Above, the current Hillview Community Center at 97 Hillview Ave. in Los Altos.
BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
A daycare center that has been in sole negotiations with the city of Los Altos for space in the new Hillview Community Center — raising concerns about preferential treatment from city leaders — is now proposing giving city employees priority for enrollment, according to emails obtained by the Post.
Children’s Corner has leased space at Hillview, located at 97 Hillview Ave., since 1981. The nonprofit serves a few dozen families from Los Altos and neighboring communities.
Scrambling for space amid city plans to tear down and rebuild Hillview, Children’s Corner began courting the city for a new lease at Hillview in February 2016, entering more serious talks with City Manager Chris Jordan in July.
The lease terms, which city employees were working to bring before council on Nov. 28, give “city employees and families who work in Los Altos” third priority for enrollment after continuing families and Los Altos residents.
The lease also provides for $1 million upfront in prepaid rent, up from the $600,000 deposit listed on the proposal that City Council voted down on Oct. 10.
At that meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Jean Mordo motioned to have Children’s Corner pay for half the construction costs for additional space at Hillview.
Councilwoman Jan Pepper offered an amendment to have the daycare center propose that a percentage of students are Los Altos residents.
The motion passed 4-1, with Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng dissenting.
Residents have voiced concerns about Jordan’s negotiations with Children’s Corner over a piece of public property. The city has not issued a request for proposals from other daycare operators so the city could compare offers. In fact, Jordan hasn’t even asked council whether Hillview should continue to lease space to a daycare.
On Aug. 17, Children’s Corner board president Golnaz Golshan sent Jordan a letter of intent to enter a 20-year lease at $180,000 to $200,000 per year for 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of private indoor space and 2,500 to 5,000 square feet of shared outdoor space.
The August letter proposed a $400,000 to $600,000 upfront rent payment.
A week later, Recreation and Community Services Director Manny Hernandez responded to Golshan, asking for a $600,000 nonrefundable deposit and $240,000 in annual rent, to increase annually by the Bay Area Consumer Price Index, between 2% and 4% per year.
“We are very excited that the process has moved so quickly towards mutual understanding,” Hernandez wrote.
But at a joint study session between council and the Hillview task force on Sept. 26, Mordo pushed to raise Hillview’s $25 million budget to $35 million. Council voted to up the budget by $10 million at that study session, even though it was not a council meeting, without public notification on an agenda.
On Oct. 2, Jordan informed Golshan that he wouldn’t be recommending the terms of the lease, citing financial constraints after the $10 million budget increase.
“Financially, we are not in a good position to allocate another $1.5 million to $2 million, and, with the size of the community center growing, I don’t know if we can commit over 6,000 square feet for use by the Children’s Corner,” Jordan wrote to Golshan on Oct. 2. “I want you to know that I am making this recommendation after much consideration and discussion with my staff.”
Jordan met with Golshan on Oct. 23 to discuss Children’s Corner’s new proposal.
Golshan submitted the new lease terms on Oct. 25. She invited Mayor Mary Prochnow and Councilwoman Jeanne Bruins to meet individually about the proposal on Nov. 10.