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Portantino Bill Could Help Closed Schools Become Affordable Housing

SB 1017 would loosen laws restricting district's ability to dispense surplus property

Published on Monday, February 17, 2020 | 5:22 am
State Senator Anthony Portantino, at far right in the baseball cap, with Pasadena Unified Chief Academic Officer Elizabeth J. Blanco, Ed.D., School Board Member Elizabeth Pomeroy, School Board President Patrick Cahalan, District Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald, and School Board Member Michelle Richardson Bailey at Saturday's Black History Parade.

State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced a bill that would allow school districts to better utilize surplus property.

Under current law, school districts are heavily restricted in how they can dispense with surplus property and can only use the sale or lease of a property for one-time capital expenditures.

Portantino’s SB 1017 would allow school districts to use proceeds from property sales to pay for the district’s CalSTRS or CalPERS obligations, place the money in general fund reserves, or be used to offset costs that the district spends on special needs students.

The hope is to incentivize sales of unused property for affordable workforce housing.

“Considering the challenges that California faces regarding funding for public education, pension obligations, and the construction of affordable housing, it does not make sense to me that school districts are hamstrung in how they are able use their assets. I’m hopeful that we can help all three important efforts,” Portantino said.

At a joint PUSD-City Council meeting earlier this month, officials with the school district announced they have

Got Used Oil

initiated a Facilities Task Force to potentially dispose of the former campuses of Allendale, Jefferson, Linda Vista and Roosevelt elementary schools along with the District’s Hudson Avenue headquarters.

Once the property is recommended for surplus it has to go through a 7-11 committee, the only committee that can declare property surplus. That committee will consist of parents, staff and community members. The committee will make a recommendation to the board on which properties should be declared surplus properties and recommend potential uses for the properties.

That process could take between 12 to 18 months.

At that meeting Councilwoman Margaret McAustin called on the district to ask state elected officials to help speed up the process.

“I would ask you go to the state legislature with this in hand and say ‘Look, we want to provide affordable housing. We have these sites. Help us. Is there a way to facilitate the process through the state, can there be special legislation?’” McAustin said.

The San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership suggested the bill idea to Portantino.

“This bill will incentivize school districts to sell or lease surplus properties for vital, new affordable housing,” said Bill Manis, President and CEO of the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership. in a prepared statement. “By providing greater flexibility in how districts can use the proceeds of a property lease or sale, more land will be available for affordable housing in communities that desperately need it.”

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