Foothill-DeAnza Districting meeting

Foothill-DeAnza Community College Trustee Areas Election Meeting

October 4, 2021

Board President Landsberger:

The District is working with Redistricting Partners to develop communities of interest and boundary lines (maps).

President Landsberger reminded people that there are multiple ways to participate in the process.

  1. Attending and speaking at public meetings like this one
  2. Taking the online survey to identify communities of interest
  3. Using the online map tool (DistrictR) on the District website.

All discussions with the Redistricting Partners about boundary lines will be in public meetings. The final decision will be made on February 14, 2022 and the new election system will be phased in over two election cycles beginning in November 2022.

Redistricting Partners:

Three critical questions to answer about a community of interest.

  1. Does it have a shared culture, characteristics or bond?
  2. Is the community geographic in nature? Is the community able to be mapped?
  3. What is the community’s relationship with the jurisdiction being districted? How is it affected by the policy decisions made by the elected officials?

Comments from the audience:

Roberta Hollimon of LWV Cupertino-Sunnyvale shared League criteria for drawing district boundaries, which she noted are very similar to those of the College District.

  1. Population is the most important.
  2. Keep communities together.
  3. Stay in compliance with  the federal voting rights act.
  4. Boundaries should provide no incumbent protection.

Trustee questions to Redistricting Partners:

Which is more restrictive – the federal voting rights act or the state’s?

Answer: The Federal Voting Rights Act and the California Voting Rights Act operate in two different ways and have different standards for the plaintiff. In California, the CVRA requires all at-large districts to convert to a by-district process if the plaintiff charges that racially polarized voting exists. Once the district converts to by-district, then the CVRA no longer applies as the remedy has been imposed on the agency.  

The Federal Voting Rights Acts applies to all government agencies whether by-district or at-large, and requires that the district create minority/majority districts if certain conditions apply.

Trustee questions to Redistricting Partners:

The population numbers in the Board packet are different from those of DistrictR. Why?

Answer: The Board packet numbers have the prison population included, the DistrictR does not. The DistrictR numbers will be updated.

What percentage differential is allowed by law between districts?

Answer: The law allows a 10% deviation for the total plan.

What will the next two meetings look like?

Answer: Redistricting Partners will summarize the community input data and any maps that have been submitted via DistrictR. Redistricting Partners often finds themes and will consolidate for easier consumption. Three maps will be presented and will be accompanied by a rationale for their selection.

What is the last date that a member of the public can submit input to Redistricting Partners?

Answer: Up to February 14, 2022.

How many maps have been submitted so far?

Answer: At last check – 16.

What number will be used to create the district?

Answer: Total population.

Next public meetings:

December 13, 2021 – discussion of maps

January 10, 2022 – discussion of maps

February 14, 2022 – review and vote on final map by the FH-DA Board of Trustees.

Bullis Charter School

Bullis Charter School requests a change of admissions preferences.

The Bullis Charter School board members voted to submit the following request to the Santa Clara County Board of Education. The SCCBOE unanimously approved this change of admissions preferences request at its October 6, 2021, board meeting.

BCS proposes that its admission preferences be changed to the following (the proposed new preferences are indicated in bold font):

  • Siblings of Bullis Charter School students who reside within the boundaries of the Los Altos School District.
  • Children who qualify for free or reduced priced meals and reside within the boundaries of the Los Altos School District, limited to 10% of the total openings at each grade level.
  • Children of BCS Staff members who reside within the boundaries of the Los Altos School District.
  • Children who reside within the boundaries of the Los Altos School District.
  • Siblings of Bullis Charter School students who reside outside the boundaries of the Los Altos School District but with California.
  • Children of BCS staff members who reside outside the boundaries of the Los Altos School District but within California.
  • Children who qualify for free or reduced priced meals who reside outside the boundaries of the Los Altos School District but within California.
  • All other applicants who reside within California. 

BCS is requesting approval of these modifications so they may take effect for the 2022-23 Open Enrollment period, which begins November 2, 2021.

Ellen Wheeler, observer

Los Altos School Board

October 4, 2021

The board voted unanimously in favor of continuing to conduct electronic board meetings in their current format. The board must reaffirm every 30 days that the necessary conditions are met per AB 361:

1. a proclaimed state of emergency

2. either social distancing is recommended or the governing board determines that meeting in person would present imminent risks to the health or safety of attendees

Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon provided an update on the plans for the 10th site. LASD purchased the site (11.65 acres) for $155 million in 2019, then sold 2 acres to the City of Mountain View for $20 million to build a city park. Another 4 acres will be used jointly by the City of Mountain View during non-school hours, with the city contributing an additional $23 million for this purpose. (Some land is also being sold to developers to offset purchase costs.) LASD has been working with the City of Mountain View to make plans for the site. A 2-story school building will take up an estimated 2 acres of land and can accommodate up to 900 students. The 4 acres of joint use recreational space will include a track, soccer field, baseball field, and indoor gymnasium. The location of the 2-acre park has been selected to accommodate traffic patterns and to allow public access without entering school grounds. For more information, please see the full 10th site presentation.

The Santa Clara County Board of Education (SCCBoE) issued a Notice of Concern to Bullis Charter School (BCS) in May of 2021. The notice states that BCS is in violation of the Charter Schools Act, because “BCS is not serving all pupils who wish to attend.” They elaborate by saying they are “not serving all demographic groups” with lower percentages of English Learners, Students with Special Needs, Hispanic Students, and socio-economically disadvantaged students. Failure to correct this violation could result in the denial of their upcoming charter renewal (due in 2021-22). In response, Bullis Charter School has proposed updating their enrollment preferences. Second preference will be given to students living within LASD that qualify for free or reduced-price meals, up to a maximum of 10% at each grade level. Students outside the district who qualify will be given seventh preference. (The full list of enrollment preferences can be found on the BCS website.) LASD board members expressed concern that this change alone will not be sufficient to correct the violation (especially with the 10% cap), as similar measures in the past were unsuccessful. They would like to see the County hold BCS accountable for delivering results before renewing their charter. Board members instructed Superintendent Jeff Baier to send a letter to the SCCBoE before their meeting on Oct 6, 2021 to vote on the proposed changes in enrollment preferences.

October 18, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier shared the news that Governor Newsom intends to require vaccines in schools for both students and staff. The mandate could come as early as January 2022 or as late as July 2022. Within LASD, over 90% of staff members are already full vaccinated. Of the students currently eligible (ages 12 and up), approximately 85% are fully vaccinated. Despite the fact that most LASD students are not yet eligible to be vaccinated, there continue to be very few COVID-19 cases, and pool testing results have shown no evidence of school-related spread.

The board voted unanimously to approve the funding plan proposed by Assistant Superintendent Sandra McGonagle. This plan allocates $693,243 in emergency funds (known as ESSER III) granted by the federal government under the American Rescue Plan Act. The bulk of these funds ($500,000) will go toward improving ventilation in the classrooms, while smaller amounts will be spent on providing extra academic support to students below grade level and equitable technology access across all schools.

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos City Council

September 14, 2021

The City Council approved support to design a formal pedestrian trail between Redwood Grove Nature Preserve and Fremont Road in Los Altos Hills. An informal trail has existed for years, but its safety is undetermined. The issues to resolve for a secure path are engineering, environmental permits, and responsibility for construction and maintenance. City Manager will work with Los Altos Hills staff and the Parks and Recreation Commission and other Commissions as necessary and return to the City Council with recommendations.

The City Council introduced an amendment to an ordinance of the Los Altos Municipal Code for “Safe Storage of Firearms” in the City of Los Altos. The possibility was first discussed at the April 27, 2021, City Council meeting. The state of California has no law about safe storage – arms in a locked storage unit and with safety triggers on firearms – although numerous studies have determined the need for legislation or an ordinance by a city. The proposed amendment to the current ordinance about safe storage of firearms applies only to residences in the City of Los Altos. Adoption is tentatively scheduled for October 12, 2021.

The City Council indefinitely tabled the formation of a City Council Friends of the Library (FOL) Subcommittee that would address the space difficulties for the Los Altos FOL.

The City Council amended Zoning ordinances of the Los Altos Municipal Code to provide objective zoning standards for multi-family and mixed-housing development projects that are consistent with current State laws. The zoning must allow a variety of housing opportunities of quality, safety, privacy, and that save the character of the neighborhood. The zoning amendment will allow applicants, staff, other decision makers, and the community to be able to evaluate the projects.

The City Council received an update from the Council Legislative Subcommittee. Of 22 bills os which vice-mayor Enander and member Weinberg kept track, SB 640 (authorizes cities and counties to propose projects to be jointly funded by transportation funds) has been signed and AB 473 (changes to the California Public Records Act) has been sent to the Governor’s desk. A full report on the bills will be presented at an October board meeting after the bills are signed, fail to be signed, or vetoed.

September 21, 2021

Members of the City Council want to enact rules that would limit the City’s ability to sell, transfer fee ownership, or re-designate land around the Los Altos Civic Center. The City Council directed the City Attorney and staff to revise a zoning amendment to the Public Land Protection (PLP) Ordinance by adding a Public Land Preservation Overlay District ordinance to the zoning of the Los Altos Municipal Code for the Civic Center site. The proposed PLP Overlay District Ordinance would give zoning protections to the civic center but also extend to other properties. It did not, according to city staff, guarantee that any sale of land would be subject to voter approval, and the ordinance could be repealed by a future council.

Of the four options presented, Staff recommended option 2 which adds a qualifying statement that a future City Council by simple majority may repeal the Ordinance. The Planning Commission voted 6-0 against the ordinance amendment, saying it is overreach for a non-existing problem.

In public comment, several residents said the proposed option to the ordinance is an attempt by the people behind Measure C to overturn the will of the voters and substitute their judgement. Los Altos voters rejected Measure C in 2018 requiring a vote for any change to public land use.

Others stated that the Civic Center land should be designated as Parks or Other Open Space which was the proposal promised and voted on by the City Council in October 2018 in order to defeat Measure C.

A few public comments supported the voting option.

Claire Noonan, Observer

The staff will return with explanation of the possible changes at the October 24, 2021, City Council meeting.

Los Altos School Board

September 13, 2021 – Special Meeting

A special meeting was called in order to approve the actual budget report for the 2020-21 school year. Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon presented the final numbers for the year. Revenues totaled $73.3 million and expenses came in at $66.3 million. The general fund balance increased from $4.5 million to $11.5 million, bringing total reserves up to $12.5 million (19% of expenditures).

$52,939,339 was collected in property taxes for 2020-21, which reflects 7.23% growth from the previous year. Santa Clara County projects that 2021-22 property tax collections will be $55.5 million. For more information, please use this link to see Mr. Kenyon’s full budget presentation.

The budget report was unanimously approved by the school board and submitted to the county before the September 15 deadline.

September 20, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier shared that 65% of students are now participating in on-campus pool testing for COVID-19. The school district continues to urge parents to sign the consent form allowing their students to be tested. It is expected that children between ages 5-11 will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by late October or early November. The outdoor mask mandate for LASD will be re-evaluated after that milestone is reached.

Mr. Baier also shared new legislation (AB 361) which allows electronic meetings beyond September 30, 2021. Board members shared some preliminary thoughts about how board meetings should be held going forward. The consensus was that the next board meeting on October 4, 2021 would be held using the existing format and further discussion during that meeting would determine what changes (if any) would be applied to future meetings.

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos School Board

August 16, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier presented information about what LASD schools have done to prepare the for 2021-22 school year. Unlike last year, the state of California is prioritizing in-person instruction, and there will be no virtual option offered this year. LASD has contracted with StrideK12 to offer an independent study option in lieu of virtual school. Currently only 18 students in the district have elected to do independent study and all other students will be back on campus for 5 full days of in-person instruction. The board members unanimously approved changes to the district policy on independent study which can be found here: Independent Study Policy

During public comment, parents requested on-campus testing as well as mandatory outdoor masking. Although the California Department of Public Health does not require masking outdoors, the LASD school board directed Superintendent Baier to require that masks be worn even when outdoors.

Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon also gave a brief presentation on upcoming changes to the state budget for education. Much of the new funding will be program based (e.g. free meals, universal Transitional Kindergarten TK) and we are still waiting for more details from the state. LASD is unlikely to be significantly impacted due to demographics. Mr. Kenyon also requested a special meeting on September 13, 2021 in order to approve the 2020-21 actual budget which is due to the county on September 15.

August 20, 2021

Superintendent Jeff Baier provided updates on the district case counts for COVID-19. More information can be found using this link: LASD coronavirus information

Outdoor masks are now required with exceptions for certain after-school sports at the Jr. High level (e.g. cross-country while actively running). There was pushback on the outdoor mask requirement from some parents, and board members emphasized that they want to start the school year conservatively and will re-evaluate throughout the school year.

On-campus student pool testing for COVID-19 will again be offered through Concentric. It is now available to all students (TK – 8th grade). Parents must complete a consent form if they would like their students to be tested on-campus.

Assistant Superintendent Mrs. McGonagle provided an update on professional development for teachers. Special programs such as PE, music, and computer science are back. Both students and teachers alike are experiencing a much more normal school year.

The board also discussed various changes to the board policies, regulations, and bylaws in order to revise outdated language.

Stella Kam, Observer

Foothill-DeAnza Trustee Area Elections Redistricting Process

September 13, 2021

Background from the Foothill-DeAnza Community College District Website:

On March 11, 2019, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees adopted a resolution stating that the district will change the way that voters elect trustees for the first time since its founding in 1957.

Under the new system, instead of electing governing board members “at-large” with results decided by a districtwide vote, voters will elect one trustee from each of five smaller geographic areas, beginning in November 2022. The district’s 400,000+ residents will be divided into five “trustee areas” of roughly equal population size based on the 2020 Census. To run for election in a trustee area, a candidate must live in that area. The new system is intended to provide fair and equal representation for all district residents and will make it easier and less expensive to campaign for a seat on the board.

The decision to move to trustee area elections – also called “by-district” elections – was made in response to a demand letter from a lawyer representing a district resident, Sebastian Aguilar, which asserted that the Foothill-De Anza Community College District’s system of at-large elections may violate the California Voting Rights Act. It is one of many similar letters sent to local jurisdictions in recent years claiming that at-large elections abridge the voting rights of minority populations. These letters state that unless a change is made to by-district elections is made, a lawsuit will be filed. 

September 13, 2021 Board of Trustee meeting, Peter Landsberger, president, gave an overview of the process.

  • Each district would have to have roughly equal population.
  • Each district would have to include identified communities of interest.
  • Citizens can map communities of interest with a mapping tool which can be found on FHDA website.
  • All maps will be posted on the website for review and comment.
  • Redistricting Partners has been hired as consultants to assist the board in the districting process.
  • All four districting meetings will be public.
  • The trustees are committed to open, transparent, and public process.
  • The conversion to districts will be implemented over two election cycles. (sequencing)

Presentation by Redistricting Partners

  • California Voting Rights Act prohibits at-large elections in local government if there is racially polarized voting.
  • Traditional districting principles:
  • Relatively equal size of people, not citizens.
  • Contiguous, districts should not hop and jump.
  • Maintain “communities of interest”.
  • Follow local government lines.
  • Keep districts compact.

Schedule:

September 13 – hearing on community input.

October 4 – hearing on community input.

December 13 – hearing on draft maps.

January 10 – hearing on draft maps.

February 14 – hearing to approve final map and sequencing.

To input on communities of interest or submit a map go to:

https://www.fhda.edu/trustee-areas/

Speaker from the public: Ken Horowitz

    1. Does districting require voter approval or just the Board of Trustees? Since it will be voted on after January 1, 2022, a new law will apply and the district map can be approved by the board only.
    2. Can the districting process include an amendment to include term limits? No.

The next meeting will be on October 4.

Sue Graham, observer

Los Altos City Council July-August

July 13, 2021

The City Council adopted a Drought Preparedness and Water Conservation Resolution to encourage voluntary water conservation efforts throughout the city as a proactive step in response to the current drought conditions. Although in April 2021, Governor Newsom declared a drought emergency Santa Clara County was excluded. However, Santa Clara Valley Water (Valley Water) Board of Directors declared a water shortage emergency and called for a mandatory 15% reduction in water use. Cal Water is currently considering additional water restrictions but has not established water restrictions beyond the standard prohibited uses of water.

The City Council appointed Mayor Neysa Fligor and Vice Mayor Anita Enander to serve on the new City Council Housing Element Subcommittee. The formation of a subcommittee was decided at the June 8, 2021, City Council meeting when Lisa Wise Consulting (LWC) was hired to complete the Housing Element Update. The purpose of the Subcommittee is to focus on the public engagement component of the Housing Element update effort. Staff will return to the City Council at a future meeting with the public engagement/outreach plan once it is drafted with input from LWC and from the City Council Subcommittee.

August 24, 2021

After discussion about a new 10-year license with Friends of the Library at the current location, the City Council, instead, approved and directed staff to extend the existing license agreement with Los Altos Friends of the Library through August 2021. In the meantime, Council also directed the city attorney, staff, and Friends of the Library to explore co-locating Friends of the Library to Woodland Library.

The City Council adopted the Drought Response and Water Conservation Efforts supporting Cal Water’s implementation of and encouragement of water restrictions and conservation efforts by residents, businesses, and other water users in Los Altos.

The City Council received for first reading an ordinance amending the Los Altos Municipal Code to provide objective zoning standards for future housing development projects. These objective standards are intended to provide clear and measurable site development standards against which applicants, staff, decision makers and the community can evaluate a project, thus eliminating subjectivity when approving the projects.  The new objective standards aim to expedite new housing construction.

These standards are being developed in response to recent legislation at the State level, although the City feels the legislation reduces the city’s ability to exercise discretion in the review of a project, either a multi-family housing project or a mixed-use project.

Council discussed multiple problems with the document and asked several questions for staff and the Planning Commission to resolve. For example, what about houses that don’t conform under new standards. Would owners have to rebuild to the new standards in the event of, for instance, a fire? The staff and Planning Commission will make revisions for the problems suggested before adoption of the ordinance scheduled for September 14, 2021. It will take effect 30 days later.

Claire Noonan, Observer

Los Altos School Board, June 2021

LASD Board Meeting June 1, 2021

The board members voted unanimously to adopt a new math curriculum for grades TK-5 following a brief presentation and public hearing.

The Citizens Advisory Committee of Finance (CACF) presented their annual report, which showed that the district is in a strong financial position. Reserves are above target levels and projected to increase due to stable tax growth and flat enrollment. LASD facility maintenance fees are higher than those of neighboring districts, so the CACF advised setting aside $5 million from Measure N ($1 million per year for 5 years) to upgrade aging facilities. (Measure N was approved by voters in 2014, allowing the district to issue bonds in order to fund facility upgrades and the purchase of a new school site.)

Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon presented the 2021-22 District Budget. The budget projects that revenue will exceed expenses by about $900,000 next year, bringing the district’s total reserves to almost 15%.  Property tax revenue is expected to increase by 4% while federal and other state funding sources will decrease because one-time funding to address the pandemic will be withdrawn. Expenses will also decrease for a variety of reasons, including carryover from the 2020-21 budget and the cessation of COVID-related spending. Multi-year projections show reserves growing year over year.

For more information about the budget, please see item H.10 from the agenda for the June 1 meeting.

LASD Board Meeting June 8, 2021

Assistant Superintendent Sandra McGonagle presented preliminary results from the spring academic assessments in reading and math. Despite the pandemic, the percentage of students testing below grade level was similar to previous years, with  87% of students at or above grade level in both subject areas.

The board of trustees voted unanimously to approve the 2021-22 District Budget.

Superintendent Jeff Baier also announced increased compensation for both teachers and staff.

The board will meet on Monday, June 21 to vote on the following:

  1. A one-time payment in the amount of $1000 per FTE (full-time equivalent) for the 2020-21 school year for both teachers and staff
  • A 5% raise for all teachers and staff (in addition to the 2% raise approved earlier this school year) for the 2021-22 school year to keep salaries competitive

The board also approved the annual report from the Measure N Citizens Oversight Committee. The annual report included a clean audit showing that all Measure N expenditures during the 2019-20 fiscal year met the spending requirements specified by the measure.

LASD Board Meeting June 21, 2021

The board voted unanimously to approve the increased compensation for both teachers and staff (including non-represented employees) as discussed during the last board meeting on June 8, 2021.

Stella Kam, Observer

Los Altos City Council, June 2021

June 8, 2021

The City Council wishes to achieve a Housing Element Update that reflects the City’s goals (including community involvement) and can be certified by the State of California in compliance with State law. The City’s sixth cycle Housing Element update must be completed by January 2023. State law requires that every eight years cities prepare an update of Housing Element, a guide for the housing needs of all segments of its population.

To enlist a consultant experienced in developing a Housing Element Update, Council approved adding some Capital Investment Projects funds for the Housing Element Update and authorized the City Manager to execute an agreement with Lisa Wise Consulting (LWC) to provide the Update.

In addition, new changes in State law (SB 166) related to zoning creates new pressures for the City to ensure that sites identified for lower-income housing are not concentrated in one area but must be spread out.

Also, the City will face higher scrutiny for non-vacant and vacant sites during this cycle. State regulations designate land which is deemed ‘non-vacant’ and ‘vacant.’

Finally, the City will need to accommodate a much higher number of lower income housing units to meet the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) State mandates to be completed by 2031, which may require the City to amend its general plan and zoning code to allow for more housing opportunities for residents—regardless of income.

Discussion about community outreach and engagement included organizing a variety of ways to educate the community about the heavily regulated State requirements for the Housing Element Update and RHNA before the project is completed.

The City Council heard an update from the City Council Legislative Subcommittee on State Assembly and Senate bills that affect the positions of the League of California Cities. For bills which had been previously on the “watch” list, four have been changed to specific positions and the subcommittee has letters for the Assembly and Senate committees to be approved by Council. Of those bills, City Council opposes AB 602 which changes laws that govern local development impact fees, such as Traffic Impact fees; opposes AB 989 which creates a new appeals commission to make judgements on local public health and safety decisions about housing development; opposes AB 1401 that prohibits local government from imposing minimum parking requirements for housing. The city supports identical SB 4 and AB 14 which prioritize deployment of broadband infrastructure in California.

June 22, 2021

The City Council welcomed a new City Manager. Gabriel Engeland will begin work in Los Altos on July 19, 2021. He previously was City Manager in Sierra Madre, California, and also worked in Trinidad, Colorado and Gilbert, Arizona. He received his Masters Degree in Public Administration at the University of Kansas. His expertise is finance and budget.

The City Council directed the city staff to file an appeal of the City’s housing allocation for the sixth housing element cycle to the Association of Bay Area Governments/Regional Housing Needs Allocation (ABAG RHNA). The appeal against California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) challenges the method used by HCD to determine the numbers of housing needed in Los Altos.

The City Council Legislative Subcommittee presented further update on State legislation the Council has been asked to support or oppose as recommended by the League of California Cities. The Council voted to support SB 16. The bill makes subject to disclosure every incident involving unreasonable or excessive force by police, and any finding that an officer failed to intervene against another officer using unreasonable or excessive force. Councilmember Jonathan Weinberg states the bill provides transparency to police action and in doing so augments public trust in the police. On reconsideration, the Council changed 3/2 to support AB 989 about an appeals commission to make judgements on local public health and safety decisions about housing development. The council changed 3/2 to support AB 1401. The bill prohibits a local government from imposing a minimum automobile parking requirement, eliminates expensive parking mandates in areas with good transit, and supports changes to public driving and parking models in the future, according to Member Weinberg. Vice Mayor Enander states that the legislation would take away the ability of local governments to make parking requirements.

Observer Claire Noonan