Solution near for 10th LASD site
I found the June 15 “Other Voices” column odd (“It’s time to consider existing land options for 10th school”). As someone who has been intimately involved with facilities issues facing the Los Altos School District, I firmly believe if there were ever an issue that did not need more community input, it is the issue of the 10th school.
We have had multiple community forums. We have had multiple lawsuits. We have had multiple school board elections and a bond election. All of this community input has expressed a strong desire not to crowd our current facilities and not to get rid of open space that the entire community uses, whether or not their children attend Los Altos School District schools.
The community voted to provide the district $150 million to figure out the facilities issue. If the facilities litigation has proven anything, it has established that the district has broad discretion to manage its facilities to create the best solution for all students.
Given recent reports that Mountain View may contribute to a facilities solution both monetarily and with development rights that can possibly be monetized, it seems the Los Altos School District is on its way to a possible win-win for everybody: a school close to the fastest areas of student population growth and to students that Bullis Charter School has expressed a great desire to serve more broadly, while at the same time preserving and/or creating open space in an increasingly crowded Mountain View.
It puzzles me to see little public support from Bullis Charter School-affiliated community leaders for a solution that would locate the charter school in a brand-new school on district property in Mountain View and maximize the open space the charter school has spent millions of dollars litigating over.
Given the complexity of a public land purchase, 31 months is not a long time. We’re close to a solution that makes the Los Altos School District, Bullis Charter School and Los Altos voters happy. Now is not the time to turn back.
LACI project would be ‘bad deal’ for residents
Los Altos residents are facing a blizzard of marketing from a development consortium led by Los Altos Community Investments (LACI), which hopes to build a massive structure on First Street, comparable in height to the ones redeveloped on First Street in 2011 that have caused so much controversy.
Once again, a developer is seeking exceptions to our code on height and density. And this time the developer wants to incorporate one of our own public parking plazas into the project.
The public parking plaza and the adjacent street are today filled with mature shade trees. They will not be preserved. This low-impact public space and its shade belong to the people of Los Altos: Why would we give this away?
We’re being told our land will be “given back” to us by the developer, as a public park. Underneath this space, however, will be underground parking for the new building. There will be exit and entrance ramps to the underground lot, as well as elevators, and stairwells for LACI tenants. It won’t be a very green Village Green.
We’ve just been through the experience of having First Street suddenly turn into a canyon. Thanks to the outcry over that experience, the Los Altos City Council recently reset the height limit at 30 feet. This new proposal will take it right back up to 45 feet.
If you think the newer-and-narrower First Street is ugly and hard to navigate now, just wait. This 77,000-square-foot office building will hold hundreds of workers. They will have guests and customers. Anticipate traffic issues and increased parking problems on First Street, Main Street and Edith Avenue, with all of it spilling over onto nearby side streets.
It is a great deal for the developer. But it is a bad deal for Los Altos residents.
10th school needed to serve enrollment
Since I left the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees a couple of years ago, I’ve tried to keep a low profile on the topic of school politics. However, the Town Crier article on John Swan’s proposals requires a rebuttal (“Measure N watchdog suggests residential land for 10th school site,” June 21).
Mr. Swan’s suggestion to acquire residential real estate in Los Altos Hills may seem attractive financially, but it misses some of the most important factors in selecting a school site. In my five years on the district board, one of the most common topics of discussion was the impact of our schools on our neighbors. Whenever we evaluate school sites, we need to consider the location of the students and the accessibility of the site itself.
There is a much greater concentration of public school students (Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School) at the north end of the district, and comparatively few at the far southern end. Mr. Swan’s proposal would be to situate a school far away from the students it is meant to serve. This is true regardless of whether the site is used for the district or the charter school.
The public record shows that Bullis Charter School draws students from across the entire district. Placing its campus at the far fringe, on a two-lane road with limited access, would make it much less likely that it would serve students from across the broader community. Even taking away a discussion about “Bullis Charter School vs. the Los Altos School District” – we need school sites where we have students.
There is no doubt in my mind that we need a 10th site. Suggestions to “use the space we have differently” are woefully misguided. However, I would urge the district board and the broader community to work together on a site location that serves the greatest number of students, now and in the future. It is absolutely the right direction for all parties.
Douglas J. Smith