The Santa Monica Airport Commission has voted unanimously to urge the Santa Monica City Council to deny Santa Monica College (SMC) access to the proposed Bundy Campus from Airport Avenue, which is on the southeasterly side of the airport and the northwesterly side of the Bundy Campus.
Santa Monica airport director Jeff Mathieu suggested that the college develop with the City of Santa Monica an ingress/egress “access plan” for its proposed Bundy Campus before any decisions can be made by the city on the proposed project.
Airport Commission chair Ofer Grossman suggested that a full environmental review, a full traffic study and a master plan for the Bundy Campus should be considered by the Santa Monica City Council.
Grossman said there is a 45-to-60-day window before the City Council acts on commission recommendations and that “something has to happen quickly regarding completion of construc- tion,” involving Airport Park and the proposed roadway improvements by the college.
“The Santa Monica City Council needs adequate reassurance that it can work with SMC,” said Grossman.
The Santa Monica Airport Commission was to consider a proposal to grant access for the college to Bundy Campus via Donald Douglas Loop, which is on the airport, and Airport Avenue at the Tuesday, November 23rd, commission meeting.
The new Bundy Campus is to be at 3171 Bundy Drive in Mar Vista, the former site of defense contractor BAE Systems. The facility is now owned by the college. In the 3200 block, Bundy Drive becomes Centinela Avenue.
The Airport Commission cited a poor track record by college staff on community outreach, by failing to have a consistent plan, and ignoring the need for open discussions between the community and the college.
Commission members said that this late presentation of the college project severely impacts the almost completed Airport Park.
Commissioners said that roadwork planned for the college project would cause a delay and changes for the Airport Park project.
Airport Park has been in the planning stage for some time and commissioners alleged that the Bundy Campus plans would immediately impact the park project.
One commissioner charged that college officers gave no thought to the timing of their proposal.
Both airport manager Robert Trimborn and commission member Susan Hartley said the plans received in September regarding Bundy Campus are not the same plans as plans received by the commission Monday, November 8th. New college plans now include a parking structure.
College officials and a Kaku Associates representative said that they haven’t yet determined if a parking structure is necessary, and “would need to decide that in the future.”
In its report, Kaku stated:
“This analysis focuses on the projected operation of key intersections at or near the project access points. At a later state in the planning process, a full traffic study will be prepared to fully evaluate potential project impacts on the surrounding street systems.”
College representative Greg Brown said remodeling of the main campus in Santa Monica would make the Bundy Campus more valuable, since some of the classes from the main campus could move to the new campus.
Hartley asked if that was why the new campus was planned — to make room for displaced main campus students during the proposed ten-year renovation of the main campus.
By using airport property for college shuttle bus service to the main college campus, the college is already encroaching on the airport, and the college’s demand for additional parking in the area already exceeds airport availability for parking spaces, Trimborn said.
Construction on the new Airport Park is nearly completed and construction of access roads for the Bundy Campus capable of carrying heavy shuttle buses and general traffic would severely impact the Airport Park work, commissioners claimed.
Hartley said that, since the plans now include a parking structure that wasn’t on the original plans, she questions what might be included in the future.
“This is too amorphous,” she said.
Parking and traffic congestion are also major issues for residents of Mar Vista and areas surrounding the Bundy Campus, said Mar Vista Community Council member Bill Scheding.
“I feel like the wicked witch of the East, but in this case a college campus, not a house, fell on me,” said Scheding.
Scheding said the Mar Vista Community Council never received any documentation about the project and that the plans for a parking structure only appeared Monday, November 8th.
“Now you’re (SMC representatives) saying at this meeting that the estimated cost for the parking structure would be $12 million. That’s pretty fast to come up with an estimate when there was supposed to be no change in the plan,” said Scheding.
He also said that Airport Avenue — on the southeast side of the airport, which ends at Bundy northwest of the Bundy Campus — is not wide enough for a turn by the Big Blue Bus now, and that the bus can’t turn until all other traffic leaves.
Several Mar Vista residents and other nearby residential areas said they had not been contacted or involved in the community outreach that Kaku Associates mentions in its traffic circulation study from April.
One angry Mar Vista resident asked why the Los Angeles City Council member representing the Bundy Campus site, Cindy Miscikowski, wasn’t involved with the issue, and why she didn’t attend the meeting.
John Reynolds of Friends of Sunset Park said alleged outreach by college officials was “disingenuous” and that the group had not been notified of any community meeting.
Another Mar Vista resident said the community’s patience is wearing thin.
“This study presented by SMC and Kaku makes it appear that there is consensus among Mar Vista area residents for a particular alternative of the study, but that’s not the case,” the Mar Vista resident said.
“We asked to sit in on meetings with SMC and the airport commission, but were denied,” said the resident.
“We would like one person appointed to be a liaison between the school, the commission and the residents, and to give that person the right to speak for the residents,” he concluded.
ZIP CODE STUDY — Santa Monica College representatives said studies are under way that would track the ZIP codes of registered students to determine what street and freeway access to the campus would be utilized.
Brown said that many students registered at the main college campus could attend certain classes at the new Bundy Campus rather than traveling to Santa Monica.
Several public speakers asked why Santa Monica College couldn’t locate school parking lots on land owned by the city, nearby or under freeways that are currently used as routes to the campus.
“Why bring all of this traffic to Mar Vista if a solution of parking near freeways could avoid a large influx?” asked a Mar Vista resident.
PURCHASE OKAYED IN ’01 — In December 2001, the Santa Monica College board of trustees approved the purchase of the 10.4-acre Bundy Campus parcel.
“BAE accessed the property through two vehicular entrances through the Santa Monica Airport and one on Stewart Avenue, which is on the southwesterly side of Bundy Campus, parallel to Centinela Avenue and Bundy Drive.
“BAE ceased occupancy in May 2003 and the Santa Monica College board of trustees approved certain property improvements, including roadway access to the southeasterly portion of the property from Centinela Avenue, safety modifications and utility relocations, according to the project description.
“In March 2004, the SMC trustees approved retrofitting the 64,000-square-foot multistory building near the center of the proposed campus for 18 classrooms and a variety of other uses, including student services (admission, counseling), labs, computer rooms/labs, a small library, a bookstore, study rooms, a multipurpose room for meetings, nursing lab space and a cafeteria.
“There is also an 8,000-square-foot area reserved for offices,” the project description says. “SMC is currently considering the 31,000-square-foot two-story building fronting Centinela Avenue for administrative offices.”
The project description states that the four-story building would be used for the college nursing program, early childhood education program, and continuing education program, with one floor for general education classes.
Occupancy is not expected before next summer.
SHUTTLE MOVING — Santa Monica College also intends to move the college airport shuttle service to the new campus, as the existing site of the shuttle lot has been approved by the City of Santa Monica for use as soccer fields and an off-the-leash dog park, the project description said.