City gives up $13.6 million for local schools

Parents called for city to free up property tax revenue collected by Shoreline Community

The City Council pleased the parents who packed the council chambers on Tuesday by supporting a proposal that will give $13.6 million in Shoreline tax revenue to the city's schools over three years.

The council's support was unanimous for the proposal, with member Tom Means absent. The meeting was a study session, which means that formal decision will be made later. But parents, the large majority of whom supported the deal in a show of hands, were elated after the meeting.

The deal, which provides funding based on complicated formula involving property values, will provide an estimated $8.2 million over three fiscal years to the Mountain View Whisman District, said finance director Patty Kong. That improves on a previous deal which gave the elementary school district $450,000 a year from the Shoreline Community tax district. Similarly, the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District will receive an estimated $5.4 million over three years, replacing its previous $450,000 in annual Shoreline funding.

The payments would begin before July with a payment of $2.3 million for Mountain View Whisman and a payment of $1.6 million to the high school district. The Mountain View Whisman would then receive $3 million annually in the 2011-10 and 2012-13 fiscal years, while high school district would receive $1.9 million annually.

The deal provides less than the $5.9 million a year the cash-strapped MVWSD would receive if the Shoreline Community were to go away, which is what some parents would like to see. The Shoreline Community is a special tax district established in 1969 that has paid for the creation and maintenance of Shoreline Park and the surrounding business district. It uses nearly all of the property taxes from companies there, including Google and Microsoft, that would otherwise be shared with schools.

A group of parents had been organizing the "Share Shoreline" campaign since last March when Mountain View Whisman officials told the Voice that it could benefit from a share of Shoreline taxes because it had been classified as a basic aid district by the state, making it dependent on local property tax revenue. Previously, the district received per-pupil funding from the state.

Parents thanked the city and local businesses for all the help they've given schools so far, and some even praised the city for being cautious with the deal. Jim Pollart, who spoke for a group of parents who organized themselves around the issue, encouraged speakers on the topic "to model good behavior" in the face of a potentially tense situation. Following his suggestion, parents stopped speaking after 30 minutes so everyone could hear the City Council's comments.

Some parents told some sad stories. One man said his daughter's teacher at Huff School had asked every child to bring in a roll of paper towels because the school could not afford them.

All of the "good behavior" angered one man, however, who said his child at Landels Elementary school had no place to eat his lunch when it was raining outside, since an awning that was put up "blew away." He said he had a "math problem" and couldn't understand why Mountain View Whisman's spending per student was so low given the high land values and high incomes of Mountain View residents. He noted that a parent had thanked Google, Microsoft and Synopsis for recently donating $70,000 to schools and called the situation "ridiculous."

"When we can't have music once a week without begging some company for the money, there's a problem," he said.

City officials tried to strike a balance between defending the tax district and expressing support for local schools.

"We have to make sure Shoreline stays competitive," with other cities in attracting businesses, said council member Ronit Bryant. She also expressed sympathy with parents' frustrations about school funding, as she was once an active parent in Mountain View schools.

City manager Kevin Duggan said he realized that the schools faced unprecedented challenges over the next few years because of waning property tax values and problems with state funding.

City officials pointed out numerous accomplishments of the Shoreline Community, which turned the area north of Highway 101 from the site of the a junkyard and pig farms into a 500-acre regional park and the headquarters of Google.

"It wasn't that the city set out to take the school's money, there was no money," said Mayor Jac Siegel. He concluded that he was proud of the deal. "This is government at its best," he said.

Some parents gasped when finance director Patty Kong said that the Shoreline Community has run balances ranging between $8 million and $40 million. Revenues are declining and this year Shoreline is projected to bring in $24.8 million in property taxes with $18.7 million in ongoing expenses.

There is hesitance by the city to give schools more of the money because of unknown future costs having to do with the Bay level rising and flooding the nearby creeks, as well as costly transportation needs as Shoreline develops. They also said they did not know how much it would cost to deal with a major emergency related to the 461-acre Shoreline landfill, which closed in 1994. It could dump pollution into the Bay or require the complete reconstruction of its underground methane gas collection system after a major earthquake, city officials say.

The deal will mean that the city would not be able to afford all of the things it wants for Shoreline, but it is too early to tell exactly what projects could be affected. Among the projects in the works are new soccer and baseball fields on Garcia Avenue as well as extensions of the Permanente and Sevens Creek trails.

The council favored the deal over another option that would have provided the city's schools $4.5 million less over the three years. The council also passed on delaying a new deal for two years to study what the city could afford for a permanent deal.

See also:

Mountain View Whisman eyes 'Shoreline Community' funds

Parents seek larger slice of Shoreline taxes


Like this comment
Posted by Its not just the parents
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 9, 2011 at 11:08 am

Mayor Jac seemed to be the reluctant councilor at last night's meeting, pointing out that only 12% of the population is of school age. Is the subtext "only kids should care" ? A more prudent pol might add parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts to their voting block calculations.

Of course parents will argue for their kids but let's also credit others in the community with being enlightened enough to see that everyone benefits from educating the next generation of citizens to be productive and useful members of society. I'm not talking about property owners seeing their house values climb but about how we all benefit by building a good community, one kid, one class one school at a time.

Better to spend on schools now than prisons and food stamp programs later!

Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 9, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Why can't the city seek corporate sponsorship for some of these Shoreline projects?

Like this comment
Posted by Just Another Parent
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Thank you to Daniel Debolt for his articles to bring this issue to our attention and thank you to the Share Shoreline group for spearheading this push.

I just read the original March 2010 article and can't figure out the real reason why the MVLA school district is not behind this in a more vocal way. I read that they're better funded with the Los Altos property taxes, but why would anyone in the right mind leave millions of dollar on the table? What's the REAL reason?

Like this comment
Posted by MV Parent
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

They need to eliminate this "special tax district". You need to keep entire Mountain View competitive.

"Among the projects in the works are new soccer and baseball fields on Garcia Avenue..." Who lives on Garcia Avenue to use these fields???

By the sound of some of their arguments, they want to turn Mountain View into Redwood City and Shoreline into Redwood Shores. I vote NO to this right now. Any city council with such inclination should be voted out.

Give the same privileges to Shoreline business district as Symantec/Netscape business district area and eliminate to the special tax for Shoreline.

Like this comment
Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Feb 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Most of these money will go as salary rises for people like Goldman and other folks in the school district. very little if not nothing will be used in using these funds for the kids. ANother robbery scheme by the school districts by inciting parents to get involved. Just watch the salaries and benefits, travel expenses of these school district officials go up like crazy so that they can buy more houses, yachts, shop at Tiffany's,etc..Welcome to land of Oppurtunities, folks. 3 yerars from the folks who are making $300K in the school district will be making $500k or above. salaries, travel expenses, benefits are all destined for the sky now.

Like this comment
Posted by GDM
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Why do these parents not look at themselves for a larger Parcel Tax to support their school. I guess it's easier to strong arm the city. How many students reside in the Shoreline Community?

Like this comment
Posted by Response to GDM
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 9, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Response to GDM: Parents/residents are NOT strong arming the city. They are simply exercising their constitutional right to express their preference in how their city is run. Parcel Tax? Sure why not - specially when Prop 13 is gone and many residents and businesses start paying their fair share and providing the funds that are needed to run the schools. I sincerely hope you will join them and dedicate endless weekends and evenings to work on that problem.

Like this comment
Posted by Hardin
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 7:59 pm

The City Council's decision to move cautiously but intentionally is the smart move. The City has a history of keeping reserves for "rainy day" contingencies, and it has served us well in the past.

If we've learned anything about the boom and busts that California continues to suffer from, its that spending all of your money and saving none is foolish.

Like this comment
Posted by a parent
a resident of Jackson Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Thanks to the "Share Shoreline" parents. Mountain View in last one year so many things were cut in MV schools. Class sizes etc... Investment for future!

Like this comment
Posted by MV Parent
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 10, 2011 at 10:42 am

Great job Share Shoreline.

Like this comment
Posted by Andrea Gemmet
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Feb 10, 2011 at 11:31 am

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

This comment was moved from a duplicate thread that has now been closed:

@James "Seems a pitance considering the many billions of dollars of income generated there?"
by Randall Feb 9, 2011 at 10:14 am

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 10, 2011 at 1:05 pm

@ jupiterk

Let's see the data to show that someone at the district makes $300k. Or that your opinion?

Like this comment
Posted by jupiterk
a resident of Gemello
on Feb 10, 2011 at 3:00 pm


I remember reading somewhere in the local newspapers that one of the exec is making $300K. Aside from yoru question, do you think that most of these will be used for the kids and the school? You are clueless to think that this money will be used for productive purposes. I bet 95% will be used in giving themselves substantial rises and the top guys taking home more, travelling around,..may be you ahven't been reading newspapers how local /state/federal officials/employees are getting paid.

Like this comment
Posted by Thank you Share Shoreline
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Feb 10, 2011 at 3:41 pm

@jupiterk -
... this isn't a new tax, simply a reallocation of funds from one public agency to another.
Even if I bought into your rant on how "all public employees are corrupt, why is it better for the money to stay in one group of public employees (Shoreline District, Golf Course employees...?) vs. another (School District)?

Like this comment
Posted by investments
a resident of Shoreline West
on Feb 11, 2011 at 10:01 am

Which tax source would pay for investments in a world Expo at Moffitt Field? Would this possibly be future Shoreline spending? (bridges etc.)

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 13, 2011 at 3:36 pm

I'm so tired of MV having one of the lowest per-student spending in the nation. MV, the home of enterprising know-how building a better future for the entire world, is failing to fund basic education.

Thank you, Share Shoreline, for recovering some of the taxes from our large globally-successful enterprises back to basic ed in this time of desperate state budget crises.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Burger chain Shake Shack to open in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 16 comments | 4,248 views

The Cost of Service
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 971 views

Couples: When Wrong Admit It; When Right; Shut Up
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 436 views