The Los Altos Public Lands Committee – a joint ad hoc committee of the City of Los Altos and the Los Altos School District – finally resumed meetings on Jan. 27, 2016. After about a six months’ hiatus, the group gathered to look at site plan drawings of City and LASD BCS Co-location sites. They discussed the pros and cons and the traffic patterns of situating a 900 student Bullis Charter School at each potential location.
The school district’s architect prepared the preliminary “what if” building site maps for the Civic Center, Egan Junior High, and Covington Elementary (former junior high). The City’s traffic engineer, Cedric Novenario, prepared and discussed a preliminary traffic analysis for each site.
Bottomline: No decisions or actions on a solution for LASD “enrollment growth” will happen any time soon. The Public Lands Committee may disband soon. Why? Measure A failed last November. At this Jan. 27 Public Lands Committee meeting, LASD trustees Logan and Ivanovich suggested that now, after the Measure A failure, the whole Civic Center including Hillview should be discussed as a potential site for BCS or other public school. The two LASD trustees present seemed to trust LosAltosCommunityCoalition.org to orchestrate a downtown/civic center multi-year visioning process that might include a school.
BCS Co-location Sites – Civic Center
The building site plan for 900 k-8 students at the Civic Center (700 k-6 and 200 in 7-8) was “constrained” by Los Altos City Council last summer to be located in the northern section of Civic Center (about 11 acres) . Hillview was where the City’s Measure A bond would have located a new community building and pool complex, and therefore, Hillview (about 7 acres) was prohibited from being considered by the Public Lands Committee as a site for a public school.
The School District created an additional constraint; it gave instructions to the architect to not remove or move any existing buildings if at all possible. In the case of the north Civic Center, the architect had to rebuild the City Hall in a spot a bit to the north and the west and to make it 2-story. This change allowed the architect to fit in the 3-story school, which she sited next to the existing library building.
Lalahpolitico: Many of us observers were expecting to see a design that LASD Trustee Tammy Logan has repeatedly suggested: a single 3-story building that included City-Community functions and had a third floor for a school. Instead, LASD has put forth a standalone school that wipes out the City Heritage Orchard. [A very large single building plan there would also have wiped out the orchard.]
The LASD prepared handouts include a list of the pros and cons of these BCS co-location site schemes as authored by the school district. City Councilperson Jan Pepper and Mayor Jeannie Bruins were careful to point out during discussion that the district’s list of cons for the Civic Center scheme omitted the disruption of the Heritage Orchard. That was a big, big negative of this co-location concept in their opinion.
TRAFFIC AT THE CIVIC CENTER
Cedric Novenario, City traffic engineer described the traffic ramifications of the Civic Center concept plan.
See Figure 1:
BCS parent cars would enter where W. Edith enters San Antonio Road – at the traffic light – and cross over to a BCS driveway and parking area. Exit would be from the same driveway back onto San Antonio and Edith.
City services related traffic would still enter from 3 ingress points: 1) Hillview Ave., 2) the library driveway on San Antonio Road, 3) the driveway just north of the City Hall. However, the interior road that connects the north to the south by winding past the History House would be disrupted. Novenario admitted that Cielito and East Edith might become a defacto drop-off, because there is a short pedestrian path into the civic center from that corner.
City Manager Marcia Sommers pointed out that the police must have two vehicular access points. She continued on to say… it is impossible to locate a school so close to a police station; police can bring in dangerous suspects; child molesters are prohibited from being this near to a school. In other words, this co-location configuration does not work legally.
Not a Surprise Ending — LASD Asked to use Hillview for a School
“Everyone” who closely follows LASD vs. BCS, was expecting that at this meeting LASD trustees Tammy Logan and Vladimir Ivanovich would ask to expand the consideration of the north section Civic Center as a school location to considering the WHOLE SITE INCLUDING HILLVIEW (about 18 acres). They did so ask. [Although Lalah presents this civic center site first in this article, during the Jan. 27 meeting, the civic center was the last site discussed.]
LASD Trustee Ivanovich spoke enthusiastically about the Los Altos Community Coalition and their effort to have an in-depth “visioning” that jointly considers the downtown and the entire Civic Center. City council person Jan Pepper, somewhat taken aback, said she had thought there was LASD urgency to get something done sooner than later, but if the district had two years to go through that visioning process…
Pepper and Bruins said they would take the LASD request to the whole City Council. They said they believe the Public Lands committee is probably NOT the correct entity for that scale of visioning. The next Public Lands Committee meeting is Feb. 4. Some people believe that could be the final meeting.[Start at the 16:40 minute mark of the video to hear LosAltosCommunityCoalition.org guest speaker architect Bill Mateson speak about visualizing connections between downtown and the civic center. Some civic uses – eg. the library and theater – could move into the downtown triangle, potentially freeing land for a new school on Hillview (see 23:20 for the start of school idea) . Paraphrasing Bill Mateson, “If the school were to close sometime in the future, as enrollment fluctuates over the decades, it could be used as a community center.”]