Historic Beverly Hills High School has survived a controversial proposal that would have torn it down to make way for a high-rise development to raise money for the school district.
The Beverly Hills Board of Education decided that razing the school would be too disruptive and entailed too many "unanswered questions," such as "traffic, tradition and maintaining open space," board member Fred Stern said Wednesday.
The board will continue to explore other ways to generate money for the district, which has a $27.6-million budget this fiscal year and projects an annual shortfall of about $1 million over the next three years.
Under the proposal, the district would have demolished the high school, which sits on a 27-acre site at the southwestern edge of Beverly Hills, near Century City. A modern, more compact high school then would have been built on the northern 19 acres of the site, and the remaining land, at Olympic Boulevard and Spalding Drive, would have been leased to a developer to construct an office and condominium complex.
The district's real estate committee said the district could generate $8 million to $18 million a year from such a development, depending on its size. It noted that to implement the plan, the district would have to find a way for the high school to operate during the construction.
Committee chairman Ken Goldman said Wednesday that "neither I nor any other member of the committee wants to put commercial buildings on school property. If the budget deficits can be financed another way, this should be a last resort. . . . It looks as if we don't have to take the more radical steps."
Stern, a 1951 graduate of the 60-year-old high school, said he opposed the project because of the traffic it would have generated on Olympic Boulevard.
The proposal had meet with strong opposition from the public after it was introduced in March by the real estate committee. At a board meeting June 14, parents presented petitions with 450 signatures opposing redevelopment of the high school site.
The board will examine two other money-raising ideas. One is to raze the district offices on Lasky Drive and lease the land for development of apartments or condominiums, which would bring in $500,000 to $720,000 a year to the district, Goldman said. The district offices might be moved to the high school, or the district might rent space elsewhere.
Another proposal is to lease the site of the teachers' parking lot at Beverly Vista Elementary School on Elm Drive for a four-story apartment building, condo, or retirement home, Goldman said. An underground garage would be built for the teachers and the residents. The district would earn $250,000 to $500,000 a year, he said.