East Dublin parents and members of both the Dublin school board and the Dublin City Council are wrestling with the effects of a decision made more than a decade ago.
In the mid-1990s, the initial plans to “Double Dublin” were submitted that started the process from open grass fields to the planned development you see today. The process was similar to what was done just north in the Dougherty Valley of San Ramon and Contra Costa County.
In both cases, there was a master developer (two in case of San Ramon) handling the overall planning for the community and working with both the cities and the school districts to determine what was needed. In San Ramon, although the approval was through the county, the developers and the city worked together to basically duplicate in the Dougherty Valley facilities and amenities that were present in the existing city.
That’s why there is a community center with a small theater, a branch library and plenty of parks in the Dougherty Valley. The planning in San Ramon also included a full range of schools (elementary through a high school).
It should be noted that district officials and city planners missed on the influx of Asians and Indians with larger families so an additional elementary school is needed.
There was that same miss in East Dublin—who could have guessed in the 1990s that Feng Shui would be an important consideration in housing design to sell homes?
The bigger miss was the decision to improve and expand Dublin High School (which had shrunk to less than 1,000 students at its lowest enrollment) so it would be the only high school in the city. Union City has taken a similar approach with James Logan. (Developers in San Ramon also worked to get state funds to greatly expand and improve California High to accommodate students before Dougherty Valley came on line.)
The challenge in Dublin that decision-makers just flat out missed is how students get to school. The upgraded Dublin High campus is good and located well for the older neighborhoods, but the transportation is awful if you live on the eastside.
With the Parks Reserves Forces Training Area dividing Dublin east-to-west, there is only one arterial road serving the city—Dublin Boulevard. To reach Dublin High from the east side involves driving down Dublin Boulevard to either Dougherty Road or Village Parkway and then wending their way to the high school (It’s particularly bad taking Dougherty to Amador Valley and then to Brighton (narrow and going right through a neighborhood) to reach the school.
The transportation factor was a huge miss as was the reality that East Dublin folks, who already feel isolated from the original city, do not have a high school to rally around.
The challenge now is coming up with both very expensive land and a cool $100 million or so to build a comprehensive high school. No wonder, alternatives such as satellite campuses or small magnet schools are being considered.
The decision-makers in Dublin today are trying to cope with what was a just a bad decision made years ago. Parents are right to pressure the elected officials, but they are playing with a bad hand and limited options because of those prior decisions.