Let’s open up this can of worms, shall we?

Where to begin with LAUSD?

The following link was on the front page of Yahoo! in the News links section.

L.A. Schools Wrestle With Building Issues

The gold walls and chrome balconies of Santee High School gleam against a backdrop of warehouses and aging homes. When it opens Tuesday, the campus in tough South Los Angeles will become the first completely new high school built in 35 years in the city. It’s part of the biggest ongoing school construction project in the United States and stands as a symbol of revival for the nation’s second-largest district.

More than 3,000 district students are now packed into high schools designed for less than half that number. Laboratories are relics from the 1960s, and teachers roam campuses without having a desk of their own…

…Santee, built upon the contaminated site of an old dairy, also symbolizes the challenges the Los Angeles Unified School District faces in building environmentally safe schools in an area where contamination and earthquake faults cut through the earth.

Last month, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control said the school’s developer used tainted rubble as backfill beneath the school. The material contained varying levels of PCBs, lead and other potentially toxic chemicals.

Tests later determined the rubble posed no threat, but the situation has stirred bitter memories of past environmental fiascos. The most notorious occurred at Belmont High School five years ago, when the district spent $270 million on what became the nation’s most expensive public school campus.

Its doors, however, remain closed because it was built atop explosive pockets of methane gas and an earthquake fault just west of downtown. [full story]

4 Replies to “Let’s open up this can of worms, shall we?”

  1. This version of Santee High School’s story leaves out what to me are the most interesting bits. I believe that last June the Times ran a story on the construction of Santee High that asserted that; the school district was aware of the toxic fill, they lied to community groups about it’s existence, they lied to the state about it’s existence, and that when they finally informed the state they buried then notification in the back of a report. If my recollection is correct and the facts were as reported in the Times, then I can see why someone might not trust the school district very much.

  2. Dangerous toxic problems with LAUSD school sites are common. Having interviewed all the players in the LAUSD Belmont Learning Center(soon to be Half $Billion High School development) and which has never been occupied, more than ten years after it started. Now, partially demolished last December, LAUSD is about to rebuild Belmont on the same site plagued with methane gas, hydrogen sulfide (according to the experts)and a few hundred yards away from an earthquake fault.

    What is happening on the Santee site is history repeating itself. What is astonishing is the unending generosity of the taxpayers who are apparently unaware that LAUSD issues hundreds of millions in non-voter approved bonds,(on top of the $billions in voter approved bonds every election) to finance these questionable developments. $92 million for Belmont in 1997 and $72 million still outstanding.

    The Santee site, we were told was a non-competitive bid contract, with the property owner/developer. The conditions make it seem that history is repeating itself.

    You are invited to take a look at the Full Disclosure Network Belmont page http://www.fulldisclosure.net/belmont_learning_center_and_LAUSD.htm where FREE streaming video of interviews and audit reports document “LAUSD’s Belmont; The World’s Most Expensive High School”. Will Santee be far behind? Stay tuned.

    Leslie Dutton, Full Disclosure Network

  3. I remain truly in awe of what passes as accurate news reporting in Los Angeles these days, and the depths to which the LA Times will sink to create a “story” to sell papers. As the former head of Emerald Development, and the developer who conceived of and implemented the turn-key development of the Santee High School in South Central Los Angeles, I am appalled at the irresponsible and gross inaccuracies put forward by the LA Times. I take great pride in the fact that this high school is the first new facility of its kind in 35-years, and in 2002 won both the AIA and CASH designation of best pre-construction design of a school in California. Given the antiquated specifications I was contracted to design to, it is an astounding credit to the architect and the principals of Emerald Development that instead of the requested ìmicrophone and 2-speakerî auditorium, a ìWalt Disney Concert Hallî quality performing arts center is currently standing at the site. This in addition to numerous other significant improvements to the LAUSD school building specifications provided to me in 2001.

    The real story here is how a private developer was able to deliver a fully complete high school on time and on budget, despite being one of the last facilities originally on the drawing board and being continuously delayed while an army of bureaucrats sought reason to impede the project. Had anyone bothered to ask, or properly research the issue at hand regarding ìtoxicî fill, it would have been readily evident that the suspect material was fully approved for use by the State and thoroughly tested in place (and determined clean to a standard that would allow any of us to ingest 6 grams a day, every day, for five years and result in no greater than one in one million chance of detrimental health affects) prior to construction continuing.

    More interesting, I think, is the observation that earlier in the development process all construction was stopped for months by the LAUSD environmental consultants because they felt I had completed the remediation too quickly and efficiently. I remain curious of how the millions of dollars spent each month by LAUSD on consultants to tell them how to build, rather than simply spent on building, is explained to the taxpayers of California.

  4. I remain truly in awe of what passes as accurate news reporting in Los Angeles these days, and the depths to which the LA Times will sink to create a “story” to sell papers. As the former head of Emerald Development, and the developer who conceived of and implemented the turn-key development of the Santee High School in South Central Los Angeles, I am appalled at the irresponsible and gross inaccuracies put forward by the LA Times. I take great pride in the fact that this high school is the first new facility of its kind in 35-years, and in 2002 won both the AIA and CASH designation of best pre-construction design of a school in California. Given the antiquated specifications I was contracted to design to, it is an astounding credit to the architect and the principals of Emerald Development that instead of the requested ìmicrophone and 2-speakerî auditorium, a ìWalt Disney Concert Hallî quality performing arts center is currently standing at the site. This in addition to numerous other significant improvements to the LAUSD school building specifications provided to me in 2001.

    The real story here is how a private developer was able to deliver a fully complete high school on time and on budget, despite being one of the last facilities originally on the drawing board and being continuously delayed while an army of bureaucrats sought reason to impede the project. Had anyone bothered to ask, or properly research the issue at hand regarding ìtoxicî fill, it would have been readily evident that the suspect material was fully approved for use by the State and thoroughly tested in place (and determined clean to a standard that would allow any of us to ingest 6 grams a day, every day, for five years and result in no greater than one in one million chance of detrimental health affects) prior to construction continuing.

    More interesting, I think, is the observation that earlier in the development process all construction was stopped for months by the LAUSD environmental consultants because they felt I had completed the remediation too quickly and efficiently. I remain curious of how the millions of dollars spent each month by LAUSD on consultants to tell them how to build, rather than simply spent on building, is explained to the taxpayers of California.

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