Rebuttal to the October 2012 letter sent to Belmont homeowners by seven residents:
"We have lived in Belmont for years. We’ve raised children, owned homes, and run businesses here. We have also been engaged in Belmont civic and community activities at all levels. We want you to know why we—and many fellow residents—are excited about Crystal Springs Uplands School’s proposal to turn a vacant ofﬁce site on Davis Drive into a beautiful, green middle school campus that beneﬁts our community. We are not receiving any personal beneﬁt and are not directly connected to the school. We simply care deeply about Belmont and its future."
Many residents opposed to the CSUS project have lived in Belmont for years, raised children, and run businesses, yet they are adamantly opposed to this diminution of our unique Belmont quality of life. Also, the authors leave out the contract that CSUS has had with the seller of the buildings for the last few years that prevented it from being rented or purchased. We who are opposed to the CSUS project also care deeply about Belmont and its future; that's why we are opposed.
"First, we believe that the use of this site for a middle school is an excellent and better use than commercial alternatives. The campus will have a lower intensity than potential commercial uses of the property. Crystal Springs will signiﬁcantly reduce the square footage of the buildings, remove hardscape, construct energy efﬁcient buildings and install an all-weather soccer ﬁeld to which the community will have access. Also, the majority of the owners or property representatives of neighboring commercial buildings on Davis Drive support the proposal."
It is the authors' opinion, not shared by many residents, that the school is an excellent and better use than commercial alternatives. Ask current owners of businesses on Davis Drive who do not have a conflict of interest involving the seller and CSUS.
"Second, the ﬁnancial beneﬁts to Belmont are substantial. Crystal Springs’ guaranteed annual payment of $250,000 ensures ﬁscal neutrality to the City of Belmont and exceeds current tax revenue collected from the site. This is enough to allow the Belmont school district to not suffer from loss of property taxes, and is also likely higher than what alternative commercial tenants would provide. Crystal Springs has been in business 60 years, and this annual payment is a phenomenal opportunity to secure a stable long-term revenue stream. Crystal Springs is also offering a one-time payment of $1 million that Belmont can use to make a real difference to its infrastructure, services,
parks, and schools. In addition, building the campus will inject $33 million into the local economy, creating 200 new jobs as a result of the construction in Belmont and boosting economic activity."
What the authors failed to mention is when the $250K payment will be made (If one year after the school opens, that could mean 3 years). Also, the 2% cap on cost-of-living increases could spell financial disaster for the City in high-inflation times that seem inevitable. The increase in the City's $116K cost of services to the proposed campus could EXCEED the CSUS annual payments! The $250K payment, after deducting the City's cost of $116K to service the proposed campus, is more like $134K net to the City that probably would be shared with County schools and facilities. Taxes from businesses, especially new ones, seems like more secure revenues for the City. The financial security of Belmont could be impacted by a liability forever created by a tax-exempt property; would this potential forever annual liability be worth a $5.12 benefit to each Belmont resident?
Also, the $1M one-time offer by CSUS is due one year after the proposed campus would open, which would make it at least 3 years in the future, which would lower the value to close to 800K. It stretches the average imagination to think that this payment will make a real difference to Belmont's infrastructure, services, parks, and schools in a city of 26,147 residents - approximately $30.50 per resident!
The claim of the campus injecting $33M into the local economy, creating 200 jobs, and boosting economic activity has been completely debunked in prior Internet postings as Black-Magic accounting by the Belmont Chamber of Commerce. Shame on the authors for repeating these assertions.
"We are convinced that the beneﬁts of the proposal overcome the concerns that have been raised. We know that any business that moves into the Davis Drive ofﬁce park will generate trafﬁc, but Crystal Springs has a long history of being a considerate, quiet neighbor in a completely residential area. It is planning an early start time to avoid overlap with Ralston Middle School and peak commuting hours. Belmont’s own studies conﬁrm that the school will not have a material impact on existing Ralston Avenue trafﬁc issues. Plus, the school has agreed to long-term monitoring to make sure that its trafﬁc never becomes an issue. It’s hard to imagine a commercial business doing the same."
What the authors left out is that the original and corrected traffic surveys were suspect because of gross errors, and the latest correction is again being reviewed by the City's traffic consultant. The statement the school will not have a material impact on existing Ralston Avenue traffic is wishful conjecture by the authors. The results of the traffic survey will be in the staff report.
"You can learn more about the Crystal Springs proposal and its beneﬁts to Belmont’s residents at www.csus.org/belmont.
The City Council will consider the project in October. We encourage you to add your voice to the many supporters who have already spoken and ask our elected representatives to approve this project. You can email the Council members at CityCouncil@Belmont.gov. This is important for Belmont’s future!
Thank you for taking the time to understand the huge beneﬁts to Belmont of approving the Crystal Springs project."
Thank you for taking the time to evaluate the negative effects of the CSUS project on the citizens of Belmont that the authors left out and decide for yourself if the alleged CSUS benefits are exaggerations, misstatements or just wishful thinking.
"Paid for with private funds by Belmont schools parents and by Crystal Springs
It would be interesting to know how much tax-exempt money has been spent on Public Relations for this project by CSUS, and if the so-called "private funds" by parents are tax deductible because that would mean that the taxpayers are also funding the CSUS project. Also, they say they are not affiliated with CSUS, yet this was paid for by CSUS parents - seemingly a distinction without a difference.
Joseph A. Brennan
2836 Wakefield Drive
Belmont, CA 94002-2935