Brentwood School Head Mike Riera weighs in on the school’s CUP.
As many of you know, on February 21, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved Brentwood School’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP), which is a transformational marker in our school’s history. Brentwood School has been a part of this community since 1972 (and at our site as a school since 1930), and this use permit enables us to move forward in implementing our 30 Year Education Master Plan. Therefore, I think now is the time to thank the community for its support—in the form of collaboration, hard questions, tough negotiations, and high expectations. The negotiations over the past 10+ years were challenging, and the results are a testament to how a community can work together and have difficult conversations while becoming stronger as a result.
First, I want to thank the Residential Neighbors of Brentwood School. We negotiated with them for eight years with a focus on the design and construction aspects of our 30 Year Education Master Plan. We looked at building heights, noise restrictions, dust mitigation, hauling times and routes, and just about everything else that is attendant with any type of construction. As a result of these conversations, we have a construction plan that our most immediate neighbors support.
Second, thank you to the Brentwood Homeowners Association (BHA), with whom we negotiated traffic issues for two years. From the outset, the BHA required us to not raise traffic by a single car, despite increasing enrollment by 265 students. Even more, they held us to the highest standards of how to count cars in and out of our East Campus, from videotaping and third party counters with independent verification, to counting students that were dropped off in the village as vehicles. Again, as a result of these authentic negotiations, the BHA also supported our new CUP.
Together, the BHA and RNBS were relentless and fair in obliging us to reach these agreements in a 30-year, legally enforceable covenant, which built on the success of the previous 20-year covenant between the three parties. This new covenant will serve as a binding agreement for our neighbors and the school, no matter who moves in and out of the neighborhood or who leads Brentwood School.
Finally, thanks to Councilman Mike Bonin and the staff in his office. From the start, he was clear and adamant that any new construction on the Sunset Corridor would require a reduction in traffic regardless of any enrollment increase. He required that we further negotiate our traffic impact with the Brentwood Community Council (BCC), and the outcome of these negotiations was the reduction in traffic required by Councilman Bonin – a 12.5 percent reduction this September and a 40 percent reduction at full enrollment. This is unprecedented in all of Los Angeles. Thank you to both Councilman Bonin and the BCC for insisting that we be a leader on the Sunset Corridor and for pushing us out of the proverbial box when it comes to traffic.
I’m delighted to report that we responded to all of the aforementioned groups by following their prompts, which is in accord with the purpose of our school: Think critically and creatively. Act ethically. Shape a future with meaning. Our CUP strengthens the Sunset Corridor, motivates schools to work with one another in creative ways to reduce vehicle traffic on the Corridor, and most importantly, inspires others along the corridor to join us in making a difference.