Santa Paula Planning Commission: No Demographics or History in Purview

By Sheryl Hamlin

Both items on the June 27, 2017 Santa Paula Planning Commission involved the Santa Paula Unified School District. To download the materials and listen to the audio click here.

Item 7A “Finding of Consistency for SPUSD Acquisition of Palm Court Site”

A concern for the historic nature of Palm Court had been raised previously when the Santa Paula Conservancy reported to the City Council that the street contained the home of Santa Paula’s noted plein air artist Robert Clunie.

During the June 27, 2017 Planning Commission, two citizens spoke about the school’s plans to acquire and demolish Palm Court properties.

Pam Murphy said that recent studies on population trends in California point to a declining growth rate, as well as a decline in school enrollment. Is it wise to destroy Palm Court, she said, when the growth may not materialize?

Source: First Tuesday

The State of California publishes limited history, but for the School Year (SY) 11-12, SY 12-13,SY 13-14,and SY 14-15, the growth in student population is negligible by demographic standards. From SY 11-12 to SY 12-13, the growth is .10%. From SY 12-13 to SY 13-14, the growth is .16%. And the growth from SY 13-14 to SY 14-15 is negative .02%.

Gabriel Zamora noted the “destructive detrimental pressures” on the neighborhood including parking, traffic, and public safety. He said it is possible to design something “legal” that is not good, citing the westward expansion of the school footprint. He also reminded the Planning Commission of the Clunie House on Palm Court asking rhetorically what kind of message does it say to high school students about the importance of their childhood neighborhoods?

Remember that SPUSD eliminated the second high school from East Area I and has not determined if it will use the land allotted for a magnet school in East Area 1, but it is planning a new K-8 school.

The SPUSD representative, Mr. Henning, said that it was the intention of SPUSD to acquire all property on the east side of Palm Court.

Source: SPUSD Master Plan

Commissioner Robinson said that this neighborhood was a great place in the 50’s and 60’s, but why would anyone want to live in that environment now? He also said that planning for SPUSD was not in the jurisdiction of Santa Paula.

One resident of Palm Court who has lived there since 2004 said it was still a great place to live and she was “taken aback” by Commissioner Robinson’s statement.

Watch the Youtube videos of the Palm Court demolitions here.

The commission approved the consistency of the acquisition by SPUSD with the General Plan. Note that the current General Plan is two decades old and is in the process of revision.

8A Phase II and Phase II Vesting Tentative Tract Maps East Area 1 SP-3

The exhibits in the packet included the following:

Exhibit 1 – Existing Approved East Area 1 Specific Plan Map
Exhibit 2 – Approved East Area 1 Phase I Map and Product Type
Exhibit 3 – Phase II VTTM No. 6001 – Foothill Neighborhood
Exhibit 4 – Phase III VTTM No. 6000 – Santa Paula Creek Neighborhood
Exhibit 5 – Concept Common Area Landscape Plans (Phase II and Phase III)

The site plan below shows two new proposed neighborhoods (Foothill and Santa Paula Creek) along with the Haun Creek neighborhood which was previously approved.

Source: Limoneira/Lewis

Mr. Jones of Limoneira/Lewis said that Limoneira probably would have waited another year to file these tract maps, but SPUSD needed to prove to the State of California that there would be enough population for the proposed K-8 school district shown on the map (purple). He also reminded the commission that the magnet school property (purple) would be reserved but SPUSD has not designated its use.

Mr. Jones stressed the “architecture forward” approach to the design, where small lots would feature only the façade of the home with the garages in the rear. He cited the Village at the Park in Camarillo as an example of design, but did not specify price points.

Commissioner Sommer said the buffalo grass does not work in California and suggested Limoneira reconsider its use based on his own experience in the golf business. Mr. Jones said that Tracy had done the landscape plan check and would revisit it.

Without asking about future development partners for the homes, Commissioner Robinson said that this action is “moving the project forward” closer to the 1500 homes, obviously forgetting that the project has changed from 1400 homes to 100 apartments. He did mention that the project has taken at least 15 years to get to this point.

Although not mentioned, an early reference on the LATimes of the East Area project dates from 1998. Read article here. It is also noteworthy that Limoneira took out a $100,000,000 loan.

The tract maps were approved unanimously with two members absent: Ike Ikerd and Earl McPhail.

For more information about the author visit Sheryl Hamlin dot com.


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