wacky origins: our district

THE ORIGINS OF OUR COLLEGE DISTRICT 
series: 1960 – 1977
Eight parts


     What follows are SUMMARIES of the posts. To access the posts, click on the links.

• The origins of our college district, Part 1: Hey, kids! Let's form our own JC district!

     ✩ IN THIS POST: this is the 1st in an 8-part series about the early days of the district.
     As communities grow, schools are built, and, naturally, communities seek to provide "junior" (later, "community") colleges for high school graduates not attending 4-year institutions. Normally, the creation of junior/community colleges is pursued by high school districts.
     Since the end of WW II, Orange County has been one of the growingest places in the country. But, until the 60s, most of the growing occurred in the north half of the county, leaving the entire South County area lightly populated and collegeless.
     By 1960, the largest town in "South County"—if one regards Tustin and Irvine as forming the northern border of that area—was the City of Tustin, with San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo (unincorporated), and San Juan Capistrano trailing behind.
     By the early 60s, Tustinites hoped to overcome the college-less-ness of their own community. In April of 1963, Tustin Union High School board members discussed creating a fourth college district—beyond Orange Coast, Santa Ana, and North OC—to serve Tustin Union, Laguna Beach, and Capistrano high school districts. This early group, at least in Tustin, tended to assume that this South County district's first college would be built in or near Tustin.
     By October of '63, three South County high school districts met and announced a plan to form a fourth junior college district; the group planned to hire a firm to explore feasibility. Participating in the meeting were the Tustin, Capo Union, and Laguna Beach districts. They were also considering the alternatives: joining the already-established Santa Ana or Orange Coast community college districts, just to the north. Larry Taylor of Laguna Beach was the chair of the "inter-district committee."

 

     A year later, officials of the Orange Coast and Santa Ana districts were considering an incompatible plan: uniting the two into a mega district, which would expand further by taking on all coast and South County high school districts, including Tustin, San Juan Capistrano, and Laguna Beach.
     By March of '65, Tustin, Laguna and Capistrano school districts were discouraging the notion of including them in a mega-college district. They wanted their own district. Meanwhile, the plan to unite the Orange Coast and Santa Ana junior college districts was still on.
     At the time, an agency called the "Orange County Committee on School District Organization" (OCCSDO) existed. That body sought to persuade the South County crowd to join the proposed northern super-district. To that end, OCCSDO invited reps from the southern school districts to its April 1 meeting. The Tustin-Laguna-Capistrano crowd were agreeable, but it was already clear that they wanted to explore setting up their own JC district, and they needed time to speak with the Capo people in particular about that plan.
     By May, Tustin Union authorized its superintendent to "explore further" the "cost and scope of studies regarding feasibility of the formation of a new junior college district."
     By November, the Tustin school board gave the "Tustin/southern" proposal the green light, and, consequently, establishing the new junior college district "is in the active planning stages."
     The other southern boards—Laguna and Capo—had done likewise. They were on board.
     These school districts prepared for a Nov. 17 meeting of OCCSDO to seek formation of the 4th district. If OCCSDO was agreeable, the proposal would next go to the state. If the state would give its okey-dokey, next would come an election, in September or October of 1966. —RB
     Go to Part 1

• The origins of our college district, Part 2: a proliferation of competing plans 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: we're going to backtrack a bit.
     It turns out that the relationship between such cities as Tustin, Orange, and Santa Ana have long been tense and troubled. For instance, in the early 60s, Tustinites spoke of Santa Ana's "eastern territorial conquest," something Tustin wasn't going to put up with.
     But by 1961, the Tustin Union High School board were learning about a proposal according to which Tustin, Orange and Santa Ana high school districts "would form an enlarged Central Orange County Junior College district." In some sense, this proposal responded to a County "survey" (the "Allen-Briscoe report") that had revealed that Orange County would experience explosive growth that would, unless steps were taken, completely overwhelm existing junior college districts.
     Hence the notion of a new, bigger district to replace the existing Santa Ana District and which would include any contiguous school districts not yet affiliated with any junior college district. This new district would eliminate Santa Ana College and instead locate a college "on a spacious site somewhere in the center of the Tustin-Orange-Santa Ana areas." (Tustinians figured that Tustin was the obvious central point.)
     How then did the very different mega-district idea (they we spoke of yesterday) arise?
     And how is it that, by 1963, Tustin was pursuing an entirely different plan—a plan to create a South County junior college district (from South County school districts) that would be distinct from the Santa Ana and Orange Coast junior college districts? All will become clear. —RB
     Go to Part 2

• The origins of our college district, Part 3: turns out, we're an unruly county and an unruly part of that unruly county 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: to understand the curious actions and initiatives by school districts in Orange County in the early 60s, one needs to go back to 1959, and the origins of what came to be known as the "Allen-Briscoe report." In that year, the OCCSDO became concerned over the lack of foresight and planning for education in Orange County, and so that agency secured Hollis Allen of Claremont Graduate School and William Briscoe of UCLA to "prepare a master plan for 20 years of development." Aware that the state, and Orange County in particular, was facing exploding enrollments in schools, it was clear that the County had better plan ahead, which it had not done, especially in a coordinated fashion among cities and school districts. A further problem was the unavailability of junior colleges for half of the population. Historically, political entities tended not to coordinate and cooperate in OC and so there was concern that fragmentation and disorder would characterize the introduction of new junior colleges unless deliberate steps were taken. Hence the need for a master plan.
     Allen & Briscoe eventually revealed their plan in December of 1960, and it had a great impact and was thenceforth endlessly referred to (as the Allen-Briscoe "report"). AB sought to determine the likely number of JCs that would have to be built in the coming two decades, and where they should be located. AB emphasized the need for "regional coordination," which had been lacking. Allen and Briscoe recommended "that consolidation or restructuring of district boundaries be seriously considered as a permanent arrangement…."
     Others have noted that a "militant localism has divided the county into educational districts that have developed a resolute self-consciousness. Over the years, this fragmentation has hindered county-wide or regional responses to the challenge of growth...." Further, in OC, "no strong intergovernmental organization [exists] through which local governments can consider county-wide issues and arrive at general agreements." "Needless, self-defeating competition [prevails] among local authorities."
     A&B's recommendation? "Considering all factors," they wrote, "the Study Committee recommends that serious consideration be given to one junior college district for the entire County." (My emphasis.)
     A&B knew that such advice would be poorly received. Anticipating resistance, they suggested a second plan (Plan II), which was to divide OC into three JC districts, namely, a "north OC" district, a "central OC" district, and an oddly-shaped "coast" district that would include the existing "Orange Coast" district and the rest of OC's coastal areas all the way down to San Clemente.
     OC officials did embrace A&B's master plan for the County's approach to JC build-out. But, as we've already seen, the plan to overcome fragmentation just couldn't be implemented. Fragmentation has essentially prevailed.
     And the "most flagrant breach" of A&B's guidelines was the attempt by El Toro/Mission Viejo, Laguna Beach, and Capistrano school districts to form a fourth junior college district, the South County district. —RB
     Got to Part 3

• The origins of our college district, Part 4: Tustin buffoonery? Hubris? Hayseedery? 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: the so-called Allen-Briscoe "report" referred to unfortunate proclivities among elements of OC government that led to fragmentation, and it is easy to see such tendencies among the cities and school districts in OC in the early 60s. By 1961, Tustin seemed to be shopping around for the best deal between that offered by the Santa Ana Junior College District and the possible deal offered by the Orange Coast Junior College District, despite Allen and Briscoe's key recommendation that things proceed according to a coordinated general plan. In a typical editorial, the Tustin News insisted that Tustin was under no obligation to follow the guidelines created by "out of town education experts." Rather, Tustin should sit tight until the most advantageous course of action for the city becomes clear. Evidently, the proposal according to which Tustin schools would coordinate with the schools of Orange and Santa Ana seemed to lead to a plan to construct a college in north Tustin, and so that merger was indeed attractive. On the other hand, Orange Coast officials seemed to embrace a “pay as you go” construction policy, and this appealed to Tustin's fiscal conservativsm.
     By April of 1963, however, Tustinites were discussing another “JC district” idea entirely, one even more alien to Allen-Briscoe recommendations, for they were contemplating merging with Laguna Beach and Capistrano high school districts to form a new, fourth JC district.
     Tustinites seemed to beleive that, with the formation of a South County JC district, the first college would be built in or near Tustin. In part because California legislators compelled school districts to allign with JC districts by 1967; and in part because of the Irvine Co's decision to permit residential development around UCI, voters of the South County region voted in 1967 to form what soon was called the "Saddleback Junior College District. it overcame a "vigorous campaign" to annex south county districts to already-existing districts. And though existing projections indicated that Irvine, to the north, would experience the most growth, the older communities down south lobbied hard for a southern campus, and when the Mission Viejo Co. offered land at a great price for 199 acres at Avery, the deal was clinched. And thus it was that the first campus of the new district was located just above San Juan Capistrano, twenty miles south of Tustin. Classes opened in the Fall of 1968.
     Owing to the great distance between Tustin/Irvine and Saddleback College, many residents of those towns preferred to go to Santa Ana or Orange Coast colleges. By Fall, 1975, Irvine & Tustin comprised more than 46% of the district's population, but only 28% of Saddleback College's day students. Of the 3000 students declining to attend Saddleback, 60% went to OCC and 30% went to Santa Ana.
     In 1974, Tustin attempted to leave the Saddleback District and join the Santa Ana (Rancho Santiago) district. The matter was to be decided by vote, but when the state insisted that the election be district-wide, defeat was guaranteed, since Tustin's de-annexation would entail a tax increase for non-Tustin South County citizens.
     By 1975, it was clear to Saddleback district officials that they could and should build a northern campus, and, soon, nine sites were selected for consideration. In June 1976, the Trustees narrowed these sites down to three and then finally selected a site on the north/east side of the Santa Ana Freeway on Myford (essentially in Tustin). But then, in January of 1977, the Irvine Co., who owned all acceptable sites, urged the board to abandon the Myford site for a new site at Jeffrey/Irvine Center Drive, which the company was willing to sell at a low price. Nevertheless, the board selected the Myford site in February. After an election in March, the newly configured board overturned the earlier decision and went with the Jeffrey site. (The details of all of this are explained in parts 8A, 8B, and 8C of this series.) —RB
     Go to Part 4




     ✩ IN THIS POST: I explain the details of the (ultimately failed) effort, among grumbling Tustinites in 1973-4, to remove Tustin from the Saddleback Community College District. —RB
     Go to Part 5

• The origins of our college district, Part 6: It's true. One of our founding trustees was both a Republican and a bookie 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: the curious case of Alyn M. Brannon, "young Republican" and founding trustee of what became the South Orange County Community College District. Unfortunately, it turns out that, as he presided over the Saddleback Board of Trustees, he was making his living as a BOOKIE.
     This presents the basic facts up to about 1974, when Brannon resigned from the board. —RB
     Go to Part 6

• Part 6B: more on Saddleback's "bookie trustee" 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: the second half of my report on the curious Mr. Alyn Brannon, founding SOCCCD trustee—and BOOKIE.
     This part follows the story after his surrender for jail in 1974. —RB
     Go to Part 6b

• The origins of our college district, Part 7: the Tustin-ness of the district's early years 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: Just who were the people behind that slate of GOP candidates each of whom was elected to the founding SOCCCD board in 1967? Behind the slate was the "Citizens Committee for Competent Trustees," a group of mostly Tustin Republicans, many of whom were among the members of the first "citizens advisory committees." That latter group organized the original Saddleback College.
     The creation of our board, it seems, was a Tustin thing. —RB
     Go to Part 7


• The origins of our college district, Part 8: the twisty, unpredictable, curious and dubious episodes that led to the choice of the “north campus” site (part A) 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: noting board disquietude, early in 1975, Norrisa Brandt of the Saddleback board of trustees calls for a discussion of the very idea of a community college—and of the longterm goals of the district.
     Ten months later (January, 1976), new trustee Frank Greinke of Tustin senses board disunity concerning THE BIG ISSUE—namely, the district's second and northern campus. To get things moving, he proposes establishing a citizens advisory committee with two community members chosen by each trustee—a procedure guaranteeing strong representation for the City of Tustin.
     The bumptuous Mr. Greinke approaches the Tustin City Council, asking them for a resolution “supporting the concept of a Tustin area campus of Saddleback College.” They provide it. Meanwhile, conservative trustee, Bob Bartholomew, carps brutishly about the faculty's proposed campus calendar, claiming that it reflects selfish faculty interests. Here and elsewhere, the board is divided between a conservative faction (Bartholomew, Berry, and perhaps Greinke) and a more progressive faction (Taylor, Brandt, Marshall).
     In May, conservative trustee Donna Berry, seeking to reduce district costs, leads a successful effort to eliminate the "6 unit rule," a rule allowing Tustinites (and other Saddleback district residents) to transfer to other districts' colleges (e.g., Santa Ana College) without securing permission paperwork. The upshot is fewer transfers, lower "tuition" costs for Saddleback.
     Natch, Tustinite trustees (Greinke, Backus), aware of their constituencies' desire to attend Orange Coast and Santa Ana Colleges, fail to support Berry's cost-cutting move.
     Trustees confront a likely financial shortfall of about $3 million caused by new legislation. They pursue cost-cutting and new revenue more vigorously. They consider charging costs to students who take non-credit craft courses and the like. Discussion of this option brings out philosophical differences between trustees concerning the nature of "college."
     In mid-May, the Citizens Advisory Committee provides its report concerning pursuit of a second, northern campus. It urges the board to buy land (for a 2nd campus) immediately. It highlights longterm complaints especially among Tustinites about the distance to Saddleback college.
     The college produces a document concerning "priorities," but some trustees carp that it does not sufficiently emphasize vocational and technical (even agricultural) instruction. Trustees feel pressure to increase taxes for maintenance, repair, construction, and (mostly uncompensated) growth while attempting to honor conservative anti-tax desiderata. Meanwhile, Saddleback faculty move to strengthen their union. Sparks fly.
     Philosophical differences again arise when Superintendent Lombardi reveals a document describing the kind of college the district is attempting to create. Lombardi's collegiate assumptions clash with local notions.
     Pursuit of a second campus continues. By September (1976), three sites are under discussion: on Myford, east of the Santa Ana Freeway; on Culver, west of the freeway; and on Jeffrey @ the Santa Ana Freeway. The board is very divided, and worries about costs and taxes resurface. Greinke, of Tustin, insists that the Myford site (@ today's Tustin Marketplace) is ideal. Tustinites commence clamoring for the Myford site, feeling entitled to a campus in or near Tustin. On a 5-1 vote, Berry dissenting, the board chooses the Myford site. While Tustin celebrates, trustee Bartholomew carps about the immorality of Day Care Centers.
     In November, Bartholomew resigns and moves to Carpinteria. The board is down to six members.
     In January, the Irvine Co. upsets the applecart by attempting to withdraw its offer of the Myford site, recommending, instead, a new site at Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive in Irvine. Its motives seem obscure. Meanwhile, the Tustin City Council behaves oddly with regard to the annexation and zoning of a 425 acre parcel owned by the Irvine Co—and including the Myford site.
     With the Irvine Co.'s withdrawal of Myford, SHIT HITS FAN. HORNSWOGGLERY SUSPECTED. —RB
     Go to Part 8

• The origins of our college district, Part 8b: twisty, unpredictable, curious and dubious, Part B 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: back in September, 1976, the Saddleback board chose the Irvine Co.'s Myford-Bryan site, on Tustin's border, for the district's 2nd campus.
     Now, in January, the Irvine Co. does a sudden and mysterious SWITCHEROO: "Why doncha build the new campus over here on Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive, smack dab in the middle of Irvine, instead?" They're obviously desperate to retain the Myford site (for reasons unexpressed and obfuscated); they sweeten the Jeffrey deal bigtime. PLUS, they start a hard sell, warning about the stink of manure and the lack of roads over at the Myford bean fields.
     Trustee Marshall of Laguna Hills dies after a long illness. The board is down to five members!
     The Tustin News naturally turns up the heat against the Irvine Co. Meanwhile, the Tustin City Council acts like agents of developers (namely, um, the Irvine Co.), not citizens. To trustee Berry, the Irvine Co.'s switcheroo is mighty hinky. Bloviating trustee Frank Greinke openly accuses the Irvine Co. of boondogglin'. Tempers flare and Greinke calls Bartholomew(?) a "Judas," to which trustee Norrisa Brandt strongly objects, whereupon Greinke tells her to just "shut up."
     Brandt notes that "We have Irvine Co. in a bind," and urges the board to take the boffo deal they're offering for Jeffrey. Meanwhile, the March election is drawing near, and Saddleback faculty are backing candidates who prefer the Irvine/Jeffrey site, while Tustinites keep carpin' about the board's alleged "promise" to put a college in the Tustin area (e.g., @ Myford). Trustee Brandt urges the board to wait on the site selection till after the election, when the board will have seven members again. Superintendent Lombardi just wants to flip a goddam coin and move on. Tustinites keep up their infernal yammerin' for the Myford site. Greinke thunders indecorously about "hogwash" and "suede shoes." Citizen Ursula Kennedy challenges the Tustin City Council to come clean about these weird land shenanigans with the Irvine Co., but, natch, to no avail. Finally, less than a week before the election, and despite the board's abject skeleton-crew-itude, Greinke, Backus, and Berry (a majority of the five) vote in favor of the Myford site, and Tustin celebrates.
     The board thus defies the Irvine Co.—and, maybe, common sense, too.
     But then a new board emerges from the March 8 election. "The new board," says trustee Donna Berry, "is certainly not going to presume to come on and change the site!"
     Plus the Saddleback faculty are gripin' about pay & bennies. The board is unmoved!
     NOW WHAT? —RB
     Go to Part 8b



• The origins of our college district, Part 8c: twisty, unpredictable, curious and dubious, Part C [end] 

     ✩ IN THIS POST: with the March 8, 1977, election, charter trustee Pat Backus, who supported the grumbling Tustinites, suffers a major upset; he's OUT and newbies Watts, McKnight, and Price are IN. What emerges is a "new board majority" of Brandt-Taylor-McKnight-Price, two of whom were backed by the faculty union, which seeks to be the sole legal rep of faculty on contract issues.
     Amazingly, this crew immediately REOPENS the supposedly settled subject of site selection for the district's second campus. Tustinites have a cow. The board minority seethes. WTFs all around.
     But the Irvine Co. won't sell the Jeffrey property unless it is first "condemned," thereby relieving the company (and the district) of a big tax payout. Does the new board majority have the five votes necessary for the condemnation move? Seemingly not. (Uh-oh.)
     Meanwhile, trustee Greinke thinks Child Care Centers are immoral and, over in Irvine, lots of residents are pulling a NIMBY, college-wise, and some begin to suspect dastardly Irvine Co. "tricks." Former trustee Bartholomew weighs in on the crazy site selection issue, bellowing that he expects the district soon to rename itself the "Irvine Company Community College District."
     In May, the Irvine Co. decides to allow Saddleback to purchase the Jeffrey property without condemnation procedures, and so the sale goes forward, ending the matter once and for all. Upshot: the Board Majority has bulldozed the minority and Tustinites are now permanently pissed people.
    With that, the negotiations logjam concerning the faculty contract is suddenly cleared and faculty get a nice raise and impressive benefits. Greinke calls the contract "excessive." The conservatives seethe.
     What does it all mean?
     Go to Part 8c

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