Meeting for the first time since an ambitious campus reconfiguration was passed by the Los Angeles City Council earlier this year, a Loyola Marymount University advisory committee gave a series of updates to the public Sept. 22.
The committee is comprised of representatives of LMU, City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office, LMU student representatives, four homeowners and a representative of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa.
The council approved the capital improvement plan Feb. 25, which seeks to upgrade LMU’s dormitories, laboratories, sports facilities and other campus structures and amenities. It is expected to take 20 years to complete and received a great deal of community support.
The committee is a result of a series of outreach sessions and mediation that arose during the master plan process intended to update residents, members of the public and the university on ongoing events, including the progress of the master plan.
One revelation from the committee meeting was that the university will begin charging for parking on campus next year. LMU officials say the fees will in part help to offset costs of the addition of over 600 new spaces, a provision of the master plan.
Many nearby residents feel that due to the on-campus parking fees, students will take even more of the available spots near their homes, leaving them with fewer places to park. But some homeowners on several of the blocks close to the McConnell Avenue exit have vehemently expressed their thoughts against the concept of permit parking.
Nate Kaplan, Rosendahl’s Westchester deputy, said the university will pay for “a substantial” portion of the costs of parking permits for those residents in neighborhoods adjacent to the university who wish to have residential permit parking on their block.
“Each block needs to get two-thirds of the residents on that block to sign a petition stating that they want permit parking,” Kaplan explained.
If the two-thirds threshold is reached, the application then goes to the city Department of Transportation and if approved, the permits will be issued.
Other Westside neighborhoods have seen how difficult it is to establish permit parking districts. In Venice, where a vocal contingent of residents demanded that the city assist them in obtaining permit parking due to what many considered to be a proliferation of recreational vehicles occupying spaces on the streets, the application was rejected by the California Coastal Commission.
In Del Rey, an attempt to establish a parking district along Culver Boulevard in 2008 was tabled after a number of apartment dwellers pointed out that they often use the heavily traveled thoroughfare to park their cars due to a lack of spaces at some of the neighborhood’s apartment complexes.
LMU Director of Facilities Services Al Tipon told the committee and the audience that the university’s award-winning recycling center has been moved to the Drollinger parking structure on the west side of the campus. Relocating the facility was the first endeavor that the university undertook per an agreement in the master plan.
“With a couple of adjustments, we are fully up and running,” Tipon said.
The recycling center had long been a point of contention between homeowners on McConnell, whose residences and property lines abutted the facility, before it was moved. Claims of impacts on the neighborhood such as rodents, refuse and noise, as well as the purported legality of the center dominated discussions between the homeowners and the university until the agreement was reached last year.
“We couldn’t have done this without the collaboration and cooperation of all of the neighbors and we truly appreciate that,” Tipon said.
Student parties in the adjacent neighborhoods was another topic that resurfaced at the meeting. For years, Westchester homeowners who live near the university have complained to LMU and to Rosendahl’s office about public drunkenness, noise, and the intensity and the frequency of the parties.
Two LMU student representatives, student body president Art Flores and student director of the campus community Katie Pope said their respective organizations have been working on initiatives designed to further increase outreach to homeowners regarding student behavior, as well as educate their fellow students on representing the university in a certain manner when they venture off campus.
The university announced two years ago that Pacific division of the Los Angeles Police Department, which patrols Westchester, now issue citations the first time that officers are called to a residence that is hosting a party where there is a large number of guests or the occupants and their guests are disturbing the peace.
This is a shift in the prior policy in which the hosts of the gatherings would be given a warning the first time that a neighbor complained to the police.
The homeowner or host of the party can be cited, with some fines beginning at $1,000, and those who are given citations are required to make a court appearance.
LMU investigators can also issue fines to students who are cited by the police for unruly behavior off campus, and they may be ordered to perform community service.
LMU Assistant Dean of Students Jade Smith told the audience that the university plans to be very proactive with regard to any violations of LMU’s Student Conduct Code as it relates to off-campus activities. In some instances, students can be held liable to civil authorities as well as the university.
A resident who complained about student parties confronted the committee by telling them that he had filled out an online grievance form but was concerned that Smith’s office was not aware of his complaint.
“We receive all reports that are sent to the university’s system,” Smith told the audience.
LMU Vice President of Communications and Government Relations Kathleen Flanagan also gave an update on landscaping that is being done as part of the master plan.
The committee plans to meet every quarter, so the next public forum will be next year.