A preschool and day care facility currently housed on the grounds of Mountain View High School will soon have a new home.
The Los Altos City Council Feb. 27 approved the relocation of the Mountain View Los Altos Parent Education Program (MVLA PEP) to the Foothill Covenant Church campus by a 4-1 vote. The new location at 1555 Oak Ave. is approximately one-half mile from its current home on Bryant Avenue. Relocation plans include the construction of three portable classrooms and two playgrounds on an empty lot on church property – located across the street from Mountain View High’s football stadium and near Oak Avenue School.
The school’s use permit, approved by the council, includes requirements to offset classroom sessions by at least 15 minutes to avoid traffic conflicts with the nearby elementary and high schools. The permit caps student capacity at 48 per classroom session and 102 per day. The school is limited to operating no more than two classrooms at a time.
Councilwoman Val Carpenter cast the lone dissenting vote on the move. She noted that MVLA PEP serves more nonresidents than those living in Los Altos, leaving neighborhood residents to bear added burdens.
“It really just doesn’t seem fair to
me, to the city of Los Altos residents, that we’re being asked to accommodate increased traffic (and) congestion on our streets all year long to benefit mostly nonresidents,” Carpenter said.
A traffic analysis included in the city staff report concluded that the school’s new home would alter some traffic patterns in the neighborhood but result in a traffic increase of less than 1 percent on Oak Avenue. Carpenter later emailed the Town Crier to clarify her position on the matter.
“Someone needs to stand up for Los Altans who are negatively impacted by facilities that primarily serve nonresidents,” she wrote. “I encourage Los Altos families to apply to the (MVLA PEP) that will begin operating adjacent to Oak School in Los Altos this fall, and hope that the number of Los Altos students attending their programs will increase from less than one-third this year to half or more.”
Prior to casting her vote, Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins noted the advantages of the new site, pointing specifically to ample parking and the church campus’ ability to accommodate pickup and drop-off circulation.
She also called the lack of opposition to the plan by nearby residents “remarkable.”
Mayor Megan Satterlee said she favored the relocation, despite a general reluctance to add schools to a neighborhood with existing school traffic.
“This (project) is very proximate to its current location, and so a lot of the commute is already baked in,” she said.
Barry Grove, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District superintendent, also spoke in support of MVLA PEP’s request. He described the relocation proposal as a “great solution” for the 45-year-old program, which is part of the district’s Adult Education Program.
“Literally hundreds and hundreds of folks in our community have been graduates – either their kids or themselves – of this program,” said Groves, adding that MVLA PEP’s current home is needed to accommodate a growing student population at Mountain View and Alta Vista high schools.
Hans Eric Nelson, pastor of Foothill Covenant Church, later told the council that his church community was “enthusiastic” about the prospect of adding the school to its campus.
“We want to be a resource to our neighborhood and be a good neighbor,” Nelson said. “We want to make what we have available to others.”