Large crowd attends Coffee with the Principal

Do you want answers to questions regarding the new Olguin Campus? Well, you are going to have to wait because the hour and a half “Coffee with the Principal” meeting did not allow time for questions and answers. The first 45 minutes was utilized to play a game trying to get neighbors to interact with each other. The rest of the meeting, unfortunately, seemed to further the polarization of the pro-open Alma St. gate neighbors with the pro-close Alma St. gate neighbors.

Posters were set up on opposite sides of the room for residents – one pro-open gate, the other pro-close gate. Separate microphones were used for each “side” for 30-second airing of concerns. Separate notes were being shown on the large overhead screen. Let’s hope the Town Hall Meeting planned for September 12 at 6pm at the flagship campus auditorium will be better utilized to bring residents together on this issue instead of furthering the divide.

The main topic this morning, of course, was the use of Alma Street for buses and pedestrians. Principal Jeanette Stevens said bus trials were run the week before school opened and they realized the Gaffey Street entrance was not going to work between classes because travel time was too long and the gate at Gaffey Street is too narrow for buses turning left out of the school. In mid-September, the gate is scheduled to be moved 20′ further from Gaffey Street to enable more room for buses to turn.

Currently buses are using Alma Street at several periods during the day – during nutrition, lunch and seventh period. Since some classes and sports are held at only one campus, students must travel back and forth to participate. Concerns from neighbors included the safety of Alma Street, cars running the stop sign at Alma and 30th Street, kids not having time to eat lunch (eating is not allowed on buses), and the extra time it takes for kids on the north or west side of campus to use the Gaffey Street entrance at 32nd Street.

Several possible solutions were suggested by residents: create a one-way loop utilizing Leavenworth Drive and Osgood-Farley/32nd Street, add adult supervision for traffic and pedestrian usage of the Alma Street entrance, start or end school 10 minutes earlier/later to allow time for busing via Gaffey St., or allow pedestrian access only at Alma Street.

Do you have ideas on what can be done to make this new campus work for the kids and the surrounding neighborhood? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Remember: Town Hall Meeting to discuss the Olguin Campus, September 12 at 6:00 pm at the flagship campus auditorium, San Pedro High School, 1001 West 15th Street.

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7 thoughts on “Large crowd attends Coffee with the Principal

  1. From concept to completion, this project has been marked by incompetence (certainly traffic engineers know the turning radius of a school bus), bait and switch (Alma would never be used), and a lack of metrics and scheduling with student transportation during the day in mind. Just how many students really need to be shuffled between the campuses, and when. Certainbly not the magnet students. And is it not easier to have the teachers commute rather than the children? Alma is the logical route between the campuses during the day, but not for the morning and evening busses bringing sudents in from outside the neighborhood. And at the time plans were being made, the Paseo del Mar landslide had not yet occured, bringing with it increased traffic on Alma by vehicles coming from outside the Pallisades. The Alma gate certainly should be open to student pedestrians at all times, but how about closing Alma south of the gate and north of the first driveway to the south of the gate. This would then be a trade-off for the residents. More school traffic, but less through traffic, and overall, a reduction in traffic volume .

  2. I was unable to attend the meeting this morning but had I been there, I would have been very opposed to nurturing polarization. Listen, this is a VERY unfortunate turn of events FOR THE STUDENTS.

    There was a similar polarized lose – lose situation also regarding bus service with POLA students but this concerned PUBLIC transportation. In the end, some businesses downtown suffered and worse, students were often VICTIMS of distain by SOME – not all – of the local downtown community. “The bus” issue was, in retrospect, a ruse. Those who loudly advocated FOR the bus to xyz, were the ones who really saying STUDENTS ARE MANY AND LOUD AND MESSY.

    Let’s cut this out and stop agitating the local community who REALLY DOESN’T WANT either the busses OR the mass of cars and students in their back and front yards. Respect this, please, and allow the students to enter through GAFFEY ONLY as promised. The drive from Gaffey entrance to the school is GORGEOUS, HISTORIC, INSPIRING.

    Principal Stevens failed students this morning.

  3. Thank you to the author of the succinct and accurate summary of this morning’s meeting at the Olguin Campus of SPHS.
    I am a teacher at this beautiful new campus. I have lived two miles from the Alma entrance for 21 years. The issue for me is: What about the kids who live west of Alma who want to walk to school? Or ride their bikes? Are we really going to lock them out of the Alma gate and expect them to walk/bike all the way to Gaffey and then up that big hill? Really? So teenagers must now be driven to school when it’s an easy stroll to Alma Street? The pedestrian gate at Alma simply must be open for our local kids who walk to school.
    Of course, once the pedestrian gate is open, plenty of parents will drive to Alma, stop in the middle of the street, and let their kids out. Let’s be realistic. Then, the motorists will want to turn around and head back north on Alma. They will either drive to the bottom of Alma and hang a U-turn, or, idiotically, make a 3-point turn right there in front of the gate. Do the households on Alma want that?
    Open the pedestrian gate. Which means also opening the automobile gate to drop-off traffic. This school is here for kids from all over San Pedro, from throughout LAUSD through the Magnet program, and, yes, from kids in your very own neighborhood who live much closer to Alma than Gaffey.
    Respectfully submitted, John Reid

  4. I also attended the meeting yesterday morning, but was not one of the fortunate few (10 total – 5 for, and 5 against gate opening) who got to speak on the issue. I agree that it is a shame that promises were broken. A point to keep in mind is that most parents of students attending this school were not consulted when these promises were made, and were not privy to the “plans”. For that I feel we are at a disadvantage. I had no idea of knowing if my now 9th grade daughter would even be privileged to attend this beautiful school.

    An issue I would like discussed it the school is touted as a “green campus”. I love that. Ironically, I can’t let my daughter walk to school and now have to drive her the 1.5 miles around to Gaffey and up the hill rather than a straight shot down Alma for a 10 minute walk. Not very green.

    I personally don’t mind driving my daughter to school every morning. I do work however, and am unable to pick her up from school. I just believe that students have the fundamental right to the shortest and safest route home. Any member of the community that would like to tell me that the intersection of Gaffey and 25th St is safer than Alm St, well, they are clearly not being realistic. It seems that those against the gate opening claim “saftey for the kids” is their number one concern, but it seems as long as “safe” means not on their street.

  5. At first glance many of the comments here all make great sense; however, when we dig deeper new issues arise. I apologize in advance for this long post. :)

    I’m personally a fan of the school. As a former SPHS Magnet student, I think it’s cool that we have such a brand new facility for the magnet program in our community. I think, with the community closely involved, the school can become a tremendous model for other LAUSD campuses to follow.

    I am; however, opposed to the Alma gate being opened at all. This is, admittedly, for two reasons.

    The first is safety. Many people do not realize how much traffic Alma sees now since the landslide. It has more than doubled from prior to the slide and may well be over three fold. I will try to keep this brief and just list issues on Alma that make it unsafe for school and pedestrian traffic as well as some impacts that traffic has on other areas of the community:

    • Alma is very narrow in parts. In fact, if two cars are parked on opposing sides between 27th and 30th it can effectively become a one way road. The result: residents can not get out of their driveways but more importantly emergency response vehicles can not safely respond to the Southern area of the community. Keep in mind their normal route down Western and along Paseo Del Mar is now defunct.

    • Bus traffic can not safely enter and exit at the Alma gate. It is a narrower entrance than Gaffey and lacks any form of traffic mitigation and control. Buses are not capable of making the necessary right turn out of the gate without crossing well over the double yellow line and into opposing traffic (a traffic violation, no less). It also makes it more of a congestion issue than Gaffey during high use periods.

    • Alma lacks sidewalks. There is only one sidewalk and it does not extend the full length of the street. Students are forced to walk in the street at times. In fact, the problem is so bad that the Department of Transportation explicitly states that Alma is not a safe pedestrian route in their ‘Pedestrian Routes for White Point Elementary School’ documentation. So, it’s not safe for that school but safe for Olguin?

    • Alma lacks adequate road markings for increased traffic flow. There are no crosswalks on Alma, there are no ‘children at play’ type signs (there are over 12 small children that play in unfenced front yards between 27th and 30th streets alone) or any other appropriate traffic notification measures.

    • The Alma speed limit designations are completely broken. From 25th-27th it is 25mph, from 27-30th it is 35mph, from 30th-37th it alternates between 25mph and 35mph.

    • There is no traffic mitigation on Alma. Traffic moves at incredibly unsafe speeds through Alma frequently. This is partially an enforcement issue but is also a mitigation issue as given the school, small children and traffic through this _residential_ street it should have speed bumps at the very least.

    • Numerous police and fire officials and officers (including captains) have stated that Alma is not safe for school traffic.

    • The environmental impact review for the Olguin campus _did not_ account for traffic north of 30th street on Alma. In fact, it assumed traffic would enter from the south (where the road has been widened)! Thus, the EIR is invalid in determining any traffic considerations for the Alma gate as nearly all traffic comes from the north. The EIR also does not account for bus traffic on Alma.

    • Alma is constructed for vehicles weighing 10tons or less. School buses generally weigh about twice that causing excessive early deterioration of the roadway.

    • Alma is not a properly maintained street. It is rough and irregular with many cracks, patches and potholes. It is not in anyway constructed to handle any more increases in traffic.

    • Alma and surrounding community streets have already experienced increased vandalism and other activities by students from the campus. A couple examples, a vehicle was ‘tagged’ on 30th and Alma, a vehicle was tagged just south of the campus on Alma and a neighbor across the street from the school found two 16 year olds having sex in the canyon behind Alma during school hours.

    The list actually goes on; however, I think that is adequate to make a point: Alma is not safe for school traffic and student pedestrians. Take away the all the traffic and parking issues and a pedestrian gate sounds fair at first; unfortunately, it brings all of those issues with it.

    As for the second issue, that is the real harm having the gate open puts on not only Alma residents but those in the surrounding community as well in terms of noise, anxiety and financial loss. Residents on Alma have already seen their property value reduced due to the school being built. If the Alma gate becomes a major entrance they can expect to see their property value drop between 8-16%. For many that can add up to $100,000.

    Is it really fair to ask your neighbors to sacrifice so much just so you can be slightly more conveniences for 3-4 years while they have to deal with it for _decades_? Would you be absolutely happy and okay with that kind of financial loss and loss in quality of life if it was you that had to suffer it? I think not. It is not fair to expect your neighbors to bear this burden.

    Thank you.

    • I want to amend my comment above: After digging into some diagrams in the EIR there was limited review of Alma from 25th street; however, this review assumed there was a stop at Alma and Main (the gate) which does not actually exist. It was also done prior to the landslide event on Paseo Del Mar and does not account for the increased traffic from that. Further, it is clearly stated in the EIR that appropriate roadmarkings and signage would be present (which is not) and that the City of Los Angeles would have to complete sidewalk modifications and additions which have not been made either. Further, to my knowledge, the LAUSD has not yet provided a fair-share contribution toward the development of a Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan to be implemented by the city which they were required to do as part of the EIR plan. I also could not find a safe pedestrian routes document which was supposed to be filed six months prior to the school opening (though, the White Point document covers a lot of the same area on this side of Olguin).

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