School district wants to buy day-care site

Property on San Antonio Road also sought by housing developer

The Palo Alto Unified School District has formally declared it wants to buy a 2.65-acre parcel on San Antonio Road.

In a document posted on the district's website, school officials state they should not be required to file an environmental impact report in order to acquire the former Peninsula Day Care site at 525 San Antonio. The parcel backs up to district property at Greendell School and Cubberley Community Center.

The district wants to buy the property "to preserve the possibility of expanding school facilities in the future," the document stated.

"There is currently no building demolition being contemplated and no plans for reuse have been prepared. The property will remain in its present condition until such time as plans are developed...," it said.

Housing developer SummerHill homes has sought to develop the Peninsula Day Care property. Its proposal to build 23 homes on the parcel was rejected by the City Council in May. The Planning and Transportation Commission is scheduled to consider a new SummerHill proposal -- for 10 homes -- on Wednesday (Sept. 14).

In its most recent application, SummerHill says its proposal is in "full conformance" with the site's existing zoning designation. The developer's earlier proposal sought a zone change to allow greater density.

The new proposal includes 10 "large lots" along one cul-de-sac off San Antonio Road, according to the application. SummerHill expects the homes to sell for about $2 million each. It is also proposing to contribute $1.5 million to support the city's affordable-housing program instead of building the required unit of below-market-rate


The parcel, which is still owned by the family of day-care center operator Herman Shaw, has been the topic of closed-door negotiating sessions of the Board of Education for months. While mum on specific plans, school leaders have insisted the community will need more land for future school growth.

Using funds from a $378 million facilities bond passed in 2008, the school district is in the midst of remodeling its 17 campuses to accommodate growth. Recent growth has been particularly strong in the elementary grades and in the southern part of town.

At least $200 million of the bond funds remain unspent, and some of it could be used for land acquisition, Superintendent Kevin Skelly said Thursday.

The Board of Education in July blocked the sale of 8 city-owned acres of the 35-acre Cubberley parcel to the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, asserting that the district will need the full property for future enrollment growth.

Foothill College, whose "Middlefield Campus" has been an anchor tenant at Cubberley since 1984, is pursuing plans to relocate most of its satellite operations to Sunnyvale.

At its meeting this coming Tuesday (Sept. 13), the board will discuss a process for working with city officials to determine the future use of the Cubberley acreage.

The current city lease of Cubberley, which provides more than $7 million a year in rent payments to the school district, is set to expire in 2014.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm

For more information on the Cubberley Lease Agreement, read Attachment C on this link: Web Link

It has a very interesting analysis.

Good luck to Pastor Shaw and his family. He's done a great service to the community for many years. My family really liked PDCC.

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Posted by Land-Land-Land
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 8, 2011 at 8:48 pm

Hmm .. wonder if the PAUSD is trying to "buffer up" land, rather than let it all undergo development? Certainly this "bufffering" has been the strategy for the City since the PAUSD off-loaded its excess inventory in the 1980s.

Not exactly clear how this little plot will help the schools, although there is a possibility that it could be used for childcare, as it is now.

Let's hope more is made public about their motivations in the near future.

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Posted by Local Resident
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 8, 2011 at 10:12 pm

We think it is wonderful that the PAUSD is looking to the future! We have lived in this area for 45 years. It was once filled with children and then the children vanished and schools were closed and some sold. The neighborhood is again filled with young children and available schools will need to be used and expanded. We are very supportive of having the PAUSD look ahead to the needs that are on the horizon.

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Posted by Near neighbor
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 9, 2011 at 2:22 am

Buying this piece of land is a big waste of money. Greendell may be a good site for an elementary school in the future but it is unlikely to need the additional 2.85 acres for anything other than to increase the size of the playing fields. Therefore, it's a waste of money.

I don't think the PAUSD can compete with Summerhill Homes on price for this piece of land, and I don't think it's in the School Districts best interest to overpay for this relatively small piece of land. However, if Summerhill thinks that building only 10 homes on the site will be unprofitable the School District may have a chance.

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Posted by PDCCparent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 9, 2011 at 7:13 am

It would be great if someone would revive this facility as a daycare/afterschool center. PDCC was such a convenient, friendly, fun place.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2011 at 10:44 am

buy the land and move the district office down to the other end of town - may result in some reasonable decision making

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Posted by Doug
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 9, 2011 at 10:45 am

I would also like to see a Day Care, After School Care center on this site again. Many of the other After School programs we researched did not have the coverage like PDCC. For instance PDCC had day care the day before Mountain View Schools opened, The YMCA and Twisters did not. PDCC had the winter break covered, all day care no extra cost that week. YMCA has a special camp that week that is a seperate sign-up and higher cost.

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Posted by PDCC aluma
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:01 am

I am very appreciative of the services that PDCC provided to my family in the past. It was far more convenient to me to pick my child up there as opposed to across town at her on-site daycare. In fact, it saved me 40 minutes of driving time in cross Alma-RR traffic in the commute time frame when one considers exit off 101, then cross town and home again.

Whatever is worked out, it needs to fair to all concerned--Pastor Shaw's family as well as PAUSD, Summerhill, etc. We were opposed to the higher density that Summerhill was seeking. But neither is it fair to support a "land grab" to make up for PAUSD's faulty enrollment projections in the 80s. I would prefer the site to be used for child care or educational uses. Even playing fields--see how crowded Cubberley is on any given afternoon or weekend.

It would take more than simply moving the district offices to this end of town to result in reasonable decision-making. :) But that's grist for another comment.

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Posted by former Fairmeadow parent
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Sep 9, 2011 at 11:21 am

When my 20-something-now kids were school age, there was already a shortage of playing fields for soccer teams. Now they are going to add multi-level classrooms where my kids used to run during recess. Where are the children supposed to play?

Buying this site would make the field behind Peninsula Day Care accessible for the kids at Greendell during school days and all our schoolchildren's teams at other times, and the building could replace daycare and community space from Cubberley (and give the district potential rent money therefrom) which will be especially needed after the rest of Cubberley reverts to school use. I am thrilled that the school district wants to buy this land! It will then be put to community use rather than adding to the schools/space imbalance we already have far too much of.

Also: remember that Summerhill told us with a straight face that adding 28 homes, their original proposal, would have zero impact on the schools. They were lying, they knew they were lying, but they thought if they said it often enough people would believe them. And remember that they threatened to sue the city for refusing to change the zoning ordinance to accommodate their speculation. Now they want not to have to adhere to the low-income housing ordinance? Please, City of Palo Alto, turn them down! Preserve this land and preserve the quality of our school system and the property values that go with it.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2011 at 12:06 pm

There is more need for space for education in Palo Alto at the preschool, k- 12 level than there is need for more housing.

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Posted by Finally some sense
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Finally!! Some common sense on the part of PAUSD. I really hope they buy this land!!

Our schools are too overcrowded and it is only getting worse. Every home that has sold in our neighborhood in the past ten years has been to couples with school age children. They move in the summer before school starts. Summerhill's plans will only add to the problem.

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Posted by PDCCparent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm


For those who didn't already know it, most of the sale/development plans were outside of Mr Shaw's control and he was not in favor of it. The Shaw's were very generous with their time & money and a replacement of that establishment would be nearly impossible.

I am spending a lot of extra commute time (my fault for living in Palo Alto!) and severely inconvenienced in my job (no before-school care options in this area) due to the void left by PDCC.

If I had tons of money, I would consider buying the property and hiring Mr Shaw to run PDCC there again, renting out the facilities in the evenings to other groups to make ends meet.

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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Have you been on the Greendell campus lately? If you have, you'd see for yourself the postage stamp size piece of grass that is there for the kids that are attending Young 5's and Pre-School Family classes. There are numerous portables squished into that campus, leaving little room for play. Good thing there are only little kids there. If Greendell were to open at a regular K-5 school, there wouldn't be any room for the bigger kids to exercise and work off that pent-up energy they accumulated sitting in class!

Kudos to PAUSD for wanting to purchase the former PDCC land! I hope the purchase goes through. They certainly could use the space to ease up the overcrowding at Greendell. Money well spent I say.

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Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2011 at 9:25 pm

I'll bet the City would sell the 8 acres it owns at Cubberley, cheap, to PAUSD. Oh, wait, they already offered, and PAUSD didn't bite. The city has already signaled its intentions to vacate the property, so the city's rent is no longer an excuse.

But this does highlight for everyone the fact that the PAUSD board has the money and discretion to use Measure A funds to buy back the 8 acres at Cubberley, and it's just short-sighted and poor management that they haven't.

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Posted by David Pepperdine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

Skelly must have visions of grandeur. He appears to have totally checked out from the real issues confronting our students (like the ones highlighted by Anonymous here):

Web Link

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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 11, 2011 at 1:14 pm

@David - huh? So you are saying that trying to buy a small real estate parcel to handle growing student population is "visions of grandeur"? And instead, the superintendent should be focused on critical issues like high school cell phone policy? Not sure I follow...

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Posted by concerned parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Huh? is right. Have you been paying attention? Why compete with a developer for 2 acres and pay through the nose, while doing nothing about 8 acres the city wants to unload, has said it intends to vacate regardless, and has already offered to sell for cheap -- and which is already on the school site property?

I mean, the district was responsible for keeping the city from selling that 8 acres to Foothill to be turned into a state of the art new education facility (it would have retained 24 acres it still owns and could have partnered with Foothill). Why, if it intends to buy the more expensive per unit acreage proposed here?

I personally would be for them buying both, but where's the sense in doing this and not the other? And where's the sense in continuing to spend millions on extra building space at Gunn and Paly, rather than spending the money on better improvements on those campuses and bringing Cubberley back on lnstead? Both are options under Measure A, as is this proposed purchase.

Like this comment
Posted by Crawl
a resident of Gunn High School
on Sep 12, 2011 at 7:59 am

Supporters of narrowing Arastradero should be tarred and feathered.

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Posted by Darren
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Sep 16, 2011 at 10:40 am

I must be lost about all this. So many folks bashed Summer Hill and the Shaw's for trying to build 23 homes. Now they will build only 10 homes. But wait, this whole time the City Planning and the School District knew all along what they were doing (something smells funny), they also set up the folks around the Day Care to do their dirty work and complain, and then they step in and sabotage the neighborhood folks, the Shaw’s and Summer Hill. Does anyone need a lawyer? Sounds like the good old boys behind doors making decisions we know nothing about.

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

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