Residents weigh in on Measure A

We’ve already paid Hillview Community Center consultants more than $900,000 for advice like this from a Feb. 10 council study session:

• “We ask the public not because we really care, but because it’s a means to communicate what we want to tell them.”

• “People don’t know the difference between $45 million and $60 million. They have no clue. … Only thing in the ballot is the bond amount, not the tax rate. If we put tax rate at top of list, we’ve lost already.”

• “The danger of getting too detailed … is everybody becomes a critic.”

Keeping things in the dark is a good way to grow mushrooms, but it’s not good for building public confidence. Lack of detail promotes speculation and rumors – and proves that there’s no real plan.

In fact, we won’t have a design – or actual construction costs – until the city spends millions to “underwrite design and engineering.”

A $65 million bond carries $69 million in interest and fees. Add $25 million from city reserves for parking – at $80,000 per underground space – despite the budget noting “many competing demands for limited resources.” Then add $900,000 for consultants.

The total doesn’t include furniture, equipment, moving expenses, operating costs or maintenance. Your property-tax bill would increase for 30 years, the amount depending on your home’s assessed value.

For tax year 2018-2019, a home assessed at $1 million would pay $331. The estimated average is $19.36/$100,000. But it varies – and it’s only an estimate. Seniors can’t opt out.

The “conceptual design” includes:

• 55,600 square feet – three times space currently used at Hillview Community Center – built out for classes and rental, reducing green space and parkland. Only 1,000 square feet for seniors.

• A 38,500-square-foot aquatic center with three pools (according to the Environmental Impact Report).

Proponents claim that the pools will be “self-funding,” but there’s no business plan. The city council “will make a decision about the method of managing pool operations after funding is secured to construct the project.”

Thus, we have no idea how much we’d pay to swim to keep pools in the black, or how much we’d subsidize them when they’re in the red.

This is not a “scaled down” plan. The price tag has increased while facilities have been cut. The Financial Commission reported that the “2009 Master Plan called for multiple phases of development, the first of which would include a new police station, city hall and community center, at a total estimated cost of $81 million. Athletic fields, a library and a theater were to be included in later phases, with a swim pool to be funded entirely by outside community groups.”

Now it’s more – just for a community center, with pools financed by taxpayers.

A grandiose community center would be built while other civic buildings deteriorate. Goodbye, Master Plan.

We deserve a fiscally responsible plan for a right-sized, revitalized community center that accommodates all of our community needs. Measure A is not that plan.

For more information, visit

Mary and Chip Lion have lived in Los Altos for 27 years and raised three children who attended Los Altos schools. They do not live in the Hillview area.

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