School Board to Vote Tonight on Recommendation to Lose Parking at Mira Costa

With a Mira Costa High School parking lot on tonight’s school board meeting agenda and likely to be approved, the next concerns are how to minimally impact students and get the job done properly.

“We feel pretty comfortable that the board is going to accept our suggestions,” said Paula Spence, Mira Costa athletic director. “We have taken a much more in-depth look at the situation and I feel very positive about the direction we’re headed.” 

That in-depth look included a recent parking analysis that led to the conclusion that parking lot space lost to a new state-of-the-art science building didn’t need to be recovered elsewhere on campus.

If the board approves the Athletics Facilities Master Plan Committee’s recommendation tonight, parking lot construction will most likely begin in July with an aggressive timeline preferred so as not to interrupt students’ day-to-day experience on campus, though summer months mean fewer students on campus.

“First, just making sure the construction develops smoothly and without a hitch will be key,” said Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Michael Matthews at the committee’s meeting Tuesday night. “Then, this committee needs to determine how do we best maximize our fields within our given space.”

That job will continue for the 16 voting members of the Athletic Facilities Committee, which was formed this past winter to make comprehensive recommendations for athletic field and facility renovations to the school board. 

“I’m very proud of the work this committee has done,” said Matthews. “We have thought of ideas no one had before and we’ve come a long way and will continue on next fall.”

The triggering event for what has sometimes been contentious debate about the shape the high school campus will take and what will happen to the specific interests of each sport at the school happened in November of 2008 when Proposition BB passed. Prop BB allowed for the school district to construct a new state-of-the-art science building, which will be built on existing parking lot space. The school board had originally considering demolishing existing tennis courts to recreate the lost parking but the parking analysis has paved the way for a new perspective.

At the school board meeting tonight, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Steven Romines and Luc Berne of Burch Architects will present the committee’s recommendation, which favors a remodeling of existing parking lots as opposed to the previously considered demolition of the school’s tennis courts on Artesia Boulevard and Meadows Avenue so that the space could be converted to new parking.

The recommendation, however, does not mark an end point for the committee, which is made up of Mira Costa faculty, administrators and local residents.

The next step is for the committee to meet following construction to further explore the possibilities for best equipping Mira Costa with top-notch fields and facilities for all athletic programs.

“Through this whole process lots of people have been very accommodating and understanding of each other and come to reach a consensus on making the best choices for the students,” said Spence.

“It’s a carefully orchestrated dance that hundreds of people are going to be participating in to meet the timeline we want so that the kids can still have a good experience during their school year,” Spence said.

“We won’t make everyone 100 percent happy, but I think we’re getting as close as we can be,” Matthews said.

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