Thursday, April 16, 2009

Parcel Tax for Cupertino?

There was an interesting article in the Mercury News the other day about the campaign for a parcel tax in Cupertino. It will be interesting to see whether the parcel tax passes there or not.

It is somewhat surprising to me to see that Cupertino does not already have a parcel tax. They are a high-achieving school district, and the quality of the local schools is a huge plus for the local home values.

The biggest difference between Cupertino and Los Altos is sheer size. Los Altos is a very small city, with a population that seems to favor keeping businesses out. (One need only look at the number of failed proposals to redevelop the Thrift Shop at First and Main, or the failed attempt by the Safeway to win approval for renovations). Cupertino, by contrast, has a large geographic footprint of Cupertino that translates into space for businesses. They also have taken a very friendly stance toward businesses by encouraging major redevelopment projects.

Mountain View has a similar situation. If one considers the most recent commercial development in Mountain View, they've built a Best Buy/ Bed Bath & Beyond/ REI mall at Rengstorf & 101. They also allowed the BMW dealer to build a multi-story parking garage to expand their business. These businesses contribute huge $$$'s to the tax coffers of the city, providing valuable services. They also pay significant property taxes, which fund the schools. Los Altos, by contrast, makes it very difficult for businesses to grow. IN the long run, this means that the residents have to kick in for one of the highest parcel taxes in California.

Don't get me wrong- I'm a big supporter of the schools, and by extension I understand the need for the parcel taxes. Los Altos residents enjoy their high property values but don't seem to want to enable businesses to share in the cost of running the schools. That only leaves an increased parcel tax to pay the tab. Unfortunately, this year we were unable to gain anywhere near the support we'd need for a parcel tax. Either way, it is a shame...

Disclosure: I served on the LASD Parcel Tax Survey Committee for 2008-09.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Change... yet still the same... and some change!

In a stroke of irony, the updated Advanced Math program looks... a lot like the old one. After contemplating a change that would have sent the Adv. Math students to the Jr Highs first thing in the morning, the district has changed it's mind. Ah well...

In our house, my daughter was looking forward to the "Jr High School Preview", but that's OK.

Kudos to the district for working with the Town Crier to get the story out.
I had a chance to meet with the Superintendent Justus and the Assistant Superintendent Baier last week to discuss communications with the community. I stressed with them how important I felt it is to reach out through non-traditional channels. Hopefully this is a sign of change to come.