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Foothill may expand to Cubberley

Original post made on Jan 17, 2008

A plan to tear down part of Cubberley Community Center to build a new "educational center" for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District is in early discussions between the district and city representatives.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, January 17, 2008, 3:44 PM

Comments (21)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2008 at 4:01 pm

And what happens if PAUSD wants to take back Cubberly in x number of years for a third high school. I know that the high school task force has recommended against this, but the way things are going, we may need Cubberly as a high school. What does the PAUSD say about this?

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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 17, 2008 at 4:29 pm

This adds an interesting possibility - i.e. to begin *immediate* discussion with Foothill about a PAUSD-Foothill exchange program. There are all kinds of opportunities latent in this development. Put your thinking caps on! :)

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Posted by Wait-And-See
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 17, 2008 at 6:21 pm

This property is nominally worth $100M. The City of Palo Alto has never seen fit to see it as such, by renting space to "special interests" at less-than-market rates. Foothill has become the singly largest renter, but the city has never released a document to provides the public information about how much the city is subsidizing Foothill in less-than-market rents.

The city has a huge list of projects that need funding. Using its assets to help fund some of these projects would be in everyone's interests. So far, there isn't any information on the table as to what the city would get from this arrangement.

If Foothill were to buy, say, 1/3rd of the space for $30M, then maybe this would not be a bad idea.

If Foothill were to refurbish some portion of the site for its own needs, and the city got nothing from the deal -- this this is a not a good idea.

If Foothill were to refurbish some portion of the site, and it were reclaimed by the PAUSD, then this deal would have little effect on the city's finances and might be characterized as "neutral".

Without some idea of financial remuneration for the city, there is nothing to get excited about at the moment.

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Posted by Gone forever
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2008 at 9:46 pm

If they build on it, it is gone from us forever.

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Posted by Casey
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 17, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Building a new educational center would be a great idea provided that (1) the design offers enough flexibility so that it can accommodate both college and high school students, and (2) the city/PAUSD negotiates an out clause just in case we need space for a third high school. The big positive will be that if we do need to take back Cubberley in the near future, a new facility would already be ready.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 18, 2008 at 8:38 am

I could be wrong about this - but I think PAUSD only owns part of Cubberly, not the whole site

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2008 at 9:27 am

The Fremont Hills site is owned and leased by PAUSD but because the private school has improved the site from elementary to high school standards, it would be very complicated to get it back. In fact, the only access that PAUSD seems to have of what they have done is from Google Earth pictures.

Is this what we want for Cubberly?

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Posted by Gunn parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 18, 2008 at 11:20 am

Cubberley is a 27-acre site. The city owns 8 acres in the NE corner near Piazza's - approximately 10 or 11 classroom wings plus tennis courts and some parking. The balance, 19 acres, is PAUSD - a few building wings, the gym, pavillion, auditorium, parking and playing fields. It is too small a site for a comprehensive high school, but could accommodate a smaller school if future growth warrants, be it a specialty high school, new middle or elementary school. PAUSD should hold on to all existing property at this site and across the district. In any case, Foothill's plans should be welcome news for PA residents! That site is a dump.

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Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm

I certainly hope any expansion included a Parking Garage, as all the proposed buildings take up existing parking spaces.

I also agree with earlier post, that certainly a "market Rate" study should be done and made public. Is the currewnt rate "under Market"?

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Posted by JW
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 18, 2008 at 3:58 pm

This is a win win situation for everyone. Foothill would like to spend $30M - $40M of our tax dollars rebuilding a dilapidated facility right on our doorstep which will benefit the entire Palo Alto community.

I hope a long term lease arrangement can be made so that the land together with these new buildings will eventually become City property.

The School District still has 19 acres if they should ever want to open a technical high school at Cubberley. However, their old buildings would have to be torn down and a completely new facility built. This would cost the PAUSD hundreds of thousands of dollars which they don't have and probably never will. The District likes the $4 Million they get annually from the City!!!

I think this is great news a brand new facility will be built with money that has already been identified.

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Posted by leave it alone
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 18, 2008 at 4:52 pm

one of the few natural remnants left over from the meadow days of the mid peninsula...

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Posted by chris
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 19, 2008 at 3:21 pm

That is bad news. It is nice having the ball fields there. Does anyone know why they want to build the fields instead of just renovating existing buildings?

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Posted by Nick
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 19, 2008 at 10:05 pm

Chris, the new buildings will be state of the art and definitely built to high environmental standards. Why turn down a $30 M. - $40 M. gift paid for with our tax dollars? They will not be building on any of the ball fields or tennis courts.

Hopefully this will be done with a long term lease arrangement with the City in which case the land plus all the mew buildings would revert to the City in 25 years.

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Posted by Long View
a resident of Gunn High School
on Jan 19, 2008 at 11:34 pm

Our new Superintendant Kevin Skelley has nixed the idea of turning Cubberly into a third high school, because he understandably doesn't want to fight WWIII over redrawing boundaries and whose kids will not get to go to Gunn and Paly. Unfortunately, this means he wants to just keep growing Gunn and Paly into mega schools, building up.

I would rather see a third high school. Starting it as a magnet of some kind, so that it can build a reputation through voluntary attendance will lessen the battles when it comes time to redraw boundaries.

I agree with Gone Forever - it would be short-sighted to let the property go.

Look at Mountain View - they closed Slater and let Google have it for just FIVE years. Google made lots of lovely improvements. Hmmm.

If PAUSD could instead enter into some kind of partnership with Foothill, where the campus would be a commuter for PA students who want to take a vocational direction, it could help some of the high school overcrowding while allowing PAUSD to offer state of the art vocational training that it would never have the resources to do on its own. Foothill's contributions to the infrastructure would then be more of a win-win.

PAUSD should not sell the property no matter what, though.

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Posted by Nick
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 20, 2008 at 8:28 am

Long View, the PAUSD is not selling it's 19 acres of the Cubberley complex. Foothill will only be building on the 8 acres owned by the City closest to the Charleston Shopping Center.

If it was so important for the School District to keep the 8 acres of Cubberley, why did they agree to the land swap with the City? Remember the PAUSD agreed to swap the Terman Buildings owned by the City for 8 acres of Cubberley. The City would far rather have had money for Terman than 8 acres of Cubberley, but they agreed to it to help the School District out.

Right now the City needs a new Public Safety Building and upgraded Library system. Leasing their section of Cubberley to Foothill will help defray the cost of these building projects. Meanwhile the City is still paying the School District $4 Million a year for the use of Cubberley.

The nice thing about it is that Foothill will be bringing back to PA some $30M - $40M we will pay them in the form of property taxes. Did you vote for the De Anza/Foothill Bond Measure?

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Posted by aw
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 20, 2008 at 11:59 am

It's nice to see that deaccessioning surplus land and property is on the table. What's not nice is jumping to the conclusion that Cubberley is the only or best choice. Perhaps it is. Before we act let's see a complete market value inventory of all City assets, then decide what makes sense going forward.

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Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 20, 2008 at 3:55 pm

OOps. I made a mistake. I think the Cubberley site is 27 PAUSD + 8 City acres for just over 35 acres for the whole parcel. I misread my meeting notes. In any case, the majority of the site will stay with PAUSD and I agree PAUSD should not sell off ANY land, Cubberley or elsewhere.

A third comprehensive high school is not really viable in our community at this time given the diversity of our students and the numerous high school course offerings. Due to the realities of class size funding, the high schools need a certain number of students to run a class. Unlike privates, they cannot have one teacher teaching only 11 students so the class is cancelled. Larger high schools allow more choice because there are more kids available to take these classes. And as we've learned over the past year, this community values choice in education. But in 5-10 years, the PAUSD site might be needed for a smaller, specialty high school, new elem or middle school if enrollment growth continues.

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Posted by Parent of athletic kids
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 13, 2008 at 9:45 am

Palo Alto only has one Community Center with Gymnasiums -- Cubberley. There is a severe shortage of gym space for city residents, particularly youth programs to play basketball, volleyball, indoor soccer, during the winter time. This is because the City has leased these Gyms long term to the JCC (until their facility is built) and to Foothill College.

While on first glance this appears to be a good thing -- nice programs offered, money collected -- it is not the business a city should be in. Especially since these groups get special rates and prioritization over city-dweller's own use.

Right now, Foothill College has a long term lease with the city -- a sweetheart deal where they get under-market rent for taking a huge chunk of our community center. The College has priority all the time over leasing those gyms (and classrooms), year-round, and they can and do offer them for classes OR to private for-profit organizations for the entire bay-area.

Palo Alto residents, youth sports clubs, adult leagues, have NO SAY over their prioritization. We lose our only gyms to whatever group Foothill wants to put in there, most of whom ARE NOT Palo Alto residents. Yet we pay for this facility -- why is a City in the Real Estate leasing business? Are we really "making" money on this deal?

In the winter time, while Palo Alto families drive their children to volleyball practice in Redwood City, because Palo Alto's own Cubberly Community Center is occupied by an Industrial Volleyball League, for example -- 270 corporate league players who have rented the gym from Foothill for several prime-time evenings per week. The college tells Palo Alto groups routinely that they do not have any openings in their gyms for rental, ever.

The City claims they need the money -- but there are so many Palo Alto groups in need of gym space all they'd need to do is put the City groups first, and rent what is left to Foothill.

Foothill also claims they don't have enough gym space at their own facility -- but right now their gyms are rented 5 days a week to a private, for-profit sports club!!

Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Redwood City, all have Community Centers with gyms reserved for city resident groups FIRST. The city groups can and WILL pay their share, so money is not the real issue here. It's good stewardship of City/taxpayer owned facilities.

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Posted by NJB Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 9:54 am

I would like to echo what athletic parent has just said. My NJB son has had his last couple of weeks schedule completely disrupted by lack of gym space. There is a tournament on weekend 23/24 February where multiple games have to be played. We have no idea of the timing of these games because of lack of gym space. We are not even sure if we can have a practice before this tournament because of lack of gym space. A couple of years ago the only practice his team could arrange before one tournament was outside at Jordan at 8.00 p.m. being lit by car headlights.

Is this the way sports have to be run in Palo Alto. We have used the Elks gym for practice, but that is going to be lost too, at least for a while. There has been talk of turning the former Kiki's on Bayshore/Fabian into a gym, but that seems to have died down. A few years ago my church (in Palo Alto) rented a gym each March for a whole Saturday and ran a co-ed multi age day tournament which was a lot of fun, but we can't do that any more because of gym space. I am not saying that our church should have a priority just that what was available in the past is no longer available because there is no gym space.

Please make more gym space available for Palo Alto kids. The numbers of kids in Palo Alto is increasing just like the increasing in housing and schools, but play area is not keeping up with it.

Our priorities are wrong. Look after family first and outsiders second.

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Posted by huh?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 10:58 am

What's NJB?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 13, 2008 at 11:05 am

NJB - National Junior Basketball

If this helps. NJB is to YMCA basketball what CYSA is to AYSO soccer.

It is a more competitive league with more commitment involved and for kids who want more than a participation experience. There are 3 divisions for girls and boys 3rd - 8th grade.

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

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