Guidance Charter

STEP FORWARD — The Palmdale Planning Commission approved modifications to the conditional use permit for the Guidance Charter School campus that will allow it to obtain a temporary occupancy permit for the completed portions.

PALMDALE — It is unclear yet whether the campus will have a school to house, but the Palmdale Plan­ning Commission on Thursday approved a major modification to the con­di­tional use per­mit for the Guidance Char­ter School campus to allow for occupancy of the main school buildings while con­struc­tion of the re­main­der of the campus is phased in as funds are available.

The commission voted 3-0 to approve the modification, with com­missioners Deana Ward and Angel Olvera absent.

The $31.6 million, 87,000-square-foot campus at Avenue R and 40th Street East was built to house sixth- through 12th-grade students for Guid­ance Charter School, which was chartered through Palm­dale School District at the time construction began.

The campus was set to open in August. But after the petitions for the orig­inal Guidance Charter School and the proposed Guid­ance Charter School 2 were denied, it remains closed. Most of the students who attended Guidance Char­ter School returned to their respective districts.

A petition for Guidance Charter School-1 is under con­sideration by the An­tel­ope Valley Union High School District; if ap­proved, students will be housed at the new campus.

“I see this (modification to the conditional use per­mit) as a smart move to pro­vide safety in the area and to allow potentially the building to actually be oc­cu­pied at some point,” Plan­ning Commission Chair­man Stacia Nemeth said. “It breaks my heart when I drive by there to see such a lovely facility and there’s nothing going on at it. If this is one way for us to actually get occupied space there, that would be ideal.”

“If things don’t work out for Guidance Charter to be there, at least it would be a usable piece of property for some other organization to occupy,” she said.

The modification to the conditional use permit, which was originally ap­proved in 2016, sets up the campus completion in three phases. The first phase, which Executive Di­rect­or Kamal Al-Kha­tib said is almost 99% com­plete, consists of two build­ings and a portion of a third and eight basketball courts, along with the site im­prove­ments such as side­walks, parking lots, land­scaping and fencing.

The second phase will in­clude completion of the baseball and football fields with a running track, as­so­ciated spectator seat­ing and digital score­board.

The third phase will in­clude the re­mainder of the partially-completed build­ing from phase one, a gymnasium, outdoor pool facility, library, lock­er rooms and faculty ad­min­is­tra­tive space and support areas, according to the staff report.

By dividing the project into phases, the school may obtain a temporary oc­cu­pancy permit for the first phase, allowing for its use before the remaining areas are completed, Assistant Plan­ner Matthew Alcuran said.

The permit modification re­quires a six-foot fence, which is al­ready in place, to separate the first phase from the unfinished areas of the campus to prohibit ac­cess by students.

Nemeth questioned postpon­ing road im­prove­ments required in the or­ig­in­al permit until the third phase, and how that delay would impact traffic flow around the campus should it open to students.

“I would just like to make sure our traffic sit­u­a­tion would not be im­pact­ed,” she said.

Because all the class­room buildings will not be completed in the first phase, the student pop­u­la­tion will be less than orig­in­ally planned and there­fore will have a lower im­pact on traffic than at full build-out, according to city traffic engineering staff.

Construction of the new cam­pus was financed with $29.58 mil­lion in tax-ex­empt and tax­able bonds is­sued in March 2017 by the Cal­if­ornia Statewide Com­­mu­­­ni­ties Development Auth­­­or­ity.

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