A sit-down meeting between the San Carlos City Council and the elementary school district board to talk a possible land sale or swap to support a new campus dissolved after a member from each body lobbed jabs over a past lawsuit.
After school board Trustee Seth Rosenblatt said the city is ignoring the benefit of collaboration by acting as though trading its North Crestview parcel for a site adjacent to Tierra Linda Middle School is not in its best interest, Councilman Matt Grocott questioned where that team spirit was when the San Carlos Elementary School District sued the city over redevelopment agency funds.
“In that case it wasn’t about collaboration, it was about the school district going after money,” Grocott said.
Rosenblatt countered that Grocott’s facts were skewed and added: “Unlike the councilmembers who are afraid to talk back to you, I’m not.”
The raised verbal fisticuffs extended to Mayor Mark Olbert, with Grocott accusing him of always “making comments that color things,” before other members of the council and board said they preferred not to dwell on past actions.
“I don’t give a rat’s anything about it. I want to deal with this issue,” Councilman Ron Collins said, referring to the city/school land proposal. “Otherwise we’re just wasting our time.”
The sparring effectively ended the two bodies’ attempt to hold a joint public discussion on the proposal which was the first time both had come together fully to vet the district’s desire to find a new home for its Charter Learning Center.
The plan had been for the council and board to take public comment in the library conference room and have a short discussion before retiring into closed session to discuss the possible terms and negotiations. However, after the agenda was changed to remove one possible parcel for consideration and add another, the members were told legally they couldn’t talk about those options because they had not been properly publicized beforehand. Left with only the original North Crestview property for consideration in the closed session, the council and school board agreed to table the closed meeting until a tentative Tuesday meeting.
Afterward, the two agreed to have a general public sharing of perspectives which is when Grocott and Rosenblatt became heated.
Rosenblatt said plan opponents’ cries about the loss of open space if a school goes on the now-vacant Crestview site is a “red herring” because a new facility means space will go away somewhere.
Earlier in the meeting, about two dozen residents on both sides of the debate listened to speakers by turn praise the plan or argue that it would add traffic and children to a steep neighborhood where homeowners had been assured of park space.
Charter third-graders Andy Clark and Conner Cook were among the several students who also addressed the council and board.
“Thank you for helping us find a new campus because ours is really crowded,” Cook said.
At its last meeting, the council voted 3-2, with Grocott and Councilman Bob Grassili dissenting, to abandon the North Crestview property as park land which is a legal requirement to changing its use. The council will 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 will call a November election.
The council has yet to decide if a possible ballot measure will include an explanation of the land’s future use if it passes.
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