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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.

Jeffrey Bachman August 07, 2012 at 02:42 PM
Sounds like the school has some big guns on its sde! How else can all this activity go unnoticed? Hang in there and get ready for school to start...
Larry Arzie August 07, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Thank you Amy for pointing out what goes on in our town due to the bias of our Town Management. Our town manager was sworn in to enforce our regulations. He has the total power to correct the situation. Since town managers are not for the long term as they move from job to job as a way of increasing their salaries they avoid anything that would stain their credentials. I would suggest you zero in on him to do what he was hired to do. Write letters to the papers making sure to use his name. Continue to participate in Patch and Inside LG. and other sites, again use his name. Point out his errors. Do the same thing with any staff member that blocks our regulations from being fulfilled. They too are climbing the ladder to a future job. They hate any negative press as it will show up on future job searchs by future employers.
Silent Majority August 07, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Mr. Arzie, I respect your opinion and your voluminous posts on Los Gatos Patch. However, I must kindly disagree with your viewpoint. I surely did not move to Los Gatos to live in a town that is overly policed and where citizens can create witch hunts through mob mentality. It sounds like Hillbrook hosted a camp over a year ago, it definitely caused a disruption and I can't imagine they would do that again. I am not sure what the fine should be? Close the school down? That would please this board but can the LG public school absorb these student castaways, over 150 live in LG alone. Mistakes happen, we learn from them and do better next time. There is a delicate balance in place within this neighborhood but having a top-notch K-8 in town is a wonderful thing for our community. I understand some of the posters send their children to public schools in town, that is fantastic. I prefer living in a open minded community that offers residents a plethora of choices without the fear of being punished or silenced by an angry mob.
LG parent August 07, 2012 at 06:46 PM
I think everybody involved, especially Hillbrook, accept that hosting Steve & Kate's Camp last summer was a bad idea, so why are so many still banging on about it. I'm not sure who supplied the information to Ms Buckley that 900 campers attended the camp each day, but they were clearly grossly misinformed - Hillbrook cannot support 900 children. 900 was probably the total for the duration of the summer which would have meant about 100 campers each week.
Robyn August 07, 2012 at 11:46 PM
Is there a petition or anything official to state our objection to the revision of Hillbrook's CUP? Where do I sign up?
Larry Arzie August 08, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Dear Silent, I also respect diversity and thank you for reading my posts. I would hope that you can take a moment and read up on the problems Hillbrook has caused their adjoining neighbors over the years. There is no angry mob out there, they just want the town and the town manager to follow regulations. Google Hillbrook on this site and please review the frustration in resolving this issue. The issue is all of our concern. Hillbrook is not learning by their mistakes nor is our town authorities doing anything about it. Thanks for your thoughtful comments.
Silent Majority August 08, 2012 at 02:34 AM
I google "Hillbrook School" and I get a nice piece on the history of the school, you must have selected the negative filter offered through the comedic team at G. Anyway, the school predates the majority of the homes in the occupied territories of Marchmont, what a great history and tradition, lets honor and support such a fine institution, orphans dude: http://www.hillbrook.org/podium/default.aspx?t=120368 The Children's Country School, now Hillbrook School, was founded in 1935 by Mary Orem. She began her school with seven children in a little cottage in Los Gatos. The founder, Mary Orem, joined by Natalie Wollin, Elizabeth Glassford, and Ann Boge, stated in their school tenets of 1945: "We believe that as the twig inclines the tree will grow and we will endeavor to maintain an environment conducive to good growing." Rapid growth of enrollment encouraged the school to move to larger quarters and in 1936 the school purchased a ranch of Col. James Parker—the present site of the Hillbrook. The purchase included a 10-bedroom "Castle", small guest house, and a large barn. It was during this time that school children built the Village of Friendly Relations, which is still on campus today. During the next decades, the school continued to grow in spite of many difficulties—WWII rationing, a county-wide flu and measles epidemic, and a devastating fire that destroyed the "Castle." In 1957, the school became strictly a day school; it was renamed Hillbrook in 1960. ........
Silent Majority August 08, 2012 at 02:42 AM
The true issue is that the anti-growth minority wants Los Gatos to remain the town it was in 1960 when we had 9k residents. Whether we like it or not, we are now at close to 30k, we need to have both public and private schools to educate our wonderful children. There is no land left in town to build new schools, all the homes that were purchased in the neighborhoods near all of our schools post-date the original educational institutions that were erected. That is the life we chose (meaning we bought these homes knowing the schools would never go away), we cannot nor will the majority of this town allow us to move backwards or rewrite history, we must be thoughtful in our approach but the schools cannot be victimized by domestic terrorists. Historical population of Los Gatos (source Wikipedia) Census Pop. %± 1880 555 — 1890 1,652 197.7% 1900 1,915 15.9% 1910 2,232 16.6% 1920 2,317 3.8% 1930 3,168 36.7% 1940 3,597 13.5% 1950 4,907 36.4% 1960 9,036 84.1% 1970 23,735 162.7% 1980 26,906 13.4% 1990 27,357 1.7% 2000 28,592 4.5% 2010 29,413 2.9%
Larry Arzie August 08, 2012 at 03:50 AM
Dear Silent, Very nice research. Now google InsideLG.Com and get a continuation of the story. By the way, I am not the one to be discussing this with you. I barely live a mile from the problem. I only empathize with their inability to get the town to adhere to their conditional use permit perimeters. Perhaps one of them will step in and give you more to understand the issues.
BAM August 08, 2012 at 04:30 AM
Interesting how things get spun. Do you want to live in a town where businesses can decide if and when they follow the rules? Is this the lesson we want to teach our children? If I have more money, I win! And, are there no consequences to breaking the rules? Hillbrook is adding significant revenue without paying any taxes to the city of Los Gatos while building a big war chest to hire the most expensive attorneys, consultants and PR firms. In 2001, Hillbrook went in front of Town Council requesting to rebuild part of the campus to improve the safety of the buildings and bring them up to code. At that time, the Head of School and board members stated that they had NO intention of increasing enrollment, agreed to limit summer programs and to CARPOOL to improve traffic and the safety of the community. This was an agreement made so that the neighbors would support the changes. Earlier this year Hillbrook held a meeting for the neighbors that involved a traffic consultant that conducted a survey with Hillbrook parents, and surprise, carpooling does not exist, Hillbrook parents do not want to be inconvenienced with sending their children on buses or the constraints of carpooling with others. Parents that live close to the school do not feel like it’s safe enough to allow their children to walk or bike to school.
Sheila Sanchez (Editor) August 08, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Hi Robyn, here's the link to the petition opposing an increase in enrollment and traffic at Hillbrook School. Thanks. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no_to_hillbrook_enrollment_increase/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=system&utm_campaign=Send%2Bto%2BFriend
Irene Aida Garza-Ortiz August 08, 2012 at 04:45 AM
I'm sure everything will work out. It always does...
BAM August 08, 2012 at 04:45 AM
Domestic Terrorist, interesting choice of words. There seems to be a campaign to discredit the neighbors who are just trying to maintain the quality of our neighborhood and provide safe streets for our children. I guess this is know coined Domestic Terrorism.
Amy Buckley August 08, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Hi, I wanted to draw your attention to this important petition that I recently signed: "PETITION AGAINST INCREASED ENROLLMENTAND TRAFFIC FROM HILLBROOK SCHOOL" http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/no_to_hillbrook_enrollment_increase/?utm_medium=email&utm_source=system&utm_campaign=Send%2Bto%2BFriend I really think this is an important cause, and I'd like to encourage you to add your signature, too. It's free and takes just a few seconds of your time. Thanks!
Silent Majority August 08, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Thanks Irene for the calming words, everything will work out. The children are all of our priorities, the Los Gatos children who attend public and private schools. There are children who do walk to Hillbrook, they unfortunately have to pass by their own neighbors who give them looks of disdain as to how on earth could they walk to such an terrible institution that causes so much pain. What has this neighborhood succumbed to? "Maintaining quality of neighborhood", o.k., that was a generally positive tone vs. close, punish, etc. Hopefully Hillbrook can focus on maintaining current levels of quality, which is VERY HIGH vis-a-vis the rest of the world and even our fine town. Online polls can be very deceiving and harmful, lets remember Proposition 8, there were online polls that vowed to illegalize gay marriage, this unfortunately led to a disastrous outcome, lets think about all of our actions and the impact on the Los Gatos children who attend Hillbrook , over 150! There are many instances of carpooling, further incentives will continue to move folks to this route.
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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