The future of Cubberley Community Center hangs in the balance as two public agencies prepare to take up the issue today (Monday, July 11).
Palo Alto City Manager James Keene has retreated from an earlier plan to present a draft "letter of interest" in possibly selling 8 city-owned acres of Cubberley to the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.
Keene said it would be premature to prepare such a letter in light of a June 28 declaration by the Palo Alto Board of Education that it will need all 35 acres of Cubberley -- including the city-owned piece -- for future school expansion.
Council members Monday are expected to discuss how they want to move forward.
Keene said that in his conversations with Foothll-De Anza Chancellor Linda Thor, it's clear that "while Foothill remains interested in Cubberley ... they also value the relationship they have" with the city, school district and community groups, who rent space at Cubberley and have vocally opposed any sale.
Meanwhile, the Foothill-De Anza board -- whose five members include former Palo Alto Mayor Betsy Bechtel and Palo Alto resident Bruce Swenson -- will ponder their options in their own meeting Monday night.
Foothill has bond funds it wants to use to purchase 8 to 12 acres in Palo Alto, Mountain View or Sunnyvale to build a new Education Center. Trustees say they want to create a "state-of-the-art educational facility serving 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."
Besides Palo Alto, Foothill is in discussions with the city of Sunnyvale regarding a portion of the Onizuka Air Force Station site and has received a proposal from Lane Partners for another parcel in Sunnyvale.
Following the 1979 closure of Cubberley High School due to declining enrollment, community leaders at the time crafted a plan to preserve the Cubberley acreage while providing a revenue stream for schools.
The city pays the school district $4.48 million a year to lease Cubberley, which it in turn leases out as a community center. Foothill is the anchor tenant, renting space in five Cubberley buildings for its "Middlefield Campus."
Additionally, the city pays the schools $1.73 million a year under a "covenant" in which the district promises not to sell any district-owned land for housing development, as well as $600,000 for after-school day care sites on elementary school campuses.
The city collects about $2.5 million in rent from various Cubberley tenants. Second to Foothill's $933,000 annual payment is $81,000 a year from ACME education, an after-school and summer Chinese language program.
ACME is followed by $64,000 in annual rent paid by Good Neighbor Montessori School, followed by $62,000 from Dance Connection.
On a square-foot basis, the highest-paying tenant at Cubberley is the California Law Revision Commission, which leases only 800 square feet, followed by Foothill, which leases 39,672 square feet.
Foothill's lease at Cubberley, going back to 1989, expires in 2014.
The city took ownership of 8 acres at Cubberley in 2001 in exchange for the Terman Middle School campus. The city had acquired the surplussed campus in 1981, but the school district needed it back to re-open it a decade ago.