MALIBU — A plan to bring a Santa Monica College satellite campus to Malibu moved a step closer to reality on Tuesday as the Malibu Public Facilities Authority approved the outline of a deal to build the campus on Los Angeles County-owned land in the city’s Civic Center.
The vote by the four-member panel, which is composed of two Malibu City Council members and two SMC trustees, clears the way for the college to finalize a deal for the facility with the county. Both the full SMC board and the county Board of Supervisors must sign off on the completed agreement.
The proposal calls for SMC to build a 20,000-square-foot college campus and a 5,700-square-foot Los Angeles County Sheriff’s substation.
County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky said the deal also requires the college facility to include a room equipped to become an emergency operations center in case of a disaster.
He said allowing the college building to double as a command center during emergencies will save money by eliminating the need for a separate Sheriff’s facility and was a linchpin of working out the deal.
“It works perfectly because the college is going to be closed as a college in the event of an emergency in Malibu,” Yaroslavsky said.
“The board of supervisors, I think, will see this as an innovative solution to a problem and one that will serve the interests of the county very well,” he said. “It’s not going to be that expensive to us and I have no doubt that the board will approve it.”
Terms of the tentative agreement have not been finalized, but the arrangement is expected to involve the college agreeing to a long-term lease of the county land. The expected cost of the lease was not released on Wednesday.
The facilities will be funded with $25 million raised from a $135 million bond measure voters approved in 2004.
Malibu and SMC officials praised the MPFA’s vote, saying the new campus would result in improved educational opportunities for residents of Malibu.
“Malibu contributes a lot of the tax dollars for the district and they really shouldn’t have to drive 25 miles to come to the facilities,” said Rob Rader, an SMC trustee who also sits on the joint powers authority.
Yaroslavsky said the addition of a needed Sheriff’s substation on the Pacific Ocean side of the Santa Monica Mountains complements the plan to expand SMC’s offerings.
“The Malibu community will doubly benefit from expanded educational opportunities and enhanced public safety and emergency services, while Santa Monica College and our Sheriff’s department will be able to advance their policy and public service missions as partners and joint tenants,” he stated in a news release.
This semester, the college boosted its presence in Malibu, offering credited classes there for the first time in 20 years. Six SMC classes in art, English, geography, photography and psychology are being offered at Webster Elementary School, with nearly 130 students enrolled, the college said.
It could be years before construction of the campus begins, but Don Girard, SMC’s senior director of government relations, said he expects the agreement between SMC and the county to receive final approval within three months. He said public meetings to discuss the project’s design should begin this year.