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Chapter 13. School Facilities and Equipment Subchapter 1. School Housing Article 2. School Sites Standards for School Site Selection   

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All districts shall select a school site that provides safety and that supports learning. The following standards shall apply:

(a) The net usable acreage and enrollment for a new school site shall be consistent with the numbers of acres and enrollment established in the 2000 Edition, "School Site Analysis and Development" published by the California Department of Education and incorporated into this section by reference, in toto, unless sufficient land is not available or circumstances exist due to any of the following:

(1) Urban or suburban development results in insufficient available land even after considering the option of eminent domain.

(2) Sufficient acreage is available but it would not be economically feasible to mitigate geological or environmental hazards or other site complications which pose a threat to the health and/or safety of students and staff.

(3) Sufficient acreage is available but not within the attendance area of the unhoused students or there is an extreme density of population within a given attendance area requiring a school to serve more students on a single site. Choosing an alternate site would result in extensive long-term bussing of students that would cause extreme financial hardship to the district to transport students to the proposed school site.

(4) Geographic barriers, traffic congestion, or other constraints would cause extreme financial hardship for the district to transport students to the proposed school site.

(b) If a school site is less than the recommended acreage required in subsection (a) of this section, the district shall demonstrate how the students will be provided an adequate educational program including physical education as described in the district's adopted course of study.

(c) The property line of the site even if it is a joint use agreement as described in subsection (o) of this section shall be at least the following distance from the edge of respective power line easements:

(1) 100 feet for 50-133 kV line.

(2) 150 feet for 220-230 kV line.

(3) 350 feet for 500-550 kV line.

(d) If the proposed site is within 1,500 feet of a railroad track easement, a safety study shall be done by a competent professional trained in assessing cargo manifests, frequency, speed, and schedule of railroad traffic, grade, curves, type and condition of track need for sound or safety barriers, need for pedestrian and vehicle safeguards at railroad crossings, presence of high pressure gas lines near the tracks that could rupture in the event of a derailment, preparation of an evacuation plan. In addition to the analysis, possible and reasonable mitigation measures must be identified.

(e) The site shall not be adjacent to a road or freeway that any site-related traffic and sound level studies have determined will have safety problems or sound levels which adversely affect the educational program.

(f) Pursuant to Education Code sections 17212 and 17212.5, the site shall not contain an active earthquake fault or fault trace.

(g) Pursuant to Education Code sections 17212 and 17212.5, the site is not within an area of flood or dam flood inundation unless the cost of mitigating the flood or inundation impact is reasonable.

(h) The site shall not be located near an above-ground water or fuel storage tank or within 1500 feet of the easement of an above ground or underground pipeline that can pose a safety hazard as determined by a risk analysis study, conducted by a competent professional, which may include certification from a local public utility commission.

(i) The site is not subject to moderate to high liquefaction or landslides.

(j) The shape of the site shall have a proportionate length to width ratio to accommodate the building layout, parking and playfields that can be safely supervised and does not exceed the allowed passing time to classes for the district.

(k) The site shall be easily accessible from arterial roads and shall allow minimum peripheral visibility from the planned driveways in accordance with the Sight Distance Standards established in the "Highway Design Manual," Table 201.1, published by the Department of Transportation, July 1, 1990 edition, and incorporated into this section by reference, in toto.

(l) The site shall not be on major arterial streets with a heavy traffic pattern as determined by site-related traffic studies including those that require student crossings unless mitigation of traffic hazards and a plan for the safe arrival and departure of students appropriate to the grade level has been provided by city, county or other public agency in accordance with the "School Area Pedestrian Safety" manual published by the California Department of Transportation, 1987 edition, incorporated into this section by reference, in toto.

(m) Existing or proposed zoning of the surrounding properties shall be compatible with schools in that it would not pose a potential health or safety risk to students or staff in accordance with Education Code Section 17213 and Government Code Section 65402 and available studies of traffic surrounding the site.

(n) The site shall be located within the proposed attendance area to encourage student walking and avoid extensive bussing unless bussing is used to promote ethnic diversity.

(o) The site shall be selected to promote joint use of parks, libraries, museums and other public services, the acreage of which may be included as part of the recommended acreage as stated in subsection (a) of this section.

(p) The site shall be conveniently located for public services including but not limited to fire protection, police protection, public transit and trash disposal whenever feasible.

(q) The district shall consider environmental factors of light, wind, noise, aesthetics, and air pollution in its site selection process.

(r) Easements on or adjacent to the site shall not restrict access or building placement.

(s) The cost and complications of the following shall be considered in the site selection process and should not result in undue delays or unreasonable costs consistent with State Allocation Board standards:

(1) Distance of utilities to the site, availability and affordability of bringing utilities to the site.

(2) Site preparation including grading, drainage, demolition, hazardous cleanup, including cleanup of indigenous material such as serpentine rock, and off-site development of streets, curbs, gutters and lights.

(3) Eminent domain, relocation costs, severance damage, title clearance and legal fees.

(4) Long-term high landscaping or maintenance costs.

(5) Existence of any wildlife habitat that is on a protected or endangered species list maintained by any state or federal agency, existence of any wetlands, natural waterways, or areas that may support migratory species, or evidence of any environmentally sensitive vegetation.

(t) If the proposed site is on or within 2,000 feet of a significant disposal of hazardous waste, the school district shall contact the Department of Toxic Substances Control for a determination of whether the property should be considered a Hazardous Waste Property or Border Zone Property.

(u) At the request of the governing board of a school district, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction may grant exemptions to any of the standards in this section if the district can demonstrate that mitigation of specific circumstances overrides a standard without compromising a safe and supportive school environment.


Authority cited:

Education Code 17251(b)

Education Code 33031


Education Code 17212

Education Code 17212.5

Education Code 17213

Education Code 17251(b)

Education Code 17251(f)

(Amended By Register 2000, No. 44)