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Gird Road site deemed best location for new Bonsall High School

The completion of a site selection study for the new Bonsall High School has indicated that the planned Gird Road site is the preferred location.

The Bonsall Unified School District (BUSD) contracted with G. Wayne Oetken and Associates for a site selection study which included demographics, student population growth, facilities, needs, community response, related developer fee impact, boundary studies, and other elements necessary for a comprehensive review and the planning for construction of the new Bonsall High School.

An Optimal High School Site Study evaluated 12 sites based on uniform criteria and identified the Gird Road property as the most optimal. On March 9, the BUSD board voted 4-0, with Erin English absent, to approve the study summary.

"They went through many different sites and came back to the Gird Road site," said BUSD superintendent Justin Cunningham.

An October 2014 BUSD board action approved a $6,500 contract with G. Wayne Oetken and Associates for the site selection study along with a $17,000 contract for a five-year facilities master plan. Bonsall High School is currently on the Sullivan Middle School campus. The high school opened in August 2014 with only ninth-graders and will expand by one grade each year until it has all four high school grades during the 2017-18 school year.

In 1967, the Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) acquired 50 acres off of Gird Road. The FUHSD plan was to build a second high school once enrollment at Fallbrook High School reached 1,800 students, but the high school district never built that second school. In December 2011, the FUHSD board declared the Gird Road property surplus, or not necessary for the district's current or future needs.

In November 2012, voters within both the BUSD area and the entire FUHSD territory approved Proposition BB, which changed the K-8 BUSD into the K-12 BUSD while removing that territory from the FUHSD. The high school district likely would have sold the Gird Road property had the unification measure failed, but under the California Education Code, school district reorganization automatically transfers real property to the location's new district.

The principal advantages of the Gird Road site are its size and capacity for accommodating students, physical characteristics, utilities including data, location, and cost savings since the school district currently owns the land, and access. Although elementary schools tend to serve neighborhoods, high schools are regional and the BUSD likely will not have a second high school in the future, so the central location of the Gird Road site was a significant factor. Gird Road is off State Route 76, which is the only major roadway running through the district from east to west, and the streets off which the other reviewed sites are located are narrow two-lane roads which create traffic congestion and pedestrian safety concerns.

All major utilities already serve the Gird Road site, and it is within the North County Fire Protection District's five-minute response time area. Although no land purchase would be required, the construction cost would be augmented by environmental, soil, drainage, flooding, and toxic material tests. A boundary adjustment with the Golf Club of California property will also be likely, and the fire district may desire a secondary access. The site is also considered to lack revenue generation potential since it is not near other educational programs.

The other 11 sites in the study are the San Luis Rey River Park land just east of Bonsall Elementary School and the district office, the Vessels property, Rawhide Ranch, the 40 acres on the south side of Lilac Road west of Rawhide Ranch and Sullivan Middle School, the Palomar College extension area on the northeast side of State Route 76 and Interstate 15, property at Old River Road and Little Gopher Canyon Road, the park-and-ride at East Vista Way and Highway 76, land on the northwest side of Olive Hill Road and Highway 76, the eastern end of Camino Del Rey, the Lilac Hills Ranch land, and the San Luis Rey Training Center property.

The San Luis Rey River Park land is owned by the County of San Diego. It meets size, utility access, fire department response, and central location criteria, but the property is in a flood plain and peak-hour traffic at the intersection is already at Level of Service F while pedestrian conditions are also undesirable.

The Vessels property consists of approximately 1,300 acres, and a proposal to build 400 homes has undergone a pre-application meeting with County of San Diego staff. The site was determined not feasible unless the ownership was contacted for a donation of land prior to the completion of the subdivision design.

The Rawhide Ranch site is close to Sullivan Middle School and would be central to the Bonsall students served, but it has limited usable acreage, may not meet the five-minute response standards, is in an area of Bonsall with no secondary access, and is not served by major utilities. Because the Rawhide Ranch site is not for sale, the district would also need to undertake the eminent domain process.

The 40 acres west of Sullivan and Rawhide Ranch consist of three lots, although those are not contiguous and the land contains unusable acreage. The property does not currently have access to major utilities, and although utilities could be brought over from Sullivan Middle School, the cost would be significant. The sight distance from the current roadway creates a safety concern.

The Palomar College site would meet utility access criteria and would be compatible with land use in the surrounding area, but the location would require a significant commute for most district residents and that traffic would augment the Palomar College and development traffic. A land sale or eminent domain proceeding would also be required.

A small house for sale on the corner of Old River Road and Little Gopher Canyon Road, along with adjoining property, could provide primary and secondary access just west of the central location area. Old River Road does not currently have traffic impacts, although walking conditions might make a school in the area undesirable. Eminent domain may be required for the adjacent property, and the five-minute response time may not be met.

The California Department of Transportation is currently using the park-and-ride site at East Vista Way and State Route 76 as the Caltrans field office for the Highway 76 widening project. Caltrans and the County of San Diego have entered into a joint agreement to use the site as a joint park-and-ride, so it is not for sale. The county also plans to use the property as a trailhead when the San Luis Rey River Park is developed.

Caltrans and the county also own the property on the northwest side of Olive Hill Road and Highway 76. Since the location is across the street from the North County Fire Protection District's new Station 5, the secondary access requirement might be waived. However, even if the land was for sale, traffic, environmental, drainage, and flooding concerns exist.

The property at the end of Camino Del Rey is flat, near Interstate 15 and Old Highway 395, within the NCFPD five-minute response area, and has already been disturbed so development would not create environmental degradation. However, the property is not listed for sale and it is not in a central location.

The Board of Supervisors hearing for Lilac Hills Ranch has been postponed indefinitely due to further review whether Supervisor Bill Horn must recuse himself from the vote due to the proximity of his property to the proposed development, although petition circulators are collecting signatures to place Lilac Hills Ranch on the November 2016 ballot. If the development for the 608-acre property is approved, it would take place in five phases over a ten-year period. The Planning Commission's conditions included providing the land and funding construction of a new elementary school at a location to be determined. Traffic for a high school site would be a significant issue, Lilac Hills Ranch is not central to the Bonsall district, the phased construction may create blasting and extensive grading conditions, and a sewer connection might not be available by the time the high school construction would be completed.

The San Luis Rey Training Center is on the corner of Camino Del Rey and Camino Del Cielo, across the street from Bonsall Elementary School and the district offices. It meets central location and fire department response time conditions, and its land use designation of Village Residential is compatible with a school site. However, the property is not currently for sale, and when the track was closed for renovations between July 2013 and January 2014, the Stronach Group spent more than $2.5 million on renovation work. Due to traffic associated with school activity, the starting and ending times for Bonsall High School and Bonsall Elementary School would need to be staggered.


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