Scotts Valley is a small town located in Santa Cruz County in Northern California. SVUSD is the local school district which is under extreme financial pressure due to the lack of funding available from the State.
Who owns and controls the multi-use rooms on elementary campuses? When are they available for school use?
The City of Scotts Valley is approximately 5 sq miles shaped like a dumbbell, with the land mass somewhat symetrical around SV Drive. It extends to the north just beyond Glenwood Dr / Granite Creek Road and to the south just beyond Mt. Hermon Rd. The school district is approximately 7 times larger, following the Highway 17 corridor narrowly in the south where it intersects Hwy 1 and broadening considerably at the northern end until it intersects Summit Rd.
Did the school district’s developer fee schedule cause a downturn in building in Scotts Valley?
No. Development activity in SV is tied to the overall economy and the specific opportunities as perceived by the development community. There are many expenses and fees associated with property development, above and beyond just the costs of construction. The school district is obligated by law to establish a fee structure associated with new development that has the potential to create growth pressures and require expanded school facilities. The process by which these fees are established are governed by state law. The City also has a development fee structure, to cover pressures imposed by new developments on its road, wastewater, park, and other infrastructure components. There are also costs associated with environmental, energy efficiency, and economic impact analysis.
During this economic downturn, the principal causes of the building slowdown have been the difficulty in obtaining financing for major projects, an excess of vacant commercial space, a lack of demand for new housing (also tied to problems in the credit market), and a general unwillingness to take on additional financial risk where high levels of debt are already in place. The changes to the school district’s fee structure were modest and incremental, and can’t be claimed to have had any impact on development activity in general.
Collaboration between the city and school district is always possible. There are some constraints on the general public’s use of school facilities when school is in session. Many details related to initial financing, maintenance, operating costs, and prioritization of use would need to be agreed to. At present, neither agency has funds available for such a project.
The city has access to funds through its redevelopment agency that are exclusively reserved for building a library, is accordance with the original agreement establishing the city’s redevelopment agency back in 1990. These funds cannot be ‘transferred’ or otherwise granted to a separate agency, such as the school district, or used for any other purpose. Whether it is appropriate for the city to proceed with these building projects at this time is a matter for the city council. The financial needs of the school district will remain unchanged regardless of what the city does on this matter.
Why do city council members continue to blur the line between the City and the School District with statements at public meetings and in the Banner)?
City council members consider themselves community leaders and there are some who are more than happy to share their opinions on anything and everything. In the context of school district business, the opinions of individual council members are as welcome as those of anyone else. The media, and others, may at times pay more attention to comments made by a city council member because of their role in city government. But council members have no particular influence over or unique knowledge of the school district’s role in the community. The council members know this, as do the members of the school district board of trustees.
The City of Scotts Valley, as an agency represented in public by the council, maintains a very cooperative relationship with the school district, as would be expected given the shared constituency.
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