Opinion: Deny Hillbrook School's Request to Expand

Private school on Marchmont Drive is seeking a conditional-use permit to grow its enrollment. which would increase traffic in neighborhood.

I am very concerned that our Town of Los Gatos is rapidly morphing into Anytown, USA. I’m opposed to several applications before town management including that of

The explosive development along Los Gatos Boulevard, the high density housing along its route and

All of this has impacted pedestrian safety for many in Los Gatos. Town Council and Planning Commission should favor the citizens that live here and protect the quality of our life.    

I am opposed to businesses that greedily grow at others' expense. A good decision is one that is a winner for everyone. But here in town, many parents no longer let their kids bike or walk to neighborhood schools, ballfields or parks.  Now more than ever, children should feel safe to ride downtown to the enjoy the new library, attend classes at the rec center or hit balls at the tennis courts, but safety has gone out the window with the baby and the bath water.  

For those that may not know, Hillbrook arrogantly disregarded its conditional-se permit by allowing a third-party vendor to hold summer camp on its campus.

A total of 900 campers commuted into school each day like Hillbrook’s campus was on some major thoroughfare. It was simply crazy and worse yet, Hillbrook was not cited. Why would town stewards allow this to happen? Citizens alerted the town, but little action was taken sending a message to Hillbrook that dabbling in the gray has its advantages. This private academy ran amuck: no consequences from town management and a nice pile of money for acting badly. Can you say cha-ching!?

Why is this important? If our town government can’t rein in private business to play by the rules, then what power does it have over others? Be careful LG citizens, this may come to a neighborhood near you!  

Hillbrook sits deep at the end of a residential street. Parents, teachers, employees, garbage trucks, delivery trucks, semi trucks (seriously) have no route options to access school and this puts an unbearable strain on the folks living on Marchmont and surrounding streets.

This issue isn’t just about residents waiting patiently to exit their driveways in the mornings, it’s about kids seldom seen playing outside or walking to school because of unsafe conditions caused by the unyielding Hillbrook traffic. This is about principle, quality of life and safety that has been compromised by school traffic and the chaos created by it.

The extremes were obvious in the last three school years; grid-lock giving way to continuous steams of cars and trucks. No sidewalks on sections of Shannon, Short, Kennedy, Edgewood, Marchmont, Hilow and surrounding streets forcing pedestrians, cars and bikers to navigate narrow streets simultaneously. All the while, LG kids were ferried about town by their parents instead of getting about on foot.

Town Council and Planning Commission, please increase neighborhood safety.  Say no to Hillbrook’s request to expand and please add further restrictions to Hillbrook’s conditional-use permit to preserve our community.

Patti Elliot August 08, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Dear Silent Majority, “Angry mob?” “Victimized by domestic terrorists?” Nonsense. I certainly hope the Hillbrook board does not sanction your intimidation tactics and attempts to silence those, like myself, who are LG CATS (Los Gatos residents Concerned About Traffic & Safety). HB, its neighbors and the Town worked for more than 18 months in 2000-01 to fashion CUP provisions that balanced the school's and neighborhood's needs. Those traffic mitigation measures worked well until 2009, when the HB leadership simply began to ignore them. Just look at HB's publicly available IRS filings. From June 2008 to June 2011, HB's program service revenue increased by over $1.2 million dollars. HB did that by flooding our neighborhood with traffic: morning, noon and night, all year long. Those revenue figures do not even include the Steve & Kate's camp traffic last summer, which by the Town's count amounted to 1000 car trips per day on Marchmont Dr. Our once quiet summer mornings and afternoons with only the sounds of birds chirping (and the occasional leaf blower), are now filled with the sounds of HB bound cars (often driven by texting drivers), trucks and buses, all in continuing violation of HB's CUP. HB routinely commits numerous significant CUP violations causing serious traffic and safety concerns. LG CATS may not have as much money and influence as HB, but we will not be silenced as long as HB continues to violate the CUP that was put in place to protect the neighborhood.
Larry Arzie August 08, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Somehow Silent Majorities last comments did not show up. I supply them as follows for the interest of everyone: SILENT MAJORITY "I choose to go by an alias because I do not wish to be smeared by you and your compatriots who have lowered yourself to what I consider improper methods to gain support for your cause. I am an independent Los Gatos resident for many years and strive to ensure the fine residents of our town know that your organization represents just one view point. You use statistics when it helps your cause ,dangerous. The story is simple, Hillbrook provides a wonderful educational opportunity for families in Los Gatos that choose to make that sacrifice. My only hope is that Hillbrook is able to maintain is wonderfull contribution to the world and so many of us do not have to cower in our homes, cars and on foot worried about what the neighbors misht say in front of our innocent children"
Amy Buckley August 10, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Dear Silent Majority, I live two doors down from Hillbrook's gates. NEVER in all my years have I looked at a HB parent or child with disdain walking to school. Please stop fueling falsehoods. You, at times write with a clear sense, and at other times, go off the handle with great exaggerations. I have several friends who attend Hillbrook and they often come over to my house for coffee in the mornings after dropping their kids off to school. They ask to use my driveway to park their cars for various after-school or weekend events. So please get your head out of your tail. The residents on Marchmont and surrounding courts and streets have had, by and large, a wonderful relationship with Hillbrook. But Hillbrook's new headmaster and board of directors are seemingly ruled by greed and no longer wish to work with the neighbors for peaceful solutions to the excessive traffic and safety issues at hand. And you are completely wrong....most neighborhood Hillbrook parents are NOT walking their kids to school on a daily basis because they have told me that the traffic has gotten too bad. FACT. Better yet, why don't you come out a few mornings once school starts and talk a walk. You can even park your car in my driveway and join me for a cup of coffee after your stroll.
Amy Buckley August 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Dear Silent Majority. I don't make a habit of speaking for others but I can guarantee you that LG CATS and all LG residents want Hillbrook to succeed in providing the very best educational experience to its students. Several Marchmont families, for example, send their kids to HB or have done so in the past. That's not the issue and it never has been. HB parents aren't a different breed of parent, they want the same as any other parent, the best for their kids. That means that many of the HB parents drive 40 minutes or more to bring their kids to school. LG CATS is just asking Hillbrook School, Mr. Larsen and our town management to come up with traffic solutions to provide safety for anyone using Marchmont, Shannon, Kennedy, Englewood, Topping, Hilow, Stonybrook, Cardinale, Robin and the surrounding streets and cul de sacs impacted by Hillbrook's growing traffic. It's as simple as that! Solutions to a problem. And yes, a dangerous problem...for both Hillbrook parents and non.
Amy Buckley August 10, 2012 at 05:31 PM
LG CATS: Los Gatans Concerned About Traffic & Safety. This is a community-wide group of citizens that like to walk and bike in town. Most of us have dogs or kids and are finding it more and more difficult to be pedestrian to the shopping centers, parks, library, rec center, schools,... due to the high influx of cars & trucks coming and going on our residential streets. You can join today if you too would like to see our town managers put solutions in place before approving development or expansion plans in Los Gatos. Submit your request for membership to ajebuckley@me.com


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