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2017: Schools brace for explosive housing growth

Year in review: Buying land, building schools and passing bond measures ahead in 2018

The city of Mountain View sped forward this year on its housing-rich vision for the future, ending 2017 with the approval of plans for enormous residential growth in North Bayshore. The path toward higher density and rapid population growth has largely guided the decisions of all three of Mountain View's school districts with a focus on planning for a big increase in students.

Throughout the year, the Mountain View Whisman School District, the Mountain View Los Altos High School District and the Los Altos School District have separately analyzed -- with varying levels of alarm -- how to accommodate the new students expected from a five-digit increase in homes slated to be built over the next decade. It's shaping up to be the city's biggest jump in population growth in several decades.

With a relatively paltry sum coming from developer fees, each district has been forced to draw up battle plans for acquiring land and building the classrooms required for the additional kids -- plans that include bond measures, deals with major developers and other creative ways to come up with funding.

The two major engines for residential growth in Mountain View are the North Bayshore and East Whisman areas, each one with the potential to add more than 9,000 new housing units to the city. But they aren't the only housing projects that have district officials worried. NASA recently announced plans to build 1,930 homes on its campus on Moffett Field, and there's a barrage of smaller developments that have been approved all over the city.

Even leaving out the NASA, North Bayshore and East Whisman housing plans, residential projects in the pipeline through 2024 exceeds 3,800 units, according to one analysis.

For leaders of the Mountain View Whisman School District, the latter half of the year marked a concerted effort to get a seat at the table with the city's planning staff, to make sure there would be requirements for developers to pitch in toward new schools. Without that kind of guarantee included in the North Bayshore Precise Plan, the district may have been on the hook for buying expensive land and building new facilities costing roughly $109 million, according to the latest estimates.

Between broad citywide growth and the North Bayshore and proposed East Whisman plans, the elementary school district is expecting an increase of 4,436 new students, increasing its total enrollment by around 85 percent over this year.

The expected surge in students represents a big shift in 2017, showing close collaboration between the city and the school district on a level that school board members have been yearning for in recent years. Trustees on the campaign trail last year argued that the district can't afford to be out of the loop on major developments winning city approval each year, which could add hundreds of students to schools that may not have any room.

For the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, the combination of projected enrollment growth and its aging facilities has school board members preparing to ask voters to approve a major bond measure sometime in 2018. Though the amount hasn't been decided yet, the district has put together a long list of important upgrades and new facilities totaling nearly $300 million.

The ballot measure would mark a big change of pace for the district, which has a conservative history when it comes to asking voters for money -- it doesn't have a parcel tax, and recent bond measures have been relatively small in both size and scope. Similar to Mountain View Whisman, the high school district also has a guarantee enshrined in the North Bayshore Precise Plan that developers will help pay for the influx of new students generated in the northernmost region of the city.

In the final stretch of the year, the Los Altos School District made progress in its years-long bid to buy land for a school in Mountain View, with its sights set on a property north of the San Antonio Shopping Center. Home to the Old Mill Office Center and a former Safeway store, it's the ideal place to site a new school, according to district officials -- though they haven't decided whether it will be a neighborhood school for nearby residents or the new home of Bullis Charter School.

About 27 percent of the school district's enrollment comes from Mountain View, and almost all of the projected growth is expected to come from the greater San Antonio area. School board members and top district staff have maintained that a school north of El Camino Real is a top priority for the district's Measure N bond, even if it requires a lot of time, money and carefully constructed deals with the city of Mountain View.

Making room in crowded schools

Throughout 2017, the Mountain View Whisman School District took a close look at how to sort out a chronic problem: Some schools are acked to the brim with kids, while others have empty seats. Families living practically next door to Bubb and Huff elementary schools found themselves on waiting lists for their own neighborhood school, prompting an uproar that eventually led to temporary classrooms being added as a short-term fix.

The school district finally closed the books on a new set of attendance boundaries aimed at fixing the problem. Set to take effect in 2019, the boundaries shift hundreds of students out of the overly full schools, and zone more than 450 kids to the new Slater Elementary, which is scheduled to open the same year. The new boundaries weren't without controversy, but it did wrap up a protracted process that started in early 2015, and theoretically should help the overcrowding problem.

But which students will be grandfathered into schools under the old boundaries, and which students will have to move right away, remains unresolved going into 2018. The school district recently launched a new effort to make sweeping changes to its enrollment priorities to accommodate the new boundaries, and school board members signaled they are willing to enforce the idea of "neighborhood" schools and limit the free flow of students enrolling campuses all over the city.

A new approach to pilot programs

Trying out new initiatives aimed at narrowing the achievement gap and simultaneously helping high- and low-achieving students was a major goal for the Mountain View Whisman School District this year, but the first few months of 2017 showed the perils of moving too quickly. When district officials launched the wholesale adoption of a new math curriculum for sixth grade -- an online, digital platform called Teach To One -- it caused a firestorm of opposition.

Close to 180 parents signed a petition calling for the district to drop Teach To One immediately, calling the program deeply flawed and chastising the district for failing to carefully vet the program. Parents also blasted the district for implementing a pilot program in every single sixth grade classroom, which they argued was not a pilot program's representative sample, but rather a wholesale adoption of an untried curriculum.

Later, it was revealed that the district had implemented Teach To One at Crittenden and Graham middle schools without signing a written contract with Teach to One. And when the contract finally came before the board on a public agenda, it was placed on the consent agenda rather than being scheduled for a public discussion and was expected to cost over $500,000. The contract was quickly pulled and district officials later signed off on a settlement amount of $149,000. Emails between district officials acquired by the Voice via a Public Records Act request showed that there was a barrage of complaints from teachers from the outset. They also revealed that there was a go-between promising that a corporate donor would pay for Teach to One, but the donor never materialized.

Since then, the district has adopted a new pilot program process that involves community and staff input prior to adoption, which has already been put to the test.

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Comments

113 people like this
Posted by Just nuts
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 28, 2017 at 10:56 am

So, in total we'll have 25,000 (give or take) additional housing units added to Mountain View over the next 10 years? Am I reading this correctly? With an average of 2 people per unit, that's at least 50,000 new MV residents? This is insane. Absolutely insane. I'm in favor of new housing, but this is off the charts nuts. I have no idea what our council is thinking agreeing to all of this. There is NO WAY services can keep up with population growth of this magnitude. Mountain View residents current and future, your city council has screwed you over big time. Get used to a much lower quality of life in more ways than you can count, and likely at a higher cost to boot.


56 people like this
Posted by Long gone
a resident of another community
on Dec 28, 2017 at 11:15 am

During the years after the 60's the area had an overly anti growth policy. Now in a flash the same people who fought growth like it was evil want to turn suburban cities into San Francisco. And the voters docilely follow along.


18 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2017 at 11:20 am

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


55 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Dec 28, 2017 at 12:50 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

Future housing in North Bayshore isn't intended to look like traditional suburban life, nor should future schools seek traditional setups.

As suggested by the city reports, the school district should explore microschools that can be deployed incrementally along with demand. No developer can donate land for a full traditional school, but donated space within in their buildings for microschools is doable.

The traditional model of 450 student K-8 schools leaves the K-8 district with an expensive all-up-front option that risks being both underenrolled and overly expensive.

There's also innovative possibilities within existing district properties. The Whisman education campus is directly on the Stevens Creek Trail, not hard to reach by North Bayshore. There is enough land there to build a future international campus that partners with the existing German and Chinese school tenants (who are an invaluable source of district revenue, and also a potential future instructional partner in expanding 21st-century global learning into public schools).


69 people like this
Posted by Property tax
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Just the property taxes for these new units alone should be more than enough to pay for schools to be built there. Did the counsel not negotiate with developers to pay for infrastructure type of stuff?


28 people like this
Posted by Focus
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm



No. The developers will not be paying for new schools, nor infrastructure. They will be contributing a relative pittance towards the huge sums that will be required to purchase land and construct schools (four or five of them). And there are ongoing costs of teacher salaries and overhead that have to be considered as well. Then we have strained city services deal with, including police and fire protection, water, park space, libraries. Roads? Haaahaha. Good luck with that one. Mountain View is projected to experience 85% population growth, compared to today's population, by 2024. Do the math, and ask yourself if what is coming is what you want to be a part of, because it's coming regardless.

I hedged my bets a few years ago a purchased some property just over the state line. It was a good bet.


7 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2017 at 5:01 pm

@Focus

And those new property owners will be paying the lion's share of the property taxes to fund those infrastructure improvements.


20 people like this
Posted by Juan
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Dec 28, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Juan is a registered user.

1. New property owners pay near zero to the schools, thanks to the Shoreline special district that eats most of the property tax revenue.

2. I'll send my kids to a "microschools" right after you do... that will be never. All kids deserve a good education and a REAL school, not a "microschool".


12 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Dec 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

Another element to consider is that North Bayshore is currently zoned for Monta Loma (a wonderful school that is under enrolled), and Theuerkauf isn't that far away (another wonderful school that is under enrolled). The district already offers North Bayshore school bus service to Monta Loma.

Growing demand for schools need to be anticipated, but some in our community use the need for a new North Bayshore traditional school is a "brake" on housing growth, no different from past concerns that cats were a cause to stop housing in North Bayshore.

Lets plan for school growth, but lets not restrict new housing before the ink is even dry. It will be hard to predict how many children North Bayshore housing will add. Look at how few schools exist in Downtown/NW Portland, who knows what type of housing will commercial development actually create (these housing plans are not on public land). Certainly, in-filling nearby existing schools can be a start, adding other innovative measures like a new campus on the existing Whisman campus and microschools for families that seek those can also be incrementally added.

When people say, make sure there's a new traditional (450 student spec) school in North Bayshore, it can be too easily used as an anti-housing growth strategy.


94 people like this
Posted by Just nuts
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 29, 2017 at 1:21 pm

@ YIMBY

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

As others have stated, it isn't just schools. 50,000 more people will need a new library, post office fire station, police station, community center, lots of parks since presumably most of these residents won't have backyards, and some type of transportation of which no one has any great ideas. It is irresponsible to propose something of this magnitude to happen so quickly in Mountain View, especially when other high job producing cities like Palo Alto are doing NOTHING to help.

To Chris and NIMBY - Just because people raise concerns about adding 50,000 people to Mountain View in a short period of time doesn't make them anti-growth. I agree more housing should have been built up and down the Peninsula much sooner (not just in Mountain View). But it wasn't, and recklessly swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction, cramming in a bunch of housing all at once with little thought given to how the people will live isn't the right answer either. Mountain View residents have a right to be concerned. That doesn't make them "anti-growth".


82 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Dec 29, 2017 at 2:04 pm

Another example of why new housing construction should halt. Until adequate resources can be identified, all of us suffer. We have had additional spare the air days, there is not enough water to sustain those of us already here, horrendous traffic is an absolute nightmare as is the lack of parking. There is not enough space in the landfill for garbage that is generated by us even while recycling.
The more you build, the less space each of us can enjoy. Tenements now exist where a single family home once was.
Office buildings cause the sun to set an hour earlier and the lights shine into our homes at night. The list of things that diminish our quality of life goes on.
We are at or near the saturation point.
And there is no economy of scale with taxes on new construction. Everyone's taxes go up every year with no commensurate benefit.


6 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 6:07 pm

@Robyn

Renters and aspiring property owners shouldn't have to suffer high housing costs just because you don't want to have tall buildings.


73 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Dec 29, 2017 at 7:02 pm

I prefer not to live in a sardine can surrounded by other packed sardine cans, aka small condos/apartments with a 6ft cement backyard stacked on top of each other, with no privacy and views of other occupants of similar glass cages.
I am not opposed to helping people improve as long as they do not bring us all down. That is what is happening. We are being dragged down to the lesser expectations of people who are accustomed to a lower quality of life.
I will fight to maintain a comfortable quality of life.
High density offices and tenements should be in concentrated areas and leave the established single family homes alone. Those who have lived here for decades and paid their taxes and government fees deserve the peace and quiet they have created. Denigrating their contributions accomplishes nothing.
Renters and aspiring property owners can live elsewhere. Do not bring us all down.


10 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 8:19 pm

You're the one bringing everyone else down. You've paid subsidized property taxes for however long, which don't reflect the actual price of the property you own and which has been kept artificially scarce. It's upon the backs of everyone else that you're going to maintain your suburbia, because we're the ones who are going to have to pay the cost for it.


43 people like this
Posted by School mom
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 9:06 pm

A wonderful school that is under enrolled is an oxymoron, at least in the MV context.
People will not magically want to attend ML or TH or Castro until their typical population moves elsewhere. This is why we need to end the crazy grandfathering and check people’s residency papers every year, and check whether they actually reside where they say they do.
It is mind boggling how a city with one of the highest costs of living in the country cannot have good schools. People pay for housing and then also for private school!


44 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 29, 2017 at 9:18 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

YIMBY who exactly is this “we” you’re referring to? And explain exactly what it is this “we” is ‘having’ to pay for?


5 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 29, 2017 at 9:56 pm

Renters and anyone who might want the opportunity to own property in the Bay Area someday, mvresident. Those of us who actually have to pay the monetary cost of home owner groups fighting to keep high-density housing from happening.


4 people like this
Posted by To consider
a resident of another community
on Dec 30, 2017 at 12:14 am

Buying land for elementary schools is not needed. There are 2 schools at Theuerkauf/Stevenson site. Soon there will be 2 schools at the Slater site (new Slater and one leased out to Google). There is the Whisman school on Easy Street currently leased out to 2 private schools. So on these 2 sites including one set to open next year, that's a total of space for 4 new elementary schools, already lined up. Then, there's another elementary site at Cooper Park--10 acres currently only used as park expansion (6 acre park nextdoor) and leased space to a private preschool. So, there you go, sites for 2 more public elementary schools.


94 people like this
Posted by @yimby
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2017 at 9:23 am

"You're the one bringing everyone else down. You've paid subsidized property taxes for however long," Wrong!!!

When the older folks paid for their homes they paid the same rate as those purchasing a home today. How much more fairer can it get? The rate back then is the same as now, which is 1% of cost and 2%/yr increases, thanks to prop 13 locking these rates in. You have to remember people back then did not have to the luxury of the salaries people make today, whereby there savings are not worth as much as it was back then. These are the older folks you hate so much. I guess your hate blinds your ability to reason. Before prop 13 people were losing their homes because they could not pay, that was one of the reasons for Prop 13. Because of Prop 13 people could finally calculate how much their taxes will be without worrying of massive increases.

The silicon valley is no longer a middle class destination. SV is the brains of the computer industry, and being such, these industries have moved their middle classnon essential worker to other states. Leaving upper management here, the ones that can afford these high prices. If you can afford a 3 million dollar house, then I don't thing property taxes will be much of an issue.

Cheers


8 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 30, 2017 at 9:47 am

Oh hey, it's that old trope of Prop 13 keeping Grandma in her home. Except that Prop 13 applied to everyone, not just Grandma, and that means it completely removed home owners from the effects of increasing housing costs and practically incentives them to support restricting supply in order to raise their own property values from the resulting scarcity. Now renters and anyone trying to buy a house now are the ones who suffer the results since entrenched home owner groups who don't feel the impacts of the housing crisis are the first to scream "character of the neighborhood!" when someone wants to build dense multi-family housing somewhere instead of yet another detached single-family home.

If you wanted to just keep Grandma in her home you could have accomplished that with a financial hardship tax deferment.


54 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 30, 2017 at 11:03 am

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

I believe that Robyn (and others), having bought and paid a very specific commodity (the character that she refers to), have the right to dictate what they do and don’t want their community to be. They have a vested interest and again, PAID FOR, a very specific commodity.


16 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 30, 2017 at 3:42 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

Moderator, care to explain what happened to the rest of the discussion thread? This "censoring" of discussion is scarily 'communistic'.


18 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 30, 2017 at 10:25 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

I'm sorry, mvresident2003, but unless you can point to something on your deed listing that "very specific commodity," you did not, in fact, buy "character." What you actually bought was just your tiny plot of land and the structure on top of it, and no more votes or power than those filthy renters you so despise. Sorry if that's painful for you, but those are just the facts, ma'am.


54 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 30, 2017 at 11:21 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

Wow. Just wow. Randy, what makes you say I despise renters? I was a renter for many years! Here in MV no less! Who is calling them "filthy" but YOU!

Wow. I have no problem with renters. I do however have a problem with over-population, over-building, over-use.

Carry on.


11 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 30, 2017 at 11:27 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


48 people like this
Posted by mvresident2003
a resident of Monta Loma
on Dec 30, 2017 at 11:36 pm

mvresident2003 is a registered user.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


11 people like this
Posted by Randy Guelph
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Dec 30, 2017 at 11:45 pm

Randy Guelph is a registered user.

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


134 people like this
Posted by MVWoman
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on Dec 31, 2017 at 2:21 pm

MVWoman is a registered user.

This thread is being managed by the moderator to the extreme. My post was removed and there was nothing offensive in it. YIMBY must be buddies with the moderator, as he is allowed to be as outrageous and rude as he wants, as are some others who are slamming homeowners.

I see homeowners trying to defend their quality of life and investment in this town, but the moderator seems to throw that aside for unchecked growth being a plus. It is not a plus for anyone. If you think building until anyone and everyone can afford the housing they want in a specific city, you don't understand economics. That will never happen because it is economically and physically impossible.

When you buy into a city, you are buying more than just your lot. You are buying the entire feel and atmosphere of that city. You have every right to defend that. To overbuild to the point of shutting out the sky, covering parks and openspace, and bringing complete gridlock with traffic is definitely a concern of homeowners who have invested here - and they have every right to defend their quality of life.

I am sorry if you cannot live where you want, for the price you want. I wish you well, but that is not reality.


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

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