Daily Breeze: Where will they park?
- Today is Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Originally published Monday, May 28, 2007
Updated Monday, May 28, 2007
Where will they park?
As Lawndale High School's performing arts center nears completion,
city officials want answers on event parking.
By Shelly Leachman
The performing arts center at Lawndale High School is packed full of
drama, though none of it is happening on stage.
The long-overdue opening of the theater is nearing, school officials
say, but there appears to be no end in sight to the controversy
surrounding the massive, modern complex.
In addition to well-documented cost overruns, cross lawsuits are
ongoing between Centinela Valley Union High School District and
builders F.H. Paschen. The pair also are in litigation over a
cafeteria project at Hawthorne High dubbed the "Taj Mahal" of school
Now concerns are emerging from communities surrounding the center, by
way of a joint letter to the school district board from the mayors of
Lawndale and Hawthorne (and obtained last week by the Daily Breeze).
It points to "the need for adequate parking and the resultant traffic
congestion that will occur with any event" as pressing issues for the
Failing to address such issues could "cause distress to the general
public" and "negatively impact the prospects for the success of the
facility, should patrons have a difficult time finding access to and
from an event," wrote Mayors Harold Hofmann of Lawndale and Larry
Guidi of Hawthorne.
The 50,000-square-foot arts building sits near the busy corner of
Inglewood and Marine avenues. The six-story, 1,200-seat center does
not so far include its own parking structure or lot. There are some
400 existing spaces spread across the Lawndale High site, also home to
the district office, adult and continuation schools.
The mayors and city managers of Lawndale and Hawthorne did not return
calls seeking further comment and explanation.
In their letter the cities also accuse the school district of failing
to comply with related state environmental review requirements and ask
that a parking and traffic study be undertaken "to identify ways to
mitigate the impacts that are sure to occur once events are held at
the performing arts center."
School district Superintendent Cheryl White acknowledged that no such
study was ever performed and said that it "should have been done
before the performing arts center was begun."
No plans currently exist to initiate a traffic analysis now, White
said, "but that doesn't mean we're not going to be cognizant of their
concerns and try to do the right thing for the community."
"Remember there wasn't one board member now who was involved back
then, nor was I involved. We're just sitting here trying to fix things
for our students," White said.
"We're gonna figure out what we can do. We're not planning on
causing an uproar in the community."
The district's current focus, according to White, is finishing the
hulking arts center, which she said will be ready for students come
fall. And while the ultimate goal is to rent out the theater for
community and traveling shows - when parking and traffic indeed may
cause problems - the reality is a long way off, White said.
"At this point we're not ready to have the `Phantom of the Opera'
performing there," she said. "We're not at the point where parking
will be an issue."