Published : Wednesday, August 7, 2019 | 1:21 PM
Pasadena nonprofit organizations and schools that have been leasing buildings and land from Caltrans at the 710 Freeway stub are looking forward to being able to purchase their respective dwellings as early as next year.
California law, SB 7, which passed in the state Senate last May, allows nonprofits Sequoyah School, Cottage Co-Op Nursery School, Ronald McDonald House, Waverly School Organic Garden and the Arlington Garden to purchase their properties from Caltrans for below market rate. The opportunity would enable the organizations to continue to function without interruption.
Last July 1, SB7, which was authored by Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Canada Flintridge) passed the Assembly Transportation Committee.
Nonprofits Take the Summer to do Groundwork
During the summer months the organizations are doing planning groundwork and gearing up to stay in place.
“One of the things we’re doing is we want to see if Caltrans will let us use the empty building across the street as an urban design and ecology library,” said Michelle Matthews, executive director of Arlington Garden. “We would employ the same principles we’ve used with the garden, we would make improvements and it would be a community resource.”
Use of the house would also alleviate the issue of Arlington Garden not having a bathroom, she said.
The SB 7 bill is the result of more than 60 years of work centered on the 710 freeway stub. The latest efforts were fruitful as representatives from the nonprofits went to Sacramento to speak out on behalf of the group.
Jocelyn Robertson director of Cottage Co-Op Nursery School said that the school and the other nonprofits were appreciative of the group effort, which brought representatives of the group to Sacramento.
“We’re thankful for those who were able to speak on our behalf and on behalf of all the nonprofits,” she said. “It’s a great opportunity to buy the property and that enables us to maintain the current operations.”
Waverly School Organic Garden: ‘Grow It, Cook It, Share It’
For the Waverly School organic garden, farm manager-teacher Barbara Layers said it’s great that the organic farm program may not get uprooted. It’s one of the few programs where students of all ages get their hands in the dirt. They grow the food, prepare the food and share it with one another.
“I think it’s something we’ve lost, to be out with our hands in the ground,” Layers said. “Watching that miracle of a seed turning into a plant, or into food or a beautiful flower, or hatch a chick and watch it turn into a chicken, I think it’s something we’ve lost.”
Until the bill is officially signed into law, the nonprofits are doing their work, raising money and making sure when the time comes to buy their respective properties they’ll be ready.
Sequoyah School to Continue its Capital Campaign
“We’re going to be continuing our capital campaign to raise money,” said Ryan McDaniel, director of advancement for Sequoyah School. “We’re getting ready for when we’ll be able to buy the campus.”
McDaniel said it’s the Sequoyah community that has brought the financial support for the 60 years it has been at its location. Throughout the school’s history, the parents, alumni, board members, and friends of Sequoyah have all contributed to the school.
“We’re going public with a goal that’s $6 million-plus,” he said. “And the ‘plus’ is the most important thing. Because we don’t know what the final price will be, we have to choose a goal and try and raise as much as we can.”
McDaniel said in a case like this, it’s important to plan for additional costs beyond buying the building, expenses such as deferred maintenance.
McDaniel said the summer months move slowly when the Sequoyah community is looking forward to the future. He said he hopes that the campus will be able to be purchased by the spring of 2020. It’s expected that the order of operations will continue as residential properties will be sold first and then the nonprofits and schools will follow.
“We’ll know more next month,” McDaniel said. “The first day back for high school is Aug. 20, the first day back for K-8 is Wednesday, Sept. 4. So right now we’re getting ready for school.”