Discussions between Los Altos School District and Los Altos City Council officials may be moving past a previous stalemate regarding Hillview Community Center.
While the property was not discussed at length at a city-schools subcommittee meeting last week, Los Altos School District Board of Trustees President Doug Smith tried to revive what he called a “possible path to move forward.”
Last year at a joint meeting, parents attended en masse to share reasons for converting the city-owned Hillview property, once used as a school, into a 10th school district site.
At that time, councilmembers would not discuss Hillview as an option unless the school board trustees signed a letter revoking their right to eminent domain. Eminent domain is the right of a public entity to seize private property or, in this case, city property, for public use.
Not wanting to limit the rights of future boards, the trustees declined and the conversation hit a dead end.
Now, with three new councilmembers and a new school board member, discussions about Hillview may be renewed.
“I don’t know how we explore (the Hillview discussion) without lighting a firestorm,” Smith said. “How about some education for us? I would like to understand the full list of concerns. I don’t understand all (of Hillview’s) uses.”
Councilwoman Megan Satterlee, hesitant to discuss the issue, said the Hillview topic is difficult to broach.
“How do you discuss a topic with potential litigation?” she asked. “I still feel like I have a gun to my head. I’m not sure how to manage within that.”
Smith introduced the possibility of reaching an agreement, similar to one the school district and Bullis Charter School have met under, where both parties agree that what is said in particular meetings may not be used for litigation purposes.
“I’d be willing to explore that, if you are willing,” Satterlee told the trustees.
Smith and Trustee Tammy Logan shared a report on possible 10th-site locations with Satterlee and Mayor Jarrett Fishpaw. A school district subcommittee is examining 17 sites, most of which have not been revealed to the public.
The district subcommittee, on which Logan serves, is reviewing properties to determine their feasibility as school sites. As for Los Altos public land, Hillview Community Center and Rosita Park are both on the list.