Approximately 75 residents in the neighborhood around the site of the former Swain Elementary School on Newman Ave. in Cypress brought their own chairs to a meeting at Rosen/Acacia Park on the evening of Wednesday, July 14, 2021.
Their original meeting site was to have been on the school campus, but according to meeting organizers the School District threatened anyone attending with trespassing. So the meeting was moved to the City park right next door.
The primary reason for the meeting was to introduce a lawyer, Phillip Geurts of Guerts Law Firm in Huntington Beach. Meeting organizers requested that he speak to the group in order for the group to be able to present a united front.
Mr. Guerts introduced himself and said repeatedly that his first step would be investigating current zoning for the Swain School site and whether the proposed use as a bus maintenance yard is allowed under that zoning. He stated that his investigation and determination would be at no cost to the neighborhood group.
If action were to be taken beyond that, he could work either on a contingency basis or paid through group contributions.
He also stressed that he would search for an amicable solution regardless of whether there were legal grounds to contest the proposed property use.
Residents attending brought up a number of issues that might be considered:
- Environmental impact: is an environmental impact report required? If so, was such a report compiled?
- Traffic mitigation: what can the District do to lessen the impact of traffic on Newman Ave. due to the proposed project? How can the safety of neighborhood children be ensured? Could access to the site come through the unused Red Line right-of-way instead of along Newman Ave.?
- Chemicals: if dangerous chemicals such as solvents will be used, how will such chemicals be safely handled?
- Noise abatement: for instance, if large power tools will be used, how can the noise nuisance be lowered?
- Construction contract: how was the contract let? Was it put out to bid? Has the District used the same contractor for other projects?
- Property values: how can residents be compensated for the lowering of the value of their property? How can the impact on property values be measured?
- Collusion or corruption: have personal relationships between Board members of the Cypress School District and the members of the Cypress City Council influenced the actions of either entity? Have financial considerations played any part?
A sign-up sheet was circulated to collect names and contact information in order to organize a group to formally retain Mr. Guerts. He said that he hopes to be able to complete enough of the initial investigation to send a notice to the City by the end of business on Friday, July 16.
Cypress School District
Materials concerning the transfer of the maintenance yard from its current location on Orange Ave. east of Moody St. to the Swain School campus are available at the official website of Cypress School District. These materials include a Swain Neighborhood Presentation (pdf) and a video.