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Letters to the Editor

What’s the rush?

There was a LBUSD board meeting on November 16 that received no media coverage; it should have. Ostensibly, the meeting was to provide an update to the Facilities Master Plan (FMP) including recommended sequencing of projects. The board will meet again on December 14 and approve a roughly $100M FMP.

The district boasts about the reduction from the original (ill-conceived) FMP but it’s still $100M for the smallest district in OC with declining enrollment. The $100M includes $50M at the high school campus, $21M at El Morro, $14M for new district staff offices and $15M of upgrades at TOW and Thurston.

The high school expenditures include replacing the current 25-meter shared high school/community pool with a 50-meter Olympic competition pool. The existing wading/kiddie pool is eliminated and the bathhouse is being demolished and rebuilt. Cost for the pool complex, approximately $16 million. There are viable options that cost millions less, fully address student/resident needs and are far less disruptive.

The district is planning a general obligation bond of $80-$100M that would likely come for a public vote in 2026. Interestingly, the timing in the plan showed spending for the pool starting in 2024 and ending in 2026...BEFORE the bond is presented to voters. Apparently the pool will be funded from “available funds” and is being fast tracked before the bond vote. Additionally, the city currently funds 70% of the pool costs and has not finalized their position on community pool options.

So what’s the rush on a project that has considerable resident opposition? Approving the project now avoids the transparency of a bond issue and attempts to force the city to participate in funding. The better approach is to delay approval of the pool and work cooperatively with the city on a solution that fully addresses the needs of residents and school athletes in an economical manner. This is a resident tax-funded project and should have resident visibility and support; it does not.

Gary Kasik

Laguna Beach

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