School district wants to buy day-care site

Property on San Antonio Road also sought by housing developer

The Palo Alto Unified School District has formally declared it wants to buy a 2.65-acre parcel on San Antonio Road.

In a document posted on the district's website, school officials state they should not be required to file an environmental impact report in order to acquire the former Peninsula Day Care site at 525 San Antonio. The parcel backs up to district property at Greendell School and Cubberley Community Center.

The district wants to buy the property "to preserve the possibility of expanding school facilities in the future," the document stated.

"There is currently no building demolition being contemplated and no plans for reuse have been prepared. The property will remain in its present condition until such time as plans are developed...," it said.

Housing developer SummerHill homes has sought to develop the Peninsula Day Care property. Its proposal to build 23 homes on the parcel was rejected by the City Council in May. The Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to consider a new SummerHill proposal -- for 10 homes -- on Wednesday (Sept. 14).

In its most recent application, SummerHill states that the new proposal is in "full conformance" with the site's existing zoning designation. Its previous proposal was seeking a zone change to allow greater density.

The new proposal includes 10 "large lots" along one cul-de-sac off San Antonio Road, according to the application. SummerHill expects the homes to sell for about $2 million each. It is also proposing to contribute $1.5 million to support the city's affordable-housing program instead of building the required unit of below-market-rate


The parcel, which is still owned by the family of day-care center operator Herman Shaw, has been the topic of closed-door negotiating sessions of the Board of Education since last spring. Without indicating specific plans, school leaders have insisted the community will need more land for future school growth.

Using funds from a $378 million facilities bond passed in 2008, the school district is in the midst of remodeling its 17 campuses to accommodate growth. Recent growth has been particularly strong in the elementary grades and in the southern part of town.

At least $200 million of the bond funds remain unspent, and some of it could be used for land acquisition, Superintendent Kevin Skelly said Thursday.

The Board of Education in July blocked the sale of 8 city-owned acres of the 35-acre Cubberley parcel to the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, asserting that the district will need the full property for future enrollment growth.

Foothill College, whose "Middlefield Campus" has been an anchor tenant at Cubberley since 1984, is pursuing plans to relocate most of its satellite operations to Sunnyvale.

At its meeting this coming Tuesday (Sept. 13), the board will discuss a process for working with city officials to determine the future use of the Cubberley acreage.

The current city lease of Cubberley, which provides more than $7 million a year in rent payments to the school district, is set to expire in 2014.

Chris Kenrick


Like this comment
Posted by Mountain View Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Sep 9, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Is this in Mountain View?

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Sep 9, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Great bureuacrats do think alike! "...$200,000,000.00 of the bond funds remain unspent, and some of it could be used for..." (Superintendant Kevin Skelly) Any thought of returning unspent funds to the taxpayers? Naah, Let's Party!

Like this comment
Posted by Observer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 12, 2011 at 9:13 am

The location is in Palo Alto.

Also, Steve, I think your comment is a little short-sighted:
a) acquiring property for public schools in a community with a growing student population and crowded schools is hardly a "party"
b) There's not enough detail in this article for us to know how much of that $200M is slated to be spent as they continue remodeling the schools, probably most; just because it hasn't been spent yet doesn't mean the money has not been allocated
c) The bond measure language may well have included the provision for future land acquisition (you'd have to find the ballot measure language to find out for sure), in which case it would be an entirely appropriate use of the funds.
So, if you want to accuse them of stealing from the taxpayers and mismangaging funds, first find out what the Palo Alto voters approved.

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