Emergency Council Meeting in Tustin Takes Aim at TUSD School Construction


The The trial between the City of Tustin and Tustin Unified is scheduled to start a week from today in Orange County Superior Court, but the next shots in the battle will come tonight as Tustin Mayor Jerry Amante has called for an emergency city council meeting with the sole purpose of adding new barriers to TUSD’s school construction.

An email seeking TUSD supporters to coem to the council chambers tonight went out over the Easter weekend during Spring Break. 

Here it is:

Today, Friday, April 22, 2011, the City of Tustin posted notice on their web site of an emergency City Council meeting for THIS COMING MONDAY, April 25 at 7 pm at Council Chambers at 300 Centennial Way in Tustin.

We need every supporter of the Tustin High School construction projects (THS Science Center, Quad and new Sports Pavilion) to attend and OPPOSE two proposed grading ordinances that will add requirements to the 50 year old Grading Ordinance intended to delay, interfere with and add substantial costs to these projects.

Versions of the email included the email addresses of city council members, but Mayor Amante’s email address wasn’t listed as he’s considered by many in Tustin to be the force behind these proposed changes.



Please forward this email to as many people as you can!  To keep up to date, track http://www.LynnDavis.org and/or http://www.StopTheRedTape.com  (Updates will be posted starting Saturday morning, April 23.)


1.  About 50 years ago, the City of Tustin adopted its Grading Ordinance.  Both Tustin and Irvine modeled their Grading Ordinances on the County Grading Ordinances, and ALL THREE contained a specific exemption that kept public school districts from having to get Grading Permits, since school construction is regulated, approved and inspected by State authorities (particularly the Division of the State Architect).  

2.  Until 2009, all Tustin Unified School District grading plans were informally reviewed and approved by the relevant municipality in all parts of TUSD.  But in 2009, the City of Tustin insisted – alone and for the first time – that TUSD projects, including those at Tustin High, needed to meet additional requirements, pay substantial additional fees, and be subject to additional costly inspections from City bureaucrats.

3.  In early 2010, facing the loss of millions of dollars in savings on attractive bids, ten acres of federal land, and other potential penalties, TUSD asked the County Superior Court to stop City interference in its projects, and proceeded with several construction projects, saving several millions of taxpayer dollars.  The City in turn asked the Court to stop these projects and give the City substantial control over them.

4.  In December 2010, just before the question was to go before a judge, the City of Tustin requested that TUSD agree to a six month extension of the court hearing to engage in settlement discussions.  TUSD agreed.

5.  In January 2011, substantial agreement was reached on several key points of a settlement between City and School District officials.  A draft of the agreement was to be created by the City and provided to TUSD by early February.

6.  On April 8, after several requests, the City of Tustin finally provided a draft settlement agreement to TUSD.  It in no way resembled what had been discussed. In an attempt to keep the public from ever finding out what was REALLY happening, Amante sought to impose a “gag order” on all elected officials involved, preventing them from giving anyone in the public any information other than what would be in a sanitized press release approved by both sides’ lawyers.  Penalty for violation of the gag order was set at $250,000 or higher!  This is unprecedented in settlements of disputes between public agencies.

7.  On April 14, TUSD provided to the City a settlement proposal that would save both sides countless of dollars of taxpayer funded legal fees.

8.  On April 20, less than two weeks before the postponed court date, the City of Tustin legal counsel informed TUSD that the City refused to respond to the TUSD offer, and was unilaterally ending settlement talks.

9.  On April 22, the City of Tustin posted notice of an EMERGENCY COUNCIL MEETING to be held on Monday, April 25 at 5:30 (closed session) and 7 pm (open session) at which it would unilaterally amend the 50 year old Grading Code so it could for the first time eliminate the public school exemption!

Meanwhile, equivalent construction projects continue at TUSD schools in the City of Irvine (e.g. Beckman, Orchard Hills, Hicks Canyon) and in the unincorporated County area (e.g. Foothill) with the exemption being honored and NO resulting problems!

The proposed new City ordinances would needlessly delay projects and be very costly to area taxpayers, who have twice voted to fund these important school construction projects with large supermajority votes!

Amazingly, all FOUR of the City Council members listed above attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the THS Sports Pavilion project that the City now proposes to interfere with by stripping the TUSD exemptions and more on Monday night.

Both in terms of the Tustin High construction projects, which City officials well knew were underway, and in terms of the Court date now scheduled for Monday, May 2nd, these are LAST MINUTE DESPARATION MOVES by Amante and City bureaucrats to change the rules AFTER the game is underway!

Not only that, choosing to use SPRING BREAK WEEK to cut off negotiations and EASTER WEEKEND to call a LAST MINUTE emergency Council meeting clearly demonstrate an intent to engage in a sneak attack at a time they hope that Tustin’s students and parents will not notice and object to what they are doing!

Please do the following:

  1. EMAIL the four City Council members stating your STRONG objection to any last minute, costly changes in grading ordinances applicable to school construction projects!
  2. COME on Monday to the Emergency City Council meeting by 6 pm on Monday, April 25 at the City Council chambers.

THANK YOU for your consistent support of these necessary improvements to our high quality neighborhood schools here in Tustin!


Lynn Davis, President
Tustin Board of Education

LiberalOC readers will remember, in his response to the recall petition, Mayor Amante says he supports Tustin Schools.  If this is his idea of support, imagine if he didn’t.