Letter: LBUSD Administration, Board Show Progress

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Last week’s Laguna Beach School Board Facilities Study Session showed the progress made by the administration and board. Collectively, options, including relocation of the tennis courts and current district office area were “taken off the table.” The newest proposal shows a smaller footprint for administration offices. The district office concept returns to September 2022’s study to build and modernize in place, and the pool proposal remodels the pool in its current space. Progress? Yes. However, would the administration and board have saved thousands of education dollars and community trust if they invited the community from the beginning? 

It’s alarming that board member Osborne continues to promote a 50-meter pool, arguing that the “couple million-dollar difference” in development costs is “worth it” for long-term community needs, despite overwhelming community-provided data. For this study session, the administration invited experts on community pools, all indicating that a 40-meter pool is sufficient for our community size, and the CEQA process expert outlined logistics, many within the proposed project, that create approval issues. “CEQA requires public agencies to “look before they leap” and consider the environmental consequences of their discretionary actions. CEQA is intended to inform government decision-makers and the public about the potential environmental effects of proposed activities and to prevent significant, avoidable environmental damage.” It’s concerning that Osborne, with board and administration leadership support, seemed more interested in “exemption” guidelines outlined by the CEQA expert rather than ensuring our plan aligned from the start. Didn’t she run on an environmental-focused platform?  

Additionally, when challenged, the board went on record stating the intention of the pool is for community needs and high school competitions. “There is no intention to host events that further impact the community or to financially benefit from,” 

Historically, the board and this administration leadership’s word has little value. Additionally, there’s no future guarantee a 50-meter pool would not be considered by a new board or administration for large events, creating new issues like parking.  

Perhaps the board should protect the community concern and only approve a pool size that deters large events and competitions, saving additional millions in education funds and taxpayer dollars that aren’t earmarked to elevate and improve student education. A 40-meter pool would allow the practice space needed, small, home team events and a better guarantee that the future of the high school aquatics needs are met while protecting the well-being and property values of future generations of families.

Sheri Morgan, Laguna Beach  

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