The Santa Paula Union High School District on Monday abandoned plans to convert a residence on Santa Paula Avenue into a district office, citing opposition from neighbors to commercial uses on the historic, tree-lined avenue.
District officials on Monday withdrew an appeal to a Planning Commission rejection of the district's plan to purchase a craftsman-style house at 522 E. Santa Paula St., across the street from the city's only historic district.
"The opposition caught us by surprise," high school district Supt. Carolina Erie said. "Apparently, there is some quite strong feeling about turning any building along that street into a business office."
Erie said the district instead is considering the purchase of a vacant commercial building farther away, but still within walking distance of Santa Paula High School. Erie declined to specify the building until a purchase price is settled with the owner. But she said the structure is one of Ventura County's designated historic buildings. The district's decision to withdraw its appeal defused what might have turned into a bruising showdown before the council, Erie said.
"We were given the understanding that it would be difficult to win an appeal," Erie said.
The house is next to a tree-lined stretch of Santa Paula Street frequently used by filmmakers as a stand-in for Midwestern locations.
Neighbors before the Planning Commission protested the district's request to convert the house, saying they were concerned about future expansion by the high school into the residential area. The commission rejected the district's request on a 6-1 vote.
A new office for the district superintendent had been in the works for some time, but the high cost of renovating offices on campus made buying an office elsewhere more attractive, Erie said.