News

Council: North Bayshore development must support schools

Proposed housing boom would require plans to house thousands of new students

Mountain View City Council members agreed Tuesday night that development plans need to include a clear strategy for housing the thousands of new students who are expected be living in North Bayshore -- a region isolated by a major highway and devoid of public schools.

Council members unanimously agreed to add language to the North Bayshore Precise Plan that would require the region's two major landowners, Google and Sobrato, to submit a "local school district strategy" as part of any dense residential project, showing precisely how the developers would assist in building local, neighborhood-oriented schools in the area. The strategy is fairly broad, and could include land dedication, funding, transferring development rights or other "innovative strategies."

The decision comes after school district officials sounded the alarm that Mountain View's housing-rich vision for the region north of Highway 101 could add as many as 3,500 students to the city's elementary and high school districts. The problem, they said, is that there is virtually zero capacity for additional students at existing schools, and not even close to enough money in the budget to buy land and build facilities for the projected boom in enrollment.

Compounding the concerns, the city's environmental report for the North Bayshore Precise Plan made a series of unrealistic statements about school impacts. Among other things, it claimed that the city's plans to allow up to 9,850 new homes in North Bayshore would result in a "less than significant impact" because developer fees would offset school construction costs, and that the additional enrollment could be offset by portable classrooms, new attendance boundaries and bus services.

An analysis by both the Mountain View Whisman School District and the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District found that developer fees would only cover about 10 percent of the cost of school construction, and that enrollment growth could necessitate three new elementary schools, a new middle school and a new high school.

"The school districts can't do it on their own," said Laura Blakely, a Mountain View Whisman school board member. "Whether it's in the (environmental impact report) or the amended precise plan, I'm hopeful you will find a way to make sure that development and building can't happen unless it includes plans for schools in the area."

These so-called school district strategy plans would go beyond the typical package of community benefits that developers promise as a condition of approval and would be legally binding in order to ensure the school district receives the resources it needs, according to Randy Tsuda, the city's community development director.

"We believe there needs to be a legal agreement that is entered between the developer and the school district to guarantee that enforceability," Tsuda said. "Some legal framework to document what that agreement is."

Although council members generally supported changes to the precise plan requiring the city and developers to work with local school districts, there were reservations about allowing the transfer of development rights in the region -- essentially opening the door for Google and Sobrato to pitch in resources for a school campus in adjacent regions, such as North Rengstorff and Terra Bella, to house students who live in North Bayshore.

Putting schools outside of North Bayshore not only creates more traffic on the three already congested main thoroughfares into the area but it also runs contrary to City Council's goal of creating complete neighborhoods in the area, said Councilman John McAlister.

"The schools need to be in North Bayshore. Having an elementary school on the periphery -- it doesn't help the traffic, it doesn't help the school, it doesn't build the communities," he said.

Allowing the transfer of development rights was added into the plan after school districts pointed out just how much land would be needed for schools in the area, Tsuda. Three elementary schools, a middle school and a high school would potentially eat up more than 80 acres of land -- based on state guidelines -- or about 13 percent of the entire North Bayshore region. Given the limited space, the city may need to allow some flexibility to allow schools on the periphery, he said.

Council members ultimately agreed to allow to leave in the language in the precise plan, but to add that the city has a "strong preference" in favor of schools located within the confines of North Bayshore. Mayor Ken Rosenberg said having schools north of Highway 101, just steps away from Google's headquarters, could be a huge opportunity for the students.

"Can you imagine being so close to the high-tech mecca, the advantages the students at the school would have?" Rosenberg said.

Council members agreed to ensure both school districts will receive property tax revenue resulting from growth in North Bayshore. Property tax collected in the region is funneled into the Shoreline Community special tax district -- rather than directly into school districts -- meaning it's incumbent on the city to make sure money makes it to public schools.

Both school districts are using the same demographic firm to determine student generation rates for the 9,850 housing units that would be allowed in North Bayshore under the revised precise plan. The firm found that the units, assuming 20 percent of them are affordable, would generate 2,358 students in the Mountain View Whisman School District and 1,108 students in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District. Joe Van Belleghem, a senior design director at Google, told council members that the company has hired a consultant to review the school districts' student generation reports, which should be done in the coming weeks. A lot of the units being proposed are small and may not have high student generation rates, he said. Google needs to make sure the demand is "calculated properly."

"If the demand is not there, you don't want to put a school on the wrong side of the highway," Van Belleghem said.

Prior to the meeting, Mountain View-Los Altos Superintendent Jeff Harding told the Voice that the projections for massive enrollment growth are not cause for alarm, provided the district, the city and the developers in North Bayshore work closely together long before anyone breaks ground.

"We're not panicked," Harding said. "But at the same time, we're very aware that we need to plan in great detail to accommodate that number of students."

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Comments

29 people like this
Posted by Marc
a resident of Jackson Park
on Sep 28, 2017 at 2:26 pm

"Can you imagine being so close to the high-tech mecca, the advantages the students at the school would have?"

Does knowledge magically flow through the air? Besides lots of traffic and seeing Googlers going to and fro on their bikes and walking, there's no real benefit to being near a large corporate headquarters.


21 people like this
Posted by Um...
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 28, 2017 at 2:40 pm

@Marc

Many of the Googlers tend to use their 20% "free" time to volunteer in schools. It's one of the reasons the MV High School Robotics team is so good. The skills these kids would have access to is nearly unprecedented. Additionally, many projects that are conceived at local companies could be experimented and tried out on at the adjacent schools. Again, a learning opportunity that would unbelievable.


24 people like this
Posted by Ross Heitkamp
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 28, 2017 at 3:43 pm

A big red flag in this discussion. "...developer fees would only cover about 10 percent of the cost of school construction...". So that pretty clearly states that our developer fees are too low by a factor of 10x. Guess who makes up the difference - the rest of us! This is a huge windfall for the developers. On top of the windfall they get when they convince council to change zoning to allow housing where it wasn't allowed or at higher density.

Council members, please fix this ASAP! In this housing market, we don't need this huge perk to developers to attract them to our city.


3 people like this
Posted by just_jay
a resident of Shoreline West
on Sep 28, 2017 at 5:55 pm

just_jay is a registered user.

Ross, it appeared the council is trying to do everything they can, but state law doesn't allow them much flexibility. There were a few slides about this at the council meeting that should be online.


19 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Sep 28, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Schools are only part of the equation. What about hospitals, jails, cemeteries, garbage disposal sites? And how about the current lack of natural resources to sustain people who are already here?
This is an assault on our quality of life and should be stopped.


11 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2017 at 6:47 pm

Build the schools and uncap property taxes by repealing Prop 13 in order to fund them properly. We shouldn't be subsidizing home owners at the expense of schools and infrastructure.


12 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Sep 28, 2017 at 6:55 pm

Juan is a registered user.

Let me get this straight, your plan to build the schools necessary to support 10,000 new homes depends on repealing Prop 13? What happens if your plan fails? Will we bulldoze the homes we just built, or just pack all the kids in 50 to a class?


9 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2017 at 9:57 pm

@Juan

For what it's worth, as much as Prop 13 should be repealed, any new homes being purchased will result in those occupants being taxed at the current property value, so their contributions to the coffers would be doing more to pay for those schools than most of our current residents. Let's be frank though, you don't actually care about this issue beyond having any possible reason to be against new housing being built.


9 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Sep 28, 2017 at 10:53 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

YIMBY, How about those of us who pay taxes to the schools yet don't have kids going there? Do we get our taxes back?


8 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 28, 2017 at 11:28 pm

@mvresident2003

Clearly there's no way that your tax dollars going to educating children that you didn't produce could have any possible benefit to you in the future.


7 people like this
Posted by Reality
a resident of Slater
on Sep 30, 2017 at 10:47 am

Goog is pushing back Bayshore for a handful of reasons, here are two:

First, if you work in tech, then you look at purchasing a home in terms of your company stocks. If said company builds 1000 units per phase, that could be a lot of stock being sold at once which may lead to a lower stock price.

Second, the tech companies want a young workforce. You will be laid-off mid-30s and the last thing tech wants is you trying to raise your family in their town sharing your angst with the young H-1B visa who just replaced you.


4 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2017 at 11:21 am

@Reality

How is anyone supposed to afford a family around here? When it costs $2000+ a month to rent a tiny studio how is someone going to start a family? Kids are expensive, and as long as residents like you push against new housing stock, you're showing that you don't care one bit about how people are supposed to raise families.


5 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2017 at 11:26 am

@YIMBY. You are factually mistaken.
Currently, $6 M per year in General Fund property tax is diverted from MVWSD - all new taxes are also to be diverted.

In the Shoreline Community quasi-redevelopment district, any new increment of property tax growth (by assessment or new building) does directly to the Shoreline District! None to schools according to the relic 1969 quasi-redevelopment state law setting up the Shoreline District. By "a contract" that can be dissolved by 4 council members - 1/3 of the $9,124,000 in MVWSD school property taxes that was diverted in 2016-17 FY is restored to the District. That's the "Share Shoreline" compromise of half a decade ago (as renewed). In contrast, when Gov. Brown worked out how to dissolve about 1000 RDAs statewide, the MVWSD permanently got back about $1,000,000 a year in General Fund property tax from the closed-down Castro Street RDA. That money is guaranteed in state statute and the city Council has no say whatsoever in if the MVWSD gets those property tax revenues! Gov. Moonbeam scored a grand slam!

primary sources
data from the County Tax tax assessment report for FY 2016-2017 and the MVWSD unaudited FY 2016-2017 Budget
(something like the last page H-9 or so in the Co. report)


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2017 at 11:33 am

If the Shoreline District gets funds from property taxes from new building then it can go to a school district there. It's a general fund.


7 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Sep 30, 2017 at 11:50 am

@YIMBY. Almost - but not so fast. North Bayshore District is within the borders of the MVWSD (and MVLA). I do not think the local agency formation process for new school districts - would support the creation of a Google District! (amusing to think of though) So, that idea is a non-starter! Ask the MVWSD, MVLA and County school boards.

With the change of the organizing state stature for North Shoreline "Community" District, 100% of the general property tax of MVWSD, could be permanently and unambiguously guaranteed for the public schools again (normal throughout the rest of the state). Can our state Assemblyman Marc Berman deliver us this public school district money? I'd agree with those who say North Shoreline District has become a sop of a tax transferal scheme (Business Man?) to developers and business up there. FAIR SHARE is 100% of school property taxes into the public school General Fund.


7 people like this
Posted by Response
a resident of Slater
on Sep 30, 2017 at 12:48 pm

woosah Yimby.. $2000 / month for a studio is a steal! I am the last person to push against new residential housing.. I am in the real estate business :) Also, I grew up in Mountain View and care about preserving our cities cultural legacy. I sure do miss the old pumpkin patch on Grant around this time of year..

Build condos! Council knows we need condos.. maybe "donations" keep them at cross-roads. Do what is best for future living in our city. Many young adults have a deep appreciation for our city while others see it as temporary. Do not let Mountain View become a transient city.. we must preserve the integrity.

North Bayshore is Mountain's View last frontier, but it will not be developed for many, many years :( The exception is Charleston East which I'm assuming will begin construction in 2019 when autonomous vehicles hit the roads. That is the thing about land, it doesn't depreciate even with a superfund site.


3 people like this
Posted by The Business Man
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm

The Business Man is a registered user.

In response to Response you said:”woosah Yimby.. $2000 / month for a studio is a steal! I am the last person to push against new residential housing.. I am in the real estate business :) Also, I grew up in Mountain View and care about preserving our cities cultural legacy. I sure do miss the old pumpkin patch on Grant around this time of year..”

It is only a steal because the apartments are under resourced if you look at ABAG's 2007-2014 RHNA (regional housing needs allocation) update, Mountain View has the following profile:

Mountain View needs Very Low (0-50% AMI) housing units based on 571 - 237 = 334 units to remediate the current report.

Mountain View needs Low (50-80% AMI) housing units based on 388 - 28 = 360 units to remediate the current report.

Mountain View needs Moderate (80-120% AMI) housing units based on 488 - 4 = 484 units to remediate the current report.

Mountain View needs Above Moderate (120%+ AMI) housing units 1,152 - 2,387 = a surplus of -1,235 units to remediate the current report. Thus someone who owns the 1,235 units will have to either destroy them, or they will need to be shifted over to the other housing brackets if that is done you get this:

The Above Moderate (120%+ AMI) housing units 1,235 units surplus – (Very Low (0-50% AMI) housing units 334 + Low (50-80% AMI) housing units 360 + Moderate (80-120% AMI) housing units 484) which still leaves a surplus of 57 units.

The City council now has the authority to allocate those surpluses into the other needs groups, and it still has a surplus of apartments according to the ABAG report.

It would seem the cost of housing is being artificially inflated in Mountain View by only providing luxury units at luxury prices. The simple truth is that we should be equally proportional ualities of housing in Mountain View. Until such time, the prices are not actually market values because if you were to plot the statistics, the market is not a normal bell curve. It is single slope from the left and peaking at the right.


7 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Oct 2, 2017 at 7:57 pm

[This post, and those following, are being removed because the conversation has devolved into personal attacks. Discuss the topic, but stop attacking other posters.]


3 people like this
Posted by essay typer
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Nov 13, 2017 at 12:14 am

Schools are no more important to the overall community than police, fire, public health, parks, social services, etc. They don't have taxing authority.


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

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