EL CERRITO -- A proposed charter middle and high school that has passed muster with regulators on educational issues is now facing city scrutiny on more mundane matters, such as how much traffic and noise it will generate.
The Summit K2 school, scheduled to open in the fall with 100 seventh-graders, intends to place its middle school in the building that housed the former Windrush School at 1800 Elm St.
It will begin with one seventh grade class at the site in the fall and add a second in the fall of 2015, giving operators two years to find a site for the high school.
Summit wants to operate under the same conditional use permit with the city as Windrush, a private elementary and middle school that went bankrupt at the end of 2012, said Steve Chamberlin, of the Pleasanton-based Chamberlin Family Foundation, which purchased the building from the bank and plans to lease it to Summit.
Operators have submitted answers to questions from the city about such issues as hours of operations of the school fields, parking for special events and a plan to stagger drop-off times for students to minimize traffic congestion, Chamberlin said.
Summit K2 opponents have cited transportation issues and consequences of its operation on the surrounding neighborhood among many other reasons for objecting to the school and its proposed location.
The city has scheduled a special Planning Commission meeting on Jan. 28 to review Redwood City-based Summit's petition to operate under the existing use permit, according to Margaret Kavanaugh-Lynch, El Cerrito's developmental services manager.
"Windrush had a very complex use permit and (Summit is) asking for a written determination that it would be in compliance," she said.
Kavanaugh-Lynch said the city is interested in how the operation will match the use permit and what consequences any use of the site could have on surrounding residents.
Chamberlin cited a Dec. 20 letter to the city from Doug Giffin of Educational Ventures, the operator of the building, that addressed a number of compliance questions.
Summit will operate from 8 a.m. through 3 p.m. Monday through Friday during the school year with limited numbers of students in the building from 7 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m.
Intermural and interscholastic competitions will be allowed in the building's gymnasium from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with use by community groups permitted.
A Summit plan to stagger times for dropping off students to reduce traffic congestion will be similar to a plan followed by Windrush, with 50 percent of students scheduled to arrive at 8 a.m. and the other 50 percent at 8:30 a.m., according to the letter.
The school plans to have outdoor soccer practices on its fields during the soccer season from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., with no other outdoor activities planned.
Summit will arrange overflow parking for special events with BART at the nearby El Cerrito Del Norte station and provide valet parking if the BART lot is unavailable, Giffin said.
"We believe our application is complete and consistent with the approved use permit for the site," he said.
Chamberlin said he thinks the traffic generated by the school will be less than that from Windrush, since Summit won't be operating an elementary school.
"Elementary schools attract a lot more vehicle traffic since you don't put your third-grader on the bus," he said.
There are two major buildings on the site, including an older structure built in 1935 as the Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys. Summit plans to operate in the second, newer building, built by Windrush in 2008 and containing about a dozen classrooms.
"There is probably room enough in the newer building to house the seventh and eighth grades," Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin said he is upgrading the older building to meet current seismic requirements. He is also planning to spend $750,000 to install a custom elevator in the historic Chung Mei structure to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Summit received approval in November from the Contra Costa County Office of Education to begin operations after its charter petition was denied by West Contra Costa School District trustees in August.
The district staff had recommended approval but was overruled by the board.