L.A. County to Hear Sagebrush Transfer Presentations

Proponents of the long-desired Sagebrush territory transfer are expecting the Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization to deliver and render a preliminary decision of their petition at its meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 3, in Downey.
Residents of westernmost La Cañada Flintridge have been fighting since 1961 for students in the so-called Sagebrush neighborhood to attend La Cañada Unified School District Schools rather than the Glendale Unified schools they’ve always attended.
Four years ago, following two previous failed attempts at legislation and three previous petitions, a citizens group calling itself UniteLCF mounted another attempt. Their request led to months of unsuccessful negotiations between the districts and, eventually, to the petition that county committee members will consider next week.
After a pair of public hearings last year, the committee planned to consider the petition in February, and then again in March, but both times the matter was postponed. Committee members indicated they wanted additional time to review documents and to begin a preliminary environmental analysis. April’s meeting was canceled.
Now, at Wednesday’s meeting, both districts and the petitioners are expected to make 20-minute presentations to the committee.
An approval will trigger an analysis of the environmental impacts of the transfer following California Environmental Quality Act guidelines, which could take as long as six months.
If the committee denies the transfer request, there will be no CEQA study and UniteLCF will have five days to file a notice of appeal, according to Tom Smith, head of UniteLCF.
“We feel very good,” Smith said earlier this year. “We made a very compelling argument.”
Smith and his co-petitioners say redistricting will increase community cohesion in LCF while easing enrollment concerns within GUSD. But GUSD contends the loss of as many as 356 students could mean a detrimental reduction of as much as $2.7 million annually.
Advocates counter by pointing out what a small percentage of GUSD’s total enrollment Sagebrush represents — that loss equates to less than 1%, according to UniteLCF. They also point out that 84% of respondents indicated they’re in favor of the move when they were surveyed by GUSD in 2014.

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