San Carlos has made tremendous strides over the past twenty years. Turning itself from a once sleepy, mostly overlooked town, into one of the premier locations on the peninsula. This notion is supported by the fact that San Carlos has been able to not only hold property values steady through the nationwide mortgage crisis, but it has been one of the few towns in the United States to actually see a property value increase. Excellent elementary and middle schools, the resurgence of downtown and an invigorated community have all led to San Carlos’ ability to climb the ladder of premier peninsula towns. Don’t get me wrong, while San Carlos has come a long way it cannot compete with the likes of Burlingame and Palo Alto…..but its not out of the realm of possibility.
Certainly our weather is better than in Burlingame and our downtown is not as congested as in Palo Alto……so why are we a step behind? The answer is found with the most common concern of buyers moving to San Carlos: We need a HIGH SCHOOL. Both Palo Alto and Burlingame have excellent high schools. Buyers give me the same facial expression each time they ask the question of the assigned high school for the particular San Carlos property….I would equate their facial expressions to that of a golfer who just hit his golf ball out of bounds and with his eyes shut and teeth clenched, he is praying not to hear the sound of screeching tires or a broken window. This is not a knock against Sequoia and Carlmont. The difference is that people will settle for Sequoia and Carlmont whereas in Palo Alto and Burlingame people are moving there because of their high schools.
Creating a high school which could be managed under the San Carlos School District is the Final Frontier for San Carlos. The founding of such a school would cement San Carlos’ reputation among the elite towns on the peninsula.
Those that have been around San Carlos long enough, will remember San Carlos High School at the present-day location of Highlands Park and Stadium Field. The school was closed and the city sold the land to a housing developer. This is often referred to as one of the biggest mistakes in the history of San Carlos. So how do we get it back? And how do we make sure that the San Carlos School District has control of the school rather than the Sequoia Union High School District?
Start with the basics. Where would the new San Carlos High School be built? Many are quick to say that we are out of land. This is not necessarily true. The city owns a nice piece of property off of Crestview that could possibly be used for this purpose. Additionally, with the redevelopment efforts about to take place on the eastside, certainly there is room to at least examine the possibilities.
Let’s suppose that a site can be identified. The most important question is up next, “Where will we get the money?” Certainly, the school district would have very little to pump into the construction of a new school. Everyone is going to need to do their part. Parcel taxes, utility taxes, localized sales taxes, grants and bonds would all need to be put into motion. The undeniable fact is that the people of San Carlos would pay for the school. As mentioned in the blog post a few weeks ago regarding the comments made by Mayor Brad Lewis, sometimes you need to spend a little to get a lot. Nobody likes additional taxes. However, for those who could take a long term view and treat the taxes as an investment in their property, I believe they would see one of the best investments they could ever make.
The new San Carlos High School would erase the one glaring blemish on the city’s resume. It would be the single greatest thing we could do as a town to increase our current property values and offer San Carlos students the opportunity to acquire a first class education without leaving the City of Good Living.