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March 16, 2014


Kevin Haroff

For the community's information, the following letters were recently sent to San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and the Mayors of the Town of Hillsborough and the City of Burlingame.

By Electronic and U.S. Mail

June 13, 2014
Dave Pine, Supervisor (District 1)
San Mateo County Board of Supervisors
400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063

Re: Hoover Elementary School

Dear Supervisor Pine:

I am an attorney representing the Alliance for Responsible Neighborhood Planning in connection with its lawsuit over the proposed Hoover Elementary School, in Burlingame, California.

I understand that your office recently has been seeking to facilitate discussions within the community over the future of the school, in light of a May 8, 2014 decision by San Mateo Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner blocking future construction of the school pending compliance by the Burlingame School District with the requirements of the Cali-fornia Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). As you may know, Judge Weiner ruled in her decision that the District’s December 2012 approval of the school, without first preparing a full environmental impact report, constituted a clear violation of CEQA and was therefore unlawful.

Given your interest in issues involving the school, and the substantial public concern over its future disposition, I thought you might appreciate receiving a copy of a letter I sent yesterday to the Mayors of the Town of Hillsboro and the City of Burlingame to share the Alliance’s perspective on the issues. While it believes that the location of the proposed school is inherently unsuitable for that use, the Alliance is more than happy to participate in a constructive conversation with the community to help identify reasonable and feasible alternatives.

It is our hope that such a discussion can lead to an outcome that will meet the needs of the District’s growing student population, protect the safety of children attending our public educational facilities, and respect the special character of our local neighborhoods.

Respectfully submitted,

Kevin T. Haroff

By Electronic and U.S. Mail

June 12, 2014

Jess E. Benton, Mayor
Town of Hillsborough
1600 Floribunda Ave.
Hillsborough, CA 94010

Michael Brownrigg, Mayor
City of Burlingame
501 Primrose Road
Burlingame, CA 94010-3997

Re: Hoover Elementary School

Dear Mayors Benton and Brownrigg:

As the attorney representing the Alliance for Responsible Neighborhood Planning in its lawsuit over the proposed Hoover Elementary School, I am writing to you on behalf of the Alliance to address certain misconceptions that recently have been expressed over the purpose of the lawsuit, and the implications of a recent decision by San Mateo Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner to stop further work on the school.

The Burlingame School District approved construction of the Hoover School in December 2012, after certifying that an assessment of the school’s future potentially significant environmental impacts complied with the requirements of state law (specifically, requirements under the California Environmental Quality Act, or “CEQA”). Among other things, the assessment (known as a mitigated negative declaration) concluded that the school would not have a significant impact on traffic in surrounding neighborhoods after it opened its doors to students.

This conclusion has never made any practical sense. The location of the proposed school, in a hilly area surrounded by narrow and winding neighborhood streets, makes the prospect of significant traffic impacts inevitable. Nor are these impacts simply a matter of vehicle congestion and crowded parking. Streets in the area generally lack sidewalks, and there are few defined pathways for children to walk to school without subjecting themselves to serious risk from oncoming cars. None of these impacts can be mitigated simply by reconfiguring the area where students would be picked up and dropped off at the school. Yet that is the only option the school district has ever been willing to consider.

The school district was aware of these problems when it approved the project, but it chose to ignore them. The Alliance filed its lawsuit in January 2013 to challenge that decision as a clear and direct violation of CEQA. The district was told by the court in June 2013 that it was likely to lose this case based on the merits of the Alliance’s CEQA claims. Yet it disregarded the court’s warning and proceeded to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on an ill-conceived project that it should never have started.

On May 8, 2014, Judge Weiner issued a thoughtfully written, final decision in which she sustained the Alliance’s views on the legal issues in all material respects. On that basis, she properly ordered that further construction work on the school be stopped immediately. Now the school district has a choice. It can continue to waste public money on past decisions to open a new public school at the current site, even though further environmental studies will invariably show that option to be infeasible. Or it can begin a new process that will lead to a fair and unbiased evaluation of reasonable alternatives to the current proposal. The Alliance is ready and willing to support the district if it chooses this second path.

Some in the community have tried recently to portray members of the Alliance as a group of “NIMBYs” – obstructionists seeking to block an otherwise deserving project by complaining “not in my back yard.” That portrayal is both simplistic and false. These individuals have always sought only to bring attention to legitimate public safety concerns that have a direct impact on the quality of life for residents of both Hillsborough and the City of Burlingame. Their concerns are shared by many others in the community, including the former Mayor of the Town of Hillsborough, Tom Kasten, and the Town’s administrative staff.

It is our hope that those who previously have supported the Hoover Elementary School project will join with the Alliance now to explore realistic options to the school district’s current proposal. If they do, we are confident of reaching an outcome that will meet the needs of the district’s growing student population, protect the safety of children attending our public schools, and respect the special character of our local neighborhoods.

Respectfully submitted,

Kevin T. Haroff

cc: Randy Schwartz, Hillsborough City Manager
Lisa Goldman, Burlingame City Manager


Normally this article in the Daily Journal would be enough for me to start a new post, but I think keeping this thread active is better for now. So here are some excerpts and the link at the bottom:

Burlingame school officials won’t appeal a judge’s ruling to stop construction at Hoover Elementary School, but they are asking to secure and stabilize the site before an environmental impact report is conducted.

On Tuesday, San Mateo County Superior Court judge Marie Weiner made no ruling at a hearing to consider the Burlingame Elementary School District’s request to do some additional construction work at the site, which the district contends is necessary to secure the site now that overall construction has been put on hold. She intends to visit the school Thursday.

“We had agreed already to have certain housekeeping manners taken care of, but objected to anything that looked like it was a continuation of construction,” the alliance’s attorney Kevin Haroff said Tuesday. “She (Weiner) expressed a lot of skepticism on the structural work on the two buildings. … We would have liked to have gotten it all wrapped up today, but the judge seemed in favor of our position.”

Weiner also seemed apt to appoint an independent consultant to see what’s necessary to ensure the buildings are safe, Haroff said.



Well it sounds like everything has been well thought out.
Thank you very much Mr. Haroff.
It seems so improbable for a project like this to have ever gotten this far.
My best guess is that the two newest, least experienced City Managers- Schartz/Goldman; leaving prior positions under "dubious" conditions, may have felt the need to prove their riposte, and hope for the best...
Well it might be time to keep their options open.
When you have a Judge, DA's, Sherriff's Dept., Stenographers, San Mateo DA's Photo and Film Crews, Every Bay Area News Station taking valuable time to walk around a neighborhood and construction site investigating Fraud, misuse of public funds
The City Managers, as well as their advisors better start tuning up the old resume.
Talk about a Car Wreck.
Wait until they talk to the neighbors. That Google Overhead Map showing the neighborhoods, narrow streets, ala Berkley Hills Fire, the closing of the Hillside Fire Station a couple of years ago, last but not least, who are the students that will attend the school, where do they live, how will they get there, What is the Racial and Economic Breakdown of the families and children who will attend Hovverville?
City Managers Schartz/Goldman should call in sick tomorrow.


The San Mateo Journal (which normally publishes PR releases from the BSD reported that the Judge Weiner will visit Hooverville on Thursday (Today)
The judge will have an opportunity to see the stumps of the century old oak trees that BSD chopped one day before the court hearing. BSD said it was an emergency then the BSD's own time line indicated that construction of the ill-planned drop off zone would not start for more than a year. It is this type of bad behavior which has led neighbors to question any move. that the district makes. One thing for sure: the site is a real mess and the district had a year to clean it up since they were informed that they would lose in court. They have hit springs that require 24 hr water removal and pumping and there are several active landslides on the front of the property. Huge cuts into the back hillside are also showing signs of instability. The cold fact is that BSD purchased the ShinYo En Temple. They told the public that they were replicating the school that was there decades ago -- and then proceeded to build an expensive bloated-out money pit. In doing such, they eliminated parking and on-site drop off areas -- and that is the whole problem. If they complied with the law from the start these flaws would have been identified -- and they would have had to build differently. Note that that they have placed all efforts into the new mega building. They have neglected the historic old school building that now needs emergency stabilization. How can we believe anything that BSD says?

Anti-Bullying Campaign


All the Stepford Wives imagine that the local school district is nothing short of apple pie, sweet little children and well...perhaps the modern religion.

Little do they realize how all public school districts in California are really just The State.

The State is used to bullying, lying, imprisoning, taxing, seizing, corrupting, disregarding, enabling embezzlement, indebting, wasting, covering up, and dictating.

And yet, The People's Republic of Burlingame continues to vote for more taxes, more govt control of themselves, more state wide mega billion dollar check-the-referendum-box strategy and financial wrecklessness.

But, it's not the district, it's not Sacramento, it's not The State, and it's not even Jerry Brown who really runs The Streets of California...

Bruce Dickinson

I would be remiss if I didn't say those are dynamite letters, Kevin. Marten Law, LLC is in Bruce Dickinson's Rolodex, well quite frankly, 3 Rolodexes, to be exact. May come handy, yes, very handy.

Al Segni

Is Dreiling Terrones Architecture in your 3 Rolodexes, too, Bruce? How did Rick respond when you asked about his firm's masterwork?


Thanks Bruce.
Could this Hooverville be a place "we the people" draw a line in "Concrete" and stop these "back room" type deals?
Follow the Money, ask the FBI to consider this obvious misuse of public funds, and though this project will be losing a hell of lot of money, it may help start a movement to send the limited funds available we have for Educating Children-not Burlingame kids all kids.
Upper Middle Class People and their "ilk" are the ones most effected by a year or two in jail.
Ask Ed Jew
This Hooverville is the most incredible waste of money since HSR.
Who voted for HSR?
Did you, did your neighbor?
Nobody did.
How about repairing El Camino Real, 101, SFO.
I have never been to the international section at SFO.
The rest of the place really looks like a 3rd world country airport.
I was in Salvador 3 weeks ago and that nasty filthy airport was a 6. SFO was an 8.
Welcome to SFO.

J. Mir

"My kids are grown and gone."

"I got mine, get yours."

What an appropriate lesson for the kids. They should teach about that lawsuit in Social Studies.

Think the chinwags in Hillsborough would offload some of our kids into their district, as a gesture of kindness to relieve our overcrowding? Not a chance!!

No way to prevent more students from coming in, short of shunting off every new kid to a - GASP - charter school. Texas is looking better and better every day!

Young people have a knack for recall at this age. They sense when and where they aren't really wanted. They know what mutual respect is, and what it isn't.

They will remember being stuffed 40 to a class in 4th grade, eating lunch in 3 shifts, spending entire class days in a trailer, the 20 minutes drive to school down Hillside or Canyon/Skyline in traffic. (They also remember school staff walking off the job promptly at lunchtime, leaving them unsupervised and hoping a random parent was around to handle schoolyard problems and first aid.) They remember the kid who got clipped by a car at the intersection without a crossing guard, before one was finally hired for it.

Our young people know when they're not being treated with respect, the same respect elders demand from them. When they grow into adults who don't seem to respect their elders, well, you'll know where they got it from.


They absolutely should teach our kids about the lawsuit. They will then learn that they can and should question governmental decisions that don't make sense and, in fact, are illegal. They will learn to think for themselves and not just accept what they are being fed without question. School districts are granted special privileges under the law and there are no checks and balances when they abuse their privileges, save a lawsuit. Good lesson to be learned here.

"Fear The Beard"

Are the usual suspects on vacation this week?

And today, in The-State-seizing-of-private-rights news, local henchman Jerry Hill pushes hard to eminent domain private property at Martin's Beach.

The net-net of the analysis at Martin's Beach seems like the public right to the "Tide Lands" below the mean tidal level is not applicable for land that was transferred to private ownership prior to 1848...

"But Khosla claims his property is exempt from that provision, because Martins Beach passed into private hands, without any public easements, before the United States acquired California in 1848. The venture capitalist argues his property line actually extends more than 200 feet out to sea, because that's where the beach was located before coastal erosion chewed it back."

It's great that California enables the public to enjoy the vast majority of beachfront, and I've enjoyed the many public beaches throughout Half Moon Bay for years playing with my kids.

However, the law is the law, which appears to protect Khosla's private property. Certainly if Jerry Hill and his followers don't like the law, they should debate and attempt to change the law through due process, as opposed to the abrupt abuse and disregard of the law by the current administration throughout the world, and especially in California...

Eminent Domain is a slippery slope of government abuse of power of individual rights.


All I can say is "Fear The Beard".

Bruce Dickinson

All Bruce Dickinson can say is non sequitur.

Why keep voting for the (same thing)

The Editors have edited this post for compliance with the TOU

Actually, it's all the same flavor of (issue), Bruce.

The question is...why do the voters of California keep voting for the (same positions or points of view) that is the ruling party?

Ed: It really isn't that hard to make a very pointed response without bringing down the conversation by using thinly veiled vulgarity. Thank you.

Bruce Dickinson

The only "eminence" in the domain of the Hoover job site discussion is a bag of hammers.

Joe Burlingame

I hope someday Burlingame residents can return the favor to Hillsborough. Oh wait, all the highest priced attorneys already live in Hillsborough. Must be fun to use away and silly parking issues.

Joe Burlingame

Meant to type "Must be to sue away..."


Yeah just those 250 silly little cars in a residential neighborhood . . . Let's put them in your neighborhood Mr. Joe Burlingame and see how you like it.

Joe Burlingame

EPC - glad to see you openly admit this lawsuit is solely a case of NIMBYism. No one should pretend otherwise or send fake letters to mayors claiming its not.

If it was NIMBYism against a power plant or new airport I would understand, but its a school that is much needed. I guess its ok for the .1% of Hillsborough to sue to protect their property values rather re-opening an elementary school in the next town over.

I live around the corner from Washington School and frequently need to drive by Crocker Middle School during prime time. The traffic is a pain in both places, but kids need to get to school so we all just live with it. In the end this school will be opened in this location, but it will take longer and be more expensive. I hope you've maximized your property value before then.


We are a small community, and all have our interests and opinions and rights. One thing we all have in common--The Burlingame School District failed us all. They did not do the proper environmental studies up front (as required by law. BSD also designed a structure without parking or drop of areas -- that was bound to cause major street problems. None of this had to happen. Rather than point the fingers at the victims, parents and homeowners) get to the root cause. All parties should be mad-as-hell at the BSD administration, Bond Oversight Committee, planners and architects. It is clear that these clowns do not have a solution in mind except to deflect blame and polarize the community.


250 students does not equal 250 cars. Far from it. A traffic study estimated the number of cars at 94. The BSD may have made some mistakes but it was done inopen meetings where everyone could see. This is no reason to stop construction. End the frivolous NIMBY lawsuits and let the school open already. Those 250 students are crowded into other schools right now causing congestion in someone else's street. Time for Hoover neighbors to share the burden. Just silly!


It's too late for that now that the ruling has been made and the decision not to appeal has been made. Now is the time for negotiation. More drop zone footage and more parking in the back plus perhaps one less classroom fits in the middle ground. And replant a couple of the trees.


Time to fix the mess. The EIR will include a real traffic study. The study will come to the same conclusion as was made concerning the prior-proposed Valley School. They had 18 vans a day planned and it was nixed because of traffic concerns. The current design eliminated on campus drop offs that made the situation even worse. This project needs a new architect firm to take a fresh look at the situation and come up with some creative traffic and parking solutions. And yes, replant the oaks!

Peter Garrison

Will the school have a gym? If so, then expect evening trips for volleyball games, basketball games, stage plays, Scout meetings, on top of evening PTA meetings, teacher-parent conferenes, band practice...

Bruce Dickinson

Commonsense, you speak too much common sense these days that it's refreshing, yes, quite refreshing for Bruce Dickinson these days. Speaking about refreshing, why don't we get a fresh, unbiased, and un-conflicted perspective from another local architect, Jerry Diehl and Associates. On second thought, maybe not!


As to the comment that Hillsborough residents should share the burden, why? Hillsborough receives no benefit from this school - Hillsborough children cannot attend this school, it only serves Burlingame. Moreover, why should the surrounding neighborhood, whether Hillsborough or Burlingame, bear the brunt of traffic and parking impacts that should have been considered and folded into the overall design of the campus? Any other development of the property would absolutely have to account for its own impacts and not impose them on the community. Just because BSD provides a public benefit does not absolve it from its responsibility to properly plan its school. Clearly, traffic and parking were afterthoughts; BSD did not want use any of the precious little land this site offers for cars. Because BSD chose to increase the size the annex building footprint in order to add as many classrooms and other facilities as possible, it left no room for parking or a proper drop off/pick up area - BSD left this component of the project to simply spill out into the streets which are ill-equipped to handle this function. BSD's attitude: just let the neighborhood deal with it, after all, it's for the children.

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