Update on Sagebrush Transfer


Yesterday a meeting was held to update the public on what is happening with the Sagebrush transfer. And to summarize – nothing is happening at the moment.

The Sagebrush issue has been in the news most recently since 2013 but the debate stretches back to the 1960s when it was first raised. The area in question is the far west side of La Cañada Flintridge, west of Rosebank Drive to Pickens Canyon, where the homes are within the City of La Cañada Flintridge but students attend Glendale Unified School District schools. This is known as the Sagebrush area because, before being developed, it was populated only by a huge stand of sagebrush.

A coalition of LCF residents formed Unite LCF in 2013 and began working on a territory transfer from GUSD to La Cañada Unified School District. This involved several negotiations between the two districts that included the rate at which students would be transferred if the transfer were approved and compensation to Glendale Unified for loss of students and parcel tax. A vote with GUSD had been scheduled in 2014; however, it was postponed as more discussion was needed to fine-tune the issues presented by the transfer.

In 2016, Unite LCF backed a petition and gathered 724 verified signatures to transfer the Sagebrush territory to LCUSD, and submitted the petition to The Los Angeles County Office of Education’s specialty committee formed to handle these types of cases – The Los Angeles County Committee on School District Organization, an 11-member committee whose purview is specifically to decide which tracts of homes are assigned to which school district. The petition was accepted and, in 2017, the transfer was approved despite the vote in favor of the transfer being against the Committee’s staff recommendation.

There are still some issues to work out, among them being LCUSD having to find room to accommodate the 350-plus students who will transition into its schools from GUSD. The approval of the transfer from 2017 was preliminary, and the next step would be to complete an Environmental Impact Report as required under the California Environmental Quality Act. Yesterday’s meeting was simply an update on where in the process the EIR falls.

“Nothing substantial happened at the meeting [Wednesday],” said Kristine Nam, communications director for the Glendale Unified School District. “LACOE staff simply gave the County Committee an update that the [EIR] has been completed, but they did not discuss the actual contents of the [EIR].”

The LACOE took out a legal advertisement in last week’s issue of CVWeekly as the paper of record to inform the public of a planned Mitigated Negative Declaration, meaning that during the Initial Study performed for the transfer, there would be no negative impacts to the area so long as certain small mitigation efforts are employed.

“In accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) has prepared an Initial Study (IS) for a proposed transfer of territory from the Glendale Unified School District to the La Cañada Unified School District,” the legal ad said. “Based on the IS, it has been determined that the proposed transfer of territory will not have significant adverse impacts on the environment with the implementation of mitigation measures, and the project meets the criteria for a Mitigated Negative Declaration (MND) under CEQA. All interested parties are invited to review the IS/MND and submit written comments. The IS/MND can be accessed at: www.lacoe.edu/business-services/documents-forms.

Comments can be submitted by mail to Allison Deegan, LACOE, 9300 Imperial Highway, Downey, CA 90242 or by email to deegan_allison@lacoe.edu no later than Sept. 18, 2018. The Los Angeles County Committee will conduct a public hearing to receive oral comments and for considering adoption of the MND at its regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 3, 2018.”

This ad can be found under the Legals section on Page 23 of last week’s issue. As of press time, the IS/MND is not available at the address given in the ad. But comments will be taken on the issue from now through Oct. 3 at their next meeting where an official decision on adopting the IS will be made.