Santa Paula Times

SPUSD Board holds special meeting
on parking issue

August 13, 2014
Santa Paula News

By Brian D. Wilson

Santa Paula Times

The governing board of the Santa Paula Unified School District (SPUSD) held a special meeting Saturday to discuss the city-imposed parking district around Santa Paula Union High School and to draft a letter in response to the city proposed parking district.

The new parking district includes the following area: All of Palm Court, the north side of Santa Paula Street from Olive to Palm Court, the south side of Santa Paula Street from Olive to 6th Street and the east side of 6th Street from Santa Paula Street to Virginia Terrace. The parking district will be in effect 7 days a week, from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm. Each resident will receive two parking permits per registered vehicle, as well as two visitor parking permits.

Board President Diana Ponce-Gomez said that during the entire time of the parking district issue the school district has offered short-term solutions and a willingness to talk about long-term solutions. “In addition to that we offered five different times to meet with them, to have them cancel every single time,” she said. “We were never allowed any kind of input to this parking district. We all represent the same people and we should be working together.”

Former Mayor Ray Luna told the board that he feels the city is just moving the problem further away. He also expressed concern that the city is not open to meeting with the school district.

Superintendent Alfonso Gamino said he has attended four or five city council meetings and asked them to work with the district. He said he asked the council to let the district finish their construction project. He noted they’ll be increasing parking from 70 to 82 spaces after construction is complete. He added, “Why the rush, why do this now, referring to the city action. Why don’t you let the construction finish? That should take care of a lot of our day-to-day parking issues.”

Ponce-Gomez also noted that they do have community members that use the high school facilities. She said that the with parking district they will now be forced to park blocks away to attend school events. She added that the new science building is an incredible resource and that a small group of people has demonized them.  Board  member Kolbeck suggested the district offer to help pay for a traffic study to show they are serious about the issue.

The board also discussed a letter from City Attorney John Cotti telling them that they have an obligation to resolve potential dangers that they have created because of the construction of the new Science and Technology buildings. Cotti states that the city informed the district last year about the dangers existing due to student drop-off and pick-up. Cotti further states, “Given that the District is creating and has knowledge of the danger, the district arguably has an obligation to resolve those dangers through the placement of traffic control devices, traffic monitors, crossing guards and signage, among other potential safety measures.”

Superintendent Alfonso Gamino told the board that it is not the responsibility of the school district to hire, to train, to supervise, to schedule and to monitor any traffic monitors or crossing guards. “We’re not in the traffic business,” he added. He said it is the obligation of the city to mitigate any traffic issues and he noted they are happy to work with the city.

Board member Michelle Kolbeck said the letter from the City Attorney puts the issue at a whole new level. Board President Diana Ponce-Gomez said the letter displays the city’s lack of willingness to work with the school district. She added, “All of these things could and should have been addressed in a joint meeting. They’ve cancelled every single meeting that we have tried to set up. They refuse to contact us and when they do they send a letter from their law firm.”  The Governing Board decided to have the school district’s attorney respond to Cotti’s letter.