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Los Altos School District to pay $155M for land for new Mountain View school

Original post made on Jun 10, 2019

After a year of closed-door negotiations, the Los Altos School District announced Friday that it will purchase land for a new school in the San Antonio shopping center for a staggering $155 million.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 10, 2019, 12:36 PM

Comments (33)

34 people like this
Posted by Deja Vous
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2019 at 3:54 pm

This is very reminiscent of Measure N when they floated a bond without stating what the money would be used for. Now they’re buying land (which they don’t need) without any decision on what will be built there. The LASD board is really bad news but the community continues to elect them so I guess they’re getting what they deserve (unfortunately at taxpayer expense though). Rather than ousting them and replacing with a fiscally responsible board folks are busy trying to change charter school law. Which will only breed more divisiness amongst the community. They complain that BCS is diverting their funds (I’m not sure why that would be true since their funds are proportional to the kids they educate) but LASD BoT are not fiscally responsible. The best use of taxpayer funds is to move 6th grade to middle which could open up an entire existing campus (Covington) for BCS. No land purchase necessary and $150M available to be used for the badly needed renovations at the existing schools. I have no kids in school and was never part of the LASD/BCS feud. I’m just a disgruntled taxpayer tired of seeing my tax dollars squandered.

16 people like this
Posted by Waste
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2019 at 4:50 pm

Down the rabbit hole we go. Maybe Kohls and 24 Hour can stay and just pay rent to the trusty landlords, LASD Trustees indefinitely. Clearly, the Trustees are not able to make a decision of which school will actually go on this site. Meanwhile, all of the district schools need repairs and updates and there is still no answer for a permanent BCS location. No more money until they try to pass the next bond. This transaction will also break records for being the most ridiculous purchase of a site by a district but not really to use for a school.

15 people like this
Posted by Deja Vous
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2019 at 5:26 pm

@Waste - don’t worry. It won’t be long before they come back to us for more money after they’ve depleted their $150M.

18 people like this
Posted by Vic
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 10, 2019 at 5:50 pm

Horrible location for a school. City of Mountain View and it’s school districts have lost sight.

13 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:32 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

Wow, that's five million dollars ($5,000,000.--) more than the voters awarded the Los Altos School District over three (3) years ago.

Build a school in the middle of a shopping mall. Great idea folks (and I'm being very cynical). Although I live in Mountain View and cannot vote for the Los Altos School Board I would suspect that they're LIKELY to be out of a job VERY shortly.

All of them? Perhaps. I certainly wouldn't invest money in 'em.

I hate to be negative but this is perhaps the worst idea possible. Dare I make a prediction? Dare I? Me? Totally baseless and uninformed? Why not :-)

OK, here goes:

Los Altos will spend a total of slightly over $250 million on the land AND the school, which will be completed no sooner than 2024. At that time there will have been a nice, albeit gentle, recession and the student numbers will have dropped to the point where the school will NOT BE NEEDED.

And with that baseless and uninformed prediction I remain . . . somewhat disgusted.

14 people like this
Posted by MV giveaway
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:37 pm

No, Los Altos is only out of pocket a little under $30 million. All the rest is a giveaway by MV in exchange for over building at the other end of town. Not sure who benefits from any of this other than the developers. What happened to eminent domain?

12 people like this
Posted by Alex
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 10, 2019 at 6:46 pm

I am so sick of reading these articles indicating the waste and poor judgement associated with local schools. I won't vote for another dollar towards schools until this is sorted out. McAlister and his type must be out. Charter schools must be transparent, and adding schools need to be necessary. I've read enough articles to know that whoever is in charge is screwed up. You have all lost my support

12 people like this
Posted by m2grs
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2019 at 9:19 pm

I think it is a fantastic site for a new urban school.

Imagine parents drop off kids and then go to a gym or find some coffee, or pick up kids and shopping for dinner before going home.

It's also in the middle of new high density apartments, and the apartment zone east of Shower. Many kids may just easily walk to school.

13 people like this
Posted by Walmart RV Camp
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 11, 2019 at 7:55 am

Has anyone visited the actual location of this proposed new school site lately?
The school will face Walmart's parking lot which in recent months has become the new home for 20 plus RV's with people camping outside of them during the day. Hard to determine how many of these inhabitants were at work, but a lot of them were sitting outside their RV's playing music, talking and having a good time. One guy in a lawn chair was sitting next a set of shiny rims he had for sale. I didn't feel comfortable parking here.

7 people like this
Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 11, 2019 at 10:36 am

James Thurber is a registered user.

Finding a large piece of land suitable for a public school is a tough job - and so far LASD has been pretty much unable to do it. I believe the Kohl's spot is a last ditch effort.

But can't LASD use the land they've already got? Can't they do a bit of forward thinking and learn from history - that students numbers rise and fall with the growth and renewal of all communities.

And the need for school classrooms rise and fall in a similar fashion.

Why not build existing schools up / out and be prepared for a reduction in students numbers - portables can can be added - or taken away - simple math. Remember, history does repeat itself, especially to those who do not study it.

Too bad this had already been done - the papers signed - the ink dry. As a resident of Mountain View (and a renter) I really have no say in this issue but I rue the day when this new school finally opens and . . . has to go searching for students.

Good luck to all concerned.

Best wishes

Jim Thurber

5 people like this
Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 11, 2019 at 11:11 am

Mountain View is suffering under a much publicized "jobs/housing" imbalance. So, these TDR's, worth 610,000 sq ft (includes bonus sq footage to make this deal happen), will generate more jobs in MV, requiring more housing to balance, requiring more parks and schools to serve all the new housing.

Sure feels like we're stuck in a vicious cycle of growth (i.e. no tendency toward equilibrium).

I've been following this for some time now and am disgusted with the outcome. But LASD would be a fool to turn away the money Mtn View is contributing toward this, so I at least understand their decision.

And while I'm at it, I'll add my pet peeve in the San Antonio center area, what about traffic with all the new offices, new housing and now a new school?

7 people like this
Posted by Factors
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2019 at 2:56 pm

The story talks of selling 610,000 sq ft of development rights. That's true, but the number was set based on calculations for the property across the street where the FAR rules are for 1.85. When the school district went after land around Kohl's it ended up with another acre of land and a higher FAR limit of 2.35. So even after saving 100,000 sq ft for the actual school, and selling off 610,000 sq ft of TDR's,
there are an additional 265,000 sq ft of development rights beyond what the district will develop on the property. That could be a factor in the future if the school district changes uses for the land. For example they could sell off some of the land for some other use, and still have the ability to add developed square footage onto that piece of land. It makes the value of the land for the school district greater than it would otherwise be. So, it's not the complete picture to say the district sold off all future development in 610,000 sq ft of TDR's.

The area is not such a bad place for a school. It will be surrounded by residential properties on 3 sides and office buildings on the other. The kids living in all those new apartments have to attend school somewhere. People just don't get that this is a FUTURE need for the 5000 additional apartments being added in the area over time. The fact that there is no school for the current 800 kids who live in the area distracts them from the real growth. The 800 kids there now haven't had a school for the 20 years that there have been so many there. Just wait in 5 more years and see how many new kids are added to the area.

8 people like this
Posted by MV Schools? Nada
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 11, 2019 at 3:43 pm

And in a parallel universe, while MV Council has authorized a $79M "gift" to Los Altos Elementary (granted, some students live in MV), where's the equivalent for MV Schools (Elementary and High School)?

All of the growth from North Bayshore, East Whisman, etc flows into MV Schools, and MV Council (in coordination with city staff) to date has not committed one penny. Only ambiguous statements about developers needing to work with school districts on a "solution". Usually followed by further Council concessions to developers, reducing any potential contribution to schools.

What's the latest count? Something like 15,000 units in the pipeline with no tangible funding for schools (which do not have $ sitting around for this). Time for City leaders to stop obfuscating and make a tangible commitment.

PS - And gee, it might be nice for them put some $ into a tangible plan for the traffic congestion they're creating...but that's a separately neglected issue.

10 people like this
Posted by Bullis Must Disappear
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 10:31 am

Bullis Must Disappear is a registered user.

"Bullis Charter School could only be moved to the site if nearby families are given a preference in the charter school's enrollment lottery. Bullis' leadership has not agreed to such an arrangement"

If you still believe Bullis Los Altos wants to serve *all students* you have been duped by their rank dishonesty. The City of MV accidentally spotlighted a very ugly truth about BCS that has long been rumored.

The Los Altos charter has always discriminated against students of less-advantaged demographics, and the BMV project was intended to give the impression that, to the contrary, yes they want to serve less-advantaged students. This proved to be a fraud when MV-Whisman held Bullis feet to the fire of their marketing baloney.

But here you see this ugly truth: Bullis Los Altos wants so badly to avoid enrolling MV NEC students that they will reject a brand new campus built if it means they have to give preference for the NEC students BMV was supposed to enroll!

26 people like this
Posted by Comment
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 10:56 am

What really needs to disappear is the Voice permitting jaundiced single-issue commenter name registrations like "Bullis Must Disappear," used solely for sniping and propaganda. For all any reader knows, the registration is even a case of professional lobbying (another example of mandatory teachers'-union dues at work).

I have NO connection to or interest in Bullis Charter School, but this constant opportunistic haranguing against Anything Bullis reflects only on its writers, not on the object of their calumnies, and adds nothing to Town Square.

3 people like this
Posted by Bullis Must Disappear
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:05 pm

Bullis Must Disappear is a registered user.

Reply to: Comment..... the truth hurts, today and every day since bullis was created, and truth is not defmatory

Like this comment
Posted by Bullis Must Disappear
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Bullis Must Disappear is a registered user.

Reply to: James Thurber.... there's no sense in you being disgusted by your own self-described baseless and uninformed prediction. the LASD will spend just a small amount of the 150 mil voters approved to add more student capacity

9 people like this
Posted by @Comment
a resident of Gemello
on Jun 12, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Just want to say kudos on your use of the word "calumnies." That's all. Have a nice day.

6 people like this
Posted by Comment
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 2:55 pm

Thank you. (In my past occasional experience looking into related issues, the most aggressive and defensive teachers'-union members -- the ones to whom protecting jobs is the main point, rather than educating children -- are also the sort of people who'd need to scramble to look up such a word. That's why I chose it.)

3 people like this
Posted by Bullis Has Nothing to Do with It
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2019 at 3:41 pm

So the only way LASD could serve the neighborhood would be to put the obligation on a charter school? The planning is unclear. With all the requirements for athletic fields that the city has placed on LASD (separate from serving the neighborhood school needs), the school there would need to be a Middle School. Have you looked at LASD schools? What elementary school has a Gym? What elementary school has a track? This is not something that any elementary school needs, whether K-5, K-6 or K-8. Mountain View and Los Altos have set a precedent of putting community sports facilities at all their Middle Schools. LASD is a little more restrained but they do at least have a Los Altos managed Gym at their Junior High School sites (though no community adult leagues use the LASD facilities, it's all kids run by the City of Los Altos rec department.

If you want a neighborhood school in the area, elementary school doesn't make sense. Forecasts are for the K-5 population to be over 1000 as the area builds out in the 6000 new apartment units plus all that is there now being redeveloped and increased in density as well. The current situation of using multiple elementary schools to serve the area is needed on a permanent basis. The current sites shared with K-6 kids from the area are 10 or 12 or 16+ acres in size and they have declining populations and need the added kids. However, all this shifting of the grades 6-8 population is going on too. So you COULD locate the Junior High school that serves the north end of LASD to be on this new site. It would help upgrade the motley outdated Egan facilities for a larger total population. The new site could be like Hilliew Middle School in Menlo Park. It's actually a larger area in Mountain View compared to Hillview Middle School.

So, why do idiots keep dragging Bullis into the situation? That might have made sense about 6 years ago, but the planning decisions since then and practical experience show that the location as a home for the Bullis Charter School makes zero sense.

3 people like this
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 5:01 pm

MV RESIDENTS is a registered user.

in case you weren't here to know the history, bullis has been complaining and suing los altos school district for years over what they consider inadequate facilities. voters approved a facilities bond measure with bullis help and the charter pushed very hard to be first in line, designated the first beneficiary of bond money, insisting that the first solution to the facilities shortage would be a new campus for them. then when the only available land was in mv and came with strings from mt view city council, they decided that a brand new campus wasn't good enough for them either due to being in mv and a mandatory preference for mv nec kids. sure it's complicated but bullis has very very much to do with how this is going. let me flip it around and say that if bullis really wanted a brand new campus in mv nec, this deal would have been done a long long time ago. their position on this has changed a lot because when they were presented with the nec scenario they balked

11 people like this
Posted by Comment
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 5:45 pm

See, that "MV RESIDENTS" comment further illustrates behavior I mentioned above. I HAVE been present and following the history here. Characteristically, the comment cites Bullis "suing los altos school district for years," omitting to mention how often the court agreed with Bullis, and therefore with the action's merit. (It'd be at least as accurate to say LASD periodically compelled Bullis to use courts to obtain its statutory rights, and thus LASD diverted money from education to litigation.)

The extent of gratuitous anti-charter school spin visible in these comment pages mirrors that visible in the state at large.

8 people like this
Posted by Deja Vous
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2019 at 6:55 pm

@Comment - I like calumnies too :). And aptly descriptive!

@ MV Residents- your statement re BCS insisting they get a new campus is blatantly false. They’ve been saying for years that no new campus is necessary considering all the existing land that LASD owns.

7 people like this
Posted by Bullis Has Nothing to Do with It
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2019 at 7:00 pm

Once again, dragging the charter school into this California Avenue site purchase makes no sense at all. Bullis has not instigated new legal action against LASD since 2012. That's seven years ago. Prior to that, the previous lawsuit was in 2009 for the 2009-2010 facilities. Unfortunately, the district dragged the whole thing out so there was not a resolution until 2012. It was TOO LATE. Even in 2012, LASD tried to appeal the win that the appeal panel gave to Bullis, but it was REJECTED by the en banc court of appeal. Then LASD tried to take it to the California Supreme Court. It was REJECTED as an appeal by the Supreme Court of California, and the ruling gained precedent status across the state. The only reason Bullis had to take legal action in 2012 was because LASD was ignoring the spirt of the 2009-10 ruling in providing facilities for 2012-13. LASD has been completely obstructionist to the simple premise that the kids enrolled in the charter school deserve an equal equivalent share of the facilities owned by the district.

So how pray tell does the charter school affect the district buying new LAND to deal with a popuiation shift where a greater and greater fraction of the district's students reside north of El Camino Real in Mountain View and Palo Alto?

The big fat lie in the statement that Bullis wanted the bond measure to BUY THEM A NEW SCHOOL is the fact that they repeatedly said they didn't need NEW LAND. The major cost for building this new school will be BUILDINGS. The district's budge is about $100 Million to build these new buildings. The land purchase nets out at $27 MIllion. But consider that the $100 Million would have gone 50% further to build new buildings back in 2014. Bullis was acutely aware of that and beyond this fact, they have been sitting in portable temporary buildings this whole time and will need to sit there for another FIVE YEARS. What does this idea of dragging the matter out and addressing the growth in Mountain View have to do with the Charter School needs? Nada.

4 people like this
Posted by Politics
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 12, 2019 at 11:18 pm

Politics is a registered user.

For LASD this is a pile of free money, they'd be fools not to take it. None of the $155 million price comes out of their own pocket.

The purchase price will be paid from:
- Sale of 2 acres to City of MV ($20 mil)
- City of MV contribution ($23 mil)
- MVSA project contribution ($5 mil)
- TDR sales ($79.3 mil)
- Measure N bond proceeds ($27.7 mil)

Then LASD will have:
- 9.65 acres in a commercially prime location
- Rental income ($2.5 mil/year for 2-3 years maybe more)
- Unused development rights (265,000 sf worth ~$35 mil as TDRs)

LASD could convert this acquisition into cash within a few decades.

If LASD manages to build a school there it would give breathing room to lease out another site or even sell one during some future crisis.

If a new school doesn't work out LASD could sell the property and development rights for $$$$.

1 person likes this
Posted by Epic fail
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2019 at 11:36 pm

Epic fail is a registered user.

This is exactly why these threads are pointless. The narrative being presented is historically inaccurate, but most people will never know that. Argument has failed. What’s a better path forward? For the district to admit the charter has merit and the charter to somehow convince the district community (even retirees) that it’s not segregationist

5 people like this
Posted by Bullis Has Nothing to Do with It
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2019 at 12:30 am

But the liars who rewrite history cannot explain why if Bullis is somehow illegal, then why has there been no legal action to stop their program? The answer is simple. They are completely legal. It doesn't matter if you LIKE it. LASD has a mere 5% rate of low income kids throughout the district. 5 of 7 elementary schools have LESS THAN 5%. Bullis is no different. If you seek to blame them, then explain the 5 LASD schools who are similarly cheating fate by not having the "burden" of low income kids equal to the district average.

But the main thing is, the North of El Camino Real Mountain View district is not afflicted with a major low income component. LASD has cast these aspersions about handily but they are LIES. They went to the city of Mountain View and said due to population growth they needed to open a new school in that area. They didn't say they intended for that school to be the Bullis Charter School. That story was not as compelling. It was a silly stupid plan anyway. Bullis has NOTHING to do with the fact that the 800 kids in the area have no local school. Bullis DOES serve 100 kids from that area. Bullis serves the entirety of LASD. Bullis is not part of the decision about what to do for the NEC area. Bullis would need to COMPLETELY dedicate itself to serving that area if it were the local neighborhood school that has been denied there all these years. Alos, Bullis would need to increase in size to 1500 students to fully serve that area, even with students from no other part of LASD starting in 5-10 years. That makes no sense. The issue is how to convince the wealthy landowners in LASD Los Altos that the cheaper properties in NEC deserve a school in the area, merely because they happen to represent 15% of the LASD population currently, and that is headed up to 25-30% in 5 to 10 years more time.

Bullis has nothing to do with it.

Like this comment
Posted by LASD Parent
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2019 at 3:48 pm

Why isn't the LASD board listening to parent? None of us want a site at that location, it is a horrible location for a school. The street crossings are dangerous. Will the board members take responsibility if a child gets hit by a car crossing El Camino Real or California St ? Shame on you, board members, for having such neglect for our children's safety!
Our current schools have lots of land, they are old building that need refurbishing. It would be wiser to use the millions to refurbish the existing schools and increase the capacity on many of the campuses.
Why aren't board members smartening up and do what's best for the kids? Because we all know that putting a school on that site is not in the best interest of the kids.
Do the board members get kickbacks for purchasing that site? Surely there has to be some personal incentive because it is an extremely horrible site for a school. What needs to be done to kick out that corruption?
For those board members who did not vote in favor of that site, please do the kids a favor and expose the corruption.

1 person likes this
Posted by Bullis Has Nothing to do with it
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2019 at 4:43 pm

Wait a second! 800 kids aze currently crossing El Camino Real each day to get to school. If you listen to the board meeting, some of them are saying they want to do something to change this. They want fewer kids of those now crossing to need to cross, and as the population increases there, they want to save even more from the need to cross El Camino Real.

So, they are listening to parents about this issue. You have blinders on if you don't pay attention to what they are saying and see how they are heeding this concern. What you mean is that some of the ones crossing may cross in the other direction in the future. But so long as the total number crossing goes down or avoids a big increase with massive population growth in that area, then isn't that the point?

5 people like this
Posted by Bullis Has Nothing to do with It
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Another thing to keep in mind is that certain schools depend on those kids crossing El Camino Real to stay open. Half of the kids or over 250 who attend Santa Rita cross El Camino Real. Covington and Almond are each about 1/3 filled with kids from across El Camino Real. Populations in Los Altos are going down and those in Mountain View north of ECR are going up. If you build an elementary school there, then there are not enough kids to keep all 3 of these open. Too few kids. But if you relocate
Egan, over half of the kids are still on the same side of ECR as the school, and under half need to cross ECR. This is the scenario by the time Egan can open on a brand new campus north of El Camino Real.

8 people like this
Posted by We Need A Park/School
a resident of The Crossings
on Jun 14, 2019 at 3:40 pm

This is THE BEST SITE for a middle school because it is adjacent to a shopping center, housing, and existing transportation network.

LASD should immediately acquire the property and construct a park and school because the reasons cited for not doing so ignore the future reality of the area and need for housing and educating future residents who lead high tech for a better, kinder world.

2 people like this
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 14, 2019 at 7:59 pm

As state-mandated high-density housing is build in Mountain View and Los Altos, many more schools will need to be built - unless in-home tutoring or on-line schooling catches on.

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Posted by Diablo
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 14, 2019 at 8:08 pm

"state-mandated high-density housing"... huh? SB 50 got shot down.

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