Monday, November 19, 2007

Nov. 19 Lomita City Council Meeting/SRHS 14

On November 19, 2007, the Lomita City Council held what the then Mayor stated as a "regular meeting". To me and everybody in the room, there was nothing "regular" about it.

The meeting included the installation of the new makeup of the City Council, the ceremony for the outgoing Mayor of Lomita, the election of a new Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem, then the one and only new item on the agenda, the consideration of whether the City Council would engage in any discussion concerning SRHS 14 and a proposed idea of placing it at Lomita Park.

"I'll be honest with you, it still hurts". These were part of the final remarks from outgoing and now former Mayor (gee doesn't that read pretty?) Mark A. Waronek. Mark was graceful in his departure and many folks came to give him proclamations, resolutions, and other printed material, as well as a ceremonial plaque, with a gavel on it.

The Council Chamber was packed to overflowing with residents of Lomita, Southeast Torrance, and one individual from Rancho Palos Verdes.

It seems just about everyone in the chamber and outside in the overflow area came to hear the consideration brought by Councilman Waite, concerning whether the City Council should create a workshop, or something else, to deal with possibly placing the 810-seat South Region High School 14, (SRHS 14) on PART of Lomita Park and maintenance yards for the City of Lomita and L.A. County.

Councilman Waite's proposal as he stated it, was to have the Council create a workshop or have meetings to consider whether placing SRHS 14 on Walnut Street, or someplace else, would be best for the residents of Lomita.

I understand what Councilman Waite and Councilwoman Dever were positive to consider, but I think that the City Council does not have a "dog in the fight" in considering where L.A.U.S.D. should or should not place a school. We have all seen what happened when L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa tried to place his hands into L.A.U.S.D. I also know what powers the City Council for the City of Rancho Palos Verdes doesn't have over the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District.

I think first, that City Councils should react to what decisions the Facilities Division of L.A.U.S.D. tries to do, but I don't feel they should engage in attempting to bring a L.A.U.S.D. school into any city.

During the public comment portion of the evening, I lost count on how many individuals got up to speak. One thing was absolutely certain though, not one single person, whether they lived in Lomita, Torrance, R.P.V., or anywhere else, said one word in support of placing SRHS 14 at Lomita Park, or anywhere else in Lomita.

When it came time for a motion, newly re-elected Councilman Suminiaga stated a motion to drop any discussion, by the City Council, on where to place SRHS 14. The motion was seconded by newly installed Councilman Blackwood seconded the motion.

During the debate, Councilwoman Dever stated that she felt the Council members should consider doing something towards finding a place for SRHS 14.

Councilman Waite seemed to share Dever's view and also thought that the Lomita location was just one of many sites to consider.

Councilman Suminiaga was steadfast in his resolve to have the Council drop any further discussion. Councilman Blackwood stated that what he said in his recent successful campaign was enough (he didn't like the idea in the first place) and he didn't elaborate any further.

Newly elected Mayor Margaret Estrada didn't comment much at all and it was tough to gauge her feelings......until the vote.

When the motion was called to a vote by the Councilmembers, Councilmen Suminiaga and Blackwood, along with Mayor Estrada, voted "yes" to drop any further discussion. Mayor Pro Tem Dever and Councilman Waite, voted "No". Three agains two, the motion to drop further consideration by the Lomita City Council on having any meetings, workshops, or further discussion on SRHS 14, passed.

The meeting was adjourned with loud applause and much joyous shouting.

As many readers of this blog know, I have been aligned with a number of individuals who have gathered quite a bit of information on SRHS 14.

It was very clear to me, during the meeting, that not only did the vast majority of the room not understand practically anything that has been truly going on, officially, with SRHS 14, it looked to me that even the City Council Members themselves, have any real knowledge about SRHS 14.

I don't think it is any body's fault and I do feel that a whole bunch of folks really jumped the gun, especially two members of the Lomita City Council. It appeared to me that most of the folks speaking about SRHS 14, really know little about it, in the first place.

But what an impact it was to see so many individuals speak so much and get so riled up about just considering whether folks should talk about the subject. I was very, very impressed that, even though so many folks know so little about the issue, yet are so passionate about not having an L.A.U.S.D. senior high school, in their neighborhood or in their city.

For the folks who really don't know too much about SRHS 14, there is lots and lots of information about this issue, inside this blog.

But to make it easier, right now, here are some real facts.

South Region High School was originally slated to be a 2,025-seat Senior High School to ease the overcrowding of both Narbonne and San Pedro High Schools.

The site which was, AND STILL IS the "preferred" site for SRHS 14, is within the boundary of the Ponte Vista at San Pedro Development, in northwest San Pedro.

Earlier this year, the Facilities Division of L.A.U.S.D. dropped plans for one-2,025-seat school, in favor of building two new schools. SRHS 14 became a 810-seat school devoted to ease overcrowding at Narbonne High School. South Region High School 15 (SRHS 15) is now being planned as a 1,215-seat school with its "preferred" site being on the former upper reservation of the old Fort MacArthur, now called "Angels Gate".

The Facilities Division of L.A.U.S.D. is considering multiple sites in Lomita, Harbor City, and Harbor Gateway, to place SRHS 14. One possible site is Lomita Park, but folks have acknowledged that it has problems and they are continuing to search out other sites including the Mulligan Recreation area/Sepulveda, sites on 240TH. Street and other streets.

The only Notice of Preparation and Initial Study for SRHS 14 has been done on the Ponte Vista "preferred" site.

Whether anyone from the City of Lomita has contacted L.A.U.S.D. about Lomita Park is something folks will have to find out for themselves, because I don't know.

Neither Mr. Rod Hamiliton, Mr. Don Lancaster, or anybody from the Facilities Division of L.A.U.S.D. were in attendance, as far as I am aware of, at the Lomita City Council Meeting.

I think what I learned from the meeting is just the thought of putting SRHS 14 anywhere near Lomita Park, will certainly get folks out, boiling, and ready to blow the roof off of any meeting place.

If folks on the Lomita City Council wish to consider SRHS 14 again, perhaps they should do it as individual residents of the City of Lomita and not as elected officials.

I hope the Lomita City Councilmembers got the message, but perhaps some of them will want to bring up the issue in the future, in some other manner. Were palms greased? I don't know. Did some of the Councilmembers have a hidden agenda? Some folks in the audience thought so, but I don't know. Might we have to come together sometime in the future to go to bat to keep Lomita Park free from SRHS 14? Perhaps. But I would suggest to elected officials in the City of Lomita and elsewhere, watch what developments you support, it could cost you your elected position.

That reminds me, so long Mark!

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