Last month, the Valley Sun published my letter to the editor in which I questioned the La Cañada school board’s decisions about the $149-million bond. Since then, I’ve had people tell me they are confident the problems will be fixed once the city holds hearings and hears from the public.
There never will be any such hearings, because under California law cities have no jurisdiction over school districts. The city’s ordinances on setbacks, building height, signs and other rules designed to protect neighbors and the community are not applicable to school districts. Yes, the city was recently able to moderate the expansion plans of Flintridge Prep and Flintridge Sacred Heart, and prevent St. Francis from erecting an electronic sign, but only because those schools are private.
There also will be no hearings on the environmental impact of adding 12 new classrooms to the elementary schools, which will allow 360 more students to attend, but at the expense of adding more traffic to school neighborhoods. This is because California law exempts school districts from having to conduct environmental impact studies when adding fewer than 10 classrooms to a school’s existing campus (the board plans five new classroom at Palm Crest, four at Paradise Canyon and three at La Cañada Elementary).
The school board has no currently scheduled hearings to inform the public of its plans or to hear from the public. Construction is now on autopilot, with the board having already decided what and when to build, having already deposited $30 million in the bank from bond sales, and having already started paying consultants to prepare the construction plans.
The city will not be coming to our rescue.