In a board meeting earlier this month, the Beaumont Unified School Board refused to take a position on the 2.5 million square foot Gateway warehouse center proposed for a residential designated area of rural Cherry Valley. They argued it was too early, there was too much misinformation and that it doesn’t affect the daily operations of the district. They instructed staff not to use any resources to research the project and decided their personal position was more important than taking action as a board. This decision was made in a “study session” at a time when most of us were still at work.
All I wanted was the school board to review the proposed project as it was presented to the County for approval. No one is asking them to approve the recommendations from a non-binding committee. Their resolution would also not have been binding but it would have added credibility and provided leadership to a community looking for support to protect the health and safety of our families.
Here are some quotes from the study session:
- "Doesn't directly impact the day to day operations of the district."
- "It isn't our responsibility to take a stand."
- "Every project (in Beaumont) impacts the school district but we don't do a committee for every project."
- "I was not aware there was an application process (for Gateway committee). I got a phone call they didn't ask me if I wanted to apply, they asked me to be on the committee."
- "I was not contacted as a School Board Member"
- "I didn't accept it and say 'I'll take it because I am a school board member' that wasn't my intent."
- "No matter what goes there, it's gonna affect the school district... we're going to gain more students, probably, whatever goes in there."
- "I think we should do it (take a stand) individually, if we are for it or against it"
Board member Janelle Poulter argued in favor of taking a position and David Sanchez was absent.
The board decided to take a personal approach. The personal approach doesn’t help us. Their personal position as a community member is no more influential than mine. Hackney’s decision to approach this as a normal community member dodges the responsibility he was elected to take.
They believe this project is like any other development project in the city of Beaumont and they don’t need to set a precedent with a resolution. They argued it was no different than Farmer Boys or a housing development. Obviously, they haven’t done any research or they would realize hundreds of diesel trucks won’t visit Farmers Boys daily. Lara argued that we “don’t form a committee for every project” in Beaumont. You think that would help her realize this isn’t like any other project in Beaumont.
It is time we take this to our elected school board. We need to make sure they recognize the role they should play to protect our community and families. Here is what I recommend. If you run into one of these “regular community members” ask them about their personal position.
Here are some questions to ask:
- What is your personal position?
- If you haven’t made up your mind yet, when do you expect to?
- What is your position on the project as it was presented to the county at the scoping session?
- If you don’t know what the details of the original project were, why not? When will you?
- Are you aware Bill Shopoff plans to sell the property once he has the zoning change? If not why don’t you?
- Why didn’t you feel this was an important enough issue to discuss in a “study session” during the regular open session?
- Are you aware of the studies regarding children in Mira Loma living near warehouses and how the trucks increased respiratory problems in the youngest children? If not why not? If you are, than how can you claim this will not affect the daily operations of the district?
- Some of you claimed there is misinformation out there. What is some of the misinformation you know of? This is the talking points we hear from those elected officials too uninformed and weak to take a stand. But no one I have asked has a specific answer.
I have many more questions as I am sure most of you do. We had to work when they provided our only opportunity to play by their rules and use our three minutes to ask for answers. They are comfortable helping the county supervisors and Bill Shopoff run out the clock. It is time we take it to them personally. Be polite and civil but if you see them at the grocery store or at a school function or around town, please take the time and ask. Then come back here and share their answers or lack of.