Oxford Academy PTSA successfully advocates to defeat high-density housing project

Oxford Academy PTSA and residents of Cypress turned out in force at Monday night’s City Council meeting to oppose developer City Ventures’ application to build a high-density housing project half a block from the Oxford Academy campus. After nearly three hours of public comment from the standing-room-only crowd, the council conditionally denied the application by a 3-2 vote. Citing an advocacy committee reportand resolution adopted by the school’s PTSA unit, Oxford Academy principal Ron Hoshi and PTSA president Jon Hultman shared their concerns for student safety. Describing the severely impacted traffic conditions on Orange Avenue during peak traffic hours, Hoshi expressed concern “that more of this will be the case with the added development.” Although the traffic report commissioned by the developer found that fewer cars would leave the property during peak hours from their proposed townhouse complex than from the current commercial building, Hultman noted that “we don’t find it credible that there is going to be a decrease in traffic during those key hours when parents are dropping off kids at school.” Cypress Mayor Mariellen Yarc took the concerns of the Oxford community to heart, urging her colleagues to deny the permit.“A resolution from the parents, teachers and students of Oxford Academy…you can’t get any more groundswell than that,” said Yarc. Calling the project “incompatible” with the character of the area, Yarc noted that “this is a very tender spot in our city. We have Oxford Academy – it’s a gem. It’s not just local or state – it’s nationally acclaimed. … I have never…seen a school come out with this much passion. You can’t ignore that.” Oxford Academy PTSA formed an ad hoc committee to study the proposed development in September 2015. Chaired by Cypress resident and Oxford parent Clyde Schechter, the committee also included residents from the neighboring communities of Buena Park and Anaheim to ensure that the focus remained on campus concerns rather than the interests of local residents. The committee found several potential adverse effects likely to result from the project, most notably increased congestion during peak traffic hours and the resulting threats to student safety. Based on the committee’s report and recommendations, the PTSA unit voted unanimously in October 2015 to adopt a resolution asking the City Council “to use any legal means at its disposal to prevent this development”. “We are proud of the Oxford community for coming together to speak out on behalf of our students, and for the City Council’s resolve in representing the best interests of the community,” said Hultman. “Tonight’s decision really demonstrates what can be accomplished when schools and communities work together for the benefit of our children.” Oxford Academy PTSA is the local PTA unit representing parents, students and teachers at Oxford Academy. The unit won a 2015 Spotlight Award for Advocacy from California State PTA for advocacy that supported the passage of Measure H, AUHSD’s 2014 bond measure. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

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