final green

green space: Dmusd under-delivers by an acre

We’ll show you four things in this two minute read:

  1. DMUSD promoted a green space increase, but delivered an acre less.
  2. This month, DMUSD admitted to a half-acre further green space reduction – buried in an environmental filing – yet still boasts a different, larger number on its website
  3. DMUSD’s calculations include hardscape as green space
  4. DMUSD’s calculations are off – their admissions understate the true loss

the REal disconnected green space is 96,000 sf – an acre less than promoted

#1: DMUSD promoted an increase, but delivered an acre less

We were told in October in the Del Mar Times that there would be “actually an increase in the amount of green space” in the new school, but the image below – real clips from real DMUSD documents – shows that from that point forward it decreased dramatically instead – even using DMUSD’s own numbers.

Falling “green space” from October to May

Contrast the drops with what was promoted by the President of the DMUSD Board of Trustees on October 30 in the Del Mar Times:

October 30 Del Mar Times – comment by Trustee Halpern

What was promoted in October was definitely not what was delivered in May. We’ll show you below that the shortfall exceeds an acre.

#2: DMUSD just buried nearly 1/2 acre of additional reduction

Since January, DMUSD has claimed 127,824 sf of green space, already well below what was promoted in October. We’ve known this number to be inflated, but they stuck with it. Then on May 8 in their CEQA filing, in one line of one chart (see the last line of the chart immediately above), they dropped their number to 108,692 without any change in their design and without any explanation at all. Just like that, 19,132 sf gone – that’s nearly half an acre more.

They’re still telling the public a different story on their website (127,824) than what they admitted in their environmental filing on May 8 (108,692).

DMUSD website still claims 127,824 sf as of 5.20.2020

#3: DMUSD improperly includes hardscape as “green space”

LEFT: Northwest “Tot Lot” in DMUSD Site Plan (page 21 of CEQA MND)
RIGHT: Northwest “Tot Lot” in DMUSD “green space” calculation (5.8.2020)

Both images above are the Northwest “tot lot” or “public park” in the new school design – an area that is outside the new school gates. The one at left is the actual site plan that still appears on the DMUSD website and which was presented in the CEQA environmental review on page 21 of the MND dated February 20, 2020. It aligns with the DMUSD construction plans on file at the State Architect.

The image at right appeared for the first time on May 8, 2020 when DMUSD unveiled its final “green space” calculation. It strips out all the play structures, trees, and hardscape – making the entire area appear as 100% “green space”. Even at a quick glance, you can see it fibs 50%.

We measured that entire green colored area as 12,261 sf – and we’ll credit DMUSD with half of that – 6,130 sf of actual green space – even though it’s outside the school gates. Maybe later we’ll get it down to the exact number with more tedious granular work.

[Side note: It’s debatable whether to include the fire access road on the west of the site as green space – which DMUSD has done. It’s the 7,812 number on the left of our big diagram at the top. It’s not traditional grass, but “grass covered pourable flexible paving.” It’s concrete at bottom (to hold 75,000 pounds of fire truck) and looks like grass on top. Some brands we’ve seen are a hard honeycomb grid of plastic on top of concrete with grass planted inside the cells. Often it fails to grow, and complaints about about the playability of that type of surface abound in parent reviews. We’ve let DMUSD treat it as grass and given them 100% credit for now.]

#4: DMUSD’s numbers are wrong – it’s 96,000 sf, an acre less than PROMOTED

We’ve learned not to rely on DMUSD’s numbers – which have been consistently wrong by tens of thousands of square feet. Consequently, we did our usual independent careful measuring with Google Earth Pro, and triple-checked our calculations. We independently checked the scale.

For those of you who have been here a while, you’ve seen our painstaking and tedious work and have learned to trust the accuracy. For newcomers, you can check out these links to learn more about how we do it. We hope you’ll come to trust us as well. Example 1. Example 2.

The image at the very top shows our results for every piece of “green space.” It adds up to 95,968 – which we’ve rounded to 96,000 sf.

We omitted showing the Google Earth calculation screens in this post – which we often do include – to keep it simple. We did show them elsewhere for the field and blacktop, each of which has been cut by more than half. Click here for field and here for blacktop.

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