Study: Castaic high school site safe

Study: Castaic high school site safe

Development: The proposed Romero Canyon’s landslide concerns can be worked through

Tammy Marshlian
Posted: November 11, 2010 9:23 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2010 4:55 a.m.

Progress toward building a much-needed Castaic high school moved forward this week when a group of studies found that Romero Canyon is a suitable site for the school.

Opponents of the site cited the potential for landslides on the property owned by local developer Larry Rasmussen, but the studies found that the Romero Canyon site is similar to others in Southern California and any problems could be worked through.

The findings came after the William S. Hart Union High School District board in August paid Geolabs-Westlake Village $260,000 to handle a geotechnical study of the vacant Castaic land.

Another company, RMA Group Inc., was hired by the board to check the findings and make sure the initial study was handled properly.

The 23,000-student Hart district has spent the last decade trying to build a high school to serve the Castaic community, which is located north of Santa Clarita along Interstate 5.

High school students currently living in Castaic have been shuffled between Valencia and West Ranch high schools, which Castaic families say tears their community apart.

In an effort to get the high school built, local voters in 2008 passed Measure SA, a $300 million construction bond with money earmarked for the school and plans to open the school by the 2013-14 school year.

Wednesday’s findings didn’t stop a handful of Castaic residents from speaking in opposition to the high school plans for the Romero Canyon site.

Castaic resident Dean Paradise said the “engineering gymnastics” needed to make Romero Canyon a suitable site for a high school would make way for a costly project.

“Is this in the best interest of Castaic and our students?” he asked board members.

To view The-Signal article click here.

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


  1. CoastalSage

    Glad to hear the “school site” is geologically safe. But how about its surroundings? Could they cause damage to the school building or hurt the students?

    Golden Valley High School’s property lines were cleverly designed by the Hart District staff to exclude a branch of the San Gabriel Fault, which is an active fault capable of producing a 6.7+ earthquake. That fault is underneath Golden Valley Road as it runs east-west in Golden Valley Parkway. Today, building a school that close to an active fault has been made illegal.

    In its gamesmanship to avoid a veto of the school site by the California Department of Education, two senior Hart District employees hid a geologic fault map showing a north-south branch of that fault running right into the school site. Thanks to the clever work of a Hart District secretary, that map ended up in the hands of the Dept. of Education, and the school buildings had to be moved to a safer spot.

    As a result, the bottom line is that geological reports on school sites are no better than the independent experts who check them. If there is no independent technical review of the reports, including field studies, by a geologist and geotechnical engineer not paid by the property owner or the school district, the reports are essentially useless because “money talks”. In the case of Golden Valley High School, the public was lucky that the City’s geologist was able to second guess what the Hart District’s geologist was telling the California Department of Education, because the City was the developer of both the school site and Golden Valley Road. There will be no such independent check for Romero Canyon.

    In addition, the Cal. Dept. of Education generally does not hire an independent geologist or geotechnical engineer to review and field test the reports provided by school districts and property sellers.

    And as to the two companies upon whom the Hart District relies, if they are mistaken about the safety of the Romero Canyon school site, there is always California Code of Civil Procedure Section 411.35 which effectively prevents people injured by “mistakes” by geotechnical engineers from suing for their losses. In addition, most engineering firms carry only $1 Million in liability insurance, essentially providing no recovery for students and faculty injured in a mass casualty. And if the “experts” upon which the Hart District chooses to rely are geologists, few carry liability insurance at anything but nominal amounts.

    The bottom line is that geotechnical engineers and geologists know that they are essentially immune if their “errors”, whether direct or through casting a blind eye, cause injuries and deaths.

  2. CastaicLife

    Wrong, the title of this article is misleading.
    The point of last nights meeting was that the man that was digging the holes (core samples) was finished and thought the site was workable if you had enough money.

    The results of the geological study (report) are still pending. And then the report needs oversight reviews by impartial engineers.

    Also noted in the meeting was that the landsides were many hundreds of feet deep. And that extensive grading will be needed.

    Then comment was made that now due to the extensive grading and unstable earth special building construction should be considered.

    So due the expensive unstable earth we now have pay for expensive building construction.
    Nothing money can’t fix.

  3. ManetteMetcalf

    Is it progress to hear what the general public has known all along? The geology issues can be mitigated for a price.
    Typically, architectural engineering needs to be increased when there are geology issues, but that can be mitigated- for a price.
    Construction specifications and materials should be more stringent, but that can be mitigated- for a price.
    The remoteness of the property should require additional fire department requirements, but that, too, can be mitigated- for a price.
    Primary access will require paving and widening approximately 4,000 feet of road on Sloan Canyon, and CONSTRUCTING 4,500 feet of road along Mandoline Canyon Road, Harp Canyon, and Romero Canyon Road (at the north end). Mitigation-for a price.
    Ecological concerns include plans to fill approximately 2 acres of blue line stream which is also an important wildlife corridor. Mitigation-for a price.

    Safety of students and staff – mitigation- for a price?

  4. HillcrestRich

    After following articles & blogs for the past several months, I decided to take a look at the proposed Romero site for myself. It took me an hour to hike up the hill to the back of the property (since I didn’t have a 4×4). I wonder if the school board or any supporters of this site have seen or walked the property? It seems fairly extreme to me.

    I’m wondering what they’re going to do with the excess dirt dirt after removing the ridge lines? Is this dirt what will be used to build the 200-800 foot deep building pad?

    I don’t see how the kids will be able to walk to school. I guess the parents will have to continue driving them to school daily.

    We’ve all seen where politicians make decisions that are supposedly in our best interest and turn out to be a back room deal. If Castaic gets stuck with a sub standard site, the school will be sub standard and of course it will be too late to do anything about it. We need to remember the actions taken by all public officials on our behalf & vote out any incumbent that violates our trust or fiduciary responsibility.

  5. Liberty

    Keep posting stuff like this i really like it