Search:      Site      Web        
powered by
Residents sue district over El Toro High stadium plans
By SARAH de CRESCENZO



LAKE FOREST – A group of residents has sued the Saddleback Valley Unified School District to stop the construction of a stadium at El Toro High School.

The lawsuit, filed last month in Orange County Superior Court by resident Richard Stein and a group of unnamed residents calling itself Responsible Use of Land at El Toro, seeks to stop the project and forbid the use of any taxpayer money for a stadium on the high school campus.

The SVUSD board approved the stadium Nov. 13. Plans include bleacher seating for 4,000 people, 70- and 80-foot tall lighting poles, a concession building and a new scoreboard. The stadium is expected to cost $5 million to $6 million, according to district officials, paid for with redevelopment funds.

At the November meeting, some residents complained their property values and quality of life would decline if the school added bleachers and lights to its main sports field, allowing teams to use it for nighttime practice and competitions.

In the lawsuit, Stein and other residents argue funds from a local bond measure were promised for a stadium off campus.

"I voted for the passage of Measure B, in part, because it established and provided funding for an offsite stadium for El Toro High School, thereby eliminating the community impacts associated with an onsite stadium," Stein wrote in the lawsuit.

Measure B is a $180 million bond measure passed by district voters in 2004. According to Noemi Avila-Zamudio, district facilities, planning and construction coordinator, $163.4 million has been spent. The remaining $16.6 million is earmarked for schools that are going to become eligible for modernization in the near future, she said.

The stadium was among a number of projects not completed as planned because of factors such as rising construction and labor costs, according to the district.

In the lawsuit, Stein asserts the district has "misappropriated" Measure B funds by using them for modernization rather than an off-site stadium.

The lawsuit also alleges that the district violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not properly analyzing the environmental impacts of such a project, such as its effects on traffic, noise and air quality.

He asks the court to compel the district to rescind its approval of the project and to pay all attorneys' fees and litigation costs related to the lawsuit.

District spokeswoman Tammy Blakely said the district has thoroughly studied the potential environmental impacts of the stadium.

"The district believes that it will be vindicated in court and expects this matter will be resolved in its favor," she said.

Contact the writer: 949-454-7307 or sdecrescenzo@ocregister.com






 Employers - Looking to hire?
Upcoming Career Events