Pepperdine defends its proposed upper campus

In recent, back-to-back public hearings, Pepperdine University explained its right to develop a 50.4-acre upper campus. While the city and residents decried view, traffic, water and wildlife impacts at the earlier meeting, Pepperdine stated its case at both a Sept. 10 special meeting of the City Council and a Sept. 16 meeting of the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission.

At both hearings, the university noted the 1987 county Board of Supervisors and 1990 California Coastal Commission approvals of the campus development.

“It is appropriate for the university to use its property, obtained for these purposes, to enhance its programs,” said Andrew Benton, the school’s executive vice president, in a letter to the community distributed at the city meeting. “The project is a sensible extension of the existing developed campus, and it has been designed and adequately mitigated to minimize environmental developments.”

In a dramatic move to bolster its case, Pepperdine arranged for seven speakers to address county planners on the moral and cultural contributions of the school.

Touching on the university’s contention that educational purposes are the major overriding factor the county should consider, public policy graduate student Erin Witcher said Pepperdine was the only school “grounded in moral and ethical values.” MBA student Teresa Chang told county planners of the inadequacy of the business school facilities in temporary trailer facilities.

Benjamin Herson, rabbi emeritus of the Malibu Jewish Center and a parent of a Pepperdine student, described the university as a “blend of academic and spiritual values,” and “Christianity in its most inclusive sense.”

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People who could not get to voice their opposition at the county meeting because of a lack of time will be able to present their case at a county meeting Oct. 28.

Residents of Malibu Country Estates, a housing subdivision downslope from the university, voiced view concerns at the Sept. 10 meeting and have sent the county three letters addressing a myriad of issues.

The city has also sent the county detailed mitigation measures it would like the university to implement, and at the Sept. 10 hearing City Manager Harry Peacock called for Pepperdine to pay the city a franchise fee for wastewater pipes along Malibu Canyon Road.

Next steps: Oct. 5, county planning commission tour of site; Oct. 28, second county hearing (resident/city response); Dec. 9, Pepperdine rebuttal.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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