The Santa Monica Community College District board of trustees certified a final environmental impact report (EIR) for its Bundy Campus and adopted a Bundy Campus Master Plan in February after three cycles of public hearings since 2005.
The Bundy Campus, a 10.4-acre satellite campus of Santa Monica College, opened in July 2005 with 16 classrooms on a site located off Bundy Drive in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista neighborhood and across the street from Santa Monica’s Airport Avenue and Santa Monica Airport.
Since 2005, Santa Monica residents who live in the adjacent Sunset Park neighborhood, Mar Vista residents and city officials from both Santa Monica and Los Angeles have expressed strong opposition to operations at the Bundy Campus.
The primary conflicting issue was that an increasing list of classes and an increasing student population at the Bundy Campus would create more traffic on already congested neighborhood streets in Sunset Park and Mar Vista.
Trustees had voted over two years to conduct traffic analysis, study environmental impacts, develop mitigation measures and reach a three-way agreement between Santa Monica College and the cities of Santa Monica and Los Angeles before approving the final EIR and master plan.
“The Bundy Campus Master Plan is a long-range plan designed to be respectful of neighboring communities,” said Don Girard, the college district’s senior director of government relations and institutional communication.
“The EIR analyzed 27 intersections and 22 street segments. These intersections were requested by the City of Santa Monica and the City of Los Angeles.”
Of the 27 intersections, four will have significant and unavoidable traffic impacts despite mitigation, Girard said.
The intersections are all on Bundy Drive in Mar Vista — National Boulevard, Airport Avenue, Ocean Park Boulevard and the eastbound Santa Monica Freeway (Interstate 10) on-ramp.
“After mitigation, there are no significant impacts in any City of Santa Monica intersection,” Girard said. “There are four in Los Angeles and zero in Santa Monica.”
The 22 street segments studied include 12 in Los Angeles and ten in Santa Monica. With mitigation, there would be no significant traffic impacts on any of the street segments in Los Angeles.
Mitigation measures would relieve traffic impacts on eight of the ten street segments in Santa Monica, leaving the Dewey Street segment between 21st and 23rd Streets and the 23rd Street segment north of Airport Avenue with significant and unavoidable impacts.
Some of the traffic mitigation measures are included in the three-way agreement. Under the proposed agreement:
n the City of Los Angeles permits the installation of a half-signal for left turns from northbound Bundy Drive;
n the City of Santa Monica provides access to Airport Avenue; and
n Santa Monica College restricts access to the campus from Stewart Avenue in Mar Vista, operates the campus within the limits of on-campus parking and operates intercampus shuttles that use natural gas or other alternative fuels.
Some residents of Sunset Park and Mar Vista were still not pleased with the college district’s mitigation measures.
“The final EIR recommends right and left turn access to Airport Avenue, which means more traffic on Walgrove Avenue and 23rd Street,” said Zina Josephs, president of the Friends of Sunset Park neighborhood association.
“There is no surprise that residents of Sunset Park want to limit the ceaseless growth of traffic into our neighborhood.
“If the college is going to create more vehicle trips, then direct them onto streets that are able to handle additional trips and not direct them westbound on Airport Avenue.”
Mar Vista residents want a lease agreement stipulating that the metal gate separating the Bundy Campus from a small row of houses on Stewart Avenue be permanently closed.
The residents say that if students had access to the Bundy Campus from Stewart Avenue, the small street would not be able to handle the extra traffic and residents might lose all of their on-street parking spaces.
Trustee Margaret Qui“ones-PÈrez said that if the college district signs off on the permanent closure of the Stewart Avenue gate, the value of the college property would be significantly diminished.
The kind of legally binding agreement that Mar Vista residents have been asking for would be a fiscally irresponsible action for college district trustees and administrators to take, she said.
Instead, the college district agreed to write into the Bundy Campus Master Plan a provision that the Stewart Avenue gate remain closed except for emergency vehicles or vehicles that allow employees to perform Bundy Campus maintenance work.
“By including the closure of the Stewart gate in the master plan, that essentially means the college would have to go through another environmental analysis to open the gate,” said trustee Louise Jaffe.
“I want to assure people that the intention is for the Stewart gate to be used only for emergency and maintenance operations.”
Qui“ones-PÈrez disagreed with residents who blame students from the Santa Monica College main campus and Bundy Campus for traffic congestion.
“The traffic is not coming from Santa Monica College students,” she said. “I hear the neighbors saying that, but it is not coming from them.”
She once lived in Sunset Park between Pearl Street, Centinela Avenue and Ocean Park Boulevard, and had to drive five minutes to get to the college’s main campus at 1900 Pico Blvd. and 45 minutes to get back home.
She said she spent the first week of February “purposefully figuring out where the traffic comes from” and identified two sources on Santa Monica’s southeast side — the Trader Joe’s grocery store on Pico Boulevard and the business park on Ocean Park Boulevard.
Qui“ones-PÈrez now lives on Broadway between Stanford and Berkeley Streets.
“You want to know where traffic from the other sides [northeast of the Santa Monica Freeway] come from?” she asked. “It comes from Yahoo, MTV and MGM. They come up and down my street between 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.”
She said she doesn’t mind the traffic because she understands that “people are just trying to get to their jobs.” She wants residents to stop placing blame on Santa Monica College students.
The Bundy Campus site has had roadway connections to Bundy Drive, Stewart Avenue and Airport Avenue since World War II. The City of Santa Monica closed the Airport Avenue connection in 2005.
Known historically as the George Tract, the site was purchased by Santa Monica College in December 2001 from BAE Systems.
The Bundy Campus Master Plan calls for the site to house programs for early childhood education, nursing and health sciences, education and teacher training, professional certification, non-credit English as a second language, workforce development, basic skills English and basic skills math.
General education classes offered at the site allow students to fulfill lower division requirements for transfer to University of California and California State University campuses.
The site’s community education program allows students to take short-term and not-for-credit classes for personal interest and self-improvement.
Bundy Campus design and building features included in the master plan are:
n demolition of the existing two-story East Building with possible interim uses pending demolition;
n construction of a new two-story building of similar size to replace the East Building, to be located closer to the center of campus immediately east of the existing four-story West Building;
n installation of approximately 780 on-site parking spaces, with 550 surface parking spaces and 230 subterranean parking spaces;
n access improvements, including a new driveway to accommodate the new traffic signal at the northeast corner;
n installation of a pedestrian parkway along Bundy Drive;
n installation of landscaping and open space elements;
n continuation of West Building usage and improvements; and
n installation of other miscellaneous general site improvements.
“We applaud the college for providing outstanding educational opportunities for a diverse population,” said Shari Davis, co-chair of the nonprofit Santa Monica-based Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS).
“We are especially enthusiastic about the programs being offered at the Bundy Campus such as nursing and early childhood education. CEPS supports Santa Monica College and the goals it has for the Bundy Campus.”