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School district eyes 'Shoreline Community' funds

Original post made on Mar 11, 2010

For seven years Mountain View has been home to Google, the hottest company in the world. But for all that time its substantial property taxes — and those of other major companies in the area north of Highway 101 — have been diverted to the "Regional Shoreline Park Community." It's an arrangement that some local school officials would like to see reevaluated.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, March 11, 2010, 11:21 AM

Comments (32)

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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm

I have to believe $5 Million is in the noise for these companies. Companies locate here in Mountain View because of it's location, nearby Universities, great lifestyle for employees, etc..


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Mar 11, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Anyone that thinks the Shoreline tax district is a neccessary, break-even scenario as described by Kong and Duggan only need look at the condition of the roads. median strips and parks in Shoreline compared to the rest of town.

A $30M INTEREST FREE loan to benefit Google while our schools have to increase class sizes. Wow. An expensive transit system that nobody will use (hello light rail!) to support density that will do harm to local business--- what is going on?


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Posted by QM
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 11, 2010 at 6:43 pm

"This year alone, he said, Mountain View's elementary and middle schools are missing out on $5.8 million in property tax revenue from Google and other big-ticket Mountain View companies located in the Shoreline area."

--Google got a sweet deal in taking over Slater Elementary School and turning it into Google Only Elementary. It closed the only walk-to public neighborhood elementary school in North Whisman area and then they hold on to 5 million in property tax revenue. Is this for real? It sounds like pure greed.


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Posted by The Plow
a resident of The Crossings
on Mar 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I'd be all for the district requesting tax money from the city and Google, as long as a few Google accountants and managers were allowed to go the school district and audit their books for waste and then recommend some cut backs to management and more emphasis on teacher support and effectiveness. Fair enough?


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Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 11, 2010 at 8:46 pm

"Largely thanks to Google's increasingly valuable property, the Shoreline Community's property tax revenues have been increasing. In 2005, its property taxes totaled $17.1 million, but are estimated to have grown to $26.8 million this year."

This sounds like they are somehow bypassing Prop 13's (very unfair) limit of 2%/year growth in assessed value of property. If only that were true for everyone--then the schools would have plenty of money, even without the Shoreline district.

I don't want to ditch Prop 13, but I sure would like to get rid of that 2%/year limit.


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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Mar 11, 2010 at 10:35 pm

Corporations are persons under the law. Persons, you and I and everyone we know, are taxed on GROSS income, not profit, not net. What percentage of your gross income goes to taxes? What percentage of Google's gross income goes to taxes? Do the math.


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Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 12, 2010 at 9:01 am

eric, QM and Doug,
Of course the Shoreline District is not "a necessity". But it does make it much easier for the council of MV to balance a budget when the schools loose $10M a year! So it makes it easy for the council to be free-spending with this Shoreline slush fund. Instead of 'vital and necessary' expenses like post-dump maintenance (L. Machas argument in the council election forums) taxpayers are paying for hotel financing. And the schools (elementary-HS and community college) are the ones LOOSING REVENUE for this.

Google does pay market rate in their use of Slater property, they have other district space on lease that they pay for (and do not yet use). Two other full sites are also leased to private school operators (Whisman and Cooper). I don't think you can fault Google for that.

The new property (buildings) are assessed at current market rates when built. The underlying private land is 2% Prop 13 limited. BUT - the under lying land and small building assessments ARE NOT ALLOWED to increase at all for school taxes. The taxes to the schools are FOREVER ("perpetual nature") frozen at the 1969 assessed values for the entire district. This is not a Sacramento (state level) problem - it can be fixed by legislative intervention by our assemblyman Paul Fong. Write him!

[Old Ben - this is entirely a property tax issue - nothing to do with income.}


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 12, 2010 at 10:13 am


I just e-mailed Paul Fong asking him about this, perhaps The Voice should interview him for his comment?


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm

I agree, and have said in other postings, that it is HIGH time for the city to start forking over some dough to the school district. Property values and quality of life are closely dependent on the quality of education offered to the children of Mountain View. Whether anyone will want to live here, buy a house here, and send their children to school here WHILE working at these companies, is an extremely important part of the equation.
So, STOP overpaving and overlandscaping the Shoreline area, and WRITE SOME CHECKS to the school district. The baseline funding is the 47th LOWEST in the state. We do have a parcel tax but it increases the overall budget by only about 10% I believe. So we are now probably 45th lowest. Still, no clasroom aides, no credentialed art, music, or PE teachers, libraries are staffed w/ part-time aides and volunteers only have virtually no book funds, class sizes are about to increase by 25% or more, and budget cuts are coming that will send the kids back to the 1970s. No new text book purchases, no new technology....where are we going to find young adults who are educated enough to WORK at Google??
$5 million/year, for a company with billions "on the books", is absolutley trivial. But the real issue here is that the money has already been paid, to the city, and should be diverted to MVW School District NOT the Shoreline Slush Fund. IN ADDITION I would like to see an increase in taxation, or voluntary donations, from these behemoth corporations which bring families daily into our community who drive on our roads, buy homes here and hope to educate their children in MV. They need, and deserve, excellent schools.


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Posted by eric
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

QM, Google does not benefit from this tax district-- they pay the same property taxes they would if it were eliminated. The no interest loan is another story


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Posted by QM
a resident of North Whisman
on Mar 12, 2010 at 10:40 pm

- Shoreline Community Funds - More Greed
-Publication Date: Friday, September 02, 2005

City council members reacted quietly this week to an explosive audit report charging that Texas media giant Clear Channel and subsidiary companies have hidden more than $20 million in revenue from Shoreline Amphitheatre over the course of the last six years.

A summer-long investigation by an outside firm hired by the city determined that the company has cheated its landlords at City Hall out of at least $3.6 million since 1999, or nearly two-thirds of what the company has paid over that same time period. Under terms of its 30-year lease at Shoreline, Clear Channel agrees to pay the city 6.75 percent of all revenues.


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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 13, 2010 at 7:34 am

There's a similar situation in Santa Clara, where they are going to decide whether to build a new stadium or not. New stadium means the redevelopment agency for the area where the stadium will be built will be around for a long, long time, taking its tax increment off the top. No new stadium means the redevelopment agency will shut down in a few years, releasing its special funding to go to schools and the city. To sweeten the deal, the stadium proponents are offering to give the schools a share of the tax increment -- it's more or less a payoff to the schools to keep the redevelopment zone going for the long run.


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Posted by Seldon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 13, 2010 at 11:08 am

Diverting funds to the school district during this time of unprecedented financial turmoil sounds like the right priority to me, over the intended used at Shoreline.

But in the long run, this fix is just a short term band-aid, and doesn't solve the underlying problems with education funding. This what the state has been doing for years: robbing Peter to pay Paul, then turning around and mugging Paul to pay Peter the following year.

The schools have been tight on money before Google came to town, and if nothing changes structurally in how schools are funded, they will still be strapped for cash when Google is no more. Its no secret that California public schools have been on the downslide for years.

So I'm going to mention the 800 lbs. Gorilla that no one likes to talk about, the 3rd rail that politicians shun, when it comes to education in California:

Prop 13

I'm not advocating outright dismissal of this proposition, just honest, critical discussion about its affect on education in California, and to underline that the fate of public schools isn't entirely dependent on what the businesses and corporations provide, but what we decide as a community, and what we are willing to pay for from our own pockets.


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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Proposition 13 ain't the reason. Pretty much all property in California has traded hands often enough that property tax revenue has risen about 579% since Proposition 13 was adopted. During the same time period, population only grew by 58%. Inflation has been about 133%.

So what is the biggest reason for California's budget problems? Pension liabilities from very, very generous pensions that have been given to some government employees. It's not just California - state, county, and city governments all across the country are having the same budget crisis for the same reason.


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Posted by Rad G
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 14, 2010 at 12:53 am

The schools have a 50 year old look, the district is laying off teachers, and we will spend 10 million on a fire station. What is wrong with you people?


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

Well, at least when the under-staffed, crowed schools that are falling apart catch fire, Mountain View's finest police and firemen will come to put out the fire in record time with the finest equipment. Hopefully, none will trip over a fire hose and claim a generous tax-free disability pension at age 50 and then still be fit enough to bike to Sacramento with the superintendent of the schools. Meanwhile, the City Council is more concerned with selling pot for tax revenue.


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Posted by Mel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 14, 2010 at 7:24 pm

Great link in the SJ Merc. Web Link

Here's the $200K plus salary club for our over-spent city.

Maybe instead of appealing to Google for handouts we might try these folks.

Duggan Kevin C City Manager $264,969
Alameda Richard P Batt Chief $262,064
Young Michael S Fire Chief $258,633
Del Carlo Clifford Fire Cptn $247,050
Locke Robert F Fasd Dir $246,612
Vermeer Scott S Police Chief $241,216
Owen John M Batt Chief $232,602
Wester Michael D Fire Engr $231,167
Miguel John Fire Cptn $229,834
Bond Zachary E Fire Cptn $226,777
Emerson C Shelley Sr Asst Ca $225,366
Levin Nadine P Asst City Mngr $224,290
Muela David A Csd Dir Com Srv $218,968
Custodio Dennish Fire Cptn $218,771
Varano James F Fire Cptn $218,721
Remson-Lazarus Cathy J Pwd Dir $214,919
Hawkes Steven W Fire Batt Chf $211,824
Trammell Wade H Fire Captain $211,411
Demers Corey A Fire Engr/Para $210,081
Biakanja Jim S Fire Cptn $206,035
Zarubin Steve Fire Engr $204,765
Leal Kenneth J Police Sgt $204,290
Lopez Manuel A Police Lieut $204,254
Bosel Max J Police Captain $202,522
Vandenberg Ted A Fire Cptn $202,163


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 14, 2010 at 8:51 pm


Looks like the minimum total compensation for public service employees in Mountain View is 100K in the data from the above link. I would hope our teachers would be getting at least that much.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 14, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Sadly, our teachers make between $45-80K on average, and the higher end is after many years of service. NO ONE in the district is paid in the $200,000 range!!! The money simply doesn't exist for that. MVWSchool District is honest and (mostly) transparent in how it spends its money.
One of the big problems, as pointed out by the last few commenters, is that the funding is compeltely and totally separate from the city, and far, far less. MV school district averages abotu $6,000/pupil/year; this is 47th lowest in the country when adjusted for cost of living. Add it up, times 4,700 students, add in the overhead, textbooks, pension, and teacher costs, and the educational quality is simply NOT going to measure up to the EAst Coast or other comparable, highly educated community.
The money has to come from somewhere. Getting rid of Prop 13 might increase revenues, but could be a P.R. disaster. I am more of a believer in special levies on local businesses. We also have a parcel tax, which is on the low side for a community like ours. Also voluntary donations by corporations are LACKING, hear that Microsoft, Synopsis, Google, Kaiser, and AOL, just to name a few??? Soon we need to see Editorials and Op Eds asking our businesses to help the schools succeed.


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Posted by Seldon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2010 at 8:48 am

"Proposition 13 ain't the reason. Pretty much all property in California has traded hands often enough that property tax revenue has risen about 579% since Proposition 13 was adopted. During the same time period, population only grew by 58%. Inflation has been about 133%.

So what is the biggest reason for California's budget problems? Pension liabilities from very, very generous pensions that have been given to some government employees. It's not just California - state, county, and city governments all across the country are having the same budget crisis for the same reason."
--------------------

May I ask the source of the numbers you are citing? I don't question them, just would like to understand where they are coming from. Prop 13 actually discourages the buying and selling of property. If you are one of the lucky ones who bought 20-30 years ago, the incentive is to maintain ownership of the property (and the resulting property taxes in the 100's of dollars) and rent it out, even if you now live out of state. I have several properties on my block where this is the case. That's lost property tax revenues for the State, and a loss of an interested owner who has the stake in the local community.

I agree with you on the generous pension plans afforded state and municipal employees. These have been setup via negotiations and need to be revisited and renegotiated so that they are sustainable.

California schools were top performing, as compared to the rest of the nation, 30 years ago. Now they are ranked close to the bottom. While many things have changed to influence this dynamic, Prop 13 has remained consistent in artificially controlling property tax values, at the expense of new and future buyers. It should be examined to understand its true impact to the state, as well as to individual property owners, new and old.


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Posted by Seldon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

"The money has to come from somewhere. Getting rid of Prop 13 might increase revenues, but could be a P.R. disaster. I am more of a believer in special levies on local businesses. We also have a parcel tax, which is on the low side for a community like ours. Also voluntary donations by corporations are LACKING, hear that Microsoft, Synopsis, Google, Kaiser, and AOL, just to name a few??? Soon we need to see Editorials and Op Eds asking our businesses to help the schools succeed."

---------------------

Agreed, several tools can be used to increase funding for schools, as long as we don't overuse them. Parcel taxes have the benefit of directly supporting our schools, without going to the State, and they affect both residents and businesses.

With regards to special levies to businesses, we should be cognoscente to not be demanding more than other cities in the area are asking, to remain attractive and competitive for businesses to consider operating in Mountain View.

Donations are fine too, but by their very nature, they are unpredictable, and you can't enforce them.

We should have funding structures and levels similar to the East Coast,if that is the quality of education we expect.


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2010 at 10:01 am

Hi Seldon, thanks for your response, and I just wanted to counter that it would be VERY hard to be "more demanding" than other areas, as other communities (Menlo Park, Los Altos, San Mateo to name a few) have zero.0000 multi-billion dollar businesses w/in their boundaries! None! So, it seems striking to me that the MV City Council for the last 10 years I have been here has whipped up sweetheart deals w/these internet folks, such as gorgeous streets, landscaping, security, on Shoreline etc. and these biz. do absolutely NOTHING for the families (read: schools, parks, community events, libraries) in town.
One could argue, "Hey it's not their fault" and partially they would be right. That is one of the post-prop 13 evils. There were law suits in the '70s following prop 13 that "equalized" funding for public schools throughout the state. So, although we have large amounts of prop. tax paid in MV from giant corporations which get lavish benefits from our City Council, the actual $$ for schools goes to Sacramento (by law) and is redistributed by an arcane formula set by a judge in the 1970s to make sure the schools get equal funding in Watts, East L.A., and Mtn. View, i.e. $6,000 per student per year is cut by check from Arnie each spring.
So, what to do???? We literally have no choice but to ask these local "businesses" (it's hard to compare a bagel shop, a book store, or even Macy's with GOOGLE) to assist our schools. MV schools NEED to be excellent. Google, Synopsis, and Microsoft CHOSE to land here. They have massive swaths of beautiful land with giant parking areas and the city bends over backwards for them. THEIR EMPLOYEES would like to live in MV, but many choose NOT to because the schools are underfunded and underperforming. If they DO live here, many choose private education, or they buy homes in P.A. and L.A. because those 2 cities have higher parcel taxes and more successful foundations in which parents donate $400-800/year per student.
So, something needs to be done. It WILL increase our property values and help create the next generation of leaders, engineers, and employees for these very same companies that are getting massive breaks. I don't think it is going to drive them away. Just my take.


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Posted by Stan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm

localmom:

You are ignoring the 800lb gorilla in the room. Nearly half the students in this district are low income and mostly Spanish speaking, with many of them being illegal. You can't really mean it when you compare Los Altos or Palo Alto given this difference. While parents in other affluent district donate money, you cannot expect the poor to as well. And even if more money were to flow into the district, it would not necessarily mean that education would improve for this lot of students, while still dragging down the time and attention teachers can devote to more affluent and better prepared students eager to learn in the target language, English. The reason the high schools perform much better in this town is largely because many poor and Hispanic students end up dropping out by the time they get to high school.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 15, 2010 at 6:36 pm

With all this budget business and Google , I have no problem with the moneys allocated for the new Station 5 (Fire). But another $55,000 (FIFTY FIVE T H O U S A N D) for a bronze sculpture of a G O O S E or whatever OVER said station? Why is this allowed to even be suggested, much less acted upon by a responsible city council?!

It isn't even worth mentioning that all the geeze do is POOP on the greens at Shoreline. I've seen it with my own eyes.

To spend that kind of money in such a recession is irresponsible. I feel pretty confident that homeless groups, Community Services, our school districts, school buses , not to mention Deer Hollow Farm, would turn down an amount of money like that!

Let me see if I get this: dump kids, but get a bronze bird! Does that make sense?


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Posted by localmom
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 15, 2010 at 7:35 pm

Hi Stan, not a gorilla, I assure you!! :) I know all about those kids, I volunteer in the district. A rising tide lifts all boats. There was another bone-headed proposition in the 90's, now I can't remember the #, 200 and something, that banned dual-language instruction. That one has GOT to go!! It impedes learning, period. But if the city and companies can come up with the $$, then those kids can learn just as well as anyone else. And there will be more aids, books, and resources for ALL whether they speak English or Klingon at home!


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Posted by Mike Laursen
a resident of Monta Loma
on Mar 15, 2010 at 9:09 pm

re: "May I ask the source of the numbers you are citing?"

Let me find it again ... here it is: Web Link


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 16, 2010 at 9:51 am


Stan, localmon,

Mountain View has award winning schools, where teachers, staff, and volunteers have closed the achievement gap with very smart targeted education, and they don't neglected the over achievers either. They are really doing an amazing job with the resources they have, and the kids are very bright, I know from volunteering. Going to 25:1 is just going to make their job that much harder.

I see two issues, one we need to guarantee 20:1 max, and two there needs to be some minimum standard for teachers salaries comparable to other professionals in the area, and the revenue needs stucturally tied to these two rather the the other way around.


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 16, 2010 at 9:58 am


BTW, this is what can happen when a Latino kid gets the opportunity of great education: Web Link)


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Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Mar 16, 2010 at 10:32 am


One more thing, and I'm talking to anyone planning on retiring in the next 20 years, due to the coming demographic tsunami, if we don't invest in education today, there wont be enough skilled workers and enough purchasing power to support asset prices that the boomers are expecting to support themselves on in retirement, nor the tax base to pay for all the services and healthcare.


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Mar 16, 2010 at 12:43 pm

Stan: "The reason the high schools perform much better in this town is largely because many poor and Hispanic students end up dropping out by the time they get to high school." And you have the data to prove this? How about the reason the high schools perform much better is a) half of their population is from the Los Altos School District, where virtually 100% of the families are upper-middle-class to independently wealthy, with college-educated parents and the high test scores that go hand-in-hand with that demographic, and 2) they are funded much better than either Los Altos or MVWSD (several thousand $$ more per student), not counting the foundation that raises around $700K per year, so they can afford more programs for all the kids, conuselors, etc.


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Posted by Stan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm

Sorry, Stan, quite the opposite. The achievement gap has actually grown in Mountain View Schools, and many Hispanics drop out in high school. Just check back issues of The Voice.


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Posted by Steve Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Mar 18, 2010 at 9:50 am

Mike Lawson and others (on districts and 'city funds'): the Santa Clara comparison is exactly right. The Shoreline District has a Joint Powers agreement with the schools that forks over a check once per year that is about 10% of the $10 million that schools would have gotten without Shoreline. That JPA expires in about 8-9 years! Only the Legislature (Paul Fong) can correct this problem to reduce Shoreline's share to 10% permanently. The problem is in the 1969 legislation specific to Shoreline. [re localmom] The Castro Street redevelopment district is being forced (kicking and screaming) to sunset after 40 years. This will free about $1/2 million a year for MVWSD. The city will not have to be asked to 'write a check', it will come directly from the county tax collector!

Stan - I cannot fight prop 13 (state). City hall is fightable (I think it will take 10 years). This Shoreline District spending is 'transparent' - but you all need to write the council members and Paul Fong to start to get it changed. Thanks James !!!


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