CSUC Proposal Tonight @ City Council Meeting

I retract my past blogs overweening about Belmont and it’s amazing community.

I retract my past blogs overweening about Belmont and it’s amazing community. I sit embarrassed about the way in which our city’s government governs after viewing the city council meeting tonight regarding the CSUS proposal. I am outraged and saddened about the way in which a neighboring city is so unwelcomed by our “village.” Why can’t we welcome, warmly, this intellectual (investment) into our city? How could it do anything but improve our base, line our city’s pocketbooks and positively influence athletic programs and educational interests? Are we not all products of our environment? Do we not want to improve those products? How could excluding a good influence benefit us?

Allowing CSUS into Belmont has so few negative impacts that it simply cannot be ignored that age is a major, maybe only, factor in the negative responses to their proposal at the city council meeting tonight. The only other consistent opposition was traffic, and again I invite you to stand outside of Oracle and watch as the majority of traffic on Ralston derives from their lots toward 280. Go march on their doors. Please go ask Mr. Ellison if he can chip in an extra $250K/year to improve our roads, monitor our lights and improve our educational base – and to plant a few extra trees since his employees’ exhaust are killing them.

The sarcasm and self-righteous responses from (some of) the council was beyond upsetting to hear and view. To state ill-represented photos, and that the evening is too late to discuss further, was weighted by the typical three members. No surprises. Well versed and thought-out, pre-planned and executed. Sad and upsetting and I bow my head and ask that our community members, especially those who attended tonight’s meeting and recognized these serious concerns, pay heed to our city’s future.

Change is the only option. Stagnancy is regression.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Charles Stone September 12, 2012 at 08:08 PM
"In order to build the school, CSUS has to cut down 80 trees, some of which are very old heritage oaks." -Definitely not untrue. Interesting that the fact CSUS has agreed to replace all the trees was omitted from Ms. Feierbach's email. That seems a lot more disingenuous than taking a photograph that actually shows the property involved. (As an aside, I'll donate $1,000.00 to a charity of Ms. Feierbach's choosing if Sunset Magazine does a spread on the current building at the location sometime this year.)
Charles Stone September 12, 2012 at 08:13 PM
"7. This school will be adjacent to the much loved Waterdog Lake area. If this school were to reside here and even expand to include a high school in the future, imagine what environmental affect this could have on Waterdog Lake area." - Let's start by pointing out that I, for one, think that raising the specter of damage to Waterdog Lake is highly irresponsible. There's absolutely no evidence, despite examination by the planning commission and city staff to support this, is there? The planning commission voted 6-1 to recommend the Mitigated Negative Declaration. MEANING IT THOUGHT THESE CONCERNS WERE ADEQUATELY ADDRESSED. As a public official so concerned with playing "above the board politics," I would have thought Ms. Feierbach would have mentioned this. And, it bears noting, CSUS had, long before Ms. Feierbach sent this email out, agreed to be bound NOT to expand. Taking a picture of a building (a real picture of an actual building to be replaced through the project) is somehow deceptive, according to Ms. Feierbach. Apparently, trying to play on peoples' fear of expansion when CSUS already agreed not to expand is perfectly acceptable.
Charles Stone September 12, 2012 at 08:15 PM
"8. The tactics of CSUS have been unacceptable to me: phone surveys, possibly violating do not call laws and applying pressure on council members and others by appealing to special council and community interests." - I addressed this last night and I'll address it again. It is uncouncilmember like to make unfounded accusations. Unless Ms. Feierbach has evidence that CSUS violated do not call laws, she should retract this statement and apologize to CSUS and the community. CSUS should be lauded for the responsible steps it has taken to engage with the community and understand its needs.
Buck Thomas September 12, 2012 at 08:16 PM
Annie, how does a parking lot represent the building that would be torn down? Charles, You apparently didn't hear Karin Hold counter the traffic simulation. An office part with delivery truck coming in an out in front of a school is an not ideal safety situation and there are owners in this business park that feel that they have lost lessees due to the prospect of a school. The presentation was of course biased on this point since they are trying to sell this to Belmont.
Steve Hayes September 12, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Charles Would you please comment on Mr. Thomas's assertion that CSUS is giving School Force "a load of cash" - I assume that is an accurate comment.
Charles Stone September 12, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Also, Mr. Strinden: I do not agree with your evaluation of the project, but I respect your viewpoint. I also very much respect your willingness to attach your real name to your opinions! Far too rare these days. Cheers.
Justin September 12, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Mr. Stone--I'm guessing you're a lawyer. Am I correct?
Buck Thomas September 12, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Charles, Are you through regurgitating, I have heard the same thing from people that I've talked to regarding the do-not-call list. They said at the start that they were on the do-not-call list and the caller continued on. Is your point that that they are not subject to the do not call list or that they honored the do not call list. Oddly enough, they were immune since the calls were made from what appeared to be a Canadian prefix. This doesn't make it right. As far as the heritage trees are concerned you obviously have not read the plan. You are badly informed but that certainly doesn't stop you from being a fountain of misinformation and being CSUS's attack dog.
Megan September 13, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Dear Charles, Jeff, Steve, anybody?? Once SCUS has build at Davis Drive, what prevents them from expanding their middle school and adding a new high-school? (adding hundred of new students and more cars) It seems to me they have the money and the space to do so. Regardless of SCUS coming to Belmont or not, enrollment at Ralston is predicted to grow dramatically over the next few years, and the traffic situation will only get worse. Where is the $$ to fix this problem??
Rob September 13, 2012 at 05:06 AM
Megan, the numbers are capped. CSUS addressed this several times last night. They can only take as many kids in the middle school as can apply for their high school. It's part if the Agreement that they can't expand the facility, add to enrollment or bring their high school over to Belmont. We are safe with their number if 240. Unlike a filled business park. The business park is zoned for an additional 800+ employees. Imagine that traffic! This is a MUCH better deal for us!
Rob September 13, 2012 at 05:12 AM
Megan, they have also agreed to pay an additional $250K to fix any traffic pattern issues if they cause any problems. Who does that? They want to work with us.
Steve Hayes September 13, 2012 at 05:12 AM
At the meeting CSUS made it clear thay have no interest in expanding and they want to keep the high school in Hillsboro - that is the Alma Mater. The Hillboro site will be maxed out at about 90 students per class.The middle school will be maintained at a size to fill the openings at the high school. Some people may distrust the school and might claim the school may have some other motive. I don't think so! By the way, I checked out the space for the fight turn lane - I heard that might be added if traffic requires it. There is plenty of room for that lane and it probably should have been required when the area was first developed. Yes, Signet will have to sell a small strip of land but it will not affect their business at all - actually it will help make truck deliveries to Signet safer.
Annie September 13, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Megan, how can CSUS expand if they don't have the property to expand? I would think that they would have to go through this process again if they wanted to acquire more property to expand the school. They don't have unlimited resources. I think that since they were given the go ahead in April of 2011 to proceed with the proposal, that they have put put to much time, energy and money into this project to abandon it. It is a perfect location for the school and an asset to Belmont. Also, as an aside it is a fantastic deal for Belmont. This is not a "start-up" school, this is a nationally acclaimed school with a 60 year history. They are wonderful neighbors in Hillsborough, We need to deal with Ralston Middle School, but that is an entirely different issue. CSUS is paying us, we have to pay for Ralston Middle School.
Timothy E. Strinden September 13, 2012 at 05:52 AM
I am also very concerned with the negative impact on Water Dog Lake Park. Looking at the project site map, you can see that the CSUS site extends far into the canyon and very near the lake and trails, unlike Ralston Middle School, which is on top of the hill and out of sight: http://www.belmont.gov/Upload/Document/D240008234/12CSUSNoiseStudy.pdf. I believe the sight and sounds of CSUS will greatly diminish the wilderness and tranquil feeling of the park, which is reason enough to reject the project.
Justin September 13, 2012 at 06:28 AM
Mary Beth--you said you were writing your last post yesterday. Just saying.
Megan September 13, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Dear Mary Beth Kelley, progress is not always a good thing. I'm all in favor of education. But I'm still trying to understand how a private middle school, with the majority of it's student from outside Belmont will benefit our school district, our children? Our district is bursting at the seams. "Our children are 25/30 in a classroom, sharing lockers at Ralston, no money for extra activities or classes. Parents fighting traffic each morning to make sure their children are in school on time. Again, the prestige of a top private school and the money they would be given the CITY sounds great, but how does it benefit OUR children. It seems to me some of that money will go to fixing the roads, the door at the fire station, extra police to monitor traffic, etc. Not much, if any, left for our schools.
Timothy E. Strinden September 13, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I agree, Megan. I see many negatives and few, if any, positives: including the impact on Water Dog Lake Park, traffic, inconsistent zoning, possible harm to Ralston and public schools, and questionable revenue for the city. I really don't understand the enthusiasm for CSUS by some posters and believe the city council would be wise to look on this project with great skepticism. Change does not necessarily equal progress.
Timothy E. Strinden September 13, 2012 at 04:54 PM
The most vocal people do not necessarily represent the opinion of the community. The council would be wrong to just count the yes and no comments at council meetings or on this board to reach a decision. Proponents and opponents often pack council meetings with their supporters, and a vocal few post repeatedly on boards like this. It is the job of the council to listen to all sides but use their own best judgment to determine the best course. Even though I live near Ralston and believe there will be negative traffic impacts, I believe other issues are more important; including the impacts on Water Dog Lake, revenue, zoning, public schools, and the fact that few Belmont residents will attend CSUS. All are important and should be considered.
Kevin Sullivan September 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I think I can safely say I am as familiar with Waterdog Lake and the Open Space area as anyone in the city. I've been leading trailwork there for the past 3 years and been volunteering on trail maintenance for 8. I'm familiar with the buffer between Lake Road and the Davis Drive properties. When you are on the lake road, large oaks separate you. When you are on John Brooks you can see and hear people on that property (and Ralston School) but in my opinion there is no way you can say this will significantly affect the serenity of the park. This is a school not a skateboard park. Kids are in class much of the day. There will only be 240 of them. They are going to be in a beautiful building built with sound considerations in mind. I think this is another red herring and not a significant factor. And nobody can tell me they care about Waterdog more than me. Maybe as much. Not more.
Timothy E. Strinden September 13, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Do you realize they will be removing 88 trees, including old oaks, so there will not be as much of a buffer? Do you realize that the site boundary extends down into the canyon and close to the road and lake, unlike Ralston Middle School that stays on top of the hill and out of sight? Please see the site map: http://www.belmont.gov/Upload/Document/D240008234/12CSUSNoiseStudy.pdf. Do you realize they will have a sports field that will be in use during the schooldays and on weekends nearly all year round? I don't see how this cannot seriously diminish the sense of seclusion and enjoyment in the park.
Steve Hayes September 13, 2012 at 09:04 PM
TES Have you actually gone over to look at the trees? You should. There are two oak trees in front of office building - both in bad shape (less than half the leaves they should have) and probably dying. Then there are a handful of nice old oaks on the backside rim - they are coming out because the Fire Marshall is requiring them to come out -they pose a fire danger. Yes the school is removing trees because they are in the way, but they are also planting the same number and paying fees for twice that number as compensation into the community Tree Fund. Earlier we were discussing ordiances and I want to point out how arbitrary the tree ordinance is. Case in point, two of our council members have removed trees from their yards (both heritage oak trees) - one did not replace the tree and did not pay into the tree fund (so now there is no tree in the front yard) while the other did pay into the tree fund but only the payment for a single tree(no room in her yard for another tree). Both council members think it is very important that CSUS should be held to the 3 to 1 ratio. To be fair the council members removed their trees shortly before they approved the 3 to 1 requirement - my point is they demand a burden on others but skirt around the rules themselves. Is that a reasonable approach? I do not fault either council member for what they did with their trees, but they should respect the rights of the rest of us or at least live within the spirit of the rules they enact.
Timothy E. Strinden September 14, 2012 at 12:32 AM
I just returned from walking the entire site and found all the trees to appear very healthy. I didn't see any sign that any of the trees were dying. I counted about 83 trees of significant size, meaning that CSUS plans to remove nearly all the trees on the property. Most are very old and mature evergreens, and their replacements will take decades to grow to the same size and beauty. The oaks on the backside rim are very old and beautiful and it seems a crime to me to take them out. They appear healthy to me and probably don't constitute any more of a fire danger than many other old oaks in the canyon. They also help to block the sight and sound of the property from the park. When standing on the rim, I could see parts of the lake and road through the trees, and could clearly hear every word that a couple and their dog were saying down by the lake. I believe it is essential that there be no development on hill leading to the park, that the trees on the hill remain undisturbed, and that activity on the rim above the park be kept to a minimum, to preserve the character of the park. I agree that the councilmembers should set an example and live within the spirit of the rules that they enact.
Steve Hayes September 14, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I agree the oaks on the rim are nice old trees - I wonder if they could remove trees midway down the hill to reduce the risk on top and therefore saving some of those on the rim itself. You would have trees on the rim and still many lining the Lake Road Trail. Since I've got you out walking around, try walking down the Lake Road Trail from the top so you can look up to see where the development might be. When you get to the Ralston School Trail look up and to the right - you will just see a corner of the existing structure. Honestly I never noticed it before until the other day when I was looking for it. CSUS is building their structure a little further east so I doubt you will see it from the trail. Also remember the athletic field will be on the north side of the property (away from the rim) and for the most part will have a building between it (the field) and the rim. Anyway have a nice walk!
Timothy E. Strinden September 14, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Yes, it's good the sports field is away from the rim. As long as the school doesn't plan much activity on or over the rim, and doesn't cut trees on the hill, the impact on the park may be acceptable. I'll take that walk to look for the existing structure, but the noise from on top will be just as important. Thanks for helping me to get my exercise.
Timothy E. Strinden September 14, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Dennis, I agree that on the most important issues, a ballot measure would be appropriate. However, It's an expensive and involved process so that the council just has to use its best judgment on most issues.
Annie September 14, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Dennis, I agree with you. I said this awhile ago. We should put this on the ballot. As it has been mentioned it is expensive and I am usually not a proponent of ballots when our elected officials can't make a decision, that being said, I do believe this belongs on the ballot, only a small group of people in the community know about this project and it impacts the whole community of Belmont. Taxes, traffic and a host of other issues. We need to do what is right for the whole community. This proposition, in my opinion, is vital to the growth of our community. CSUS has tried to do polling, but to a select few people. Polling on the phone puts many people off. It is election time and flyers in the mail go mostly into the garbage can if you don't really know what it about. Coralin also sent out an email to a small group in the community, not the whole community. This might be to late to put on the ballot, but maybe a grassroots campaign can be started to let the community know what is going on in our community. The trees can and will be replaced.
Rob September 14, 2012 at 04:54 PM
http://www.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?type=opinions&title=School%20fight&id=1754746 Editorial piece on the CSUS issue. Interesting...
Buck Thomas September 14, 2012 at 06:13 PM
Truth by repetition? The malcontents seem to collect on Patch blogs with their misinformation that they repeat endlessly. I can almost hear them say, "Don't confuse me with the facts." I'm driven to the inevitable conclusion that they are interested in one thing: Belmont ELECTION 2013. CSUS, like Koret field in the last election, is just something to create an election issue over. They don't give a damn about CSUS, they are using CSUS as a excuse to get Reed, Selman, Stone or others of their ilk elected to Belmont Council. The Belmont City council has done a great job in leading the nation in the smoking ordinance that was based on solid science. They have saved open space, created more parks, saved the Belmont Fire department when San Carlos pulled out, balanced the budget in trying times, hired a great city manager and city attorney, acquired downtown properties for redevelopment, well ... the list is long. Clearly, logic is of little use in dealing with these cranks who use tea-party tactics for their own ends.
Marit Hsich September 14, 2012 at 08:20 PM
This issue has nothing to do with our school district. It was to do with our city and the financial benefits via a group of people who are willing to work with us at just about every angle - have accommodated the many combative issues suggested by resistance to this proposal. I can't imagine this even being a discussion if a business were to move into this location.
Member September 14, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Charles, the CSUS traffic report is being re-run with corrected data. See my comments in the Wed Sept. 12 article http://belmont-ca.patch.com/articles/midnight-looming-council-postpones-csus-vote-till-oct-9


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