Sale of school site doesn't sit well with some

Sparks continue to fly between residents and the Huntington Beach City School District over the future of the LeBard Park and school site near Brookhurst Street and Indianapolis Avenue.

LeBard Park includes several baseball diamonds, parkland and a parking lot adjacent to what was formerly LeBard Elementary School at 20451 Craimer Lane. The building is now being used as school district headquarters, and administrators describe it as dilapidated and in need of replacement.

At issue are 15 acres owned by three parties. Part of the land, 10 acres, is owned by the school district. The city owns the adjoining 3-acre neighborhood park. Next to that is 2 acres of Southern California Edison land. Edison is cooperating with the district to repurpose its parcel.

The district has been holding meetings to discuss the proposals and the progression of the project, which could include 30 new homes.

The proposed plan is to transfer 5 acres of school district property to the city at no cost and sell 5 acres to a developer. That would increase parkland from 3 to 8 acres. With the Edison property, the parcel would total 10 acres.

Along with some improvements made to the city park and Edison property — including six permanent baseball fields and parking — the district wants to use funds from the sale of the land to pay for a new headquarters at another location as well as other facility improvements.

"We're trying to get ourselves into a facility that meets the needs of our employees," said Asstistant Supt. Jon Archibald.

According to Archibald, the district's administrative building is in such bad shape that it would require $3 million to $5 million from the general fund to refurbish.

Opponents are angry that even though half of the 10 acres of school property would be used for parkland, the remainder would be sold for development of 30 single-family homes.

"I would rather see half of the proposed houses being built where the old school is located," Huntington Beach resident Alan Walls said.

A residential development would require Huntington Beach City Council approval.

Many residents of the neighborhood, commonly called Suburbia Park, have spoken out against the deal, saying the district is wasting money on development plans instead of renovating an existing building. They are also concerned about added traffic from the proposed homes.

According to Archibald, as well as a website dedicated to the issue,, up to Jan. 31 the district has spent $495,850 from its general fund on development plans, and future expenses are expected to include $172,783 for the environmental impact report.

Ed Kerins has lived in the area for 44 years, 16 of them as a Huntington Beach planning commissioner.

"The school board does an excellent job with education, but they lack fiscal competence," he said. "They're making a usable park unusable."

Archibald said the district has gone through hundreds of iterations.

"There's not going to be a plan that meets the needs of everyone," he said. "We know there's going to be a few people who don't agree with the plan."

Archibald pointed out the move would make 5 acres forever parkland, adding that as district property it could be sold at any time. As city parkland, the property could only have its use altered by a vote of the people.

The district is looking at a school campus for a possible new headquarter's site but would prefer to lease an office building within its boundaries.

Archibald said the district hopes to be able to make the move before conditions force them out.

"There is some temporary roofing up there, but there's no way to patch it anymore," he said. "We'll need a new roof or we're going to have a leak problem."

—Anthony Clark Carpio contributed to this story.

Twitter: @alicialopezHB

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World