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43-Acre South Gate Site Picked for High School

December 11, 1986|LEE HARRIS | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Unified School District officials have settled on a site in eastern South Gate for a planned $40-million to $50-million high school to relieve overcrowding.

Plans were unveiled Tuesday for developing 43 acres of mostly industrial land for a 225,000-square-foot school that will serve 2,500 students. A small portion of the property would also accommodate students from Tweedy Elementary School, which would be closed next year.

"If everything goes as planned the high school could open within 3 1/2 years," said Dominic Shambra, administrator of special projects for building services for the school district.

The school district had been considering several sites in the city for a so-called regional high school to serve students from South Gate, Huntington Park, Bell and Cudahy. City officials apparently sought to have the concept scaled down to include mostly South Gate students.

Shambra said the plans have not been scaled down, but he said that most of the students would come from South Gate, with relief also provided for overcrowded Bell High School and Huntington Park High School. Bruce Spragg, the city administrator, said the city had been assured that at least 75% of the students would come from South Gate.

Transfers From Tweedy

The plan also involves transferring Tweedy students to the new high school site by January, 1988. Initially, those students would be housed in portable bungalows. Eventually, a permanent building on the site would house all students from the closed Tweedy.

"We will try to find a property owner willing to sell immediately and temporarily relocate Tweedy in portable housing," Shambra said.

The South Gate City Council, meeting as the city Redevelopment Agency, pledged to loan money to the school district if it is needed in the relocation effort.

The area to be developed is bordered by Atlantic and Wood avenues, Wright and Aldrich roads, Adella Avenue and Burtis Street. There are 62 businesses with roughly 506 employees and about 36 residences in the area.

The land is valued at about $11 million and generates about $81,000 a year in sales taxes, property taxes and business fees for the city, Spragg said.

Land acquisition would be done by the school district and not the city's Redevelopment Agency, but city officials would make "every effort to work with those businesses wanting to remain in the city. We would help them relocate in the city," Spragg said.

The plan was unveiled during a more than one-hour slide presentation by Bruce Boogaard, the city attorney for South Gate, to a packed council chambers with about 90 persons, most of them businessmen in the affected area.

No Printed Copies

Roger S. Hutchinson, a consultant hired by the property owners in the targeted area, said he had little to say about the proposal until he has time to study it. The only information available was in the slide presentation, since there were no printed copies of the proposal.

Earlier, the city Redevelopment Agency had considered developing the area jointly with the school district. "Now that the city's Redevelopment Agency isn't involved in the condemnation, we must talk with the school district," Hutchinson said.

Shambra said he expects the plan to go before the Los Angeles school board in January. The board must approve a complete environmental impact report for the area, Shambra said. He said the South Coast Air Quality Management District is conducting preliminary studies.

Some members of the audience were critical of the site.

"I cannot believe that you would build another school four blocks down the street from one toxic dump to another," said Dorothea Lombardo referring to the industrial areas that surround both Tweedy Elementary and the new high school site.

"If we take out the source of the pollution (the industries), the air quality and safety improves," Shambra said of the 43-acre parcel, which is about half a mile north of Tweedy, where parents have demanded immediate closure because of fumes from nearby chemical plants.

Majority Voices Support

The majority of the five-member City Council voiced support for the preliminary plans for the high school complex.

Meanwhile, the city staff revealed a voluntary redevelopment plan for one of its major business areas along the so-called Firestone-Atlantic corridor. The new redevelopment area covers about 593 acres along Firestone Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue.

Under the concept, the Redevelopment Agency is waiving its power to condemn property. Property owners' participation would be strictly voluntary, Spragg said.

The plan, which at this point is merely a staff proposal that the council has taken no action on, would only be put into effect if the majority of the owners along the corridors agree to it, Spragg said.

"This is unique. No property owner will have to fear losing property through condemnation," the city administrator said. "It is necessary to fix up the area we call 'the window of the world' because more than 50,000 vehicles travel the route daily."

If implemented, Spragg said, the proposal could generate millions of tax-increment dollars over many years, to benefit both the city and school district, which would receive a portion of the revenues under state requirement.

City Council members, sitting as the Redevelopment Agency, said they would study the new redevelopment plan before making a decision.

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