Local resident has filed suit

Adam Pardee / Tribune

A local resident has filed suit over work done on the field and to buildings at the old Fairmont Elementary School.

plaintiff seeks damages for Fairmont neighborhood residents because of the demolition of the Fairmont School and the artificial turf put on the new Fairmont field.

Steve Aronovsky’s lawsuit names the Ignatian Corp., St. Ignatius College Prep, Bayview Environmental Services Inc., city of Pacifica and Devcon Construction Co. Inc. as defendants. It was filed on Nov. 8 in San Mateo County Superior Court and cites the California Environmental Quality Act while seeking a temporary restraining order and request for injunctive relief.

The complaint seeks to stop what it calls the further illegal demolition of the Fairmont Elementary School building, illegal asbestos abatement and to stop any proposed development at the Fairmont Elementary School building site until the California Environmental Quality Act is complied with and an environmental impact report is prepared.

The Ignatian Corp./St. Ignatius Prep owns the Fairmont Elementary School site and has scheduled the demolition of the building in violation of state law, the complaint reads. Ignatian Corp. violated state and local zoning and planning rules when it installed the tire-crumb turf field next to the school building, the complaint reads.

In an email sent Friday, Pacifica City Attorney Michelle Kenyon said the city hadn’t been served with the suit and had no comment. Tom Murphy, director of communications for St. Ignatius Prep, said he had no comment but that he was aware of the lawsuit.

Bayview is the contractor hired by Ignatian Corp. Devcon is the construction company hired by Ignatian to apply for the demolition permit on Oct. 19.

The complaint alleges the city of Pacifica failed to abate the public and toxic nuisance created by the installation of what it claims is a toxic tire- crumb turf field and allowed illegal asbestos abatement and demolition of the interior of the Fairmont School building. It further alleges the school was used to store toxic lead-based paint from 2000-2018.

In 2008, St. Ignatius entered into a 10-year agreement to lease the blacktop and the original field area. Fairmont field was constructed in 2009, but the complaint alleges St. Ignatius did not have the required approvals from the Pacifica Planning Department and the city of Pacifica.

The complaint alleges the grading work and the demolition of the building should have been approved by the planning department. 

Per Mar. 9, 2021, email correspondence between the planning department and Verde Designs, hired to potentially develop four structures — a building, a pool, sports fields and parking lot — on the site, with Senior Planner Bonny O’Connor, O’Connor referred Verde to the building official regarding

requirements for a demolition permit. It is in a

planned development district, which would need approval by the planning commission, she said in the email, which is attached to the complaint.

The planning department’s Jennifer Elizares said in a May 2021 email attached to the complaint that the planning and grading requirements must be done before any entity can apply for a demolition permit for the school building. The city has done nothing to stop the illegal demolition work and illegal asbestos abatement work by Bayview, which started on Aug. 25 and continued to Oct.1, the complaint states.

On Oct. 19, the city of Pacifica issued the demolition permit to Devcon Demolition, violating planning department rules and CEQA, according to the complaint. The complaint alleges the crew of Bayview Demolition Co. cut holes in various locations inside the school building and used large asbestos abatement machines to suck out the hazardous asbestos, but the particles were blown into the Fairmont neighborhood.

The complaint alleges Pacifica did not follow its own rules to prevent a public nuisance with the tire crumb turf field.

The complaint asks the court to stop all demolition work and asbestos abatement until the environmental requirements of the Pacifica planning department are met as well as CEQA, and for Bayview Demolition Co. to remove its equipment and dumpsters from the Fairmont School building and for its crew not to return, and for Devcon Demolition and Construction Co. to stop its illegal demolition of the Fairmont School property.

It asks to declare the Fairmont field a public nuisance and permanently remove it or prevent it from ever being used, and for the land around Fairmont field to be returned to its natural condition and grade levels with soil composition prior to 2009.

It asks for $4 million in damages, so far, due to what it alleges is the illegal demolition and illegal asbestos abatement and release of toxic asbestos particulates into the Fairmont neighborhood and onto the residents of the Fairmont neighborhood that has occurred from the school building.

Jane Northrop has covered Pacifica for the Pacifica Tribune since 1996. She has won first place John Swett Awards from the California Teachers Association for her coverage of education.

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