A lot has been coming out recently in terms of the Conditional Use Permits that other private schools in the Bay Area have received. And a lot has been coming out about the (lack of) enforcement over these conditional use permits.

For example, The Los Gatos Patch reported that after years of public pressure, the Los Gatos City Council finally undertook a review and response to make sure that Conditional Use Caps granted to Hillbrook School were actually being enforced:

After nearly two years of complaints from residents in the Marchmont Drive neighborhood, it appears Hillbrook School in Los Gatos will have to adhere to its conditional-use permit, which officials said Monday evening means no more than 315 students.

This brings to the table questions regarding the yet-to-be reviewed Conditional Use Permit (CUP) which Stratford School needs to apply for in order to begin use of the Raynor Activity Center (RAC).

Questions such as:

  • Will there be limitations in the number of students allowed to be enrolled?
  • How will the City enforce the requirement that attendance at the RAC facility maintain at least a  51% student population of Sunnyvale residents?
  • Will un-used portions of the site be available to lease or sub-letting?
  • Will there be additional traffic enforcement?
  • Will there be nighttime classes?
  • How many teachers/administrators will be at the school, and where will “overflow” parking be allowed?
  • Where are the student pick-up waiting areas?
  • Will there be new traffic flows due to the number of cars in and around drop-off and pick-up times?
For one, we were under the impression that only the north baseball and soccer field were going to be in the priority use agreement, as per the graphic (on the right) which was distributed by the City of Sunnyvale. However, SSP&SI recently received a copy of a letter distributed by the Stratford administration, in which they claim access to “multiple baseball and soccer fields:”

This location will allow us to continue to meet the growing enrollment needs …; the site comes with access to green space with multiple baseball and soccer fields, and we will be adding a regulation size basketball court.

This means that the actual usage of the park during school hours will look more like the 2nd graphic on the right… essentially gifting use of the entire open space portion of Raynor. Has the City determined how they will keep the middle school students on the property? Most other schools fence in their open spaces, while Raynor will not be fenced in.

SSP&SI asked the City to clarify what a “regulation size” basketball court was.   The city staffs’ response was:

The size shown on the diagram was 96 ft. by 56 ft, [and] the size listed above includes out of bounds areas. [However] Construction details about the basketball court including fencing will be developed by Stratford School and presented to the Parks and Recreation Commission for community input and review.

Raynor Priority Use Agreement

Priority use of the north fields and new basketball court

RaynorMap

Apparent access arrangement

First, a 96′ x 56′ court is an NBA sized basketball court. Regulation sizes for schools are usually:

  1. High School: 84′ x 50′
  2. Elementary: 74′ x 42′

Why is an NBA sized basketball court required for an elementary or middle school?
Additionally, the construction could go well over the intended 96 ft. b 56 ft size, if they need to build out seating areas and/or benches, in addition to a surrounding fence.

Neighbors have also voiced concerns of traffic and parking.  Where will overflow parking be allowed?  What about parking during off-hour school and sporting events?  Is there a traffic analysis on where cars will be waiting during pick-up and drop-off times?

There are so many unanswered questions, and we believe, purposely so.  One could only guess that this is a deliberate attempt to hide the impacts of the agreement(s) until it is too late for the public to stop the sale:

Council finds that approval of the Purchase and Sales Agreement for the
Raynor Activity Center is not a project under CEQA and directs staff to
conduct further environmental analysis as part of the use permit process.

In the same document, they go on to state that once the CUP is applied for, then

The City of Sunnyvale shall timely
process the Use Permit and shall include environmental analysis under the
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)

The California Environmental Quality Act law states rules state that the EIR, et. al must be performed at the beginning of a project, not at the end, to allow for the maximum amount of time for public review as possible. Nor can it be “piecemealed” together at different points in the process.

What can we do?

First, know the law.  According to the California Office of Planning and Research, the City must hold a public hearing on any application for a conditional use permit.

Section 65905 requires a public hearing to be held on an application for a conditional use permit. At a minimum, advance public notice, an opportunity to be heard, and a fair hearing are constitutional due process rights as explained in Horn v. County of Ventura (1979) 24 C.3d 605.

Additionally, from the California Environmental Quality Act

Conditional use permits are subject to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA, Public Resources Code Section 21000, et seq.). Prior to the public hearing on the proposed conditional use permit, the city or county must evaluate the proposal to determine whether or not it may have any significant adverse effects on the environment. If the proposal is not exempt from environmental review, the city or county is required to prepare either a negative declaration indicating that the conditional use permit will have no significant effect, or an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which describes the potential negative impacts of the proposal and the means to avoid or lessen those impacts.

Finally, attend the meetings and write to the City Council Members

The Conditional Use Permit, as far as we know, has not yet been filed. So it is not too late to voice your opinion and let the Council know that CUP clarification is needed for a variety of things, including the questions raised above. It appears that not only have we lost the north part of Raynor park, but that exercise of the Use-Agreement has already begun encroaching on the rest of the park, the streets, the parking, increasing the traffic, etc.