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Aug 18

Locals oppose school plans in Castaic

Locals oppose school plans in Castaic

Residents who live near the proposed high school site say several hazards make choice ‘ridiculous’

By Tammy Marashlian
Signal Assistant City Editor

Posted: August 18, 2010 8:56 p.m.

Updated: August 19, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Citing concerns with landslides and student safety, a group of 50  Romero Canyon residents said Wednesday they strongly oppose the Hart district’s plan to build a high school in their neighborhood.

“We live here, and we know what this property is like,” said Dean Paradise, a 20-year resident of Romero Canyon. “We know it would be ridiculous to put a high school site there.”

The residents have brought up concerns including the potential for severe landslides and the environmental impacts of building a school in an equestrian and rural community, Romero Canyon resident Kimberly Prezioso said in an e-mail sent to the Hart district and leaders of the Castaic community.

Another issue involves the fire hazard, as residents object to a school in Romero Canyon when the community dealt with brush fires in August 2001, October 2003 and October 2007, Prezioso said.

The Romero Canyon property owners are in the process of hiring a lawyer to protect their rights, Prezioso said.

The William S. Hart Union High School District responded with a statement saying much about the high school’s construction is still up in the air.

The district is still negotiating with property owner Larry Rasmussen over a purchase price and timeline, and consultants are looking into environmental impacts, the statement said, calling any speculation before the plans are finished “premature.”

Initial studies on the Romero Canyon site have not found any “fatal flaws,” or issues that would greatly delay the school’s projected opening of 2013 or create a financial burden. The district is in the process of completing an environmental impact report.

“The district is now doing its due diligence to determine the feasibility of building a high school on the chosen Romero Canyon site,” the Hart district statement read.

Soil and geological studies on the Romero Canyon property were shut down last week because Rasmussen didn’t have the proper permits to work on the site, said Dennis Hunter, assistant deputy director at Los Angeles County’s Land Development division.

“I think they jumped the gun and didn’t get the grading permits,” he said.

While Hunter called the work “minor,” he said the property owner will have a permit to proceed in the next couple of days.

The Hart district in July selected the Romero Canyon property as the preferred site for a high school in Castaic following months of studies from consultants.

The Castaic community has spent the last decade waiting on the Hart district to build a high school to serve its students.

In 2008, the local community passed Measure SA, the Hart district’s $300 million construction bond, which would pay to build Castaic high school.

High school students living in Castaic now attend Valencia and West Ranch high schools, which have dealt with issues of student overcrowding.

Romero Canyon residents like Prezioso and Paradise would rather have the high school be built at the Hasley/Sloan site, the other property the Hart district was considering for a high school.

That site would be an advantage because the SCV Facilities Foundation owns it, and it would cost $20 million less to build a high school at Hasley/Sloan, Paradise said.

In addition, opponents say the Romero Canyon property will not be ready by 2013 because of its significant grading and geotechnical issues.

“This is literally a money pit,” Prezioso’s e-mail said.

To view The-Signal article click here.

As Smokey the Bear says,
“Only You…can prevent forest fires!”

13 comments

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  1. admin

    This whole idea of a high school in Castaic needs to be canned. It seems no one is happy after we have heard about this figment of folks imignations after all these years. The money and time we have wasted could be better used elsewhere. If all the residents do is complain and carry on let their children continue attending Valencia and West Ranch. Enough is enough!

  2. admin

    Isn’t Rasmussen the guy everyone was praising as “he knows how to build schools and he’ll do it right”? Wonder if he got the proper permits for those schools?

  3. admin

    gotta laugh @ “Arnold Palmer” but the “Las Valles” property previously owned by “Palmer” is a property I brought to the schools attention a LONG time ago (prior to the bankruptcy) There are NO obvious flaws to this site as dennisjj22 has stated (Im guessing he is employed by Lombardi, which is fine) there would be no bridges needed, the roads are nearly perfect, much grading has already been done… I love the site, but it isnt available.
    But I have and will continue to say LONG TERM PLANNING makes the north end of Castaic the best location for the HS. Newhall Land will have a HS just south of the 126 in phase 3 of its monster build (“late twenty-teens”)and to have 2 High Schools half a mile apart as the crow flys seems silly.
    They are moving forward and doing what needs to be done at Romero, it will all be fine in the end. Lombardi brought his marbles to the game too late and is mad that he didnt win; there will be other games….

  4. admin

    Why not build the Castaic HS across the street from the Postal Annex on Franklin Pkwy. The land is graded and ready to go.
    The proximity to the Newhall Ranch (if it ever gets built) would allow for those students to attend there too.
    I know people will say it is not zoned for a school but zoning variances are granted all the time to housing developers so why can’t that happen for something that would be a benefit the community?

  5. admin

    To Resident: It is understandable to not be in favor of the Rasmussen Romero site for some of the vary reasons identified in that RomeroCanyon.com site you reference. The real problem is that the Hasley/Sloan is not a solution to the needs of all (District and community), but would be just replacing one problem with another. Re-read this article again and think about it . If this author ( Ms. Prezioso) has her way, the Romero residences would endorse Hasley/Sloan, a site that if selected will mount a big battle from the Sloan Residences and ever consistent position from the Castaic Area Town Council dating back for almost a decade. This site is better than the Rasmussen site but that is not saying much as it is replacing an “F” with a “D-” grade. Futher , when you include the facts of the area wide endorsements, Hasley/Sloan has zero and upper Romero vicinity has all of the endorsements. Chamber of Commerce, Castaic Town Council, Val Verde Community and the West Ranch Town Council to name a few. The endorsements are 4-0 for a school site not located in this southern portion where school traffic will become a magnet from all sectors of the community. The answer to all of the problems is not the Rasmussen site nor the Hasley Sloan site but the Lombardie UpperSloan site. Go to castaichs.com ,take some time, read and if this site is not the solution for all, then nothing is.

  6. admin

    To dennisjj22: I am aware of the Lombardi site. The feeling of most residents off of Hasley Canyon, is no school up here at all. Good Point though!

  7. admin

    Feasibility to build Castaic High School is one thing… SAFETY FOR OUR CHILDREN… IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT!!! Does the school district recall the resent traffic deaths on Hasley Canyon involving a Hart student or the 19 year old Valencia High graduate who was killed in 2004? A windy canyon road is NOT the place for a High School…then you add in FIRES, LANDSLIDES, and FLOODS. The vacant land across from the postal annex, on Franklin Parkway, sound better every day that the HART board spends $750,000.00 drilling deeper into the Romero site to investigate it. Thanks CastaicClay!

    HART DISTRICT…DON’T TELL THE COMMUNITY YOU CAN’T FIND A SAFE, PRACTICAL LOCATION FOR THE HIGH SCHOOL!

    What about the Arnold Palmer/Del Valle site it has a straight 4 lane road, Del Valle Road could also extend into the site too. In addition it could be accessed through the adjacent neighborhoods so southern Castaic students could WALK to the school!! DOES ANYONE THINK GREEN ANYMORE!
    Yes, Castaic NEEDS a high school but use your heads and find a site that benefits the Castaic community. It is not just about time lines and sticking the school anywhere. The Hart School District has the responsibility to spend our measure $300,000,000.00 SA bond WISELY and build a school that is SAFE for generations to come. DON’T JUST BLOW ALL OUR TAXPAYERS MONEY ON ONE HIGH SCHOOL…THE BOND FUNDS CAN BE USED TO MODERNIZE OUR CURRENT SCHOOLS TOO.

  8. admin

    I am a local canyon resident who is also opposed to this site. Please see the Romero Canyon Website: http://www.romerocanyon.com.
    Click on the Castaic High School tab to find out more…

  9. admin

    To Castaic:
    Bravo. Well said. Romero Canyon would be an “extreme” site for a high school. You are correct that there are other site choices that would be fiscally more responsible. We can have a safer school at lower cost and have more taxpayer dollars left to modernize other school facilities.

    There are many other significant problems facing a radical Romero Canyon development: environmental concerns, infrastructure requirements and flooding. There are also costly and timely easement and public accessibility issues. It was said at the July 14, 2010 HSD board meeting that “anything can be mitigated.” Sure, but mitigations generally require time and money. There goes the timeline, and there goes our Measure SA money.

    Timeline seemed to be the major factor for the board in choosing Romero, and now the site is shut down because of illegal grading. If the developer is cutting corners three weeks in, where else will they be casual about safety?

    In the “Castaic Conclusions of Preliminary Studies” document it states: “The proposed grading plan for a high school will include a 380′ cut slope on the NW portion of the site. Slope stability will need to be mitigated to prevent slope failure. It is possible that the slope mitigation could extend offsite onto adjacent property if extensive buttressing is required. Re-activation of landsliding during grading operations could be an issue and is an unknown factor at this time.”

    http://www.hartdistrict.org/files/docs/Castaic_Conclusions_of_Preliminary_Studies_071410.pdf (page 5.)

    Do parents really want their children sitting at the base of a 380 foot slope? (380 feet is roughly the size of Castaic Dam.) What about post-construction settling? What about our next impending earthquake? This is only one of many geology issues that need to be “mitigated.”

    Also, most people don’t realize that the grade for the proposed primary access road is greater than 10%. This is an extreme slope. The northbound I-5 Grapevine has a downward grade of 6%. The primary access into the high school is significantly steeper than the famed Grapevine. (I hope the buses from visiting schools have their brakes in tip-top shape. Will we need a “runaway ramp” in place?) This is an intense incline for any road, let alone one that inexperienced teenaged drivers will be traveling on.

    It is unconscionable to place our students in this hazardous situation. Our canyons have already had traffic fatalities. The Department of State Architects (DSA) has already expressed concern that a primary access into a high school would be this severe.

    So much for our children walking or riding their bikes to this school site.

  10. admin

    Posted: August 20, 2010 1:13 p.m.

    Its not just Hasely Residents who do not want a school on Romero.

    Our own town council member: Renee Sabol stated in August of 2008 regarding the Monticello proposed school with a maximum of 110…
    “Councilwoman Renee Sabol was concerned that the school could not possibly be prepared for a fire like the Ranch Fire of 2007 that scorched through Hasley Canyon and forced the evacuation of the entire area and the closure of Hasley Canyon Road.
    “If there’s a fire, all those parents are going to make a beeline for their kids, and they’re not going to be able to get in,” Sabol said.”
    http://www.the-signal.com/archives/3571/

    Hmmm…

    We have other options for CHS!

  11. admin

    To DennisJJ22:
    I agree with you wholeheartedly that Romero is an “F” and Hasley-Sloan is a “D-“. Well, maybe a “D.” However, the Hasley/Sloan site is superior if one looks objectively at the 11 criteria the state uses to choose a school site. The independent consultants that were hired at great cost said so. The Department of State Architects when looking at public access said so. I believe that putting a school anywhere in a rural, canyon neighborhood is morally wrong. Public safety must be the primary consideration.

    And, the Castaic Area Town Council endorsement is questionable, since it was purposely scheduled when one member was out-of-town. Had he been in town, the resolution would not have passed.

    I would urge everyone to read John Zaring’s compelling article (“The Castaic Conundrum”, May 15, 2010), in its entirety, about the endorsements: http://www.the-signal.com/section/33/article/28687/ .

    Paragraphs 19 – 21 are quite interesting.

    The bottom line? A high school in Romero Canyon does not have the support of the surrounding community for valid reasons. Cost, environment, public acceptance, availability, size and shape, existing utilities, topography, soils,road access, public services and location…in every category the Hasley/Sloan site is superior. We can have a safer school at lower cost and have more funds left to modernize other school facilities.

    Romero Canyon is an extreme site for Castaic High School.

  12. admin

    People are not thinking correctly here! Where is the message and rebuttals coming from and where is the message going?
    You have Romero folks opposed to light up their rural roadway with extreme traffic. The Districts response to this is going to be another group saying “not in my back yard”.You have the Sloan folks opposed to the same, except their roadway is on the LA County Master plan to be a limited secondary highway. Again, to the District this is just another NIMBY>
    With that said the District will discount and ignor both sides as neither having merit. If one identifes a problem, and it is of personal agenda, and without a solution, they are wasting their time in writing and complaining.

    It gets down to serving the community and it gets down to safety. Again, one site is an “F” and the other a “D-“. If you are familiar with the Lombardie site then you know it is the safest and least problematic. You say the folks in Hasley are opposed to a site located in upper Romero! Where is there solution? What are there remedies with sound facts? There are none! The golf course project (even if it were available, which it is not) is not a solution. In essence it is the same as Hasley/Sloan, almost adjacent. The other writer talks about near the post office annex! Another dead horse. Even if there is land there, which I do not think there is, it is fatal with deed restrictions.

    People need to stop complaining with problems and providing solutions or remedies that have no merit. It is non-productive. Provide solutions with merit and the District will listen. Complain with the lack of remedies with merit and it is a waste of time to all. The community needs to come together and by not doing so it provides the District with clear sailing to ignor a community that is fighting amongst itself. You have proved my case in point in that you agree that the Hasley folks will not agree to a northern location, and you also know they will not support Hasley/Sloan. All problems – no solutions. I see a solution but everyone keeps ignoring it. For every significant impact and problem you can list with both sites being considered,they are all a non-significant impact with the Lombardi site. If you or anyone could have found another site that could do that, then identify it.

  13. Shaun Phillps

    Cool site, I hadn’t come across romerocanyon.com before in my searches!
    Carry on the fantastic work!

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