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Van de Kamp's site leased to charter high school

July 15, 2009 |  8:45 pm

Los Angeles Community College District trustees today agreed to lease part of the historic Van de Kamp's Bakery property to a charter high school, over protests that officials had pulled a "bait-and-switch" by dropping plans for a satellite campus at the Glassell Park site.

The property, the subject of a ferocious preservation fight a decade ago, had undergone a $50-million to $60-million rehabilitation that saved the bakery's landmark Dutch town house facade in preparation for conversion to a campus. The project was primarily financed with a community college bond measure approved by voters.

But district officials said Los Angeles City College, now facing a $1-million budget deficit, could no longer afford to operate the satellite campus. They emphasized that some community college courses and job training would be offered at the site and that the district could take the property back from the Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools, which has a five-year lease, when the satellite was ready to be launched.

"It's a community education resource for all ages," said Adriana Barrera, the district's acting chancellor.

But activists, some of whom were part of the original preservation fight, said they might sue the district for reneging on the campus plans.

"It wasn't what they promised," said Laura Gutierrez, who also complained that community activists had been shut out of the discussions that led to the lease agreement with the alliance.

"This is a bait-and-switch," Jose Aguilar told the board.

In other board business, students and staff at Los Angeles Trade Technical College asked trustees to get rid of campus administrators responsible for a recent decision by the accreditation board to place the two-year institution on probation.

"There was a team that was trusted with this [accreditation review]. ... They failed us," said Victor Orellana, president of the campus League of United Latin American Citizens. Representatives presented a vote of no confidence to the campus president, vice president and dean. They said it was signed by 300 people.

-- Gale Holland