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Petition pending in Castaic

Citizens trying to get Hart district to build two access roads that lead to the future site of Casta

Posted: October 12, 2013 10:46 p.m.
Updated: October 12, 2013 10:46 p.m.
 

While Hart district officials work to begin construction on the long-awaited Castaic High School, a citizens’ group in the area still has a petition regarding the project pending in Superior Court.

The group, Citizens for Castaic, filed the petition almost a year ago alleging the William S. Hart Union High School District violated the California Environmental Quality Act when its board approved the environmental impact report for the project last year.

“The district approved the project, claiming its significant traffic, air quality, noise and aesthetic impacts should be overridden, despite the fact there are feasible mitigation measures that could substantially lessen those significant impacts,” the petition reads.

The group also objects to the adoption of a statement of overriding considerations, a technical term that allows a governing board to declare that the benefits of a project outweigh the impacts brought about by completion of the project.

Namely, the group singles out traffic as one of the biggest impacts of the project.

 
Dual access

A primary concern for the group is access to and from the school site in Romero Canyon.

In the project’s environmental impact report approved by the district board last October, plans are outlined to eventually build two access roads.

The first would use Sloan Canyon Road and Canyon Hill Road. The second access point would use Barringer, Romero Canyon, Sloan Canyon and Valley Creek roads.

Romero Canyon Road would be used for gated emergency access, according to the EIR.

However, the EIR also includes conditions that would allow the school to open without the secondary southern access route, though the district would be required to take steps to offset traffic impacts should that happen.

District officials say school will include both access roads. The only reason for the fallbacks in the EIR, they said, is to ensure the opening of the school is not delayed in case the secondary access road is not completed on time.

But the petition alleges there is “no date or benchmark by which dual access is required” and “significant traffic impacts” would result from only one access route.

The petition also states that Citizens for Castaic is not opposed to the project but would oppose development of the school “without adequate mitigation in place to ensure the safety of high school students while at school and while walking and biking to school and the protection of the area’s rural lifestyle and its many equestrians.”



 Delays

The Hart district has run into some difficulties getting the ball rolling on the long-planned high school in Castaic.

Earlier this year, district officials had to push the planned opening date of the school from 2015 to 2016 after it took longer than expected to get work started on the site.

Even now, construction on the site has yet to begin in earnest.

Earlier this year, Hart district Chief Operations Officer Ben Rodriguez said the general time line for the project is 12 or 13 months for site preparation such as grading, followed by 24 to 26 months of construction of the school itself.

But that time frame could be sped up once construction work ramps up, he said.



Moving forward

Richard Landy, president of Citizens for Castaic, declined to comment on the petition filed in November.

“We are still in litigation and negotiations with the parties and will not be commenting as yet,” he wrote in an email last week.

In line with Hart district policy, both Rodriguez and district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker declined to comment on the matter, as well.

A hearing on the petition is scheduled for Jan. 23 in Santa Monica.

Lmoney@signalscv.com

661-287-5525

On Twitter

@LukeMMoney

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