Assemblyman Richard Polanco (D-Los Angeles) has joined critics who oppose the Los Angeles Unified School District's plan to buy a 24-acre site in Temple-Beaudry to build a high school.
Polanco said he opposes the construction of a 2,800-student high school at the site, bounded by 1st, Toluca and Colton streets and Beaudry Avenue, two blocks from Belmont High School and next to an adult school and a planned middle school.
If the high school is built, he said, "there will be over 10,000 teen-agers within a six-block area. That's not good planning."
In addition, Polanco and many community activists oppose a school on the hilly lot overlooking Downtown because it was previously a proposed site for Central City West, a housing and commercial development.
"This is a housing site, and I support the community's desire to see housing here to replace the houses that were demolished to prepare for the Central City West development," said the 45th District assemblyman.
After the collapse of the local real estate market, the principal developer in the Central City West plan offered to sell the land to the school district, reportedly for $30 million.
The school board's interest in the Temple-Beaudry site follows its abandonment of a plan to build a Mid-Wilshire high school on the Ambassador Hotel site, which the district had proposed buying from developer Donald Trump and his associates.
A jilted Trump has vowed to sue the district, saying its eminent domain action stopped him from developing the site for four years.
Polanco said he is angry at the prospect of losing money in a court battle and ending up without a Mid-Wilshire school.
"Thousands of students are bused out of Mid-Wilshire every day," Polanco said. "We should finish what we started at the Ambassador site. We worked hard to obtain money for that site. It's a complete waste of taxpayers' dollars to pay damages to the Ambassador owners and receive nothing in return for the school kids of Los Angeles."
Representatives from several community groups, including Grupo Latino Echo Park, Concerned Property Owners of Temple-Beaudry and the L.A. Crusaders, said a new high school belongs in Mid-Wilshire, not Temple-Beaudry.
"All along we've fought for housing at this site," said Laurrie Garner, president of the property owners group. "We don't want to be stuck in between two schools. The school district should think again. This is not the site for a school."
Luisa Padilla-Mavropoulos, executive secretary of Grupo Latino Echo Park, urged other elected officials to "wake up and see what the needs of the community are. We've been ripped off enough."
The district, which needs state approval to buy the Temple-Beaudry site, is considering a plan proposed by board member Vickie Castro to set aside a portion of the lot for housing. But most of the community groups involved in the issue have come out against that mixed-use plan.