News

Council agrees on new San Antonio school

Plan includes park space and a school that serves Mountain View kids

Mountain View City Council members agreed early Wednesday morning on a plan to help the Los Altos School District build a campus for San Antonio neighborhood residents, bringing what residents describe as badly needed park space and a public school to the area around the shopping center.

On a 6-0 vote shortly before 2 a.m. on Dec. 12, council members agreed to commit $23 million in city funding to assist in the school district's land acquisition plans for a future school site in Mountain View, along with a joint-use agreement to operate open space and recreational facilities on the corner of California Street and Showers Drive. Council member John McAlister, who has a financial stake in a private preschool on property leased from LASD, recused himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The district has sought for years to buy land in the area for a new school, and in recent months has negotiated with property owner Federal Realty to acquire 11.6 acres on the corner of the San Antonio shopping center. The cost remains unknown, as school district officials continue to negotiate price and terms of payment.

The Los Altos School District extends into Mountain View's city boundaries, encompassing residential neighborhoods in and around San Antonio, and those residents account for roughly one-fourth of all students enrolled in the district.

The city of Mountain View is playing a huge role in the district's acquisition plans. Along with the $23 million in park fees, the city is permitting the school district to build a school and "sell" developers the unused building density allowed on the site. District officials plan to sell 610,000 square feet of density rights to developers across the city for a total of $79.3 million.

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Given that the San Antonio area has no nearby school -- families are split between three schools to the south in Los Altos -- City Council members agreed that they wanted the new school to serve Mountain View families. But council members grappled with the question of whether that should be a condition of approval, with narrowly split votes in the past favoring flexibility for the school district.

While the district's board of trustees sent the city an ambiguous letter ahead of the meeting stating the future school would "serve" the neighborhood -- something council member Lisa Matichak called "underwhelming" and not a clear decision -- Los Altos school board president Jessica Speiser affirmed that local children would be able to attend whatever school is built there.

"We agree with the Mountain View City Council and want to commit to an elementary or junior high school open to neighborhood students, or a choice or charter school with a preference for neighborhood students on the new site," Speiser said at the meeting.

The last of those options, a preference for Mountain View kids at Bullis Charter School, would be difficult to guarantee. Bullis Charter School officials did not speak at the meeting and have never discussed the possibility of an enrollment preference for the region north of El Camino Real, and the district isn't involved in the renewal of Bullis' charter where enrollment policies are laid out. Speiser said that, in her eyes, Bullis being at the San Antonio school site would be precluded if it didn't come with an enrollment preference.

Bullis Charter School board president Joe Hurd told the Voice that the board has expressed zero interest in adding a neighborhood preference, and has sought an even-handed approach to serving students throughout the Los Altos School District. The statements made by the district and Speiser early Wednesday morning amount to the district owning the new school site as a district-run school, he said, because the district has no hand in the charter school's enrollment policies.

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"The Los Altos School District is planning to operate a school for neighborhood residents in the 10th (school) site," Hurd said.

Some residents remained skeptical, despite the promises made by district officials. Parent and Mountain View resident Jan Baer criticized the district for its use of vague language. She pointed out that most of the district's low-income families and English learner students reside in the area north of El Camino.

"By using language such as 'neighborhood-serving schools' instead of commuting to a neighborhood school, LASD still refuses to equally serve the growing Mountain View population," she said. "LASD is still trying to maintain (its) status quo while neglecting the rights of minorities."

In a series of last-minute changes, City Council members sought to strike a careful balance between making requests of the school district -- formally in a memorandum of understanding, or MOU -- while giving the public agency the latitude to make its own decisions for the site. The MOU language says students in the area north of El Camino Real will be able to attend the school, but stops short of dictating a specific set of boundaries. Rather than demand a specific enrollment cap at the school to keep it in line with other campuses south of the city border, council members opted for softer language stating that enrollment at the school should be "substantially similar" to the rest of the district's schools.

A junior high school at the site would likely serve around 600 students, while a middle school would serve 900. Superintendent Jeff Baier said the district's "target" for its largest elementary schools is to not exceed 550 to 600 students.

While Councilman Chris Clark said he wanted the "neighborhood" aspect of the school to be binding, he was uneasy with forcing the school district to keep enrollment low. He said his one criticism of the school district is that the existing campuses are under-utilized and serve too few students, and that the debate over "density and fairness" shouldn't play out in the MOU.

"Us capping (student) density at San Antonio would send the wrong message," he said.

The plan is for the school district to retain 9.6 acres for its school site and adjacent open space, a track and a gym, while the remaining 2 acres would be transferred to the city of Mountain View at the cost of $10 million per acre. These costs would then be offset by the developer Greystar as mitigation for its housing development at the Old Mill and former Safeway site across the street, according to a city staff report. These 2 acres would serve as a city park separate from the joint-use agreement.

If all goes according to plan, the district will acquire the property through condemnation and relocate the existing businesses on the property by September 2020, and will begin construction on a school later that year. The school would open its doors to students in fall of 2023 at the earliest.

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Council agrees on new San Antonio school

Plan includes park space and a school that serves Mountain View kids

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 13, 2018, 11:01 am

Mountain View City Council members agreed early Wednesday morning on a plan to help the Los Altos School District build a campus for San Antonio neighborhood residents, bringing what residents describe as badly needed park space and a public school to the area around the shopping center.

On a 6-0 vote shortly before 2 a.m. on Dec. 12, council members agreed to commit $23 million in city funding to assist in the school district's land acquisition plans for a future school site in Mountain View, along with a joint-use agreement to operate open space and recreational facilities on the corner of California Street and Showers Drive. Council member John McAlister, who has a financial stake in a private preschool on property leased from LASD, recused himself to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The district has sought for years to buy land in the area for a new school, and in recent months has negotiated with property owner Federal Realty to acquire 11.6 acres on the corner of the San Antonio shopping center. The cost remains unknown, as school district officials continue to negotiate price and terms of payment.

The Los Altos School District extends into Mountain View's city boundaries, encompassing residential neighborhoods in and around San Antonio, and those residents account for roughly one-fourth of all students enrolled in the district.

The city of Mountain View is playing a huge role in the district's acquisition plans. Along with the $23 million in park fees, the city is permitting the school district to build a school and "sell" developers the unused building density allowed on the site. District officials plan to sell 610,000 square feet of density rights to developers across the city for a total of $79.3 million.

Given that the San Antonio area has no nearby school -- families are split between three schools to the south in Los Altos -- City Council members agreed that they wanted the new school to serve Mountain View families. But council members grappled with the question of whether that should be a condition of approval, with narrowly split votes in the past favoring flexibility for the school district.

While the district's board of trustees sent the city an ambiguous letter ahead of the meeting stating the future school would "serve" the neighborhood -- something council member Lisa Matichak called "underwhelming" and not a clear decision -- Los Altos school board president Jessica Speiser affirmed that local children would be able to attend whatever school is built there.

"We agree with the Mountain View City Council and want to commit to an elementary or junior high school open to neighborhood students, or a choice or charter school with a preference for neighborhood students on the new site," Speiser said at the meeting.

The last of those options, a preference for Mountain View kids at Bullis Charter School, would be difficult to guarantee. Bullis Charter School officials did not speak at the meeting and have never discussed the possibility of an enrollment preference for the region north of El Camino Real, and the district isn't involved in the renewal of Bullis' charter where enrollment policies are laid out. Speiser said that, in her eyes, Bullis being at the San Antonio school site would be precluded if it didn't come with an enrollment preference.

Bullis Charter School board president Joe Hurd told the Voice that the board has expressed zero interest in adding a neighborhood preference, and has sought an even-handed approach to serving students throughout the Los Altos School District. The statements made by the district and Speiser early Wednesday morning amount to the district owning the new school site as a district-run school, he said, because the district has no hand in the charter school's enrollment policies.

"The Los Altos School District is planning to operate a school for neighborhood residents in the 10th (school) site," Hurd said.

Some residents remained skeptical, despite the promises made by district officials. Parent and Mountain View resident Jan Baer criticized the district for its use of vague language. She pointed out that most of the district's low-income families and English learner students reside in the area north of El Camino.

"By using language such as 'neighborhood-serving schools' instead of commuting to a neighborhood school, LASD still refuses to equally serve the growing Mountain View population," she said. "LASD is still trying to maintain (its) status quo while neglecting the rights of minorities."

In a series of last-minute changes, City Council members sought to strike a careful balance between making requests of the school district -- formally in a memorandum of understanding, or MOU -- while giving the public agency the latitude to make its own decisions for the site. The MOU language says students in the area north of El Camino Real will be able to attend the school, but stops short of dictating a specific set of boundaries. Rather than demand a specific enrollment cap at the school to keep it in line with other campuses south of the city border, council members opted for softer language stating that enrollment at the school should be "substantially similar" to the rest of the district's schools.

A junior high school at the site would likely serve around 600 students, while a middle school would serve 900. Superintendent Jeff Baier said the district's "target" for its largest elementary schools is to not exceed 550 to 600 students.

While Councilman Chris Clark said he wanted the "neighborhood" aspect of the school to be binding, he was uneasy with forcing the school district to keep enrollment low. He said his one criticism of the school district is that the existing campuses are under-utilized and serve too few students, and that the debate over "density and fairness" shouldn't play out in the MOU.

"Us capping (student) density at San Antonio would send the wrong message," he said.

The plan is for the school district to retain 9.6 acres for its school site and adjacent open space, a track and a gym, while the remaining 2 acres would be transferred to the city of Mountain View at the cost of $10 million per acre. These costs would then be offset by the developer Greystar as mitigation for its housing development at the Old Mill and former Safeway site across the street, according to a city staff report. These 2 acres would serve as a city park separate from the joint-use agreement.

If all goes according to plan, the district will acquire the property through condemnation and relocate the existing businesses on the property by September 2020, and will begin construction on a school later that year. The school would open its doors to students in fall of 2023 at the earliest.

Comments

Old Timer
Cuesta Park
on Dec 13, 2018 at 11:32 am
Old Timer, Cuesta Park
on Dec 13, 2018 at 11:32 am
22 people like this

New Council needs to CANCEL this bad idea. Who builds a school right near a huge shopping mall?


Elena
Castro City
on Dec 13, 2018 at 12:22 pm
Elena, Castro City
on Dec 13, 2018 at 12:22 pm
21 people like this

That will be a NO for me...traffic is horrible as is!!!! And you want to add a school, where would we shop at??? Taking our only mall is bad idea!!! You should added a school at one of the places where you planting ugly sky scrapper looking housing that blocks the views of the mountains. Why bother calling Mountain View when you no long have views!!


PA Resident
another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 1:26 pm
PA Resident, another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 1:26 pm
6 people like this

Apart from Kohls, what businesses will be lost?

I am assuming that the businesses will be located somewhere else and probably not all together. San Antonio used to be useful for shopping and now we are getting more and more limited in our choice. We will end up having to shop online because the alternatives just involve too much effort to get to.


MV Resident
Old Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2018 at 1:52 pm
MV Resident , Old Mountain View
on Dec 13, 2018 at 1:52 pm
25 people like this

That stretch of California from about Escuela to Del Medio is gangland central. Constant police activity. Not to mention the Walmart parking lot is becoming another broken-down RV slum. What an idiotic place to put a school.


Concerned LASD Parent
another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm
Concerned LASD Parent, another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:03 pm
14 people like this

I feel like this is terrible news for Santa Rita, Almond, and Egan. The most likely outcome if LASD follows through on this purchase is that one of these three schools will be re-located to the 10th site and their current campus will be handed over to BCS.


Zee Kay
Bailey Park
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:08 pm
Zee Kay , Bailey Park
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:08 pm
3 people like this

Which businesses will be kicked out from that area?


Info
another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm
Info, another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:46 pm
5 people like this

Kicked out will be Gamestop, Luu Noodle, T-Mobile and Kohl's from the one big building. The other big building is an overflow space for 24 Hr Fitness but their original location is separate. Also kicked out from the small building on the corner would be Sushi 88 and Pearl Cafe.


Info
another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:47 pm
Info, another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 2:47 pm
4 people like this

Also Joanne Fabric would go as well.


Shannon
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm
Shannon, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2018 at 3:07 pm
2 people like this

Between JoAnn and Kohl’s is a nicer and newer 24-hour fitness, much better than the old gym that’s over closer to Trader Joe’s. I presume this building would also be gone. Too bad!


William Hitchens
Registered user
Waverly Park
on Dec 13, 2018 at 3:41 pm
William Hitchens, Waverly Park
Registered user
on Dec 13, 2018 at 3:41 pm
14 people like this

"The city of Mountain View is playing a huge role in the district's acquisition plans. Along with the $23 million in park fees, the city is permitting the school district to build a school and "sell" developers the unused building density allowed on the site. District officials plan to sell 610,000 square feet of density rights to developers across the city for a total of $79.3 million." So, exactly how will that adversely affect space for large playgrounds and adequate parking for staff and visitors?

This deal stinks to high heaven. It looks like another high density "affordable" housing development disguised as a public school with very little land left over for the students' recreation and to use as buffer space from the 5 story block houses. Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.


Insider
another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Insider, another community
on Dec 13, 2018 at 4:16 pm
18 people like this

Folks you're jumping to conclusions. I don't know how some can say what they say.

All retail businesses will be accommodated in the immediate area and will only be lost at their choosing because three are not doing all that well. LASD provides a way out of their leases.

Others are simply postulating to get as much as they can based on an assortment of "rights."


Badly needed park space!
Rengstorff Park
on Dec 13, 2018 at 5:26 pm
Badly needed park space!, Rengstorff Park
on Dec 13, 2018 at 5:26 pm
18 people like this

I'm very glad that there will be fields and park space there. I don't think it's any worse place for school than Castro, which is working out well enough. It will be nice to break up that horrible stretch of strip malls and I won't miss Kohl's and their crappy polyester clothes one bit.


Neighbor
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2018 at 5:37 pm
Neighbor, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2018 at 5:37 pm
12 people like this

What a stupid idea- building a school on a commercially-zoned lot? The traffic in this location is not pedestrian friendly and more than likely some kid on a bicycle or crossing the street could get hit.

Schools are supposed to be surrounded by residential-zoned areas where the traffic is much slower and more "neighborhood friendly". Having the school in this particular area is going to invite the wrong type of crowd. It will also not be bus-friendly and the traffic for picking up kids mixed with consumer traffic will be a nightmare.

If Kohl's is going, then that means Luu Noodle house as well as Gamestop will be gone as well. I will be pissed if that ever happens. The Noodle house feeds the surrounding community with fast and affordable food. It's the only unique place that offers this type of food and if they're gone, they will never recover because that means trying to find another location that's going to command an even higher lease, which will also mean higher costs of meals.

There is too much GENTRIFICATION going on in this community- it's causing an imbalance of services and people who offer those types of services to be pushed out of the community. Not everyone is a Google employee commanding a six-figure salary and driving around Tesla's not for the benefit of the environment but just to satisfy the stupid status quo.


BCS?
The Crossings
on Dec 13, 2018 at 6:06 pm
BCS?, The Crossings
on Dec 13, 2018 at 6:06 pm
27 people like this

Are most of these comments from the Bullis Charter School crowd? The comments seem out of place and not germain to the issue of open space plus a school. We want the 11-acres of open space and the school format is of less importance.

Traffic is what it is and we already live here, so...what's with all the negativity?



Anonymous
St. Francis Acres
on Dec 13, 2018 at 8:37 pm
Anonymous, St. Francis Acres
on Dec 13, 2018 at 8:37 pm
23 people like this

Many object that the site is to close to commercial and multiple story residential. Sorry folks, there's no other big vacant properties in your ideal location. Welcome to the 21st century.
Others object to losing those businesses. Again sorry, but those will be lost anyway in whatever change of ownership eventually happens. On the plus side, the city has shown it can be responsive to requests to keep displaced businesses nearby.
Others are concerned about kids having to cross busy streets to get home. Do they know how many streets are crossed today by kids returning home from their current schools to this neighborhood.
My impression is that the school district has been searching for a new site for more than five years. My conclusion is that beggars can't be choosers.


Observer
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2018 at 9:23 pm
Observer , Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 13, 2018 at 9:23 pm
10 people like this

People who live in that area are the ones who want Los Altos schools but cannot afford the Los Altos living. If they all congregate in one school, it will be just another MV school - not as bad as Castro (though it might get some Castro kids, dangerously close to it and to the aprtmebt rows of California and Latham) but not nearly as good as Santa Rita.


18CV328188
Gemello
on Dec 14, 2018 at 1:59 am
18CV328188, Gemello
on Dec 14, 2018 at 1:59 am
3 people like this

That is the Santa Clara Superior Court case number for the lawsuit announced at the 12-11-2018 City Council meeting by representatives of the plaintiff "J. Cyril Johnson Family Limited Partnership" (filed 5-11-2018). The Plaintiff alleges it is the successor to agreements going back to 1962 that give it the authority to allow or block uses of parcels at the shopping center. If true, the plaintiff wpuld need to be PAID OFF or another site for the school would need to be obtained. But don't tell anyone. The lawsuit is a SECRET.


YIMBY
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2018 at 3:14 am
YIMBY, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2018 at 3:14 am
11 people like this

Funny seeing all the complaints about building a new school after seeing people complain that we can't build more housing without the requisite infrastructure. At least people like Elena are willing to cut straight to it and say that views of the mountains are more important than housing for humans.


JR
another community
on Dec 14, 2018 at 8:00 am
JR, another community
on Dec 14, 2018 at 8:00 am
10 people like this

Every other school in the district and city is in a peaceful environment with large outdoor areas, trees, gardens, etc. Then you have this proposed school surrounded by Walmart, speeding traffic, and drug dealers. Which school do you want to send your kid to?


@18CV328188
Rex Manor
on Dec 14, 2018 at 8:22 am
@18CV328188, Rex Manor
on Dec 14, 2018 at 8:22 am
11 people like this

Eminent Domain trumps all property rights including Johnson's.

If Johnson prevails, which I doubt because there is no public record of approving the Merlone Geier development or anything else, then the market value is split differently among these various holders of different rights but the total remains the same.


18CV328188
Gemello
on Dec 14, 2018 at 9:27 am
18CV328188, Gemello
on Dec 14, 2018 at 9:27 am
3 people like this

Even when property interests are taken by EMINENT DOMAIN, the public entity must pay the reasonanle value. But you are saying that the total value of the property interests involved does not change and it is just a question of who gets how much. I'll have to consider that claim further. Two points are clear (1) eminent domain is an extra step that takes extra time and attorney fees, and (2) evidently neither the City nor the LASD advised the press or their constituents about the lawsuit.


good Urban Planning?
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:44 am
good Urban Planning?, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 14, 2018 at 11:44 am
5 people like this

It the Los Altos School District really the best organization - to take care of Development Right transfers into Mountain View neighborhoods? That is what the TDR will do, give the stupids in LASD the right to set the development in MV. If LASD wants to Build Expensive Offices (gets more dollars per square foot of Transferred Development Rights) then - BRING THEM OFFICES ON!

'Cause- wherever the new office space is - the managers will live up in Los Altos, and the Mountain View residents, can deal with the future UNPLANNED consequences. HA, HA HA (all the way to the bank - paid for by MOUNTAIN VIEW's Development Rights!)


@good Urban Planning?
Rex Manor
on Dec 14, 2018 at 3:24 pm
@good Urban Planning?, Rex Manor
on Dec 14, 2018 at 3:24 pm
14 people like this

You are incorrect. The TDRs allow for increased density/development that is administered through City of Mountain View Community Development Department just like any other project. LASD only receives the funds, and has no administration or authority over these TDRs or the projects that use these TDRs.

As a previous blogger stated, much of what is being said in this blog is significantly over stated to the point of being hypothetical or just plain incorrect.


MV Parent
Monta Loma
on Dec 14, 2018 at 7:20 pm
MV Parent, Monta Loma
on Dec 14, 2018 at 7:20 pm
6 people like this

Give us another soccer field, please. The sport is going through the roof in MV and Los Altos.

As for a school... if we had a regional K-12 MVLA school district would we still need this school? Seems we’d just build a pedestrian bridge to Monta Loma and use the excess capacity there...


Jeremy Hoffman
Registered user
Rengstorff Park
on Dec 15, 2018 at 9:04 am
Jeremy Hoffman, Rengstorff Park
Registered user
on Dec 15, 2018 at 9:04 am
5 people like this

I think this plan sounds great! Community spaces like schools and parks that serve the neighborhood are always a welcome addition. What better use of land could there be?

Let's just make sure that we take care of bike and pedestrian safety -- that was a big problem with "San Antonio Phase 1" (around the Walmart and Trader Joe's).

And keep upzoning the nearby housing so that more people can walk or bike their kids to school as well as those shops and restaurants.


m2grs
another community
on Dec 16, 2018 at 1:22 pm
m2grs, another community
on Dec 16, 2018 at 1:22 pm
5 people like this

Why is the whining about building school close to a shopping mall? What is wrong with these people?

It is a perfect location! Parents can easily run errands to pick up take-out dinner. I wish all schools are close to restaurants and groceries.


I will miss Kohl’s
Registered user
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Dec 18, 2018 at 11:47 am
I will miss Kohl’s, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
Registered user
on Dec 18, 2018 at 11:47 am
5 people like this

@badlyneededparkspace and your comment re kohl’s Polyester clothes I don’t think you have been for a while - I know the range improved substantially from when It first opened. Lots of great clothes and homewares - such a shame will now need to get in a car to Macy’s Sunnyvale for a department store experience - more people in traffic on 101.
I will miss having it at San Antonio.


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