Mr. BILBRAY. Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing legislation that will place a 90-day deadline on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a final decision for a permit to build an elementary school in my district. After nearly 10 years of delays, it is time to move forward on this critical school for the children in my congressional district. The bill does not sidestep environmental review. Endangered species and habitat will be protected. It is time to recognize and place the impact of delay to the community on equal footing.
Jonas Salk Elementary is a proposed school site within the community of Mira Mesa in San Diego, California. With nearly one in 10 San Diego residents out of work, this is a ``shovel-ready'' project that has been the victim of nearly a decade of bureaucratic regulatory delays. This has hurt students, deprived the community of park amenities and much needed jobs.
This school is needed to ease existing overcrowding at Mason Elementary, Hage Elementary and other San Diego-area schools. The proposed project is located within an existing community, on a lot that has been vacant and graded since 1978. Along with the school, the project envisions a park and joint-use facilities to benefit the region.
The San Diego Unified School District Board approved the plans to build Jonas Salk Elementary in 2003, with the intent of serving students in 2006. Unfortunately, the elementary school has been indirectly delayed by an environmental lawsuit and various agency delays for nearly a decade. If enacted, my legislation will help ensure that students will be able to attend this long delayed school in 2014.
At a time when schools are overcrowded and the resources to build schools are scarce, to delay a project with both the need and the resources to construct with no real impact to the environment is unacceptable. The intent of this bill is to not allow the opening of the school to slip any further.
The San Diego Unified School District has done its due diligence to protect the environment and provide for students. My bill recognizes the school district's efforts and ensures that the final determination is issued in a timely manner so that the school can finally be built and begin servicing the community. Projects that provide an obvious community benefit and produce much needed jobs should be encouraged, not punished with costly and pointless delays.