October 1, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

School District Acquires Pico Properties Through Eminent Domain:

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District will be expanding and reconstructing its Edison Language Academy campus and part of the project includes the acquisition of two homes, that currently abut the campus, throuh eminent domain.

This proposed project site includes the existing Edison campus located at 2425 Kansas Avenue and the properties the two homes, located at 2508 and 2012 Virginia Avenue, are currently sited on.  According to the District staff report, when complete the redeveloped campus will contain two one-story buildings and one two-story building.  “The two story building would be utilized for classroom space. The remaining one-story buildings would be utilized for administration and support services, the cafeteria, preschool, and a physical education building.”

In order to acquire the two properties by eminent domain the Board had to approve a Resolution of Necessity which they did by a vote of 6 to 1.  Prior to the vote, Jeffrey Horowitz, an attorney for the owner of the 2012 property, Mary Hernandez, told the Board that the project’s Mitigated Negative Declaration described project “alternatives which would give the District everything they need” without her and her neighbor having to lose their property.  He also mentioned that the eminent domain action would only expand the campus by .6 of an acre.  He asked the Board to “weigh the greatest public good with the least private injury” as well as the fact that his client was 75 years old and had lived in the property for 43 years.

Horowitz’ argument and the testimony of the other property owner and her son did not sway the majority of the Board.  Board member Oscar De la Torre who is a longtime resident of the Pico neighborhood cast the only nay vote.

In other action, the Board approved its 2009-2010 budget which will now go to the Los Angeles County Board of Education for their review approval.  The District’s Chief Financial Officer, Janece Maez, stressed the “unprecedented budget shortfalls at the state level” and the fact that the District receives 71 percent of its funding from the state.  She also mentioned, “Right now the only thing the Board has control over is cuts” even though revenue enhancements are possible.

The 2009-2010 budget includes $4.5 million in reductions and the District will be spending $8.5 million more than it will receive.  The District will make up this deficit by dipping into its reserve fund.

The General Fund expenditures for the approved budget include 49 percent for Certificated Salaries, 15 percent for Classified Salaries, Employee Benefits – 20 percent, Operating Services – 7 percent, Supplies – 6 percent, Other Outgo – 3 percent, and Capital Outlay – 0 percent.

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