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Candidates hope to revive plans to rebuild, enhance Cubberley

Original post made on Sep 21, 2022

For decades, Palo Alto officials have failed to advance plans to renovate Cubberley Community Center, a community gem that most agree has lost some of its luster. Candidates for the City Council and school board hope to change that.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, September 21, 2022, 9:01 PM

Comments (15)

Posted by GreatPumpkin
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 21, 2022 at 11:23 pm

GreatPumpkin is a registered user.

The school district can't swap or return land because Special Education moved its classes to Cubberley. The district cut classes at the regular school campuses dramatically to center them at Cubberley. It does make a lot of sense they are talking about closing smaller district campuses while opening new classes at Cubberley. Special Education cancelled budget items for continuation schools and therapeutic schools to put them at Cubberley. Possibly Special Education wants a campus it controls to isolate violent students, but it is weird to put Pre-Schoolers and High School students in the same place.

Posted by TuppenceT
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 22, 2022 at 12:49 am

TuppenceT is a registered user.

Doria Summa and Ed Lauing are right. San Antonio will soon sprout thousands of new residential units - we must save the space for a schools to accommodate a larger student body

Posted by Resident11
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 22, 2022 at 11:25 am

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If the school district and city are considering rezoning some property via a land swap in order to make land available for high-density housing, then I believe they should consider making that land available somewhere other than this corner of south Palo Alto, which already has 500-600 units in the process of being built.

I also hope that the City and PAUSD will consider why Cubberley is so loved today and use that understanding to prevent a repeating the mistake of the equally-well-loved Junior Museum and Zoo at a larger scale.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Sep 22, 2022 at 11:38 am

Palo Alto Resident is a registered user.

This seems like it is all on the City - they are the ones who have to build and fund a community center. Where would the funding come from? Rail crossings and the police station eat up any available capital funds, even with the new business tax. They'd have to pass a new bond. Until we see a poll on whether that bond might pass, this is all pretty much empty talk.

Posted by PA mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 22, 2022 at 12:15 pm

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I’m for preservation, absolutely! No need to change an already well loved, well used space. Cubberley is also a historic site, holding many fond memories for Cubberley graduates. It is the site of The Third Wave, Hassling, and it’s alternative school is mentioned in The Environmental Handbook. Go Coogars!

Posted by Ugh
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 22, 2022 at 12:20 pm

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Isn't Palo Alto supposed to build thousands of new housing units? Those kids will have to go to school somewhere- I'm all for preserving Cubberley and keeping it as a future school. The two high schools are already too large.

Posted by Ken Dauber
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 22, 2022 at 1:18 pm

Ken Dauber is a registered user.

I've been on the school board for 8 years dealing with Cubberley at various points, including participating in a joint planning exercise with the city and clarifying other important points: the boundaries at Cubberley can be changed to help make development easier, the district needs to retain at least 20 acres for a future high school, and the district can't use bond money to pay for facilities that don't have an immediate educational use.

I think that last point was the most disappointing for City Council members, who hoped that the district would help solve the biggest obstacle to a Cubberley community center, which is funding. "Palo Alto Resident" is right: if residents want a new community center at Cubberley, they should advocate for prioritizing it over other projects like the new police station. An election is a good opportunity to force clarity from candidates on the means to build a community center, not just on the desire to get there without details on how to do it.

On another note, it's disappointing to see school board candidates making confident statements that the district will never need a new comprehensive high school. The fact that we don't need a new high school now doesn't mean we never will. The school board is obligated to plan for the long term when it comes to land. We can work with the city within the limits of that fiduciary obligation, but it's dangerous to prioritize non-educational priorities over the long term needs of students, present and future.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 22, 2022 at 1:35 pm

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I have lost count of the number of times I have read articles and heard that this or that is going to happen at Cubberley over the years!

It is like the grade level crossings and the tunnel/bridge, just hot air and no action. We do have the new bridge, but it took much too long as all things do in Palo Alto. I no longer get excited about discussions about Cubberley.

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Sep 22, 2022 at 2:23 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

New council members call for a custom made stick to be ordered, to use for beating that dead horse. Then, give them a fresh bucket of dollars to order feasibility studies, fiscal studies, environmental studies, architectural plans, and solicit community input by mailing out a survey. This is the same old, same old. Palo Alto needs new vision, because it currently has cataracts and myopia.

Posted by mbc
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 22, 2022 at 2:33 pm

mbc is a registered user.

I would like to echo Ken's comment:

"The fact that we don't need a new high school now doesn't mean we never will. The school board is obligated to plan for the long term when it comes to land. We can work with the city within the limits of that fiduciary obligation, but it's dangerous to prioritize non-educational priorities over the long term needs of students, present and future."

Once district land is sold or traded it is gone, meanwhile birthrates and the corresponding enrollment changes go up and down over time, Califonia is planning for increased housing density and there is a dearth of surplus land in this area.

Posted by Ken Horowitz
a resident of University South
on Sep 22, 2022 at 4:17 pm

Ken Horowitz is a registered user.

I have spoken to this issue at numerous City Council meetings. The Council should just plan on developing the 8 acres it owns. Hoping to get a “deal” with
PAUSD just prolongs the process. The City can do a lot with 8 acres. Foothill College sought to build a campus there in 2008, but PAUSD blocked it. The Council now needs to make Cubberley a top priority and seek funding with a private/public partnership. The City had done this before, it just requires “walking the talk”. I hope the newly elected members of the Council will do so.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 23, 2022 at 2:11 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Fire, wiring, and safety code violations should be dealt with swiftly. This is an unconscionable hazard for the tenants and their neighbors whose homes also are put at risk. No excuses. Get it fixed ASAP.

Thanks, Weekly, for making it public. City of Palo Alto, please do not let these landlords get away with such careless treatment of people.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 23, 2022 at 5:42 pm

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

Considering what is on or off for Cubberely is a bit of a misnomer at this match point . There are crisis right now w the city and residents and public school students. Good, lasting partnerships about our governance and fairness, and sharing the run-away wealth — personal & corporate is first priority. Getting our libraries open, our elderly securely housed, low-income quality homes, employment retention, wage disparities, cost of housing, food, fuel and Climate, PTSD from Wild Fires, Pandemic, personal loss from combined calamities ! @MyFeelz yes. Visionaries are innovative with ideas, yet it’s the work at hand that has to be doing to get done the undone-ness of last 5 -10-15 years since the last Great Recession where & when Wall Street split and spit us out from “Main Street “ USA, California, Palo Alto. Be the change you, we, he, him she, her, they/them dream to have and to soul survive.

Posted by roger
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 23, 2022 at 10:25 pm

roger is a registered user.

I own the schools and the city of palo alto--this is not finger pointing--it us working together to get an action plan--i am 81 years and i hope i live long enough to see a true asset like the magical bridge park, the new police station and the junior museum---we are one of the greatest cities in the world---lets get to work---roger smith

Posted by Greene and Paly Parent
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 25, 2022 at 10:04 am

Greene and Paly Parent is a registered user.

I did not look into the Cubberley issue in detail, so I am only evaluating the reasoning of candidates. Among school board candidates, Shana's response seems the most reasonable and balanced. Reliable enrollment predictions can be made perhaps a decade in advance at most but real estate is a much longer horizon issue. It does not make sense to me to use todays trends to make irrevocable decisions for a space the district needed before. The space can still serve the community but in a consistent way with future conversion to a school. The responses by Dharap and Chiu-Wang seem not well-reasoned. The most bizzarre to me was Chiu-Wang's response to this question during the "league of women voters" debate: She said that many students will not be actually physically attending school because the requirement for physical presence changed over the pandemic (therefore we can plan for capacity lower than enrollment). My impression was that she was confusing schools with tech companies.

Pivoting a bit, I am concerned with our district incentives to lower enrollment (PAUSD gets the same funds regardless of enrollment and their quality of service) and board member Dharap aligned with that despite this going against the interests of our families (too many go private and those that remain are not served well). Unlike similar districts, Palo Alto home schooled students can not access clubs and athletics, PAUSD blanket denies requests for "independent study" (where only some courses can be taken at school) despite state recommendations and PAUSD old board policy,
Web Link
options for streaming classes were refused even during the pandemic (always better to allow sick students to stay home). The district insists on one-size-fits-all despite being very well funded.

I predict that addressing these issues would result in short-term (2-3 years) 10%-25% increase in enrollment from more families choosing public over private. We need a board change for that!

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