We Oppose Measure C

The League of Women Voters strongly urges you to vote NO on Measure C, which would require a vote of the public before most city-owned land could be sold or leased. Based on our analysis, there is no need for this restrictive measure since we are not aware of any instances where the City has sold parks or open space lands. Leases to provide services and to meet city goals and objectives are routine occurrences in city operations.

The LWV believes in representative government and holding elected officials accountable. The LWV believes initiatives should be supported when they are clear and unambiguous and limited to a single subject. They should contain a sunset clause or allow for modification to meet future city needs and challenges. Measure C meets none of these tests of good governance.

The Los Altos City Attorney has stated that Measure C language is ambiguous and could lead to litigation to clarify intent. It could also lead to costly elections if lease terms are changed for our libraries, fire stations, the History Museum, Bus Barn Theater and other beloved community assets.

The ambiguity of the so-called “Protect Our Parks and Public Lands” measure has caused many to request their names be withdrawn from the petitions they signed and many more believe they were misled about its scope. Not only does the measure affect the kinds of leases described above, but also any proposed lease of downtown parking plazas for uses envisioned in the Downtown Vision. In a recent city survey over 80 percent of the respondents supported increased downtown vibrancy. Due to the delay and the uncertainty of a vote, developers will be reluctant to propose public/private partnerships or invest in our city if the initiative passes. Voters elect City Council members to demonstrate leadership and make decisions about the fundamental functions of local government. Hindering routine city decisions with costly elections uses scarce financial resources that are better used to expand services to senior and youth or better maintain city streets and buildings.

To download a PDF copy of this statement and a fact sheet, click here.

Los Altos City Council July/August 2018

July 10, 2018

After consideration of a Public Art Commission plan on May 8, 2018, City Council approved on July 10, 2018, an ordinance for a Public Art Development Fee of 1% to be added to a Public Art Fund.

Council approved two ordinances on July 10, 2018, to amend the Municipal Zoning Code, first regarding Accessory Structures at 800 square feet size, including a basement if applicable, and a five-foot setback from the property line.

Second, Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) have been brought into compliance with state law, increasing the number of housing units possible, and addressing affordable housing in Los Altos.

The City Council received the Los Altos Civic Center Development update from Noll & Tam Architects and Planners and provided direction for further action. In addition, the city council amended the contract to Noll & Tam for added services to the Civic Center project for $482,781.

The City Council did not adopt a resolution to be placed on the ballot for the November 6, 2018, general election, to oppose the resident-petitioned initiative to be on the ballot.

The main controversy concerned submitting a simple, clear measure. The council members opposed to the resolution measure as written did not like the wording about leases. In addition, some members felt the city-owned properties should be listed so voters know exactly which properties are included in the measure. At the meeting seven speakers made public comments, five supporting the council’s measure and two still supporting the public citizen’s measure. The city attorney, Chris Diaz, was asked to revise wording about leases, and another version with wording suggested by council member, Mary Prochnow, to make it clear that developers would not see futility in making a complete development proposal that must be voted yes or no by residents.

At a special meeting, the City Council did not adopt a measure to oppose the resident developed initiative now called Measure C. They will spend effort until November 6 to make sure Measure C does not pass.

August 28, 2018

The City Council appropriated $5000 to Los Altos Police Department that with five other North County police departments and an additional $25000 from the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office provides for a North County Gun Buyback program. It is an opportunity for safe disposal of firearms, reduce availability of guns in the county, and raise awareness of the risks of firearms.

The City Council approved the staff’s response to the Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury Report: Affordable Housing Crisis – Density is Our Destiny. Responses are required by fifteen cities and the County to adequately address the findings and recommendations of the report. Difficulties in addressing the need for affordable housing are due to resident resistance, lack of funding, and the high cost of land in many cities in the county. On the other hand, the lack of housing is a major cause of traffic congestion in the county. One recommendation already addressed by Los Altos is the change in ordinances for Accessory Structures and Accessory Dwelling Units. Another is the ordinance for impact fees to developers and employers to help in the development of housing for workers in the city.

The City Council approved a use permit for Children’s Corner Preschool to operate a facility at the Foothill Covenant Church on Oak Avenue in anticipation of needing a location while the Hillview Civic Center is being rebuilt. The Mountain View Parent Nursery School already at the location suggests that Children’s Corner will do well. The opposition states that traffic congestion in the morning will increase because students going to Mountain View High School and Oak Elementary School use the same streets. Although more than one traffic survey and analysis has stated that traffic would not increase, the motion passed 4/1 with one member not satisfied about the traffic. It is suggested that Public Works look at the problem and make plans to alleviate the traffic.

Jon Biggs, Community Development Director, shared the completed Los Altos Downtown Vision Plan. The plan was designed so downtown becomes a community destination and retains its roots as a nostalgic village at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains. To a question from the City Council about adoption vs. acceptance of the plan, acceptance suggests that the council will continue to refine and revise. Adoption means the council will begin to address Phase I issues to make the vision a reality.

Biggs reminded members and the audience that the plan to be adopted is a guide, not regulatory. At points in the future decisions will have to be made regarding economics, finance, and public/private costs. Of public comments, ten were enthusiastic and five were troubled about parking that may result on the narrow streets surrounding downtown and parking structures vs. parking lots.

-Claire Noonan

Mountain View City Council Meetings May 2018

Fiscal Year 2018-19 Narrative Budget Report and 10-Year Financial Forecast

On May 1st, the Council provided initial direction on recommendations for the FY 2018-19 budget. Staff indicated that the City continues to benefit from significant property tax growth resulting from new development and changes in property ownership. With a recommendation to add a net 14.5 new positions to address heavy workloads and increase staff capacity, the City is approaching the 2001-02 peak of approximately 650 positions. If the new positions are approved, there will be a total of 632.25 positions (ongoing and limited-period). Much of the increase will support the Community Development and Public Works departments, which are experiencing the heaviest workload due to significant demand for development in the City.

In the 10-year financial forecast, staff projects that the next recession will begin in Fiscal Year 2020-21, later than the previously projected 2018-19 timeframe. If the project is accurate, it would mark the longest economic expansion in recent history. Staff also forecasts modest deficits beginning from the projected recession through Fiscal Year 2027-28, the end of the forecast period.

The City projects $137.4 million in revenue and $124.8 million in expenditures in FY 2018-19. Using the surplus, Council approved staff recommendations, including funding a new Transportation Reserve and paying down employee pension unfunded liabilities. Additionally, responding to significant public support for new positions to focus on environmental sustainability, Council directed the City Manager to prepare for additional staffing to implement the anticipated recommendations from the Environmental Sustainability Task Force (ESTF-2). Finally, Council approved a number of other minor expenditures, including membership in an organization lobbying to address airplane noise, employee appreciation (potentially a one-time cash bonus), and new furniture in a council committee room.

Development of Commercial Cannabis Regulations

Council provided additional direction on the development of commercial cannabis regulations during a study session held on May 8th. A majority of the Council supported maintaining a 600-foot buffer from schools, but decreasing the buffer from child-care centers and day-care facilities. The Council also directed staff to study allowing storefront cannabis retail businesses in large retail centers (like the San Antonio Shopping Center and El Camino areas), Downtown, and Retail and Neighborhood Service areas (like North Bayshore and the East Whisman area). Finally, the Council supported limiting the total number of cannabis businesses permitted and establishing a permitting process.

2017 State of Mountain View Seniors Report & Age-Friendly City Update

The May 8th Council meeting included two consent items related to Mountain View’s senior population. (Consent items are usually non-controversial and approved without any discussion from the Council.)

The first was an update regarding the City’s World Health Organization’s (WHO) Age-Friendly City designation. This designation reflects a city’s efforts to support senior residents in eight “domains:” housing, transportation, communication and information, community support and health services, outdoor spaces and buildings, social participation, respect and social inclusion, and civic participation and employment. The WHO accepted the City of Mountain View as a new member of the Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities and Communities in February 2017. Subsequently, the City established an Age-Friendly Task Force that prioritized two domains: Community and Information, and Respect and Social Inclusion. The Task Force will create a resource guide for seniors and develop a community survey to gather more information about the needs of seniors in Mountain View.

The second item was “The State of Mountain View Seniors” annual report, prepared by the Senior Advisory Committee. The report includes an analysis of the demographics of the senior population in Mountain View as well as an assessment of the needs of and the existing services available to seniors. The report highlights the rapidly aging population as residents live longer, and it identifies housing affordability as a key issue affecting seniors in Mountain View.

North Bayshore Precise Plan and Master Plans

“Master Plans” show how an area is proposed to be developed over time. To implement the North Bayshore Precise Plan, Council previous approved the use of Master Plans to ensure the creation of three complete neighborhoods: Joaquin, Shorebird, and Pear. The Plans would include land uses, project size(s) and location(s), open space locations, new blocks, traffic circulation, conceptual architecture and infrastructure, and construction phasing. Each of the proposed new neighborhoods have unique considerations, most notably differences in the number of land owners and the amount of land owned in each of the areas.

On May 22nd, the Council reiterated its support for this conceptual planning process. Master Plans could be proposed by property owners or, particularly if there is not agreement between property owners, developed with City assistance.

— Lucas Ramirez, Observer

Annual Meeting Minutes June 2018

Minutes of Annual Meeting of LWV of Los Altos/Mountain View Area

June 2, 2018

The meeting was called to order at 10:25am.

Welcome and introductions

Sue Graham, president, introduced herself.  Crownie Billik was introduced as the parliamentarian and Sally Ahnger as the secretary for this meeting

Crownie reported that there was a quorum (10% of our membership or 21 people meets our quorum requirement). 

Number of members present: 26

The quorum report was adopted.

Adoption of Rules (majority)

The rules of the Annual Meeting as found on the inside cover of the Annual Meeting Kit, which determine how the meeting is conducted, were adopted. No proposals were made to change the rules.

Adoption of the Agenda (majority)

The agenda as found on page 1 of the Annual Meeting Kit was adopted. No proposals were made to change the agenda.

Accept 2017 minutes (no vote)

The minutes at the 2017 annual meeting were taken by Abby Longcor and reviewed by Bill Lambert, Emily Ramos, and Susan Younkin.

2018 Minutes

The members who will review the 2018 Annual Meeting minutes are:

Pamela Baird, Susan Younkin and Gary Hedden. Once reviewed they will be included in a summer issue of the Voter.

Treasurer’s report (no vote) Page 3

Presented by Sue Graham on behalf of the treasurer, Natalie Elefant.

Finances were stable this past year, with income increased by some very generous contributions from non-members.  The League-a-thon fund-raiser was not held due to ample reserves in the Leopold Fund.  The Board donated $5,000 from the Leopold Fund to the LWV US for the 2018 Youth Voter Registration Project. 

The financial reports for the end of the fiscal year 2017-2018, will be submitted for a financial review by the board after June 30 and will be sent out to the members within 120 days in our Voter.

Budget Committee Report (majority)

The proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year as found on page 2 of the Annual Meeting Kit was developed by the budget committee, consisting of Pat Kassner, Natalie Elefant and Sue Graham. The committee’s comments are on page 3.

The League-a-thon fund-raiser will not be held next year because there are ample reserves in the Leopold Fund.  Dues will remain the same next year.  Expenses will be higher next year due to the 2018 election.  Convention expenses can be paid from the Leopold Fund, or cut back if necessary.


The Leopold Fund is invested through Fidelity, in investments balanced by risk.  It has grown substantially over the last 20 years.

Is there an identified level in the Leopold Fund when we would resume the League-a-thon fund-raiser?  No, the treasurer will monitor the health of the fund.

A motion was made by the Board to adopt the budget for 2018-2019 as printed on page 2 of the Annual Meeting Kit.  A second is not required since the budget is recommended by the budget committee and the board.

The budget was adopted.

Program planning

League members met January 26 at our annual program planning meeting to discuss what issues we want to work on or to emphasize during the coming year.  A summary of our decisions can be found on page 4. 

We reaffirmed National League priorities and declined to add anything new.

Locally, two priorities emerged: growing membership and elevating our public profile.  We agreed to continue our focus on housing and transportation.

A motion was made by the Board to adopt the 2018-2019 Program Plan. It does not need a second as it has been recommended by the board. The program was adopted. 

Overview of new Rent Stabilization Position

Donna Yobs presented the new position, described on pages 4 – 5, which was developed over 9 months with 18 people involved.  There are 26 different rent stabilization policies in effect throughout California.  The position is to support rent stabilization and just cause programs that are fair and reasonable to landlords, tenants, and the community.  The position was approved by the Board in April.

Affirm existing local positions (majority)

A motion was made by the Board to approve the retention of our local positions, found on pages 5 – 8 in the Annual Meeting Kit, including the Rent Stabilization Position. It does not need a second as it has been recommended by the board. 

Local positions were affirmed.

2017-2018 in review

Sue urged members to read the reports from the portfolio directors on pages 10 – 16 as they describe in some detail our work during the past year. Some highlights were:

We launched several new teams in response to new members’ interests. We have teams that deal with Civil Discourse, Advocacy for League positions, Social Forums, Voter Services including registering voters, Climate Change, Technology, Housing, Education, Juvenile Justice and a Book Club. If you want to get involved, there are many ways to do it. There was a signup sheet at the reception desk where members could leave their name and email.

We formed a study committee to determine what effects Measure V might have on the city of Mountain View, with regard to rent stabilization and just cause eviction. The study was completed in March and approved by the board in April. We now have a position on rent stabilization.

In addition, our housing committee worked tirelessly for affordable housing in our towns. While affordable housing has always been important to us, it is now even more urgent.

And finally, our observer corps attended board and council meetings to represent the League and to report back to us on matters of importance. Sue recognized the observers:

Los Altos City Council – Claire Noonan

Mountain View City Council – Lucas Ramirez

MVLA High School Board – Sally Ahnger

MV Whisman School Board – Devon Conley

Bullis Charter School – Ellen Wheeler

Board Recognition

Sue thanked the board that she has had the pleasure of working with this past year: 

Carol Kuiper – VP Program

Merrian Nevin – VP Action

Abby Longcor – Secretary

Natalie Elefant – Treasurer

Lisa McLain– Voter Production Editor

Catharine Vonnegut – Data Manager

Gary Hedden – Natural Resources Policy Director

Vicki Gilfix -Voter Service Director

Ellen Wheeler – Social Policy Director

Katie Zoglin – Government Policy Director

Max Beckman Harned – Tech Team Director

Nominating Committee Report

Crownie Billik, chair of the nominating committee, presented the slate of officers and directors for 2018-2019 as seen on page 9 of the Annual Meeting Kit: 

Sue Graham – President, Membership

Carol Kuiper – VP Program

Merrian Nevin – VP Action

Martha McClatchie – Secretary

Natalie Elefant – Treasurer

Lisa McLain– Voter Production Editor

Catherine Vonnegut – Data Manager

Gary Hedden – Natural Resources Policy Director

Vicki Gilfix -Voter Service Director

Ellen Wheeler – Social Policy Director

Katie Zoglin – Government Policy Director

Max Beckman Harned – Tech Team Director

Katherine Campodonico – Director at Large

A question was asked about whether an Audit Committee would be elected or appointed.  The Board appoints the Audit Committee.

There were no nominations from the floor.

A motion was made by the Nominating Committee to elect the nominees for officers and directors.  No second was needed because the motion was from a committee.  The slate was elected as proposed.

Nominating Committee

A motion was made by the board to elect Crownie Billik and Gary Hedden for 2019-2020 nominating committee, with Crownie as the chair. No additional nominations were made from the floor.

No second was necessary because the motion was made by the board.

The nominating committee was elected.

Welcome to the new board

Sue welcomed our new and returning board members. 

Direction to the Board:

Sue told the attendees that this is a time when the board would like to hear from our members and asked that people make suggestions.

Sally Ahnger suggested taking a position opposing the deceptive petition drive for the anti-rent-stabilization initiative being run by a group called “Measure V Too Costly”. Petitions are due on June 5. Sue asked people to sign up to work on this over the summer if the initiative qualifies for the ballot in November.   Members were interested to learn that there is a process for people to remove their name from the petition.

Cathy Remson-Lazarus talked about an issue in Los Altos. A draft plan has been released for the future of downtown, including housing and increased density downtown. In response, a citizen initiative (deceptively called Save our Parks) has qualified for the ballot in November to require a vote by residents for any sale or lease of city property, which would prevent any development. City Council has requested an analysis.  The league will examine the analysis and determine how to proceed.

Lucas Ramirez brought up a potential issue of voting rights in at-large elections, in which the city council members are not elected by districts. There have been lawsuits brought against other cities on the peninsula for at-large elections of their city councils.

Gary Hedden raised a question about the elementary school district proposal to develop teacher housing on their property next to Cooper Park playground and tennis courts.  The school district has backed off in the face of neighborhood resistance, but has not ruled it out.  That led to a discussion of affordable housing.  Teachers have said they love the community and want to live here but can’t afford it.  A discussion of the issues around tall buildings ensued. A video called “Los Altos – A Place to Call Home in Silicon Valley?” is available from Marie Young.  It explores the difficulties that people who work in Los Altos encounter when trying to live there.   The league could possibly post it on our website.  Katie Zoglin suggested we could provide a public program to show the video and lead a discussion. 

Max Beckman-Harned mentioned that Los Altos Hills has been named the wealthiest town in the US based on median income and even though our league nominally includes them we don’t have any information about what their issues are.

Cathy Remson-Lazarus recommended having different people present league positions to the public so the same people aren’t always doing it.

Pamela Baird was recently purged from the voter rolls, although she has been voting from the same address for 20 years.  The county is using a service to clean up voting rolls.  The league should put something in the Voter as a notice to voters.   Marie Young attended training for working at the polls and said they are emphasizing allowing everyone who shows up to vote.  We should post something on our website and Facebook, and Catherine Vonnegut will send out a new eblast, letting voters know that if they are not on the list they can vote provisionally.

November election is coming up.  We need to work on voter information and getting people registered.  Our mission is to get more people involved in the election process.  We will have candidate forums, ballot measure presentations, and efforts to encourage people to vote.   

Karin Fitzgerald asked a question about what will happen with the ideas brought up today.  Sue said they would be considered by the board.       

Sue announced the end of the business meeting and the plan to reconvene at noon for lunch. Our speaker, Maya Perkins of Bay Area Forward, began her talk at 12:45.


Hearing no objection, the Annual Meeting of the League of Women Voters of the Los Altos/Mountain View Area was adjourned at 11:47am.

Respectfully submitted,

Sally Ahnger, Temporary Secretary

Mountain View-Los Altos High School District Meetings June 2018

At a marathon meeting on 6/11, the board discussed the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), the budget, collective bargaining agreements, and several items related to Measure E, the bond measure on the June 5th ballot.  Public hearings were held on the LCAP, the budget, and both collective bargaining agreements, but there were no public comments on any of them.  The LCAP and the budget were approved at the 6/18 meeting.

Margarita Navarro, Associate Superintendent of Educational Services, presented the LCAP for 2018-19, which lists goals and actions for the next 3 years.  The process included reviewing the 2016-17 end of year data, looking at special populations: English Learners (EL), Socio-economically Disadvantaged (SED), and Special Education (SPED).  The LCAP template requires listing things that the district wants to maintain, things to increase, and things to decrease. On the “maintain” list are high quality professional development,  overall performance on standardized tests, and the performance of AVID students.  On the “increase” list are A-G eligibility through greater Algebra II success, some groups’ performance on the SBAC, and Tier 1 Intervention Services that promote social/emotional wellbeing.  On the “decrease” list are the number of D/Fs in 9th grade, the achievement gap between White/Asian/High Socio-economic status students and Latino/SPED/SED students, school avoidance rates, and the suspension rates among high need populations (EL, SED, SPED, and Latino).  

Mike Mathiesen, Associate Superintendent of Business Services and Technology, presented the budget for 2018-19, which is driven by the goals in the LCAP.  Total Revenue is $93.3M (5.2% more than last year), Expenditures are $89.2M, and transfers out are $590,000 (including cafeteria and post employment benefits other than state pension funds).  A full 83% of expenditures is personnel, before the salary increases which are under negotiation and expected to be $2.64M.

The measure E Bond Planning update was presented by Quattrocchi Kwok Architects and Kramer Project Development, including a proposed budget, construction schedule, and expenditure plan showing 4 bond sales in Q3 of 2018, Q2 of 2020, Q1 of 2022, and Q1 of 2024 (if needed).  The plan spans 7 years and $265M of construction, plus a possible $30M for 20 more classrooms if needed.  Construction is expected to start in winter of 2019, and the new classroom buildings are expected to be finished in the summer of 2020.  The board took actions necessary to initiate the bond sales and collect the taxes to pay for them.

— Sally Ahnger, Observer

Los Altos City Council Meetings June 2018

June 12, 2018

The City Council adopted the ordinance establishing Affordable Housing Impact Fees for residential and non-residential development. The fees would generate money for the city to use toward Affordable Housing initiatives. 

The City Council adopted a measure that may provide additional revenue for the city by placing on the November general election ballot an increase in Transient Occupancy Tax from 11% to 14%. In the meantime, the city will take no further action regarding a cannabis tax.

The City Council received the staff report about the effects of the proposed initiative delivered by petition from Los Altos City residents to identify public properties, parks, open space, and public and institutional land which can’t be sold, re-designated, or transferred without a vote by city residents. There are also lease prohibitions in the initiative. After comment by three residents, the council in accord with state law, decided not to immediately adopt the proposal, but voted 5/0 to put the measure on the November ballot. 

The city staff report found many difficulties in the initiative described above, especially in the details about leases of city-owned property. After six public comments, the council members directed the staff to prepare an ordinance to be submitted for the November election with elements identified by the council. The elements will include language to preserve from sale all city-owned land and properties; address provisions for long term leases; changes in use of city-owned land (except parks); and municipal services (eg, fire stations) parcels to exclude from the need for a vote. The measure must be prepared by the July 10 meeting, leaving time for community discussion, to bring forth a measure that will succeed on the November ballot, instead of the petition-delivered initiative.

June 26, 2018

The City Council authorized an agreement with Grass-Roots Ecology (formerly Acterra) as steward to manage and restore the Redwood Grove Nature Preserve. Previous action by the council for the 5.7 acre preserve was October 12, 2009. Staff assured the council that the selected steward has previously provided responsible service and is knowledgeable about open space needs.

After consideration of a Public Art Commission plan on May 8, 2018, an ordinance for a Public Art Development Fee is scheduled for a second reading and tentative approval on July 10, 2018. It will apply to non-single-family resident, private commercial, office, and public facility (eg, theater) development. Developers will install public art or pay a 1% fee on construction costs that exceed $1 million. The funds will be used for acquisition, maintenance, and promotion of art in the community. A second reading and tentative approval is scheduled for July 10, 2018.

Council considered two ordinances to amend the Municipal Zoning Code, first regarding Accessory Structures at 800 square feet size, including a basement if applicable, and a five-foot setback from the property line.

Second, to bring Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) into compliance with state law, increase the number of housing units, and address affordable housing in Los Altos, the ordinance will apply to conversion of existing space (eg. garage); new detached ADUs; and addition to existing accessory structures. Both ordinances are scheduled for a second reading and tentative approval on July 10, 2018.

For a ballot measure to compete with the effect of the proposed initiative by Los Altos City residents to identify public properties, parks, open space, and public and institutional land which can’t be sold, re-designated, or transferred without a vote by city residents, the City Council received and directed staff to revise the measure to include elements discussed at the meeting.

After public pro and con comment by six residents, council members discussed three parts for the measure. Voter approval is required for any sale, re-designation, or transfer of city-owned land parcels, such as parks, open spaces, public properties, and/or public institutional land. Voter approval for any re-designation of city-owned land defined as park, open space, public property, and/or public institutional land to a different land use.

Voter approval for lease of any portion of city-owned land, including new leases for new use, for non-municipal use, to private entity, or to private for-profit entity generated debate. Mayor Jean Mordo reminded council members and audience that the proposed initiative must benefit the city and increase vibrancy as part of the Downtown Vision. In addition, questions came up about a minimum length of a lease to trigger voter approval. The staff will draw up a revised measure for the meeting on July 10, 2018 that includes the lease elements agreed by members. At that meeting a decision must be made to include lease requirements in a simple, clean initiative or delete the lease section from the initiative and write an ordinance saying leases for the designated city-owned properties require 4 out of 5 votes by the City Council (a super majority).

— Claire Noonan, Observer

Mountain View Whisman School District Meetings May & June 2018

Enrollment Priorities

Trustees approved the recommended enrollment priorities drafted by the Enrollment Priorities Task Force.  The new Administrative Regulation No. 5115 will go into effect in the 2019-2020 school year and give first priority for enrollment to students who reside in a neighborhood’s school boundaries.  Second priority will be given to students who are the children of staff working as .5 FTE or higher if space is available at a school site.  Voluntary transfers are allowed to under-enrolled schools – those with 25% or greater under-enrollment – on a year by year basis and not including siblings.  Special circumstances will be reviewed on a case by case basis for exemptions through a formalized process via the district office.  For the choice schools, Mistral and Stevenson, a parent is required to attend an information session before applying.

Boundary Exemptions

The board also voted to adopt one exemption for the roll-out of new school boundaries in the 2019-2020 school year.  When the new enrollment boundaries take effect, students entering fifth grade and their younger siblings will be grandfathered for one year.  All other students will move to their new school if they are in a different enrollment boundary.  After that first year, the younger siblings of the grandfathered fifth graders will transfer to their new school if they are in a different enrollment boundary.  If a student has special hardship circumstances in light of the transfer, they can apply on a case by case basis for an exemption through the district office.

School Naming

Jose Antonio Vargas Elementary School won support from the board as the name of the new school planned to open in the 2019-2020 school year.  Articles detailing the decision can be found in the Mountain View Voice and the San Francisco Chronicle.  Based on the list of names suggested during the community input process, trustees also voted to give the district’s two preschool locations the joint name of Barack and Michelle Obama Preschool and to rename the boardroom the Gail Urban Moore Leadership Center in honor of Trustee Gail Urban Moore who served on the Mountain View Elementary School Board for 29 years.  

Solar Power Planning

Over the summer the district will send out a request for proposals (RFP) for solar power installation across district school sites.  Sage Renewables presented the board with a projected cost benefit analysis of installing solar panels across all school sites or at three school sites with the most space and highest return available.  Board members also discussed funding sources, including the possibility of a new bond measure.

2018-2019 Budget Adoption (5/31)

The board adopted the final budget for the 2018-2019 school year after staff corrected an error that led to a miscalculation in the projected budget over several years.  In an accounting mistake, the district underestimated revenues and overestimated costs leading to a savings this year of  $1.6 million.  The savings this year mean the district will also be within budget for the next three years.  


A public hearing was held and the final Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) was adopted by the board.  

— Devon Conley, Observer

Bullis Charter School Meeting June 2018

June 18, 2018: The Bullis board accomplished its four agendized tasks for this meeting: [1] On a third reading, the board unanimously approved its Local Control Accountability Plan. [2] At its second reading, the board unanimously approved its 2018-19 school budget; [3] It had a lengthy and thoughtful discussion about board officers. Noting that their governance structure is that of a corporation, should they continue with having one chairperson or have co-chairs? One chair is simpler for communications, but is a lot of work. The board tentatively agreed to perhaps have co-vice chairs in order to share that work. Current co-vice chair Ann Waterman Roy was appointed the new chair of BCS for its tentative July meeting. (Board chairperson John Phelps is stepping down from this position.) [4] The board discussed possible extra July and August meeting dates before their normal “start of the school year” board meeting the Monday before the start of school. That firm date is August 20th.

     Re item #1, LCAP, the State of California utilizes a template for school districts to fill in and submit to their county offices of education. BCS describes itself this way: “BCS has a diverse student population with over 25 languages spoken, including Farsi, Vietnamese, Hindi, Finnish, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, German, Mandarin, Greek, and Cantonese… Student demographics are as follows: Asian 49%, White 29%, Two or more Races 19%, Hispanic 4%, and African American 1%… All BCS students are expected to master or surpass rigorous, explicit Content and Performance Standards, and our staff has been trained to assess effectively each student’s academic and social emotional needs in order to provide programs enabling every child to maximize his/her individual abilities.” (Since LCAPs are long, complex documents, I am not going to include more detail. If people want to see the board-approved BCS LCAP in full, they may get it from BCS or from me.) 

     Re item #2, 2018/19 board budget report, their “ending fund balance” (including depreciation) for this school year is $1,139,525, with a reserve of 9.7%. School districts are required to submit three year budget plans to their county offices, so their 2018/19 preliminary budget is $1,157,606, with a reserve of 9.1%. Their 2019/20 projected budget is $1,181,642, with an 8.2% reserve, and their 2020/21 projected budget is $1,234,613, with a 7.9% reserve. (School districts are generally required to have at least a 3% reserve and commonly post a smaller reserve in the “out years.”) Their enrollment assumptions for staffing include one additional 8th grade class in 2018/19 and one additional fulltime employee. Their assumed enrollment goes up from 898 students in 2017/18, to 912 in 2018/19, to 1066 in 2019/20, and 1134 in 2020/21.

     Bullis Charter School board meetings are held in Classroom 35 on its north campus next to Egan Jr. High. Two people called in to attend this meeting: board member Clara Roa (which was listed on the posted agenda) and Superintendent Principal Wanny Hersey. Two board members were absent from tonight’s meeting (Rich Tang and Francis La Poll) while the other six members were in attendance in the meeting room.

— Ellen Wheeler, Observer

Mountain View-Los Altos High School District Meetings May 2018

Board Meeting 5/7/18

Two presentations were made that showed trustees what the schools are doing to promote excellent education.

 1. Performing Arts

  • LAHS and MVHS Performing arts departments offer instrumental choral, drama, and dance courses.
  • Classes range from open-to-everyone, audition, and touring and competition opportunities.
  • To address challenges, LAHS requests more building and storage space to create a stagecraft class, and to add new counseling staff.
  • Student achievements were highlighted
  • MVHS has stagecraft and makeup classes.

2. Los Altos Academy of Engineering and Design

  • Courses in mechanical engineering, computer science, fabrication, and design.
  • Also provides career assistance and opportunities for students.

—  Nathan Pier and Ellen Wheeler, Substitute Observers

Board Meeting 5/21/18

World Language Department Report

Mountain View- Los Altos High School has 12 teachers teaching 22 courses to 1129 students in Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Japanese.  Los Altos High School has 12 teachers teaching 23 courses to 1349 students in Spanish, French, Mandarin, and Latin.  Both schools are developing new and improved courses for Native and Heritage Spanish speakers. (A heritage language is a minority language learned by its speakers at home as children, but it is never fully developed because its speakers grow up with a dominant language in which they become more competent.)

Associate Superintendent Mike Mathiesen presented a preliminary overview of the 2018-19 budget.  Budget assumptions: secured property taxes growing by 7%, enrollment expected to be 4,433 students, plan to hire 8 additional teachers, health insurance premiums growing by 7%, MVLA Foundation donation is expected to be $1.9M, and the cost of retirement programs will be 16.28% for certificated staff and 17.7% for classified staff.  Progress is expected toward the district goal of a 20% reserve. Board members suggested adding funding for consultants to address student safety, academic and college counseling, Latino parent outreach, and data analysis management.

Associate Superintendent Margarita Navarro presented the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) preparation.  The LCAP documents progress in closing the achievement gap for English Learners and SocioEconomically Disadvantaged students, based on goals set in 2106-17: Balancing high-quality instruction with student wellness; Improving Math performance; Improving performance of English Language Learners; and Increasing Special Education student placement in the Least Restrictive Environment.

— Sally Ahnger, Observer

Action Corner:

We are in the final stretch of our petition signature gathering to qualify the Schools and Communities First ballot initiative for the CA ballot. To recap, the Schools and Communities First Initiative is a measure that would restore approximately 11 billion dollars per year to all CA schools and local community services by closing a Proposition 13 loophole that has resulted in certain commercial properties being undervalued. This undervaluation gives some large businesses and corporations a huge property tax break that they don’t need (the Prop 13 property tax rate would not change and is lower than most other states) and gives these certain companies an unfair advantage over others that pay much more. A more even playing field is long overdue. For more information, Google “Schools and Communities First”.

The state coalition (LWVC is on the Executive Committee) now has 270 endorsers,  many contributors including the Zuckerbergs, and 630,522 petition signatures. The goal for signatures is 850,000.

Many thanks to our League members who have participated so far in gathering over 400 signatures. If you aren’t already circulating petitions, please consider joining in to help to get this important issue on the 2020 ballot. I have gathered signatures by just carrying petitions with me most places I normally go in addition to taking them with me to a march, and several events including the Los Altos Farmer’s Market. Sue Graham got signatures from her neighbors, Claire Noonan has been getting signatures at her education meetings and events, Natalie Elefant has had great success, Donna Poulos recruited 2 non-League friends and together they have been the top signature gatherers. Please contact Merrian Nevin, [email protected] or 650-224-9714 for more information or to volunteer or participate in a group effort.

Please turn in all signatures that you have gathered, even partially completed petitions by June 15, as I am traveling from June 18 to mid July and want to turn in all that we have before I leave. However, continue gathering signatures as the campaign has been extended into August. I will resume gathering petitions when I return.