Ken Jones, long-standing public servant, wildly successful entrepreneur, major land owner, and downtown developer, lavishly outspent his opponents in a successful bid for a third term on the Cabrillo Unified School District Board of Directors, then declared that he had won a referendum on Wavecrest Village.
"It shows that the people want to go forward with Wavecrest," Jones said. "They have ratified it."
Referendums require a majority to pass. If the CUSD election was indeed a Wavecrest "referendum," Wavecrest scraped together only 47.61 percent of the vote.
Over half the voters voted against it. It failed. Period.
But electoral math isnt the only issue about which Mr. Jones appears to be wishfuly thinking. Even before the election, in 1998, the board received a petition signed by well over 500 people opposed to Wavecrest. A lawsuit was filed against the project. And a Grand Jury raised deeply troubling concerns about it. Yet Mr. Jones still claims that people up and down the coast support Wavecrest.
The Coastal Commission didnt look fondly on Wavecrest either. A bevy of district employees, including Superintendent Bayless, another administrator, a principal, a teacher, as well as a paid lobbyist, all trooped down to Oceanside to peddle the plan last month. But the Commission which has been known to make special concessions for schools, Boys and Girls clubs and such found so many things wrong with the plan that they sent it back to the developers to fill in the holes. So many holes that they wont hear it again until sometime in spring 2001.
"To use a colloquial," the Commission counsel said, "this is a mess." [HMB Review, article not yet online]
And still Ken Jones thinks that Wavecrest is not just the best plan, but the only plan. Is there an alternative? Not now. Right now, its Wavecrest or nothing. So, if the board fails to gain the Coastal Commissions approval of Wavecrest, were all the way back where we started.
Which brings us to the question: what was wrong with the original El Granada school site,(PDF) which the CUSD took by eminent domain back in 1965? According to Jones and Palmers campaign web site, that piece of land does not qualify for a school because "it is within two miles of the airport. That is the law."
But its not the law. Californias Education Code (section 17215) sets forth a clear and simple procedure for evaluating the safety and suitability of a school site. Apparently, the school site selection committee, which considered the site for all of one meeting, never looked at the code. Had they looked, they would have seen that the land was quite simply and clearly exempt because of the grandfather clause.
As Department of Education representative Stan Rose explained to the board in 1998,(PDF) "The district is not required to request an aeronautics evaluation for a site already owned by the school district."
Ah, but "There are other problems with this site," the Jones-Palmer web site contends. "(It) is far from the population center of the Coastside."
Wrong again. Half Moon Bay has about 10,000 residents. The Midcoast currently boasts 12,000. The El Granada site is splendidly situated right near the population midpoint.
But, Jones and Palmer go on, "The increased traffic of a new middle school in that area would flood Highway 1 with a huge volume of student traffic This, coupled with morning commute traffic would jam the roads at their busiest."
Never mind that half the traffic to the El Granada site would be northbound, a reverse commute. Contrast that to a Wavecrest Village school: With all the traffic southbound, wouldnt Hwy 1 and Hwy 92 be even more terminally choked?
The point is that the CUSD board has not properly evaluated the El Granada school site. And the idea of building anew on the old Kelly Avenue Cunha School site comfortably midtown, close by the library, police, medical and dental services was also summarily dismissed.(PDF) (see also some pros and cons)
The bottom line is that we approved a $35-million bond issue for construction of a new middle school four long years ago. Ground has not been broken on it. Nor can we foresee with any certainty when it will be. Meanwhile, construction costs continue to rise, and as the Coastside grows, the need for a new middle school becomes ever more urgent.
If Jones and Palmer are really listening to the people, as they claim, then they should hear this: Its time for the CUSD board to forego this unyielding enthusiasm for the Wavecrest Village school deal, and consider alternative school sites.
Mr. Jones: We need the school built now not when our kindergartners are in college.
Scott Boyd lives and works in Montara, and can be reached at scott @ montara . com.Much more information is available at cusdboardwatch.sanmateo.org