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East Palo Alto may sell school land to developer

Original post made on Apr 24, 2013

East Palo Alto's Ravenswood City School District is in talks to sell or exchange many acres of property -- including its own headquarters -- to an office developer.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 10:26 AM

Comments (43)

Posted by Dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm

Just pointing out that geographically speaking, Belle Haven is not eastern Menlo Park. Perhaps the Almanac could do a little investigation and begin describing it more accurately in the future. Just because its a popular description doesn't make it an accurate one.


Posted by Renee, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Dawn: please inform us as to how it should be referred. We work in your neighborhood and would like to refer to it correctly. Should it just be Menlo Park? I noticed that the neighborhood west of Alameda refers to itself as West Menlo Park. Many thanks.


Posted by Rachel, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 24, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Menlo Park is the correct reference. We are all part of one City. Just say the neighborhood name.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2013 at 3:54 pm

Rachel, I don't get your point. What we call east of 101 in Menlo is referred to as eastern Menlo Park or Belle Haven & it's been so for decades - are you trying to suddenly change that? Eastern Menlo refers to a regional area, albeit directionally incorrect, Belle Haven refers to it by its neighborhood name.

Renee, West Menlo is both part of a region AND a neighborhood name - sounds like you know that - I didn't & I'm a native. I thought it was just west Menlo, eg, the region, never knew til recently that it was a neighborhood, as I always heard parts of it referred by sub-neighborhoods.


Posted by Zip, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 24, 2013 at 4:11 pm

West Menlo is used to mean west of 101, west of El Camino, and west of Alameda (the USPS refers to the Alameda postoffice as "west MP" whereas the others are just MP.

The reason that people refer to "east" Menlo Park is that it is adjacent to East Palo Alto, and most residents don't distinguish between the two communities, especially since they are all part of the Ravenswood district. I do not live there but have worked for nonprofits in the area for years.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Zip - when referring to west of El Camino, etc., it's west Menlo - a regional area. East of ECR is just broken down into specific neighborhoos, except for east of 101. There's also a neighborhood w/in that area called West Menlo Park- smaller than overall west Menlo. Duh, took someone telling me that to understand it - I felt like a dork when I finally got it.

The real reason east Menlo is referred to that way occurred after 101 was built & split Menlo & EPA into 2 areas. So then people started to refer to Menlo east of 101 as east Menlo, just as they refer to EPA west of 101 as the westside. Prior, there was just west Menlo, no east Menlo. Confusing! So the east/west misnomers are a result of the 101 split & orienting ourselves west/east - toward the ocean (west) or toward the east bay (east), even though it's really more north/south.


Posted by Zip, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm

hmmmmm, you sound very authoritative, but you're wrong. Plenty of people refer to neighborhoods east of El Camino and west of 101 as "west Menlo." If you look at the Almanac's list of neighborhoods, there is no "west Menlo" -- all the neighborhoods have their own labels. Including Belle Haven!


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2013 at 6:07 pm

I sound that way because I wrote a research paper on it! Okay, it was a minor subject, I know. There is a West Menlo Park - an unincorporated part of Menlo, west of ECR, amidst west Menlo (does that make sense?). It's a neighborhood w/in the region of that name.

The people who refer to places east of ECR/west of 101 are incorrect in the usage as far as tradition - they must be upstarts "new" to the area! But seriously, Those areas are traditionally referred to by neighborhood - the Willows, Seminary Oaks (which was always part of the Willows, actually), Linfield Oaks, Felton Gables, Downton, Menlo Oaks, etc.

The Almanac has left some 'hoods out, which is why you don't see West Menlo. It's in the collective Other on the list, as are others.


Posted by Zip, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 24, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Got it, thanks.

To return to the original topic...does anyone else find it troubling that prime property, currently used for education and nonprofits, may go the way of office space? Thereby exacerbating the jobs/housing imbalance, increasing our need to construct more homes, further turning neighborhood against neighborhood, and potentially leading to more school overcrowding.

This seems like a short-term cash flow problem, and I think the resolution should wait until the new sup is on board. Is de la Vega "retiring" to take a job with Sobrato? (No knock against Sobrato, who has proven a generous benefactor to many nonprofits, but business is business). I see a lot of pregnant women in East/North Palo/Menlo, so I don't think we're going to see a declining student population any time soon.


Posted by Concerned, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Private developers and office space...seriously? Is that what we need in that space? Is the FLOOD PARK school site a part of this negotiation? If so....Where is the discussion about leasing the already existing school grounds to another educational institution - private or public? The German American International School is in the midst of desperately trying to stay in Menlo Park. They paid/pay rent....good money which ultimately goes into the general fund of the local school district it leases from....good money which can be used by Ravenswood to further its mission something I know all of us believe in. It feels like it is time to ask some serious questions.....


Posted by taxpayer, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2013 at 10:03 am

Las Lomitas gets almost $2M per year from leasing two school sites and has recently signed long-term leases with both tenants. They decided not to sell 20+ years ago and have been cashing in ever since. Lease -- don't sell!


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm

@ the Almanac: I agree with Rachel. Its Menlo Park, or Belle Haven. East Menlo Park, whether folks have been using it forever or not is just inaccurate.


Posted by Why, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 25, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Ravenswood has consistently ranked at the bottom among California districts. Seems to me that residents of Belle Haven might want to focus their energies on analyzing this potential sale and its effects on education rather than quibbling over semantics.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 25, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Why - I'm sorry that I went OT w/my posts yesterday. I agree w/you re how to see how this is of benefit to EPA & the school district. Leasing makes more sense - I wonder if that's been discussed. I live in EPA, & it's hard to keep up w/all the news & changes, espec when it's via a school district. I hope to learn more.


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 26, 2013 at 9:20 am

Not only can I walk and chew gum at the same time, but I can ponder the educational problem in Belle Haven and quibble over semantics at the same time. I suspect that if you were referred to by a name that served only to link you (and was completely inaccurate to boot) to another low socioeconomic community you might be quibbling over semantics also.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Dawn, your first post doesn't make sense in light of the above post. Belle Haven/east Menlo is a lower income area than the rest of Menlo. It shares a school district w/EPA. It's been called east Menlo for decades and locals know & understand this. The compass position in which it resides doesn't change the demographic, or that it shares a school district w/another city. What do you want The Almanac to do? For purposes of this article, talking about both EPA & Belle Haven are of course relevant. Personally, I wish that the schools in Belle Haven would merge w/another district, but that's a whole other subject.

Normally I can walk & chew gum at the same time, but given that it's Friday, I'm not sure if I should test myself, so maybe I'm the only one not getting your point!


Posted by Dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 26, 2013 at 1:46 pm

And sometimes change starts one person at a time. How about Belle Haven, or bayside Menlo. Both accurate. Why be wrong, when we could be right. Just because its been done a certain way doesn't mean we can't change. We refer to specific neighborhoods in Menlo Park all the time. I could start calling the Willows by East Menlo - since it really is - but I suspect they would object. I wonder why. And above all, I would expect my local newspaper to report accurate information and I find that they typically do. I expect they will be more responsive to my point than others. People will learn. They always do.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Again, east Menlo is a regional moniker, the neighborhood is Belle Haven.

I think you still don't understand that Belle Haven doesn't have a good rep, neither does east Menlo (unless you specifically are referring to the business parks) & no name change will change that, directionally accurate or not. But Belle Haven is the eastern most part of Menlo, no? Or maybe I don't understand what your main concern is? Sorry that I'm not understanding.


Posted by Zip, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 26, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Changing the name of a neighborhood won't make it a different neighborhood. And I have observed and been told, by residents, that they consider EPA and Belle Haven to be a single community. It's kind of silly to pretend otherwise.

Housing values are low in the southern (southeastern?) part of San Mateo County that's east, or maybe it's north of 101. One huge reason is that the schools are so bad. And I see a lot of different organizations working at cross purposes here. Some want to help the district improve. Others want to get kids out of the district and into better schools. Some want to gentrify that area and make it suitable for Facebook engineers. Others want to keep the low-price housing around because it's one of the few affordable neighborhoods in this part of the world.

Really, the name should be the least of anyone's concerns.


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 26, 2013 at 9:05 pm

I'm mystified about the resistance to a more accurate description of the Belle Haven neighborhood. It matters not what the reason is. East Menlo Park is the Willows.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 26, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Dawn - how did you decide that eastern Menlo is the Willows? I think you're mystified because you don't get it. How long have you lived in Menlo? Sure, the Willows are east of a big chunk of the rest of Menlo, but that's it. And btw, it's not East Menlo, it's east Menlo. What am I not understanding about this?


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 29, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Hmmmm.... I used a map. Change is difficult for some people, I know. Thank goodness for facts. There aren't really different versions of "east". Just people wedded to an inaccurate description. If "the Willows are east of a big chunk of the rest of Menlo", then why would the Willows not be considered east Menlo? Help me out here. But hey, if you want to keep using your geographically inaccurate term, you go for it. I'm asking that Almanac not continue to do so. That's all.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2013 at 1:08 pm

There is actually a neighborhood east of the Willows, east of 101 that is Menlo. Does that mean you want to change its name to the Willows, too? And if you're so much handier w/a map, how come you didn't notice this even more eastern neighborhood? And yeah, Belle Haven is still east of the Willows - northeast. You've lived here how long & want to change names for what reason? So that people think you're not close to EPA & have little crime in the area?


Posted by phd, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 29, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Call the Willow east if it makes you happy. Who cares? Our kids go to Menlo Park schools and get a good education. If I lived on the other side of 101 I would be a lot more worried about the meaning of this sale than about the geographic direction. If you focus on trivia, how can you expect kids to learn anything important?


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Who cares? Its such a funny response to this thread as the answer should be somewhat obvious. Just because you don't, doesn't make it a meaningless topic. Of course there are other issues, and I'm quite capable of tackling more than one at a time. But it seems geography is proving to be a challenge for some of our city residents. Maybe because all this time they believed Belle Haven was east of them - since their parents insisted on that moniker despite its inaccuracy. Default to pettiness if you need to. Change is hard for some people, I know.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Belle Haven is east of a lot of other Menlo residents, no matter what you say. I of course understand that you can tackle more than one issue at a time - you've mentioned it a couple of times out of necessity & there's no reason for me to doubt it, especially because you come across as thoughtful & intelligent. Those posting to the contrary about your concerns are being obtuse, probably on purpose.


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 29, 2013 at 4:31 pm

That is a compromise I can live with. Thanks Hmmmm. Just when I'd given up on the forum as an actual exchange of ideas - as opposed to just outsnarking each other.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I'm plenty snarky, but I do have a modicum of restraint which I do exercise upon occasion ;-) But really, you paying attention to a detail that bothers you of course doesn't cancel out your concern for or ability to deal with bigger issues in your area. You not only made that clear, it made sense to just ask The Almanac, as you did, why they refer to the area the way they do. My argument w/you isn't based on disrespect or dismissing your opinions at all, because I actually read your posts and don't want to pretend you also don't have other interests/concerns about your neighborhood.

I live now in EPA, where people not only make up stuff based on their assumptions *all of the time*, they prefer to maintain their pov rather than explore the truth, as the truth is complex. Even factoring people making casual remarks or being scared of crime so much as to not learn about a town of nearly 30k people, the ongoing comments are often thoughtless, shallow and ignorant.


Posted by Zip, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 29, 2013 at 7:41 pm

In my job, I see so many kids in East Palo Alto and the area-known-by-everyone-but-Dawn-as-east-Menlo. They are trying so hard to break out of the poverty cycle. How frustrating it is for them to be dealing with tough issues, and when they turn to their families for help, they encounter irrational rants instead of support.

No wonder the schools are so wretched. This isn't snark. This is pure sadness. Get over yourselves and see what you are doing.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Wow. Arguing over some arbitrary geography! Look, East Menlo is, to anyone that's been here as long as I, is Menlo Park east of 101. The Willows isn't east of 101, so, to those of us who've been here awhile, it's not "east Menlo." Basically Belle Haven (East Menlo - I know it's not magnetic "east")is "east Menlo." Like it or not that's probably how 90% of Menlo residents refer to Belle Haven.

Like it or not, most people associate "east Menlo" with East Palo Alto. Fair or not, that's the reality. Perception: Poor, violence, etc. That's reality.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm

If the Menlo schools in Ravenswood School District didn't share a district w/EPA, many locals wouldn't automatically lump them together.

Zip - I don't have kids but I know what you're talking about. I've done volunteer work w/Ravenswood kids on & off for years. But how do you know the kids encounter irrational rants or are you referring to my debate w/Dawn? I've seen a variety of reasons that the parents can't/don't support their kids' academic success & it is sad. And it's not like the streets are filled w/academic success stories & caring people.

It may be best to lease the land - I'm sure there would be takers.


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 30, 2013 at 12:34 pm

You're right that Willows isn't east of 101 - its south. Its okay for you to persist in using an inaccurate term, but no matter which way your parse it, you're wrong. Like I said, change is hard for some people. In a community with such amazing intellect, it's funny that the main argument for that erroneous title is simply "because we said so". I can think of so so many historical instances when the way we've always done it changed. We all survived and frequently thrived. Goodness knows that arguments for change are often vigorously opposed in this community. But you can see that I"m patient and persistent. I plan to be part of the Belle Haven community for a long time. Think of us as the crown on the top of Menlo Park. I'm interested in helping to raise up my community and ridding ourselves of that title is just the teensiest part. Names matter, as a variety of marketing studies will show.


Posted by long-time resident of the Belle Haven community in the City of Menlo Park, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 30, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I can guarantee that not all residents of the Belle Haven community have agreed with or liked the East Menlo moniker, I have lived in the Belle Haven community for 35 years and this topic always creeps up every now and then. The issue here is that Ravenswood School District needs help. Residents of Belle Haven have pleaded with the City of Menlo Park to get Belle Haven out of the Ravenswood School District for many years now. Obviously we're still waiting. Our neighborhood has transitionalized so much from the '80 and '90s. We have hardworking individuals who really do care about our neighborhood and we cannot always make the meetings but we do have a loyal group of residents who try to get the message out.
It really does not matter at this point the names that are placed on our Menlo Park communities; we are one city and we need to be united as a whole city. This article is about land in East Palo Alto; land that the Ravenswood School District owns. The City of Menlo needs to pursue and complete the removal of all of its schools out of the Ravenswood School District so that we can all stay united and focused on our city and all of its neighborhoods. No matter the neighborhood we are all Menlo Park residents.


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 30, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Just out of curiousity, besides magnetic east, what other sort is there? Pretty soon we'll have to stop calling China and Japan the far east.


Posted by Menlo Voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 30, 2013 at 2:30 pm

I thnk it's been referred to as "east" because it is on the other side of 101 which is supposedly running "north/south". If 101 truly ran north/south Belle Haven would be on the east side of 101.


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm

Thanks. I actually know why we use it. I just don't understand why having had the error pointed out, people keep arguing with me about how it isn't wrong.


Posted by Zip , a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm

No one is arguing with you, Dawn. Some of us are slightly stunned that you are so focused on an inconsequential detail when this thread should be a discussion of school financing. If you can walk & chew gum, then why aren't we talking about the important issues?

Fact is, our part of the world is angled slightly. We talk about streets running north and south or east and west, when we should really say northwest-southeast or northeast-southwest. We think of the ocean as being west of us, though Santa Cruz is almost due south and slightly east.

You can try to get hundreds of thousands of people to change the way they perceive directions, or you can do something productive with your time, like addressing the challenges the district faces. Your choice.


Posted by 52Ranfla, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Apr 30, 2013 at 3:46 pm

There's alot of talk by people who don't even live in Belle Haven wanting to call it east this and east that and trying to correct the people from BH. Let the community who live and reside here call it what it is. We are Menlo Park and we live in the Belle Haven neighborhood. There's no east Menlo, no eastern Menlo, or east-side Menlo.

We are Belle Haven and we are part of the City of Menlo Park. RESPECT THIS!!!!


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of another community
on May 1, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Sorry, 52Ranfla, it doesn't work like that. You're not some little self-naming island. There apparently is east Menlo, etc - otherwise, this discussion wouldn't be happening. If you want to only be called Belle Haven and no direction given as to your location, go ahead & start a movement to do so or start policing people - it's not going to change otherwise. People will be just as wary of Belle Haven as they will east Menlo, until the crime & schools improve.


Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 1, 2013 at 2:20 pm

How about calling it "North Menlo Park"? For some reason, areas with the name "East" just don't have the greatest brand appeal. (Not just East Palo Alto - East St. Louis as well.) "North Menlo Park" feels exclusive. I want people on the south side of the freeway to feel mundane ... common ... pedestrian. You'd have your geographic accuracy, and it would boast the reputation in people's subconscious as well.


Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm

"North Menlo Park Shores". Descriptive and accurate!


Posted by dawn, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on May 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm

We'd be residents of North Shore. I love it. Look at all the fun and productivity that can come out robust community discussions. North Menlo Park Shores - or Menlo Park Shores. I like em both. And everybody who insists on being wrong - still totally free to be wrong. Maybe the Almanac can take a page from Google's playbook and list North Menlo Park Shores as an available neighborhood choice.


Posted by Zip, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 5, 2013 at 9:20 pm

You can call it whatever you want. You're still the Ravenswood school district, and your schools still rank at the bottom of the heap. Do you want to try to fix that problem, or do you want to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic?

Your energy, your choice.


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