Committee Needs More Time on Sagebrush Decision

A Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization leader said the panel will take 30 to 60 days to make a decision on the Sagebrush territory transfer petition, taking into account a new environmental study completed under the California Environmental Quality Act.
“We will be reviewing this at an upcoming meeting,” said Chairman A.J. Willmer on Wednesday about the CEQA study and additional information about the petition to transfer the territory in La Cañada Flintridge from the Glendale Unified School District to the La Cañada Unified School District. “We also just received the CEQA report late last week. We take comments sent to us very seriously. We take your public comment very seriously. I also want to emphasize that despite some impressions out there, there has been no binding vote by this committee.”
Based on the initial study, according to the county’s notice of public hearing, it was determined the proposed transfer of the territory will not have significant adverse impacts on the environment with the implementation of mitigation measures. The project meets the criteria for a “mitigated negative declaration” under CEQA, according to the study.

The Sagebrush territory, the western-most area of La Cañada Flintridge, is approximately 380 acres in size; and the western boundary follows Pickens Canyon and the Pickens Canyon flood control channel.
“No transfer can happen at this pace until July 2020 at the earliest,” said Nick Karapetian, a chief petitioner behind the Sagebrush transfer request, after the meeting. He told board members during the public comment period it was time for them to move ahead with the transfer.
Another petitioner behind the transfer request told education officials she had thought Wednesday’s meeting would result in a vote on the environmental study.
“I would have thought this document and this discussion would have happened during the appeals process,” said Nalini Lasiewicz. “We’ve already put five years into this. I hope someone makes a motion to adopt this.”
More than 30 speakers — many speaking twice and mostly in favor of transferring the LCF neighborhood to LCUSD — discussed the items at the meeting at Office of Education headquarters.
In May 2017, the committee gave preliminary approval to the transfer that Sagebrush residents have sought in numerous attempts for more than 50 years. After the committee’s vote, the next step was for a CEQA review, which took roughly a year.
According to an August 2018 study, it was revealed that the proposed project “could have” a significant effect on the environment, but there could be revisions to the project that could mitigate those effects.
According to the Glendale school district’s public information office, 356 students within the project area were enrolled in the district’s schools during the 2016-17 school year.
Willmer said he expects it will take 60 days for the committee to return and make its decision, but it could be sooner than that, and staff members would let interested attendees know.

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