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Coastal Panel Staff Backs Santa Monica College’s Malibu Campus Plans
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
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Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 2, 2016 -- Santa Monica College (SMC) received news in its favor late last week from the California Coastal Commission when the State panel’s staff issued a report recommending support for a 25,000-square-foot campus in Malibu.

The commission will vote on the $25 million project that is more than a decade in the making next week on Thursday at its session in Santa Barbara.

Planned for the campus in Malibu's Civic Center area is a 20,000-square-foot educational area with five classrooms, a lecture hall, student lounge and office for as many as 210 students and 12 faculty members, according to Malibu municipal documents.

The campus would be open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Also proposed for the campus is a 5,600-square-foot substation for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. Malibu does not have a police department and receives public safety services from the county.

Funding for the project comes from a $135 million bond approved in 2014 by voters in the SMC district, which includes Santa Monica and Malibu as well as some unincorporated surrounding areas.

Planning for the satellite campus has taken place since that time (and even before) with many bumps along the way, including other nearby properties being proposed for the site.

SMC received the blessing of the Malibu City Council last month when it voted 3-1 (with one abstention) for the satellite campus. A local activist group, Malibu Township Council, appealed the decision to the Coastal Commission.

Prior to holding a hearing and voting on an appeal, the commission must decide whether there is a “substantial issue” that puts a project at odds with California Coastal Act policies such as public access and specific environmental issues.

Coastal staff wrote in its report that there is no “substantial issue.” If a majority of the commission agrees, then the Malibu council’s decision will stand, although a lawsuit is possible.

If the commission rejects its staff’s recommendation (which is not unheard of), then it will call for a hearing to take place at a later date. It could vote after that hearing to overturn the Malibu council's approval.

“The development is relatively large in scale, but is located in the Civic Center area, which is the most appropriate location within the city,” Coastal staff wrote in the recommendation.

It continued, “The project is sited and designed to avoid significant adverse impacts on environmentally sensitive resources, visual resources, water quality, public access or other significant coastal resources.”

SMC has been offering credit classes in Malibu at Webster Elementary School (near the proposed campus site) since 2010 after two decades of not having any in that city.

This spring semester, three credit courses are being offered in Malibu, according to SMC’s website.

The college also holds “fundamentals of horsemanship” courses at an equestrian center in an unincorporated portion of Malibu and emeritus classes at the city’s senior center.

Meanwhile, SMC says upgrades, including for earthquake safety, are needed for facilities in Santa Monica. College staff has proposed a $295 million bond measure to fund these upgrades.

The Board of Trustees is expected to vote on whether to place this measure on the November ballot at its July 5 meeting.

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