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Council set to  decide on islands

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Council set to decide on islands

Posted on 16 August 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The sounds of traffic are barely heard behind the wall that surrounds Scott Wilson’s back yard along Macy Street. Wilson and his wife Amy, sit on comfortable patio furniture and enjoy the shade of their back yard. The long-time resident of

Map courtesy OC LAFCO
The map shows the locations of the six remaining county islands within La Habra. The City Council will discuss annexation of these areas at its meeting in September.

what is classified as the Macy/Randall Island is one of the residents of the county territories that has voiced concern over the proposed annexation of the county property by the City of La Habra.
The La Habra City Council is set to make a decision on the proposed annexation of the six remaining county islands that fall within the city’s borders this September. The move to annex the territories was brought up by the city council on May 1, but faced quite a bit of outcry at the meeting from some residents of the islands.
At its heart, according to Wilson, is the argument as to why annex homeowners who don’t want to be annexed. Why not leave well enough alone?
Wilson and Bob Hatcher, another resident of the island territory designated as Macy/Randall, expressed the concerns of many residents in the islands of the increased costs to homeowners associated with a “forced” annexation.
Many of the 1,267 residents of the county islands are concerned with an increase in sales tax, trash rates, utility bills, taxes, business license fees, and the addition of overnight parking permit fees. Further, many county residents are on septic tank systems, and are concerned with having to be required to change and then pay to be connected to the city sewer system.
However, according to La Habra City Manager Jim Sadro, costs will be minimal to the residents. Taxes and utility rate increases are nominal and the timeframe for switching from septic to sewer will be up to the residents.
Regarding the increased expense for the city to take on the 1,267 residents, Sadro said that the estimated $7.2 million will not be all at once. The installation of sidewalks and street lights will come over a period of time and will be up to the residents on those streets.
Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson, who represents La Habra, said that it is a matter of “good government and management” that La Habra annex the islands.
The Citrus/Entrada and Cypress/Terry islands are the smallest areas and have a combined total of 11 homes. Nelson raised the question of how efficient it is for residents on the extreme northern border of Orange County to be serviced by Santa Ana, when they can be serviced more effectively by the city of La Habra. “What do they have against being a part of La Habra? It’s a great city,” he said.
For Wilson and other residents, it’s not that they have anything against La Habra, but rather enjoy their “island life.”
While some residents of the islands enjoy the separated lifestyle, others weren’t aware that it wasn’t part of La Habra, since they have a La Habra mailing address.
Street addresses are another concern for the residents in the islands. The numbers are out of sync with the city’s address system. Changing addresses can cost homeowners an expense, depending on how much they have connected to the address. Home-based business operators would have an additional increased expense with the change.
The numbering system for the city is to better provide police and fire services. However, La Habra Police Chief Jerry Price said that with increased technology, such as GPS, they will have no trouble finding a location when needed.
Sadro added that there might not be a need to change the address numbers right away, if at all. It is something the city needs to look into.
Wilson and other residents are concerned about the vague references to what they “might not have to do” or what might be “grandfathered” in that they have received from the city. “They haven’t put anything in writing,” Wilson said.
Along with the “grandfathering” uncertainty, many homeowners of the islands expressed further concerns over switching from county to La Habra building codes. What has existed for years under county ordinances could now be out of compliance under La Habra ordinances.
Many residents of the islands have expressed their lack of trust in what city officials have stated and said they prefer to see things in writing. In the May 1 council meeting that lasted nearly three hours primarily to accommodate as many resident comments as possible. Hatcher said that he felt that the residents of the Macy/Randall island were not given enough notification.
Councilman Michael Blazey called for a website to be set up to provide residents more detailed information on annexation and what will happen. The city staff agreed, but to date the site has not been established.
The push for annexation this year is fueled by the City of La Habra wanting to increase water flow and pressure north of Whittier Boulevard. However, five of the islands are located in that area and have been serviced by Cal Domestic Water.
Cal Domestic is changing its organization and it is becoming a water wholesaler. This would move those islands into La Habra’s water district. With this happening Orange County Supervisors and the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission, which represents the state in discouraging urban sprawl and encouraging orderly and efficient provision of municipal services, encouraged La Habra to annex the islands.
However, LAFCO and Orange County officials said that the sixth and final island of Macy/Randall and its 305 parcels will have to be included in the annexation.
Annexation of county islands in La Habra has come up over the years. In the past island residents have been given a vote to approve or reject annexation. Some islands in La Habra have approved annexation in the past. It is just down to the remaining six islands within the city.
However, since 2004, California changed the law regarding annexation. It allows for annexation of unincorporated areas of up to 150 acres to be annexed with the local agency formation commission’s approval. The remaining islands total just under 131 acres.
Caroline Emery, Executive Officer with the Orange County LAFCO, informed city officials that both LAFCO and the State Board of Equalization are waiving all of the normal annexation fees required for the City.
With all other requirements in place, the last remaining step before annexation of the islands is the approval of the La Habra City Council.
Wilson and a group of other residents hope that they decide to just let them be.


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LHCSD looks to go TK-6

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LHCSD looks to go TK-6

Posted on 20 April 2017 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The La Habra City School District is opening up the discussion on the future of the district, including changing the structure of the nine schools.
According to Superintendent Dr. Joanne Culverhouse, a task force is being created to study the feasibility of changing seven of the schools to a transitional kindergarten-sixth-grade configuration.  The two middle schools would then become traditional junior high schools.
The idea was presented for discussion at the School Board meeting last Thursday.  Culverhouse explained that she had presented the idea to the teachers and classified staff unions as well as the board.
She added that the district has an opportunity to rethink teaching and learning and that this is an opportunity that may never come around again.
“It is beyond exciting, but more importantly a moral imperative that we owe our students and their future,” she said.
It was explained that the TK-6 structure would match the education structures of all neighboring school districts.
The board echoed the importance of Culverhouse’s suggestion of incorporating the community in this process.  They explained while the possibility of the new TK-6 structure is being discussed, it would take a similar configuration as the search for a superintendent. Surveys and focus groups of parents and community members will be conducted.
Board member John Dobson stressed the community involvement is vital.

LHCSD Superintendent Joanne Culverhouse

Culverhouse shared a comment from one of the school administrators that said the change could enable the district to create an “academic powerhouse from TK to 6.”
Further, that  “raising and mentoring students and teachers for six consecutive years. Ensuring every student, parent and teacher are provided with the very best.”
Culverhouse explained that it is very likely that the current boundaries will be able to be maintained.  She added that some schools could have a specialized focus, like the current dual immersion program, but all schools will maintain the same quality education. Earlier in the meeting, the board adopted a standardized language arts program for the various grades in the district. This ensures the same training is being conducted across the district.
Board President Ofelia Hanson said that something like this restructuring could help with enrollment.  She added that the district has been losing an average of 200 students each year.  She is hopeful that, if implemented well, this TK-6 structure might make the school district a “destination district” for parents.
Board member Sandi Baltes, who was a teacher and administrator in the district prior to k-6 to its current structure, stressed how the new structure can help with the creation of a “family” environment at the schools.  The new configuration  would eliminate transitions at third and sixth grades.  She explained how students would be able to build a greater feeling of comfort staying at the same school for six years.
The ability of teachers to better collaborate in order to provide consistent, quality instruction for the students.
Baltes added that the new structure would help parents by only having to go to one school to pick up their children and not having to race to another to pick up older or younger siblings.
The next step, according to Culverhouse, is for the 15-member task force to get started on determining the feasibility of this new structure (facilities, teacher assignments, bell schedules, etc.).  In addition, surveys will be going out to parents in both English and Spanish.  Focus groups will be scheduled and help for parents to share their thoughts and insight regarding this structure.
If the restructuring is officially approved, according to Culverhouse, the earliest it could be implemented would be fall 2018.
Parents and the community are encouraged to share their thoughts and input with the district.  More information about the focus groups and surveys will be coming soon.
Culverhouse added that “it is important to challenge ourselves as educators to create excellent institutions  of learning to instill hope and positive change in future generations in the La Habra community.”

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Children’s Museum shows off at open house

Posted on 09 March 2014 by La Habra Journal

By Heather Pape
La Habra Journal

The Children’s Museum at the La Habra is a place that is always full of life, full of adventure and full of fun for kids. However, on one night every year, the museum puts on an event where the adults get to celebrate all those things as well. childrens museum4c_1
This night showcases the advances the Children’s Museum at La Habra made throughout the year, and honors those who have supported it. In this year’s open house, the museum boasted of three new successful exhibits and educational programs for the community. The exploration of ancient Egypt, the large dinosaur replicas, refurbishment of Buster the Bus and a toddler soft-play area were all constructed in the museum this year. Between all those additions and the provision of art education to 3,400 kindergarten through fifth-grade students in the La Habra City School District, the children’s museum has accomplished a lot.
The building was packed with individual, corporate and foundation donors, the La Habra City Council and local congressional dignitaries. These “Friends of the Children’s Museum” were offered an assortment of snacks and beverages within each of the exhibits. Live music advertising the new “Egypt: Land of Ancients” exhibit echoed throughout the building. Mayor Pro Tem Michael Blazey kicked off the night’s festivities by calling attention to its notable contributors and the museum’s success within the past year.
Museum Director Lovely Qureshi stated that each year, the museum acknowledges individuals who have made a major impact on the museum. This year they honored two people, including La Habra City Councilman and Orange County Transportation Authority Board Member Tim Shaw.
“He noticed that we have a life-size, interactive OCTA bus here called Buster the Bus,” said Qureshi. “He actually contacted the CEO of OCTA and his fellow colleagues and put in motion the refurbishment project. We thought as an individual, he really stepped out of the box and Children's Museum4C_2decided to do something for his community, and that is why we wanted to highlight him.”
Another person who stood out as a celebrated museum supporter was Robin Young, the woman who founded the museum 36 years ago.
“She just resigned from the Friends Board of Directors and we thought it would be a nice send off to recognize her because of her vision and her foresight to bring an educational institution here,” said Qureshi. “This is the first children’s museum west of the Rockies, first in California and it is the longest running children’s museum on the West Coast. Because of her vision and goals, and wanting to bring this type of institution here, we wanted to thank her for her important contribution to the La Habra community.”
The museum is owned and operated by the City of La Habra and has a public/private partnership with the Friends of the Children’s Museum that raises funds for museum exhibits and programs. One upcoming project that is opening on April 1 is the “Healthy You! Healthy Me!” exhibit. Qureshi said this display will focus on different types of healthy eating and exercising, and it will bring awareness to the problem of childhood obesity. She claimed that this demonstration will be engaging and educational for the whole family.
“The Children’s Museum is a place where everyone in the community can connect,” said Qureshi. “Supporters of the museum understand the importance—that it is an educational center for the community. I think that is why we are a place where everyone feels welcome.”ChildrensMuseum4C _3


Children’s Museum finalist for the 2014 National Medal for Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced The Children’s Museum at La Habra as a National Medal for Museum and Library Service finalist. Finalists are chosen because of their significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.
The Children’s Museum is one of 15 national finalists in the Museum category, and the only California museum finalist of 2014.
The institute is encouraging community members to share their story and personal impact regarding The Children’s Museum on the IMLS Facebook page, www.facebook.com/USIMLS.
These stories will be used as part of the judging criteria to determine the National Medal for Museum and Library Service winners that will be announced this spring.
The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor conferred on museums and libraries for service to the community.

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