Council approves environmental review of Heights School reconstruction


The Del Mar Union School District Board of Directors has approved the Targeted Environmental Impact Final Report for Del Mar Heights School, in hopes of moving forward with the reconstruction of the Boquita Drive campus, 60 years old.

Plans for the reconstruction include replacing aging laptops with classy one-story buildings and increasing on-site parking and queues in an effort to reduce traffic congestion on neighborhood streets.

The next steps will be to return to court and upon resolution of the dispute with Save the Field, the district may resume the coastal development permit process with the City of San Diego. According to Chris Delehanty, executive director of capital programs, the process could take several months and the updated schedule to potentially begin construction is unknown.

As a result of public comments both for and against the rebuilding at the June 30 board meeting at Ocean Air School, there was no board discussion on the decision.

After its initial environmental review document was challenged in court by Save the Field, the court ruled that three outstanding issues required further assessment in a Targeted Environmental Impact Report (FEIR).

The FIER found that there are no significant biological impacts associated with the repair and revegetation of the two stormwater outlets in the extension of the nearby Torrey Pines reserve and that the noise from the temporary construction can be mitigated to a less than significant level.

“We did the most in-depth construction noise analysis we have ever done… and we did an NFL stadium RIA,” said Dwayne Mears, District Environmental Consultant, PlaceWorks.

Mears said the mitigation measures, which include temporary noise barriers, offer great protection for people who live in the neighborhood.

A third issue involving potential traffic impacts on Mira Montana Drive was considered resolved by the board after voting to remove the proposed new stairs and ramps from the plans.

The district received 54 comments on FEIR, almost evenly split between supporters and opponents. Two government agencies also responded, including the California Department of Parks and Recreation and the City of San Diego, requesting clarification on brush management and revegetation that the district agreed to.

In their positive responses to the document, parents and teachers at Del Mar wrote of their excitement at returning home to a new and improved school and their disappointment that the school had been vacant for an entire school year.

“To continue to allow a small group of wealthy individuals to circumvent environmental law and subvert a safe educational environment for our children is a tragedy,” a number of parents wrote in their response letters. “I hope the court sees the importance of resolving these issues quickly without further delay.”

During the public comments, Ian Phillips, a 17-year Heights teacher, reiterated his support for the reconstruction and his opposition to the actions of Save the Field, which he said resulted in the waste of taxpayer money by the district in legal fees.

“Save the Field, you have injured hundreds of students and teachers in what has already been the most difficult year of our careers,” said Phillips. “You threw dart after dart at the project while waiting for something to stick. You have no more excuses, you have no more reasons, you are irrelevant.

Comments submitted in opposition focused on the overall decline in enrollment in the district and supported FEIR’s alternative option to modernize the campus into its existing footprint, which would create a smaller school which they believe is safer. , better for the environment and preserves the precious green space. .

Neighbor Irene Young said she had spoken out several times, but did not believe the district had listened to the concerns of the community: “I feel like the neighbors have been broken.

Representing Save the Field, spokesman Rick Schloss called on the district to stop “forcing a flawed plan” and instead find solutions to “properly size” the school and save the land.

Save The Field has repeatedly raised important concerns that have been ignored by the Del Mar Union School District, which continues to move forward with a plan to build a mega-school with issues of fire safety, evacuation and road safety, ”Schloss said.

“And it is more troubling than ever that the district is proposing to eliminate the open spaces for outdoor recreation that are so desperately needed for the physical and mental health of children and adults in the community – as if nothing had happened. learned from last year, “Schloss continued. “No one is going to look back at the mega-school and think ‘Wow, of course glad we tore up the recreation grounds to pave a huge parking lot and build empty buildings. “”

In his comments, school neighbor Greg Jabin said that while saddened by the loss of green fields, he came to support the new, modernized campus with his plans for a community park in the northwest corner. The community park was replaced in plans with an outdoor learning area for students and he asked the board to consider replacing the proposed eight-foot-high fence at the front of campus with a more welcoming three-foot fence.

With Heights’ reconstruction delayed, the district is moving forward with other Measure MM projects. The district’s ninth school, Pacific Sky at East Pacific Highlands Ranch, is currently under construction and is expected to open next fall. Awareness on the modernization of Del Mar Hills Academy has started and a second meeting will be held in September. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2022, with the goal of opening in fall 2023.

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