Push comes to shove on possible Cubberley deal

Council, school board, both will discuss future of 8-acre parcel next week

Push may finally be coming to shove on the fate of Palo Alto's treasured but dilapidated Cubberley Community Center.

The Palo Alto City Council Monday will consider whether to pursue negotiations on a possible deal with the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, as the district looks to buy acreage to build "a state-of-the-art educational facility."

Also next week, the Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education will hold an open discussion of Cubberley after pondering the Middlefield Road parcel for weeks behind closed doors.

Foothill for years has leased space in five buildings at Cubberley, serving about 4,000 students in its satellite Middlefield Campus. Now it appears ready to either purchase and upgrade some Cubberley land -- or build its new Foothill-De Anza Education Center elsewhere.

Foothill is eyeing eight acres at Cubberley's northern edge that are owned by the City of Palo Alto. Cubberley's remaining 27 acres are owned by the Palo Alto Unified School District.

The school district closed Cubberley High School due to declining enrollment in 1979, and the campus became a community center in a lease arrangement with the city, with Foothill as the anchor tenant.

Part of the eight acres sought by Foothill is currently leased at low cost for community activities, including artists' and dance studios.

Foothill-De Anza set a midsummer deadline for expressions of interest from various parties, including private brokers and the City of Sunnyvale, so it can move forward with building a campus.

The college district says it plans a facility that will serve Silicon Valley "through programs and partnerships that seamlessly transition individuals from high school to community college to the university and the workplace as well as offering a rich array of lifelong learning opportunities."

On Monday, the council will consider a recommendation by City Manager James Keene to submit a "letter of interest" to Foothill by mid-July.

The letter would indicate an interest in "pursuing discussions" with Foothill-De Anza -- in no way constituting a sale at this point.

But the school district -- now confronting a trend of fast-rising enrollment -- has indicated it wants the entire Cubberley campus to stay on tap as possible K-12 expansion space.

In a June 24 letter to City Manager Keene, school Superintendent Kevin Skelly referred to concerns about "the district's finite capacity" to accommodate enrollment growth as well as "how Foothill-De Anza's proposed operations and proposed parking needs would successfully coexist with a future K-12 school site."

The school board will hold its discussion of Cubberley at its meeting Tuesday, June 28.

Should the city decide to sell the parcel to Foothill-DeAnza, the Palo Alto school district would have the first right of refusal, a city staff report notes. The district would need to decide within 90 days whether to buy the land, which would be at current market value.

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Like this comment
Posted by How about a joint facility
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:21 pm

How about being creative, thinking outside the box, and doing a joint PAUSD and Foothill-DeAnza facility, where the high school students could take classes at and/or transition to Foothill, all in the same campus. This would be awesome. Let's not forget that there is already a high school program at Foothill for PAUSD students, as well as some Foothill classes offered by Palo Alto high schools...

A joint facility is the way to go.

Like this comment
Posted by smart
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 25, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Absolutely! A joint solution. What PAUSD doesn't seem to get is that the fundamental model for education at K-6 to 12 is starting to change, and change fast. We may not even need that much physical infrastructure in 10 years. Think ahead, folks - and don't squander this *opportunity*!

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 25, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Smart - while I agree that education will/can/should change, we will still need infrastructure (aka as classrooms, athletic fields, gyms, etc.) for our students. Unless you envision all of Palo Alto homeschooling their kids.

Like this comment
Posted by Insane
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2011 at 5:00 am

The notion that Palo Alto would even consider giving up full and exclusive rights to the parcel, given growing enrollment and the possible future need for a third high school is absolutely insane. If Foothill De Anza wants to lease then great-- otherwise, let's let them build elsewhere. We need to be blunt and clear-eyed here. Foothill De Anza may offer a valuable service, but it's our top-ranked secondary schools that are by far the bigger value to our community. Preserving an option for future expansion needs to be our focus.

Like this comment
Posted by laura
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2011 at 8:55 am

We need to reopen Cubberley ASAP as our third high school. Been on the Gunn or Paly campus lately? Both are wall to wall people. Our school board is so short sighted .....

Like this comment
Posted by City not PAUSD
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2011 at 9:31 am

"Our school board is so short sighted ....."

But this is the portion that the City owns, not the school district.

Like this comment
Posted by another parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 27, 2011 at 10:18 am

I hope you are writing your ideas for joint facility directly to school board and administration. They may not see this blog and the idea has a lot of potential.

Like this comment
Posted by The future lies ahead
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 27, 2011 at 11:13 am

Foothill adds a valuable asset to our community. Let's think about how to integrate all our needs: City , residents, PAUSD, Foothill, and other community activities. Funds from the sale can be used to upgrade the remaining Cubberley property. This is a good time to have a dialog between the Palo Alto community, CPA, PAUSD, Foothill to create a win-win solution.

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Posted by jb
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jun 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

We have elementary growth problems as well as highschool growth. If the Greendell school needs to be re-opened as an elementary school, the problem looming is car traffic and kid safety. I don't know if there are safe routes for elementary students on bicycles as well as parking for the cars used by highschool and Foothill students. Maybe we also need to think about public transit and school buses.

Like this comment
Posted by Big mistake.
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Joint campus! Seriously! 15-year old ninth grade girls and boys mixing it up with twenty-year old adults from all over the region. There may be some high school kids with the maturity for this, but those kids are already commmuting part-time to Foothil compuses. That works for them.

I want a high school experience for my teen. I did not move to Palo Alto so my kid would get pushed into Foothill.

Have you looked at the list of classes Foothill specified in their letter to Council? There is a reason the Board of Education says they don't see synergies with PAUSD programs.

This would be a huge mistake.

Like this comment
Posted by StillThinkingAboutIt
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Can someone point me/us to a map that highlights the 8 acres owned by the City and what is owned by the High School.

And by the way - ultimately WE, the citizens of Palo Alto, own ALL of the land.

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 27, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Web Link Trying here to post a link I found searching "Cubberley" for a March 18, 2010 story. Diagrams are included that show the planned development adjacent to the shopping center.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 28, 2011 at 1:29 am

Last night the City Council did approve submitting a Letter of Interest to Foothill, but indicated leasing was the preferred option. They also said PAUSD should be a part of any discussion since it has the right of first refusal on the 8 acres if it is to change hands.

The 8 acres are the buildings closest to Cubberley Center. I believe the dividing line between the PAUSD part and City part runs between building sections D and E.

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Professorville
on Jun 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Big Mistake, the original configuration had Greendell, 6 year olds, very close to Cubberley, 18 year olds.

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

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