Bentley School: Shady parking thieves or victim of NIMBYism?

Ah, the Bentley School. It’s this really expensive private school that has an elementary and middle school on the Oakland/Berkeley border kind of near the Claremont Hotel and a high school in Lafayette. I think I worked at catering job for an event at their Lafayette campus like six years ago. They had some kind of lamb with pomegranate thing. And pistachio ice cream for dessert. Beyond that, I don’t really know anything about them.

Except that that issues relating to their non-expansion seem to pop up on Planning Commission agendas an awful lot. And whenever they do, the item always takes a really long time. But there are an awful lot of issues that go on in the City, and I actually follow a couple of times as many of them as I ever get a chance to write about, but time is precious and there are some that I just can’t bring myself to pay attention to.

The ones I tend to ignore mostly tend to have these insanely long backstories and then every time there’s a discussion, everyone is like, really emotional about it, and my reaction is usually something along the lines of “Okay, this seems like a good time to leave and go get a drink.” Bingo is one of those things (though I believe that issue has finally been settled?). That tying up your dog outside a store controversy from a few years ago was another. And so is the Bentley School.

But then Sunday afternoon, I was watching last Wednesday’s Planning Commission (PDF) so I could write for you guys about these requirements they want to make (PDF) for anyone to tear down an old building. And once that item was over, I figured it wouldn’t do any harm to let the movie keep playing and hear about this Bentley School thing while I reorganized my bookshelves. And to my total shock, it turned out to actually be pretty fascinating.

So like I said, I have not been following this at all for the (apparently) like 5 years it’s been in front of the Planning Commission. And as fascinating as I found the discussion, I don’t care about it enough to spend weeks trying to get up to speed. So here’s a brief summary of the situation as I understand it.

Bentley School Background

Back in 1969, the Bentley School got a conditional use permit that allowed them to operate their K-9 school at this location with 200 students, but only operate between 7 AM at 3 PM and not have any events on the evenings and weekends. This school was clearly controversial even back then, cause the permit got appealed to the City Council. (The appeal lost.)

This is where the school is:

Bentley School overhead

So between 1969 and now, the school built a number of new classrooms and expanded some classrooms and other facilities, and in the process, the number of students somehow managed to creep from the permitted 200 to 352 and the school started doing all these after-school activities and holding events at night and on weekends. And somehow nobody noticed that this was totally not allowed. Oops!

Until 2004. Then in 2004, after the Bentley School suddenly discovered that they were totally out of compliance, they came back to the City to ask for a new permit that would let them have 360 students, after school programs, after school child care, summer school, and events at night and on the weekend. The neighbors didn’t like that very much.

I’ll skip over all those debates, and just fast forward to the conclusion, which is that many hearings later, on October 21st, 2009, Bentley School finally got their permit. It came with a long list of conditions.

Bentley School does not like their conditions

One of those conditions was that they cap the number of staff they had on that campus at the current level and not add any more. Another condition was that they move those members of their administrative staff whose work was not specific to this campus off campus, like, for example, to their Lafayette school.

So now, the Bentley School has decided that they can’t move these administrators off campus after all. Why? Because they need them for traffic monitoring during pick-up and drop-off periods for the school. The administrators, you see, all have extensive training in traffic management (as opposed to the teachers, who are trained only in teaching and apparently do not have room in their heads for learning how to make sure children don’t bolt into traffic).

And that’s just day to day safety. What if there’s a fire? Or an earthquake? Well, the school got themselves an emergency preparedness consultant to help their emergency planning, and he too has determined that having these administrators on campus is absolutely essential to the safety of the children in an emergency. “There is no question that the effectiveness of the school’s ability to respond to an emergency would be reduced if there were fewer administrators and support staff on campus.”

Now, as I’m sure you can imagine, the neighbors do not like this idea at all. From a letter sent by Neighbors for Safety in Hiller Highlands to the City regarding the Bentley School’s proposal to change their conditions:

As you know, all of these issues were emotionally charged and hotly contested over five years and an EIR. Major concessions were requested with the subject conditions finally agreed upon. These conditions, as set forth as part of the CUP, were specifically agreed to by Bentley. These conditions were the product of careful negotiation, consideration, and mediation. They were not to be used as a strategy for obtaining the CUP and then attempting to negotiate around the agreed upon conditions. It appears that such a tactic is being attempted at this time. Such conduct must not be condoned.

Good point.

Now, like I said before, I have not followed this issue at all, and I don’t spend a whole lot of time in Hiller Highlands, so I don’t really know all the background details, and I don’t have particularly strong feelings either way. As far as I can tell, this controversy, like pretty much every other debate in Oakland, is all about traffic and parking. Regular readers probably know that I tend not to be terribly sympathetic when people whine about parking. But the comment in favor of Bentley School was so over the top, it bordered on ridiculous. “Our beloved administrators!” Seriously, who talks like that?

Obviously, nobody wants to make light of traffic and earthquake safety. But a deal’s a deal, and if these beloved administrators were just so damn essential to keeping the students safe, it seems like maybe someone from the Bentley School would have said something about how it would be a problem, before they agreed to move them. So by the end of public comment, my conclusion was that the Bentley School is hella shady, and this earthquake scare excuse seems cooked up.

Planning Commission response

The Commission did not seem to be buying it much more than I did. Commissioner Sandra Galvez was like “So, back when you were actually planning on moving all this staff, what were you going to do about earthquakes and traffic monitoring then?” She basically did not get an answer. Commissioner Doug Boxer was a little more direct, like, are you seriously here telling me that if I don’t agree to change the conditions you agreed to six months ago that took five years to arrive at, and then some kid gets hit by a car, it’s my fault? Two other Commissioners were no kinder, and basically both said they thought, like me, that the Bentley School is full of shit. They used nicer words, of course. And everyone wanted to know, if this safety thing was so important, why is it only coming up now?

So, then I was talking to a friend about it, and they were totally on the school’s side. They said that the traffic problems in the neighborhood aren’t the school’s fault, Bentley School is one of the best schools in Oakland, that schools in general should be allowed to expand if they want or need to, because education is important, and that this thing the City dictating how many and what kind of employees a business is allowed to have is just as shady, if not more so, than Bentley School’s new earthquake excuse. And of course, that there’s no reason to think that just because an application was stuck in planning hell for five years, it’s the project sponsor’s fault.

All reasonable points. I also think the idea of the City saying how much and what type of staff the school is allowed is a suspicious thing to do. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem like the school did much in the way of giving the City any choice in the matter. I mean, “Oh, we’re sorry our school is nearly twice the size you said it could be. We need a new permit with all these things that weren’t allowed before just to continue our operations. If you deny it, you will rob all these children of a quality education. Why do you hate America?” puts the City in a really bad position. What are they supposed to do, tell the school they have to close? It seems to me, the school made a mess by not following the rules in the first place, so if the City has to make some demands that would be kind of extreme under normal circumstances in order to clean it up, well, that’s Bentley School’s fault.

I pointed out to my friend that I felt more justified in my suspicion of the school based on the fact that Planning Commissioners who tend to be pretty friendly to project applicants came pretty damn close to just calling the school huge liars. (Response from one of the school people “I agree, it doesn’t sound plausible, but…”) My friend’s response? “Well, they’re Democrats. They probably don’t like private schools.” That seemed a little paranoid to me.

So, what to do about it? On the one hand, this whole discussion is about only 6 employees, one of whom actually lives at the school. So I have a hard time seeing how five extra employees coming to the school every day is going to make any significant difference on the traffic at a school where 360 kids are getting dropped off and picked up every day. And obviously, nobody wants the kids to die in an earthquake because there aren’t enough beloved administrators to lead them to safety.

On the other hand, Bentley School said they would do this. They didn’t object to this aspect of their conditions when they agreed. It took a ridiculously long time to reach that agreement. If we’re going to just run around and changing permit conditions a few months after they’re approved, why should anyone concerned about any project in the future feel like they are negotiating in good faith when trying to come up with something mutually tolerable? How are people supposed to have any confidence that conditions will be complied with?

In the end, the Commission decided to delay the issue of whether the administrators should be moved until the school had completed their traffic plan, since the real issue is the number of trips generated more so than the number of people physically at the school. So for now they get to keep working there, but won’t be allowed to park at the school or on Hiller Drive.

I’m curious what readers think of the situation. Thoughts?

37 thoughts on “Bentley School: Shady parking thieves or victim of NIMBYism?

  1. Ralph

    I am always intrigued by the going-ons of any school named Bentley. While it seems odd that the School would now say the administrators are needed after saying that they weren’t, I will defer to the school. I am equally disturbed by any school that says we will only operate between 7 and 3. It just doesn’t seem plausible. What it sounds like is a record of saying what is needed to get a permit to operate.

    I have an equally hard time with the Commission telling me how many employees I need to operate and why the neighbors think 5 cars is a bad thing.

    I would hope that the school has a long range plan to show how they intend to grow and meet the needs of the students over the next 25 – 50 years while at the same time addressing the concerns of the neighbors. They could probably catch more flies with honey.

    The only Democrats who don’t love private schools are Democrats whose child(ren) can not get accepted to a private school.

  2. policywank

    This is what wealthy, privileged organizations do. They agree to whatever restrictions they need to do as much of what they want as they can. Later, they take every possible opportunity to use their position to pressure for more concessions. Whether it is the bank bailouts, tax incentives to bring new businesses to a town, or fighting off populist anger. They compromise now with the implicit agenda that they’re not going to stick to their end of the deal. It’s just the way of the world.

  3. VivekB

    policywank, that’s not just the way wealthy privileged organizations do it – it’s the way everyone behaves in today’s society. Make a deal, and then immediately start working on how to weasel out of what you don’t like, and sneak in the stuff you couldn’t get.

    Government works this way, tiny organizations work this way, individuals work this way. If we really want examples we can go there, but I think we all know someone else who’s done this. (certainly not ourselves, we’d never agree to something and then try to ‘improve’ it).

    Won’t someone please think of the children :-)

  4. Justin

    I know more than I ever wanted to know about this place. Here are my thoughts:

    1) Bentley only wanted to legalize their increased enrollment when they needed to physically expand. They knew they were over their permitted number for some time, but really had no problem with it. They should have come forward when they went over their limit to ask if they could increase it. The fact that they didn’t do this eliminated their credibility as a good faith negotiator even before this latest last-minute switcheroo.

    2) The City, of course, did not enforce the conditions and hemmed and hawed when Bentley got caught. This brings the city’s credibility into question, and you cant blame the neighbors for their skepticism. So the city sets conditions–what difference does that make?

    3) I’ve been to pick up and drop off times at Bentley–they’re no big deal and last about 20-30 minutes, at most. I believe the neighbors are completely off-the-mark with their traffic and parking concerns here. They actually want the entire school planned so that there will be NO impeding traffic if there is an earthquake or fire DURING DROP-OFF TIME. I am sorry, but we cannot plan our cities this way (just look at minimum parking requirements that require enough spaces for the week before Christmas). The bigger question is whether people should even live in hills neighborhoods with only one or two ways out, or whether their free decision to make risky lifestyle choices gives them de facto land use control over everything downhill from them.

    So, it’s a pox on both (or “throth”) your houses type of situation here. I’d say let them operate as agreed, with the extra 6 employees, contingent on a TDM plan that reduce employee commute trips by 20%. The city must also have the courage to add some serious penalties for violating the conditions (not “come back and renegotiate the conditions,” which is business as usual at the city). For me, on a grander note, it would be great if there were a unit set up in Bldg Services that just rotated all year ’round checking out and enforcing conditions of approval.

    Schools are important and schools are great. Kaiser Elementary is a block farther up the hill, BTW, so not all of the school traffic is Bentley’s

  5. dto510

    Thanks for the informed perspective, Justin. I attended Kaiser School and it’s unfair to blame Hiller Highlands’ traffic problems on Bentley. The biggest problem in this area is the terrible pedestrian access along Tunnel Rd, which makes it unsafe for children to walk to school. Hopefully CalTrans’ meager settlement with Oakland for expanding the Caldecott Tunnel will be used to improve pedestrian access from the surrounding neighborhoods to these two high-performing schools.

  6. Born in Oakland

    Just a bit of history. The Bentley School has been in operation since the 1920;s, It has changed ownership a few times in the 90 years it has been in existance. It operated out of the old Hiller Mansion for a number of years (Hiller Highlands was part of the Hiller property). Bentley was severely damaged during the Oakland Hills Firestorm and the school and children relocated while rebuilding took place. The Bentley School has a long history of successfully educating children and is not a johnny-come-lately charter school. The school has been located on Tunnel Road longer than most of its neighbors.

  7. V Smoothe Post author

    It’s true. Bentley School is not some “johnny-come-lately charter school.” Charter schools are free. Bentley School charges $20,000 a year for kindergarten.

  8. livegreen

    An important part of the issue seems to be the size of the school and it’s location: IF it’s the only access out for a significant number of people during a fire or earthquake this could lead to major problems for residents, the school and emergency vehicles.

    20-30 minutes dropping off or picking up (again, IF accurate) sounds like a real problem during an emergency.

    The school had to have known about this when they agreed to the original conditions and then violated them. Therefore if they want the City to accept their violations they should: –Come up with a plan to relieve congestion during both pick-up & drop-off times AND especially during an emergency; –Pay all costs to implement that plan; –Pay a fine either way for their violations.

    If they don’t like it they can adhere to the prior agreement they made. End of story.

  9. Ken Lupoff


    My wife and I visited both Bentley and Kaiser during our search for a kindergarten class for our son, and parking in the neighborhood was always plentiful, no matter the time of day.

    Bentley also offers substantial financial aid to numerous families whose children attend the school. In fact, most East Bay independent schools offer financial aid that can equal up to 45-50 % of total tuition costs.


  10. peter

    Shady shady shady! All of the people involved in the debate need to pull it together… they are all insanely rich. The only difference is that Bentley profiteers off of the racism/classism of its neighbors, and the neighbors use bentley’s proximity to partially justify their ridiculous housing prices. Deny it all and let them move out of Oakland, or let them behave the way they’d expect their children to and think/plan ahead and in good faith. Lastly, the simplest solution: Athenian, another school for those who do not want their children to associate with the community, has a bus that goes around to transit hubs and picks the kids up and brings them to the school. Picks up the teachers, too!

  11. Ken Lupoff


    Are you a parent who lives below 580 near a school with sub-standard test scores?

    I am. And I have to tell the choice to opt out of the public school system was not an easy one. It ran against all of my political beliefs to do so. My wife and I tried playing by OUSD rules and filed an ‘out of neighborhood school transter’ form. OUSD gives you 6 choices to fill out on that form. We filled it out and were denied all 6 schools.

    I can also tell you that the independent school class my son will be in next year is more ethnically diverse than the classes at our neighborhood school.

    Despite our modest income, we were made to feel welcome at many different independent schools. Quite a difference from our experience at one Oakland public school, where the parents conducting the school tour told us not to bother applying for admission, and the principal refused to come out of her office to greet us and the other parents who were there for an official tour.

    Don’t insult Oakland parents who have to make tough choices about schools.


  12. peter

    No insult, boss! In fact, I don’t see how anyone could take that as an insult! Yes, I am an ousd parent (and parent of an ousd alumni, and alum myself), and I live in the lower bottoms… I’ve been very pleased with my kids’ schools (and I did OK more or less). My eldest has struggled with the weather & distance in Amherst, MA, but my son seems love the weather in his first year at Columbia. I’m a little concerned about the curricula those places (a little too hippie, too little reality), but my youngest is doing very well at McClymonds, so YES, I have been through it all. I definitely visited a ton of schools for my youngest (we were very concerned about his early development), and I know what you mean… a few hills schools looked at me very askance on tours (I think my blue collar/black skin appearance didn’t help), and one even asked me my zip code! But screw that, if they don’t want us, I sent my kids to my local schools and did great because I made sure they did, and made sure the schools did their part as well (yes I had some battles there, but in the end we’re all on the same team). Lastly, 50% tuition cost off would not have been enough to help me get my kid in there!

  13. peter

    Excuse me, I guess it could be an insult if you send your child to bentley and I certainly don’t mean to offend an individual. My experience with bentley: my god-niece went there as a little one (she’s in her 30s now) and her teacher used the phrase “that may be good enough in the black community but it is not up to bentley standards”. She’s a doctor now, so the last laugh is hers (her daughter will attend hoover in the fall). And not to call you out personally (feel free not to respond) but if it was against all your political beliefs to send your kid to a private school, why’d you do it?

  14. Ralph

    Against one’s political beliefs? A difficult decision….puhlease.

    A parent has a few responsibilities – feed the child, dress the child, shelter the child, keep the daughter out of clear heels and off the pole and send the child to the school that is best for the child…if that is a public school fine, if that is a private school fine, and once in school you fight tooth and nail to make sure that child gets the education they deserve, and you remind the child regularly they have but one responsibility do well in school…i really don’t see where politics enters into the equation

    peter that you have two CA born and reared children attending college in the NE is a shock to me. Almost every student I have worked with or met has stated I am not going east, too cold. Only one went to RISD.

  15. peter

    It was a shock to me and my bank account as well! Then again, with me as a father, I can certainly understand wanting to get away form daddy! My daughter has always been an intellectual and as such felt that that’s just where she “fit” best, farther from the “fast life” out here and farther form her domineering dad (yes, it is the clear heels I was most worried about!). She currently says she’ll be back. My son has since “come out” and I think he really needed the distance from his old “crew” to do so (they have not been very accepting yet, and I admit to some serious soul searching as well so he was probably right). He visited NY on a trip east to see his sister & a cousin and fell in love with the big apple, which as a 17 year old I can understand. But most all their friends did stay out here, I honestly can’t imagine leaving and couldn’t at 17 either.
    As far as politics, that may not be the word (it was his), but my feeling is that this is the community that raised me and this is the community that will care for me in the near future when I am retired & then dependent once again. My oldest really contributed a lot to their clases and were leaders, and my youngest had had some great mentors and role models at school, and I think we’re all in this together. I think on some level that is political: community first. But maybe not, and that is also I guess beyond your definition of parenting, so who knows. And honestly, it seems like every damn decision I made as a parent was hard in some way!! (or at least hard to figure out how to pay for!!)
    THanks guys for the interesting discussion, I don’t usually look at all this stuff but my son sent me a bunch of links to blogs on oakland, and since my hours have been cut….

  16. Ralph

    I love that your children went away to school. I encourage the students I see to look outside of California as it really gives them a great chance to grow and find themselves away from both the comfort of home and the pressure of friends to be a certain way.

    I am pretty much with you it takes a village to rear a child. I am disturbed when hear stories of adults telling school administrators that you will not put my child in detention. Administrator is just trying to make the child a better person – actions have consequences.

  17. Livegreen

    Ken, The OUSD school our kid goes to is good and no parents would have treated u that way. The principal often doesn’t join parent tours because she’s too busy. But she does schedule appointments, she does go to the open houses and she does go to the OUSD trade show (I forget what it’s called).

    I’m sorry this happened to u. I’ve only heard of a couple OUSD schools with private school attitudes towards out of district families. It’s regretful that it happened to you but it probably shouldn’t b generalized about all OUSD schools or even all hills schools. That said I’ve heard about these attitudes at some schools (namely, Hillcrest and Redwood Heights).

  18. Ralph

    LG, exactly what are private school attitudes? Private school parents, teachers and administrators are pretty much like public school parents, teachers and administrators with one exception. Teachers are normally paid less. They all want what is best for the student. Acceptance may not have been easy in the early days of integration but that cut across public and private and was probably dictated by individual attitudes.

  19. livegreen

    Ralph, It’s nothing to do with the teachers. But SOME of the Private Schools look down on OUSD and SOME of them talk about how great they are vs. risking OUSD (in a good neighborhood, with a good school). I’ve heard it. The point is, they shouldn’t trash talk and try to scare parents about the risks. It’s not their job to perpetuate stereotype for their own profits & benefits.

    Also, IF Bentley is giving scholarships for 1/2 of $20k (as reported above by a Bentley parent), that will help an upper middle class family, but it’s not going to help a poor family with a smart students. That’s BUILT to keep low-income people out.

    Finally, I don’t know if Bentley is a non-profit like Head Royce, but I’ve heard from somebody who used to work at Head Royce that SOME of the parents who are paying full tuition expect a) for their kids to get good grades because they pay so much in tuition; b) for their kids to get better grades than students there on major scholarships.

    Now if that’s not elitism I don’t know what is. Now of course that is not all the private schools & not all the parents. But this attitude IS felt and perpetuated by SOME private school administrators and families. And that is what I mean.

  20. Ken Lupoff

    I should have probably never written anything on this topic to begin with, but I feel that some response is needed at this point.

    A. I’m not rich.

    B. I never wrote where my son will or will not be attending kindergarten next yr.

    C. Peter, I’m sorry that your god-niece was treated so poorly. The comment you quoted is a particularly terrible thing for a child to have to hear from a teacher. I hope that a complaint was lodged against the teacher who made that offense comment.

    D. I know a lot of good families, teachers and staff at OUSD schools.

    E. But (and this is a point on policy, which is what this site is supposed to be about) our local school OUSD school is on PI (program improvement) status, and under No Child Left Behind OUSD is supposed to make a good faith effort to honor parental requests not to have their children attend a PI school. We filled out the form OUSD gave us, turned it in well before the due date, and were denied enrollment in any of the 6 schools we listed on the OUSD form. I do not believe that a good faith effort was made by OUSD in our case. (I have a lot more to write on this particular policy issue but will save it for another time.)

    My original annoyance was due to Peter’s post inferring that only rich people attend independent schools. That’s not a correct statement. St. Paul’s by Lake Merritt, which is as equally wonderful and expensive as Bentley, has a very large middle and blue class presence in it’s student body.


    PS: All private schools are nonprofit entities, not just Head-Royce.

  21. livegreen

    Ken, I understand what you’re saying. My statement was not about all families or private schools. It is about some.

    My sympathies for your situation. Some of the parents I know who made it into out-of-district schools had to appeal or fight. One of them was told by OUSD that if you appeal you have a better chance of getting in as the field narrows. Of course that doesn’t help you now…& it’s true the bureaucracy at OUSD can be difficult.

    PS. Whether or not some schools are listed as non-profits, some are operated as money making businesses. I know two decent (not great) private schools on the east coast that have been bought & sold as money making businesses.

    & this does not change the attitude of SOME private schools. Just like SOME OUSD schools are no good, it does not make all of them bad (as is regularly mentioned in the press & by some wealthy Oakland families).

  22. Ralph

    LG, What 2 “private schools” were bought and sold like stocks on the exchange?

    I am not inclined to believe that SOME private schools look down on OUSD. I am inclined to believe that SOME individuals may speak ill of OUSD just like some car salesmen may speak ill of a competitor. It is up to the buyer to decide if this school/car is right for them.

    It should be noted that not all private schools are created equal. During the last 30 odd years a number of pseudo private schools started popping up in response to issues with public and probably the traditional private school. A quick review of the credentials should tell you all you need to know. Just because someone labels something a private school don’t think you are getting a Bentley, Hill School, Choate, Lawrenceville Academy, or Trinity Pawling School.

    A little known fact, there is an array of programs, with the scholarship being just a part of the package, to assist parents afford private school tuition. A $20K/year tuition does not make the school unaffordable either to an OUSD teacher or someone earning less. In many cases scholarships are reserved for the low income. Assuming one is responsible for the $10K balance, the decision becomes do you buy a new car every 3 years or do you spend it on your child’s education. Any responsible parent will drive that car into the ground.

    Public school parents also demand that there children be given better grades. I think that is just a symptom of this competitive environment that parents expect their children to be rewarded regardless of merit.

    I am not surprised by the experience of Peter’s god-niece. The first wave endured a lot of crap from teachers and students. We were the Little Rock 9 of a different era.

  23. David

    Heh. Always find it amusing when people are shocked that their kids leave California. You mean, once they find out that they can live twice as well for half as much money in 95% of the rest of America? And equally well in, say, NYC, which no matter how much you love Cali, you have to admit has more cultural amenities, lower crime, etc etc.

    I find it amazing that people still live in Cali. Unless they’re already rich, trust fund hippies, or unfortunately like me, stuck in an industry that’s really only located here. I only wonder when I’m going to sell the house and move near my boy who’s now convinced himself he wants to live somewhere with snow that you don’t have to drive to. Of course he’s just turning 5, so we’ll see.

  24. Chris Kidd

    Although there is a higher rate of out-migration than in-migration among young people in California, those that in-migrate tend to have a higher educational attainment and higher income threshold than their age group in the state they came from and those out-migrating from California overall have a lower educational attainment and lower income threshold than their age group in California. It just goes to show that California is still attracting the best and brightest, if not for cost of living, then at least for quality of living.

    The demographer Dowell Myers has done some fascinating research on demographic change in California. I highly recommend his work.

  25. David

    Ah, yes, the constant rejoinder that only the dumb people leave california. Kind of like how drinking kills brain cells, but only the weak ones.

    I’d like to see the actual data. What I’ve seen is that native-born, middle class families of California tend to leave, and are replaced by a barbell of low-skill illegals (the heavier end of the barbell) and high-skill legal immigrants. The typical arc is: move here for college or a job or grad school. Work for 5-10 years. Get married. Try to move up/strike it rich/raise a family. Some do so and stay. Many do not and leave. Rinse and repeat.

    In 2007, 681,000 people left California, net. That’s quite a few–2% of the population.

  26. Chris Kidd

    Public Policy Institute of California
    “Can California Import Enough College Graduates to Meet Workforce Needs?”
    By Hans P. Johnson and Deborah Reed
    Volume 8 Number 4 • May 2007

    pages 4-9

    Also, about a quarter of the net loss are Latino, many of whom are recent, poor immigrants who moved to other states with lower cost of living shortly after arriving in California. This is an accelerated trend over the last decade as Latino communities and support networks have been able to establish themselves in other states. This is part of the reason why interior states like Iowa are starting to freak out about immigration. The amount of migration they’re seeing is a no big deal for a state like California, but Great Plains states that are 80+% white have a bit of a hard time getting used to it.

  27. Chris Kidd

    When considering demographic change, conventional wisdom is always about 20 years behind reality. The nature of conventional wisdom comes from the impacts of demographic change that have already filtered themselves down into the public consciousness. Therefore, what people think they know about demographic trends from simple observation is already behind the times. For example, people (especially in Southern California) complain about illegal immigration from Mexico, but the reality is that the amount of illegal immigration into California is actually going down.

  28. David

    A quarter of the net loss is Latino. Well, about 30+% of the population is Latino in California, so they’re just leaving in the same proportion as the rest of the people.

  29. Gordon Piper

    The day following the latest Planning Commission hearing there were only 2 Bentley staff people working as traffic monitors. So much for the necessity of having all of the administrators on the Oakland campus or for the alleged strong commitment to safety of students. There has been an ongoing failure to comply with the required 9 traffic monitors, and a complete failure to employ the 3 traffic enforcement staff members. Actions or inaction by Bentley administrators speak louder than their words.

  30. linda harris

    I appreciate all of the debate about public/private school choices, the high cost of private schools and equal access to good education for our children. I’m a grandparent and these questions are certainly on the minds of my own children who are now parents. However, the issue in the Bentley debate before the Planning Commission is not about the quality of a Bentley education or the expense of a private education. It is strictly a Planning and Zoning issue and should be resolved based on Planning codes and good planning policies. In the Bentley case, the Planning Department took five years to review the Bentley Project. The conducted expert observations of traffic, safety and intensity of use at the small campus located at the bottleneck of Hiller Drive and Tunnel Road. Finally, in October, 2009, based on all of this research, the Planning Commission determined that if Bentley accepted a set of significant conditions to address signficant concerns about traffic, safety and intensity of use at its small campus, their application for an increased enrollment to 360 students and many more hours of operations, would be approved. Bentley accepted the new permit and all of the conditions without appeal. Likewise, neighbors who sought a compromise, did not appeal the CUP decision. Bentley has continued to operate with the benefits of the increased enrollment without yet complying with many of the conditions of the CUP.

    It is unfortunate that just a few months after accepting them, Bentley now does not like some of the conditions of approval and wants to rewrite them. The conditions of approval were carefully considered by Planning Staff and Planning Commission and other stake holders and there is no new information since accepting the CUP and its conditions, to justify amending the conditions. If the Planning Commission does not uphold its well reasoned determination that granting a permit for a significant expansion must be offset with remedies for traffic and intensity of use, then what is the point of spending our limited City Staff resources and many hours of collaborative work with stake holders, to create a compromise agreement that would benefit both the school and the community? A deal is a deal.

  31. len raphael

    Hating on private schools is misplaced. Bentley, Head Royce, College Prep, and St Paul’s all give free rides to smart poor kids of color, and only enough to middle class kids of any color so that the parent’s can afford tuition if they rent in the flats and vacation in East Bay Regional Parks.

    Both my kids went to private schools for elementary and claremont/tech afterwards. Was the education at OUSD inferior? Equal or better for English and History, vastly inferior for science and math. Nothing I’ve heard from recent parents has changed that impression.

    Many parents in Temescal are justifiably frantic that they can’t get their kids into Peralta or a Hills elementary school. I go by Emerson twice a day. The kids in the Emerson school yard are very sweet and well behaved but the odds are stacked against most of them. Making a parent choose between racial/economic diversity and a school where your kids peers have the expectations and exposure to college educated parents is no contest unless you have no choice or lots of time and no money.

    peter, your kids are smart and raised with high expectations. nonetheless, if they hadn’t also been african american would they have gotten into the same status college (note, i didn’t say quality) if they had been white or asian, same grades, same test scores and a graduate of say Bentley?

    but my point is that your kids’ success doesn’t prove that most kids can get a good education thru OUSD.

    len raphael

  32. Scott Law

    The conversation has drifted far away from the original point, The Hiller Highlands
    “community” of 50 (maybe) people have had years of upset about issues that are trivial compared to necessity of having best possible schools in our city, regardless of funding source. Who cares if Bentley has 200/300/400 kids ? the more, the better, there is no more important factor to the health of a community than the quality of its schools..

    And, no, having parents drop their kids off for half hour/hour five days a week does not “endanger” exits of folks in case of a disaster. Give me a break

  33. Mary Hollis


    Perfectly expressed. This is clearly a high-preformance school which helps relieve the strain on the OUSD and answers a clear demand.

    If a school is a success and doesn’t need public funds then it should be encoraged.

    And since the dispute seems to simply be between two small groups of rich people in small and exclusive location, and doesn’t really affect anyone else, I fail to understand why the government is paying so much attention to it.

    Is there really nothing more important going on in Oakland (e.g. crime, the deficit) that warrants more attention? Why micro-manage this?

    Let the school expand – at least it’s something in Oakland that prospers amnd works. And I don’t get why it is anyone else’s business whether they have after-school programs or not.

    I suspect envy is a factor here.

  34. Rob Blind

    “And since the dispute seems to simply be between two small groups of rich people in small and exclusive location, and doesn’t really affect anyone else, I fail to understand why the government is paying so much attention to it.”

    Money and connections are everything. Politics has little to do with what’s right, and far too much to do with who holds the $$$. (Dig a bit to see who is behind this, and the connections go all the way up the food chain to the new mayor’s office.)

    Mao said it best: “True power comes from the barrel of a gun.”

    We’ve traded our guns for $$$.