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Residents vow to fight teacher housing idea

Original post made on Feb 23, 2018

Several nearby residents are pushing back against the idea of converting a large portion of Cooper Park into lower-cost housing for local teachers and school staff.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, February 23, 2018, 11:46 AM

Comments (31)

Posted by Wow
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 23, 2018 at 12:44 pm

Wow. I guess it pays to live in the right neighborhood in Mountain View. I don't remember the school district checking with anyone in our neighborhood before they decided to take over a large chuck of our park (the only park space in our neighborhood as it is) to add an additional elementary school AND a preschool on top of already housing one elementary school and the district office.

Residents near Cooper Park have massive Cuesta Park nearby as well as Huff campus, Oak Elementary campus and Mountain View High School which offers play structures and green space.

I guess only residents south of El Camino are worthy of park space? It will be interesting to see if the school district treats all neighborhoods equally.


Posted by a mv resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2018 at 1:19 pm

Cooper resident says in the article, "This is basically the third rail of Mountain View politics that you're stepping on here."

What is that third rail? That school district property in wealthy neighborhoods can't be utilized, as they are in less affluents parts of MV?

I agree that selling the land as a horrible idea. I agree that losing sporting fields is a bad idea for MV as well. And perhaps there is a land swap the city and school can do to find land away from traffic. But to say that an off dog leash field and adjacent unused unkept dirt patches is a "third rail" of anything reeks of privilege, intentional or not.

Yes parts of this park is a value to both the local community and MV. But a good chunk of this "park" is vacant land (by Action preschool) in a community short of land that can be used for many social goods. Drive by yourself to see.


Posted by kehlar
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2018 at 2:00 pm

Any parent who has spent enough time at school knows the teachers whom they wish their kids could stay with forever, and those they wish would just retire, quit, or move away. I would support teacher housing to keep GOOD teachers. But that's just not going to happen; the criteria will likely be heavily based on seniority instead. So it could be rewarding bad teachers and we'd never get rid of them. How about instead take the money made from the property and pay teachers a better wage? With extra bonuses for the top performers? That I can really get behind.


Posted by WilliamofBaskerville
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 2:41 pm

WilliamofBaskerville is a registered user.

Unused dirt patches?? I can only assume you (and Dr. Rudolph) have never stepped foot in Cooper Park, which is a green open space with soccer and baseball fields and heritage redwood trees, all of which would be destroyed. This is the only open space park land within the Waverly Park neighborhood (schoolyards that are only open after school are hardly substitutes). There are plenty of places to build housing in Mountain View that do not take up park land, youth sports fields, and open space, which are in very short supply in Mountain View.


Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 23, 2018 at 2:43 pm

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]
Shameful that anyone would oppose housing for teachers.


Posted by WilliamofBaskerville
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 2:50 pm

WilliamofBaskerville is a registered user.

If you read the article you will also see that it's just not for TEACHER housing - it's for WORKFORCE housing, which based on average salaries, would go mostly to staff. This will be of very little use in recruiting teachers. Also, read the district's report, which shows that a majority of the teachers and staff surveyed were not interested in living in the type of 500 sq ft high density apartments the District wants to build. And the district also wants to raise money for the project by selling off individual lots of this public land on the private market to non-employees. "Teacher" housing is quite a misnomer.


Posted by a mv resident
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Drive by Eunice Ave yourself to evaluate if you think there's space for some form of teacher housing. Alternatively, here's a Google Map link showing the amount of unused land: Web Link


Posted by Wow
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 23, 2018 at 3:17 pm

"If you read the article you will also see that it's just not for TEACHER housing - it's for WORKFORCE housing, which based on average salaries, would go mostly to staff."

Who cares? What's wrong with housing staff? They make schools run as well. Are you now implying that you are above having any sort of affordable housing in your neighborhood? Now you're just digging yourself deeper in a hole.

This is school district land and they have every right to use it to support the schools how they see fit. Stop whining about park space when your neighborhood already has more than most of us. (Cuesta Park is across the street from you.)

Maybe they should have built Stevenson and the preschool in Cooper Park to begin with instead of in my neighborhood and let us keep what little park space we had.


Posted by MV resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 3:49 pm

I am all for teacher & staff below market rate housing but don't want to get rid of green spaces for that. Why don't we convert a bunch of existing land already used for housing or commercial purposes and convert it into high density low income housing/ mixed use housing? Why get rid of parks?


Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 4:02 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

There is a far better and less invasive location for this housing --- the Safeway/Old Mill site on California at San Antonio. Mountain View and the MVLA(?) school board presently are considering building a new school at that site. It is totally unfit due to gross overcrowding, heavy traffic, student bicycle and walking safety, noise, and pollution issues. It is about the worst place that any sane person would want to locate a school in MV.

What I would propose is that the teacher housing be built on part of the Safeway/Old Mill parcel, and that the new school be built where the daycare center presently is located on Eunice.

It's a win-win situation. The proposed teacher housing is in character with that neighborhood's overbuilt character, the teachers can walk to supermarkets, other shopping, and restaurants, and be close to Caltrain and abundant public transportation. The school can be built with minimal impact on Cooper Park neighborhood and its open space. Raze the antiquated daycare buildings on Eunice, using existing playgrounds and open space with minimal disruption to the neighborhood, and the present open space can still be shared with the public during non-school hours. Also, Huff and (probably also) Bubb schools are oversubscribed, and this new school could serve to teach potential Huff and Bubb students presently unable to enroll at those schools.

Teachers get their housing, students get their badly needed school in South Mountain View, and open space and neighborhood integrity for Waverly Park gets preserved.


Posted by Friend of Whisman
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 23, 2018 at 4:03 pm

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language] come on folks, these are our teachers- the same folks who make sure you child is pointed in the right direction giving them their best shot to be someone in life. If you push them away, then you are pushing away the future of the children in this city. Shame on you folks trying to protect unused, underutilized land. No one is exclusive in this city just because you live in the nicest and most high-valued neighborhood. If you're planning to sell your house anytime soon then perhaps you will take a hit on your property value- but come on- if you sell your house you'll be guaranteed to make more than 1 million in equity. Geeze!!


Posted by hhf
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 23, 2018 at 4:16 pm

I think most of our hearts are for the benefit of teachers. No one wants the educators of our children to have any trouble.

However, this article itself is trying to set the residents on the opposite side of teachers, which drives me to think of the malicious motivation of the author.

"Residents vow to fight teacher housing idea" is a totally misleading title. What most residents are fighting is the idea of picking an inappropriate location to build high-density housing. There are plenty of optional choices.

Also, even considering rebuild part of cooper park (which is sad, look at the map, how many green areas are left in the bay area?), the most efficient way to attract good teachers should be paying them better. This could be done by rebuilding the part into decent low-density properties and sell them.

The author just simply mentions "outside of raising salaries" but didn't talk about any logic behind it. The whole article is trying to narrow our sight into a single unreasonable point of view and provoke conflicts between the two sides.


Posted by Arden
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Where is the traffic from the new neighborhood going to go when the cars from the rest of Waverly Park, El Camino Hospital, and/or the ambulances/doctors want to go to the Hospital, or go to an emergency. Try to get down Grant Road when a shift of the hospital leaves, combined with the rest of the traffic on Grant Road. Some residents work elsewhere and must travel down El Camino Real and Grant Road.

The small street Eunice Avenue is to be used by everyone, including the new homes?


Posted by Former student of a great teacher
a resident of another community
on Feb 23, 2018 at 4:35 pm

Considering recent events in the news, you would think teachers receive more appreciation. Nope, not in Mountain View.


Posted by WilliamofBaskerville
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 4:44 pm

WilliamofBaskerville is a registered user.

Remember that the district survey showed that most staff members and teachers do not want the kind of housing that the district plans to build. The finances here are very questionable, with huge risk of downside and no guarantee of any upside. Have you ever wondered why these kind of staff housing projects are extremely rare? If it were a great deal, all the districts would have been doing it. This is why the school district should pursue any of the many alternatives that do not involve taking park land and youth sports fields (and the soccer/baseball fields are used by teams with kids from all over Mountain View - there isn't some restriction only to people who live nearby). It should be done as part of a regional partnership that does not put all the risk on our local schools - such as the partnership with Santa Clara County to turn a disused county building in an already-high-density neighborhood in Palo Alto into workforce housing, which the Mercury News is reporting that the Mountain View Whisman School District is already looking in to. There are plenty of alternatives out there. So why build in a park? The only justification people in certain neighborhoods seem to have is that it's not near their home, so they don't care (and even seem to be gleeful about the prospect of other neighborhoods losing their parks).


Posted by LM
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 5:45 pm

LM is a registered user.

I don't think this is an issue of rich or poor neighborhoods. If the school district wanted to use that space to build a new school I would be all for it...and it is literally in my backyard.

But the plan on the table is to sell the majority of the land to private developers and then build a very small number of high-density apartment units for teachers...in the middle of a parking lot. This seems like everyone loses. The teachers get a small amount of tiny housing units that they may or may not want to live in. The city loses playing fields for soccer and baseball (and as far as I can tell we are already hurting for those). The population of this area grows with no plan for school space for the new resident's children...and the land they could have used will be gone.


Posted by Old Steve
a resident of Rex Manor
on Feb 23, 2018 at 5:48 pm

Old Steve is a registered user.

School District workforce housing (locally in Santa Clara Unified) has been proven a viable means of retaining young teachers. But it is only fiscally sound on land a district already owns. The goal is not to chase Silicon Valley compensation values for all employees, it is to give lower wage and new employees a chance to be closer to the community they serve. Some teachers like to commute, others might prefer smaller quarters closer to their school. Young teachers leave our district because their salaries don't keep up with our rents. What other land owned by MVWSD would the Waverly Park folks suggest the district also consider? The Palo Alto project on County land is also only in the feasibility stage and would offer space to districts based on their financial stake in the project. MVWSD could use housing units at both locations.


Posted by RickV
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 23, 2018 at 7:40 pm

RickV is a registered user.

The land in question is not Cooper Park but the Cooper School site which is adjacent to Cooper Park. Cooper School originally was used for K thru 2nd grade and is currently leased by a much needed Day Care facility, one that is in short supply in the city. The "brown patches of dirt" alluded to by Superintendent Rudolph include two baseball fields heavily utilized by local Youth sports teams as well as open areas used by local Soccer leagues. The district-commissioned study by DCG Strategies recommended that to help offset the cost of building the proposed high-density housing for District Workforce (not limited to teachers only), 36 lots comprising 43% of the land be sold off, this at a time when the School District is facing increasing enrollment. While the thought of developing "Teacher Housing" is an enticing headline, in reality the number of units being proposed will provide a benefit to only a fraction of the teachers employed by the District. If we are going to get the best teachers to teach are most precious assets, why don't we use the time-proven concept of giving them more money in their paychecks!!


Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 23, 2018 at 10:19 pm

Doug Pearson is a registered user.

"a mv resident" makes a key point: Mountain View is "a community short of land". The city is already lacking in parks and other open space; taking some of that open space away from Cooper Park will just make matters worse. And, by the way, the draft proposal does not have nearly enough residences.

I don't think building low-cost housing for teachers is the right idea; it makes better sense to me to increase teacher/staff wages. In other words the district should attack the real problem (teachers and staff wages are too low) directly.

The school district does not have enough money to build housing, nor enough money to increase wages.

The district will have increase capital expenditures (build housing), or increase operating costs (wages). Either way, taxes will have to go up.


Posted by MV Leslie
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 24, 2018 at 8:44 am

MV Leslie is a registered user.

This proposed plan is estimated to cost $45 million. Aren't there more flexible and cost effective ways to help early career educators in our school district?


Posted by RickV
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 24, 2018 at 9:50 am

RickV is a registered user.

Probably the biggest issue I have with this plan is that it is touted as "Teacher Housing" which makes for a great headline when in reality it is designed for Workforce Housing which is probably closer to the real need in the District. Teacher salaries have been boosted to be close to the top among school districts (See The Mountain View Voice Feb 2, 2018 edition "Teachers' annual raises likely to shrink") while no mention is made of the fact that support personnel salaries continue to rank below comparative salaries in other districts. The 82 units available to rent at below market rates that are being considered in this plan presented to the Board would only be available for 14% of the Workforce. What do we do about the other 86% of the Workforce? Will they receive some form of help? Are we implying that we only want to retain 14% of the best qualified people in our Workforce? If we are trying to retain the best teachers and support personnel, wouldn't a better approach be to award a retention bonus? If we are having trouble getting the best people because of high housing costs, wouldn't it be better to offer a housing bonus to help offset housing costs?


Posted by Think Big Picture
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2018 at 9:13 pm

Think Big Picture is a registered user.

Building teacher housing with school district land makes it seem as though the school board is sympathetic toward teachers, but what is the cost benefit analysis of building 81 housing units? The project starts off costing the district money despite the proposal to sell school district land to developers to offset the costs. Is that really going to retain the 81 teachers beyond the period they get to live in there?

Teachers deserve choices not tiny apartments, yoga classes or whatever nonsense "perk" that the school board is desperate to give the teachers despite teachers not wanting these things. They want higher pay, more respect, more input into curriculum changes, and probably many of them want affordable childcare. And these things should be equitable to all the teachers, not just 81 of them.

The school board has given the taxpayers very little reason to trust them to make fiscally prudent decisions for the long term. They backed the North Bayshhore development despite the woeful $16 million in developer fees that the school district will receive. It's estimated that it would cost $165 million to build the three elementary schools and middle school that would be necessary because of the enrollment growth. Makes you wonder what kind of other incentives the developers were able to offer.

And on what land will the school district build these schools? Well if they carry out this plan, they certainly won't have the old Cooper School site anymore. With the price of land in Mountain View, the school district can ill afford to sell land when there is so much future growth.

It's nice to think that North Bayshore will be populated by sterile single techies, but the reality is that people who want to move to Mountain View are those with families and children of school going age who are attracted by the schools and the dream of short commutes. In short, it's very likely the projections are off and Mountain View will need even more schools than the District is projecting. Their last projections said that school enrollment would decline or be flat, yet many of MVWSD schools are oversubscribed (not just Huff and Bubb).

It's a false dichotomy to pit the teachers v the neighborhood around Cooper Park. It's really about the school board and their lack of long term thinking and the future of the children of Mountain View, all the children of Mountain View. What a travesty.


Posted by Think Big Picture
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2018 at 9:13 pm

Think Big Picture is a registered user.

Building teacher housing with school district land makes it seem as though the school board is sympathetic toward teachers, but what is the cost benefit analysis of building 81 housing units? The project starts off costing the district money despite the proposal to sell school district land to developers to offset the costs. Is that really going to retain the 81 teachers beyond the period they get to live in there?

Teachers deserve choices not tiny apartments, yoga classes or whatever nonsense "perk" that the school board is desperate to give the teachers despite teachers not wanting these things. They want higher pay, more respect, more input into curriculum changes, and probably many of them want affordable childcare. And these things should be equitable to all the teachers, not just 81 of them.

The school board has given the taxpayers very little reason to trust them to make fiscally prudent decisions for the long term. They backed the North Bayshhore development despite the woeful $16 million in developer fees that the school district will receive. It's estimated that it would cost $165 million to build the three elementary schools and middle school that would be necessary because of the enrollment growth. Makes you wonder what kind of other incentives the developers were able to offer.

And on what land will the school district build these schools? Well if they carry out this plan, they certainly won't have the old Cooper School site anymore. With the price of land in Mountain View, the school district can ill afford to sell land when there is so much future growth.

It's nice to think that North Bayshore will be populated by sterile single techies, but the reality is that people who want to move to Mountain View are those with families and children of school going age who are attracted by the schools and the dream of short commutes. In short, it's very likely the projections are off and Mountain View will need even more schools than the District is projecting. Their last projections said that school enrollment would decline or be flat, yet many of MVWSD schools are oversubscribed (not just Huff and Bubb).

It's a false dichotomy to pit the teachers v the neighborhood around Cooper Park. It's really about the school board and their lack of long term thinking and the future of the children of Mountain View, all the children of Mountain View. What a travesty.


Posted by Mtn Vw resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 25, 2018 at 10:05 pm

Mtn Vw resident is a registered user.

What a misleading title. The residents of most every neighborhood in Mountain View are deeply committed to a great education system and to the teachers who are the foundation of it.

This is not a case of NIMBY. It's simply a terrible idea. Converting a potential school site and precious community space (kids sports, daycare center, dog park, walking paths) to a private developer is makes no sense. Every school is busting at the seams. By the districts own estimates, the MVWSD is, by moderate rates, expected to grow 10% every 5 years. At about 500-600 additional students expected every 5 years, that's like a school's worth of kids every 5 years. Where are these kids going to go?! Only the most short-sighted of school boards would elect to give up a potential school site to a private developer.

The reporter conveniently left out the content of one of the speakers at the school board meeting on 2/15. He was a retired teacher who mentioned the majority of teachers do not like this plan because it will only affect a small pool of teachers. Only benefits that accrue to all teachers (like paying them more!) make sense. Also, there are a number of other options, including a potential land swap, that are more logical.

Finally, we need a regional solution to the growth and affordable housing. Google is backing the development of 10,000 new units in Mountain View, and while Cupertino is famous for shutting down new housing projects, despite the delirious growth and new headquarters for Apple. Mountain View needs halt housing projects till other towns pick up their regional share. I don't know about other residents, but I'm exasperated by the traffic on Grant Road, El Camino, San Antonio and Shoreline already. Get Cupertino to add their fair share of housing.


Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Feb 26, 2018 at 7:36 am

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

I don't assume to know the district's rationale to lead with a plan that was already immediately publicly rejected by the school board (and rescinded by the district).

The idea of selling the land to private development is no longer being considered (it never should have been), but it's no longer a live issue.

Furthermore, the idea of utilizing the entire school owned space at Cooper has been largely rejected by the school board, so what's left is discussion of use of the land before the sporting fields start (land that is underutilized, just walk the Action preschool lot by Eunice to see) OR to do a land swap with the city.

It's not true that the majority of teachers don't support teacher housing, the district's own survey showed a large majority asked for this, it's in response to the teacher survey why the district is researching this issue.I trust the survey over one retired teacher speaking at a board meeting. See Web Link

Theres ways for the district to explore gorgeous removable modular housing like what Amazon and Google are:
Web Link
Inline image 2
Those allow the district to revert land in the future to other uses. Or even creating tiny home villages, like:
Web Link
Tiny homes wouldn't even require the district to finance the buildings, teachers could.

Somewhere, there are a patchwork of innovative solutions that keeps all the vital uses of MV's park spaces and helps address a real problem for teachers. No one expects this housing to alone fix the problem, but some district housing (which San Jose, San Mateo, and SF are exploring too) along with the new loan program Landed that all local districts are about to implement (Web Link are the right direction and together address early and mid-income teachers.


Posted by Mtn Vw resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 26, 2018 at 10:42 am

Mtn Vw resident is a registered user.

Christopher, thanks for providing more info and links. It's great to have a more informed discussion. I miss your level-headed and thoughtful leadership on the school board.

I also wanted to add a more accurate number of additional enrollment. The 500-700 new kids number I mentioned above is from an article a few years old. Just the Shoreline development is projected to add an additional 10,000 housing units, leading to an influx of 2,500 new students!

I think the biggest point is why on earth there's discussion of making the valuable land of a future school site up for grabs for housing. There are other, better options given the explosive projected growth.


Posted by WilliamofBaskerville
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 26, 2018 at 5:33 pm

WilliamofBaskerville is a registered user.

Christopher Chiang, thanks for your comments. Please provide a link for your statement that the Cooper Park development "was already immediately publicly rejected by the school board (and rescinded by the district.) -At the January 18 Board meeting, the majority of the Board enthusiastically embraced the Cooper Park plan and directed their consultants (DCG) to further pursue only Cooper Park as an option (rejecting the other school site plans the consultants had put forward). This discussion can be viewed on the District's website which has videos of all the board meetings - the Board was very direct and vocal in its comments encouraging the consultants to move forward.

It's also interesting to hear the opinion that open grass land, walking/biking/scootering trails, and heritage Redwood trees are just "underutilized land". Many people believe strongly that these uses are extremely valuable and important for our city. Not to mention Action Day/Primary Plus preschool, in an area that has acute need for high quality child care. Just try getting your infant or toddler on a daycare or preschool waiting list around here!!


Posted by Think Big Picture
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2018 at 7:33 pm

Think Big Picture is a registered user.

Christopher Chiang:

Would like to know what School Board meeting you're referencing where these proposals were *PUBLICLY* rejected by the board? The only thing the superintendent has said when asked in person following the State of the Union address is that implementing is a ways off.

There's actually no data to support that Santa Clara Unified's teacher housing has actually successfully served its mandated goals. Unless you can cite a study that shows that as well. Their teachers' union president has been quoted saying the only real solution is more money for teachers.


Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Feb 27, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

I was told from people that I trust that selling district land was off the table, and that there was little appetite to take over the fields. But I can not verify this via the agenda minutes or meeting videos, especially since the annual board retreat earlier this month was not filmed as it was in past years.

For Mountain View's best interest, I hope what I heard was true, and that the board is not seriously considering to sell district land, and not really thinking of reducing the number of playing fields actively used by children.

The next scheduled meeting for this topic is April 19, so none of us may be fully certain until then. I wrongly assumed that what I heard was publicly verifiable. I apologize for not double checking first.


Posted by Darryl Fenwick
a resident of Waverly Park
on Feb 28, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Darryl Fenwick is a registered user.

The tone of the article is unfair to those who oppose the development. I'm not surprised that there are those who label us who live near the park as NIMBY's, but I think on an objective level the proposal to build affordable housing for teachers doesn't make sense.

* What about those teachers who already have housing? Do we give them nothing?

* What about those teachers who are married to someone making $200K? Should they be eligible?

* What about those who teachers need help for housing, but don't want to live there (because their spouse works far away, for example)? Shouldn't the teachers have a choice of where they live?

* What happens when a teacher retires or leaves the job? Do they get kicked out?

To me, the only fair way to help teachers is to give them extra $$, or a housing voucher. Then they have the freedom to choose what to do with it and no one is left out of the subsidy.

Now, some might propose that we should develop Cooper Park with high-density units, and then with the extra $$ that comes from the sales could go to the teachers. My argument would be that yes, we need high-density housing, but near public transit hubs like train stations and easy access to freeways to minimize traffic concerns and encourage public transportation. The Cooper Park location has none of these advantages and makes less sense than other areas for high-density housing.

Finally, building and Cooper Park irrevocably removes the possibility of adding more school facilities at that location. From the sounds of it, we might need more schools, and development at that location might be a short term gain for the school district in terms of $$, but a long term loss in terms of future locations for a school.


Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of North Bayshore
on Mar 3, 2018 at 11:49 am

Christopher Chiang is a registered user.

At Thursday's school board meeting, it directed the superintendent to pursue a land swap. Here's the link to the meeting video stream: Web Link (1h39m55s)

The Daily Post this weekend also reported the support of the mayor in swapping MVWSD's Cooper portion for a yet to be decided alternate parcel, and his objection the district's opening proposal to build over the fields. April 19 will be the next public board study of this issue.


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