Love where you live!
LA MESA -- College Preparatory Middle School, a charter school located on Jackson Drive, will be able to add fifth grade to its program next year after the City Council came to the school's aid.
After two hours of speakers and debate, the council voted 3-1 to overrule the Planning Commission and grant the school the right to increase from 180 to as many as 259 students. But the council supported several requirements approved by the Planning Commission that will limit the number of students who can be allowed outside the school building at one time for lunch and gym class.
Residential neighbors along the school's west boundary had complained about noise, leading the school to erect a sound barrier last year and agree to limits to the number of students outside at any one time.
The Planning Commission had imposed limits to playground and outdoor lunch populations, but had denied the school's request to add a fifth grade and grow to 259 students. Planning Board members had questioned whether the school could live with the outdoor limits if it had 259 students.
At Tuesday's meeting, however, speaker after speaker (including the student above) praised the school's management and school administrators promised the council it could limit playground population to no more than 40 students at a time and would stagger lunch times to assure no more than 100 students would be outside having lunch at the same time.
Mayor Art Madrid voted against the expansion, saying he believed the Planning Commission had weighed all the evidence and he thought the council should respect its decision. However, Council members Ruth Sterling, Ernie Ewin and Dave Allan agreed to let the school prove it could limit the noise. Council member Mark Arapostathis was away, preparing his teen theater troupe for its performances this week.
Christina Callaway, co-director of the school, said they expect to add 45 new fifth graders this year, bringing the school population to about 225, below the 259 the building can hold.
Neighbors of the school, which operates out of the basement of the Church of Christ at 5150 Jackson Drive, were only lightly represented at this meeting with only one neighbor choosing to speak about the increase in noise the school has brought to their neighborhood.
The neighborhood is a mix of loud and quiet. Interstate 8 is less than a block away and a constant drone of traffic can be heard around the clock. But just west of the school is a tree-lined cul-de-sac whose backyards are idyllic except for the hours when the din of school kids on a playground can be heard, even over the sound barrier the church recently erected along its property line.
The Tuesday night council meeting almost made it to Wednesday morning, ending at 11:15 p.m., more than five hours after it began. The College Prep debate was time consuming, but was the only substantive action taken during the marathon meeting. The council had also conducted interviews with candidates for city commissions and heard presentations for and against establishment of a new power plant being proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric just outside the east side of Mission Trails Park.
Though the proposed electrical plant site is not in La Mesa, opponents of the project had asked the council to consider voting to oppose the plant to influence state regulators and the City of San Diego, who will eventually decide the issue. A majority of the council said they would demure on any vote on the project until environmental impact reports are executed for the project.
SDG&E says it needs this "peaker'' plant to quickly supply electricity when needed during high demand times for electricity. It would be fed by nearby natural gas lines but would also add 100 foot-high smoke stacks to the bucolic area. Opponents say the plant is not needed, would pollute the area and would prefer encouraging the development of solar and other clean energy supplies to meet future demand.