Nothing positive about it

Nothing positive about it

By Frank Washburn, Castaic

Posted: September 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.
Updated: September 2, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Regarding “Castaic High faces high hurdles,” (Aug. 23): My family and I have been residents here in this valley since the 1960s. It has always been a valley of horse people and outdoor people. In the 1980s, it became a popular place for people to move to. With population growth, we needed more schools.

One problem: We built a lot of homes before the schools were built. When the schools were built, they were already too crowded. There is nothing we can do about that now, yet we still face the same problem of not enough schools – specifically, a Castaic high school.

In regards to a Castaic high school, those involved need to get their facts straight and tell the truth.

At a board meeting, the speckled toad was brought up about only living at the Hasley and Sloan Canyon location, and not  Romero Canyon. The wash starts at the proposed Romero location – yes or no? So if the frog is at one, it probably is at both locations. This was only speculation information being past on to the community from supporters of the Romero Canyon location. Fact or fiction?

The 23-year resident, Beth Henderson, states 99.9 percent of Castaic residents support the Romero location. How did she come up with these numbers? I can tell you that in talking with my neighbors and other people, they are not in favor of this decision.

The decision for Romero Canyon is strictly based on the developers that own the land adjacent from the proposed high school property, and not the best interest of the children who would be attending the school. One way in and one way out in a fire-zone area is a safety hazard. It’s a high-traffic area of new drivers, an area already known for landslides during adverse weather conditions and finally, there would be a negative impact on the wildlife and environment. This location is so rural for a high school there is nothing positive I can say about it.

In conclusion, both locations have specific issues. A more reasonable location: flat, accessible and safe land, off Highway 126. Bridges, roads, signals and open space are already there, along with the lower cost of building a Castaic high school.

In speaking with residents, it is concluded we will probably not see a high school in Castaic.

To view The-Signal article click here.

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


  1. kprezioso

    Yesterday, the HSD board reduced the school year to 175 days of instruction (from 180) to save $1.7 million.

    If the Hart School district is concerned about saving $1.7 million dollars, then why isn’t there concern about spending an extra $15 million or more to build on the Romero Canyon property?

    Castaic High School can be built on the Hasley Sloan site for $20 million. (And, Hasley Sloan is already owned by the Hart School district.)

    Building in Romero Canyon would start at $35 million, almost TWICE AS MUCH as developing on the Hasley Sloan site.

    $35 million is only the beginning; costs will soar when you factor in the extreme geological and environmental mitigations as well as the pending litigations.

    As costs escalate, it means less and less money available for other deserving HSD teachers and students.

    That extra $15 million or more in Measure SA money should be used to modernize other HSD facilities. Other schools will not receive their fair share to renovate buildings, update fire and seismic safety systems and upgrade computer and science labs if money is poured unnecessarily into building Castaic High School on an extreme site in a fire-prone canyon.

    It is not acceptable to deprive other students in our valley from being in a competitive learning environment so that Castaic High School can be built in the middle of a rural, equestrienne neighborhood.

    The wasting of taxpayer dollars is only one reason why Romero Canyon is not the site to build a school. An expanding timeline, grading violations on the site, fire safety, landslides, environmental ravages, infrastructure, traffic issues….the list goes on and on.

    You’re right, Frank. There is nothing positive about a Romero Canyon development…it’s all negative for everyone but the developer.

  2. CastaicClay

    I have been bringing up the 126 locations for years! “Deed restrictions” is a BS answer. When hasn’t an existing zoning been altered to suit a developer? The kids don’t matter, it’s all about the money.
    What ever happened to the land that was going to be used for a High School in Northlake? Why is that parcel off the table of potential sites?

  3. USA2010

    Extremely well said Frank. Bravo! Unfortunately, there is not a suitable site in Castaic for a High School. However, I was recently reading on the Hart District website and they are currently in negotiations for 70 acres off Highway 126 for a high school / junior high school site for the proposed Newhall Ranch development.
    Maybe the funds should be used to build that High School. Not such a bad scenario for the Castaic students.
    Build a larger school and call it “Castaic Newhall Ranch High”.
    Then there are more bond funds to renovate the existing schools and all the students are in a safe environment.

  4. Castaic

    Like you said Frank it is not about what is best for the Castaic students, it about having the taxpayers build miles of new roads, install miles of utilities, (sewer, water, gas, electric, drainage) so future development can take place in a VERY rural and remote part of Castaic. The current land owner knows that his property is worth very little, similar property is on the marker for about 1 million dollars. He also knows that he can sell the land to the Hart District for between $450,000.00 and $550,000.00 per acre once the school pad and improvement are done. I will do the math for you 50 X 500,000.00=$25 million dollars and we have NOT even built the school yet!!!! Please go to and click on the Castaic high school tab to see a great visual of where this school is really located. In addition why have both the other Castaic High School web sites disappeared? They have all been removed from the web….WHY I ASK? Maybe, because the web sites were incorrect and not depicting the truth and reality about the Romero High School Location. Who was paying for these “informational sites” and why are they all gone now, does anyone know?

  5. kprezioso

    Dear Mr. Messina,
    I represent a group of over 100 residents that live in Romero Canyon, Hasley Canyon and on Parker Road. As you can see, I am using my name and have always done so in any correspondence.

    As we have said before, we appreciate the efforts elected officials make. Your job is not an easy one. I do not know Mr. Washburn, but I appreciate his viewpoint. It seems as though residents throughout the Castaic area, wherever they live, recognize that building a school in a rural, equestrienne neighborhood is unwise.

    There are statements you made that are untrue in regards to the group I represent. We are not being dishonest and disingenuous in any of the information we present. You are calling us deceitful when we are simply utilizing the facts available on the HSD website…..facts that were ignored when choosing Romero Canyon over Hasley Sloan. We are not interested in “stirring things up”; we are interested in informing Castaic residents about the reality of building a school in Romero Canyon and protecting our neighborhood.

    We have been very careful to use facts to justify our position, and in fact, why wouldn’t we? The facts so strongly support our position that Romero Canyon is an extreme and radical site to build a school.

    The unbiased reports by the impartial consultants clearly demonstrate that Romero Canyon site is much more problematic than Hasley Sloan in almost every aspect. For example, just to study the geotechnical feasibility of the two sites, there was a vast difference in cost as well as time: (Hasley Sloan at $146,500 and three weeks subsurface exploration versus Romero at $232,850 and six weeks subsurface exploration*) which highlights the fact that Romero Canyon is the more extreme property. And, this is only one example in a long line that demonstrates the highly problematic nature of the Romero Canyon site.


    Even though Romero Canyon was marketed as the only site that would be ready for a 2013 inaugural class (which is inaccurate and deceitful), both sites were verified to have an 18 month timeframe. However, work at Romero was halted by LA County for illegal grading. The Romero Canyon site is already facing additional geotechnical studies due to the vast landslide complexes. There will also be court battles if the Hart School District board attempts to seize our land for a secondary access. Romero Canyon’s 18 month construction timeline is rapidly evaporating.

    There are other critical issues with Romero:

    Fire Safety:
    If student safety is truly of utmost concern, then placing 2600 students plus teachers and support staff into a fire-prone box canyon (3 fires in the past decade alone) is an unnecessary danger.

    In the event of a brush fire, parents will panic and try to reach their children. They will clog our roads (understandably) trying to reach their children at the same time emergency personnel will be attempting to do likewise….just as residents are trying to evacuate. This will needlessly endanger thousands of lives.

    Safety: Developer Concerns
    Two weeks ago, the project was stopped to due to illegal grading. LA County placed a hold on the project. If the developer is cutting corners so soon and with something as significant as grading the property, where else will they take short cuts?

    The developer’s own illegal actions are changing the schedule. And, since the Hart School Board is the applicant for the EIR, how can there be a grading permit for a site which is in the process of an Environmental Review?

    The residents on Romero have asked the developer not to drive his massive equipment up the narrow winding road we paid to have paved. The pavement cannot handle the weight of his machinery. They have actually run vehicles off the road (we have pictures.) With complete disregard to our safety and private property, he has ignored our wishes and continues to ruin our road.

    Safety: Landslide Hazards
    There are numerous and significant geotechnical issues on the Romero property. The plans for the site include a 380 foot cut slope. Castaic Dam is 425 feet tall, roughly the same height. Do Castaic High School parents want their children sitting at the base of a manmade slope that size?

    LA County officials state that they have never seen a slope of that magnitude be placed around a school. (There is also a 100 foot drop off on the other side of the property.) The extreme slope is only one of the many geotechnical issues outlined by the Fugro West, Inc. report.

    Fugro West, Inc. also reports that “the landslides on the Romero property are more extensive than previously interpreted.” Have they found the bottom of that landslide yet?

    Safety: Primary Access Road
    The grade for the proposed primary access road is over 10 – 15%. This is a radical slope. The northbound I-5 Grapevine has a downward grade of 6%. This means that the primary access into the high school would be significantly steeper than the famed Grapevine.

    The Department of State Architects (DSA) has already expressed concern that a primary access into a high school would be this severe.

    The Department of Education mandates that our children be able to walk or ride their bikes to school. How is this a “Safe Route to School?”

    The proposed secondary access is Romero Canyon, a narrow, winding road complete with S-curves and blind corners. This is an equestrienne neighborhood with trails winding across the rural road. The road requires alert driving for seasoned drivers, let alone teenaged drivers or harried parents racing to get their children to school on time. The fire department has expressed apprehension about how emergency personnel will maneuver their way in and how evacuation will take place.

    Does this mean that land from over 25 homes along Romero Canyon would attempt to be seized by the Hart School District Board to make it usable even though Sloan is already owned by the County and is designated as a limited secondary access?

    The ensuing lawsuits from Romero residents will drive the cost of the school up and expand the development timeline indefinitely. Why don’t we modernize other schools instead of spending taxpayer money frivolously?

    The Department of State Architects has already noted that “the fact that the Hasley-Sloan site had public access from two directions (primary and secondary access) is an important consideration and makes the Hasley-Sloan a superior site in terms of accessibility for DSA.” The DSA is calling Hasley-Sloan a superior site.

    (And we haven’t even covered the impact to the environment, which is severe.)

    Our Castaic community desires sound growth. Please do not categorize our group as one who “doesn’t want a high school anywhere.” We recognize the need for Castaic High School. We also recognize that the Romero site is unsafe and environmentally hazardous. So did the independent consultants hired by the Hart School District board hired.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    We respectfully ask that you revise your decision about attempting to build a high school in Romero Canyon.

  6. dparadise

    First I would like to agree with Joe Messina. When I write letters to the editor or respond to blogs I use my name. I want to be correct in the facts I cite, and welcome the opportunity be enlightened with new information.

    We are very interested in meeting with Joe Messina and all of the Hart Board Members. Historically there has been no organization to speak for the community and to manage our private roads. Prior to July few if any Romero Residences believed that that site would be selected as a viable site. Currently we are in the process of creating a formal Homeowner Association. After such time as we have selected a Board and President we welcome the opportunity to meet with the Hart Board Members.

  7. jmessina

    Hey, Mr. Castaic (and others) or whatever your name is. It’s easy to make these comments when you hide behind phony names. I have now heard IT ALL. You guys love to blame politicians and elected officials when you think we’re spewing lies BUT when it suits you, no problem right?
    Where are you getting your numbers from the accounting and building fairy?
    If you can build Castaic high school as YOU say for $20 million on Halsey Sloan have at it. Give us a proposal and we will vote on it. $20 million is great.
    If you’re using the $18 million given out during the July 14th meeting then you need to do more homework. That number is over $12 million off.
    Mr. Rasmussen (the Romero developer) has not been given a dime by the district for the property.
    No price has been set or will be set until the State of California decides what the property is worth
    based on a State approved independent appraiser.
    Why are the web sites down? Got me, I was able to get to your site, Mr. Lombardi’s site, and the Official school site.
    The site that was active from Mr. Rasmussen was taken down by him at the request of the Hart Board. The page put up by the Facilities Foundation is still there.
    So what sites are you talking about being down or missing? These are the kinds of inaccuracies that spread the poison that make it hard to work.
    We will get nowhere if you people, YES I SAID YOU PEOPLE, don’t get honest about what you put out there. You are being disingenuous with the information you are putting out.
    A few of you have asked me to attend a meeting with your “I am against Romero” or any other high school for that matter group. I gave Mr. Paradise my business card and in the usual fashion in these issues I was never called.
    So apparently the group is not interested in getting the real information.
    Just stirring it up.
    I want to thank you for making it harder and causing us to spend more money to get this school built.
    Let us know when you have solutions, REAL SOLUTIONS, and not just complaints.
    Your information is not factual and frankly, it’s just deceitful.
    I can be reached several ways… go to my website or come out and see me at any school board meeting
    I will be happy to answer any question open and honestly.
    Joe Messina

  8. ShredGnar

    WOW, you guys have lied soo much that you actually believe it now… kprezioso, you forgot to mention the alligators and lions that roam ramped across the school grounds. You also forgot to mention that part of the land is owned and funded by the Taliban, and there is currently a war taking place there. Get over yourselves people… we all paid for your stupid road and I would like to see more trucks!! Oh, and there is always a positive; we will have a new beautiful school and will probably lose a few annoying neighbors in the process YAY its a win-win!!!

  9. USA2010

    Shred, sounds like they are making you nervous…….

  10. ShredGnar

    Who’s “they”? ….. And why would I be nervous? I live in Saugus, I couldn’t care less what happens out in Casteezy. You’re the kind of person that thinks there winning when your really getting smashed on huh?

  11. Stevejesser

    Ms Prezioso

    I am directing these to you because you identify yourself as being the representative to more than 100 or so landowners that have great concerns with the Rasmussen Romero school site.

    Keep in mind that in reading Mr. Messinas comments, that Mr. Messina is essentially identifying that in yours or others comments that: a) the information is inaccurate, b) that he understands at least some of your concerns and invites you to address him, and c) his biggest comments that have the most merit to you and others is, if you have solutions, REAL SOLUTIONS, bring them forward. Why would Mr. Messina make that statement other than to invite sound solutions for the District to consider. Further, if Mr. Messina believed that the Hasley/Sloan property ALREADY HAD the very solutions he is inviting, this comparison would be a non-issue and he would have told you that Hasley/Sloan has the solutions. This means it does not. This means he does not have the confidence or verification necessary that Hasley/Sloan is the answer. Further, Ms Prezioso you have even written in the past that you believe the Rasmussen Romero site is an F quality site and Hasley/Sloan is a D. This means your solutions have a grade of a “D”. Do you now believe your Castaic community is deserving of a “D” rated school site? Mr. Messina is basically saying, Ok all, use real facts and I invite you to come up with a school site that would provide solutions to your concerns and solutions that the District can get behind.

    Thus far you have identified the concerns and have kept providing the Hasley/Sloan site as the solution. There has always been another school site that does have every solution that would solve all your concerns with the Rasmussen Romero site, but apparently you do not see that site as a solution. I am speaking of the Lombardi Upper Sloan school site and with that said, I would like to list your documented concerns, and I invite you to respond to each and every one of your concerns and then you can answer for me and the entire community, reasons why you believe the Lombardi site provides the solution or does not provide the solutions.

    Here are your documented concerns identified within this thread.

    Fire Safety:
    Developer Concerns:
    Landslide Hazards:
    380 foot cut slope
    You fail to mention liquefaction (This is a serious problem for both Hasley and Romero sites and the Lombardi website shows a great comparison of the three sites liquefaction zones)
    Secondary Access down Romero, the rural community
    Lawsuits and timing
    Walk and Bike to School
    DSA regarding dual access

    Compare these concerns of yours on the Rasmussen-Romero school site to the Lombardi school site. While someone mentioned that it is only a ridgeline away from the Rasmussen school site so they are one in the same. That is anything but the truth. While the distance might not be great, the comparisons of concerns and issues are light years apart.

    You will need to go to to make these comparisons.

    Fire Safety: Compare the Rasmussen-Romero to that of the Lombardi Upper Sloan school site. It is not located way up an enormous wilderness mountain. It is dramatically lower in elevations and will be flanked and buffered with residential development surounding it in the future. It will not have one evacuation roadway but three different directions on three different roadways to exit. This in itself will serve to reduce a significant impact as it relates to Fire Safety.
    In comparison, does this Lombardi site satisfy your concerns for fire safety solutions? Or is Hasley/Sloan the only option thought you list it only has two points of evacuation? Further keep in mind that the State, the County and the Department of Forestry/Fire Department will demand a design to be safe as possible along with any necessities of additional roadways.

    Developer Concerns: You should not be concerned with this issue with Mr. Rasmussen or anyone else. There will be provisions in place and there are rules and regulations to follow. Keep in mind that you are focusing your rebuttal solely on Rasmussen. The District is the one that is conducting the grading, borings, and studies. I am not trying to stick up and or defend for Mr. Rasmussen but the point is that when grading and boring equipment has been brought up and down the Canyon over the years, nobody complained before. If you want to go after Mr. Rasmussen with concerns, I am sure they exist, but this one is so minor that it is petty.

    380 foot cut slope: The Lombardi site does not have the element to deal with. Further if there is something problematic, Lombardi has so much land that his site provides development options. Development options are things like, shifting the exact design away if needed or desired. Both the Rasmussen and the H/S site don’t have those types of options and that is why they have problems.

    Landslide Hazards: Compare the Rasmussen Romero site to Lombardi Upper Sloan School site and there is no comparison in regards to landslides. Yes there are some landslides on the Lombardi site but relatively small and will be graded out during mass grading where there will be possible danger of future sliding. Further, even if there were a major concern, the Lombardi property is so vast in size that he will just shift the school site to another portion of the property.

    Walk and Bike to School: You are correct, nobody is going to walk or bike to that elevated site. If driving up or down a 15% grade is problematic, try biking.
    The Lombardi site is located so much lower in elevation that the grade is gently and makes easy walking and biking. It promotes it usage. Further Lombardi’s designs includes street lights for safety. Perhaps the community does;t want street lights but safty is the key and any school site needs to provide that pure and simple.
    In comparison, does this Lombardi site satisfy your concerns to walking and biking solutions?

    Lawsuits and timing: Both Rasmussen and Hasley/Sloan face lawsuits. Includes street lights for safety. Perhaps the community does not want street tights but Lombardi site is free from lawsuits because all right-a-ways are already offered for dedication.

    DSA regarding dual access: The Lombardi site has not one, not two but THREE Points of entry and evacuation, where if there was a fire, one would almost for certain be blocked, but there are still two other ways in and out even in losing one of the three.
    In comparison, does the Lombardi site satisfy your concerns to Lawsuits and Timing Issues?

    In closing Ms. Prezioso, I believe Mr. Messina has opened the door to you and your group of landowners to bring forward not jut problems and concerns you have with the Romero site but to bring forward solutions that have real merit beyond a school site that in your group mind is a D or D+. I believe that if your group looked at the Lombardi site with an open mind you would see that it is an excellent option with a lot of solutions for your concerns. Solutions that the district and the community could get behind.

  12. Stevejesser

    Let me correct this sentence.
    Lawsuits and timing: Both Rasmussen and Hasley/Sloan face lawsuits. The Lombardi site is free from lawsuits as all right aways are already offered for dedication.

  13. resident

    I would recommend proposing the Lombardi to the Hart District Board. We have other options for CHS!

  14. USA2010

    Vanessa, I was reading the article “Locals oppose school plans in Castaic” and you commented that Lombardi brought his marbles to the game too late.
    I also went to the, it states that “They have been around since mid 2007 when the District, Lombardi and the CDE reviewed and inspected the site thus providing it’s preliminary approvals to proceed.”
    “Such was orchestrated in early 2007 by Hart Board Member Gloria Mercado Fortine when she recognized an essential need for a backup plan when the Suncal Northlake issues surfaced.”
    There were also quotes from Hart Board Member Paul Strickland “I had no idea” and “it’s wonderful”, dated 11-18-09.
    Could you maybe give some insight as to why this site proposal was discarded and deemed as “marbles too late to the game”?
    Thanks for a response.

    Mr. Jesser, I am truly interested in your insight as to why the Lombardi site was not one of the chosen finalists?
    Upon reviewing, most important is the cut and fill (no landslide fill), the lower elevation and 2 points of entry, the 3rd, being added with future development (I assume).
    Why do you suppose this was removed from the table?

  15. Stevejesser

    USA2010: You have acknowledge some obvious good aspects of the Lombardi site. It is my belief that the whole packaage of unique well thought out benefits to the greater Castaic community is what makes the Lombardi site special. It is a safe site with reduced impacts on the area around it and provides convenience to both the community and the district whether the students come from the north or south.
    I would like to respond to your request as to why the Lombardi site was not one of the choosen finalist, but before I do, I would like to give Vanessa the opportunity to respond to your questions first. At which time I will give you my opinion.
    I would like to take this opportunity to let Vanessa know that who every is behind the SJR comments that it is not me.(Though SJR sounds like Steve Jess R). He writes much better than I do.
    USA2010 if you don’t want to wait for Vanessa to respond, Lombardi’s contact information and phone number is on his web site. You can ask him directly or e-mail him and ask him for my e-mail address and #.

  16. USA2010

    Mr. Jesser, it seems as though Vanessa is out of town or won’t touch this one with a ten foot pole. As much as I would like to contact you via e-mail, I believe the good citizens of Castaic deserve to hear what you have to say.
    Please, give us your opinion…….

  17. resident

    I think the Hart Board would decide if another site is a viable option. This is about the safety of our children attending high school in a canyon with high fire risk!

  18. VanessaBrookman

    WOW! I’m not sure how “Vanessa” even got on this thread….. I just happened upon it today! (and that was because I was bored and searching thru past articles online)
    Mr. Lombardi never in the 4 years I have been on the Council brought his property to our attention – OTHER THAN as a housing tract. He was going to build houses… just like Romero was planned for, just like Hasley/Sloan has been approved for since the HS was denied there a million years ago.
    The FIRST time I ever heard Mr. Lombardi talk about wanted his property to be in the “running” was at the PACKED Hart Board meeting, the one when the consultants first talked to us. (I’m sorry the date of that meeting slips my mind, but it was the early one held at the district offices) At the end of the meeting, he approached a few of us Council Members and we all told him the same thing, “if you think you have a viable property TALK TO THE DISTRICT.” Mr. Lombardi and Mr. Rasmussen were tied up in court for a very long time over something to do with their properties, it settled in some fashion and then they were both ready to move forward. I’m guessing Mr. Rasmussen was faster and louder.
    Just as Mr. Lombardi was late to the game, so were the bulk of the Romero Canyon Residents. The Council was not approached with any concerns about the Romero site until the night the Council took a vote, and then three residents came to our next Agenda Planning meeting. That following week the Hard Board had their meeting at Golden Valley, and then they turned out, but THAT was WAY too late in the game…. A couple impassioned pleas is not going to change the minds of a BOD that has listened to and hopefully studied all the information provided by the extremely high paid consultants. Most would have known how they were going to vote, before they ever walked in the room. That’s not a fault; it’s how it’s done. They had already done the research – to try and do it any other way would mean 12 hour meetings….
    If you, the residents, truly want to have a say in your community you need to always be involved, not wait until you hear about a “hot button issue”…. By the time you “hear” about it, it’s probably too late. Be involved; stay involved; year round year after year. If you want to know what’s going on, go to your Council meetings….. Its a couple hours a month, you will be “in the know” you will have facts not rumors, not fiction as I have seen in the other 2 threads currently floating around.

    BY THE WAY – For Future reference; if someone is going to toss me to the wolves or bring me up in conversations I know nothing about, it would really appreciate a heads up via email.
    USA saying I wouldn’t touch this with a 10′ pole or I must be out of town was VERY presumptuous and did not make me happy. How was I even supposed to know about this conversation???? Please don’t ever make assumptions about me; I have been very upfront on this as well as all other issues. OR will work.

  19. USA2010

    Vanessa, welcome back to
    Just like you said, it only takes a couple minutes a day to check on the threads, and you will be “in the know”.
    Relax, you should be honored that your opinion means something to people.
    And, thank you for responding.
    It is truly appreciated………

  20. Stevejesser

    Vanessa, are you sure that you are talking about the Lombardi site. I wish I had time to fully respond now. I have other commitments at this time and will respond later. I will say, I have made a 200 mile trip on 6 or 8 occassions to be at CATC and Hart meetings so I don’t hear things second hand. I am looking forward to responding to you. I’m beginning to see clearer now why a site like Lombardis’ which is so obviously superior to any of the other sites that have been considered, is not the choosen site at this stage of the pathetically flawed process, of choosing a school site. We have Hart board members and town council members that are willing to vote for or against a school site without even knowing what they are looking at or ever seeing the proposed sites.Who cares what is best for the Castaic community and their students.

  21. VanessaBrookman

    Since it is Mr. Lombardi that has personally spoken to me, yes, I’m sure

  22. Stevejesser

    To USA 2010: You ask why the Lombardi site is not one of the chosen finalists and reference that it was removed from the table. It was never removed from the table and even Gloria and other Hart Board members believe and know that it is still on option.
    Your question as to why not a finalist is a bit more interesting but before I answer you I must first address Vanessa and her response that Lombardi brought his site to the game to late and she never knew about the Lombardi site until after the board meeting on 11-18-2009. I do recall the date. I was there and heard most of the conversation between Vanessa, Lombardi and Steve Teemam. Remember this date of 11-18-2009 Vanessa, as I take you through a chronology of correspondences. Over the last couple of years I have been copied or cc’ed on many documents and I am looking at them now.

    1-17-2008 – The litigation between Lombardi and Rasmussen ended with Lombardi being the prevailing party.

    July 2008 – Lombardi executed an option agreement with Rasmussen to where Lombardi could provide the district multiple configurations of school site possibilities. Point being from this date forward, there were no issues with litigation on any of the Romero locations and Rasmussen agreed to stop promoting his development of a school site that included the ION property.

    10-1-2008 – Lombardi sends Jeff Preach (who was the chairperson on CATC for the Castaic School site) and all members of CATC including Vanessa a cover letter and 3 power point attachments showing the Romero school sites and another power point showing a back up school site which was Hasley/Sloan that included the Foundation property. Also with in those attachments you could see the Lombardi Hasley Canyon school site engineered by the Hart District in 1998.

    10-9-2008 – date approximate within a day or so. The Hart District growth committee met in two sessions with members of the CATC and showed them all of the sites under consideration, including the Lombardi Romero configurations.

    10-15-2008 – the night the Hart District presented all sites to the CATC, when the Sterling Gateway site was selected the District published Exhibit A along with a comparison chart of all sites under consideration. I was there Vanessa and I believe you were as well. I saw exhibit A and the Lombardi site on the big screen.

    Sept 2009 – A year later. This was the CATC meeting when Rasmussen and ION made their presentations. The meeting where it was discussed that a letter should be written to the Hart District saying the CATC was in favor of the Rasmussen site. This is when you Vanessa said wait a minute, I remember when we received power points on other sites in that area and this needs to be address as well. I was there Vanessa I heard you and I spoke to the council that night and said my family was in favor of the Romero school site options. Was this too late to enter the game Vanessa.

    Oct 2009 – Lombardi met with the CATC representatives, Kelly and Teeman regarding both OVOV at Hasley Canyon and the school site at Romero. Directions were made by them to Lombardi to provide power point information of the Lombardi Romero school site and they would have discussions with all the CATC members. Lombardi sent that information and Kelly responded back how impressive it was.

    11-15-2009 – email sent to Vanessa and all CATC members from Lombardi where he notified them he will be sending them a power point presentation that will clear up any confusion of the exact location of where the Lombardi Romero site is compared to the Rasmussen Romero site. He used illustrations all council members were familiar with because they had been sent before back in 2008.

    11-16-2009 – second email sent to Vanessa and all CATC members. It included above mentioned power point presentation and files.

    11-17-2009 – the Signal article by Tammy Marashlian titled “Castaic School has Fourth Option” where the Lombardi Romero site is publicly differentiated from the Rasmussen Romero site.

    11-18-2009 – that was the night of the Special Meeting of the Hart District. The meeting in which individual members of the CATC were suppose to have spoken and recommend that the Lombardi site be considered. This is also the night that Hart board member Strickland tried to get the District to postpone the vote because he had just seen the Lombardi power point presentation and was so impressed by it, he thought it should be looked at further and considered. This is also the night were Vanessa wants us to believe that the first time she heard of the Lombardi site was from Lombardi in the halls after this meeting was over.

    Now it is clearer to me how a school site selection process can be so flawed. Our elected officials, though they are only volunteers, are supposed to be more informed than the community they represent. The community that Vanessa says is uninvolved. Vanessa do you read your emails, do you read the signal, have you ever looked at the Lombardi power point presentation, or are you like Flo Lawrence who has admitted to me on more than one occasion he has never bothered to take the time to look at the Lombardi power point sent to him. I bet this is true with other council members as well. So here we now stand a community represent by the CATC being told by the Hart Board that the unsafe, poorly thought out Rasmussen Romero site is the best site they can spend our tax dollars on.

  23. VanessaBrookman

    Interesting…. yes, I remember, and have never denied seeing a box on a transparency pointing out 5 POTENTIAL locations, one of them being Lombardi’s – which was passed over and skimmed over very quickly by those making the presentation. I remember his emailing a nice PowerPoint presentation, but emailing it to US (The Council) is not the answer, that does not put you in the official running….
    Mr. Lombardi or Donald Trump can send the Council anything they want, it WAS NOT, NOT up to the Council to choose or even suggest a site. We were told in no uncertain terms via an article in this very paper that we (the Council) are of little concern to them (the Hart Board) as said by Jamie Castellanos. At that point, I suggested to the Council that we stop having ANYTHING to do with the process, Castellanos through us under the bus if we did or if we didn’t…..switching by 180 degrees within a year. I said then, and I say now, WHY BOTHER?
    If what Mr. Jesser says is true; “I was there and heard most of the conversation between Vanessa, Lombardi and Steve Teemam” (and it’s Teeman) then you would have heard both Steve and I very clearly say we don’t know why his property isn’t in the running, and to contact the Hart Board, I was VERY CLEAR on this issue. GO TO THE HART BOARD, NOT THE COUCIL….. NOT THE COUNCIL.
    This will be the VERY LAST comment I make on this thread or any other for that matter. I have grown very tired of the whole issue.
    TO ALL OF YOU, Be well, and do what you believe is right. It’s all anyone can ask.

  24. USA2010

    Thank You Mr. Jesser !
    I do believe this clears up a lot of questions for the good citizens of Castaic and The Hart District Board.

  25. Stevejesser

    Because we need people like you Vanessa that have spunk and care enough about the community to give your time and get involved in the issues of the town. The community of Castaic needs leadership. Leaders that don’t back away from issues and confront when they see inconsistencies in the process. I respect you for being one of those people.
    I agree with you that it is frustrating dealing with people like Castellanos who at one time say the CATC is not to get involved in the process and on another occasion on SCVT says the board can’t move forward without support of the community the CATC represents. Castellanos was a part of the staff of the Hart district not the Governing Board.
    The Governing Board of the Hart District has been consistent throughout the process saying they need the community and the town council behind any site chosen. On Oct 2, 2009 Steve Sturgeon sent a letter to the CATC asking for input and said that the process of selecting a site can’t move forward without the communities input.
    The CDE (California Department of Education) guidelines state that a district can not receive matching funds from the state without community input into the selection of a school site. You and the other CATC members have more influence with the
    District than you give yourselves credit for. The CDE gives you that influence because you represent the community and the CDE requires the District to have community support for matching fund. Don’t listen to Castellanos the superintendent that is no longer at the district.
    Vanessa, I do agree that you said something along the lines of “take it up with the School Board or Supervisor Antonovichs office and not the council”. I took it up with the board after the district engineers first reported back on the preliminary findings on May 5, 09. There where obvious problems with both sites at this time. Gloria Mercado came to both Steve Teeman and Lombardi in the hall after this meeting and said this was a good time to reintroduce the Lombardi site. She wanted Steve to hear that comment. I called Gloria and she said yes she did say that to both of them because there are potential big issues with the Hasley and Rasmussen sites. She also told me that the community and town council need to support the Lombardi site and promote it for it to get consideration. What did Teeman and the town council do? Shortly there after, at your May CATC meeting they voted 5-4 in favor of the Rasmussen site and sent a letter to the District stating so. There was some additional commits about possibly favoring other northern sites if the opportunity came available. What more of an opportunity did you need than Gloria’s comment to Teeman.
    At the CATC meeting on June 16, 2009 I spoke to the council, you were not present and shared what I was told by Gloria. Teeman confirmed to the council that Gloria made these comments.

    Where am I going with all this?

    I feel the same as you Vanessa, frustrated with the process. I don’t like comments I hear from council member like Flo who told the board, “let the best horse win” or that Lombardi is not going to get in the race with this approach. This is not a horse race to see who is the best promoter or who is most capable to use their political connection and influence to get their site selected. This should be about trying to get the site that is the best for the community of Castaic and its students. A site that provides the most safety, conveniences, and benefits, to the whole community, at the best price with the fewest number of negative impacts.
    For this to happen it is going to take leadership from people on the council that represents this community to work with the district and make sure that Castaic knows what the real choices are rather than allowing some back door politicking to force a school site on Castaic that really doesn’t serve it well. All Lombardi and I have ever asked for is to let the community know what their choices are. Air out the pros and cons of each site, and then make an informed educated and reasonable choice.
    Lombardi is not pushing his site just because he stands to benefit from it. He stands to benefit from Hasley/Sloan as well. His family owns 80 adjoining acres. He could also benefit form the roads brought to Rasmussen Romero site as he owns adjoining land there also. This for Lombardi is not about what benefits him but about what site brings the most benefits to Castaic and the community. That is why months after the Hard district came to him asking for help to create an alternative school site when Sun-Cal fell thru. He quit promoting the Rasmussen site he had under contract. He saw its problems and knew it wasn’t the best for the community and started putting together solutions that could bring a site that is well thought out and special. A site that brings real benefits to the whole area. Not just a plan that allows the district to start building and then asking our selves later what where they thinking when they built this school on top of a mountain with poor access and few benefits.
    I agree with you Vanessa that we should all do what we think is right. What I think is right is to not give up because I’m tired of the flawed process and back door politics that is so pervasive in the Hart district and this Foundation of theirs . What is right is to forget what has transpired in this thread and this process to this point, learn from our mistakes, become more informed, involved, and move forward with the people of this communities needs and help them know what their real school site options are.
    Vanessa as I said earlier I like your spunk and willingness to speak out and challenge the things you see that just don’t seem right or may not be in the town’s best interest. Don’t give up. Keep up the fight for what is right.

  26. Stevejesser

    As Lombardi and I have been saying for three years all we want is for the Castaic community to know what their school site options are. We have always felt that when one objectively looks at which site is best for the “whole” community Lombardi’s site would win hands down. There were no other sites available that could compete. We have also said we want Castaic to get the best site that is why now we would like to let people know about a potential site that may even be better than Lombardi’s. It is the 200 acres that is owned by the Catholic Church in Sloan Canyon. The old Woodcraft Rangers property. It is on the market for 5 million. If you would like to see it go to and click on “what’s new”.

    We recommend the Hart District should jump all over this property. It would be great for the “whole” community of Castaic.

  27. AlreadyInformedInCastaic

    One question Mr Jesser, and it is not meant to be confrontational, are you somehow tied to/with or on the payroll of Mr. Lombardi?

  28. Stevejesser

    No. We are not partners, and no, I am not an employee. The relationship is that Mr. Lombardi has my Aunts and Mothers property under contract for a term until another school site is acquired, then his contract expires. Mr. Lombardi also has rights to market other properties as well. Should the Rasmussen Romero site be selected, my Aunt and Mom will have an enhanced value by virtue of him bringing in all of the infrastructure.

    Perhaps the confusion comes in that I used the word “we” numerous times in the previous thread. The “we” came from a decision “we” made together, in that Lombardi brought to my attention about the availability of the Catholic Church site and saw the need to promote it’s availability to the community and praise it’s worthiness, but did not want to do it without agreement and consent, and it was agreed.

    Perhaps this might be of interest to you as well. Earlier today Mr. Lombardi sent Gloria Mercado-Fortine the following email that reads as follows.

    Hi Gloria FYI – recent event

    While I do not know the latest status of the Castaic High School site I thought you should know the Catholic Church property in Sloan Canyon is on the market. If you recall dating back to when we started efforts, I always believed there was only one location in all of Castaic that could be superior to the school site I am promoting, and that being the Catholic Church property, but nobody, including myself ever thought it would be available.

    I continue to be impressed with this location and because of that I even identified it’s availability on my website [ ], under the tab of “What’s New”.

    In my opinion, this is an exceptional location worthy of serious consideration.


  29. Angleo Dicerbo

    Your headline “nothing positive about it @ romero canyon…” describes your message.

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  31. Robert

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