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College Shuttle Moves to Beach

By Ann K. Williams
Staff Writer

August 19 -- Santa Monica College students will face a challenge to their willpower if they want free parking this fall. They'll have to drive past the College and park at the beach before turning their backs on a day in the sun and returning to their classrooms.

The College has agreed to move its shuttle service to the Beach Lot 5 on Barnard Way south of Ocean Park Boulevard until the City and the College can come up with a permanent site.

While Interim President Thomas J. Donner was worried that the "short notice change" may confuse returning students, he vowed the College "will do everything we can to make it a success."

"Each party is trying to show good faith," Donner said. If the City is willing to compromise, the College is too, he said.

At the heart of the problem is the College’s newly opened Bundy Campus across town at the Airport. (see related story)

The shuttle service is being moved so that students at the satellite campus can park in the City’s Airport lot until an agreement is worked out to let them drive onto the campus lots.

Sunset Park and Mar Vista neighbors are opposing the College’s plans which they say will increase traffic in their neighborhoods.

Last Thursday, representatives from the City and the College, together with Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, began working out a compromise solution.

"The meeting went well," Donner said.

Santa Monica City Council member Herb Katz who was at the meeting agreed.

"We've made great progress. Everyone came to the table with an open mind," Katz said. "That is a big, big step. I'm optimistic."

Even Council member Richard Bloom, who worries about the Bundy Campus' effect on traffic in Sunset Park, was pleased with the discussion.

"I'm optimistic that we're going to be able to find a solution that will work well for everyone," Bloom said.

Donner and Katz referred to a "three part solution" that will allow access to Bundy Campus parking lots, assurances to Mar Vista residents that the Stewart gate entrance in their neighborhood will not be opened and placement of a traffic signal at the campus’ Bundy Avenue entrance.

The signal may prove to be a sticking point in negotiations.

"I think that the traffic signal is essential," said Bloom.

"It achieves some of the goals that the City has and some of the goals that the College has."

But apparently it doesn't achieve the goals of the Mar Vista residents represented by Council member Rosendahl who don't want excess traffic diverted to their community.

He is "not supportive, that is, opposes signalization of the entrance of the Bundy Campus" on Bundy Avenue, according to Rosendahl's District Director Norman Kulla.

"To have any signal there would worsen the traffic flow at Bundy," Kulla said.

Still, "we hope to work closely and cooperatively" with the City of Santa Monica and the College, he said. "We are in the middle of that process."

On Wednesday engineers from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation met with representatives from the Santa Monica City Manager’s office and the College to "put their heads together to see if they could work out a cooperative solution," Kulla said.

They discussed the “next steps to look at a signal,” said Assistant to the Santa Monica City Manager Kate Vernez.

Step one is for KAKU Associates, the College’s traffic consultant, to prepare another traffic study evaluating the impact of the proposed signal, Vernez said.

In the meantime, Bundy Campus students will be able to park in the Airport lot, which was being used by the shuttle, and walk down Douglas Loop to get on campus.

Shuttle service will be available at Beach Lot #5 for all students from 6:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Students who show their student I.D. and class schedule at the beach lot will be given a free parking permit.

Shuttle service at the Airport lot will still be available to all students from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Fridays, at least until construction begins on the City's new Airport Park at that location.

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