Burlingame school officials have decided to appeal a judge’s ruling to stop construction at Hoover Elementary School and are currently working to secure and stabilize the site before an environmental impact report is potentially conducted.
Last week, the Burlingame Elementary School District filed an appeal in the state appellate court to San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Marie Weiner’s May ruling in favor of the Alliance for Responsible Neighborhood Planning. The alliance sued the district stating it needs to prepare a full EIR on traffic impacts for the entire property, which means all construction must be stopped until this is done.
“We’re going to try to get an expedited calendar to get it on the docket as soon as possible,” Superintendent Maggie MacIsaac said. “That would be the most immediate thing to do.”
A group of Hillsborough 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 EIR but less extensive.
The project is long overdue at this point, MacIsaac said.
“We’re hopeful we will make some progress with the appeal,” MacIsaac said. “We’re still willing to discuss anything they’d (the alliance) like to discuss. Work will continue through the fall to temporarily and safely shut down the Hoover Elementary School construction, until the legal process runs its course or until we have reached a compromise with plaintiffs such that the suit is withdrawn and construction may proceed.”
With a full EIR, the school would likely open in 2018, board Vice President Mark Intrieri said.
Growing enrollment in the district resulted in the purchase of the previously-closed Hoover Elementary School in 2010. The district is projected to grow to 3,500 students by 2018 from its current size of 3,234 students, MacIsaac said. Since the purchase, the district worked to renovate the building to meet current standards. 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. 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.
Meanwhile, neighbors opposed to the project being completed without an EIR don’t think the district will win the appeal, including Christine Fitzgerald, one of the petitioners in the case and member of the alliance.
“The state appellate court will confirm that judge’s decision,” she said. “It’s a 45-page decision and she covered every single issue raised. An EIR was what we asked for from the very start. The letter that I and town and Hillsborough wrote specifically asked for an EIR because it would have addressed these exact issues. … We just really want them to look at this traffic issue because they need to do something better than what they’ve done.”
Hoover was founded in 1931, closed in 1979 and repurchased by the district for $4.8 million in 2010. Measure D, a $56 million bond measure passed by voters in November 2012, was used to cover most of the costs. The overall budget for Hoover was $23 million and the district has not gone over that budget, MacIsaac said.
The district hopes to have another town hall meeting with city and district officials, along with neighbors and other stakeholders.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105