LASD seeks to buy Old Mill site for new school

Property owners want to build retail and housing, but school district could use eminent domain

The Los Altos School District is reviving efforts to acquire land for a new school site near the San Antonio Shopping Center, despite the property owners' unwillingness to sell and their vow to fight any attempts at eminent domain.

At the Dec. 11 school board meeting, the district's "10th Site Committee" recommended buying the sites of the former Safeway and Old Mill office building on California Street across from the San Antonio Shopping Center. Committee members called the 8.6-acre site of valuable real estate the ideal location for a school site.

The recommendations come after a years-long real estate search for the most suitable place to site a new school within the San Antonio Shopping Center area.

But the recommendation, which largely won the favor of the school board and the praise of community members, was clouded by challenges to come. Lawyers representing the property owners of the three parcels that make up the potential school site made abundantly clear at the meeting that they are not willing to sell to the school district, and would likely challenge attempts to take the property using eminent domain. Even if the school district wins, they warned, it won’t be a quick process.

The 10th Site Committee has been searching for a suitable place for a new school since 2012, slowly winnowing down the options in closed-door meetings before presenting four options Monday night. The combined Old Mill Office Center and Safeway site was seen as the best choice, given its close proximity to residential neighborhoods in the area and easy access from San Antonio and Pacchetti Way. It is near a busy thoroughfare -- San Antonio Road -- which could cause traffic and safety problems, but the site makes up for it because of its superior location, according to the committee.

Other options include the CVS Pharmacy and Sprouts parcels to the southwest, the Kohl's and neighboring businesses owned by Federal Realty within the shopping center itself, and the Target along Showers Drive.

Board president Vladimir Ivanovic said he agreed that the Old Mill site was the best option, and that the district ought to drop consideration of the other three options because they would kill commercial activity that benefits the city at a time when the Mountain View City Council is willing to provide the school district with up to $23 million in funding to pay for park land adjacent to a school site.

"They generate significant sales tax revenue for the city of Mountain View, and it would be unseemly for us to accept their money while taking a revenue stream from them," he said.

The recommended land has been on the district's radar for years. In 2015, the school board entered into real estate negotiations with the property owners of the Old Mill site. The effort fell apart, however, when it was clear the property owners were interested in a ground lease only and were unwilling to sell the land. Around the same time, the property owners entered into an agreement with the developer Greystar, which has submitted plans to the city to build 641 homes and 21,400 square feet of commercial space on the property.

Norman Matteoni, representing the property owners, told school board members that they are "destined" to litigation, given the position of the owners. The property owners see their longterm, 95-year lease agreement with Greystar as a reliable source of income for their families for generations to come, he said, and they do not believe the school district can pay them as much as the private market could.

If the district decides to move forward with eminent domain in order to take the property, he said it will face a lengthy process, and that the owners intend to resist that process.

"You as a public agency have a right to invoke eminent domain, and the property owners have their defense. It's not an easy road," he said.

Ivanovic said he was hopeful for resolution, but that the property owners' decision on whether to fight the district is entirely their choice and did not weigh on the decision to select the site.

"Litigation is entirely within your (property) owners' hands, and if you start it that's fine," he said. "I'm hopeful that we can talk to your owners and achieve some sort of agreement here."

Mountain View City Council member Lenny Siegel said he did not oppose the district's use of eminent domain, and that he supports the move if it's necessary to build a school north of El Camino Real. His sympathies did not lie with the property owners, who have been unequivocally against selling the land to the school district, and would be forcing the district's hand.

"I'm not really comfortable with property owners who stand in the way of schools being built that are needed," he said.

During the Oct. 2 City Council meeting, a lawyer representing the Kalcic and Marazzo families that own the three parcels comprising the Old Mill, Safeway and adjacent office building along San Antonio Road warned council members that eminent domain would be a costly endeavor, and that the school district would be on the hook for Greystar's work on its mixed-use development that would be scrapped if the district acquires the land.

The lawyer, Barton Hechtman, told council members at the meeting that the property is "uniquely valuable" with a total valuation that will exceed $400 million, and that it would be far more cost effective for the school district to pursue other sites in the area.

Siegel said it's been clear from the outset that the property was an ideal location for a school, and should be a surprise to no one that Los Altos School District announced its intent to purchase the property Monday night. It also means that Greystar and the property owners knew full well that it was spending money to plan for a project with an ambiguous future.

"We have made clear since the Greystar development was a twinkle in their eye that it's a potential site for a school," Siegel said.

Deal would increase office development

The school district plans to pay for the land purchase, which could end up costing between $10 million and $15 million per acre, through the transfer of development rights (TDRs). Using a complex maneuver that still has to win approval from the Mountain View City Council, the Los Altos School District can build a school at a density significantly below what is zoned for the area, and "sell" the remaining density to property owners for use elsewhere in the city. The district is planning to sell 610,000 square feet of development rights at an anticipated price of $130 per square foot, for a total of $79.3 million.

Under the agreements, which the school board unanimously approved at the Dec. 11 meeting, the district is planning to sell building rights to several companies, ratcheting up the intensity of office development, mostly in the East Whisman and North Bayshore areas. The largest single buyer is Merlone Geier, which agreed to buy 150,000 square feet of development rights to expand its presence within San Antonio Shopping Center.

The next largest buyer is the property owner of the office park along the 300 block of East Evelyn Avenue, which is currently home to several companies including Mozilla, Coursera and Concentric Medical. The buyer, who signed off on the agreement under the name "MV Campus Owner, LLC" intends to buy 125,000 square feet from the district at a cost of $16.2 million.

The only outlier is Google, which is willing to buy density rights but has yet to agree to a sale that is "acceptable to the district," according to a staff report. The district sees Google's role as a flexible "back-up purchaser" of development rights that could pick up whatever density is left over after sale agreements with other property owners. All of the density ultimately sold to Google would be tacked onto the company's large-scale campus expansion in North Bayshore.

"Google's ultimate purchase and use of TDRs could be zero, or range higher than the placeholder amount (72,000 square feet)," according to the staff report.

Siegel said the office growth resulting from the TDRs is a bitter pill to swallow and that he doesn't want to see a lot of new offices built on top what the city has already approved, but he said it's a worthy trade-off for a desperately needed school north of El Camino Real.

The school board also voted 5-0 to approve the individual agreements with developers to buy the density rights, through documents called Letters of Intent. The district will have to revisit the deal with Google and approve it at a later date, district staff said.

After the meeting, the district released a statement noting that the TDRs will go a long way toward lowering the cost of buying land for a new school, leaving money available for upgrades to existing school sites from the $150 million Measure N bond. It also means Los Altos School District residents living in Mountain View would finally have a school north of El Camino Real, and park space in a part of town where green space is hard to come by.

"We are excited to fulfill the promise we made to voters when they passed Measure N," Ivanovic said in the statement. "This is a win-win for our community. We are able to address projected, long-term enrollment growth with the 10th school our parents and community have asked for, while saving millions in the process."

Charter or neighborhood school?

One critical question that remains unanswered, and has been a sticking point for some Mountain View council members, is whether the school site north of El Camino Real will be the home of Bullis Charter School or a new neighborhood school specifically for Mountain View families.

When the City Council largely supported the idea of allowing TDRs in the San Antonio Shopping Center area in October -- kicking off the cascade of events that would make a Mountain View school a feasible option -- a majority of council members were unwilling to specify what kind of school it ought to be.

Council member John McAlister said it wasn't the city's business to wade into the debate on whether the land ought to be used to house Bullis or a neighborhood school, regardless of the city’s efforts to sweeten the real estate deal. On the other side, two council members, Margaret Abe-Koga and Pat Showalter, showed interest in requiring the school district to make the new school a neighborhood school.

The size of the parcel doesn't tilt the situation toward either option. At a combined 8.6 acres, the Old Mill and Safeway parcels could feasibly fit either an elementary school or Bullis Charter School, which has over 800 students, leaving it an open question what the school board will decide to do with the land.

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72 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 12, 2017 at 2:16 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

I was wondering what was going to happen to that valuable land. Building a school there is a far, far better use than just building more ugly 5-story "prison blocks" of high density housing --- housing units with no schools for their children. It's about time that the MV City Council "faces the music" and moves to bring housing and school supplies back into balance.

8 people like this
Posted by Inaccuracy
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2017 at 3:11 pm

The story is largely accurate, but the latest estimates provided by LASD as to cost per acre was $15M=$17M. The figure listed in the article is old. It seems
that LASD may underestimate the real acquisition cost in an eminent domain procedure.
It won't just be $17 M per acre that they pay.

Second correction: The LASD board members voiced some support for the approach to the owner's of the Kohl's site as well as the site mentioned. This came for 3 of the trustees, with Ivanovic saying some time should be used there but only 5% of the effort as opposed to 95% being with the Greystar project. Ivanovic also inquired "What is a TDR?"

It's not clear how recently this so called committee met to make these recommendations. THe info presented wouldn't have changed in the last 3 years,
so why are we just now seeing it? They seem like dated comparisons between the 4 sites.

31 people like this
Posted by Neighborhood school advocate
a resident of Gemello
on Dec 12, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Clearly LASD wants to put the 900 student BCS there. Hard to believe that the MV City Council would allow that. A traffic nightmare and doesn't give the NEC neighborhood a neighborhood school given the incredible popularity of the BCS program over LASD's. It's a lottery to get in and if you don't get lucky in Kindergarten, it's challenging to get a spot after that.

MV should only allow this if the site is designated for the community that lives there. It's the right thing to do for families and traffic.

19 people like this
Posted by Monta Lomian
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 12, 2017 at 3:27 pm

It is *clearly* in the public interest to put a school and park there. They are very badly needed. I don't care if it's BCS or another school-- it will help alleviate crowding either way.

This is a perfect use for eminent domain and I hope it is successful. The owners of the land will be paid plenty and I hope they change their tune.

6 people like this
Posted by the knower
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2017 at 3:40 pm

Bullis Charter School already shares some of the best facilities, it does not want a new school at the Old Mill site. They still want to take over an existing LASD campus, that's all they've ever wanted, they've repeatedly sued LASD to get their hands on a neighborhood school. The people shilling for BCS today insist that the new MV school be built ONLY for MV resident students, so that BCS has a stronger claim on an existing campus. BCS should either renew their sharing agreement for the long term or make the County School Board build them a campus

26 people like this
Posted by Inaccuracy
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2017 at 3:41 pm

Here's another omission. As cited above, BCS is 900 students, but they
are growing. They'll be over 1000 in the future. Already LASD has capped
them at 945 and they're almost there. Dubious as to how LASD capped them and it won't last.

Of the 650 kids that live in Palo Alto and Mountain View on the north side of El Camino Real within LASD, 150 attend Jr High in grades 7 and 8. So a neighborhood elementary school for the area would need to serve 500. That's what's commensurate with the size of the neighborhood.

So the choice is whether to allow LASD to locate a 1000 student school in an area that only has 500. It's not just charter or traditional. The charter school is 20% of the total district enrollment and growing. So LASD is seeking to marginalize them and locate them in Mountain View to dump them on Mountain View, while forcing actual Mountain View LASD students to travel up to 3 miles to get to their assigned school.

So agnosticism should have SOME LIMITS. The school crowding argument is absurd because LASD has plenty of land--way more than MVWSD uses per student. They have delayed several years since they got the bond money and construction costs have gone up. The need is to replace the portable buildings with permanent ones. There are obviously locations for the portables. This needing of land is a joke argument.

13 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2017 at 4:25 pm

Separating out the traffic issue, I think it's a great idea to consider putting BCS on that site. Otherwise LASD runs the risk of that new school having a VERY different socio-economic make-up than their other schools. That area has much denser housing (apartments) than the rest of Los Altos and likely accounts for much of the socio-economic diversity at Almond and other schools. Putting that neighborhood together at one school may make it less desirable (from a diversity perspective). MVWSD faces this problem - just look at the socio-economics at Huff and Bubb (single family homes, south of El Camino) vs. Castro (mostly apartments north of El Camino) and the general desirability of those schools (even through they all have wonderful teachers and equal resources).

18 people like this
Posted by John Tucker
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2017 at 5:13 pm

How much will they raise taxes to pay the hundred million dollar cost?

3 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Willowgate
on Dec 12, 2017 at 6:05 pm

How do TDRs work? Are they planning to pay for the land using the development rights they'd be getting from the land? Or does the school district have some development rights it already owns that it can transfer?

22 people like this
Posted by Socio Economic
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Actually, there is no socio-economic balance issue regarding creation of
a school for the north side of El Camino Real. Look it up. In Los Altos what
few lower income children there are can be found clustered around El Camino
Real on the south side. Leaving Mountain View aside, the Santa Rita elementary
school attendance area in Los Altos is the lowest average income in the City.
There are a few wealthy households even further south, but many many have below
average incomes for the city as a whole, but still no where near poor. So right now, the 2 schools with the highest proportion of economically disadvantaged kids are Almond and Santa Rita. This would still be true even with no Mountain View kids at all, though it would be less. A new school serving the north side of El Camino Real would have a similar proportion of low income families, say around 5%. Still very low. Right now Almond and Santa Rita have about 9% low income kids. It's steadily dropped over time.

This is such a non-issue it boggles the mind. Another myth perpetuated by the
very well to do parents who dominate the politics in the district. What they may be talking about is a shortage of RICH parents in such a new school. Interesting converse proposition. The theory would be you need a lot of RICH parents to keep the school operating properly.

30 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Dec 12, 2017 at 8:20 pm

Juan is a registered user.

It's disgraceful if indeed they are planning to build a brand new private charter school for rich kids in Los Altos Hills right in the middle of Mountain View, using eminent domain no less. The new school should be for local Mountain View kids. ALL kids deserve a good local school, not just those with multi-million dollar houses in the hills.

50 people like this
Posted by CSMA Synergy
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 12, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Locating a school on the Old Mill site is the perfect location because of its adjacency to the Community School of Music and Art, and easy transportation. The children could walk along the sidewalk that goes under San Antonio Road to and from CSMA. The education and synergy would be phenomenal and unmatched by any school on the Peninsula. It's the perfect location at the right time!

29 people like this
Posted by Thoughtful Resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 12, 2017 at 9:49 pm

After watching the City Council meeting last month and now the school board meeting online, it’s clear Bullis is being “placed” on the other side of El Camino, away from the wealthy enclave of Los Altos. One must ask why should such an incompetent board be allowed to collude with the City and TAKE privately owned land from families trying to plan for their futures? How would you like your home or business to be taken for a public use and then stripped of its building rights, sold to other developers? Why enter into even more years of litigation and higher than antipicated costs when a school can be built on abundant land already owned by the school district.

I guess the school district, city council and councilman Siegel are so cold that families in Mountain View no longer matter, so long as they get a place to drop the charter school outside of Los Altos and take unneeded land from long time residents of the community. I think the council, board and others involved in this sophisticated scheme should be ashamed of using “the greater good” to steal families properties and then say here’s a check good luck.

24 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2017 at 10:11 pm

Perfect. After LASD spent years and millions litigating with BCS, now they’re going to waste more taxpayer money litigating with property owners to acquire land they don’t need so they can stick it to BCS by locating their school as far as possible from most of the attending families. No worries about the dangers and congestion of locating the children in a very high traffic area. Revenge is sweet, eh? Too bad the taxpayers are on the hook for the childish game that the LASD board plays.

14 people like this
Posted by New Voter
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 12, 2017 at 10:29 pm

I live close to the site and know it’s prime for development of something new. But has everyone involved in site selection lost their minds - this site is next to the train station! Putting children near trains is so dangerous that I cannot believe anyone would be happy with this choice! Is safety no longer a consideration?

17 people like this
Posted by Disgusted
a resident of another community
on Dec 12, 2017 at 10:32 pm

They’re just trying to bust the school by making it super inconvenient for parents to get their kids to school. A very self-serving agenda for a small group of bitter people. And btw I have no affiliation with BCS. Just a disgruntled taxpayer. And there will be lots of disgruntled motorists when 1000 cars get added to the intersection.

10 people like this
Posted by New Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2017 at 10:54 pm

I am just a renter in MV so probably have no voice but if the site is near a train station, there is no way I would allow my kids to go to the school. Much too dangerous. Don’t you read about all the accidents and child suisides? Terrible school location, keep looking!

15 people like this
Posted by Many issues
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 1:33 am

Even with the controversial help from the city with the TDR subsidy of $79 Million, this site would be very expensive for LASD. It seems a minimum of $50 Million from LASD's bond would have to be spent even with the $23 Million in city park funds.

LASD has estimated a bare bones cost of $75 Million to construct 70,000 square
feet (about the size of 2 normal elementary schools though they normally in LASD have several portables along the periphery) to house 900 students. Also they have city agreement that they can place portables on the park land if they need to. They will need to. But LASD's cost estimate is suspect. They said about the same cost 4 years ago. Construction costs have already really risen. There's no way they could possibly hope to begin construction for at least 18 months, and it would take another 12+ months to complete it. Costs will rise still more by then.

Furthermore, Jeff Baier (LASD Supt.) told the MV city council that they would use
more expense in construction to make the buildings take less ground space. Very very hard to believe that this could be built for less than $100 Million.

So very very expensive. And such expense is not needed to house these kids. One extreme is 15 years in cheap rundown portable buildings thrown on a site with no design to it. The other extreme is expensive land and a large unwieldy building that would be a dinosaur designed to NOT work. Hmmm. Which is cheaper? Isn't there a middle ground that makes more sense? These schlubs in LASD are not very smooth in their planning or execution. $0 for 15 years and then $150 Million blow in a single wasteful exercise.

11 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2017 at 3:00 am

Honest question::

It seems most of you think BCS is going here— why?

Also- if true, what are thoughts on what the current BCS site would be used for? Another neighborhood school?

20 people like this
Posted by Peter B
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2017 at 7:07 am

Have you looked at this location on a map? It’s next to the train station?!? Why would the LASD expose our children to such a dangerous location and make it sound so perfect? No wonder Bullis sued them.

Common sense citizens need to start a petition to recall the LASD’s entire board and probably the city council for backing this poorly thought out and dangerous plan. A massive waste of our money.

21 people like this
Posted by Tanya
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 13, 2017 at 7:29 am

So rather than put high-density housing and office space right next to a train station that would obviously reduce road traffic, the city council and school board knuckleheads want to put school here that would increase traffic to nightmarish proportions twice a day?

This will never happen. It's also too dangerous an intersection. Except for the Crossings, all other students would have to commute it. And the Crossings children are mostly in LASD schools right now. Most will never have this as their school and most residents ain't going anywhere soon whereby there will be turn over.

I agree with what others have said. This is just a delaying ploy, a way to stick it to Bullis, which definitely should not go there, and will result in a huge and costly legal battle.

48 people like this
Posted by It's NOT Next To Train Station
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 13, 2017 at 7:43 am

I live in the Crossings...there is are two to four-story residential buildings between the train station and the site, and the major portion of the train station is by the overpass. Saying its next to a train station is a misstatement of factual geographically.

13 people like this
Posted by Peter B
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2017 at 8:20 am

I beg to differ with a resident of the Crossings Apartments, who surely wants a free park next to their home. According to Google Maps, this site is about 100 feet to the train tracks. Go check your facts, much too close to train for children! Walk to an existing park and save us all millions of $.

27 people like this
Posted by Bogus City Council
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 13, 2017 at 12:39 pm

Eminent domain seems unfair in this case. Didn't there used to be a school years ago, just down the road on the corner of Ortega and California? The school district made a very bad decision to sell that school and allow a developer to build townhomes. So now they want to take property from someone else to fix their bad decision. That doesn't seem right. Maybe school districts would make better decisions regarding land use of their properties if they didn't have eminent domain to fall back on.

Also, the city of Mountain View just approved an additional 10,000 housing units in the North Bay. Where are THOSE kids going to go to school? Why is the city of Mountain View giving $23 million dollars of MV taxpayer money to an already wealthy school district where only a small handful of MV kids even attend??? The City should be giving that money to the Mountain View school district to help fund some kind of school for the poor families who will be moving into North Bay with no school at all! The decisions made by this current MV City Council make no sense.

10 people like this
Posted by Train tracks
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 12:47 pm

The commuter tracks for Caltrain are 200 feet along San Antonio Circle
from the closest point of the property being taken over by LASD. So,
yes and no. I don't think there's any real threat to elementary school
kids. I'd more worry about the car exhaust from San Antonio Road and
Central Expressway.

14 people like this
Posted by Crossings Resident
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 13, 2017 at 12:52 pm

This new school proposal is directly in line with a petition started by Tanya Raschke last year. Almost 400 people signed it. Here is the link to the petition:

Web Link

Thanks for listening LASD and Mountain View City Council!

27 people like this
Posted by James
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 13, 2017 at 1:19 pm

For all of you who post this is dangerous because of the train, do you think the Crossings as a community should be shut down? The Parc Crossings condos and many Crossings homes are actually closer to the train station than the school site. I mean, how can those parents and families live safely when the train station is literally across the street from their homes! Its a wonder they haven't all been hit by a train already considering they live there 365 days a year and school will only be in session for 180.

17 people like this
Posted by Faxt
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Actually, someone said “a handful” of MV residents attend LASD schools.

20% of LASD is made up of Mountain View residents. This will grow substantially as we add insane numbers of apartments during what feels like each week.

12 people like this
Posted by How To See The Intent
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 1:40 pm

Knowing the history of their actions tells you that LASD's Randy Kenyon is steering the board to try to take this site and it use it to provide space for BCS. More recently, you can see the intent in the material for the board meetings. The 2 "alternatives" to this eminent domain action both were only directed at BCS. Neither one was an optimal solution. One alternative to taking this land was to relocate the district administrative offices to the 8 acre site at Egan where BCS has mostly been since they started 14 years ago. Then they would build a second school on the Covington site at the edge next to Rosita Park. No changes would occur to the
Covington use of 13 out of the 16 LASD owned acres there, but the plan would appear to require use of Los Altos's 6 acre park at Rosita and its parking. This is not the best way to optimally use Covington's 16 acres, and it's sure to cause controversy if done. The second "alternative" was listed at splitting BCS evenly between the 2 sites where it is now. On the 8 acres at Egan where it now has 600 students, they would restrict it to 450 kids and build a new bullding to replace the portables. (Note how this is half as many kids on the same acreage as found at the Old Mill site!). Then over on the 2.5 acres where BCS has been growing toward 400 kids at Blach, the district would supposedly construct a 2nd school for BCS with 450 kids over there. (Note how this screws BCS because of so many kids on so very little space.).

So if the only options involve BCS, it's pretty sure the district is using this Old Mill Condemnation to get land on which to stick BCS, with less land per student by far than any of their regular schools.... and by the railroad tracks and local students who would still neeed to commute to 3 different schools, 1, 2, and 3 miles away from their residences.

The MV City council is complicit in this situation if it provides the TDR funding. There should be restrictions requiring equal treatment for MV residents both for the local students and the neighbors. The school should not be more crowded then those others found in Los Altos or Mountain View. The city should not be letting LASD overflow onto the park land if there's still more growth in the school, not when it's a charter school that doesn't have any affinity for that neighborhood. LASD has established the parameters for a neighborhood school in terms of size and the amount of land and open space. The site in Mountain VIew should not be 2 to 3 times as dense as that standard. The city is effectively providing 2/3 of the cost of the land. LASD can therefore afford to use the land for a normal size neighborhood school of no more than 550 kids on that 8.6 acres.

24 people like this
Posted by Sample real alternative
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 1:50 pm

Here's an easy real alternative. Build a 450-500 student school on BCS's current site but use it for the nearby Mountain View students around the Old Mill site up to
El Camino Real. That takes 150 students away from 3 existing LASD schools. Send the students who truly live around Covington though some are equally as close to Loyola (around 400) to Almond or Loyola. (Loyola is down to 400 students already, Almond would be about 350 without the Mountain VIew students driving in each day).

The build a small addition to Covington to expand it to serve 900 students. Some of the buildings are very old and need sesimic work. Tear down one or two of them and replace with a single larger 2 story building.

Cost effectively, you have just found a home for BCS and provided a growth path for LASD over the next decade. Santa Rita would be reduced to a 350 student school at first, but over time, if there is population growth, it could handle some of it. It's near the area where there is the biggest growth projection. In fact, since Santa Rita is on 11.5 acres, in the distant future, it would be a better site to serve 2 separate small schools of 500 students each than the land at the Old Mill. 11.5 acres is bigger than 8.5 acres. The Old MIll site has Pacchetti Way actually built on the private land through an easement. There's no road through Santa Rita. It's not near any railroad tracks.

This would cost much less than LASD has estimated for its alternatives, even ignoring the cost of buying more land. Less construction, more accomplished. No money spent toward condemnation of land. The idea that LASD needs more land as suggested by Councilman Siegel is just not true. Both the MV kids and the district as a whole can be better served from the existing land.
with a larger 2 story building

17 people like this
Posted by 2 story building
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 1:57 pm

The point here is that LASD has this idea that it can't use 2 story buildings to solve their growth needs on their existing land. They can. They don't even need to have every building be 2 stories. A couple of wings at Covington far from any neighbors can grow to 2 stories, and expand that school to 1000 students.
The existing location for BCS on San Antonio Road can go to 2 stories mostly
(not even necessarily every part) and it can swell serve a 500 student nearby neighborhood population of 500 students on 8 acres already owned. You can build 2 story schools in Los Altos too. You don't need to go to Mountain View. That's the basic fallacy in their claims. They need to go to Mountain View and put 1000 students on 8 acres of land because they can use a 2 story building there. Hey, keep that down to 500 students on 8 acres please. They're being absurd.

12 people like this
Posted by Fingers Crossed
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 4:05 pm

Wow! Sounds like a great place for BCS to expand into. Almost everyone I know is applying to get their kids in there for kinder. It must be at least 1/2 the district is applying there. How great would it be to have them double in size! Really a fantastic program.

7 people like this
Posted by Growth
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm

BCS is already at 900 students, coming up on the LASD limit of 945. This new site is not going to be 2000 kids. LASD is just moving the 945 here, pulling the wool over the eyes of the city council. Then BCS will grow and add maybe 100-200 more. Not double.

7 people like this
Posted by Park space
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Someone asked what would go where BCS is now. Basically, LASD wants to return
the 50 rented portable buildings (classrooms) and return the 8 acres next to
Egan back to more park space for Los Altos. That's also why BCS isn't doubling.
They aren't keeping both the old and the new space.

There's no desire at all on the part of the LASD management to add a neighborhood school for the San Antonio area. Not going to happen. They need these kids to pad out the Los Altos schools so as to keep them all open. Don't care how far the Mountain View kids have to travel to school. Eventually could send some to Loyola, miles away. Loyola has shrunk already, and it could otherwise get worse.

14 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 13, 2017 at 4:33 pm

I am certain that BCS agreed to be capped to 900 or so students as part of the 5 year agreement. Isn't that over soon? Wasn't it in place so that LASD could find a solution? I am guessing this one won't be so popular. After all, its twice the students in a smaller space. Legally I doubt it will fly. Especially with all of that empty space at the other campuses.

Pretty sure once that is over BCS can grow again, at will.
Sky's the limit. Of course, the district only has to provide space for in district residents. Maybe 1/2 of those are interested in BCS. So 2000 - 3000 student BCS is certainly possible. The demand is there. Cool.

7 people like this
Posted by Not a Troll
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 8:52 pm

Let's see, the BCS leadership was willing to give an enrollment preference to Covington neighbors in order to shut down Covington School. The BCS trolls suddenly are concerned about providing a neighborhood school for Mountain View kids. BCS seems to enroll more kids from near the school site. It sounds like a great opportunity for BCS to help Mountain View kids by adding a neighborhood preference, if that is a real concern.
Mountain View is not 'giving' money to LASD, the City Council is doing a great job by buying a park and sports fields for the neighborhood and other residents. LASD can do its job of educating district kids by deciding what works best for its students. If BCS goes there, it will have a brand new facility built especially for the school. No school will have to close.
Why are the BCS trolls so afraid of a location in Mountain View? If it is so successful, parents will continue sending their kids.

10 people like this
Posted by No Lie
a resident of another community
on Dec 13, 2017 at 9:48 pm

For BCS, the concern is probably the outrageous expense with this unwieldy and unneeded plan. The location won't affect their success. The LASD management will bill this as being caused by BCS, but they have had
20 years to create a local school for the area.

I never heard BCS offer any possible enrollment preference for the Covington area. I don't think it would be legal or possible.

The proof of all this will be the NEW PARK that will take the place of the current BCS site in Los Altos.

3 people like this
Posted by Ron
a resident of Slater
on Dec 14, 2017 at 10:57 am

Small private schools with public vouchers. That is the ticket to the future.

5 people like this
Posted by Another Old Lady
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 11:32 am

I have made it a policy that when I have to vote, I go to the area and see for myself what is involved. Some people should do that before they comment. I vote for a school at the old Mill Complex. People keep having babies, so it is less likely that business there will drop off.

7 people like this
Posted by Bogus City Council
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 14, 2017 at 12:36 pm


You are answering the wrong question. Of the students living in Mountain View, what % attend MVWSD vs LASD? That's the question you need to answer. I don't know this exact figure, it would great if someone did. But I'm betting a much higher % attend MVWSD. It makes more sense for MV tax payer money to go to the MV school district first, and only after go to LASD once MV has all the schools they need.

12 people like this
Posted by @Fast
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2017 at 1:44 pm

LASD has always said that 25% of its students come from Mountain View, not 20%. However, 20% of the total Mountain View K-8 student population is served by LASD,
and 80% served by MVWSD. However, lately, LASD's enrollment has shrunk. LASD had
only 4403 students at the start of this year, down 200 from the previous year. An updated count LASD made about Mountain View resident students says the number is 1250. So that means shrinking in Los Altos has led to 28% of LASD students being from Mountain View.

LASD has one school, Springer, located in Mountain VIew. It serves 482 Mountain View students, plus 13 special day class students who many not live in Mountain View. Mountain View Jr High students go to both Blach and Egan if the reside in the LASD territory. The proportion says about 280 Mountain VIew students attend Jr High, leaving 970 K-6 students. Subtract 482 at Springer and you get 488 Mountain View students in K-6 attending LASD schools in Los Altos currently.

The problem is that in order to open a local school for these students, LASD would have to close one of the Los Altos schools because that doesn't leave enough students to populate 7 other elementary schools and be able to afford to operate a total of 8 elementary schools.

So there's no chance this new school will be used to serve Mountain VIew students living in the local neighborhood.

16 people like this
Posted by MVer
a resident of Gemello
on Dec 14, 2017 at 2:10 pm

MV City Council has some explaining to do. From this discussion:

1. LASD (even if they might say otherwise) will use this school for 900 Bullis Charter School Students.
2. Traffic Jam moved out of Los Altos and into MV. Due to the fact that most of the Charter School Students are not from the NEC, instead the school is on a lottery system - most of the students are from Los Altos. So driving across MV to get to the site.
3. Traffic Jam part two --- Heavy Traffic is sent to bunch of other parts of MV as other new buildings pick up the density bonus.
4. Students shifted to MV Whisman -- some of density bonus ( or maybe most of it) appears to be moving out of LASD and into MVWSD. Crowding our schools -- not theirs.
5. A new school will be built next to the Crossings --- but those kids and the rest of the NEC kids will still trek - some really far -- ( creating traffic through my neighborhood for example) to get to their assigned LASD School.

Wow! This really seems like a sweet deal -- I can see why are city council is working hard to make it happen.

15 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 14, 2017 at 2:32 pm

@MVer -
Don't forget the park! The city is paying fora park to go next to the school. I am going to assume that this park with be closed during school hours. Yeah! Out tax dollars at work. I would be fine with this if LASD was going to create a neighborhood school there. But they are not.

No deal, unless it is a school for the NEC.

3 people like this
Posted by Welfare for the rich
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 14, 2017 at 7:26 pm

Public schools are part of a system of welfare for the rich. Only poor families should receive school for "free." Others should PAY for their own children to go to school. Some do, of course, opting for private schools. Make all schools private with vouchers for poor families.

6 people like this
Posted by @ “bogus city Council”
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2017 at 8:21 pm

No, thank you, but I’m not “answering the wrong question”. I said 20% of Los Altos schools (which I might add are all rated 10/10 while MVWSD’s elementary schools have recently been 5’s-9’s (only Huff and Bubb which are over full) are filled with MV residents.
My point is, it’s time for MV to help out. Am I for traffic? No! Am I sold on this specific site? No. Do I think something could be worked out at Covington? Actually yes. Am I positive this is for BCS? No.
Your question is how many MV kids go to MVWSD. Well, not as many as you think. 100%- 25% at LASD (above poster corrected me), - at least 30-40% who bailed for private. So FAR less than half.

7 people like this
Posted by @Sharon
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 15, 2017 at 10:06 am

That’s not necessarily true. The park next to Monta Loma is a city park that can be enjoyed by residents at all hours of the day.

13 people like this
Posted by BCS
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 15, 2017 at 11:54 am

There are many kids who live within MV boundaries at BCS, including my own, and I can't see any reason why a charter school, which is a choice after all, shouldn't be placed in this location. It's a phenomenal school and my sense is that people would be willing to commute to it from Los Altos Hills or wherever. There are kids who commute from San Jose. Those from Los Altos who think it's too far can go to their excellent neighborhood school instead.

There are lots of solutions for the traffic -- carpooling, shuttles, staggered start/stop times, bike boulevards etc. I just want it noted that not everyone associated with BCS thinks this is a terrible idea.

14 people like this
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of another community
on Dec 15, 2017 at 1:24 pm

There are 2 main reasons why the site shouldn't be used for a Charter School. #1 is it's going to cost $280 Million. The cost will be partly offset by developer paying $60 Million to develop office space for 3000 new workers in the city--over near Slater School but closer to 237. Exchange very dense added development there for a $60 Million offset here. Other tricks reduce the cost but LASD would still end up spending the entire $150 MIllion bond on a new school in a neighborhood with no school, but then use that school for BCS. If you site BCS at ANY OTHER location that LASD owns, the displaced local students have a closer alternative than do those living by this site. That's a red flag about spending $150 Mlllion on this boondoggle.
#2 is that locationwise, this is the FURTHEST location and the GREATEST amount of traffic that can be generated by the charter school. At the same time, it piles on top of the existing location were LASD causes the MOST traffic for residents by having their current 500 K-6 students commute OUTWARD. No other neighborhood has its students ALL leaving completely and going 2 more more miles away.

It's a fine location for BCS, but just because it could work and not harm BCS's program at all is not reason to spend SO MUCH money on a plan which causes SO MUCH harm to the environment and to the civil rights of the nearby students.

13 people like this
Posted by psr
a resident of The Crossings
on Dec 19, 2017 at 1:06 pm

As a Mountain View resident,I can say that this needs to happen. Mountain View has been building hand over fist in this area of the city and taking exactly ZERO responsibility for the overcrowding they are causing in the LASD schools. They have caused the problem, so they need to help solve it. I know they would love to stick another stack of high-rise housing there for the tax revenue, but it's time they start providing services for all the people they insist on packing into the area.

As for what school goes there, I couldn't care less as long as BCS doesn't take a campus from an existing school. We could argue the need for the charter school for another 10 years. They simply don't rank far enough ahead of the district schools to warrant their presence at all. Charter schools were created to provide an alternative to poor local schools. LASD schools rank at the top for the state, so the charter exists only to be a thorn in the side of the district because some ultra-rich people didn't get their way more than a decade ago.

It is also laughable that people here are trying to claim that LASD wants to "stick it to" BCS by putting them at this site. BCS has been trying to take over a neighborhood school for years, so their proponents make it clear by their protests of them being placed at the new site, that the real goal is to "stick it to" LASD by taking over an existing school. If they really just wanted their own site, they would jump at this chance, so we now know for sure that all they want is to make some innocent kids suffer by forcing them out of their neighborhood school. I find it ironic that the kids are taught that they shouldn't bully others when the very foundation of BCS is to bully the district.

ANY school will be expensive (thank you Google for driving up costs here), so it's time to suck it up and deal with it. It's not going to get cheaper. As for being close to the trains, that's what fences are for. Build the school and get it over with already. There is very little space large enough for this so it is time to get on with it.

9 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 25, 2018 at 8:46 am

Gary is a registered user.

The last poster on this thread from December says he or she "couldn't care less" if the site is used for elitest Bullis Charter and so not as a school for the neighborhood. Most residents in the neighborhood and elsewhere in Mountain View ,if asked, would care plenty about subsidizing Bullis Charter to the tune of $70 million worth of "tranferable development rights" (TDRs) that will adversely affect other parts of the City and set a horrible precedent. The City Council should have conditioned support on the binding promise to NOT put Bullis Charter there - absent a later modification approved by the City Council. The Council could still impose that condition.

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

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