Residents in the neighborhood of the Santa Monica College Bundy Campus spoke out at a November 2 meeting held by the Santa Monica Community College District to provide information to the public about the Bundy Campus Master Plan and draft EIR and to elicit comments from the public.
Don Girard, executive assistant to the President of SMC, introduced the meeting and ran through a brief history of the Bundy campus. Several representatives from Christopher A. Joseph and Associates, the environmental consultants who prepared the draft EIR, then gave a presentation explaining the elements of the plan.
The Bundy campus at 3171 S. Bundy Drive was formerly part of the McDonnell-Douglas property and later owned by BAE Systems, a major defense contractor. When it was purchased by SMC in December 2001 to be used as a satellite campus, the property contained four buildings, including two one-story manufacturing buildings, which were demolished. The present campus contains two buildings, the four-story West Building (in use) and the vacant two-story East Building.
Of several plans initially studied for renovation, the option to renovate the East Building was rejected because “[it] does not meet code requirements and the existing column structure within the building does not support the typical configuration required for 30-seat classrooms.”
The Master Plan proposes that the East Building be replaced with a two-story classroom building of 38,205 square feet, in closer proximity to the West Building, the creation of up to 780 new parking spaces, 230 of which will be underground, additional landscaping, incorporation of features conforming to LEED environmental standards, including low water-use indoor and outdoor fixtures and the use of permeable cement in some outdoor areas and a revised traffic flow plan under which vehicular traffic will enter from Bundy Drive into a new northern driveway and exit on Donald Douglas Loop South to Airport Avenue.
After the consultants’ presentation, the meeting was opened up for public comment. Most comments involved the issue of traffic. Some neighbors were concerned that the campus renovation would lead to more classes, more students, more cars and more vehicular traffic. Some were concerned that student drivers might be more reckless in their driving and would endanger young children in the area.
Several people expressed concern that the new entrance-exit plan would cause more traffic in their neighborhoods. People who lived around 23rd Street did not like the idea of the traffic flow moving west on Airport Avenue; while residents of the Mar Vista area east of Bundy and south of the campus were equally disgruntled about traffic coming in their direction. Some residents complained that the diagrams and graphs included in the supplemental EIR booklet were incomprehensible. One man waved the booklet around, saying: “We can’t trust the College. They say one thing and they do another,” and that the charts were “sloppily drawn.”
There were also a few positive comments from members of CEPS, who said they supported the changes because these changes were necessary to improve educational opportunities at SMC.
The consulting team took notes on the comments, which they said would be delivered in written form to the Board of Trustees. The Board was scheduled to vote on the proposed draft EIR after November 13, which was the deadline for public comments and review.