With the city’s task force working on guidelines for the East Pleasanton Specific Plan that could include between 1,729 and 2,279 new housing units, the school district wisely has undertaken a review of its expected growth.
The East Pleasanton units would be in addition to the several higher density projects scattered around the city in Hacienda Business Park, on Stanley Boulevard and next to Safeway on the Bernal property that has been approved after the city lost a long-running law suit that successfully challenged its housing cap. The city could easily add another 3,000 dwelling units over the next 10 years.
The demographers presented their findings to the school board Tuesday evening. They concluded the district will continue to grow from its current population of 14,923 students and add capacity for between 408 and 483 k-12 students by 2022.
The bottom line was no additional middle schools or high schools would be needed if the capacities were allowed to increase modestly---from 1,181 to 1,349 at the middle schools and from 2,500 to 2,736 at the high schools.
What will be required are one or two elementary schools if the district wants to stay within its target of 700 or fewer students. Because some elementary schools are expected to grow significantly in enrollment while others are predicted to drop, a 10th campus is predicted to be needed in the northwest quadrant of the city by 2017. An 11th campus could be needed in the East Pleasanton as that area develops.
What’s interesting is that Alisal (driven by the East Pleasanton plan) could see as many as 304 new students, while Fairlands could grow by 134 kids. By contrast, Walnut Grove is expected to decline by 146 students while Valley View shrinks by 41. Shifting enrollment boundaries can accommodate the growth within existing sites for a few years.
There’s also the open question about how many students will be generated by the higher-density units, particularly those near BART that are designed for out-commuters. You could say the same for the apartments planned for the Bernal property within a football field of onramps to I-680.
The school board discussed its options—redrawing boundaries to accommodate students on existing sites or looking to swap an existing undeveloped site—were among the points, but no decisions were made. The district will be challenged to find a suitable site in the northwest quadrant of the community that is largely built out.
One key challenge for the city and the school district alike is the East Pleasanton plan carries with it heavy infrastructure requirements (extending Busch, Boulder and El Charro roads as well as potentially relocating both the city’s operations center and the transfer station.
Those costs must be spread over enough land with development rights to pencil for developers.