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School board asks city to link housing, schools

Letter to City Council formalizes school board's concern over new housing impact on schools

With a nervous eye on crowded classrooms, the Palo Alto Board of Education formally has asked the City Council to keep school "capacity challenges" in mind when the city considers long-range housing plans for Palo Alto.

In a letter to the council signed last week by all five of its members, the school board noted that this fall's 2.95 percent enrollment increase "is more than previous years, and represents a continued, steady, average 2.4 percent annual increase we have seen in the district over the past 20 years.

"This trend shows no sign of abating and has been present in virtually every economic climate," the letter said.

Though long a topic of informal chatter and behind-the-scenes staff discussion, the effect of new housing on school enrollment increasingly is showing up on official agendas. It has been a prime topic in the two most recent monthly meetings of the City-School Liaison Committee.

At the Oct. 27 meeting, city and school officials both noted that recent "housing yields" -- the number of school enrollees generated by each unit of new housing -- have been higher than original demographic projections.

"The condos are turning out more kids than originally projected by (demographers) Lapkoff & Gobalet," School Board Member Camille Townsend said.

Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie said the yield increase is "consistent with our own findings. The actual findings are higher than the projections," Emslie said.

"Within the last couple of years, Lapkoff & Gobalet increased their student-yield projections because of that historical overage," school board member Dana Tom observed.

Board members stressed they are not trying to tell council members what to do or to be in any way "prescriptive," but ask that the city keep the schools in mind as they consider new housing proposals.

Comments

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Posted by anciana
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

I have been watching as Palo Alto housing supplies increase and have been feeling concerned about the effect on schools. But I have in my fading memory a recollection of reading -- in the context of a discussion about yet another potential condo development -- that it is illegal to consider school impaction when you are considering new housing. Or would it have been only low-income housing? Does anyone know about the legality of considering the impact on schools of new housing?


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 1, 2010 at 11:12 am

I understood the City may not consider School enrollment when approving developers requests for a new development. However, they can inform the School District of proposed future developments and it is up to the School District to stay ahead of demand.

When the City approves a development it is always many months if not years before the development is completed, and still longer before it's occupied. There is plenty of time for the School District to make the necessary arrangements for the possible increase in enrollment.

I hope the School Board's letter that asks the city to keep the schools in mind as they consider new housing proposals, does not compromise the City's ability to approve new developments or cause the City to act illegally.


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Posted by Frank
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 1, 2010 at 11:20 am

I think the PAUSD needs to get used to this. Even if the City Council adamantly refuses to approve any more housing in Palo Alto our population will grow as more people will live together in these monster homes we have allowed now.

Personally I support allowing new denser housing - where else will out children live?

So - build new schools and enlarge existing schools while maintaining excellence. That is the challenge.


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Posted by John Barton
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2010 at 11:56 am

As a former school board and city council member I read this article with interest. Given that the bulk of school growth as always come from the turnover in single family homes, as opposed to new developments, the school board must plan accordingly. (Question that? Please note that very little new housing has come on line in the last three years yet the rate of growth has been quite constant.) Short of requiring deed restrictions on the sale of existing housing stock, the Board of Education must plan for growth until this current cycle of growth naturally ends.

As a housing advocate, I remain concerned that our city as become blind and deaf to the needs of the less fortunate, the elderly, and the young when we adopt an attitude of resistance to new housing. It is in our future, whether we like it or not, and we should plan for it so that we are prepared and able to adapt rather than react. Palo Alto is a special place but it is not so special that it can or should turn a blind eye to the needs and requirements of the region.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: PA Resident

The City cannot consider the impact on schools of an _individual_ housing project (state law) but there is no such prohibition on considering such when the City is deciding on its overall plan for housing growth, called the Housing Element of the Comprehensive Plan, and it is this strategic plan that is currently under consideration.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Unfortunately, I think the letter the School Board has sent to the City reflects their inability to make decisions, let alone the right decisions.

First they vote to reopen Garland, then they vote not to reopen Garland!! Since the anticipated growth from new developments is taking place in South Palo Alto Garland was obviously the wrong school to reopen anyway.

The School Board should be seriously considering reopening Greendell or possibly rebuilding Greendell. The Young Fives program could be accommodated at Cubberley, leaving Greendell available as an elementary school.

Unfortunately, our School Board still can't make the right decisiona because they're now planning to enlarge Fairmeadow with a new two story classroom pod.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

The housing being built in South Palo Alto must be invisible to John Barton.

Even senior housing being built (eg at the JCC) allows seniors to move out of their PA homes to enable more families to move in. This means that enrollment is increasing from all aspects of new housing.

We need more space in South schools. Cubberley and Greendell with or without the space from Peninsula Daycare will be needed and hopefully PAUSD will get this space to use for educating the kids from all the new housing in the south of the city.

It is about time BoE made themselves heard by the city.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

RE: John Barton's comment
Barton makes several disingenuous arguments

1. That the bulk of school enrollment increases come from turnover of single family homes, not _new_ developments (emphasis added). First, turnover is not something the City can control, but new development is something that it can. Second, comparing _all_ the City's single family homes to just the _new_ developments biases the results in an obvious manner. It would be fairer (but still irrelevant) to compare the impacts of _new_ single family homes (built, rebuilt, or substantially expanded) to _new_ development.

2. That the issue is providing housing for "the less fortunate the elderly, and the young". First, if you look at Palo Alto's history, you see the vast majority of the housing built has been market-rate (normal buyers) and virtually all the rest has been for families with incomes slightly below the county's average (or mean, I forget). I sit on the City's Technical Advisory Group on the Housing Element and it is tremendously difficult to find ways to fund housing in Palo Alto for the truly needy -- costs, especially land acquisition, are just too high. Third, I have been in meetings where housing advocates focus on providing housing for _new_ residents at the cost to existing residents. They claim to worry about housing forseniors, but push policies that would eliminate the walk-able neighborhood retail that helps seniors stay in their own homes. The push policies that encourage replacement of existing affordable housing with new housing that would be mostly market-rate and where even the below-market-rate units would be less affordable (Aside: Council member Karen Holman has long been a voice crying in the wilderness about the need to focus on protecting existing affordable housing from redevelopment).

3. Barton's claim that "very little new housing has come online in the last three years yet the rate of growth has been quite constant" has the format of a statement that cherry-pick statistics. It certainly is not true in my neighborhood. The Arbor Real development -- formerly Hyatt Rickey's -- at El Camino and Charleston was projected to have almost no children, but the sale of the first increment of housing units turned the nearest elementary school--Juana Briones--from one that received the overflow from the rest of the district into one that had a substantial overflow. An then there is the large development at the former PA Medical campus in downtown.


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Posted by John Barton
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:10 pm

In response to Doug Moran's comments:

I did not mean to imply there has been no multi-family development. Rather that in the last 3 years very little as come on board and thus the constant rate of growth is instructive as to cause. Correct me if I am wrong, but the two projects to which he refers, Arbor Real and the PA Medical Center area, are all older than 3 years.

As to affordable housing. I agree it is very hard to do in PA but that makes it all the more important to try.

As to the notion that the JCC (another writer) has an off-set component. That is a good point but I suspect that since the JCC is marketed to the region that there is little off-set within Palo Alto. I do not know that for sure but it is worth looking at.


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Posted by John Barton
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:11 pm

I misstated Doug's comments in the last post. He did not reference the PA medical site. Sorry for the confusion.


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Posted by Douglas Moran
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm

Douglas Moran is a registered user.

The problem of the School District's and City's demographers using irrelevant statistics is a long running one--it was already a standard complaint when I became involved in these issues over a decade ago. For the Arbor Real (former Hyatt Rickey's) development cited in my previous comment, residents pointed out that similar previous developments had grossly exceeded similar projections, but the City accepted the developer's numbers (thereby saving the developer big bucks).

When you sit in these hearings and hear that the projections are based on "national averages", you just have to cringe.

Similar problems occur in projections for transportation usage (bus and train). Projections for Palo Alto are routinely based upon usage in cities with well-developed public transit networks (San Francisco, New York, Boston, DC, ...) where transit can get you there faster than driving as opposed to here where transit for the typical person takes more than 3 times longer (transit planners use 1.2 to 1.4 times longer as their threshold for determining if transit is likely to be favored).


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Posted by overcrowded
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:31 pm

So we can possibly alleviate the elementary overcrowded by opening up yet another elementary in the south and the north. But the bigger issue is our high schools, they are too large. We really need to reopen Cubberley or the council needs to ask the developers for some more money to enlarge the current high schools.


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Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 1, 2010 at 1:49 pm

Thank you, Doug, for injecting reality into this discussion.

Many of us wrote to the city council about the proposed dense “transit-oriented” housing and the impacts it would have on traffic and schools. We were assured that the housing units were too small for people with children and everyone in the units would use public transit.

Let us not forget that John Barton is a charter member of ALPA (A Livable Palo Alto). He wrote an op-ed for the Weekly saying his group intends to lobby "for the right kind of housing in the right locations." (I guess the group gets to define what’s “right.”)
Web Link


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Posted by MJ
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 1, 2010 at 2:11 pm

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Also, let's not forget that the Palo Alto school's budget does not increase with increased enrollment.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm

If the PAUSD can't handle all of the children within its current boundaries, then realign the boundaries. For instance, children living in Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley, and the Stanford Campus could be reassigned to other districts. No reason the Stanford kids couldn't go to school in Menlo Park, or Stanford could open charter schools to provide education on the campus, at least at the elementary level.

Some sections of South Palo Alto could be carved off and assigned to Los Altos elementary, or in the North, children living closest to East Palo Alto could be assigned to those districts.

If creating new districts doesn't work, then capping the number of kids in a given school's zone, shunting the overflow to Mountain View, Los Altos, or East Palo Alto might provide relief.

The Santa Clara Grand Jury suggested that reorganizing school districts was something that needed to be considered. Time for us to consider this problem of local governmental entities that are just too small to succeed as a basis for reorganizing into more viable sizes.

Doing nothing other than business as usual seems to be what the PAUSD has in mind, which is not going to work in the future.


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Posted by Fred Astaire
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm

[In response to Bill from Barron Park]

It may be tempting to ask the Los Altos Hills and Stanford folks to take a hike and send their kids to another school district. However, school districts are not synonymous with cities. For examplem, there are parts of South Palo Alto that are in the Mountain View school district, just as there are parts of Los Altos Hills that are in PAUSD. School districts were established many decades ago and significant property tax allocations (certainly nice to have the ones from Los Altos Hills!) from the respective residences go to the school districts they are in.

You may as well ask that Palo Alto be booted into San Mateo County -- possible but likely not as trivial as (perhaps) first thought.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

> School districts were established many decades ago and significant
> property tax allocations (certainly nice to have the ones from
> Los Altos Hills!) from the respective residences go to the school
> districts they are in.

While this may be true, so what? Is there a paper trail to document these decisions? Are there financial projections to help us see what the costs for providing new school infrastructure might be under the current growth paths?

The point of making these sorts of suggestions is that we (Palo Altans) are looking at some fairly stiff new taxes to pay for inordinately expensive school sites unless there are some fundamental changes at the PAUSD. There are only about 20,000 taxable parcels in Palo Alto, and maybe 25,000 taxable parcels in the PAUSD's jurisdiction. At some point, there is only so much money to be had for school taxes in such a small area.

Sorry .. but claiming that "it's the way it is .. and can't be changed" won't be acceptable in the not-too-distant future.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Bill, you're not thinking about all the money that would be lost.

If Stanford and Los Altos Hills were assigned to neighboring school districts they would presumably take all their tax dollars with them. Los Altos Hills alone provides the PAUSD with one third of their revenue. I learned this when I sat on a school closure committee years ago.

Neighboring School Districts would love the tax revenue generated from Stanford and LAH!! After all those kids have transferred, you'd probably have to close Gunn High School because you wouldn't have the money to run it.


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Posted by Deep Throat
a resident of another community
on Nov 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm

A portion of Los Altos Hills was included in the Palo Alto Unified School District to permit David Packard of Los Altos Hills to serve on the Board of Trustees of the Palo Alto school district.

The City of Palo Alto zoning ordinance does not count basement floor area against the maximum gross floor area allowed for a single-family home, but the school district does not include the basement floor area either when calculating the development fee paid to the school district. The school district should change its fee structure to include single-family residence basement floor area.

John Barton's wife Lydia Tan was the Executive Vice President of Bridge Housing, California's largest subsidized housing developer, when Bridge developed the subsidized housing in southeast Palo Alto.

When Palo Alto had its peak public school enrollment in 1967-68 there may have been 35 students per classroom. Now, class sizes are as low as 20 students per class, and parents with as many as four children in the school system believe they have an entitlement to have what is essentially the quality of a private school education subsidized by the over 80% of Palo Alto residents without children in the school system.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm

> you're not thinking about all the money that would be lost.

And with every lost "tax dollar" comes a lost "expense". Looking that this from the point-of-view of "tax dollars I get" is how we get into problems like this one.

The underlying issue is the cost of infrastructure, and possibly future pension obligations, which are more of a problem for CalPERS employees at the moment, but might become a problem for CalSTRS employees once the full extent of the state-wide pension problem becomes known.

Given that the PAUSD has to bear the costs of Stanford kids, and the VTA transfers, and the Staff inter-district transfers, and then possibly 2,000-3,000 new students, with State (or locally-imposed) small class sizes, a very detailed model of school district finances is needed--not one that only sees the District's finances in terms of "money lost".


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 1, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Bill says: "Given that the PAUSD has to bear the costs of Stanford kids." Who says, Stanford faculty pay property taxes just like you and I.

Stanford also very generously donated the land on which Paly, Gunn, Lucille M. Nixon and Escondido sit for the paltry sum of $1.00 per year for each site. Plus, when Terman was reopened, they gave the School District $10 million to help with the renovations. Personally, I think Stanford has been unbelievable generous to the School District.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm

> Stanford also very generously donated the land on which Paly,
> Gunn, Lucille M. Nixon and Escondido ..

Actually, Paly was taken by the PAUSD via a lawsuit using eminent domain, and paid for the property. [Not certain about Gunn's status.]

The problem with this sort of thinking is that the value of the property is so high that the cost of educating Stanford students will never even out, and (somehow) Stanford is subsidizing education in the PAUSD. In reality, the rising cost of educating Stanford students will eventually aggregate to equal, and then exceed, the value of the land when it was acquired by the PAUSD. Over time, the taxpayers of the PAUSD will end up subsidizing the Stanford operation.

Given that Palo Alto is now over 100 years old, the cost of property acquired for schools would have to be seen in terms of its original costs. Property was very cheap in the early days of the city's existence, so the acquisition costs of school sites would be small. Given the increasing costs of educating students (~= cost-of-funds/number of students) is running in the $12K-$14K per student. Depending on how the two high school properties might be valued, the cost of educating Stanford students will exceed the value of the land. Moreover, the properties revert to Stanford if the PAUSD decided to shut down either of the two high schools. Keep in mind that all of the buildings were paid for by taxes paid by property owners in the PAUSD. (Stanford Staff pay taxes, but Stanford itself qualifies for a $6B-$7B exemption (in Santa Clara County). So, the children of Stanford students living on campus end up living in tax-exempt housing.

At some point, the PAUSD taxpayers end up subsidizing Stanford's operations by educating the children of (primarily) its graduate students. This unequal relationship was fully demonstrated when the PAUSD found itself agreeing to the so-called Stanford/Terman Agreement of a few years ago--when Stanford stated it would offer the PAUSD $10M
to refurbish Terman, and once this money was accepted, Stanford would NEVER AGAIN pay the PAUSD for any increase in head count associated with the Stanford growth plans. The PAUSD caved in and took the money.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 1, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Bill says: "Stanford would NEVER AGAIN pay the PAUSD" Not true, the 10M. for the Terman refurbishment was for 10 years only.

Also, the School District educates the sons and daughters of Stanford faculty and they pay property taxes just like the rest of us, and the PAUSD receives their share of those property taxes.


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Posted by Joe Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2010 at 10:44 am

This should be (yet another) lesson to The Powers That Be: hire your experts, but deign to hear (not talk to, HEAR) us little people, too. (That goes equally for city counsel and BofE.)

You would have heard us laughing about the prediction that the development at Rickey's wasn't going to put pressure on schools. Maybe you could have spent fifteen minutes walking up and down the stairs of some tall townhouses with someone over 60 with arthritis, or even someone 45 currently caring for an elder in an inaccessible home and thinking about the personal impact of aging in a chimney-like home. Maybe you could have spent some time at the bank with families trying to finance a decent housing space (you could have seen the mortgage crisis coming a mile away with this one, too).

It's still not too late to get out of your echo chamber over Measure A expenditures and the direction of our district and city there. The view is much more clear out here...


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Posted by Sylvia
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2010 at 11:16 am

I'd like to thank the well-informed commenters on this article about schools. I learned a lot reading these; and, wonderfully, the comments were respectful of others' opinions.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2010 at 11:46 am

The build-more-housing(BMHP)people are wrong and state laws and ABAG directives need to be changed.

First we need to confront the big lie that population in the Bay Area has to grow in order for residents to prosper. ABAG and our elected officials are supporting failed policy. I've lived in the Bay Area for 60 years and have watched the growth. Where is the prosperity? In the hands of a few.

There is a period in which economic growth, conventionally understood or no, brings about an improvement of the quality of life. But only up to a point, the threshold point, beyond which, if there is more growth, quality of life begins to decline. And that is the situation in which we are now.

No economy is possible in the absence of ecosystem services. The economy is a subsystem of a larger finite system, the biosphere, hence permanent growth is impossible. And the fundamental value to sustain a new economy should be that no economic interest, under no circumstance, can be above life-sustaining ecosystems.

People need to oppose the pro-growth at any price laws because our elected officials will not change them without pressure.


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Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Unfortuately for too long has Palo Alto elected to the City Council people who were dogmatic to special interests: environmental causes & below-market rate housing. These members would always vote for these projects and never considered the effects on traffic, schools or city services. Many of these council members had vested interests, like Barton, whose wife worked for an Affordable housing developer.

The below market rate program has been around for over 30 years, and I say the results are disapointing - is housing any more affordable? And what about the city budget deficit? A couple of years ago, the city gave away a prime piece of property near downtown for below market rate housing - very generous, but given the city's deficit, was this good stewardship of city resources? I think not.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 2, 2010 at 6:34 pm

> Bill says: "Stanford would NEVER AGAIN pay the PAUSD" ]
> Not true

There is a big difference between the Staff living on the Stanford lands, in homes they have purchased, and Stanford the institution. As as been pointed out many times in these blogs, the faculty pays property taxes (whether they have now, or ever, had kids in the PAUSD). Stanford (the Institution), and the Stanford Land Management Company, are the owners of all the land, and for the most part, are exempt from paying property taxes, under what the SCC Assessor's Office calls an "educational mission exemption" (or words to that effect). When someone says "Stanford" in these sorts of discussions, one must necessarily be understood to mean "the Institution".

In the case of the Stanford/Terman Agreement, it was Stanford (the Institution) that entered into the agreement with the PAUSD, not the faculty living on the Stanford lands.

Stanford, the Institution, has a $6B-7B property tax exemption for the vast majority of its property. Given that property tax is the largest component of the funding of the PAUSD, it's imperative that the residents of the community understand the details of property tax assessment (in the land of Prop.13) and exemptions of large, well-connected educational establishments, like Stanford.


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Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Not sure how many students Stanford brings to Palo Alto school district, but I am sure these kids help to keep the schools API scores high and significantly contribute to the overall prestige of Palo Alto schools.
Interesting details about John Barton's wife - no wonder he is in support of new housing.


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Posted by Left Hand / Right Hand
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2010 at 9:15 pm

This is one of those situations where the left hand doesn't seem to know what the right hand is doing, and yet both need to coordinate somehow to make wise decisions by the City on its overall planning and by the School Board on its decisions impacted by enrollment numbers (e.g., sites, staff, programs, budget, etc.). The need to coordinate is not rocket science, just common sense.

There is a City-School Liaison Committee and that seems to me to be the right place to start coordinating, as appropriate.


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Posted by Barton and Housing
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm

About John Barton profiting from housing, not only is he an architect who profits from construction, but his wife is an executive with developer Bridge Housing.
Bridge Housing built the below market rate housing for the JCC, but in addition, Bridge built a separate, market rate development next to the campus, called Altaire.

Altaire has over 100 market rate town houses. It is near the JCC, on Fabian Way, so people may think it is part of the JCC, but it is completely separate and for profit. Altairepaloalto.com


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2010 at 6:38 am

> Not sure how many students Stanford brings to Palo Alto
> school district

Around 450. Stanford has indicated that it might increase this number upwards of 1200 in the coming years.

Not certain about the API contribution, but the cost contribution is upwards of $8M-$10M a year.


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Posted by Germaine
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 3, 2010 at 11:16 am

Doug Moran: "I sit on the City's Technical Advisory Group on the Housing Element and it is tremendously difficult to find ways to fund housing in Palo Alto for the truly needy -- costs, especially land acquisition, are just too high."

By implication, Mr. Moran, like most in the anti-housing echo chamber, simply, and conveniently "give up" when it comes to housing innovation. This is elitism in disguise, plain and simple.

And, note further, in another post, that Moran just "gives up" by comparing our lack of good regional public transport to other regions.

So why aren't Moran and other anti-housing advocates pushing hard for regional solutions to mass transit? Because they know it would help solve access to lower cost housing, here, and debunking their claims and projections about who would buy that housing, enabled by what transportation patterns exist *today*. There is no vision in Moran's ideas, and there seems no vision in most of the rabid anti-housing groups that dot our community.

What's even more revealing is that Moran and most of the anti-housing people here wear the "Green" label on their sleeves, yet they consistently argue against doing everything possible to stop the growth of suburban sprawl, which is well-known as the primary cause of fouling the environment. Mass transport would help solve that problem, but Moran and his helpers are silent on this issue. Hmmmm....

Thus, buried in all of Moran's (and many who agree with him) claims about limits to housing is an implied NIMBYISM and lack of willingness to look for solutions that benefit the greater good, as Palo Alto evolves (and evolve it will, in spite of putting blinders on).

I find it a tragedy that this kind of short sightededness (and Green hypocrisy) is enlisted in the construction of Palo Alto's future Comprehensive Plan.

What future? This looks like "back to the future" to me, with a lack of awareness that Palo Alto is part of a growing region, and that we are heading for more urbanization. Mr. Moran, and our political leadership should plan for that, instead of setting up conditions that will choke our city off in the future.

Palo Alto already is far less relevant as a leader on the peninsula than it used to be. Mr. Moran's ideas, if adopted, will speed that trend


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 3, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Ada says: "Not sure how many students Stanford brings to Palo Alto school district."

Most of the children of faculty attend Lucille M. Nixon, and faculty housing pay property taxes. Graduate student's children, those in graduate student housing mostly attend Escondido. There are more children of faculty than children of students and graduate students.


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Posted by bRt5e
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 3, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Stanford faculty housing pay property taxes but at a lower rate.
The price of Stanford houses are restricted from their full market values by virtue of being available to "APPROVED STANFORD FACULTY AND STAFF ONLY". It's similar to in-family transfers, which shifts the costs of education elsewhere.


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Posted by Barton and Housing
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2010 at 4:40 pm

It is clear from Mr. Germaine's diatribe that many of the pro High Speed Rail advocates are housing developers and promoters. People who think a park will be built over or next to the rail line are dreaming. There's big money to be made in housing.
Yet another reason to be suspicious of HSR.


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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

> Stanford faculty housing pay property taxes but at a lower rate.

Actually, everyone pays property taxes in CA at the same rate.

However, in the case of the Stanford faculty/staff living on the Stanford lands--the average accessed value of those properties does seem to be lower than the average accessed value of the homes in Palo Alto, and Los Altos Hills. The underlying reason is that a lot of these homes do not "turn over" at the same rate as those in Palo Alto, and Los Altos Hills. Presumably the occupants, when they retire, stay in these homes until they pass away. Living on the Stanford Campus must no doubt be a better place for them than in some senior retirement center. At some point in time, the homes that have an initial assessment that goes back to 1978 (when Prop.13 passed), will turn over, and be reassessed at market rates.

> which shifts the costs of education elsewhere

This is true. It's ironic that this group of people, who are professional educators, contribute the least (as a group) to the costs of public education in the PAUSD of all the other people owning property in the district.


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Posted by A parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2010 at 1:33 am

The Stanford faculty/staff housing is in its own separate market -- the public does not compete for those properties. Also, generally, Stanford owns the land and merely leases it, which may also be the reason for the price difference, though there may be other conditions to those sales. (You see a lot of long-term land leases in places like Irvine in SoCal, but not so much up here except at Stanford.)

Sale prices are lower, therefore taxes paid are lower if Stanford isn't paying on the land.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2010 at 7:47 am

What standards and checks does Stanford put on its grad students? I once had to drive my student to Escondido Village to do a project with a classmate who lived with an Aunt during the week and went home to SoCal at weekends. This was not elementary age, but high school!


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Posted by Resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Resident asks,
"What standards and checks does Stanford put on its grad students?"
The only acceptable standard is an academic one and checking on what? No university that I know of requires students to live on campus. In particular, it would be impossible in this case.
A university is not a regular inmate prison that one is required to return to in the end of the day. How ridiculous a question!
Resident also says"
I once had to drive my student to Escondido Village to do a project with a classmate who lived with an Aunt during the week and went home to SoCal at weekends. This was not elementary age, but high school! "

If the student lived in fact the greater part of the year in Pa he/she is a resident. The law also allows parents to have their children live with another adult whom they have given guardianship either permanently or temporarily.. It's none, none of resident's business other people's decision as to where and whom their children live. But mostly, resident has no idea of why that's so. MYOB.


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Posted by resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Resident
how much do you pay in property taxes? Do you pay a fair share of use of services, capital improvements, roads, etc?


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 4, 2010 at 2:43 pm

PAUSD residency requires that the student "reside on a full-time permanent basis (seven days and seven nights) within the boundaries of the District" so while it is fine to give guardianship to another adult (aunt or otherwise) the student should not be traveling to SoCal every weekend. Technically, they shouldn't even be spending the night at another parent's home if they live outside the district.


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Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 4, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Yes, indeed house prices in Stanford are lower than market prices in PA, but not by much. Check out mlslings to see they are way above a million. If you want to argue the question of fair share, then don't pick on Stanford, pick on those who tremendously benefit from Prop 13. I pay $20K a year in property taxes and live in a very modest old house, while my neighbor who is a lawyer pays $5K for a similar house which he inherited from his mother. Prop 13 is a sacred cow, but can't it be amended to address inheritance and trusts?


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Posted by Resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm


Palo Alto Mom,
It is against legal definitions of residency and the most basic common sense to say that a person has to live 7/7 weekly. I am a legal resident of Menlo Park but I spend a lot of week-ends at the Sierra and in the city and all holidays long and short and summer away, not in California . . Both the other states, the state of California and the peninsula city where I live consider me a resident for good legal reasons. Are you saying that a student who spends all their weekends and long vacations away is not a resident? Many Palo Altans would be qualified as non-residents... I'm afraid what's good for the goose is good for the gander and PAUSD has been lucky that nobody had either the money or the inclination to press the point legally, and I think PAUSD knows it. Palo Alto is not a prison without walls where a student is required not to leave the premises, or is it? Common sense, common sense....and the law


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 5, 2010 at 5:24 pm

Resident - I just posted what is on the PAUSD website - that a student must "reside on a full-time permanent basis (seven days and seven nights) within the boundaries of the District" .

This doesn't mean you can't travel, but I suspect was aimed at people who rent a tiny apartment in PA and actually "live" in Woodside or Portola Valley or Mountain View.


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Posted by resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2010 at 4:33 am

Yes, palo alto Mom, I think you are right. The distinction between those who rent and those who own, who presumably can have all weekends away as they see fit, is not one that can legitimately made. As I said PAUSD has been lucky, nobody has taken themn to court. What I am surprised is that the PAUSD attorneys couldn't think of a definition of resident that is tighter. Live is where you spend most of your time and what you consider home. That is the fiscal definition and that is the only one which PAUSD should entertain.
If you spend your week in Palo Alto and your weekend place is in Woodside, Portola Valley or Mountain View you are a Palo Alto resident. Even the homeless have been deemed by the courts to be able to claim residency.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 6, 2010 at 1:30 pm

Many PA residents have substantial Prop 13 savings. How is that different from Stanford Faculty housing?


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Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2010 at 9:31 am

To those who continue to pick on Stanford - don't forget that the proximity to Stanford plays an important part in the value of Palo Alto real estate. Just imagine for a moment that Stanford decide to relocate, what would happen to housing prices?


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 7, 2010 at 9:48 am

The fact is some people play games to get into PAUSD. And it isn't the right thing to do. They should not be permitted to do so. End of story.


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Resident is resident - The issue is not with people who have weekend homes elsewhere, it is with people who actually live elsewhere and rent a token address.


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Posted by resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2010 at 2:15 pm

if they rent and spend the weekend elsewhere they are residents. You cannot make a distinction between those who rent and those who own. Those who own have no more right to their weekends and vacations away than those who rent. The question is where they spend most of the time- Palo Alto and where they consider home, NOT where YOU or PAUSD say they reside. If they spend their days in school, eat regularly at the given address and spend school days in PA then they are Palo Alto residents.

I understand that PAUSD would like to make such students non-residents, but the rules must apply to all, not just to those who rent for whatever reason even if the reason is to attend school. After all isn't that why most PA families move to PA? Why should renters be different?
Palo Alto has never been pressed in court on this matter. Most people wouldn't have the resources to fight the district and some people are bed cases and would loose but if somebody does and they are thge right case I think PAUSD would have to modify their definition of resident. The definition seems to be conceived by somebody with nary a modicum of legal training. A tighter definition of resident is what the district should strive for. But cannot be one that discriminates negatively the renter.


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Posted by resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2010 at 2:17 pm

sorry,

bad cases, not "bed cases", obviously


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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Resident is resident - Let me be more specific.

Example - mom lives in sunnyvale, dad lives in napa, dad rents an apartment in Palo Alto so child can go to school here. Dad stays in the apartment occasionally, but the child lives with mom in sunnyvale.

Example - family lives in Portola Valley, owns a condo in palo alto, but never stays there. Child attends PAUSD.

Example - mom uses an apartment downtown as an office. Family lives in San Carlos, uses mom's office address for school.

They do not spend most of their non-school time in Palo Alto. The live in another town. These are not people who have a house in Tahoe and leave for the weekend. These are people who are cheating the system.


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Posted by resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Well, what has to be done is a decent definition of resident which PAUSD seems to not have.

Let us see your examples:
If the student is not using the apartment he/she is not a resident, I agree. They are just using the address and that doesn't a resident make. But if the student is using the apartment during the week and the student is of an age in which he/she can do it, then the student is a resident whether or not the student leaves every week end and holidays and vacations the same as if the student/family owns a place and spends al free time away form PA. I agree that just the fact that they are renting OR own a place is not enough for residency. The student must live in the abode more than 1/2 of the year and consider that to be his/her primary residence. But renting has nothing to do with it and that's where PAUSD goes wrong. In order to be equitable PAUSD must be also after home owners and their students. It's not a cut and dry issue. But it is one that really has little impact on the numbers of the school population.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Quibbling here is not the point. It is what PAUSD considers to be resident that is the question and they say a student should live here 24/7 during the school year. We all know that students are entitled to go away for a weekend or during spring or winter break or even to spend a night with a grandparent or friend outside Palo Alto.

PAUSD considers it important enough to hire a detective (?) to look into whether students are resident here or not and students do get kicked out enough to warrant the cost of hiring the detective.

Yes, we all hear of stories and know kids who don't live here. We all know that when a home is being remodled the family moves out of Palo Alto. We know that often after divorces kids spend part of the time with one parent outside Palo Alto. We know that some deliberately try to play the system and others just live a normal lifestyle and occasionally spend time outside Palo Alto.

PAUSD just tries to find those who are playing the game.


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Posted by resident is resident
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2010 at 5:12 pm

PAUSD cannot have a rule for some and not for others. You say that what's important is what PAUSD considers a resident. I'm afraid what the PAUSD is subject to the law and must be equitable. Also the consequences of making an ad hoc rule for this matter maybe against the law . Let me explain. If any school district makes their own rules about what they consider a resident a child may not be able to attend ANY school district and that's against the law.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Resident is

I am no legal expert, I just know what is being done. If you think there is a legal problem then discuss it with PAUSD.

Every child is legally entitled to an education. If a child lives half the time in one school district and half the time in another, then there must be a legally acceptable manner for sorting out where the child is to attend school. Maybe it is time to get this gray area sorted.


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Posted by piglet
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:24 pm

The Altaire Housing is on a Brownfields toxic site. JCC had a lawsuit against the previous landowners to get more money out of them for remediation.

Its a dangerous place to live. Check out the Silicon Valley Toxics Coaltion.

The only land released for condos these days is on superfund sites or near highways. They are charging exorbitant prices for towhhouses but still cheap by PA standards ie less than one million. The city beneefits the property taxes from this massive new construction. The reason people buy here is for the schools. The developers benefit hugely as they get the cheapest land, ventilate hte garage (offgases!) take away some soil in a truck, build low cost housing and reap an enormous profit. People will do anything to get their kids into these schools. The net result is the schools are getting more and more crowded with lower income people. And Silicon Valley has 17 percent unemployment. Its all unsustainable if you ask me. The only beneficiaries are the property developers


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Posted by piglet
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 16, 2010 at 11:29 pm

And by the way I know of at least two people cheating the system.
One family has two kids almost through the school. They live in East Palo Alto but rent a restaurant downtown.

Another family has a brother in law who lives in a PA one bedroom. They live in Fremont but use the Brother in Laws address.

The school district seems totally unable to do anything about this!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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