Thursday, November 26, 2015 • 06:17

Court set to determine CCC Camp dispute

The Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps barracks above were destroyed by the Valley Center Pauma Unified School District, the legality of which is being decided.
June 18, 2014
The determination of whether the Valley Center Pauma Unified School District violated the Brown Act and California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) after demolishing the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps barracks now lies in the hands of the Fourth District Court of Appeals following a hearing Thursday, June 12.

The hearing came about after a lawsuit brought against the Valley Center Pauma Unified School District (VCPUSD) by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Interest Group was dismissed in Aug. of 2013.

The original lawsuit claimed that the district did not inform the public by not publishing in the agenda that it might take action to demolish the buildings and argued that the school district ought to be required to consider the historical significance of the remnants of the CCC building otherwise known as Camp Roe before being allowed to develop anything on the site. The lawsuit also requested the court to order the school district to stop further action.

The Civilian Conservation Corps barracks during demolition.
on the property and to do nothing else until it complied with CEQA requirements by preparing an Environmental Impact Report.

Fourth District judges Terry O' Rourke, Richard Huffman, and Alex McDonald heard the appeal, but told those in attendance it could take as long as 30 days to render a decision on the dispute.

During the hearing, O'Rourke addressed the CCC Interest Group's attorneys expressing his doubt regarding the historical significance of the buildings.

"This was not a unique building, in the sense that it was one-of-a-kind and there weren't other CCC buildings around," he said. "Who says they're historic?"

Huffman also spoke on the issue at hand, asking the attorneys, "What's the sequel we could give you, other than our sympathy on this issue?"

Jon Vick, a member of the CCC Interest Group, said while he isn't sure which way the judges will rule, he believes the one good thing to come out of the hearing is the admission by VCPUSD of a violation of CEQA.

"They admitted they violated CEQA and the judges took note of that," Vick told the Valley Roadrunner during an interview on Monday.

Vick said he also believes that it became obvious during the hearing that the school board did indeed violate the Brown Act by not listing the demolition of the CCC Camp buildings as an agenda item.

"I think one of the things that had come out of the hearing was that the school board had acted very surreptitiously to keep their plans quiet," Vick said. "The superintendent had signed the contract to demolish the buildings a month before it was discussed at the board meeting. When it was discussed at the board level the destruction was not an agenda item, which is a violation of the Brown act."

Vick said the CCC Interest Group left the hearing with no idea which way the judges will rule.

"Of course we are hopeful that they will recognize the violations that were alleged and will agree to set aside a small part of that area for a memorial park that will recognize the importance of the Civilian Conservations Corps, the use of the site by the military as Camp Roe and the use of the site by the California Department of Forestry," Vick said. "Our goal is to get the school to give a small portion of the site for a memorial park allowing us to rebuild replicas on the two foundations that are left, retain the entrance to the site off of Cole Grade Road and to put an educational kiosk that tells the history of the CCC, Camp Roe and CDF in using the site."

Calls to VCPUSD for comment were not returned by press time.

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