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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

School District’s New Hearing Date for Proposed High School Campus Plans Is Delayed for Another Month

• District Jockeys for Best Options on Unpopular Elements

BY BILL KOENEKER

Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District officials have successfully sought another delay for a planning commission hearing, postponing the Feb. 19 hearing until March 18, according to city officials.
The public hearing to secure permits for remodeling the high school campus was successfully sought to delay the tentative approval of the commission’s decision of the makeover plan until this year and convinced municipal officials to have the commission conduct a new, fully noticed public hearing.
“This was requested so final revisions to the right-hand turn land and associated pedestrian and vehicle improvements could be made by he district’s engineer prior to review by the planning commission. Staff will be recommending continuance of this item to the March 18 meeting,” wrote city planner Joseph Smith in an email notice.
What had happened is the commission had voted on the school district application including denying lights for a parking lot at the Aug, 7 2012 meeting.
“The resolution was scheduled on the consent calendar for the Sept. 4, 2012 meeting, however, approval of the item as conditioned, was continued to the Oct. 1, 2012, planning commission meeting to allow sufficient time for district representatives to meet with the California Division of the State architect to discuss lighting requirements for parking lots.
However, in order to consider new information and re-evaluate the project, the planning commission was advised by the city attorney that a new, fully-noticed public hearing for the item would be required.” Further delays were sought by the applicant.
It has been months since the matter has been considered without a final vote.
The new application is to redevelop portions of the MMHS campus with a proposed classroom/library/administration building totaling 20,274 square feet of net new building area; approximately 12,509 square feet of interior renovation and modernization of existing classrooms.
The application also calls for a new 150-space lighted parking lot; a reconfigured 119-space lighted parking lot with an onsite roundabout; a reconfigured 61-space lighted parking lot and outdoor lighting, according to the city’s public notice.
The school district also seeks approval for a new student drop-off and pick-up lane; a right-hand turn lane for about 700 feet along Morning View Drive; two new unlit tennis courts; new outdoor common areas; new fencing, landscaping, retaining walls and grading; relocated equestrian trail and the renovation of other existing facilities.
When City Attorney Christi Hogin was asked about the unusual set of circumstances she said, “There is no final action. From the city’s point of view, there is no hurry. It will even give the opponents another chance to speak.”
The city attorney said the school district is asking the city’s permission for a new hearing and there is nothing to prevent the city from granting that request.
During the previous hearing many public comments endorsed the staff recommendation about reduced lighting.
However, district officials reiterated their concern about the unlit parking lot and told commissioners they were also bound by code and safety requirements.
The big issue, commissioners were told, is the parking lot lighting and walkway lighting.
The standards, according to school officials, are not established by the district but are adopted by other agencies requiring the district to meet those mandated safety and liability standards.
The Environmental Impact Report, which was approved by the school district, acknowledges that the project would not be able to avoid adverse impacts related to increased sky-glow because of night lights.

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