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The Campanile

The Campanile

City should not spend money on Cubberley Center


In a unanimous Oct. 16 vote, the Palo Alto City Council announced its intention to try to buy seven acres of land at Cubberley Community Center from PAUSD while exploring a long-term lease to acquire another 20 acres of land also owned by the district.

The city currently owns eight acres of the Cubberley Center and leases a majority of the remaining land from the district.

This new purchase would provide the city with primary control over the 35-acre property for upwards of 50 years.

The Campanile thinks this potential acquisition is unnecessary and asks city council to divert the funds they would spend to acquire this land at Cubberley on more pressing matters, especially since there appears to be no definite plan for what the City would do with the land if they had it.

The Campanile thinks the purchase of this much of Cubberley without a concrete plan of action is futile. 

Instead, we urge the city to invest its money in issues that will provide a greater benefit to the entire community such as improving public transportation, supporting local businesses still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and creating more affordable housing.

According to City Council Member Vicki Veenker, the city’s tentative plan is to redevelop Cubberley into a community center tailored to a variety of interests, benefiting community members from all different walks of life.

With a prominent community center at the Mitchell Park Library complex, though, the City already has a location that allows residents to try local food and take part in a variety of activities they enjoy. 

With a community center already operating, the demand for another community center is minimal, and purchasing a potential cumulative total of 27 acres of land with the intent to create another one should not be a top priority.

Additionally, in an interview with The Campanile, Board of Education President Jennifer DiBrienza said the district still wants to retain ownership of a majority of the land at Cubberley in case it needs land to build another school.

So, even if the City does get a long-term lease on the Cubberly land, when that lease expires, PAUSD will resume control of this land and the potential community center, and if the district chooses to build another school, re-renovating whatever was built would be costly and time-consuming. 

Diverting city investment to more time-sensitive matters such as improving public transportation, supporting small businesses or creating more affordable housing makes more sense and will do more good.

While a new community center may be an appealing idea to some, it would be expensive, would assume a role that has already been filled and would not be permanent.

For these reasons, The Campanile urges the city to consider areas of higher priority and redirect its funds to better meet the needs of all residents. 

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