Cubberley Master Plan
"We are pleased to share with you the Draft Cubberley Concept Plan; a culmination of a yearlong community co-design process that, through open and honest dialogue, helped us to understand the community’s needs, preferences and differences. As the Cubberley Futures Compact states, the vision for Cubberley “must be grounded in the realities and constraints of our town and time, but it also must be inspiring.” Through creative sequencing and development options, we believe we can create a space for the residents and students of Palo Alto that reflect the community’s needs of today while preserving land for potential educational needs of tomorrow. The Cubberley Master Plan is a vision for the future that can only be realized by continuing the path forward. With recognition that the City and School District may proceed at different paces or on our own paths, we commit to supporting one another as partners to realize this once in a generation opportunity and create a community and educational space as unique as Palo Alto itself."
Excerpt from the Transmittal Letter by Ed Shikada, City Manager, and Don Austin, PAUSD Superintendent
To provide comments on the plan, please email CubberleyCodesign@cityofpaloalto.org
Read the Cubberley Co-Design Concept Plan
Three appendices contain supporting documentation and details.
- Appendix A includes full documentation of the co-design community meetings and other engagement material.
- Appendix B provides sub-consultant studies and narratives on traffic and circulation, energy and sustainability, a risk analysis, and the cost estimate.
- Appendix C includes interim deliverables including the Needs Assessment, produced in October 2018, and the Program Document, produced in January 2019.
The Cubberley Co-Design Process included four iterative community meetings where community-members work together to identify needs, propose opportunities, discuss options, and guide the master-planning process towards win-win solutions for the Palo Alto community.
At each meeting participants engaged in interactive activities designed to gather pertinent information and perspectives on key project decisions. Each meeting built on the work done at previous meetings and culminated in the sharing of the draft master plan for community critique and input.
The meetings included 727 participants (462 unique participants) and were held at the Cubberley Pavilion.
Concordia is compiling the draft plan based on the input across the four meetings and technical assistance from sub-consultants. The Draft Plan will be submitted to the City and School Board for review in summer of 2019 and will inform the CEQA process, which is now underway. The CEQA process will conclude at the end of 2019. At that time, any necessary revisions to the plan will be made and the plan will be finalized.
The Master Plan document will guide development on the site. The master plan will include a conceptual-level design of the site, diagrams that show program and space use, a construction phasing plan, and many other details that articulate a shared future vision for the site. This document is the final product of this Co-Design process, and will become the basis for future architectural design.
Past Meeting Content
The Needs Assessment
Between June and October 2018, Concordia compiled background information to create a Needs Assessment document. This includes information gathered prior to the second meeting. Key information from this assessment is incorporated into the more comprehensive Program Document.
The Program Document
The Program Document was completed in January 2019, based on the results from the first two meetings. This document describes the programming makeup that was used in the development of the design phase of the project.
Why does Cubberley Need a Master Plan?
Cubberley has served Palo Alto first as a school and now as a community center. Both PAUSD and the City see Cubberley as a valuable asset that will be needed in the future. For PAUSD, this is the only large site that can accommodate a full high school or large middle school if enrollment increases demand for a new school in the future. Given anticipated housing needs in Palo Alto, a new large school may be needed in the coming decades. Therefore, any plan must preserve the flexibility to house a new school on the site at a future time. The City has an interest in maintaining the vital services and programs that Cubberley provides to the community and increasing programming for greater community benefit.
In 2012, the Cubberley Community Advisory Committee (CCAC) studied the current conditions and the future opportunities at Cubberley. In working groups dedicated to School Needs, Community Needs, Facilities, and Finance, the committee engaged the City, the School District, and Cubberley tenants to analyze possible outcomes for the site. Their final report recommended that the best outcome would be for the City and the School District to come together to commission a master plan that accommodates the needs of the community center and a potential future school, with potential for shared-use facilities. The City and School Board have done just that. After an 8-month long Request for Proposals process, the City and School District jointly selected and hired Concordia to lead the co-design process, which produced the Cubberley Concept Plan, a flexible road map for future development at Cubberley.
What is the timeline for this process?
The planning process lasted from summer of 2018 to summer of 2019, with four community meetings which took place in September, November, January, and May during that time. The CEQA process is underway and is planned to conclude at the end of 2019.
What is the timeline for construction? How will the phased approach work?
There is no set construction timeline, because the architectural design and construction process will be contingent on funding approval from the City and/or PAUSD. When construction does begin, it will be phased to minimize impact to existing programs on the site. The first phases of construction will be replacement buildings for the community center. We are currently studying strategies to phase the construction and demolition process so programs can continue to function on site. The process may involve using temporary portable buildings on site while existing buildings are demolished and replaced. Because the School District has no immediate plans to build a new school on its lands, that phase will likely be the last phase and will not have any specific time attached to it. Prior to any future use, the space reserved for a future school will be used productively in some other way.
What is the expected cost for construction and how will it be paid for?
Once a draft program and plan is created based on community input, a professional cost-estimator will estimate construction cost for the plan. The cost-estimate will inform cost-saving measures to make the plan more cost-effective. Because the plan will be phased with roughly 50% of the plan accounting for a future school, it will not need to be paid for all at once. A funding strategy has not yet been determined.
Why is Greendell and 525 San Antonio Road not part of the master plan? Can they be added?
Yes. Originally, the Cubberley Master Planning process focused on the site that is currently used as Cubberley Community Center, part of which the City owns and part of which the City operates through a lease agreement with PAUSD. The adjacent 5 acre Greendell site and the 2.7 acre 525 San Antonio site are contiguous with Cubberley and are also owned by PAUSD. Due to the multiple community requests that these sites be included in the planning process, they have been added to the scope of work.
How high is a parking lot allowed? Can parking be built underground, or even under the fields?
Parking is subject to the same height limitations as buildings. On the Cubberley site, that means that 150’ from the perimeter of the site, parking structures can be up to 50’ tall. Underground parking was a very popular idea at the community meetings. Although more expensive than above-ground parking garages, the benefit of underground parking includes the ability to use the above-ground space for programs and green space.
How are non-profit tenants evaluated when their leases are up for renewal? Is there a performance metric of their activity? How do new tenants get in?
Tenants are selected by the City through a public Request for Proposals (RFP) process. For the most recent RFP process, staff developed a set of criteria to evaluate the proposals based on public benefit, number of residents served, proposed lease rate, application completeness, and clarity of the proposals. Cubberley activities and programs are restricted to organizations delivering public benefits.
Are slides from meeting presentation available online?
Yes, you can download the slides from the meetings in the "Co-Design Process" tab on this page.
What is the history of Cubberley?
Cubberley was constructed in the 1950's as a PAUSD High School. It was closed in 1979 due to declining enrollment. In 1990, the City entered into a lease agreement to use the campus as a community center. Since that time, it has served the Palo Alto community as the Cubberley Community Center and the programs on site have become integral to the City’s network of programs and services.
What kind of school PAUSD planning to open (high / middle / elementary)? What are the School district enrollment and capacity requirements?
There are no specific plans right now regarding what kind of school will exist on the site in the future. School district enrollment is unknown in the future. Enrollment projections only look out at the next five years, so it is uncertain whether enrollment will go up or down in the long-term. The School District has limited land, and Cubberley, in conjunction with 525 San Antonio Road and Greendell School is the only conceivable location for an additional secondary school should the need ever arise. PAUSD needs to ensure that the master plan creates the ability for a new school to be built on the site in the future if and when enrollment needs demand it. While there is no clear need for a new secondary school in the coming years, there is great emphasis by both the City and Stanford University on creating more residential housing. More housing means more students.
What can go on top of the 10’ PG&E easement that runs through the site?
The easement allows for PG&E to dig underground to add a gas line. Although they have no current plans to do so, the area within that easement should preserve the ability for digging in the future. Surface parking, sports courts, green space, and other surface uses can be placed on this easement so long as they don’t preclude the ability to add a line underground in the future.
Can PG&E easement be canceled?
It is possible that at some point in the future, PG&E would agree to canceling or moving their easements. This would be subject to future negotiation between PG&E and PAUSD.
What about housing on the site? Does zoning allow it or can zoning be changed to allow it?
Currently, only the 525 San Antonio Ave. site, within the project area, is zoned for housing. Adding housing to the Cubberley site would require the City Council to approve a zoning variance.
Cubberley is a 35-acre site at 4000 Middlefield Road. It is the last, largest piece of publicly-owned land in the City that has a near-term opportunity for redevelopment for community benefit. The Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) owns 27 acres of the site, and the rest is owned by the City of Palo Alto.
Cubberley is adjacent to two residential neighborhoods: Greenmeadow and Charleston Gardens. The site is near Mitchell Park and contiguous with two other School District properties: Greendell and 525 San Antonio Road. These two sites are an additional 7.7 acres that are now incorporated into the master plan.
The site was home to Cubberley High School from 1956 to 1979, when it closed due to declined school enrollment. In 1990, the site reopened as Cubberley Community Center. The City operates Cubberley through a lease agreement with PAUSD.
The Center is home to over thirty long-term tenants and provides hourly rental space for special events. The programs at the site include daycare, early childhood education, artist studios, dance studios, language classes, after school programs, martial arts, sports, senior services, health services, and many other programs. These service-providers depend on Cubberley for its affordable rents and the benefits of having other community programs and rentable spaces nearby.