Then, a problem developed when the public saw the building plans. The original plans for the school called for a terraced campus to preserve the mature trees and scenic canyon. But a new state law required the site be accessible to the disabled and that meant the school had to be redesigned.
Some residents became unhappy with redesigned proposal calling for grading and filling of the canyon, and they sued to block construction. In response to the legal action, the Friends of University City High School formed. The group hired an attorney and within six days had gathered 1,100 signatures and money to join the lawsuit. The court case was heard in five different courts, going all the way to the California Supreme Court. And in each instance; the decision was upheld in favor of the San Diego Schools.
By 1977, 21 of the 22 schools provided for by Prop. XX had been built. Only University City High remained unbuilt. Grading on the school site began during the winter of 1977. Then another hurdle presented itself with passage of the landmark tax law Proposition 13 in 1978, which drastically altered school funding. Eventually problems with bond funding were resolved, and the project moved forward once again.
Opposition began to develop from other areas of San Diego. Opponents felt the school should not be built in University City because of declining enrollment in other parts of the district. On March 6, 1979, before an auditorium packed with University City High School supporters, and over strong protests, the School Board voted to proceed with construction.
Another legal delay occurred when attorneys for an integration lawsuit sought to halt construction on the grounds that the school would have a negative effect on the integration effort. A judge agreed to a temporary injunction until the impact could be studied. The Friends of University City High School appealed to the community for financial and volunteer support to battle in court to lift the injunction and proceed with construction. A judge lifted the injunction but the decision was appealed, again all the way to the state Supreme Court. Again, the school district and University High won the day.
Yet another roadblock appeared. In the intervening years because of so many delays, construction costs had skyrocketed and San Diego's building boom continued, putting more pressure on schools. The project was nearly abandoned again, but once more the School Board voted to proceed in 1979. However, politics intervened. The mood of the new School Board which took office in December was decidedly different that that of the previous Board. Final approval of financing arrangements came before the new School Board on December 4, 1979. The vote was 2-2 and the high school appeared to be a dead issue.
The community rallied once again. The School Board voted in late 1979 to proceed with the school. Finally, groundbreaking occurred in 1980, followed by a champagne reception attended by hundreds of University City High School supporters.
In September 1981, the school opened. Twenty years of effort finally bore fruit. In every phase of the battle, the crucial factor to success was the willingness of the concerned, active and involved University City community who gave time, effort and money to carry the project through to its successful conclusion. A grassroots effort to build a community high school resulted in the beautiful, well-equipped complex. Interest and support has continued, and will continue, for University City High School.