New LASD campus should be a neighborhood school | January 12, 2018 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - January 12, 2018

New LASD campus should be a neighborhood school

by Mike Kasperzak

Mountain View is served by two elementary school districts: Mountain View-Whisman School District and Los Altos School District, the latter currently having one campus within Mountain View city limits, Springer School. There is also a large part of the community in the San Antonio area that is within the LASD and attends Los Altos schools.

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Mike Kasperzak is a former Mountain View mayor and a public affairs consultant.


13 people like this
Posted by What the heck?
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 12, 2018 at 6:58 am

The City Council is offering to sell "development rights" that can be used elsewhere in the city? How would that work? Suppose the purchasing developer wants to build a mixed use 20-story high rise next to YOUR HOUSE in a residential neighborhood. Would the City be powerless to say "no" or " not there"?

13 people like this
Posted by Another idea
a resident of Rex Manor
on Jan 12, 2018 at 4:17 pm

I agree that if MV is going to be the site for a new school, assuming this attempt is successful, MV resident students should benefit in some way. But what I'm less in agreement with is your statement that "BCS does not meet the needs of Mountain View school children."

Maybe it doesn't serve many MV kids now but it does serve some, especially in the upper grades. Why couldn't it serve more?

Why not work toward an agreement with BCS and its authorizer the Santa Clara COE to allow a greater enrollment priority for students who live near the campus? That way the NEC residents have a new park and a first-rate school right in their backyard. BCS gets a permanent location near assets like CSMA that is only a few blocks further than its current North campus.

I'm under no delusions that this will appeal to the current BCS leadership. But I feel strongly that if MV ends up being the site for any school it must gain some direct benefit.

6 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 16, 2018 at 11:50 pm

Gary is a registered user.

It appears that city staff headed by City Manager Dan Rich pulled a fast one on the public (and City Council) by calling upon City Councilmembers to do something foolish and NOT ON TONIGHT'S AGENDA: Dan Rich asked Councilmembers to authorize him to sign a CONTRACT called a "memorandum of understanding" (MOU) between the City and Los Altos School District committing to the slick and risky plan to raise an extra $100 million (beyond the district's $150 million bond measure) for a school in Mountain View that may simply be given to the Bullis Charter School and include few school children from Mountain View. The attorney for targeted property owners warned when he spoke of the city staff's planned switch-a-roo to authorize the Vity Manager to sign an MOU in evident disregard of a state law called the RALPH M. BROWN ACT (local government open meeting law). I, for one, had emailed the City Council precisely about the assurance in the agenda item description that any proposed MOU would be on a later Council agenda for public evaluation and comment. Why is City Manager Dan Rich and his city staff so bound and determined to give away city assets to the Los Altos School District for little but trouble in return? I am typing on my cell phone as the vote unfolds. First vote was 5-2 to merely express a mere preference for a neighborhood school for Mountain View students and reserving the right to back out of the dedication of cash ($23 million) part of the deal. Now the Council is turning to the lunancy of signaling approval of the expanded projects whose corporate developers would buy by contributing to purchase of the school site. Mayor Lenny Siegel says he would not support one of the proposed expanded projects ordinarily but now would support it simply because it is part of this larger DONALD TRUMP-LIKE DEAL. Several speakers from Mountain View (including formber Councilmembers Ronit Bryant and Michael Kasperzak) called for the Council to hold out for a neighborhood school. But only current Cpuncilmembers Pat Showalter and Margaret Abe-Koga did so tonight. Other councilmembers seem willing to give away the municipal ship in hope of some trickle down benefit. They could write a book and call it: "THE ART OF THE BAD DEAL." Several councilmembers seemed to understand something was wrong but could not quite put their figures on what. Now here comes the illegal motion proposed by City Manager Dan Rich. Moved by Councilmember Ken Rosenberg. Passes 5-2 or maybe 4-3 if one Councilmember's partial vote in favor of the motion counts. Just what MOU can be signed under the motion is not clear. But some MOU was just authorized by a majority of these local politicians. Little wonder voting has dropped off and few folks attend City Council meetings. Politicians.

8 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2018 at 1:29 am

Gary is a registered user.

Well. I just looked again at the agenda language and it appears Councilmember Rosenberg did just read some of that language. It authorizes the City Manager to execute an MOU to establish a framework for the transferable development rights that could help purchase the school site. I stand corrected there. But I stand by my objection that this way of raising money may not be legal and certainly is not smart. The Los Altos School District administrators and board members got away with telling voters they had a plan for the $150 million to be raised by selling bonds. But they would not commit to any plan. Now they tell the Mountain View City Council that FOR ANOTHER $100 MILLION, they will buy or take land in Mountain View for a new school site but will not say who may attend the school. How is having a charter school in Mountain View for school children mostly from Los Altos Hills and Los Altos going to help Mountain View ($100 millions worth)? Maybe the Los Altos administrators and board members can next con Vladimir Putin into contributing money. Putin might insist upon the admission of Russian SPY KIDS to the new school. He is not STUPID.

10 people like this
Posted by Bid Process
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2018 at 1:43 am

Did you hear LASD describe how they went about soliciting customers for the surplus TDR's they acquire when they take the Greystar property? They admit there was
no public bid solicitation. They just went about "cold calling" people they thought might have interest. How valid is that???? Then lately it turned out there
was a lot of residential development that as interested in the TDR's after they
were nearly all gone. Huh? The big problem with this plan is that it takes required
residential space and allows the TDR purchaser to use this to build offices. And LASD did nothing to try to preserve the residential nature. The TDR's were 70%
residential and 30% commercial.

I think LASD should be in trouble for not getting the best possible offer for the TDR's.

13 people like this
Posted by Crossings Resident
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 17, 2018 at 7:10 am

I highly doubt that LASD would try to place all 900 kids from BCS at this site. That doesn't pass muster on the previous court-ordered math for reasonably equivalent space per kid. It could become a valid third location for BCS that is already split between 2 sites. LASD knows that BCS would take them right back to court if they try to squeeze that many kids per acre.

You'd be surprised how many kids from the Crossings already attend BCS. I'd estimate that it is currently about 50/50 right now between BCS and Covington. I don't think this adjacent neighborhood would object to having the best charter school in the state right beside them. But time will tell, because LASD hasn't really decided what to do yet if they actually obtain this property. It will likely involve a painful attendance boundary reconfiguration effort for all the schools with lots of parent involvement.

21 people like this
Posted by Do the right thing
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2018 at 8:57 am

The TDRs are literal giveaways of any requirement of public benefits from each of those developments, and that all but one of those developers is planning to build commercial space. They have submitted gatekeeper requests to the city and are seeking multiple exemptions under the Precise Plan area and zoning ordinances. More specifically several are seeking additional height (from the allowed six to eight stories in height for one development in the San Antonio PP area) reduced setbacks, bonus FAR, removing retail and HOUSING requirements.

And just like that, the city of Mountain View gives away development rights, public benefits, and makes the jobs housing imbalance even worse if they allow these developers to convert these TDRs from residential to commercial. Oh, and...these development rights are not just in the San Antonio Precise Plan area, they are all over the city. The impact of this sellout will not only be felt by kids - who at the end of all this won’t have a neighborhood school in the San Antonio Precise Plan area - but but all Mountain View residents who will suffer in terms of additional negative impacts caused by the TDRs and the fallout from having a school say, Bullis Charter School (lets get real, they all but stated out loud that’s what would be going there, last night) on the new site in Mountain View. That’s 900 children from points all over three cities converging on that site, 2x daily...meanwhile the bulk of the neighborhood kids will still be making the trek across El Camino Real every single day to the schools they attend in the LASD.

If the city had wanted a park there, they could have made it happen...and larger than a pocket park. If the city is going to literally giveaway everything it claims to have been fighting for, jobs-housing imbalance and a neighborhood school, then fight for it...don’t half-a$$ it, and make things worse for all residents in the process, like you just did.

People who have not been paying attention, or have not reviewed the TDRs may not understand just how bad a deal this will be, but if it goes down like the gatekeeper requests postulate...residents take it on the chin, yet again.

Super sketchy.

6 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2018 at 10:19 am

Gary is a registered user.

At last night's City Council meeting, this year's new Mayor, Lenny Siegel, asked how many kids from Mountain View were enrolled in the Los Altos School District (which is K-8). The Superintendent said he did not have the extra number but it was about 600. Someone should fact-check the Superintendent's statement and look into how many Mountain View children are enrolled in Bullis Charter School which may end up at the Mountain View site. If the Los Altos school officials pull this off, they can find other uses for some of the $150 million they raised (borrowed) by selling bonds approved 2 years ago. And in honor of their success, they should insist that Bullis be renamed BULL US.

3 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2018 at 10:28 am

Gary is a registered user.

The Los Altos District's website shows about 4,500 students with "26%" from Mountain View. Mayve the question last night asked was how many students in Mountain View on one side of El Camino.

9 people like this
Posted by Everybody's a Critic
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 17, 2018 at 10:47 am

@Do The Right Thing
"If the city had wanted a park there, they could have made it happen"

How? All the land is owned by private entities. Using eminent domain, the City would have paid $80M or more instead of $23M (and that doesn't include the legal costs, which will now be borne by LASD).

The City does want a park there. And now they will be getting a school and a park. Win - Win.

11 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2018 at 10:48 am

Gary is a registered user.

At last night's City Council meeting, Councilmember Margaret Abe-Koga noted that she had served on the county board of education whem parents sought approval of Bullis Charter School 15 years ago over the objection of the Los Altos Svhool District. She reminded us that the charter school was only pursued after the Los Altos school board voted to close Bullis school - the only public elementary svhool Los Altos Hills. Councilmember Ken Rosenberg suggested that some Los Altos residents have looked down their noses at elementary school students from Mountain View. Yet, Rosenberg voted to proceed with the Los Altos District's scheme to take from Mountain View and decide later just what (beyond part-time park space) Mountain View residents would get in return. Interested persons next need to consider an old phrase going forward with this scheme: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS. I think the DEVIL is also in the concept. But maybe good details can still make this a useful deal for Mountain View. I doubt it. But maybe.

6 people like this
Posted by 900 Kids
a resident of another community
on Jan 17, 2018 at 11:29 am

LASD has a desire to be rid of the charter school and also specifically to NOT
have all the kids from Mountain View north of El Camino grouped together in one
school. So they seek to use this land as a tool to that end. They have a legal thought that the court has told them that they can give less LAND to the charter school if they make up for it by having extra indoor space with some features not found at their other schools. Hence, they have talked about including a shared theater (shared with the city). They just want something that they can point to as being different or better, so they can use that as an excuse to not have the same
kind of outdoor space.

The city of Mountain View is aiding and abetting them in their effort to try this tactic. In the end, it's probably not compliant with the charter school facilities rules, but LASD will try just about anything.

All the city has to do is to say something in the park use agreement that the park sharing is contingent on no more than 600 kids being in the school building for the first 5 years. That wouldn't be that hard. It would reduce the amount of land sucked up by cramming in classrooms. Otherwise, LASD's thinking is to build a 3 or 4 story building to maximize park space. Or maybe they can get by with a lousy 2 story building.

20 people like this
Posted by Matt Raschke
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 17, 2018 at 12:26 pm

I attended and spoke at last night's Council meeting. I'm pleased with the overall outcome. Council wants a more direct role in how LASD will use the site for the future new school.

I would suggest that the City of Mountain View take the role of lead agency in the CEQA review process (it will likely be an EIR). Then City Council gets the final decision to certify the EIR and decide if the proposed project and mitigations are sufficient.


3 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 17, 2018 at 8:31 pm

Gary is a registered user.

The City of Mountain View is not building the school - yet. Maybe that will be the next homework assignment given to the City by the LASD. As part of the preliminary funding deal, the City has conditions and can add more until the final contract (MOU) has been duly signed. At last night's meeting, the City Council (majority) only authorized a preliminary MOU concerning next steps (see agenda, item 7.1).

5 people like this
Posted by resident of MV
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2018 at 3:36 pm

I guess the lawyer, Gary, is saying that this is just a Memorandum, and not a real Contract or a legally enforceable agreement. So, citizens, contact your council members.

9 people like this
Posted by Bad Process
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2018 at 7:16 pm

LASD should have been required to run notices about the availability of TDR's if this gets approved. The should have taken bids. They could have gotten more for each TDR. They could have divided the offers proportionately between residential and commercial. Only if there was a shortfall of demand for one or the other would they need to alter the makeup. The whole process was too rushed. They really messed up! It seems to me that this should be illegal. There are rules about disposing of surplus school property and that's what this will be. It's not left over laptops, but it's even more valuable.

It was a s***show. It's like Trump was describing it, but it's true!

10 people like this
Posted by Anthony
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 18, 2018 at 7:22 pm

@Matt Rashcke

At least be forthcoming and admit you are a former long time Bullis parent. I'm sure it all sounds good to you.

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