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Thursday, October 24, 2013
OUSD vote 7-0 to end Peralta Project
OUSD BOARD ENDS
PERALTA PROJECT in 7-0 vote FAIRFIELD
Tonight , the Orange Unified School Board voted 7-0 to terminate the controversial exclusive plan and end all agreements with Fairfield LLC to build a high density apartment project under a 99 year lease on the former
site. Peralta School
The vote brought an end and a stunning defeat to the Board Majority under OUSD Board President Timothy Surridge. Surridge had stated at the September meeting he was ready to vote to end the project.
Surridge however framed his capitulation to the broad-based community coalition that spanned the entire Greater Orange Communities as " a compromise". Surridge called for the price of his vote to end the project to be met by the opponents of the project agreeing to sell all the district's approximately 40 acres of reserved properties.
The evening started with Surridge calling for the Informational item on a likely facilities Bond to be heard before the Action items ( of which the Peralta vote was one). The business community public speakers before the item however, while supporting a Bond, called on selling of all the districts reserve properties.
When the vote on the Peralta Properties finally came to the OUSD Board, Surridge asked that the public comments be held until after the vote. Those public comments from the Save Peralta Property neighbors however were far from being in the mood for a compromise that would turn the Peralta site , or any of the reserve properties over to developers.
The evening did provide continued insight into the divisions between the two sides of the Board. Trustee Diane Singer at the start of the meeting made a point that her agenda item to re-consider having only one meeting a month was not added to the agenda. In an awkward surreal moment , OUSD Superintendent Michael Christensen reported to Singer that Board President Surridge had determined that the agenda was too long to add Singer's item, to which Singer retorted that was the reason to have more than one meeting a month.
In another surreal moment after the 7-0 vote and the public comments to not sell the district's reserve properties, Trustee John Ortega went into a soliloquy not seen since the Rocco days. Starting with "I just want to hear the positives", the almost five minute rambling included several remarks about him "getting it"-to his take on his thoughts that it was "inappropriate" for Orange City Council members to oppose the Peralta apartment project before it got to them ( "and I'll tell that to their face"). As the Trustee continued he included several references to his job on the school board being about students and the state of his old high school. Toward the end, as groans in the audience grew and heckling from the audience began, Surridge mercifully helped Ortega end his open ended public thought process.