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District

Bus Storage Facility Project

Bus Storage Facility Update | June 14, 2024

Due to the volume of public comment on the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) for the HBCSD Bus Storage Facility, the District is postponing Board consideration of the item and it will not appear on the June 18 Board meeting agenda. This will allow additional time to address the feedback received in the public comment process.

We remain committed to working with our community on the project and will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Notice of Intent to Adopt Mitigated Negative Declaration for Bus Storage Facility at Sowers Middle School

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that Huntington Beach City School District (District) has prepared a revised Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND) for the Bus Storage Facility at Isaac L. Sowers Middle School Project (project) to address the potential environmental effects associated with the implementation of the project. Pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 21067 and the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines (CEQA Guidelines) Section 15050, the Huntington Beach City School District is the lead agency for the project. The purpose of this notice is to (1) serve as a Notice of Intent (NOI) to adopt an MND, and (2) advise and solicit comments regarding the content of the IS/MND pursuant to CEQA Guidelines Section 15072 and 15073. 

The District circulated the original IS/MND from November 17, 2023 to December 18, 2023 and approved the IS/MND and project on February 13, 2024. Concerns were subsequently raised by community members over the potential environmental impacts of the project and the distribution of the document. The IS/MND has been revised to address these potential environmental impacts raised by concerned community members, including noise and traffic safety. The IS/MND is being recirculated to ensure adequate review by the community and public agencies. 

NOTICE OF AVAILABILITY: Pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 21092 and CEQA Guidelines Section 15105, the IS/MND will be available for a 20-day public review from Friday, May 24, 2024, through Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Pursuant to Public Resources Code Section 21091, responsible and trustee agencies must submit any comments in response to this notice no later than 20 days after receipt. 

Copies of the IS/MND are available for review at the Huntington Beach City School District Office at 8750 Dorsett Drive, Huntington Beach, CA 92646. 

The document can also be accessed online at: Bus Storage Facility webpage 

WRITTEN COMMENTS: We ask that any person wishing to comment on the MND provide written comments by the end of the public review period at 5:00 p.m., June 12, 2024. You may send comments to the following email or mail to the addresses facilities@hbcsd.us or 8750 Dorsett Drive, Huntington Beach, CA 92646.

PROJECT LOCATION: The project site is approximately a 0.8-acre site within the northwest corner of the existing Isaac L. Sowers Middle School located at 9300 Indianapolis Avenue, Huntington Beach, in Orange County. 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The proposed project consists of a bus storage facility located at the northwestern corner of the existing Sowers Middle school campus and offices, a lounge and restrooms for District staff. The District proposes 15 bus parking stalls, 14 regular parking stalls, one handicapped stall, and an approximately 1,280-square-foot building with office, lounge and restrooms. The District would operate its routes using 15 buses – five diesel, three gasoline, and seven compressed natural gas (CNG) buses. Bus operations would include pre-trip bus testing starting as early as 6:00 am on school days. Startup testing includes momentary testing of horns and blinkers, air brakes, wheelchair lifts and bus idling for approximately 35 to 45 minutes. Repair and refueling activities would occur at an off-site location, as under current conditions. Inspection, washing, and simple upkeep would occur at the bus storage facility. In an emergency, upkeep utilizing an air compressor, pneumatic tools and/or a pneumatic jack would occur at the facility, such as when changing a flat tire. The access point at Titan Way would become access exclusively for the bus storage facility. 

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES: All potential impact categories are addressed in the Initial Study. The IS/MND determined that the project would not result in any significant environmental impacts. Most impact categories were found to be either of no impact or less than significant. Mitigation measures were identified to ensure impacts would be less than significant for archaeological resources, noise (construction vibration), and tribal cultural resources. 

Project Sponsor: Huntington Beach City Unified School District 
Consulting Firm: PlaceWorks 
Date: May 24, 2024 

Bus Yard Renderings

The Huntington Beach City School District plans to build a bus storage facility at the northwest corner of Sowers Middle School. The District has been working with the City and other landowners in Huntington Beach for more than three years to determine a location for the storage facility. The Sowers location is the only viable option for various reasons, such as being within the district boundaries and accessible from a main road. The overall site will be 110 feet by 295 feet, and the Gisler sale proceeds will fund the project. Although the project is adjacent to the school, it is a separate unit and will feature eight-foot-tall walls around the perimeter per Huntington Beach City code requirements. District buses are currently stored at a warehouse on Gothard Street, and the lease expires in April 2025. 

The bus storage facility is designed to accommodate a fleet of 15 buses. Our current fleet comprises 11 buses in use and 4 held in reserve. The facility will also accommodate our bus drivers, including designated vehicle parking.  Additionally, it will serve as the location for dispatching the fleet, ensuring efficient route and schedule coordination. The facility will include amenities for routine cleaning of both the exterior and interior of buses, and provisions for simple upkeep tasks such as changing tires and topping off fluids, ensuring the continuous reliability of our transportation fleet. This facility does not have a mechanic's bay or fueling stations typically found in a bus yard. Since our operation is small, we contract with the high school district for fuel and use outside services for bus repairs.

This project represents our commitment to enhancing transportation services cost-effectively for our school community. Important information and dates will be added to this webpage as it becomes available. Dates are subject to change.

Quick Links

Contact Us

HBCSD Facilities
facilities@hbcsd.us

City of Huntington Beach Project Planner
madalyn.welch@surfcity-hb.org

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

6/10/24

When was the decision made to place the Bus Storage Facility at the Sowers Middle School site?

The District has been working with the City of Huntington Beach, neighboring districts, and other landowners in Huntington Beach for more than three years to determine a location. The Sowers location is the only viable option for various reasons, such as being within the district boundaries and accessible from a main road.

What are the overall dimensions of the Bus Storage Facility site?

The overall site will be 110 feet by 295 feet. Here is HBCSD Bus Storage Facility Dimensions Rendering.

Will this facility relocate the buses by Huntington Beach High School or the bus yard next to Lowes Home Improvement Store on Warner?

No, the facilities mentioned are for Huntington Beach Union High School and Ocean View School District.  The Bus Storage Facility proposed off Indianapolis will replace the Bus Storage Facility previously housed on the Dwyer Middle School campus.

How tall will the concrete block wall be that surrounds the project?

The walls around the project will be eight feet tall.

What time does the transportation team start their buses in the morning?

The Transportation Department's hours of operation are 6:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Currently, the first pre-trip starts at 6:15 AM, this time is based on the students riding the bus and their pickup location. 

What type of fuel do the buses use?

The fleet currently consists of five compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, three diesel buses, and three gasoline buses that are routinely used. It also contains four backup buses. 

The initial design for the Sowers reconstruction project did not show the bus storage facility.  Is this facility utilizing previously planned playground areas for the students?

No, the bus storage facility is utilizing square footage previously planned for additional parking.  Once the Sowers reconstruction project is completed, Sowers will have a similar number of parking stalls to those before construction.

How are the concerns about air quality, noise, and traffic impact being addressed?

Air quality, noise, and traffic are part of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process. The District's CEQA consultant worked with Studio W architects during the design process to mitigate the project's environmental impacts through design elements such as setting the buildings and buses back from the street, increasing planting, location of the building, and defining the height of the perimeter walls.

What is the status of the CEQA document? 

The District is in the process of modifying and updating the CEQA document (i.e., Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration (IS/MND)) to address changes to the project and concerns raised by community members. Once the IS/MND is complete, the District will distribute a Notice of Intent (NOI), which will be distributed to a mailing list of interested parties, and a list of properties surrounding the school. The NOI will provide a link to the document on the District’s website. A hard copy of the document will also be available for review at the District office. Comments on the IS/MND may be submitted by mail or email during the 20-day public review period.  The District anticipates the NOI and IS/MND will be circulated by the end of May.

Why did the renderings for new Sowers not include the Bus Storage Facility? 

The District researched alternate locations for the facility while the Sowers Reconstruction Project began. After exhausting all other options, the Sowers campus was the most viable option. 

Can the bus schedules be modified to alleviate potential issues with Sowers's pick-up/drop-off time frames?

The bus routes will be planned, considering traffic patterns around the Bus Storage Facility, city streets, and the school pickup and drop-off times.

What research was conducted to review other potential sites/options for the Bus Storage Facility? 

The District has been working with the City of Huntington Beach, neighboring School Districts, and other landowners in Huntington Beach for more than three years to determine a permanent location for this facility. After an exhaustive review, the District Office site was the only viable option with the District's limited resources.

How many bus yards are in HB?

The Huntington Beach Union High School District and Ocean View School District both house their bus yards within the city limits of Huntington Beach. These yards serve a broader range of functions, including fueling and maintenance, compared to the proposed Bus Storage Facility.

Will this project go through a DSA approval? 

The facility will not house students, allowing the District to choose the agency overseeing its construction. As a custodian of public funds, the District found the City's process to be quicker, more cost-effective, and allows for community involvement. The District could still follow the DSA process if deemed necessary.

Will the bus storage facility include parking for staff? 

The bus storage facility will include thirteen parking spaces and two accessible parking spaces for transportation staff. 

Will the Sowers school parking lot have a locked gate? Will the community be able to park at Sowers and access the park?

The Sowers school parking lot does not have a gate, so the community could use it to access the park.

Do the trees in front of the facility block the view of cars or pedestrians at the Bus Storage Facility's entrance?

The trees were included at the city's request. They are strategically placed, set back from Indianapolis, and will not interfere with the visibility of buses, cars, pedestrians, or bicyclists.

Has the District reviewed a pathway from the city park to the Sowers campus?

Yes, the District has been discussing updating the park's pathways to align with the new school layout with the city.

How will the student drop-off and pick-up zone compare to the one at Peterson Elementary?

The concept will be similar. However, while the Peterson drop-off zone was built around the existing campus, the Sowers drive aisles were designed from a blank slate. This allowed for a larger area accommodating two lanes of traffic and improved traffic flow with multiple exits.

What does the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review process entail?

The CEQA review process focuses on assessing environmental impacts rather than economic impacts, such as changes in property values.