Westchester homeowners who reside near Loyola Marymount University will be meeting to discuss what many feel are possible negative consequences of the university’s Master Plan Saturday, May 10th, at the Westchester Community Room.
Ross Williams, one of the homeowners who helped organize the community meeting, is hopeful that there is a strong turnout because of the importance of what the university is planning.
“We distributed flyers to over 4,000 homes in Westchester,” said Williams, a 30-year resident.
Several of the concerns and complaints from residents on McConnell Avenue and other streets near LMU revolve around its recycling center and what many say is an excess of loud parties and questionable behavior by students from the university.
“LMU doesn’t take responsibility for the actions of its students,” claimed Nina Sullivan, who has lived in Westchester since 1971. “They have not been very responsive to our concerns.”
“Things have changed so much since we’ve been here,” added her husband Jerry, a retired Los Angeles fire captain. “Loyola seems to have no regard for anything outside their boundaries.”
Noise and pollution from the construction of the master plan will also be topics of discussion, but those are only a few that will be on the table.
“The broader primary concerns are the party houses and the traffic throughout the neighborhood,” said Williams.
In March, LMU announced that it would be embarking on a 20-year plan to update its campus facilities and modernize its dormitories, laboratories and other buildings.
In a letter dated March 17th to homeowners, business organizations and neighborhood associations in close proximity to the school, LMU president Robert Lawton invited all interested parties to participate in the environmental process as the university begins to plan its upgrade.
“We would like for you to be a part of this process, helping us to remain a local and regional resource while continuing our vision as one of the premier universities on the West Coast,” the university president wrote. “Our plan is to upgrade educational buildings, provide additional and improved on-campus housing opportunities for undergraduate students, improve on-campus recreational facilities and enhance the campus’s landscape and pedestrian features.”
Williams and many of his neighbors are not convinced that the university will not attempt to misrepresent its enrollment numbers, which has been listed as high as 8,900 and as low as 7,800.
“If they would record in a irrevocable covenant that they won’t increase [the student body numbers], that might be a good start,” suggested Williams, who is an attorney.
Kathleen Flanagan, LMU vice president of governmental relations, reiterated in an interview with The Argonaut that LMU is restrained by conditions in its planning documents from increasing its student body and has no plans to do so.
“The university cannot increase its enrollment, due to restrictions that the city placed on us in the 1990s,” Flanagan explained. “We don’t want to and we’re not able to exceed the cap.”
The Los Angeles City Council has limited the number of students that the university can have to 7,800.
In addition, LMU officials have pledged that they have no plans to expand the campus beyond its current boundaries.
The City Council must approve any plans that the university proposes, and there will be several public meetings for interested parties to attend, as required by state law.
The homeowners did not invite LMU representatives to the meeting, but Flanagan said she was hopeful that a representative from the university would be allowed to attend.
“That way, we could try to answer any questions that residents might have,” she said.
Noting that the flyer that was circulated encouraged homeowners to oppose the expansion, Flangan said that she thought it was too early in the process to take such a firm stand against the master plan.
“I would hope that they would keep an open mind about the master plan,” she said. “To oppose it this early, I think is a little premature.”
The meeting in the community room, at 7166 Manchester Ave. in Westchester, is to begin at 11 a.m.