Letters to the Editor

LBUSD planning to build pool that exceeds local need, get involved and stop this action

On March 12, the City Council will discuss options for improved aquatics in the city. Rather than work WITH the city on a solution that meets the needs of both residents and students, LBUSD approved and funded a 50-meter $16M pool on the site of the current 25-meter pool. A poor use of resident property taxes.

The city funds nearly 97% of the total pool operations cost because they carry all staffing costs in addition to the 70/30 city/school cost sharing. By approving the Olympic pool, without participation from the city, the district will increase student availability by nearly seven times…from 30% of a 25M pool to 100% of a 50M pool! An extreme overbuild.

The district is trying to force the city to participate in a pool of their design, size, cost and location by moving forward without city consent. LBUSD gets 26¢ of each property tax dollar and the city gets 25¢. The city and the school district, taking half our taxes, should leverage services and facilities in support of ALL residents. So other than complain what can residents do?

–Ask the city to reject the demand by LBUSD as it doesn’t meet resident needs (no “wading” pool for example), doesn’t address program goals and is not neighborhood compatible.

–Ask the city to formally object to the independent LBUSD plan as unnecessarily impactful to the community and fiscally irresponsible.

–Ask the city to prioritize construction of a dedicated community pool.

–Ask LBUSD to resize their pool to 35-38 meters that saves $8 million, exceeds all CIF requirements and accommodates all home games.

–Ask the city and school district to work TOGETHER for residents and students.

Given 100% use of a 35-meter pool that fits in the current space, the district would materially increase student availability and the city could accommodate the increasing demand from city programs at the new community pool. Sharing “unused time” between the two entities could continue, there would be ongoing redundancy with two pools, and assuming coordinated construction, no downtime.

This approach requires compromise and cooperation between the city, the school district and residents. It’s happened before and I’d like to think it is possible. Speak up.

Gary Kasik

Laguna Beach

New high school pool is part of out-of-control spending by the school district

A community pool is on the agenda of the March 12th City Council meeting. While much discussion has been ongoing about the need to update from the current 25-meter high school pool, the school district has done its very best to circumvent the city from influencing this project.

In December of last year – without city input – the school board approved a plan for a $16 MILLION, 50-meter pool at the site of the existing pool. Their expectation is that the city will continue to fund 90% of the pool operating costs – with your tax dollars. Costs that will dramatically increase with doubling the size of the pool.

While an upgrade of 35 to 38 meters may make sense, 50 meters in this space is overkill. Proximity to neighbors is closer than any other OC school pool. Noise will clearly be an issue. Parking is limited. Taxpayers need to have a say in what investment and operating budget is appropriate.

Other options – including a second community pool – deserve thorough and transparent study – BEFORE the school district green lights this out of scale project.

Some other big picture concerns include:

–The “need” for this larger facility when LBUSD enrollment is projected to continue to decline for the foreseeable future.

The “need” for such a large facility when our high school is a small fraction of the size of any other school in OC with a pool of this scale.

–LBUSD pushing this project through while being able to bypass design review and community concerns.

We currently have an out-of-control school board with plans to spend more than $100 MILLION of your tax dollars on this oversized pool, new HS administration building, new school district building and many other “upgrades” for the shrinking school population. All to be accomplished with bonds funded by YOU.

We all want state-of-the-art educational facilities for our students, but this must be accomplished with fiscal responsibility, consideration for neighbors and be in harmony with the needs of the greater community.

I would urge all to attend the March 12th council meeting and let your voices be heard.

Richard Plavetich

Laguna Beach

On anniversary of the annexation of South Laguna beaches, problems exist that need to be resolved

Addressed to Mayor and City Council,

March 1st marked the one-year anniversary of the city’s annexation of South Laguna beaches. Unfortunately, multiple conflicts have occurred over the preceding year now requiring City Council leadership to resolve.

New Ordinance for Berm Protection

One pressing issue the City Council can immediately address is to pass an ordinance to protect the Aliso Sand Berm for safe public access and guard ocean water quality.

For South Laguna residents and beach visitors, whenever the natural beach berm is destroyed, the public is exposed to urban runoff in Aliso Creek – the biggest source of routine ocean pollution in Laguna Beach. During each unpermitted breaching event, southern coastal currents likely transport the 2.5-million-gallon urban runoff plume to Treasure Island Cove and the Montage Resort.

Since the 401 Permit regulating activities at the Aliso Berm expired with annexation, no new permit has been issued to guide Public Works maintenance activities in compliance with the San Diego Regional Board and Coastal Commission rules and regulations.

During the past year, the city has not approved any new ordinance to provide Marine Safety lifeguards with the basic enforcement tools to protect public safety from ongoing unauthorized discharges to Laguna’s state-designated Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

Multiple environmental organizations and individuals have written to urge protection of the Aliso Beach Sand Berm as an essential coastal landform for safe public access while protecting ocean water quality. Science has also identified the multiple contaminates found impairing Aliso Creek’s urban runoff to include phosphorus, selenium, toxicity, indicator bacteria, benthic community effects, malathion and nitrogen.

“We ask you to put an end to these illegal activities…” –Surfrider Foundation.

Urban Runoff Removal from Aliso Creek

Excess non-native water continues to be discharged to Aliso Creek to flood and contaminate Aliso Beach with urban runoff from five inland cities and two major interstate freeways. The 2014 $2.8 million Aliso Creek Water Reclamation Facility designed and funded with $25,000 from the city has yet to remove any urban runoff from Aliso Creek despite commitments made to the community.

Laguna Beach’s wealth is derived from our rare, wonderful natural heritage. Protecting public safety and essential coastal resources must remain the city’s principal priority. Would you swim or take a child to swim at Aliso Beach following a berm breaching event?

New ordinances to protect the Aliso Sand Berm are long overdue. City Council leadership is also required now to remove urban runoff from Aliso Creek at the Coastal Treatment Plant. As the Laguna Beach City Council, you determine the health of the ocean.

Thanks to each of you for your dedication and tireless service to Laguna Beach.

Mike Beanan

Laguna Bluebelt Coalition

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