MALIBU — If all goes according to plan, residents of Malibu will be able to attend Santa Monica College in 2014 without having to fight the traffic on Pacific Coast Highway as they make their way into the city by the sea.
Officials with the college and the city of Malibu announced Friday that a lease agreement with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is in the works, allowing SMC to build a $25-million satellite campus on roughly 3 acres in the Malibu Civic Center.
Officials seem to be pleased with the initial plans and are moving forward with next steps, which include completion and review of documents required by the California Environmental Quality Act, site drawings, parking surveys and utility and telecommunications relocation plans, according to a press release.
The goal is to create a facility that would include “high value classrooms” such as a computer and science lab, an art studio and a community music and lecture hall in addition to two standard classrooms.
The plan also includes a substation for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and a multi-purpose room for the community, which will double as an emergency operations center for Malibu and the county, according to the release.
SMC has been offering a handful of classes at Webster Elementary School for the last two years, but that is a far cry from the 70 general education classes and several non-credit classes offered two decades ago. SMC was forced to scale back classes, in part because of rising rents, said Don Girard, senior director of government relations and institutional communications for SMC.
The lease with the county would be for 25 years at a cost of roughly $4.4 million, money which will be paid up front by SMC to cover costs associated with preparing the site for construction. The college would then have 14, five-year extensions on the lease at a cost of $1 per year, meaning the campus could be there for 95 years.
College officials hope to have the campus up and running by 2014, although that seems optimistic given the regulatory hurdles involved. The project is being funded by Measure S, a $135-million bond measure approved by voters in 2004.
“We’re very grateful to Los Angeles County, the Sheriff’s Department and the city of Malibu for their outstanding assistance in making this college campus possible,” said Rob Rader, Santa Monica College trustee and Malibu Public Facilities Authority chair. “The Malibu campus is a priority for us.”
Once the campus is completed, there’s still the task of securing enough funding to operate it. As SMC struggles to provide classes with less money from the state, it remains to be seen how college officials will be able to afford the new campus.
Girard said funding from the state is cyclical and there are hopes that finances will improve.
“While this is one of the very worst [funding cycles], what we are building for is a permanent future and we will be able to operate successfully,” he said.