Polytechnic School 15-Year Master Plan Gets A+, Approved by City Council

Councilmembers praise strong, interactive community discussion

Published : Tuesday, November 14, 2017 | 6:44 AM


With strong support from school leaders and community members, the Pasadena City Council Monday approved a proposed 15-year master plan for Polytechnic School.

The coed private school at 1030 East California Blvd., which enrolls students from kindergarten through high school, sits cater-cornered the main Caltech campus and has since 1907. It is nationally recognized for its rigorous academic programs.

According to a Planning Department presentation by Senior Planner David Sinclair, the school’s master plan would moderately increase the student capacity to meet the community demand, and modernize the existing gym facility.

A number of Councilmembers praised the effective work done by the school leadership to integrate the school’s construction with its neighbors.

Councilmember Andy Wilson, who help assist the school through the collaborative political process, credited the “early and active cooperative engagement between the neighbors and the school. I hope others will take heed.”

“We have seen an awful lot of these master plans for private schools right in the middle of residential areas, become big, ugly messy fights, over traffic and school population,” added Councilmember Margaret McAustin. “This master plan that we are seeing today, and the interaction and relations between the neighborhood and the school, in developing the master plan, really has been very progressive.”

Polytechnic proposes to increase its student enrollment capacity by 80 students over five years, from 861 to 941 students, and the number of faculty and staff by 15 members, from 207 to 222 employees. The proposed plan also includes demolition of the existing gym and construction of a new replacement gym.

The school also worked closely with the local neighborhood to develop solutions for traffic and parking, “to ensure that any potential impacts to the surrounding neighborhood are minimized,” the report stated.

In May, the City’s Design Commission City’s selected “Option B” from four preliminary design options for the new gym that were presented, for its pedestrian-friendly approach, and encouraged the school to consider an open green space or corridor in the middle of the new gym. The 35-foot tall gym will be replaced with a new 40-foot tall gym, resulting in a net increase of 38,214 square feet.

The nationally recognized private Polytechnic School serves students from kindergarten through high school, and was founded at its present site in 1907. The school’s operation was limited to kindergarten through eighth grade until the 1950s, at which time the program was expanded to include high school.
The school’s campus is located adjacent to, and west of, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). K-8 school facilities are within the North Campus area, while all high school facilities are within the South Campus area. The School also owns nine additional residentially-zoned properties in the neighborhood.

To lessen the impact and ease any strain on local neighbors, the school worked with the neighborhood representatives to form a Neighbor Relations Council, and held community meetings November 10, 2014 and March 5, 2015 to discuss the school’s plans. It also held meetings with representatives of Catalina and Mentor Avenues, Cornell Road, and Dale Street on May 6, June 29, and August 20, 2015.

According to the Planning Department report, the school has already implemented a number of measures to improve existing traffic conditions at the school site, which includes implementation of a Commuter Bus Program, prohibition of pick-up/drop off on the north side of Cornell Road, modification in the schedules of the three schools to stagger pick-up/drop-off traffic, and use of a third pick-up lane for North Campus.

Polytechnic has also designated the parking lot located at the southwest corner of Wilson Avenue and Cornell Road, known as “Garland Parking Lot” as the preferred student drop-off and pick-up location for its high school students.

The school has also agreed to maintain the number of vehicle trips associated with student drop-off and pick-up and faculty/staff commuting at the current level, to ensure that there are no new impacts to the neighborhood related to school-related traffic, the Planning Department report stated.

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