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Teacher housing at Cooper Park?

Original post made on Oct 13, 2017

The Mountain View Whisman School District is taking a close look at building workforce housing at Cooper Park, giving teachers and other school staff an affordable place to live on salaries that haven't kept up with the high cost of living. The move comes amid high teacher turnover and multiple surveys showing district staff commute long distances and struggle to pay the rent.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, October 13, 2017, 12:00 AM

Comments (43)

7 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 1:32 am

What a stupid idea considering its location. From the same superintendent who tried a new and unproven math curriculum that utterly failed.

“At a board meeting Thursday night, Superintendent Ayinde Rudolph said the district is launching a "feasibility" study to build an apartment complex on 9.5 acres of district-owned land at Cooper Park, located in the center of the Waverly Park neighborhood. The sizable portion of the park includes field space as well as a privately-operated preschool.”


8 people like this
Posted by again no communication
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2017 at 8:06 am

Again the Superintendent and President seem to ignore the findings of the quality audit that went on. Finding number one was that two way communication was consistently lacking, in all operations of the district. Seems - communications to the Cooper neighborhood were missing?

Or is that mistaken? Did Rudolph and Gutierrez send out postcards to the neighbors around Cooper Park so that they cold really participate in the discussion?

The majority of the trustees need to quash this - and get real communications with real city council and community input. Include the Cuesta Park Annex - swap- possibility. Please don't let a mistake like TTO, roar ahead, no one outside the district office administrators talking. Let the council member and the other place/other places for teacher housing full community discussions go first.

Please - majority of the Board! Two way communication with the whole community.


15 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:59 am

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

The article is misleading and unfairly provocative. Watch the segment of the board meeting yourself to judge:
Web Link (2h39m30s)

In the video, it is clear that the district is discussing the start of fact finding of all options, not just Cooper, and itself holds many reservations of Cooper. I do not doubt that when the board narrows its options, it will then proceed with community engagement. Close observers can attest that the district has improved in its transparent public policy making process.

It's clear that our region's teacher turnover is largely driven by housing costs. Given the outside role high quality schools place in community well being and property values, the housing crisis teachers face affect all residents. Cooper is an option that warrants exploration. It would be unfair for the city to have an idea killed before it gets even explored.


5 people like this
Posted by Major Error
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2017 at 3:12 pm

MVWSD does NOT have 3600 teachers. Perhaps they have 250 teachers.

Now, are they really seeking to build housing for 100-150 of the 250? That seems
extreme. Santa Clara Unified built 70 units for their 860 teachers using 3.5 acres of land. This is 20 units per acre. New condos being built in Mountain View near Whisman School are at a density of 60 units per acre, and the city staff tried to get it up to the limit for the area which is 75 units per acre.

If MVWSD really wants to build housing, it could take 3 acres of land near Whisman School (which the city also uses as a park) and build 200 units there, fitting right in with the surrounding apartments. Perhaps they could even work out a deal with developer of the 60 units of condos there, to add a single acre onto the project, double its size, and build 60 units for teachers.

But I don't think Cooper Park is unreasonable. It sounds like they are talking about 10 to 15 units per acre there. That's hardly high density.


6 people like this
Posted by Andrea Gemmet
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Oct 13, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Andrea Gemmet is a registered user.

@Major Error: I think you have misread the sentence, which refers to San Francisco Unified, not Mountain View Whisman --
San Francisco Unified School District's school board voted unanimously to pursue a teacher apartment project to house between 100 and 150 of the district's 3,600 teachers.


9 people like this
Posted by No way
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 4:34 pm

Yes let's fill up our remaining park space which hundreds of people use every day and build more housing. An added benefit would be that Grant Road does not have enough traffic so this would make better use of the mostly empty road. ARE YOU NUTS????


7 people like this
Posted by You must be kidding
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:07 pm

Yes this sounds like a fabulous idea. Since the 100's of neighborhood people who use this park every day really don't need to and Grant Road is incredibly under utilized. So let's use the green space for more houses and have more traffic. And while we're at it, why don't we just merge with Sunnyvale as their motto is: Don't let a single space stay undeveloped.


11 people like this
Posted by Cooper Park resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:19 pm

I live a block from Cooper park, and I wish Steve Nelson had asked my opinion! Most of the school district land in Cooper park is dusty, ugly, and undeveloped anyway. Teacher housing would be a much better use for it than the weed patch it is now. We need to keep experienced teachers instead of losing them to districts that pay better or have lower housing costs (or both, like the Sunnyvale school district).


7 people like this
Posted by Cooper park neigbor
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:23 pm

I wish Steve Nelson had asked my opinion! I live a block from Cooper park and would welcome teacher housing here. The school districts land at the park is mostly scrubby weeds and a dusty mess half the year-a muddy mess the other half.

We need to do more to attract and retain teachers instead of losing them to school districts that pay better or have lower housing costs (or both, like Sunnyvale).


7 people like this
Posted by Cooper park neighbor
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:30 pm

I wish Steve Nelson had come to ask my opinion! I live a block from Cooper Park and would welcome teacher housing here. The area that the school district owns is currently a weedy, dusty mess half the year and a weedy, muddy mess the other half. It's also currently a dangerous location for kids because parents from Action Day and Pony League regularly drive to the back, disregarding the no cars sign at the gate. So it's ugly and kids can't play there anyway. It's only "open space" if your definition includes cracking blacktop overcome with weeds and piles of aging wood chips.

We need to do more to attract and retain talented teachers, instead of losing them to school districts that pay more or have lower housing costs (or pay more AND have lower housing costs, like Sunnyvale school district).


7 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:30 pm

That land is open space, and it is an extremely valuable resource to MV quality of life. I'd have no problem if MV Whisman District could legally prove a "truly compelling need" to build a modest grade school (replacing the buildings and grounds already along Eunice) to take enrollment pressures off of Huff and Bubb schools. But if MV Whisman wants to build housing, then such housing must be totally in character with the character of the surrounding neighborhood --- SINGLE FAMILY, separate, 1- or 2-story homes on lot sizes comparable to those of the neighboring houses, and no room rentals, "in-law" attachments or separate units allowed. Apartments, condos, or townhouses need not apply. They belong along or north of El Camino Real.


7 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:32 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

While it would be unfair to the district to characterize Cooper Park as their preference when they haven't even begun their housing study, it would also be wrong to characterize Cooper Park teacher housing as a taking of a public park.

The city's portion Cooper Park would remain unchanged. The images used by the paper are of the city's part of the parcel, not the school district's side, so public recreation would not be impacted.

The fact that school property has remained only lightly leased over the years should not mean it should always remain nearly vacant. The district's parcel used to be a school, and would have had the traffic of a school if it wasn't for changing demographics over the decades.

School district property should be utilized to bring about the best education possible for Mountain View students, and in doing so, the whole city benefits.


6 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 6:21 pm

This open land is extremely valuable to our quality of life in MV. If the MV Whisman District can demonstrate a "legally compelling need" to relieve enrollment pressures upon Huff and Bubb schools, I'd be open to construction of a modest grade school complex to replace existing buildings and grounds upon Eunice, and not interfering with open grounds and athletic complexes south of those buildings and play grounds.

"Residential housing" is a totally different matter. Any housing MUST comply with the fundamental character of the single family houses surrounding the park. It must be detached single family housing of one or two stories and situated upon lots upon lots of equivalent size to the surrounding lot sizes. Room rentals, attached single-family "in-law housing", or detached "in-law housing units" must be legally banned multiple occupancy. No apartment, condos, row houses, condos, or any other dodges around local housing codes need not apply. They can be built upon or north of, El Camino Real where they belong.


3 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 6:22 pm

[Duplicate post removed]


15 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 13, 2017 at 6:23 pm

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]


6 people like this
Posted by Major Error
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2017 at 7:06 pm

Yep. I read it wrong.

People are making an error though about the Cooper Park site. Most of the
actual Park is owned by the city. This is the side along Chesley Drive. The
city owns 5 acres. There is an additional 10 acres owned by MVWSD. They have
a lease on part of their land to Action Plus Primary Day Care. About 7 acres
of the school district land is not really part of the park, except for the
Off Lease Dog area. But MVWSD also owns both Softball Fields except for the southernmost portions of them.

If you look at Bubb Park next to Bubb School, that's only 3.7 acres. So Cooper Park will definitely remain larger than Bubb Park. Waverly Park also has a 2nd
nearby school, Huff. The neighborhood would remain with plenty of open space even
if 9.5 acres of the 10 acres owned by the elementary district were put to other
uses. It sounds like they are planning to leave 1/2 acre of open space which might
work out to keep 1 softball field with the 5 acres of land owned by the city in Cooper Park.


8 people like this
Posted by More info
a resident of another community
on Oct 13, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Cooper Park is a fine area for teacher housing. The load on the roads would be
minimal. It would also make sense to spread this usage around all of the district's
extra holdings. Owning 13 acres at Whisman School and leasing it out to private
schools plus letting the city use it to expand their 2 acre park there is
a similar situation to Cooper Park. But there really might be a need for a
school at Whisman. MVWSD also owns Sylvan Park. They could build housing
there as well, on a portion of the park. But Cooper School is large enough that
its the most wasted right now. Maybe they'll work out a compromise to build on
only 7 acres of land if the city ups its rent payment on the remaining 3 acres
which are incorporated in the park.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Jackson Park

on Oct 13, 2017 at 10:34 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Castro City

on Oct 13, 2017 at 10:36 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


7 people like this
Posted by Tina
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2017 at 7:46 am

Why don't you just raise teachers salaries (which can be done quickly)instead of spending millions of dollars on housing( which will take years).
Are you going to have special housing for restaurant, retail, and construction workers?


23 people like this
Posted by LOL
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 14, 2017 at 8:34 am

Tina, wouldn't we be better off with the school district owning the property and building equity? Raising salaries will just transfer that money directly to landlords, but owning the property would allow the district to invest in the community and even make a modest profit.


3 people like this
Posted by many comments= link
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2017 at 10:54 am

Web Link

here is a link to many comments


6 people like this
Posted by more wrong information?
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 14, 2017 at 11:26 am

@More Info I think the Voice has reported before that the Sylvan Park property has a MVWSD option to build a public school on it - nothing else. No district office building and certainly no workforce housing. So, check the facts by trying to look up the Voice coverage or getting the property document on Sylvan Park from the district or the city.

I think that the rental or lease money that the school district gets from the city, from any piece of land used for parks or playing fields ls zero. The benefit I think the district gets is free maintenance of the land, like irrigation, mowing and gardening and play structures. I have heard that the city considers this worth millions per year. But maybe the agreement at Cooper is different, and the city actually pays money. I doubt that is the case. I don't see why the agreement at Cooper would be different - but maybe the Voice reporter or @More Info has a document that shows otherwise.

Minimal impact as you suggest could be done by spreading around such workforce housing. A pretty good idea. Probably better for the board to decide - before bringing in and paying consultants who do not live in this community?


4 people like this
Posted by John Tucker
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2017 at 2:11 pm

Rip out a park for housing? Is that where this city is headed? So glad we moved!


18 people like this
Posted by The Bottom Line
a resident of another community
on Oct 14, 2017 at 3:30 pm

They're referring to this as Cooper Park for want of a better term. One better
term would be "the old Cooper School next to Cooper Park". The 5 acre park
is completely immune from the discussion. The land/buildings leased to the preschool
plus all the deep setback in front and around it--those are the primary areas
being considered. They are NOT in a park.


15 people like this
Posted by DEWT
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 14, 2017 at 4:42 pm

Why not at the Cuesta Annex -- much larger site, near shopping, doesn't disrupt neighborhood park.


12 people like this
Posted by Polomom
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 14, 2017 at 5:29 pm

Polomom is a registered user.

Grant Rd traffic will not be any different. The current business run in the former Cooper School creates plenty of traffic mornings and evenings. The park will only be impacted in the base ball diamond area. Other than that the current school district lot is totally underutilized. The Annex would require a land purchase. Or swapping the Cooper School lot for the Annex??


3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2017 at 6:44 pm

Ah yes, instead of actually dealing with the housing crisis, let's just build worker housing so we can house the service-class nearby so they can tend to our needs. Why not just tack on a servants quarters to every house while we're at it?


12 people like this
Posted by DWT
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 14, 2017 at 7:13 pm

Cooper School is a nice neighborhood park -- why destroy it? If we need to provide teacher housing, why not use the Cuesta Annexs?


17 people like this
Posted by Annex
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Oct 15, 2017 at 3:20 pm

@DWT

The Annex is also a nice neighborhood park. Just a different kind of park. And yes, not in YOUR neighborhood.


8 people like this
Posted by again no communication
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2017 at 6:08 pm

The Cuesta Park Annex is a park. OK What kind of a park and how well used? The number of perp using CPA per week is? The number of people using Cooper School park leased area is?

The total hours per week of park use in each of these particular areas. This would be a good measure of any close-in park (not counting the wild lands out at Shoreline.) I think the area of CPA and the Cooper School park leased area is just about the same.

But partial use of an area, also makes sense as does partial legal ground ownership swap. Cooper neighborhood wants guaranteed future? Maybe it would be better for them to have land swap. MVWSD wants a housing/ or several housing/ areas for school workers, maybe it would be better if the area/areas were within walking distances of more schools and shopping/transportation.

Didn't Cuesta Park Annex have a very long, and expensive, and ultimately unfruitful envisioning or planning process within the last decade? The city and neighbors could not come to any agreement from what I remember. Neighbors and other interested community members all participated but the council dropped it. Maybe time "to reconsider" along with "reconsidering" the size of city owned Cooper Park.

Does the community want an 'outside consultant' to decide this? Or limit the options before the community even has a chance to brainstorm and actively participate in discussions? (hope not)


8 people like this
Posted by MV resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Oct 15, 2017 at 6:56 pm

Building apartments in the middle of the Waverly Park neighborhood makes no sense, however "noble" the cause might be.

Is teacher housing really the biggest issue that the MVWSD needs to fix (and spend millions on)? If some teachers can live closer to the schools, will that relieve overcrowding at the schools, lack of funding, the achievement gap, the curriculum issues?

The district needs to focus on its reason for being -- education.


5 people like this
Posted by GrantRoadStrained
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 15, 2017 at 10:44 pm

Grant Road cannot take any more traffic from more high density housing developments! It is already strained by the expansion of the hospital, and that project is not even completed yet. Connecting North Drive thru to Miramonte would relieve some of the flow.


25 people like this
Posted by reader
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 16, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I'm embarrassed by the ignorance and NIMBY comments here.

Steven Nelson is not still on school board.

Cuesta Annex belongs to the City of MV, which, for those who don't know, is a separate entity from Mountain View Whisman School District.

Attracting and keeping good teachers is, in fact, essential for MVWSD's "reason for being."

Nobody is talking about paving over the entire Cooper Park, only the largely underutilized land along Eunice where Cooper School is located.

Why is it so important that any new housing must match surrounding housing? Not everyone needs or wants a large single-family house on a large lot.

What's truly ironic is seeing certain Waverly Park residents (here's looking at you, Preston Drive) who insisted the farm be paved over in its entirety, now exalting the importance of Cooper School as a park or open space. What is transparent here is their concern only for their own property values, not what's best for the entire community.


9 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2017 at 8:46 am

Thanks for reminding Chris and I that we no longer vote on the MVWSD board! YIMBY I think "community owned resources" should be shared and used to the best benefit of the entire community. The Cuesta Annex is owned by the City, and the Cooper School site is owned by the MVWSD. (5 AC Cooper Park site - with the playground equipment photographed by the Voice photographer is in-the-park, right on the border of the MVWSD owned lands).

The Waverly Park commenter may not realize, that stretching back to the 1950s, the local city and school district(s) have shared land resources in MV. If you look at a brass plaque in the Graham Sports Center, you will see the names of the 1982 Council that built that center - on school land that was deeded over to the city for that joint-use sports facility. The city water supply underground storage is built under the city-built all-weather school track and field at Graham. It is under MVWSD owned land!

This community can do wonderful cooperative things in local government. The Parks and Recreation Commission is now starting (Oct 11th) a long-range parks acquisition and needs study. President Gutierrez and Superintendent Randolph (IMO) need to rope themselves and the District into that community-wide discussion! Call a joint meeting Jose! Don't just sit on your duff about this cooperation, like the last Bd. Presidents.

(IMO) it is entirely possible, and better city planning, to have the dense multi-unit teacher housing spread out around MVWSD and not just crammed onto the Cooper site. Cuesta Annex is an obvious place TO DO A LAND SWAP. 1:1 There may be other paces as well. Cooper "Fields" are not just "open space" but I found by actually going out and talking with the neighbors (and observing and mini-survey written feedback) Cooper "fields" are a strong and vibrant part of the recreational system of that neighborhood.

Cuesta Annex is an empty field, open space indeed. I'd rather visit the Open Space District lands, or walk Stevens Creek Trail! YIMBY indeed. I own residential property 1.5 blocks from Cuesta Annex. I think a part of it, isolated from the neighbors' back fences, would be quite good high density multi-unit urban planning.

an informed, retired MVWSD Trustee


10 people like this
Posted by Nora S.
a resident of Rex Manor
on Oct 17, 2017 at 9:11 am

Tina, raising salaries raises long-term costs, but investing in housing is a one-time capital investment, so (under certain circumstances) it can make more financial sense. Not that I'm against raising salaries! But it's important to analyze all the ramifications.

I'd love to know how many teachers the District has. Anyone have numbers on that?

I note that in San Francisco, teacher housing was built with affordable housing funds from the City. Is the City of Mountain View also prepared to step up to the plate to help solve this problem?

I hope we can make progress on this issue soon! The District is losing too many excellent, experienced teachers because of the housing problem.


3 people like this
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 17, 2017 at 9:53 am

ahh it's "Superintendent Rudolph"

thanks Nora S.- for a reasoned comment on 'the numbers' affecting this public policy discussion/decision


16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm

I don't get what all the fuss is about. The city and school district own that land, not random online commenters. If they decide that building teacher housing is the best way to retain teachers, that's their choice to make, no? If we residents want to keep that land undeveloped, perhaps we should pool resources and buy it from the school/city and they could use the funds to pay teachers more, or build elsewhere.

It really discourages me to see how residents always chime on on what other people should do with their land. Too many busybodies!


3 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 17, 2017 at 3:17 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

I most abjectly apologize for my multiple posts above. My browser was interacting badly with The Voice's website and I was not getting confirmation that my comment was being posted, so I tried a few times and gave up in frustration. I think the trick is to click on the "Read the full story here" Web Link at the bottom of the brief intro just beneath the title line. I had to try twice to register this post, so I hope it's not multiple too. Think I'll reload Firefox.


3 people like this
Posted by John Tucker
a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 18, 2017 at 9:11 pm

Funny how you won't post comments. Bet you got a boatload from Waverly Park.


3 people like this
Posted by MVWSD Teacher
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2017 at 9:58 pm

This idea looks good on paper, but in reality is not feasible, and benefits a very small number of people. If a teacher gets caught in the Landed scam, and yes it is a scam, how would the teacher afford mortgage payments on a home that is upwards of $1,000,000? The mortgage payments would be crippling and unsustainable.

Even if the down payment would be temporarily provided, any sale or refinance would go right back to the investors at Landed. The teacher would be in an even worse position, financially, were they ever to leave their home. Do we really want to put the golden handcuffs on teachers and force them to remain in a home and career that they don't really have the financial means to leave?

Of the hundreds of teachers at the district, this plan benefits a miniscule number of people. In terms of mortgage payments or rent payments there is really very little difference between a salary of $60,000 and $70,000 when looking at the cost of living in Mountain View or surrounding areas.

This is not a good idea


3 people like this
Posted by MVWSD teacher
a resident of another community
on Dec 14, 2017 at 10:21 pm

This idea is ridiculous. How is a teacher supposed to afford the mortgage payment on a home that is valued at $1,000,000 at a minimum? If a teacher leaves her job or decides to move, then he/she has to forfeit the home and lose the equity built up in the home.

I realize that the teacher shortage is worrying, but forcing teachers to remain by effectively tying them to a property that they cannot afford, is not the solution. As for district housing, the options are studio apartments or shared apartments with co-workers. Seriously? What about teachers with spouses or families?


8 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Dec 15, 2017 at 7:53 am

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

It would be wrong to seek a single housing solution that tries to meets the needs of all teachers, it's not possible.

Housing is the single greatest hardship for teachers, so it must be addressed, and the solution will require a patch work of carefully planned diverse initiatives.

Helping teachers with low interest loans is part of the solution (Los Altos School District, Ravenswood School District, The Nueva School, Mountain View Los Altos School District are all working with Landed to help with loans).
District own teacher housing is also part of the solution (San Mateo, San Jose, and SF are all seeking to build teacher housing). Few if any districts own such a high percent of land not used for instruction, as MVWSD owns, so we have a unique opportunity to help our teachers.

Don't let perfect be the enemy of good, and don't see a one-size-fits-all solution. All these programs are good, we just need even more.


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