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Town Square

Pleasanton School District Violates State Fee Cap--being sued for charging illegal school impact fees

Original post made by Another PUSD Lawsuit, Foothill High School, on Mar 26, 2012

Pleasanton Unified is being sued in Alameda County Superior Court for not granting refunds to individual homeowners who have requested that Pleasanton Unified refund them for charging school impact fees that far exceed those that are set by the State Allocation Board, which is the state agency that regulates what is charged to homeowners.

The State Allocation board sets the maximum per square foot rate that school districts can charge for home construction and modifications/additions. Web Link

The rates were set by SB 50.

Pleasanton Unified has not been sued for it charging illegal rates and refusing to grant refunds when it was pointed out that their rates exceed the rate that were capped by State Law.

Comments

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Posted by Interesting !
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 26, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Very, very interesting.


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Posted by Another PUSD Lawsuit
a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Pleasanton Unified has now (oops type in above-meant 'now' not 'not) been sued for it charging illegal rates and refusing to grant refunds when it was pointed out that their rates exceed the rate that were capped by State Law. The name of the case is De Bonis VS Pleasanton Unified School District.


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Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Mar 26, 2012 at 11:56 pm

We built in 2005. We thought the school impact fees were outrageous, anyone know if we can sue for refund?


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Posted by Homer
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Mar 27, 2012 at 4:33 am

I intend to sue for the blatant ineptatude. I want my refund, and then some.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2012 at 8:49 am

Excellence through tax cuts. Wonderful, and in a top ranked school district.


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Posted by Vineyards
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2012 at 8:58 am

Sounds like you need a new school board for the entitled in pton.


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Posted by Cheryl James
a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 27, 2012 at 10:08 am

This constant "blogging" but not putting your name is a bit cowardly IMHO. So easy to swing low and and speak with venom when you don't back your words with your identity. Folks know who I am and what I say. I usually do it up close and in person. If I post something I put my name to it.


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Posted by charles
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Mar 27, 2012 at 10:25 am

We have been struggling with PUSD to understand how they can charge more than allowed by state law. This has held up building our home for the last six months. So glad to see Pleasanton Weekly. Would love to see more details in local news.


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Posted by From99pct
a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 27, 2012 at 11:31 am

State law is clearly unconstitutional. No one forces people to live in Pleasanton. At the same time, local communities must be free to tax residents in proportion to the cost of services. With prop 13 and the impact fee limit, PUSD has their hands tied behind their back. And as in the rest of CA, we have people who want infinite services for no money.


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 27, 2012 at 1:27 pm

From99pct...couldn't agree more. I drive an SUV but complain about the price of gas, I live in a 5000+sqft home with pool and complain about my PG&E bill, and I want my kids to get a good education but I don't want to pay for it. Get government out of my life but...hold on...someone said there is a state law that says they overcharged me?...Where do I sign on and who can I sue. Spare me...


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Posted by Another PUSD Lawsuit
a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 27, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Actually Joe from Ruby Hill, your mansion subdivision is the one that sued the school district about developer fees and Neal school and you got an extreme discount on your school impact fees.


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Posted by local
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

The School District is involved in quite a bit of litigation now it seems. They spend two hours before just about every school board meeting in closed session.

There is another item on tonight's school board closed session, besides the one mentioned in this article. Labeled "Pursuant to Government Code 54956.9(b), the Board will meet in closed session to discuss significant exposure to litigation in two potential cases." I wonder what the SIGNIFICANT exposure is here?


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Posted by voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm

"I want my kids to get a good education but I don't want to pay for it."

I have paid for it, by paying high taxes for years and years before I ever had kids. Paying for my house is my responsibility, public education is paid for by taxes.

Thanks to the public sector unions (particularly non-teaching ones), my taxes are being wasted by the government now, which is why they can't afford to spend it on education. So do I want to pay so that J Brown can spend more on prisons, early retirement, massive overtime, enormous health benefit costs because of union pressure? No thanks. They are going to run out of "other people's money" soon, then hopefully we'll get some reform. There may be some rough years in between.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2012 at 8:17 pm

voter,

Not paying $40 to help with graduation isn't "get some reform". It might make you feel better.


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Posted by Again
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm

It just shows you that no matter how much extra money the district collects fom this community they will manage to spend all of it but not necessarily responsibly. The district also wants it both ways. They often declare a state law as the reason for many of their decisions but in this case they say they don't need to follow state law. It's most objectional since these people are educating our children. Very sad.


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Posted by Taxed to the max
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:19 am

Part of the reason the school district is short on money and long on students is due to the continued building of apartments. Renters come here for the top schools and take advantage of every "free" service Pleasanton offers, but don't pay property taxes, and won't make any voluntary donations when the school asks for them.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:34 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I suppose it would've been nice to have had the third high school at Sycamore rather than a technology fund we keep borrowing from by now.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:52 am

Way to go, people. Let's bite the very hand that feeds us. We are already losing great young teachers because they are the lowest ones on the totem pole (yet they are the most passionate about their jobs). Our community won't pass a bond measure despite the fact that our schools have (historically) consistently ranked among the best in the Bay Area. Yes, we pay a price to live in a community as great as Pleasanton. The sooner that some of our citizens get that notion through their heads, the better off we will be. Meanwhile, some people are suing, which will only serve to make the problems with our schools worse. Joe from Ruby Hills...to you, I say thank you.

To the people who are suing: If you are so dissatisfied with this community, then you'd better move now, because your actions will only serve to make matters worse and will, eventually, effect your home prices. Do us all a favor and move now so we can get on with making our community the shining star for lifestyle and education it used to be.


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Posted by Homer
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:59 am

Hey Steve from P middle School, why don't you just pay for all the outragious requests and the ineptnesses yourself? Us leave? Why don't you leave? Most Pleasantonians are dead broke and you no it.


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Posted by long time parent
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 28, 2012 at 9:43 am

Steve, we previously voted for a bond and are still paying on it, and will so for some time. Not sure why you way the community did not pass a bond measure; as we did.

However, in recent years, the district has the bond money that we all pay for (significantly on our property taxes; look at your tax bill), they did illegal cash-outs to take even more of our money without permission, and they have taken out more long term debt without a vote (Certificates of Participation). They have gotten away for years by charging an illegal amount of fees for new construction until they were sued on that. I wish I knew where all the money went! I saw that the school board met on discussing their debt at a previous board meeting but they barely let the public talk and ask questions and no questions were answered.

There is currently no accountability at the school district. How much longer do we allow the government to say "trust us"? I think we need answers, or replace those we have with those who will give us answers. How many times have we been led down the wrong road by the school district administration?

"Trust us"
- The Bond you approve will go only to specific projects listed in "the blue book".
- The Bond will have a citizen oversight committee.
- We cashed out on the bonds to get more money "for your own good"
- We took out certificates of participation (COP) loans for some short-term finance needs (pay no attention that it is now a 20-30 year loan)
- We did creative refinancing with the COPs with interest only for a few years because we know for sure there will be money later to pay the additional interest of this creative financing.
- Ruby Hill prospective buyers, we will be building Neal Elementary School for the students in your area.
- We have an "air-tight" agreement with Signature Properties where they will build Neal Elementary School for $8M, and in exchange, they pay lower school fees.
- The city can add all the housing they want now, including affordable housing that does not pay for school infrastructure fees, as we can handle it. (to the City when they were rezoning recently).
- We think free health insurance for retirees is a good use of your school taxes.
- We are offering a early retirement package. If they retire, we will pay them for several years equal to 75% of their salary, and give them free health and dental insurance. It will save money, "trust us".
- On the parcel tax where it says legally that seniors have to reapply each year, if you vote for this, the yearly application does not apply to you (trust us, we will not enforce the legal requirement that you have to reapply).
- Step and column salary increases are not "raises".

When does all of this misrepresentation end? How are we to believe anything you say now?




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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 28, 2012 at 9:51 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Ruby Hill was built in that gray area time period under SB50, wasn't it? Would've been nice to have Neal Elementary by now.


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Posted by xyz
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2012 at 1:54 pm

"long time parent",

Ruby Hills wasn't here when that bond measure passed long ago. Seems that because you no longer have children in the schools that you don't care if we lose our brightest and best young teachers to other districts. I know of two have left within the last two years. Suing the district and refusing to support the schools with bond measures, parcel taxes, or donations isn't going to bring any more "accountability". I'm not saying we have a perfect district, but we still have a very good one, and it was an important part of my decision to move to Pleasanton nine years ago. Attacks like yours only undermine morale and do more harm than good, in my opinion. Neighboring districts, such as San Ramon/Danville have their share of "accountability" and financial issues just as we have, but at least those communities support their schools.


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Posted by lazzboy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm

"We are already losing great young teachers because they are the lowest ones on the totem pole"

Or perhaps we are losing the ones that can't hack it (50% of teacher leave the profession in the first 5 years).

Or perhaps some of the experienced teachers actually have gained some knowledge from their experience...

Why, in every other profession in the world, experience is a good thing, yet somehow experienced teachers have nothing to offer???????


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Posted by Joyce Senechal
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 29, 2012 at 9:49 am

I moved my family here from San Jose Unified School District some 7 years ago. I investigated Danville, San Ramon and Pleasanton. We decided on Pleasanton based on 1) school performances and scores 2) community (downtown and programs) 3) commute to work. I was extremely surprised when I learned that Pleasanton did not have a parcel tax to support the schools. I am disappointed that in the years we have been here the majority of our taxpayers have not been heard and the parcel tax has been defeated because the required 2/3 majority has not been reached. Is it too simplistic to say the minority then rules? Our family always gives to every fundraiser, every class donation, every sport donation. I have always been an advocate for our schools, I have ran book fairs, school auctions, reading tutor, math club leader, room mom, PFA and PTA board member, budget advisory committee and revenue enhancement committee member etc. I know more than I care to know about the state of our local schools and the schools up and down the State of California. What I have learned is that you can not depend on the Federal Government or the State Government to adequately provide for our children. Both entities have no problem passing down requirements for education but significantly lack or don't even attempt to support those requirements through funding. At the end of the day local school districts scramble to meet these requirements with an ever shrinking amount of money. The task is near to impossible, and yet PUSD has done it and continues to try to do it. To say they don't care or are mismanaging is simply wrong. To have any litigation to deal with in this point in time no matter how right or wrong is tantamount to salt in a wound. PUSD needs the opportunity to advocate for our children with the little money they have, not to be distracted by individual interests who will distract them from doing just that.


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Posted by Steve
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Really, lazzboy, are you that naive? I know for a fact there are teachers getting pink slipped that schools would much rather keep than some of the ones hanging on for retirement. These are teachers that have the highest marks in terms of competency and such marks are well earned due to the outstanding test scores their students produce. Some have proved their merit with 4.0 GPA's in college and graduated summa cum laude.

I don't doubt that many leave the profession in the first five years, but who can blame them when they have to put up with an uncaring and ignorant public that would rather categorize them as glorified babysitters. Please stop confusing experience with competency.

Joyce, thank you for your elegant commentary.


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Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 29, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Here's one reason why the parcel tax fails: The Neal School story. It has a beginning a middle and an end... PUSD collects huge fees from Ruby Hill and the Vineyard corridor, all in the name of building the Neal School. They never intended to build the school, but had to say they did so they could continue to collect the money. Then instead of instructing Signature Properties to pull the trigger and build it, they went to court and sued them... In court, PUSD got their butts kicked. In short, PUSD plays very loose with the truth and they've shown us all how they can lose millions in ill advised lawsuits...
Now you want me to vote for a parcel tax?


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Posted by Another PUSD Lawsuit
a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 29, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Jack, I agree. Pleasanton Unified's chronic inaccuracy, lack of accountability, a history of blind obedience based on largely unchallenged monologues of its superintendent and paid consultants, combined with a finely honed ability to twist and distort reality wouldn't be such a problem if it wasn't an actual organization charged with educating children on the taxpayer's dime, and were just a cranky entertainer, sort of like Howard Stern.

Real democracy is built on debate and following the law. But Pleasanton Unified has little use for debates, and even less respect for the law and on following the law.