News

First community meeting on Cubberley set for September

Palo Alto looks to launch long-awaited master plan for community center

Palo Alto's effort to craft a new vision for Cubberley Community Center is set to kick off in earnest in September, when the city and the school district kick off a series of community meetings to solicit resident ideas about the center's future.

The effort to create a master plan for the sprawling center at 4000 Middlefield Road is being led by Concordia, a New Orleans-based firm that the city and the school district hired in June. The firm is now in the midst of recruiting Cubberley "fellows" -- members of the community who will help Concordia consultants perform outreach and prepare for meetings, Bobbie Hill, a principal at Concordia told the City and School Liaison Committee on Thursday.

The fellows will also help facilitate the discussions during the four community meetings that the city plan to hold as part of the master plan process. The first of these meetings is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 27 in the Cubberley gym.

The city and the school district, which jointly own the site, hope to have the plan completed by the end of 2019, a deadline that was set in a 2016 agreement between City Manager James Keene and former school Superintendent Max McGee. The goal is to come up with a "joint vision" for the 35-acre community center in south Palo Alto. The school district owns 27 acres and leases them to the city, which owns the remaining eight acres.

The future of Cubberley became an increasingly urgent topic in 2012, as the long-term lease agreement between the city and the school district was reaching its end (the old agreement expired in 2014). In 2013, a specially appointed stakeholder committee released a report urging the two sides to come up with a new vision. Known as the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee, the group called Cubberley "one of the most critical and important issues" facing the city, as well as a tremendous opportunity to plan for the future.

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"We strongly recommend taking steps now to prepare for eventual joint use of the site to provide both the school and community programming that are key to our quality of life in Palo Alto," the report states.

Councilwoman Karen Holman, who chairs the City and School Liaison Committee, suggested Thursday that creating the plan based on four meetings seems "extraordinarily fast." Hill said she is confident that it can get the job done. She pointed to the firm's work on the post-Katrina plan.

"We designed the process and managed the Unified New Orleans plan and that was done in seven months," Hill said.

"That was crazy time. I think we can accomplish what needs to be accomplished in these four meetings."

Meanwhile, Hill said her firm is reviewing all the existing master plans as well as the city's zoning requirements to better understand what uses would actually be allowed at the site. The firm will also be conducting a needs assessment and talking to homeowners, business owners and stakeholders around Cubberley.

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The fact that her firm is not from the area, Hill said, carries both advantages and disadvantages.

"We don't come with particular bias or bent or baggage, but we do rely on the local community -- folks who know their community, who have connections to networks, people and resources to help us understand the community and help us understand what is culturally appropriate," Hill said.

Hence, the "community fellows" -- people who will work with planners and consultants to prepare for meetings where they will sit at tables and make sure people understand all the activities. In recruiting these fellows, Concordia is looking for people "who don't come with a particular bias or strong advocacy position," Hill said.

The meetings will be designed to allow residents to join the planning process at any point of the planning process. She also noted that all the materials pertaining to the meetings will be posted online at the project website.

Editor's note: The community meeting that was initially scheduled for Oct. 4 was rescheduled to Sept. 27. The story was modified to reflect the new date.

Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

Follow Palo Alto Online and the Palo Alto Weekly on Twitter @paloaltoweekly, Facebook and on Instagram @paloaltoonline for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

First community meeting on Cubberley set for September

Palo Alto looks to launch long-awaited master plan for community center

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sat, Aug 18, 2018, 6:19 am
Updated: Mon, Aug 20, 2018, 8:53 am

Palo Alto's effort to craft a new vision for Cubberley Community Center is set to kick off in earnest in September, when the city and the school district kick off a series of community meetings to solicit resident ideas about the center's future.

The effort to create a master plan for the sprawling center at 4000 Middlefield Road is being led by Concordia, a New Orleans-based firm that the city and the school district hired in June. The firm is now in the midst of recruiting Cubberley "fellows" -- members of the community who will help Concordia consultants perform outreach and prepare for meetings, Bobbie Hill, a principal at Concordia told the City and School Liaison Committee on Thursday.

The fellows will also help facilitate the discussions during the four community meetings that the city plan to hold as part of the master plan process. The first of these meetings is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 27 in the Cubberley gym.

The city and the school district, which jointly own the site, hope to have the plan completed by the end of 2019, a deadline that was set in a 2016 agreement between City Manager James Keene and former school Superintendent Max McGee. The goal is to come up with a "joint vision" for the 35-acre community center in south Palo Alto. The school district owns 27 acres and leases them to the city, which owns the remaining eight acres.

The future of Cubberley became an increasingly urgent topic in 2012, as the long-term lease agreement between the city and the school district was reaching its end (the old agreement expired in 2014). In 2013, a specially appointed stakeholder committee released a report urging the two sides to come up with a new vision. Known as the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee, the group called Cubberley "one of the most critical and important issues" facing the city, as well as a tremendous opportunity to plan for the future.

"We strongly recommend taking steps now to prepare for eventual joint use of the site to provide both the school and community programming that are key to our quality of life in Palo Alto," the report states.

Councilwoman Karen Holman, who chairs the City and School Liaison Committee, suggested Thursday that creating the plan based on four meetings seems "extraordinarily fast." Hill said she is confident that it can get the job done. She pointed to the firm's work on the post-Katrina plan.

"We designed the process and managed the Unified New Orleans plan and that was done in seven months," Hill said.

"That was crazy time. I think we can accomplish what needs to be accomplished in these four meetings."

Meanwhile, Hill said her firm is reviewing all the existing master plans as well as the city's zoning requirements to better understand what uses would actually be allowed at the site. The firm will also be conducting a needs assessment and talking to homeowners, business owners and stakeholders around Cubberley.

The fact that her firm is not from the area, Hill said, carries both advantages and disadvantages.

"We don't come with particular bias or bent or baggage, but we do rely on the local community -- folks who know their community, who have connections to networks, people and resources to help us understand the community and help us understand what is culturally appropriate," Hill said.

Hence, the "community fellows" -- people who will work with planners and consultants to prepare for meetings where they will sit at tables and make sure people understand all the activities. In recruiting these fellows, Concordia is looking for people "who don't come with a particular bias or strong advocacy position," Hill said.

The meetings will be designed to allow residents to join the planning process at any point of the planning process. She also noted that all the materials pertaining to the meetings will be posted online at the project website.

Editor's note: The community meeting that was initially scheduled for Oct. 4 was rescheduled to Sept. 27. The story was modified to reflect the new date.

Comments

Loren Smith
Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm
Loren Smith, Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2018 at 12:06 pm

I am thrilled to be a part of this planning process. As a Community Fellow and a Palo Alto neighbor, I look forward to engaging with my neighbors in the process and in the development of a workable and viable plan for the redevelopment of this important space.


A Resident
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 19, 2018 at 3:38 pm
A Resident, Charleston Meadows
on Aug 19, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Can the old Cubberley buildings/rooms be torn down and a new facility erected?

That would go a long ways towards making the existing site far more attractive.


musical
Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2018 at 4:15 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2018 at 4:15 pm

^ ... and go a long ways towards raising the rent.


JR McDugan
Registered user
Palo Verde
on Aug 19, 2018 at 8:32 pm
JR McDugan, Palo Verde
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2018 at 8:32 pm

Cubberley is a perfectly good community space, there are hundreds of people every day who go to dance classes, athletic activities, or just walk around the facilities for recreation. There's no need to change anything, unless you're a developer trying to fleece the community.

Some of the buildings do look to need repair, the city should kick in some funds, as should tenants.


Another Giveaway
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2018 at 9:22 pm
Another Giveaway, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 19, 2018 at 9:22 pm

JW said: "There's no need to change anything, unless you're a developer trying to fleece the community".

It seems like everything Palo Alto government does is somehow about enabling the real-estate industry or creating new business opportunities for real-estate developers.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2018 at 10:51 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2018 at 10:51 am

Despite the fact that PAUSD doesn't want to use it, I still think that the Cubberley site should be turned back into a high school (with a new name). Paly and Gunn, even with their upgrades, are overcrowded. Gunn access will forever represent a traffic problem. There are still portables at Gunn and not enough parking. And, Gunn and Paly are unnecessarily too big. In the distant, dimly-remembered past, there was a problem of high schools not having enough students sign up for advanced math like AP Calculus. Not to worry, that won't happen again. Gunn and Paly are far beyond the "economy of scale" point and are well into the "too big" side of the spectrum. Let's turn that site back into a new high school. I would happily vote for a new bond issue (even though, -of course-, it won't benefit me personally).

Yes, I know the District administrators have been against it in the past, but, with new management, we don't have to follow the simplistic "bigger is better" viewpoint from the past.


Interests
Stanford
on Aug 20, 2018 at 12:10 pm
Interests, Stanford
on Aug 20, 2018 at 12:10 pm

“It seems like everything Palo Alto government does is somehow about enabling the real-estate industry or creating new business opportunities for real-estate developers.“

It seems like this to me too.

I think it’s because so much election funding for CC members comes from development interests, and because staff has a relationship with those interests that extends beyond objective.

If the intent of this post was to smear other posts with a tag of “delusional conspiracy,” it’s off base.

Why else would CC members hide their development interest campaign contributions, if they themselves didn’t see the problem with it?


Turn Cubberley Into a Vocational HS
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 20, 2018 at 12:13 pm
Turn Cubberley Into a Vocational HS, Charleston Meadows
on Aug 20, 2018 at 12:13 pm

>>>I still think that the Cubberley site should be turned back into a high school (with a new name).

Since Gunn & Paly are known as high-achievement academic high schools, why not turn Cubberley into a HS for those not planning on going to college & instead opting for a vocational trade?

Cubberley could then develop its own reputation as the 'blue collar' high school for those so inclined.

Not everybody has to become a lawyer or doctor. With all this talk about 'developers' in PA and elsewhere, certain trades will be of high value & earning capacities.

Courses in Cosmetology could also be another viable course option.

A college degree doesn't necessarily ensure a big salary as there are numbers of working-class individuals making far more money than those with BAs, MAs & Ph.Ds.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm

I produced 150 rock and jazz concerts at Cubberley in the 1990s, and I'm working on another one, after 15 year hiatus, for this fall.
I also am the exact age where a lot of my friends attended Cubberley the school and Gunn the school.

I am picturing anything from re-opening a high school as is, to razing the entire place for 1,000 dense packed homes.

I like 32 acres of earth art ala Michael Heizer or Robert Smithson or Andy Goldsworthy.
Isn't it pretty to think so (that's a literary reference)?

Still not sure why we are spending $800,000 for these meetingns? wil there be snacks?


We Are Who We Make Ourselves
Evergreen Park
on Aug 20, 2018 at 5:10 pm
We Are Who We Make Ourselves, Evergreen Park
on Aug 20, 2018 at 5:10 pm

> I produced 150 rock and jazz concerts at Cubberley in the 1990s, and I'm working on another one, after 15 year hiatus, for this fall.

> I also am the exact age where a lot of my friends attended Cubberley the school and Gunn the school.

If you can't bring back the 1967-1971 vibe, then you're wasting your time/energy.

Think Frost Amphitheater/El Camino Park circa 1970-71...unless you are too young to recall.


musical
Palo Verde
on Aug 20, 2018 at 5:29 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Aug 20, 2018 at 5:29 pm

Cubberley produced more accomplished students from less entitled material.
We had our share of Ivy Leaguers and equivalent.
Great teachers and parents and neighborhoods back then.
And no worries, except Nixon, the draft, and Viet Nam.


PAmom
Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm
PAmom, Crescent Park
on Aug 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm

I grew up in Palo Alto and graduated from Cubberley, and I for one want to preserve my city’s history, including Cubberley as a historical site. Here is a site about Cubberley’s rich history:

Web Link

I want to see Cubberley maintained and preserved the way it is. If it’s opened again as a high school, I hope it’s under the same name and mascot (the cougar), and as a neighborhood school for all local high school students.

What younger and from-out-of-town folks don’t know is that a book was written in 1970 about racial tensions at Cubberley called Hassling, by Sylvia Williams:

Web Link

The Cubberley alternative school, of which I was a student, was also mentioned in The Environmental Handbook, 1970, by Garrett De Bell:

Web Link

And then of course there’s the world famous Third Wave experiment by former Cubberley teacher Ron Jones in 1967:

Web Link

Right now Cubberley makes it possible for numerous dance and artist studios, day care centers, sports teams and other services to afford to operate and serve the public. I hope that that will continue to be the case into perpetuity. Let’s preserve this historical resource as is.


Online Name
Registered user
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Aug 20, 2018 at 7:15 pm
Online Name, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
Registered user
on Aug 20, 2018 at 7:15 pm

With all the talent and community knowledge in this town, I really don't get why we pay non-local consultants huge amounts of money "to facilitate communications" among residents and then rush a decision in 4 meetings on what to do with this site. Who made this decision and why?

Have they studied population trends? Birth rates? Demographics?

If the existing schools are already over-crowded, why not start with school needs?

Remember when there were housing sites for sale on former school properties? And then a few years later a push to build more schools?




cdogz
Ventura
on Aug 20, 2018 at 8:59 pm
cdogz, Ventura
on Aug 20, 2018 at 8:59 pm

Cubberley Campus is a commons-- something owned by all. It was been sanitized so that only people who aren't homeless or who don't look homeless can use it. It is a great resource for all. Small interest groups can exist there whereas they could never afford local commercial rents. In 2013, Palo Alto let Jim Keene lead the expulsion of poor and unhoused folks who camped there on the ground and in vehicles and contributed to the community. It is time for the common resource to be available to all, not just the whiter, wealthier members of the community who one day may not be so wealthy and will appreciate the option to use this common resource.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2018 at 9:23 pm
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
on Aug 20, 2018 at 9:23 pm

You are correct @WeAreWho that I cannot bring Jerry back from The Dead, especially not El Camino Park 1970, but I did see recently two 18-19 year olds doing “Angel From Montgomery” at Lytton Plaza.
There are plenty of current musicians and composers who are worth listening to, and The Cub could be a decent listening room. And that could inspire the committee and the consultants to think deeper about what we could do with our 35 acres. Or as a wise man once said, hey what’s happening on shake down street, used to be a town with heart.


Aram James
another community
on Aug 20, 2018 at 10:03 pm
Aram James , another community
on Aug 20, 2018 at 10:03 pm

First things first: We need to file a public records act request with the city and school district to determine how much the consulting firm, Concordia, is being paid. Second how did communities of color and the poor post -Katrina
feel about their inclusion or exclusion from the Unified New Orleans Plan? Will Concordia recruit community fellows from the marginalized, underserved and unhoused members of the Palo Alto community? Or in the alternative, will the fellows recruited have to rank high on their willingness to be manipulated by Concordia, the city and the school district. Will the Brown Act apply to the meetings, so that all members of the public who wish to speak, have an absolute right to do so? I’m hopeful a reasonable percentage of the 35 acres will be permanently dedicated to housing the formerly unhoused. In order to have any chance of making this happen advocates for the unhoused and marginalized members of the community, and their supporters, will have to be well organized, pack the meetings, and be fully informed on the all relevant issues, including zoning laws. In fact, the community may need to raise funds for an attorney who knows this area of the law and can assist us in winning a fair shares of the 35 acres for those normally exclude from the city’s vision.


Resident
Community Center
on Aug 20, 2018 at 10:53 pm
Resident, Community Center
on Aug 20, 2018 at 10:53 pm

@Aram
Rather than a PRA record request you could just read the city council packet to see the terms of the consulting agreement, including the dollar amounts. Easier and faster, just sayin...


Aram James
another community
on Aug 20, 2018 at 11:39 pm
Aram James , another community
on Aug 20, 2018 at 11:39 pm

Point we’ll take! Although the CPDA may still be an important tool as the vision process unfolds.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2018 at 10:08 am
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 21, 2018 at 10:08 am

Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland

>> With all the talent and community knowledge in this town, I really don't get why we pay non-local consultants huge amounts of money

Good questions!

>> Have they studied population trends? Birth rates? Demographics?

Not only demographics, but, traffic engineering.

Sometimes demographers and consultants have given the customer what they wanted to hear, "from an objective 3rd party". Seen it many, many times. The demographers who thought there would be fewer and fewer kids in PAUSD were wrong. Or were they "right"-- they told PAUSD what was convenient at the time.

>> If the existing schools are already over-crowded, why not start with school needs?

Agreed. We need to get the requirements built in from the start. And, requirements ought to include things like World History, and, physical fitness, for the students, and, transportation to and from school. There is much more to growing up than AP Calc.

>> Remember when there were housing sites for sale on former school properties? And then a few years later a push to build more schools?

I was living in Palo Alto when Cubberley and all the subsequent school closures happened. I thought it was badly executed at the time, and, I still think so. Not only did they not plan correctly for a -temporary- enrollment plunge, but, there also was a broader plan for a much smaller number of much bigger schools, for the sake of "efficiency" IIRC. I thought, and think, that was a mistake. A number of decisions were made over the years that created much more auto traffic to/from concentrated schools in very narrow commute windows.


Old & In the Way
Charleston Meadows
on Aug 21, 2018 at 1:57 pm
Old & In the Way, Charleston Meadows
on Aug 21, 2018 at 1:57 pm

@ Mark Weiss
>> Or as a wise man once said, hey what’s happening on shake down street, used to be a town with heart.

That wasn't Jerry singing those words as you are obviously not Dead-ucated.


"Nothin' shakin' on shakedown street, used to be the heart of town
Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart, you just gotta poke around"


Now if you can turn the 'Cub' into a Keystone, you might have something.
Good luck with that.


Davina Brown
Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2018 at 1:16 pm
Davina Brown, Palo Verde
on Aug 23, 2018 at 1:16 pm

I would love to serve on the committee. As a long time resident of Palo Alto, I would love to insure our best future. If I cannot be on the committee, please keep me informed for time and date.


Mark Weiss
Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:03 pm
Mark Weiss , Downtown North
on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:03 pm

Thanks for the cite for Sylvia Williams “Hassling”.
Here’s more:
Web Link

Whatever happens should honor the Cub’s tremendous impact on our cultural fabric.
Don’t Ozy The Cub!


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