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Original post made
on Dec 18, 2007
Very interesting to see that the private schools are growing also and that their governing bodies are making plans for the future. This growth is happening here in Palo Alto with students coming from miles outside our city. This new site will of course affect traffic (not unusual for Palo Alto), but more importantly will attract even more families to move closer because after all, if they are using this Keys Middle School, they will of course want to get into PA high schools, unless they remain to choose private. I wonder if anyone at Churchill is watching this private school growth?
This is not a good development for the tax base of Palo Alto. Hotel TOT will be lost, and there will be nothing that this entity provides Palo Alto in return.
"This is not a good development for the tax base of Palo Alto. Hotel TOT will be lost, and there will be nothing that this entity provides Palo Alto in return."
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] This development will increase the value of residential property in PA; it will increase the dynamic diversity of PA's daytime population; it will increase the number of daytime shoppers and service-seekers; it will increase the reputation of PA as a provider of superb educational services; it will stimulate the generation of peripheral educational services (like tutoring, etc.).
Take a look at the Challenger school at the corner of Middlefield and Charleston. There is a traffic backup in the morning and afternoon. The parents drive unsafely getting into this site, because it really is badly located to allow that much vehicular traffic during peak drive time. If one stands across the street and watches the cars coming and going, most do not go into the Charleston Plaza to "shop". There certainly is no way to measure that sort of thing.
The loss of TOT and property tax, on the other hand, is easily measured.
" If one stands across the street and watches the cars coming and going, most do not go into the Charleston Plaza to "shop". There certainly is no way to measure that sort of thing."
Does that mean that the effects that I stated above do not exist?
You'd be hard pressed refute the effects stated above, on any logical ground - and clearly show how, on balance, the creation of this school (including costs _and_ benefits) is an overall drain on our community.
> Does that mean that the effects that I stated
> above do not exist?
The article suggests that people will come from miles away -- and you claim that this schools lack of performance will create a new legion of "tutors" that will bring economic wellbeing to Palo Alto.
[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
> Please show how this development - on
> balance - decreases local residential property values.
No one said that it would--you on the other hand claimed that property values would go up because people were commuting to Palo Alto to put their kids in a private school.
Oh, let's not forget that the hotel guests also brought dollars into the retail sector--particularly the restaurant sub-group.
How many visitors per day at the motel, compared to parents and students meandering through town every day?
Not sure if anyone read the article - it says this is one of the lowest tax generating hotels in town. It was definitely a dump if you ever went by there.
On the other hand, it would have been nice to see new commercial development there, across from the Blockbuster plaza and adjacent to the restaurants up the street.
Just doing the math, if 5% of the non-PA families shop each day (I used 100, allowing for some sibs), and they spent $50 each time, incremental sales tax revenue over a 190 day school year would be about $4000 (100x5%*$50x8.25%x190). Just a rough estimate. FWIW, the 5% and $50 seem high to me.
Room rate at the Mayflower looked to be around $65/night (cheap!); The new 12% hotel tax would equal $7.80/night. So it take about 400 night-stays for the hotel to generate $4000 in tax. With 37 rooms (per the article), that equates to a 3.7% of their annual capacity; or, put another way, about 1.4 guests per day. They were doing pretty bad, not sure if it was THAT bad ;-) And as the above posts point out, there was probably some other shopping/eating on the part of the guests as well.
I'm not sure if the new school is good or bad and there are plenty of other considerations (like does it pay property tax? is the assessment stepped up?) but on just sales vs. hotel tax, it probably is net negative. The numbers are very small in either case, though.
Gosh, sorry - typo - I meant 500 nights to break even. Just a typo - the math is still correct.
This isn't about motel vs private school. The use of the motel's land is what is at hand.
Will a shopping center / office bring more to Palo Alto (visitors, residents, property values) than a private school?
It is hard to say. You can't just say that a school will bring a bunch of opportunities for the area. I think Mike is concerned about residential property values. In that case, we need to focus on the bigger issue. What are the long term effects?
Who said anyone would build a shopping center at that location?
Why would anyone, in their right mind, even try considering what you have to go through to build any retail in PA?
there would have to be traffic studies, environmental impact reports, the transportation and planning committee would weigh in, as well as the architectural review board and on and on.
All that would be needed is one or two neighbors to "oppose" the project and the city council would go into lockdown---putting off a vote for 5-10 years.
Marvin - why different with a school. don't neighbors get to review the proposed construction, etc.
Andy I'm wondering why a private school (a business) isn't paying taxes to the city like any other business would?
Stratford school at the Garland site brought many new people from East Bay Cities and other communities into our neighborhoods who would normally not drive into our neighborhoods on their way to work.
The added cars made more pollution and added to the volume of traffic right within our neighborhood.
The people at Stratford told me that it was a commuter school - intended for parents who live in other cities to drop their kids off and pick them up from the after school child care facility.
In addition to the added car traffic in our neighborhood at a time when I am trying to make sure my elementary school kids get themselves safely to school, many of these parents are now looking for ways to add themselves to our free public schools, after a brief introduction to our community.
When will Palo Alto realize that we cannot house and educate the entire region without degrading our city and schools.
This place will no longer be a desirable place to live or work if we continue on this path.
We know of many families thinking of moving up to the hills in the surrounding cities which do not have the traffic and high density housing. The only issue many of us are concerned with is the risk of fire.
For those parents not considering to leave the state (to places like Oregon or Idaho), Los Altos, Portola Valley, Woodside, Atherton, and La Honda are destinations which many of us are considering.
Just think, we can live next to many of the developers, and CEO's who were responsible for doing this to our city.
Regardless of which direction we move, the realtors will be overjoyed.
A rare point of agreement with Mike, on this one.
An elite private school, brainy and rich, displacing a low end motel, will, in a variety of ways, increase my property values. Are there other elite schools that want to buy out some other low end motels near me? It would be better for me.
I support elite motels, like that proposed by Stanford. They bring more value. I also support a conference center at the airport/golf course, if totally financed by the private sector.
Mike is completely wrong about ABAG and BMRs, but I agree with him on this one. Thanks, Mike.
Parent, so it sounds like you may not like PA as much now, but the city is being introduced to people who like it a lot. Isn't that part of the evolution of cities and towns?
I always think that if the people who owned this place 50 years ago were opposed to change, there would still be fruit orchards and all of us would live elsewhere.
Private schools do, sensibly, leverage the PA "brainy" brand. Of course, they also pay the price of real estate, and presumably pay the property taxes (does anyone know about that?). It's the market at work.
Our middle schools are growing, both the private and public, in numbers. This is going to add, either directly or indirectly, to the numbers in Gunn and Paly. What are we doing to increase places here? Oh yes, put up some portables.
No problemo - Build UP, 2 or three levels - like San mateo and Los Gatos. Beautiful high school buildings, that maximize schools district property. Part of the Paly campus is already 2 stories. That should provide at least one obvious clue to those who appear challenged to find classroom space around here.
I don't necessarily disagree with you, but putting up a few portables seems to be what our school board can do as it is done quickly whereas building up tends to take longer, generally speaking because to build up we have to demolish first as the buildings are not designed to be added on top of without being below code. So, obviously, if this is decided on then portables would be needed anyhow for the interim.
The bigger question of course is do we want humongous high schools? I am not thinking about the numbers of students in classrooms, APs, etc. but a student body that is so large that it completely daunts the individual. How many places are on the A sports teams, these cannot be increased with bigger student bodies. How many leads in the school play? How many homecoming queens? How many speeches at graduation? How long will the graduation process last? And what are the chances of actually being able to see your own student on the stage at graduation?
I don't particularly want to make our high schools any smaller. However, I am just as certain that I do not want mega high schools. I am not against a second storey on any school building, it makes sense of land use, particularly when basement parking lots are underneath. No. What I do not want is to increase our high schools so that the whole high school experience becomes a negative experience for the average student who never gets picked for anything. Oh, and it will not necessarily mean that more of our high schoolers will get into Stanford, just lower the chances for all.
Maybe the hookers will stop walking ECR in front of the Glass Slipper motel (2 doors down from Mayflower).
It will be nice to have more kids in the Ventura neighborhood, despite the potential traffic problems.
BTW, the Stratford school needs to vacate the Garland site on No. Cal. Ave. for PAUSD's 13th elementary school in 3 years.
Parent, I don't hear of any of the problems you bring up in San Mateo, or Los Gatos. There are many other communities with larger high schools than we have. For a time, I attended an elite private high school that was three stories tall, with a very large student population. None of the problems you mention were part of that experience, but there sure was a heck of a lot more social order than I see on Palo Alto campuses today. :)
> if 5% of the non-PA families shop each day
If there were to be any shopping by non-PA families, it would most likely be grocery shopping--which tends to be sales tax exempt.
> How many visitors per day at the motel, compared to
> parents and students meandering through town every day?
And this is a relevant question in what way? It certainly has an elitist tinge to it.
> The use of the motel's land is what is at hand.
Yes. It would be better to have a new motel on that site than a private school. El Camino is an arterial which is suited for retail and commercial purposes.
I really do not know very much about the high schools in San Mateo or Los Gatos. One of the reasons for me living here is that I like the idea of the high schools at their present levels. I have no experience about large high schools, so I can't comment. I went to a very small high school. I understand the downsides of a very small school not offering the same number of classes, etc. But there are some very good reasons for small schools. I was able to walk anywhere on campus and know the name of anyone, student, staff or janitor, and they knew me. I had the same teachers for the same subject year after year and was with classmates year after year. When it came to getting on the sports team, or the debating team, I had a pretty good chance of either. I made speeches at various occasions during my high school career and won my share of prizes.
All of these situations are not available to all when you have a school that is too big.
I have one in college and one in high school at present and they both started kindergarten in Palo Alto. They have associated with many of the same kids over the years and I know the parents.
These experiences are what I value from the size of the schools we have now. I do not like the idea of mega schools because I think that some of the things I value now would have to change. I personally like the idea of a third high school and for those who think that it would be harmful for those who are the first intake at a new school, I think the fact that so many of the teachers and administrators would come from the existing 2 schools that their experience would in fact make the transition from 2 to 3 much easier than starting a brand new high school with completely new everyone.
I think that anyone who went through the first years of Terman's re-opening would be worth listening to on that subject.
My first reaction was to think we should build up, too, but that's only the more economical thing to do when you have to buy the land. PAUSD already owns enough land. The major expense in building will be labor - the costs of which go up exponentially if you build up. It's actually cheaper to stay single-story, especially in earthquake country. And it's MUCH safer.
I feel very strongly that we should NOT build up, especially since so much of Palo Alto is in a liquifaction hazard zone. And we don't NEED to, because we have so many unused sites that could be reopened.
You're right about the land. I was pointing to building up, assuming that you considered PAUSD's available land not fair game for building a new school.
I happen to prefer one story buildings, so it appears that we agree. I'm not sure that building up is so dangerous, though. Engineering for earthquake resistance is pretty advanced (unless we're talking quakes over 8.5)
If the people going to this school live in Palo Alto school district, they have a legitimate right to attend the high schools, even though they save Palo Alto money by not attending Palo Alto middle schools (because Palo Alto is basic aid). If they don't live in Palo Alto, why and how would they attend Palo Alto high schools?
Crowding - good point.
However, this private school is a K - 8 school and for those families who live in Palo Alto who have chosen this private option, their kids need to go somewhere for high school. This is one of the problems, our BoE seem to think that it is a bonus when a family chooses to go private rather than overflow our kindergartens, but the reality is that this may just be that these families feel that PAUSD has failed them. The reality follows that when a child graduates out of their private program, the family have to decide where to go next. For a Palo Alto family this may mean back into our ever increasing middle and high schools. For a non-PA family, it may mean the family wants to move into the area.
I am not saying that we should not give our own residents a fully fledged PAUSD education at any level, what I am saying is that having a good private school in the area that ends at 8th grade may mean we are not facing a potential explosion in our schools.
As I said before, I hope that Churchill is watching this and asking themselves the same questions that we are.
Just for the record, the parcel where the Challenger School is located (corner of East Charleston and Middlefield) is assessed at $4.2M, but pays no taxes because it has been granted an exemption since it is being used as a private school. The parcel where the Mayflower Motel is located currently is assessed at $1.7M, but will most likely be granted a similar exemption once its use is educational.
The City is obligated to provide police, fire and library services (just to name a few), for these entities--even though there is no taxes are paid to support these services by these organizations. These tax liabilities are shifted to the single family home owners of Palo Alto.
The idea that synergistic "industries" arise which generate jobs and revenue streams that offset, or are greater than commercial/retail uses for these properties can not be proven.
Anyone have any idea of who owns the Challenger School land? Do they rent the school from anyone else? Did they purpose build the school or was it previously something else in the school scenario? What is the history of this site? These are all very interesting questions when assessing the overall schools debate in PA.
My thoughts on whether Challenger or the new Keys Middle School will generate sales in local retail is that is not as likely for the parents to frequent local businesses, but the teachers, staff and students (through party supplies, etc.)
> through party supplies, etc
Unless the schools throw a lot of parties, there isn't going to be a lot of sales tax generated for the city. Teachers who live in other cities are likely to buy their supplies closer to where they live rather than where they work.
Sounds a lot like sour grapes by "Tax Loss." Keys School has been in Palo Alto for 35 years, educating Palo Alto and surrounding communities' children, and sending them to the best high schools in the area and the best colleges in the country.
What is currently at the spot: a run-down motel that rents rooms on an hourly rate and encourages some seedy people to congregate and "do business" in the neighborhood.
What will replace it? A well known private school that has been a part of Palo Alto since 1973, known for its wonderful and nurturing academic tradition, and high academic standards!
How terrible it seems, judging from many frustrated PA grumps. You forget-- all those families pay taxes too, for schools, fire, etc, and pay extra to educate their children in private schools. How many children has Keys and other private schools taken out of the PA public school system over the years? I would guess you would have to build another HS and JrHS to accommodate all of them, at a great cost to the taxpayers!
This will be a dynamic entity in the area, with students, families, and teachers participating in the life of that neighborhood, replacing a seedy motel none of you have even stayed in before (and likely avoided).
I see no negatives in having superb educational facilities as part of the Palo Alto tradition. If Palo Altans supported private schools as much as they think or say they support education in general, this move would be welcomed with open arms by all. It will beautify the neighborhood, replace run down facilities with new ones, give a vibrant energy to the community, and add to the rich tradition of private schools in Palo Alto.
What'snot to love? Oh yeah, the disgruntled tax payers will think of something...
There are some excellent pro's, and con's on the matter.
The May Flower became what it is because of the lack of basic city standards. In some ways the property condition mirrors most slum lords in the area! If the city had some form of code of ethics, the motel owners would of be more receptive to improving their product, and, or property! Thus, the motel might of generated more tax revenue.
Someone mentioned that if the people who lived here 50 years ago were still around, there would still be fruit orchards! Well, what is wrong with that!
I grew up in PA, and I saw many changes that I thought was the vain of progress! In many ways, PA has been ruined by the endless pursuit of MONEY!
During the sixty's, and early seventy's PA did have enough school sites to educate the children of the wealthy, but with the claim of decreasing enrollment the city sold many school sites to housing developers.
Due to the city's greed for tax revenue, the lack of school sites is what it is today!
Just my three cents worth!
I agree that we could engineer pretty safe buildings for two story, but all of the costs, engineering, labor, etc., are way more for two story than for one. Again, the major reason to go two-story is land costs, which we are both in agreement isn't an issue here because PAUSD still owns enough land.
My point about the liquifaction hazards was that one story is not only safer in a very serious earthquake, but the chances of a one-story being usable and less costly to repair in the event of a big quake are better. In the event of a serious quake in our area, our schools will be community centers. Plus, as a parent, I would rather we err on the side of safety with the kids. One-story buildings are safer.
I just think there are too many downsides and unnecessary costs to building up, especially when we don't really have to. I think Skelly doesn't want to deal with having to redistrict to open a third high school here - and he has a point - but maybe sweetening the deal by avoiding redistricting altogether and making the third high school a magnet of some kind might work to get the new school open and accepted?
I think it's lovely that Key's is opening a middle school here. I hear over and again how good the education is and how kind the children are who go through the program. Those values will be an asset to our community should those children end up in PA high schools. Some things of great value can't be put in a spreadsheet.
PA public high schools are not the only good ones so people probably aren't going to move in huge numbers to attend them.
Keys is an awesome school and it will be a wonderful
addition to the area.
> What is currently at the spot: a run-down motel that rents
> rooms on an hourly rate and encourages some seedy
> people to congregate and "do business" in the neighborhood.
It would be interesting to inquire as how one comes to know this.
However, the more important point is land use issues along El Camino. There are many proposals about redevelopment that included "mix-use" -- retail/commercial at the ground level, with some sort of residential on floors above. With all of the talk about having to increase the population by upwards of 20K people over the next fifteen years, and then another 20K-30K the following fifteen-twenty years, these people are going to have to go somewhere. Clearly there will be no residential associated this a school.
Trafffic issues are always a problem. Having 100-200 cars trying to get into/out of that location during peak drivetime hours will make a knot in the traffic flow at that point. Certainly there will be some additional traffic accidents associated with traffic trying to bypass this knot.
And then there is the issue of bringing new hotels/motels to town. The city council has demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the importance of this industry segment by running Rickey's out of town, and then turning the corner of Page Mill and El Camino into a soccer field for non-residents--when that corner could be generating much TOT and other sales tax for city government purposes. Instead-by the direction of the city council--that field sits empty most of the time.
Sorry .. but the answer to the "koolaide" suggested in this posting is to look at the big picture and use the land zoned for retail/commercial to the fullest of its capabilities. Rather than seeing this property for what it is--we should be looking at it for what we would like it to be. In this case--generating property tax, retail sales tax and TOT. What we will get is not a profit center for the City (and PAUSD), but a "loss point" instead.
The land was zoned by PA for potential educational purposes.. no variance went into the property. So, PA expected some sort of educational institution possibly to but the property. Schools give a lot more than usurping land to a city, "Tax-Loss." Not everything is equated in potential loss of dollars... Palo Alto is perhaps the most wealthy city in California, and haggling over a small pieces of property is ludicrous! The money in this town in embarrassing, to say the least, hence the pejorative nickname "Shallow Alto." "Tax-Loss" best personifies this label, concerned only with adding even more money to this city's coffers, which they hardly use to benefit others from outside PA. (yadda, yadda, yadda, about soccer fields, etc.. every town in America lets others use its facilities...).
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
Ed, I have to say your post seems like overkill.
While I agree, the Mayflower is a small parcel, we are not a savvy town about managing revenue sources. Maybe you think we are rich, but the town budget says otherwise; swing by a library or police station some time to see, or ask the people with flooded basements about storm drain maintenance. We are shabby rich at best.
And I have to agree with TL, while we need playing fields, allocating a prime arterial intersection next to a high-rent commercial corridor to playing fields seems like a land-use miss to me (though I know this was a complex parcel).
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]
I agree that any redevelopment to that ECR site would be an improvement, and I agree that it would add traffic. Schools are typically good about working that out (side street entrance, or staggering pick up hours).
I agree that schools should be taxed. They use our facilities. Water, sewer, wastewater treatment, garbage, police and fire services. They charge tuition and they are in business for profit. Some of the residents may live here, and some may not. It does not matter. Schools are a business and should be taxed.
Sales tax on merchandise, and food is negligible after our city receives it's cut. The paper once published this, and it was shocking. Even the tax on a $45 a night dinner in downtown Palo Alto resulted in only a small amount of tax (peanuts). I think the city has a report on this, or it was once published in the Weekly. I cannot remember where I read it. It was really sad as to how little we gain from actual sales tax.
The burden of increased population of people shopping at the little stores here adds very little to the coffers of the our city.
On the issue of hotels, there is no certainty that any hotels that are built will be filled to capacity.
I would not be surprised if the city allows them to exceed the zoning regulations.
If developers are granted parcel tax exemptions, and allowed to build a monster hotel, and the hotel does not fill to capacity, the development could actually be a net loss for city.
Hotel tax is wonderful, provided you the customers to fill the rooms.
Once a large hotel is in place, it is kind of hard to get rid of it, but so easy to convert into apartments and condos (more hidden ABAG and BMR units).
As for collecting taxes, can someone tell me why we do not collect tax on law services in this city?
These firms make big bucks.
I am pretty certain that attorney's would not move and pull their children out of school (many attend Keys), if their firms were relocated to another nearby city. These firms are enormously wealthy and should be paying their fair share of taxes.
Does Palo Alto have a business tax license? These are typically small fees which nearly all cities charge to run any kind of business.
The fees are usually very small, but nonetheless, it is revenue.
Collecting a business tax license will not deter the good businesses from wanting to do business here.
This is great news, I remember when that area was plagued by prostitutes and porno stores.
From Sodom to Keys School in a lifetime-- outstanding!
> Business Tax --The fees are usually very small, but
> nonetheless, it is revenue.
Most cities claim that their "business tax" is revenue neutral, meaning that it only pays for the administration of the tax collection process. Some cities claim that the "business tax" is really to help the "planning process". However, once in place, there is rarely any follow up as to how such a tax actually helps "planning".
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