PUSD seeks community feedback on Amador parking lot plans | News | PleasantonWeekly.com |


PUSD seeks community feedback on Amador parking lot plans

400 parking spaces will be unavailable during six-month construction period

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PUSD is set to undertake a project to add solar structures above parking spaces in the Amador Valley High School lot, with construction starting in summer break and likely continuing into the fall semester. (Photo by Ryan J. Degan)

In anticipation of plans to build a new solar structure in the Amador Valley High School parking lot this summer, Pleasanton Unified School District issued an online survey to Amador parents last week and are asking for public input on the project.

Plans have been in motion since last year to re-orient the parking lot on Santa Rita Road and add “a long-term source of renewable energy,” said PUSD deputy superintendent Micaela Ochoa in an email to the Amador community on April 19.

The district expects to save approximately $1.8 million in energy costs over the structure’s 25-year lifespan, while reducing the school’s carbon footprint, improving pedestrian safety and providing covered parking for students. A concept design is available.

Work is scheduled to start in June after students have gone home for the summer, but district officials “expect a significant impact to parking availability at the beginning of the school year, as construction for the parking lot will potentially be ongoing through October 2019.”

Neighbors are also concerned about the loss of more than 400 parking spaces during construction and how it will impact them. The district is “looking at all possible options to mitigate this temporary and significant impact” with the city and related organizations, including options to expedite construction.

City traffic engineer Mike Tassano told the Weekly that staff “made a bunch of recommendations, but most have not panned out” for various reasons. Some ideas included using the softball field for parking but that was rejected by school district officials. District spokesperson Patrick Gannon said bussing in students from remote parking lots is "an option we’re considering."

Originally the city suggested that the school hold off on the project until next year, but deadlines threatened $650,000 of state Proposition 39 funding for the project.

For the moment, about 50 parking spaces will be available for staff on the first day of the 2019-20 school year and no plan for what to do about the other 400 that will be out of commission.

The school district recently asked staff if removing permit parking across the east side of Santa Rita Road during construction is possible. However, Tassano thinks it’s unlikely because the program was added several years ago in response to residents complaining about students parking in their neighborhood.

“We don’t receive complaints from residents on use of that program so we wouldn’t think to remove it,” Tassano said, adding that permit parking might instead be expanded to include the west side of Santa Rita. Staff members plan to speak with neighbors in the next six weeks to “be proactive in our approach.” Should residents wish to pursue a permit parking program, staff would approach the Pleasanton City Council early this summer to take action.

The district thanked the community “for your patience and understanding in the coming months and next school year” and said they will continue providing updates and organizing times to discuss the project with residents. Construction is expected to wrap by the end of this year.

The online survey that was due to expire April 22 was for parents. Students and staff would also be given a chance to provide feedback, according to PUSD officials. They are asking community members to contact PUSD directly with their input.

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1 person likes this
Posted by Just a thought
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 18, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Just a thought, What if they gave parking permits to Juinors and Seniors Only until the construction was done. If this was upsetting to Parent of Sophmores, then maybe they could reserve the closest parking spaces to the school for them for the rest of the year.

7 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 18, 2019 at 8:51 pm

$1.8M over 25yrs or $72k/yr seems like a really poor roi, even if i assume the entire cost is covered by the $650k funding, which im guessing it doesn't. Energy efficiency and sustainability are important but we shouldn't let contractors take advantage of public funding

3 people like this
Posted by Walking around
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 19, 2019 at 6:26 am

What a waste of money and valuable parking spaces! This is a ridiculous idea! Guess all students will have no other choice but to park Downtown.

8 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 19, 2019 at 7:46 am

If the district can not do this in the summer it should be postponed! The stress this will cause to the students and community is unreasonable!

24 people like this
Posted by Walker
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 19, 2019 at 8:35 am

Is a parking spot a basic human right? It’s a privilege and should be treated as such.
Precious high schoolers should be able to cope with walking, biking, getting a bus, or *the horror* having to carpool.
The environmental benefit of solar is the bigger picture here.
“Just a thought” - thank you for your sensible suggestion.

10 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 19, 2019 at 8:46 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

Stress?! Give me a break. I'm with Walker regarding the implication of parking as a right. My high school really didn't care how you got to school - that was your job to figure out.

I agree sustainable energy and investment in is a good thing, but this project doesn't seem to be financially sound on the surface, I'd really ask for some pencil grinding and negotiations to get a better ROI for the money.

18 people like this
Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 19, 2019 at 10:08 am

First - there is no "out of pocket" money on this project. The district will pay for it over time based on the energy generated. The price they will pay is less than what they are paying PG&E - that's where the savings number comes from. Theoretically that means the ROI is infinite because there is no "Investment".

Second - the lost parking spaces are only for a month or two. When the project is done the parking lot will be fully open again.

Third - The solar structures will provide shade for all the kid's BMWs and Teslas so a couple of months of disruption is probably worth it.

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 19, 2019 at 11:55 am

Another Parent,
Your statement doesn't seem consistent with the article - i.e. if your statement were true then there would be no mention of the $650k assistance funding.

Additionally, while savings may be perpetual, most financial investment decisions are reviewed on an ROI basis - in this case, if the $650k covered the total investment (which we know its not), and the savings are $72,000/yr (difference in what the school pays now vs "tomorrow" for energy) then that is a 9yr payback period. Meaning the school isn't saving any money on this until year 10.

That same $650k put in a compounding interest (10%) account over the same 10 years nets $1M+

Not saying the school shouldn't go after sustainable energy, but the math on this deal is completely sideways. The school should be telling the contractor to pound pavement and give them a better cost to bring that ROI and payback period way in.

4 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Apr 19, 2019 at 4:32 pm

Grumpy is a registered user.

PP, all good points. One nit: the risk free interest rate is maybe 2%, and not 10%. It hasn't been 10% except during the insanity of the early 1980s. That's still 30% over 10 years for $845k.

1 person likes this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 19, 2019 at 8:35 pm

The finance person that takes 2% for a large institutional investment is the equivalent to the one making the investment as it stands. 10% is too aggressive fair point, go to an aggressive but achievable 4% and youre still $350k ahead

4 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 20, 2019 at 5:53 pm

Bad investment aside, think about the poor kids having to find a way to get to school, what a burden we will be putting on those poor future adults, better put a call in for backup counselors so that’s going to be an added cost! Just go back and get some realistic bids and get it done.

4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 20, 2019 at 6:54 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Structural framework should occur during summer months, while the solar fixtures are pre-assembled off site, then brought on site during holiday break or following summer and installed. This thought would allow parking without interruption.

In absence of that thought, parking can occur off site at the fairgrounds with round robin busing out of fairgrounds onto Valley to Santa Rita, Amador school, buses return onto Santa Rita via Stanley BLVD., to Valley back to fairgrounds.

2 people like this
Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 21, 2019 at 11:35 am

Pleasanton Parent,
The point is the District is not putting out any of their own money. The system will be funded by a mechanism know as a “Power Purchase Agreement”. An outside company will pay for the installation and operation of the system and charge the District for the power generated as it is produced – basically paying the outside company for kWh instead of PG&E.

The $650K in outside assistance comes from Prop 39 funds. These funds will effectively act as a down payment which allows the outside owner to charge the District a lower kWh rate. Those funds would not be available to the district “to invest” – they are only available for energy efficacy projects. One can argue whether it is appropriate that the State of CA voted in Prop 39, but they did, and it has provided funds to school districts all over the state to upgrade their facilities.

The economics are pretty straight forward – I would estimate the overall project will cost about $3 million dollars. The outside company will receive a 30% investment tax credit from the federal government. That leaves $2.1MM. $650K from the prop. 39 money. That leaves $1.45 million that the outside company will put out and their return on that will be based on the sale of the energy generated and sold to the District. The district will likely be paying about $300,000 a year to the outside company for the power generated (vs. $372,000 to PG&E). That means about a 5 year payback to the outside company and immediate savings to the district.

According this article mare that 1900 schools in CA have solar installations…

Web Link

I don’t know for certain, but I would guess that about 90% of them where financed in the same way.

8 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 22, 2019 at 6:56 pm

@ Michael Austin. Great plan but not the way this school district works, this will end up being a long drawn out overly debated process with no expense spared. I envision multiple consultants being brought in and maybe 2 or 3 of the 4 law firms that PUSD has on retainer getting a piece of this pie!!
As for the students parking at the fairgrounds and riding buses to school — talk about stress and embarrassment, great plan but not going to work with a lot of those “privileged” future adults!

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 23, 2019 at 9:54 am

I can't assess whether or not the investment has validity from the amount of information provided. However, I can say that holding up any project because of student parking spaces is ridiculous. Take a bus, walk, carpool, whatever. There are schools all over this country that provide zero spaces for students to park and somehow those kids still get to school on time each day. We have a nice privilege here not a constitutional right or necessity. If it is deemed the project makes economical or ecological sense - then I say get it done.

9 people like this
Posted by Traffic
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:05 pm

First of all, this project will take months longer than indicated. It's most likely going to cost more than projected. For those who speak of privileged children and parking spaces as privileges, it won't be long before all surrounding streets around Amador become clogged and congested from students being dropped off by their parents. Lastly, if you travel Santa Rita, Black or Del Valle to work in the morning - good luck. This project will be a nightmare for months to come and not only for Amador students.

10 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 23, 2019 at 12:47 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This school is already crammed to the rafters with 2700 students. I don’t believe, even if students were encouraged, there is a reliably safe and secure location for hundreds of bikes or scooters (not to mention a ridiculous law requiring scooters to be used by licensed 16 year olds) as an alternative to cars. I imagine there are a fair number of drivers who leave school to get to jobs, tutoring, and any number of other activities.

It is fair to say there will be a huge impacts. This is a perfect example of where the district and city should collaborate to address those impacts because traffic, students, teachers, and neighborhoods will all be inconvenienced.

5 people like this
Posted by NotSolarMan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 3, 2019 at 8:13 am

Is there someone who can explain why the project is scheduled to take 4-5 months just for construction and another 2 months for closeout. Looking around the internet it seems like similar size parking lot arrays have timelines of 1-2 months which seems more reasonable.

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