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March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
Local

Town of Ross
Measure F - Majority Approval Required

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Resultados electorales

Se aprueba

719 votos si (60.12%)

477 votos no (39.88%)

100% de distritos activos (1/1).

1,232 boletas electorales serán contadas.

Shall the Initiative which amends the Town of Ross Municipal Code related to issuance of use permits to increase the allowable enrollment of any public or private school from three hundred and twenty (320) to four hundred and twenty (420) students, be adopted?

¿Qué es esta propuesta?

Información básica sobre la iniciativa de ley — Información oficial sobre esta iniciativa

Análisis del analista legislativo / Proposal

BENJAMIN STOCK, Town Attorney

Measure F would amend section 18.16.030(b) of the Ross Municipal Code which was approved by the voters in 1978 through a citizen’s initiative measure (the “1978 Measure”). The 1978 Measure limited issuance of use permits to public and private schools whose enrollment did not exceed three hundred twenty (320) students. Section 18.16.030(b) currently provides: “no use permit nor variance shall be issued for any public or private school whose total full-time and part-time public enrollment, together with the total enrollment of any affiliate school or coordinate program regularly using the same premises, exceeds three hundred twenty students.”

Measure F was placed on the ballot by a petition signed by the requisite number of voters. If Measure F is adopted by the voters, amendments to section 18.16.030(b) will take effect. If Measure F fails, the current language of section 18.16.030(b) will remain in place.

Measure F proposes to amend section 18.16.030(b) to increase the allowable number of enrolled students from three hundred twenty (320) to four hundred twenty (420) students. Measure F would apply to all public and private schools in single-family residence districts of the Town.

Measure F does not automatically increase the allowable number of enrolled students of any existing school; any increase up to the four hundred twenty (420) student limit would still require approval by the Town Council of a use permit per the Ross Municipal Code.

In order for a public or private school to obtain a use permit to establish or increase enrollment up to four hundred twenty (420) students, the Town Council will hold a noticed public hearing. The Town Council must find that the use permit would not be detrimental to the health, safety, morals, comfort, convenience, or general welfare of persons residing or working in the neighborhood of the school and that the use permit would not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to property or improvements in the school’s neighborhood. In granting a use permit, the Town Council may impose conditions that it believes will protect public welfare and property.

What Your Vote Means:

A “Yes” vote by a majority of those voting on Measure F means that section 18.16.030(b) of the Town’s Zoning Code will be amended to increase the allowable enrollment of any school from three hundred twenty (320) to four hundred twenty (420) students.

A “No” vote by a majority of those voting on Measure F means that section 18.16.030(b) of the Ross Municipal Code will not be amended and the allowable enrollment of any school will remain three hundred twenty (320) students.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Argumento A FAVOR

Over the last 100 years, Branson has been a leading academic institution in the Bay Area, educating generations of residents from the Town of Ross and beyond. Schools are shaped by their local communities, and Branson is very fortunate to call Ross its home.

As Branson looks to its second century, it strives to remain in Ross. However, the Town’s longstanding limitation on student enrollment threatens the school’s long-term viability. Due to rising operational costs and the lowest student enrollment among its peer schools, the financial sustainability of Branson is at risk without the ability to grow its enrollment.

Since 1978, Branson’s enrollment cap has been 320 students, a cap that can only be changed by a vote of Ross residents. If approved, Measure F does not guarantee Branson any increase. Measure F only grants Branson permission to apply for an enrollment increase through the Town’s public planning process, culminating in a vote of the Ross Town Council.

If Measure F is approved, the Ross Town Council would have the ability to consider a phased enrollment increase of up to 100 students to enable Branson to:

  • Accept additional applicants, including from Ross;
  • Attract and retain great teachers by offering competitive salaries;
  • Enhance partnerships with Ross organizations and residents;
  • Maintain tuition at levels comparable to other peer schools;
  • Create a more diverse student body;
  • Continue to offer a variety of excellent programs.

Branson is committed to growing responsibly and preserving the quality of life for Ross residents. The school will add new bus routes and other measures to keep traffic to campus net neutral.

Please provide Branson the opportunity to apply for an enrollment increase with the Ross Town Council.

Vote Yes to secure Branson’s future in Ross.

Vote Yes on Measure F.

Learn more at: www.RossResidentsforBranson.com

HADLEY MULLIN
Ross Resident (12 Yrs) / Principal Officer, Ross Residents for Branson

PATTY TREADWELL
Ross Resident (58 Yrs) / Ross School District Leadership Cabinet Member

WILLIAM CAHILL
Ross Resident (28 Yrs) / Former Ross Town Mayor and Council Member

ANNE FLEMMING
Ross Resident (52 Yrs) / Former Ross Town Mayor and Council Member

CHRIS MAZZOLA
Ross Resident (4 Yrs) / Head of School, Branson

Argumento EN CONTRA

420 STUDENTS ARE JUST TOO MANY

The Town’s 1978 decision to limit school enrollment to 320 was made to allow the school to thrive while minimizing the burdens of noise and traffic on Ross and our quiet residential neighborhoods. Parking was capped; the auditorium restricted to school events; athletic facilities use was capped at the 1978 level.

Even with these limitations, Branson’s traffic and parking are currently major problems, with an estimated 1000 car trips per day; more on many weekends. Nearly 95% of Branson’s students and staff commute from out of town. Adding 100 students will exacerbate the problem, despite Branson’s promises that traffic will be “net neutral.” Only about 10% of Ross’s children attend Branson. Repeated violations of Branson’s Use Permit in terms of student enrollment and activities creates even more traffic. Safety is a major concern, particularly after a student’s recent rollover car crash on Fernhill.

Branson states it needs more students to remain competitive with peer schools. But Branson appears to be competing quite well. Applications keep increasing, and only 25% are accepted. Branson’s peers are in downtown settings where traffic is less affected by enrollment increases. Branson’s laudable goal to increase diversity could be achieved within the current enrollment. Many students cherish Branson’s small size.

Branson states it needs more students to generate revenue. But records show a revenue surplus over the past 5 years. Branson could generate an additional $2,000,000 annually with a modest enrollment increase of 40 students. Branson could increase its endowment and reserves, currently ~ $36,000,000; this is feasible given the resources of the Branson community.

PLEASE VOTE NO ON MEASURE F. 100 MORE STUDENTS IS TOO MANY. A MEASURE CAPPING ENROLLMENT INCREASE AT 40-50 COULD MEET BRANSON’S NEEDS WITH LESS BURDEN ON ROSS’S NEIGHBORHOODS.

CHARLES GOODMAN
Former Mayor, Town of Ross

DAVID L PETERSON
Former Ross School Board Trustee

PETER BARRY, MD
Former Mayor, Town of Ross

PETER WAIS
Former Branson Board Member

Refutación al argumento A FAVOR

Adding 100 more students to Branson isn’t in the Town’s best interest.

Branson Traffic is already bad; expansion adds even more cars to Ross. Neighbors can’t back out of driveways; bumper to bumper parking from weekend events clogs neighborhood streets. Branson’s plan to add a bus line won’t begin to address its promise to keep traffic net neutral. An enforceable traffic plan that REDUCES traffic should be required.

Town Council: Although Branson claims the measure won’t automatically result in Council approving 100 students, Branson’s aggressive lawyers and consultants will do everything possible to achieve 100. Branson initially planned to leave Ross and enroll 1000; these plans were rejected by Strawberry because of traffic concerns. Many residents feel intimidated by Branson’s campaign; they’re reluctant to voice opposition, which could prejudice Branson against their children’s application to the school.

Size Doesn’t Matter: Branson is thriving at 320.

Financial Sustainability is achievable without expanding; IRS filings show a revenue surplus over 5 years.

Phasing is Misleading: The impact of 100 students is substantial whether added over 1 or 4 years.

Branson shouldn’t call itself a “Community School”. Ross School had only 3 students accepted this year. Branson claims expansion will allow additional Ross students yet will not formally commit to accepting more Ross School students. There’s no guarantee that future Ross students will benefit from expansion.

Please vote No on Measure F. 420 is far too many, especially without traffic plans that decrease traffic and without a formal commitment to accepting Ross School students.

KELLEY REID
Former Mayor, Town of Ross; Ross resident, 33 years

DAVID PETERSON
Former Ross School Board of Trustees; Ross School Foundation Endowment Founder; 51 year Ross resident

PETER WAIS
Former Branson Trustee, 30 year Ross Resident

THOMAS BYRNES
Former Mayor, Ross; Former Ross School Development Committee; Ross resident 46 years

CHARLES GOODMAN
Former Mayor, 55+ year resident

Refutación al argumento EN CONTRA

40, 75 or 100 students. A final decision on the number of students will be determined during a public process before the Ross Town Council should Measure F be approved.

Measure F simply grants Branson permission to apply to the Town of Ross for a phased enrollment increase of up to 100 students. A No vote on Measure F will prohibit Branson from applying to the Town Council to add even one more student, forcing the school to examine all options, including relocation. We believe this would be a loss to our community.

A phased enrollment increase is the only longterm, sustainable path forward for Branson in Ross. The argument against Measure F contains many inaccuracies and misleading information - please see the facts on Branson’s endowment, financials, admissions trends, and traffic at: www.RossResidentsforBranson.com/facts.php

As immediate neighbors, we can speak to Branson’s diligent efforts over the years to voluntarily reduce traffic on neighboring streets through robust carpooling, buses and shuttles, and off-site parking at St. Anselm’s. Branson and its traffic engineers have developed further strategies to keep traffic net-neutral by adding a Marin bus, more carpooling and remote parent drop-offs. We believe that based on Branson’s past practices, the school will manage any growth responsibly well into the future.

Ultimately, Measure F comes down to one question: do we want to secure Branson’s future in Ross?

We do.

That’s why Branson neighbors, community leaders and longtime residents like us are coming together by voting Yes on Measure F.

www.RossResidentsforBranson.com

JOHN MARTIN
Bolinas neighbor, 18 years

TED WILLIAMS
Glenwood neighbor, 23 years

MARGIE ELLIS
Fernhill and Solinas neighbor, 43 years

DOREEN MALIN
Fernhill neighbor, 29 years

ANDREW BIGGS
Fernhill neighbor, 5 years

 

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