Letter to the Editor: School Board, Everyone Should Collaborate on Alternative Plans

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This letter is in regard to the recent decision of a “rotational cycle on and off” charade that the Newport Mesa Unified School District is considering, in light of the proposed and controversial parking structure at Ensign.

This should be the time that the ALL of the board members collaborate with the city, the public, as well as the Newport Beach Police Department.

Not including all board members is unwise.

This could be compared to the equivalent of a minuscule sector of our government addressing the recent outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, it simply defies logic at a time when all resources are needed. I am requesting that all NMUSD members be included at the next (Ensign) meeting, along with any additional government officials.

We all know that the mature trees at Ensign produce oxygen and help improve air quality, however, a new study suggests they also help significantly cut down on asthma and other respiratory diseases, and save millions of dollars every year as a result. The study was done by a group of researchers at California State University, Fullerton. They measured nitrogen dioxide levels associated with traffic and other sources of air pollution in different areas across California. They placed 144 sensors in different neighborhoods. They found the amount of tree cover had a significant impact on the levels of nitrogen dioxide in an area and the respiratory health of the residents in that area.

Specifically, the study concluded, because of the city’s existing tree canopy:

  • Children age 4-12 avoided missing 7,380 school days due to asthma attacks.
  • People of all ages avoided 54 asthma-related emergency room visits.
  • There were 46 fewer hospital stays for people older than 65 because of respiratory illness.
  • All together all those health benefits equaled $6.6 million in savings.

The study concluded that trees are very important when it comes to removing nitrogen-dioxide from the air.

It’s up to NMUSD to incorporate the mature trees at Ensign into their designs. Research clearly shows why urban forests give us much more than just a shady place to rest.

In addition, the NMUSD must recognize that the exhaust fumes contain certain poisonous chemicals, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, benzene and soot, all of which can be detrimental to the human body if consistently inhaled in large quantities.

The in adequate parking design illustrates that the proposed parking lot will be directly in harm’s way of the children, teachers and classrooms as it pertains to the carbon monoxide emitting from the vehicles. The vehicles are too close to the classrooms for more many more reasons, as you can imagine. It is irresponsible to locate vehicles in close proximately to the children, this was also reiterated by personal injury attorney Keith Moore at the previous School Board meeting.

We are demanding that an alternative plan be considered to avoid serious health issues to the children, in addition we demand that the NMUSD be transparent, by including all willing board and government officials to attend every meeting now and in the future. This is not the time to exclude certain members of the board.

I am recommending that board be prepared to provide two alternative plans to the community on March 16, as the current proposed plan, in its current state, creates more harm than good.


Thank you for your consideration,

Peggy Palmer
Newport Beach

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