San Carlos voters are one step closer to deciding whether to rezone a city-owned parcel to potentially accommodate a charter school campus but the council can’t decide definitively until a protest hearing at the end of June.
The City Council voted 3-2 Monday night, with councilmen Matt Grocott and Bob Grassilli dissenting, to abandon the North Crestview property as park land which is a legal requirement to changing its use. The council must now hold a public protest hearing June 30 and, if any residents do oppose the idea, can override them with a four-fifths vote. Once a protest is overridden, the council can then call for an election which must be set by the Aug. 8 meeting.
All of these formalities to ask voters about changing the zoning still doesn’t answer the underlying primary question: Will the city agree to an arrangement with the San Carlos Elementary School District and, if so, is it one that the district will accept to house its Charter Learning School?
The district initially proposed an even trade of its property neighboring the Tierra Linda Middle School Campus for Crestview but city officials say the two parcels are of unequal value and there is no money to develop a full-fledged park with athletic fields. The council said it was willing to sell Crestview to the district and then sent a letter suggesting the district buy it for $12.4 million over 35 years interest free, contribute $1.5 million toward Tierra Linda field improvements, allow the city to use the Tierra Field for 35 years during non-school hours and allow the city to use the North Crestview school and field space for 35 years. At any point during those 35 years, the city could buy the Tierra Linda property from the district for $12.4 million.
Superintendent Craig Baker declined the offer in a response letter, saying there are impossible elements such as allowing the city to purchase the district land and restrictions of future school expansion. Baker, however, did add the district wants to continue working with the city on a possible arrangement and mentioned that the district also owns a a 3.5-acre parcel next to Heather School known as a “dog park” and several acres next to Arguello Park. Any of that could be on the table, too, Baker said.
The school district wants to relocate the charter school to free up space at Tierra Linda as enrollment grows. Crestview residents opposed to the idea cite traffic, open space and the parcel’s slope as reasons why it is not a good location for a school.
In other business at the meeting, the council chose RD Olson as the developer of its new hotel off Highway 101. Olson proposed a 205-room, four-story Marriott Residence Inn for the three parcels purchased for nearly $14 million on Industrial Road and San Carlos Avenue. The hotel, long a desire by the city, could bring in more than $1 million in new transient occupancy taxes a year for the city. If the timeline holds, the hotel could be open by mid-2016.
The council voted 4-1 with Grocott dissenting.
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