North Bayshore housing: new schools still needed

Micro units won't produce as many new students as initially feared

Thousands of tiny studio and "micro" units proposed to be built in the North Bayshore area are unlikely to add many kids to local schools, easing worrisome projections that the city's ambitious growth plans would require as many as five new schools to accommodate the influx, according to demographic estimates released last month.

But school district officials warn that the plans by Google and Sobrato to build 9,850 housing units in the city's tech park remain a major concern, and that the lower estimates for enrollment growth only takes the edge off of a huge need for land and money to build new school facilities.

Previous projections showed that building out the residential development proposed in the North Bayshore Precise Plan could add 2,358 students in the Mountain View Whisman School District and 1,108 students in the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District. Neither school district has the land nor the money to accommodate the flood of new students.

But the projections didn't account for the fact that about 40 percent of the new units are expected to be so-called micro units and studio apartments, averaging only about 450 square feet in size. Very few families with children are expected to live in these smaller units, and revised projections show that the 3,940 micro units and studios will only bring a grand total of 64 new students from kindergarten through 12th grade.

The adjusted estimates by the firm Jack Schreder and Associates now show that school districts should expect a total of 2,345 more students -- down from the original 3,466 -- from North Bayshore housing, almost all of it coming from affordable housing units. The city is asking Google and Sobrato to make 20 percent of the new homes affordable, and those 1,970 subsidized units are expected to account for nearly 73 percent of the projected enrollment growth.

The smaller number of new students doesn't really change much, said Mountain View Whisman Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph. The school district still faces a construction funding gap of about $75 million to build school facilities for all the extra students, he said, and that doesn't even account for the fact that the school district still needs land for the new campuses.

"It brought us down from needing three elementary schools to needing two elementary schools," Rudolph said, adding that the district will likely need another middle school campus as well.

Housing growth puts a strain on school districts, particularly here in the Bay Area, because state funding and developer fees intended to offset the impact of growth on local schools are woefully inadequate and only pay for a fraction of the costs for new buildings. Mountain View Whisman, for example, only collects $2.32 in fees per square foot of new housing, and all 9,850 units are expected to generate $16.5 million -- not enough for one small school. Mountain View-Los Altos High School Districts receives even less: $1.16 per square foot.

Acknowledging the tricky situation that local school districts are in, Mountain View City Council agreed in September to inject language into the precise plan requiring 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 neighborhood schools.

Staffers at both school districts say they were aware the original projections might be overblown. Mountain View-Los Altos Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen told the Voice that the downward adjustment on student generation rates were expected, and now gives the district a more accurate glimpse into how North Bayshore housing will affect the district's future plans for growth. Like Mountain View Whisman, the high school district still faces a budget shortfall of about $45 million.

Both school districts are relying on Jack Schreder and Associates for the enrollment growth estimates, and Mathiesen said the firm has been meeting with Google's own hired consultant in hopes of coming to an agreement on the numbers. The final numbers will determine how much money, land and other resources the company will have to put up to help accommodate all the new students.

Katherine Williams, a spokeswoman for Google, said the tech giant acknowledges that housing growth will have an effect on local schools, and is committed to working with the city, community and school districts to "ensure the increased demand residential projects may create can be managed."

Rudolph said the precise plan suggests the district at least meet with Google to resolve any disputes about enrollment growth within 45 days of the City Council approving the plan, but he said he's hoping to come to an agreement earlier than that.

"We hope to have it resolved, or at least be in the same ballpark, in the next couple of months," he said.


19 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 13, 2017 at 2:57 pm


It's amazing that the city can continue to think that people won't move in to get a good school district, despite the size of the housing units. Just like the city continues to think that new housing won't need the water they sold to Palo Alto, more police and fire protection and other city services, they have now convinced themselves we won't need schools either. I suppose it's easy to ignore reality if you don't want face the fact that the same people who can't afford expensive rent are the same people who can't send their kids to private schools.

I suppose we shouldn't worry though. If the Mountain View schools continue to fritter away money on expensive programs with no record of success, we won't have to concern ourselves that local schools will be a "draw" for those in low-performing areas. Those people might end up better off staying where they are now.

6 people like this
Posted by Frances
a resident of Gemello
on Nov 13, 2017 at 5:18 pm

What kind of consultant made projections without knowing how many bedrooms and square footage of the proposed units? Obviously 3 BR units will have more kids than studios.

How does all of this relate to the special tax district out there where schools are entitled to none of the property taxes unless the city decides to give it to them?

3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2017 at 6:53 pm


The same people who can't afford expensive rent and private school very likely aren't going to be affording children, either. The studios will be perfect for DINK couples splitting rent, and anything with 2-3 bedrooms are going to be filled with roommates renting the individual bedrooms.

14 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Nov 13, 2017 at 8:16 pm


You are working under the same assumptions that the council does and they are wrong.

My son had classmates who were part of a family of five living in a 2 bedroom condo. There were single parents with two children in one bedroom apartments. It was worth being crowded for the schools.

I'm not sure where you get your ideas, but the reality is quite different. Not sure it would bother you though. You won't be happy until we are all shoulder to shoulder in this city, so this should be right up your alley.

5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2017 at 8:39 pm

Notice how that's a notable individual example, rather than a trend?

And I could say that you won't be happy until there's a moat around Mountain View to keep everyone but you out. You're preaching exclusivity and selfishness. Cities grow, you should try to grow with it.

10 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Nov 13, 2017 at 9:36 pm

Juan is a registered user.

"Growing up" doesn't mean packing 2000 kids into an elementary school. It means planning for growth, that means building roads and schools.

5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Nov 13, 2017 at 10:24 pm

You certainly won't see me advocating that we not plan for growth. The only problem is that the same people who tend to vocally protest new housing due to lack of infrastructure never seem to actually get behind that infrastructure getting built at all, and then the housing never gets built.

3 people like this
Posted by @psr
a resident of another community
on Nov 13, 2017 at 10:44 pm

North Bayshore is in Mountain View Whisman elementary school district. The
schools do not have the same reputation and deluxe facilities found in LASD which serves the San Antonio Road area of Mountain View.

3 people like this
Posted by @Francis
a resident of Gemello
on Nov 15, 2017 at 9:50 am

School operational money from the special taxing district (Shoreline). Francis, I guess the future school boards of MVWSD will continue to beg the city to continue give them a small fraction of the new property tax money from all the new construction, and property tax revenue, out there. Even if a deal is cut, to completely cover all the new facilities without burdening the existing MVWSD tax payers, there will be very little YEARLY money guaranteed to come in to cover the operations of those schools and classrooms.

Oh well - back to state funding based on average attendance, the time of higher local revenue (per student) will be ending.

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

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