OUSD  rejects Killefer parcel sale

June 2017

The Orange Unified Board of Trustees did not approve the sale of 5,280 sq. ft. of surplus property located between the Killefer School site and Richland High, although the vote was four to three in favor.

Selling property requires a supermajority of at least five votes to pass.  The four "yes" votes -- Tim Surridge, John Ortega, Andrea Yamasaki, Brenda Lebsack -- were therefore not enough to overrule the three "no" votes cast by Kathy Moffat, Andrea Deligianni-Brydges and Rick Ledesma.

The parcel is currently part of the Richland Continuation High School parking lot, and was declared surplus earlier this year.  Western States Homes, who offered $5.075 million for the main 1.7-acre Killefer site in 2014, had expressed an interest in the additional property.  

Western States hopes to build student housing for Chapman University on the parcel, but has not yet received approvals from the City of Orange.  The existing Killefer school building, site of the first desegregated classrooms in California, is listed on the Historical Register and must be preserved. The developer has offered to pay for the preservation of the schoolhouse in exchange for the right to build multi-story student housing around it.

Lose it or use it?
OUSD staff had recommended that the board approve the sale of the parking lot parcel and offer it to the highest bidder, providing it was for at least $250,000.

During the board discussion, Kathy Moffat pointed out that a multi-story building abutting Richland would be “an intrusion” on the campus.  She also noted that while the parking lot may not be needed now, it may be someday.  “We’re spending millions of dollars on the other high schools,” she said.  “Richland may be improved at some time.  Right now, it’s a high school operating on an elementary school campus.”

Deligianni-Brydges asked if Richland was operating at capacity, and wondered aloud if the 11 parking spaces lost to the sale might make a difference some day.  She also expressed interest in the potential Richland improvements Moffatt referenced.

Following the four-to-three- in-favor vote, the board and the audience assumed the sale was a given, and proceeded to the next topic on the agenda.  The district’s legal counsel asked to interrupt the meeting and, when given the go-ahead, reminded the trustees that selling property requires a supermajority vote, and that in fact, the board had not approved the sale, but had denied it.