City Council Schools

Los Altos quits City-School Public Lands SubCommittee

Los Altos City Council discussing whether to continue with the joint city-school public lands committee. They decided to quit.
Los Altos City Council discussing whether to continue with the joint city-school public lands committee. They decided to quit.
Written by lalahpolitico

On March 8, the City Council voted 5-0 to withdraw from the ad hoc joint City-School Public Lands subcommittee; a letter from the Mayor will be sent to LASD informing them of Council’s decision.  There will be no more of those joint City-School meetings.

Catherine Nunes spoke for keeping the City's 18 acres for City uses and for a more complete visioning of the Civic Center.

Catherine Nunes spoke for keeping the City’s 18 acres for City uses and for a more complete visioning of the Los Altos Civic Center.

About a dozen members of the public spoke at the Council meeting March 8 to advocate for preserving the Civic Center and Hillview for use by City residents and for current City recreation and park services. They said LASD owns over twice as much land as the City owns, and it is the District’s responsibility to provide new schools, not the City’s. Only one LASD trustee, Tamara Logan, and one member of the public, a retired public school teacher,  spoke for adding a school – Bullis Charter School – to the City-owned civic center/ Hillview lands.

Jeannie Bruins: I don't see how the Public Lands committee will arrive at any new information...

Jeannie Bruins: I don’t see how the City-School Public Lands committee will arrive at any new information…

Even without the weight of the “Save Hillview” public comments, the City Council members seemed to have already nearly convinced themselves that the joint City-School Public Lands Committee was a lost cause. Jeannie Bruins remarked , “I can’t see how the process will arrive at any new information.”

Megan Satterlee asked LASD trustee Tamara Logan if the summary of the situation that the Public Lands Facilitator Spano had stated was true.

Facilitor: “The City wants their land to be used [for Bullis Charter] only as a last resort, and the same can be said about the district. They want their land to be used only as a last resort.”

Los Altos School District Trustee, Tamara Logan, was present to answer City Council questions.

Los Altos School District Trustee, Tamara Logan, was present to answer City Council questions.

Satterlee ask Logan, “Is that true about the District?”

When Tamara said “Yes, it is true,” that seemed to make up Satterlee’s mind.

Lalahpolitico: Thus, It was immediately clear that the District was not going to relax the “constraints” on the Public Lands discussions, the constraints which the City had asked to have relaxed. See on Slide “Ease Constraints in Order to Move Forward.”

Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper – the City reps to the Public Lands Committee — had prepared a slide deck which stepped through some of the history of the Public Lands Committee and the findings of the two most recent Public Lands meetings. It does not seem to be on the City website, so I produce it here below for your reference.

Lalahpolitico:  Getting to… JUST SAY NO

I think the experience of the “edgy” tone of the City Council’s Engagement-Outreach Subcommittee meetings with parents on March 3 at Blach in the morning and at Almond in the evening contributed to the Council deciding to call it quits on the joint City-School Public Lands Subcommittee. To be clear, many parents transmitted a somewhat confrontational tone. Prochow and Pepper had  invited parents to drop by a Council Meeting. Ominously, there were no parents at Council this night for this discussion.  Did their political handlers not think it was necessary to make a show of force? They expected a slam dunk?  I guess so.

At those March 3 parent meetings at Almond and Blach, Pepper and Prochow said they would seriously consider holding a publically-noticed Council Study Session of the full council at a LASD school…to discuss school sites. Perhaps upon further reflection, Pepper and Prochow recalled the almost raucous 2012 Packard Council study session which discussed the subject of school sites—-especially Hillview. Lalahpolitico missed that event, but apparently 200 to 300 parents showed up to say more or less the same thing 300 times – “give us Hillview, please give us Hillview!” I guess in these last few days, Councilmembers Pepper and Prochow began to realize the folly of repeating the Packard council’s “engagement” mistake.

Some old Patch.com coverage of the 2012 event.
http://patch.com/california/losaltos/joint-council-school-board-meeting-in-the-offing

Also a few days ago, I wrote this article about “LASD Policies” which may have helped some of the City Councilmembers understand the LASD board’s frame of mind. It’s good to realize who one is trying to negotiate with.

Lalahpolitico – Still Move Forward on Parent Engagement Effort

I suppose there will be some “heat” and  blow back from the “activist parent” community after this action of quitting the Public Lands subcommittee. But it’s better than actually going through with the the circus of City Council Study Sessions about school sites with those activist LASD parents. This quitting definitely rains on their parade plans.

The City has appropriately stressed in these prior Public Land meetings and the Parent Engagement meetings that its key role is in helping LASD and Cupertino Union with traffic issues. And the City needs to take more credit for the traffic improvements the City is constantly making. Lalahpolitico was amused when one parent at a Blach/Almond “Engagement” meeting thought it was the District that had put up the 15 mph speed limit signs in front of schools! The City needs to take more credit for all that it does for the District. Pop-quiz: Who installed the sidewalks in front of Egan?

Suggestions to the City: 1) Perhaps add the “school traffic” topic to the online Open City Hall program. 2) The standing committee, the City-Schools Issues quarterly committee — which mainly discusses traffic and sport fields — could be held at schools rather than At Hillview Room 2. City Councilpersons, get your engagement there! Rotate through the schools with the most traffic issues first. Have some of the meetings scheduled for after morning car drop-off, others at 7pm after the parents’ trains get back from the city. See if is there is more attendance from parents, than when holding these important meetings at Hillview Room #2 at 5 pm. Judging by the City’s two “ Engagement-Outreach” meetings last week, traffic/student safety is at least the second most important school issue to parents.

The District will have to figure out the parents alleged No. 1 issue – new school facilities — without City help. It’s the District’s job, not the City’s.

A list of the meeting in the last 12 months. Jeannie Bruins complained

A list of the meeting in the last 12 months. Jeannie Bruins complained about the long gap between the September meeting when the District agreed to provide materials and when they were finally delivered, aka December Holiday break.

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a 10th site that addresses enrollment growth...

a 10th site that addresses enrollment growth…

 

lease, not a sale. Actually is solves the problems of siting BCS and NEC growth. No or minimal impact on City services.

lease, not a sale. Actually is solves the problems of siting BCS and NEC growth. No or minimal impact on City services.

 

Comparison of acreage on Blach, Covington, Egan, and City's original offer of N. end of Civic Center.

Comparison of acreage on Blach, Covington, Egan, and City’s original offer of N. end of Civic Center.

 

Sketch of a way to site a 900 student school on Covington

Sketch of a way to site a 900 student school on Covington

 

Sketch of a way to site a 900 student school on the N. end of the Civic Center

Sketch of a way to site a 900 student school on the N. end of the Civic Center

 

Sketch of a way to site a 900 student school on Egan

Sketch of a way to site a 900 student school on Egan

 

Faciltator posed three options to decide between

Faciltator posed three options to decide between

 

At the last Public Lands meeting both sides asked for relaxed "contraints" on a new set of sketches of site layouts...

At the last Public Lands meeting both sides asked for relaxed “contraints” on a new set of sketches of site layouts…

 

The Council check with School Trustee Logan, that these site sizes were what people are aiming for...

The Council check with School Trustee Logan, that these site sizes were what people are aiming for…

 

The read outline areas were what the City could be adding into consideration as a site for 900 students. However the 1.8 History acres were strongly discouraged.

The read outline areas were what the City could be adding into consideration as a site for 900 students. However the 1.8 History acres were strongly discouraged.

 

The City tried to asses the School District's current positions...

The City tried to asses the School District’s current positions…

 

The City of Los ALtos owns 57 acres, while the Los Altos School District owns 116.

The City of Los ALtos owns 57 acres, while the Los Altos School District owns 116.

 

Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper -- the City reps on Public Lands -- asked for direction from the rest of council...

Jeannie Bruins and Jan Pepper — the City reps on Public Lands — asked for direction from the rest of council…

 

About the author

lalahpolitico

Norma Schroder is an economics & market researcher by trade and ardent independent journalist, photographer and videographer by avocation. Enthralled by the growth of the tech industry over the decades, she only became fascinated with business of local politics only in the past couple of years.

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