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Richard Hood: How about this for a Castaic high school site?

Posted: September 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 2, 2012 2:00 a.m.

With all its unhelpful hills and pesky earthquakes, Castaic has proved a challenge for those who promised us a high school. These are the same reasons why, to this day, San Francisco has no public schools at all.

Oh, wait ... it has almost 200? This must be because San Francisco, as we all know, has its act totally together.

Its less sophisticated cousin, Los Angeles, builds extremely expensive high schools, which not only look like the spawn of a collaboration between Frank Lloyd Wright and Salvador Dali, but they are then placed over methane dumps or floated on the La Brea Tar Pits. But, hey, it has the will to build.

Yet here in Castaic there sits, neglected, an already graded, abandoned site, and the only site not to raise the ire of any neighborhood, nor any Town Council member, yet it has been ignored by all: the Palmer site.

I have heard a bank owns it. Everything seems to have a price, but no one seems curious as to what price the bank might want, which is curious on its own count.

Other sites all have their cheerleaders and detractors, and those demanding a new high school proffer that “someone isn’t going to like it no matter where they put it.” So true. Except for the Palmer site.

If no one wants the school in his or her own backyard, then why force one area of the community into something no other area wants, either? One reason may be because the community paid for it — twice — and after two bond measures the community may well be asking, “Where’s the beef?”

If one neighborhood is just as selfish (or wise?) as the others, is it wrong to force the high school being put anywhere? Perhaps the community prefers no school at all, rather than having it at the price of exploiting the neighbors.

Can the ends justify the means? Is the communal good really served if the property rights of its individual members are ignored? Is that like thinking you can have a healthy body by abusing your individual organs and cells?

If one group wants to avoid forcing it down the throat of another group, but still wants a high school “in the best interest for all,” there is the Palmer site on Hasley, with its wide pre-existing road, lights and infrastructure.

It requires no streambed crossings, no oak tree removals and is close to population centers.

We can finally have a high school, but the root problem of why it has taken so long, unless discovered, will cause similar problems down the road. Perhaps it is the opposing mentalities of longtime residents, independent ranch types vs. the newcomers who don’t mind HOA hegemony and are more convenience-minded.

Or maybe the fault lies in the small print.

A district can always use the excuse of an economic downturn to divert the funds it raised by bond measures, by using the small print it never advertises during its bond measure campaign, even as it waves the carrot of a new high school in the face of the voters.

It can claim it spent money looking at multiple sites, including those it didn’t already own and favor.

And, what if we are headed for another economic and housing downturn? Will we still get a high school then, or will that be used as another excuse?

Ask those who told us to expect the school years ago and who are the stewards of the public trust and public funds. I’m sure we get all the bond money back if we don’t get the high school because that would be the obvious right thing to do. Oh no, wait again ... that didn’t happen with the first bond, either, did it?

Think about how many stores, despite our nation’s economic woes, Wal-Mart has opened in the last 10 years, not to mention Starbucks or Trader Joe’s. In the same time, Hart has opened zero high schools for Castaic.

In less than 10 years, we put a man on the moon, but then, those responsible actually desired that result.

Okay now, everyone hold hands. You all know the song:

Where have all the school bonds gone?

Long time passing

Where has our new high school gone?

Long time ago

Where has all the money gone?

“For the children,” every one

When will we ever learn?

When will we ever learn?

If you don’t need something, don’t buy it, particularly with other people’s money. If you need something that badly, and will benefit from it, let them put it in your backyard.

Or (did I mention this already?), there is the Palmer site.

Richard Hood is a Castaic resident and a member of the Castaic Area Town Council, though he notes his opinion about the high school is not that of the council’s.


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