Supervisors to Reconsider Decision on Site for School

Times Staff Writer

The county’s decision not to sell land to the Santa Ana Unified School District for an elementary school was ordered back on the Board of Supervisors’ agenda after a closed session Tuesday at which the board discussed the district’s threat to file a lawsuit over the matter.

The decision is to be reconsidered Oct. 11, just hours before a Santa Ana Board of Education public hearing at which the district is to decide whether to proceed with court action to force the county to sell the six acres of vacant land.

Robert L. Richardson, president of the school board, said Tuesday that the district will proceed with plans for the public hearing until it is clear what the supervisors will do.

“At this point, we need to cover all bases,” Richardson said, “but I am confident this matter will be resolved.”


The proposed sale of the parcel, near Grand and McFadden avenues in Santa Ana, was rejected Sept. 13 by the supervisors on a 3-2 vote. The decision came after Supervisor Gaddi H. Vasquez raised questions about whether the county should sell surplus property while a controversy continues on where it should build additional jail space.

The land the school district wants to buy once was considered by the county as a possible jail site.

Joining Vasquez in voting against the sale were Supervisors Thomas F. Riley and Don R. Roth. Roth and Riley said then that the county should sell no land until voters decide, probably in 1990, on an initiative that would require all future jails to be built in Santa Ana.

The board’s rejection of the land sale immediately drew criticism from Santa Ana residents and city officials, as well as school board officials, who had negotiated with the county over the land for more than two years and who had agreed to a $3.2-million sale price.


Outrage was widely expressed over a decision that effectively blocked a school in a poor, mostly Latino neighborhood where school overcrowding is so bad that temporary classrooms for 400 students have been set up in trailers.

Supervisor Roger R. Stanton, whose district covers Santa Ana and who, along with Board of Supervisors Chairman Harriett M. Wieder, voted for the sale last week, suggested Tuesday that the Board of Supervisors would approve the sale at the Oct. 11 meeting.

“I have never been one to predict board votes,” Stanton said, “but I have a comfortable feeling inside that all will be well for the Santa Ana school district, that they will get their land.”

The sale needs the approval of four of the five supervisors rather than a simple majority because it involves property that has not been put up for competitive bidding. Vasquez, Roth and Riley have indicated that they would not be averse to reconsidering their votes.


Vasquez, who had come under particularly heavy criticism because he led the opposition to the land sale, said Tuesday that his questions about the matter have been answered.

“Concerns I had . . . have been relieved by virtue of discussions with the CAO (County Administrative Officer Larry Parrish) and the county counsel,” Vasquez said.

Parrish and Vasquez said that, as a result of the controversy over the Sept. 13 vote, from now on all matters that even remotely relate to jail sites will be presented to the supervisors through Parrish’s office.

“We have had pretty good co-ordination in the past,” Parrish said. “This is more of an effort to say to ourselves internally to double our efforts to make sure all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed.”


Parrish referred to the jail site as a “highly political” issue and one that is “viewed through a fish bowl.”

It was at Stanton’s direction Tuesday, after the 20-minute closed session during a regular board meeting, that the sale proposal item was ordered back on the agenda next month. The action pleased a contingent of parents and teachers of Santa Ana schoolchildren who were waiting with school district officials in the board meeting room for the session to end. It drew cautious approval from Latino community activists who were also at the meeting.

Meeting With Vasquez Set

One of them, Zeke Hernandez, president of the Santa Ana chapter of the League of Latin American Citizens and a candidate for the Santa Ana City Council, said several Latino community leaders from throughout the county had scheduled a Friday meeting with Vasquez to discuss, among other things, his vote on the land sale proposal.


The meeting, which was confirmed by Vasquez, was proposed to him last week by Amin David, president of Los Amigos of Orange County, a Latino businessmen’s group based in Anaheim.

Hernandez said he also wants to discuss with Vasquez why there are no Latinos on Vasquez’s office staff and what Hernandez said is a greater need for Vasquez to “be out amongst his people.”

Vasquez acknowledged that there are no Latinos on his eight-person supervisorial staff, but he discounted Hernandez’s criticism.

“What greater advantage could you have than having the supervisor be a Latino?” he said, noting that he is the first Latino to sit on the Board of Supervisors.


To counter Hernandez’s suggestion that he needs to circulate more among Latinos, Vasquez showed a reporter several plaques and other awards he received this year and last from Latino community groups, including two last year from the League of Latin American Citizens.