Construction must be halted on Hoover Elementary School in Burlingame, according to a judge’s final ruling issued Thursday.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner ruled in favor of the Alliance for Responsible Neighborhood Planning that sued the Burlingame Elementary School District, stating it needs to prepare a full environmental impact report on traffic impacts on the entire property, which means all construction must be stopped until this is done. Originally, the judge had just asked to stop construction on the dropoff zone, but the ruling stated the entire site needed to be analyzed before there could be any further construction, installation, development or permits issued.
“The failure to adequately address traffic and parking environmental impacts permeates more that the mere operation of a school or how a student dropoff area is configured,” Weiner wrote. “Indeed, the demolition of the annex and the building of a new and much larger school building — which is a key component of the project — is designed to take away the vast majority of the existing parking lot on the property, and thus resulting in a parking shortage and traffic problems.”
The district was very disappointed with the ruling since the school is for the benefit of the larger community, said Superintendent Maggie MacIsaac.
“We have to decide what we need to do — the board needs to decide,” she said. “The one thing is we really need to open the school. It’s important to our community and to alleviate the overcrowding. ... It’s a loss for both (Hillsborough and Burlingame) of our communities, schools.”
Christine Fitzgerald, one of the petitioners in the case and member of the alliance, said it’s a great victory for the neighbors who live near the school and felt the plan should be postponed to allow for more discussion and possible changes to the traffic plan.
“We’re really happy,” she said. “It’s huge. Just looking at it, you can see both buildings take up the majority of the property. It just boggles the mind to think where they’re going to put all these cars. The judge is right in her decision.”
Growing enrollment in the Burlingame Elementary School District resulted in the purchase of the previously-closed Hoover Elementary School on Summit Drive in 2010. Since then, the district worked on plans to renovate the building to meet current standards.
Residents filed the lawsuit in January 2013. At a July 2013 hearing, the alliance’s attorney Kevin Haroff said the district failed to address traffic impacts in its December 2012 mitigated negative declaration study and review. A mitigated negative declaration is like an environmental impact review but less extensive. He also said the district committed a violation of the California Environmental Quality Act by dismissing community concerns about traffic. Haroff cited an October 2012 letter from the town of Hillsborough stating concerns about the rebuilding being ignored.
The plan for the school called for two 8-foot-wide curbside bays to be created for pickup and dropoff along the west side of Summit Drive adjacent to the school providing enough curb space for 15 cars. In addition, the existing school site curb would be shifted west to provide for the bays and two 10-foot-wide vehicle travel lanes, which will increase the width of Summit Drive to 17 feet in some areas.
Hoover was founded in 1931, closed in 1979 and repurchased by the district for $4.8 million in 2010. MacIsaac estimated the costs for renovations and new equipment would be about $13 million. Measure D, a $56 million bond measure passed by voters in November 2012, was used to cover most of the costs.
The city of Burlingame, the town of Hillsborough and Supervisor Dave Pine are hosting a community discussion on the school 9 a.m. May 10 at Hillsborough Town Hall, 1600 Floribunda Ave. in Hillsborough.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105