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After resident backlash, Palo Alto cancels Cubberley closed session

Original post made on Aug 21, 2023

Facing community accusations of insufficient transparency, Palo Alto officials abruptly canceled on Monday their plan to meet behind closed doors to discuss a purchase of Cubberley Community Center land.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 21, 2023, 8:30 PM

Comments (16)

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 21, 2023 at 9:11 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Very nice to see the Council choosing transparency even after pushback from City staff. Thanks to all the community members who made their voices heard to help stop Terman Park from being thrown under a (school?) bus!

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 21, 2023 at 9:24 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

It would have been nice to see staff pushing for transparency. For a change. Maybe this will encourage them to improve their community outreach as a general rule since it's been so sadly lacking for decades.

Posted by Native to the BAY
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 22, 2023 at 1:06 am

Native to the BAY is a registered user.

As long as this “new” transparency plan includes a skateboard park and low income housing, I am all in. Green Meadow Neighborhood Association has a metaphoric noose around some CC / PTC members. It appears GM SFHO (Greenmeadow Single Family Home Owners, abutting Cubberely) have a plan of their own design & making.
Excluding the larger community investitures .

Concordia talked of 8 Pickle ball courts?? zipping a tie to exclusively to the 50yrs or older set, locking down access & design rights away from many others in the outer community — teenagers 4 one..

Article states: 1000’s attended the 4 Thurs eve Charente mtgs. Many of those were repeat GreenMeadow interests of the same residents, crying 4 their own private, Club Cubberely.

Based on what? Their homeownership taxes? Wrong. Penny Ellison speaks about “community” yet she is solely vested as a GreenMeadow, SFHOA member. Her voice is big, yet the population of Palo Alto is larger than the longevity of her singular volunteer voice.

Since when does GreenMeadow SFHO get to decide who or what happens to Cubberely? Is this 5th Ave NYC along Central Park? Do their Green Meadow property values go up or down based on a City entity plan for Cubberely? Most in GreenMeadow are SfHO’s with good working back & front yards. Yet demand more space?

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Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2023 at 11:45 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Fact: Greenmeadow has no plan for Cubberley, nor does the city as far as the public knows.

Greenmeadow Community Association recently supported a 50-unit, 100% affordable housing project on less than an acre across the street from the neighborhood's Nelson Drive entrance, two blocks away from Cubberley. The housing project parking and traffic will certainly impact neighborhood school routes, but it was supported by a majority of neighbors even though the developer would not mitigate impacts. To say the neighborhood generally opposes housing is not factual. If we want to build support for housing, it would be helpful to acknowledge support when it is given.

Penny Ellson wrote as an individual pointing out that Council had not yet voted in a public meeting to give clear direction to guide the closed door negotiations. This is improper. Whatever Council decides to do--swap park land or build on the city's current holdings at Cubberley (bond measure)--it will have to go to voters on a ballot. Building consensus through public process is important. Appearance of shutting out the public could derail a successful outcome for any plan.

Robust public process generally yields better outcomes at the ballot box.

Posted by pares
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 22, 2023 at 11:58 am

pares is a registered user.

I contacted all the city council members on this issue, and I want to thank them for changing this meeting to be open to public comment. Two members took the time to talk with me on the phone and one responded to my email. I appreciate their efforts to let me know how they view this issue.

I think I now understand one of the major sticking points. I was told that there was misinformation circulating in my Green Acres neighborhood because we want Terman Park to keep its dedicated status. And I was told that council's intent would be to keep Terman Park as it is but if there is a swap (which means Terman Park has to become undedicated), council would make sure to require binding obligations that the park remain as is. I was told that currently there are statewide restrictions that public schools cannot sell off land as they have done in the past.

This is where the main problem lies: State law could change again or could have added exceptions to that provision. Legislators have lately been enacting sweeping legislation that overrides local control of housing, ignores environmental and infrastructure concerns, allowing builders free rein. A current state law is not to be depended on in keeping Terman Park a park.
Once the park becomes undedicated, then it can be subject to modifications, even if initially there are binding requirements.

As our cities become denser and denser, our parks become even more precious.

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 22, 2023 at 3:32 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

The related question that nobody seems able to answer is "what exactly is it the PAUSD wants to do with Terman Park that requires them to own it?" PAUSD already has enshrined full access to the park for its students and staff; no status change is needed for that.

The only possibility I can think of is that PAUSD wants the right to build buildings on all or part of the current park land.

Otherwise, they gain no value from owning the Terman Park land and leaving it unchanged, and should instead welcome gaining a different city-owned property instead (of which there are apparently many).

Posted by Mayfielder
a resident of Monroe Park
on Aug 22, 2023 at 6:42 pm

Mayfielder is a registered user.

Article says: “The discussions picked up in March, when the school board submitted to the city a letter clarifying that it is willing to part with about 8 acres of land and urging the city to make an offer.”

City Attorney says Terman isn’t up for discussion.

Why not meet and discuss an offer amount as requested by PAUSD? Typical City Council: kick the can down the road and do nothing. That’s the Palo Alto way!

Posted by Mondoman
a resident of Green Acres
on Aug 22, 2023 at 7:15 pm

Mondoman is a registered user.

Re:"City Attorney says Terman isn’t up for discussion."

That statement applied only to the closed session discussion at this meeting.

Terman Park had been the only property mentioned for swapping at the earlier May 2023 "study session" even though others exist. It makes sense to first have an actual open discussion of which city properties we are willing to swap to the school district before setting a price and terms, because otherwise what are we setting a price for?

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 23, 2023 at 9:39 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Every time I go by the fields at CHS there are kids playing on teams. There are kids in the buildings for dance and Marshall Arts. there are rooms rented by non-profits for their special interest meetings. The Friends of PA Library have their large book sales operation. There is an adult fitness group with dedicated space. I have voted there. It is a giant resource for all and any groups that need a place to meet - including music groups.

RWC has Red Morton Park - it is in an older lower rent location on Roosevelt St. It has all kinds of city sponsored events and school camps. It is a valued resource in the city. It is a gathering place for kids and adults for their cultural events.

If you have a valued resource then take care of it. Do not let it deteriorate so you can claim that it has become too deteriorated and has to come down. We all know that trick to justify redevelopment.

Posted by Environmentalist
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 23, 2023 at 2:54 pm

Environmentalist is a registered user.

Absolutely outrageous that anyone would even suggest putting housing at cubberley! We need cubberley and terman park as accessible places for all members of the community to use. There are not enough easily walkable places to exercise without them in Palo Alto. Palo Alto is supposed to be walkable and enjoyable. This crusade for housing which will churn up our climate change footprint has gone way too far, and is completely insane
Updating the theatre, gym, and classrooms wouldn't be bad, but is completely unnecessary. Cubberley is chock full of people using and enjoying all three, pretty much all of the time. Don't let silly suburbian people and their vanity tell you that we need super expensive upgrades to a perfectly functional building.

Posted by NTB2
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 23, 2023 at 11:47 pm

NTB2 is a registered user.

Housing might be considered everywhere that can accommodate. Why not Cubberely? Sorry to say those who advocate walking and stretching thier bodies beyond thier privately owned front & back yards & garages who appear to have some kind of investiture on acreage beyond their SFHO driveways (single family home ownership) are just wrong. Since when does a defunct school site become the property beyond a SFHO? Just because it’s over the fence of your property line how do you get the authority to decide? WE HAVE TO get homes built for those who work here. Not more pickle ball courts and a place to do your core quads. As stated many times, stack & pack is not good design but desperation and offloading the solution. We all share this climate and all breathe the same air and WE all must work together to solve it. Housing yes on Cubberely! Across the street housing for a select few in the population mix or in an alley or away from this sight is straw making. Let’s make hay which feeds more of our collective souls.

Posted by NTB2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 24, 2023 at 2:32 am

NTB2 is a registered user.

As if art was all the sudden the deciding benefactor to the Cubberely outcome. Art in this town has been extremely undermined, depleted & void of any social / cultural imperative. Above it’s being exploited for a personal lobbying means. Shame.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 24, 2023 at 2:22 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

No low income housing.
The central city wide highly valued Cubberley location must serve Palo Alto community. This gem is for city wide use.

Posted by NTB2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 26, 2023 at 1:42 am

NTB2 is a registered user.

@Annonomous so low income housing and it inhabitants do not serve the wider Palo Alto population and are not considered a “gem” for economic use?? Support FFH for all. Appears from your post the Cubberely future plan is only to serve a select few to your personal liking and/or devising. Housing yes. Homes for more, better.

Posted by Ken Horowitz
a resident of University South
on Sep 1, 2023 at 4:35 pm

Ken Horowitz is a registered user.

I agree with Mayfielder! Why not meet and discuss the terms that the PAUSD wanted.for seven acres at Cubberley. That was the purpose of the closed session. The City Council caved to the many people who showed up with signs at their Monday’s meeting. Why can Mountain View and Menlo Park redevelop their community centers in the last few years, but not here in Palo Alto? We need “courageous” leaders on our Council.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 6, 2023 at 12:04 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Amazing - the people who want to turn CHS into housing live in the north section of town. Do they ever venture to CHS to see all of the great activities that go on there? The reason that people live here in PA total is because we have places for our children and adults to go to for play and education. Places for the non-profits to meet and have a dedicated room for their causes. Every city has that function. WE pay to have what every other city has for their residents.

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