Ten citizens showed up for the public comment period before the LASD Trustees 6pm closed session meeting where they would discuss a potential Bullis Charter School 10th site. Specifically they would discuss a term-sheet – a letter of intent — to purchase for 5150 El Camino . At the public comment session before the closed session, there seemed to be zero supporters for purchasing 5150, only opponents. [Lalah: Perhaps the supporter camp knew that Tammy Logan would be absent Monday night and a closed session vote on a term-sheet would NOT occur.] Six of the 10 public speakers did not seem to be BCS parents; several mentioned they had never been to a Los Altos School District meeting before. According to attendee Nancy Bremeau, the trustees claimed that term-sheet earnest money would be refundable.
Tenor of the Comments – Vote of No Confidence
Each of the public speakers shared how disappointed they were and that they regretted they had voted FOR Measure N and these trustees. Several said that the district does not need to “bank land” for years and years. Instead existing land should be used more efficiently now. Furthermore, all schools deserve some money for repairs. Speakers urged the trustees to manage resources better.
Many said would not send their kids to a school on El Camino. Traffic is bad there now and will get worse. There is no safe route to such a school. No other city — from Menlo Park to Sunnyvale — has a district school on El Camino. The envisioned multistory school building structures will be too big. The proximity to El Camino will make the school environment too loud for children’s ears. There will not be enough play space. The school-generated noise would be too much for the neighborhood.
If this purchase plan proceeds, they would not re-elect anyone voting for purchasing that land nor the parcel renewal.
Complaints About the Media – Nextdoor.com, LATC
Apparently all Trustees read nextdoor.com, and by the way, Trustee Vladamir Ivanovich is a poster. During the public comments, Trustees Pablo Luther and Sangeeth Peruri said nextdoor.com was full of inaccuracies and pointed people to the Town Crier for accurate facts on the subject.
John Radford then said, “Oh you mean the paper that said there was going to be a public hearing?” [When there is only a closed hearing tonight.] “Or that stated that the land would be used for BCS?” [When Trustee Peruri has stated the BoT has not decided if 5150 is for NEC or BCS.] Radford said that in his experience the Town Crier is often inaccurate. Another speaker was also upset that the board meeting about 5150 had been described as open session when is actually it was closed session.
Lalahpolitico: On nextdoor.com some neighbors posting online there have implicitly criticized the Town Crier for printing the BoT ‘s cost numbers unscrutinized. LATC published President Luther’s remark that the envisioned project with land at 5150 would be $100M. On nextdoor.com, Trustee Ivanovich claimed the 4 acres at 5150 would be priced at $40 million, $10M an acre. [Some neighbors dispute this land price estimate.]
Therefore, the BoT is saying — and LATC is repeating uncritically — that $60M is going to pay for a 4 story 100,000 square foot building with underground parking.
Some neighbors online point out that over the years all the LASD community input committees like the FMPC were told by LASD to assume a $75-80M cost estimate for constructing a 75,000 square foot 2-story building with above ground parking! No land included. Why this big change in assumptions about building costs – namely radically lowering the cost estimates? In order to make this 5150 plan seem plausible to an ill-informed public?
John Radford – transparency, inaccuracies
John Radford of Los Altos Hills spoke about the need for transparency and open public meetings about the proposed purchase of 5150. He was also critical of press inaccuracies.
Jill Jene – let’s compare 5150 to an “optimal case”
Jill Jene spoke about the need to develop an “optimal school case using existing land” to compare against the proposed 5150 development. Furthermore, a school on the 5150 site will “not be equivalent by any measure,” regardless of who is located there. [Town Crier stated it would be for a Bullis Charter School 10th site. But Trustee Peruri has told people it could also be for NEC–the board has not decided yet.]
Even if there’s no [non-refundable] earnest money stipulated in the proposed term-sheet, Los Altos School District will be spending on the “due diligence” process — on tests, plans, consultants, plus time wasted, etc. — Jill Jene
She alleged that the effort for land purchase has been driven by the district and perpetuated by the district staff and BOT, whereas the District’s own Conteno research shows that the community also supports using existing District land for a Bullis Charter School 10th site or .
Ms. Jene described the [troubling] history of the 30+ person LASD Facilities Master Plan Committee. [She was a FMPC member.] “The mandate of the FMPC was changed drastically overtime since its inception. After an interim FMPC report was issued, the FMPC was shut down abruptly before a final report could be prepared and released.” [Lalah: Fishy?]
Conclusion: Missing Tammy…
Lalahpolitico would like to think that the 10 public commenters were very effective and sowed doubt in the minds of the Trustees. Perhaps there was so much doubt that they could not come to a majority 3 to 1 vote to approve a term-sheet in closed session? [Vladamir Ivanovich has expressed concern about the cost of this proposed 5150 project in open board meetings.] But more likely is…that because of Trustee Tamara Logan’s absence, they could not have the 5-0 unanimous vote they would prefer in a serious matter. So a action was not taken because of technicality perhaps?
Resource: LATC articles on 5150
LASD gets serious about purchase for 10th site.
http://www.losaltosonline.com/news/sections/news/148-school-news/53070-lasd-expected-to-finalize-land-purchase-for-bcs bruce barton
letters to the editor from Pablo Luther and John Phelps
Resource: The Link to the nextdoor.com thread about 5150.
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