deed, the school district has little say in what they do.

Dont assume that the city and the school district are in alignment on this. Cubberley has been a thorn in that relationship for a very long time.

Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 18, 2010 at 1:35 pm

It makes no difference about the grounds of a suit. The act of suing or even threatening to sue is usually enough to get people to stop and negotiate. The school district certainly does have a LOT of say in how that plot of land is disposed of, whether it looks like it or not, officially or not. Also, the buildings themselves are owned by PAUSD and they have had to pay the huge maintenance on them, as the article points out. Those buildings complicates any deal and alone give the district a lot of say in any deal.

That plot is not going to be sold without the school district signing off on it. Make book on that.

I'm not assuming PAUSD and the city are in agreement on what to do because they clearly are not and haven't been for years. That's almost all of the problem: those two groups cannot agree on exactly what it is they want to do and every re-election, everyone's desires change at least a little bit.

The city hasn't really wavered in what they want: for community space to continue to exist and city residents to have a lot of priority in scheduling that space. The district, though, wavers between wanting/needing to sell the land because they can't afford to let it sit idle; wanting the rent $$ from Foothill for it; or the keeping and rehabbing it because they may need the space itself for student growth in the future.

This is why Foothill needs to walk away from it. Let the city and PAUSD deal with finding a sucker buyer or lessee for it and fight between themselves. There is no reason why Foothill needs to be the third-wheel in it all.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2010 at 3:03 pm

The district does not own the buildings. The city had a master lease on the whole site, which was modified when the sale happened.

To say that an entity the size of the city of Palo Alto would cave just because a smaller entity threatens a frivolous lawsuit is naive.

Posted by John the Man, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 18, 2010 at 3:14 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

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