Chamber of Commerce Votes to Support CSUS Project

The Belmont Chamber of Commerce board of directors cited several reasons for its support of the construction of a private middle school in Belmont business park.


The board of directors of the voted to support the project at a recent meeting.

According to board president , the chamber listed a number of reasons for their support of the proposed project, which calls for the on a site that is currently home to a vacant office building and warehouse on Davis Drive

The first item Burgess addressed was why the Belmont Chamber of Commerce, typically an organization comprised of for-profit businesses, would support a non-profit (school). Burgess explained that chamber was formed to ease the start-up of new businesses and to promote and foster members with tenure. Crystal Springs Upland School (CSUS) is a member and the Belmont middle school is a start-up he said.

Other factors that prompted the chamber's support:

  • CSUS has expressed willingness to offset any due to its tax exempt status by a generous payment directly to the City and is more than willing to offset any loss in property tax by a factor of two.
  • The property has remained vacant for five years or more. CSUS is offering to pay more than what the city would collect in property taxes than the $65,000/year the property is currently generating.
  • CSUS has indicated its parents and students would shop locally, thereby supporting Belmont businesses.
  • CSUS has indicated that it will have the student food service provided by a local vendor(1076 meals/week), meaning bids would be drawn from chamber members and other local businesses.
  • When schools are in session, Belmont businesses are busier than during summer months.
  • Impact to traffic along the Ralston corridor will be minimal due to Caltrain shuttles, carpools and an inter-school shuttle that will bring students to Belmont from the existing campus in Hillsborough.
  • The Chamber is attacking the traffic on Ralston in two ways; first, we are assisting the City in their request for a Belmont shuttle and, second in their quest for a comprehensive study of the Ralston corridor.
  • Other schools in Belmont will act as feeder schools for CSUS and benefit from the proximity to such a school.  A local principal of one of our Belmont Elementary Schools noted that having CSUS in Belmont will most definitely enhance al of Belmont’s schools.

Burgess also addressed concerns raised by members of the community who are due to traffic and noise concerns.

"It seems to me that CSUS has made changes to every challenge made by city and resident, i.e. glare from the roof, windows, more parking, and loss of property tax money. CSUS is designing a campus that will blend into and enhance the environment," Burgess said.

The chamber also stressed the need for additional youth sports facilities in Belmont--something that CSUS has offered the community should its to the city be accepted.

"If CSUS maintains the new facility and grounds as they are doing in Hillsborough, Belmont will have a jewel to be admired by the entire Bay Area.  It will be a draw to Belmont," said Burgess.

In addition, Burgess said the chamber believes the school would have an effect on property values in Belmont.

"Home values should increase. Realtors tell me, 'People select homes based on schools.' The prestige of having such a nationally acclaimed school in our midst will most certainly add value to our homes," Burgess said.

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Seely June 27, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Gordon Seely I'm delighted that the Chamber of Commerce--sometimes compared to the Star Chamber--is excited about an in lieu tax payment to the City and County by the proposed CSUS. That's certainly a fair proposal. One might ask, however, will NDNU and Charles Armstrong step up to the plate and contribute to the costs they impose on the Belmont tax-payers?
Judi June 27, 2012 at 11:31 PM
I think alot of good points are being raised by his dialog... and my biggest concern is traffic on Ralston when the rest of us are trying to get to work via Ralston to Hwys 92, 280 & 101. We already support the San Carlos traffic to Hwy2 92 & 280, and the left-turn cut-outs to Fox & Ralston Schools are not adequate. (The left-turn cutout into Safeway on Alameda left me & neighbor with NO street parlking - lost 2 spots, but was never asked by the City before it was approved!). I don't believe the Chamber knows anything about traffic mitigation, and this issue is a "quality of life" issue for residents. I really don't care if there is a prestigious school in my neighborhood if I can't drive through the area to get to work. A shuttle? A study? Really??? And, I don't know what a Belmont "feeder school" is Mr. Burgess. All these schools (including Notre Dame) who import students into Belmont, should have to arrive at the Cal-Train lot, and if by car - pay for a parking permit and take a shuttle to the campus. Several years ago, Notre Dame HS students were parking in (& filling up) the free business/shopper lot adjacent to Barrett Community-Park on Ralston, and getting their shuttle to pick them up there (because there was no parking at Notre Dame)- this lot was for Belmont residents/shoppers -- not private school student parking! These issues need to be resolved before any approvals are given!
Rob June 28, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Judi, But your traffic concern would be much worse if the office buildings were full or if the site is sold and redeveloped with more space for additional employees. I'll take the less of two evils on this one. I'll take a middle school with students who can't drive and who will be shuttled in, carpooled and take Caltrain over hundreds of single drives coming in and out of Davis Drive flooding Ralston. Think of that possibility when this traffic issue is brought up. We've been spoiled the last 5 years with low occupancy on Davis. I rarely have to stop at that light and I travel up and down Ralston about 8 times day or so...I like this option MUCH better regarding traffic than a full office park of single drivers!
Jack June 28, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Seely: About Star Chambers, wikipedia says (I'm paraphrasing here): Bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings.. are sometimes called star chambers. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings. Over time the Star Chamber evolved into a political weapon, a symbol of the misuse and abuse of power. You wouldn't say that about the Belmont Chamber? Would you?
Diane June 28, 2012 at 07:42 PM
How much traffic will the Caltrain shuttle really divert? Given the current Caltrain schedule, the northbound train arrives at 658a. This is a local train. This means that many parents will need to get their kids to the train station by 630a. This means the need to leave the house at 615a. Also, if you are coming from south of Menlo Park the kids will need to transfer once. I don't know too many parents that would rather do this vs. dropping their kids at the front door just before school starts. Also, the afternoon schedule also needs to be coordinated. In the afternoon, Belmont only has one train per hour - will kids be willing to wait an hour just to get on the train? The fact is that this location is attractive to CSUS due to its proximity to 92 and 280. Most of the families that can afford $35K per year in tuition per kid live on the 280 corridor.
George Burgess June 28, 2012 at 07:49 PM
We started talking to CSUS in July 2011 and they joined in August, 2011. We have other private schools and non-profits in our membership. As I said before, a business is a business, large or small, for-profit or non-profit and we will represent all members.
Rob June 28, 2012 at 07:56 PM
So I guess Diane you'd rather have employees who drive single cars flood Ralston? Many more than students and employees? I don't get that.
Rob June 28, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Many students take Caltrain to Sacred Heart, St. Francis, Norte Dame, Serra and school shuttles to St. Ignatius. The schools have after hour programs to accommodate the Caltrain schedule. The schools also provide shuttles to and from. This is not a private vs. public school debate but so many people are making it that way. It's not a class issue either. My very good friend's son was on scholarship/financial aid to attend CSUS. Single mother. She applied and was accepted. He graduated and went on to a great California university. This is not just about families who can afford $35k and where they live. They live in a small condo in San Mateo. So please stop the "people who can afford $35k" business. It's naive and creates stereotypes.
Justin June 28, 2012 at 08:21 PM
Rob--it's not naive at all. In fact, you DO need money to attend CSUS. You make it sound like anyone can get a scholarship. That sounds pretty naive to me with such scant anecdotal evidence. The fact is traffic will increase. With only 40 parking spots, what about Open House, Back to School Night, Concerts, Parent Education Nights, Science Fairs, Plays, Athletic events, etc? Where are those hundreds of cars going to park? It's a business park--not a school park. It's too close to another growing school, and we don't need to be "elite."
Justin June 28, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Ask business people what The Chamber has done for them. Most people I've asked say little or nothing. The Chamber spends too much time being political.
Rob June 28, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Chambers are only as good as what you put into them. If you don't give and get involved you don't "get". Also...then push CSUS for additional parking if that's your backlash. Having NDNU, Charles Armstrong, IHM, Serendipity, Notre Dame Elementary, , Merry Moppit, Belmont Oaks, Notre Dame High School, Earlling Learning Center and the Greek School has not made our wonderful community "elite". It provides choice and opportunity. Come on...really?
Diane June 28, 2012 at 08:52 PM
Rob, I don't care how many people are in the car. I care that there are fewer cars. More importantly, I don't like Mr. Burress using this paper as his personal platform if he isn't going to tell the truth. If he is going to voice his opinions (not facts), then I am going to call BS when he spouts BS.
George Burgess June 28, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Our web site is new and we changed hosting servers. The server has issues ......the site works perfectly every where except in Belmont. The server was hacked about 2 months ago and as a result installed the most complete security system; it is too restrictive. The company is trying to resolve the problem. It does appear that CSUS was inadvertantly left off the directory when making the transfer to the new site.
Diane June 28, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Do these schools have a 745a start? Are they in towns with one train per hour?
Justin June 28, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Yes, Rob--elite. With the exception of Armstrong (which is specific to children with learning differences), NONE of the general population schools you mentioned has a tuition even close to CSUS's. CSUS has a tuition that rivals many colleges. Yes, elite.
Justin June 28, 2012 at 09:21 PM
This is not the first time Burgess has endorsed a project or candidate as "Chamber President," stating he is speaking for himself, not the chamber. Then why use the title?
Steve Hayes June 28, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Diane - The Plan I heard was to use the Hiilsdale station (not Belmont) because of the infrequent stops at the Belmont station. Then they could shuttle them up to school on either EC, Hillsdale/Alameda or Hillsdale/92 - the exact route to be determined.
Rob June 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I went to public schools my entire life until I went to college and graduate school. I've never felt that schools who have higher tuitions as "elite". Are all private universities considered "elite". I don't think so. Parents have many reasons as to why they sacrifice to send kids to private schools. My spouses parents scraped together money each year to send their children to private schools and high schools in the Bay Area. It was their choice to spend their money on the schools instead if vacations, cars, housing, etc...everyone has different priorities. You are making this a "class" issue and sound intimidated by those who may or may not be able to afford a private middle school. Don't be intimated...embrace and be proud to have such a strong neighbor who desires to be in our wonderful town. It's certainly better than a large bar establishment who'd like to go in on Davis Drive. It's a school. Not a toxic waste site that wants to join us. Or additional nail salons or massage parlors that we seem to be open to adding all the time. We are not smart to turn them away. Who knows what we will end up with....
Member June 28, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Rob, Davis Drive is currently zoned for executive office space, not retail, or extensive manufacturing, so your comparison is not correct.
1Diane June 29, 2012 at 12:28 AM
You're correct Justin. The CSUS tuition rivals many elite colleges' tuition, and many more colleges/universities charge much less for tuition. CSUS says they've made "arrangments" with the surrounding businesses to use their parking lots for any evening events such as Back to School Nights, etc. However that doesn't account for late afternoon events such as swim meets, water polo games, soccer games or lacrosse games on the field when visiting teams, spectators and CSUS high school students will need a place to park and the business parking lots are still full. Spill over into the Belcrest Gardens neighborhood is likely. Not good.
Diane June 29, 2012 at 03:11 AM
I was nowhere near Belmont and it didn't work for me either. More mysteries and inconsistencies from the Chamber.
Diane June 29, 2012 at 03:20 AM
With all of these sports going on in the afternoon, how will local residents be able to take advantage of the new facilities, as promised by CSUS? Does the City of Hillsborough currently take advantage of the current campus? If not, why do we think things will be different at the new campus?
Rob June 29, 2012 at 04:14 AM
Why does everyone assume Belmont families can't afford CSUS? In my immediate few blocks of my neighbors that I know... Here is the break down on schools: 2 just got accepted to Sacred Heard Menlo 2 currently go to Saint Ignatius High 2 go to Notre Dame 1 attends Carey School 2 Charles Armstrong 3 IHM 1 Keys School in Palo Alto 1 Belmont Oaks 5 public elementary 2 grads of CSUS and one is at Stanford 3 Ralston On my son's latest Belmont baseball team...5 attend private schools. So please don't assume Belmont is not capable of sending our children to CSUS. We will have families who might possibly select it for their children. Especially if we can apply for the money they set aside for local families and their current $2 million they offer. Also, "Member" on other blogs on this topic it was stated that Devil's Brewery has expressed interest in developing the site. I understand about the current zoning on the site. But other types of businesses other than a typical office setting are interested in Davis Drive. I'd prefer a nationaly ranked school with less traffic than a brewery with people hanging out, noise and potential other issues.
Justin June 29, 2012 at 05:13 AM
A BREWERY WOULD BE AWESOME UP THERE! It would generate sales tax!!! What makes you think Belmont families want to go to CSUS, regardless of affordability?
Rob June 29, 2012 at 08:03 AM
Justin, a brewery next to Ralston Middle School? Ok...you don't see any potential issues with that? Kids walking down Ralston to get home? Car line backed up onto Davis Drive for pick up? And a brewery open for business during the day with kids all around? That's what you see for Davis Drive? I lam all for the brewery moving. Love that place and its beer! Perhaps a better idea for where the brewery could expand to would be where Blockbuster was at El Camino, the all you can eat sushi place on the corner of El Camino and Ralston, Video One space, the old lighting store on El Camino but next to Ralston Middle School? No way. Potential intoxicated folks coming out of Davis with children walking around? Remember....Ralston's fields are always full after school and on weekends with AYSO, Little League, school activities, etc...and we are losing field space due to the expansion. So are around till dark playing sports. Not a good mix. That's what you want for Davis. Do you have younger kids? Doesn't sound like it. That's a horrible mix.
Justin June 29, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Rob--silly; huh? As silly as another school so close to Ralston. However, I do agree that Blockbuster would be a perfect place for Devil's Canyon.
Bob June 29, 2012 at 11:26 PM
Hey Rob why would a brewery necessarily have intoxicated people coming out of it? A brew pub might but that is not what we are talking about here. I think Blockbuster is too small for Devil's Canyon. I would almost bet it would be in a worse spot in terms of production plus shipping and receiving would be near impossible from that location.
Gin Nikoloff July 08, 2012 at 08:49 PM
As a parent of the Belmont/Redwood Shores, Carlmont school system in our city, I know how bad traffic can be. About 5 years ago, Ralston Middle School and the police did a study on the congestion leaving Ralston. Parents were no longer able to make a left turn out of Ralston which was a very good call, traffic flowed. However, because there was no left turn leaving Ralston Middle School, many use Davis to get back onto Ralston West, and to 280. The school hours would need to be different from the public schools today, and probably earlier, since it may impact the companies; Cengage, Vindicia and the County office that are in the Davis Business Park today. The reality is that we need another Middle School and a business (in this case), to drive in my revenue for our City’s roads and infrustucture. If they move to Redwood Shores, we won't see any funds!
Gin Nikoloff July 08, 2012 at 09:06 PM
As a parent of the Belmont/Redwood Shores, Carlmont school system in our city, I know how bad traffic can be. About 5 years ago, Ralston Middle School and the police did a study on the congestion leaving Ralston. Parents were no longer able to make a left turn out of Ralston which was a very good call, traffic flowed. However, since there was no left turn leaving Ralston Middle School, many use Davis to get back onto Ralston West, and to 280. In addition, many parents use Davis to pick up their kids at 3:00 p.m. Not a huge impact for the businesses, but conflicting hours will be a problem. The school hours would need to be different from the public schools today, and probably earlier, since it may impact the companies; Cengage, Vindicia and the County office that are in the Davis Business Park today. The reality is that we need another Middle School and a business (in this case), to drive in my revenue for our City’s roads and infrastructure. If they move to Redwood Shores, we won't see any funds!
Bob July 08, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Gin I understand your position that Belmont needs another middle school but CSUS won't really provide any service to the children of Belmont. The price of nearly $40k a year puts it out of the range of a majority of Belmont residents


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