VIRGINIA AVENUE — For more than half a century, an old single-family house has remained in the possession of the Maruyama family, a home that for the past five decades has seen many changes in the neighborhood, including perhaps the most dramatic of them all, the construction of the I-10 Freeway right at its doorstep.
Another big change is expected in the coming years right next door where the Edison Language Academy is preparing to undergo a complete makeover of its campus, an undertaking that involves the acquisition of two adjacent properties on Virginia Avenue, including the Maruyama residence and a neighboring home to the east.
Lawrence Maruyama, whose grandparents purchased the home in 1952 and today lives there with his mother, is currently in negotiations with the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District over the proposed property acquisition, hoping to convince officials to abandon its plans of expanding the campus.
He is planning on meeting with officials this week for a financial deal in which Maruyama will essentially give a donation to the district in exchange for keeping the two properties intact. Maruyama declined to disclose the specifics of the deal, including the offer.
“It would be more than enough to guarantee both properties,” he said. “My mother and I don’t want to move.”
The homeowner for the second property did not respond to a request seeking comment, though Maruyama said that the family is even more adamant than him about keeping their home.
The campus reconstruction project has long been a dream for the Edison Language Academy community, pointing to the various physical challenges at the elementary school, including cracks in the foundation and the fact that many classrooms are in relocatable structures.
The school, a dual language institution where courses are taught in both English and Spanish, has been fixed up in pieces over the past several years through donations from parents, who have given time and money to build a new courtyard and play area.
The future campus will include 27 classrooms for grades K-5, along with new basketball courts and playgrounds. A new drop-off and pick-up lane, which will include room for 12 parallel parking spaces, will also be constructed.
The area where the two residences currently sit is slated to be the new preschool portion of the campus, Jan Maez, the chief financial officer for the district, said. Construction is slated to commence next year.
Maez could not comment on the offer the district has made to the property owners, citing confidentiality in the negotiations.
The district just a few weeks ago released a relocation plan for the Edison Language Academy project, which states that the homeowners and tenants of the two properties will be entitled to compensation and assistance in looking for a new place to live, addressing how officials will go about helping the residents.
“The relocation plan was just put forth to the (Board of Education) in anticipation of the process moving forward but there is no acquisition yet,” Maez said.
If unsuccessful in negotiations, the district might have to move forward with an alternate set of plans that does not include the space for the two properties, which according to Maruyama takes up more than 12,000 square feet.
There is also the option of eminent domain but Maez said that the decision would fall on the school board, stressing that no action or plans have been made at this point.
Superintendent Tim Cuneo said the district is required and wants to make sure that it is able to assist the residents with relocation.
“What we are building is a far more efficient and much better structure for education,” he said. “It makes much better use of a very small plot of land and I think it will better serve the community.”