The Board of Supervisors Wednesday, after a lengthy public hearing, gave the go-ahead to a charter high school being planned for the East County community of Rancho San Diego.
Via teleconference, the board voted 3-2 in favor of a major use permit to allow Literacy First Charter Schools to build on a parcel located on Chase Avenue west of Jamacha Road, in the Valle De Oro Community Plan area.
The board also denied an appeal from the Valle de Oro Community Planning Group and Save Our Students – Safety Over Sorry. Both groups opposed the project based on traffic and other safety concerns, while supporters countered that the school will benefit the community.
When completed, Liberty Charter High School will consist of a 48,000- square-foot, two-story building with 22 classrooms, administrative offices and a gymnasium. It will serve 450 students in grades nine through 12, and employ 33 faculty members.
The school will have sustainable features, including solar panels and vehicle charging stations. Improvements to Chase Avenue, including a crosswalk, are also planned.
Literacy First bought the property for $4 million in 2014, according to a previous report.
The county Planning Commission approved the major use permit, while the county Planning & Development Services staff found the project was appropriate.
As part of a major use permit, Literacy First will have to submit a traffic operations plan, and if there are any future inconsistencies, the permit could be reviewed or even revoked.
Supervisor Jim Desmond, who proposed the conditions, said he struggled with the project — but added there will never be a perfect spot for any facility, especially when it comes to school-related traffic.
“There’s always been issues, and then once school is there, people will start pointing fingers,” he added.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob made a motion to grant the appeal by the Valle de Oro group and deny the project.
Jacob, in whose district the school project is located, said traffic issues cannot easily be mitigated. She said the school shouldn’t have to bear the additional expense of fixing the roads to accommodate more traffic.
“We’re looking at overwhelming opposition to this project, and by and large, it’s people who live in the area,” Jacob said.
Jacob complimented the charter school officials. “There’s no question in my mind you run a great organization, but that’s not the issue here,” she said. “The question before us today is whether or not this is the right location for a project.”
During the nearly three-hour hearing, board members heard from those in favor of building a new charter school, along with opponents, many of whom said they live near where the school will be built.
Debbie Beyer, executive director for Literacy First Charter Schools, said the new public high school will be free to all students. It will also have rigorous academic and solid sports programs, she said.
“Our families want this project to happen,” she said. “We serve the families in East County.”
Alyssa Burley, who chairs the Valle de Oro Community Planning Group said the project “does not provide for a safe environment for our community.”
— City News Service