SMC considers survey to determine what college classes Malibu wants

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A new branch for Santa Monica College is planned for Malibu; officials might do a survey to find out what classes Malibu residents would want to attend and discuss where to build the new branch.

By Hans Laetz / Special to The Malibu Times

Santa Monica College officials are considering using a survey to find out exactly what types of college classes are desired by Malibu residents for the new branch campus of Santa Monica College, planned for one of three sites in the Civic Center Area.

College officials met with a city committee Monday to consider using a public opinion survey on course offerings, and to discuss which of three parcels in the Civic Center area will be purchased for the $25 million community education center.

The branch campus will be one of several major alterations intended for the Civic Center area in the next several years, reflecting a desire to enhance amenities while reducing commercial development in Malibu’s core, said Mayor Andy Stern after the meeting.

A portion of the 9.1-acre government center on Civic Center Way is one of three locations being considered for a new facility to be built jointly by Santa Monica College and the City of Malibu.

“There is some dispute over whether the state or the county owns the courthouse,” said Malibu city Councilmember Sharon Barovsky. “We should have a better handle on this by February.”

The other two sites are also near the Civic Center: 15.9 acres of land owned by the Yamaguchi family trust near Malibu’s leased City Hall, and 9.2 acres owned by Pepperdine University just north of the courthouse. Two acres of Pepperdine’s parcel, called the Wave property, have been donated by the school to the city for a proposed Civic Center-area wastewater treatment facility.

The real estate discussion was closed to the public, as allowed by the Brown Act state open meeting law.

The construction project will be funded by bond sale proceeds from Proposition S, which was approved by 58 percent of the voters in the Santa Monica College taxation area in 2004. That $135 million package has $25 million earmarked for a joint city-college facility in Malibu.

Landowners annually pay $18 per $100,000 assessed valuation for the bonds. Malibu has been largely without SMC classes since burgeoning enrollment at the Malibu High and Point Dume Elementary campuses forced the college to vacate classrooms there in the early 1990s.

Some 365 Malibu residents attend Santa Monica College classes, said college vice president Robert Sammis. “Seventy percent of them are taking college credit, degree-applicable coursework,” he said.

The others are studying personal enrichment subjects such as autobiography, poetry or art classes.

Barovsky asked the college officials Monday to ask senior citizen residents of Malibu what classes they would like to take. “I know lots of people like myself who would like to take a Spanish conversation class,” she said. “There are lots of older people like myself that may want to take an emeritus class.”

During the election campaign for Proposition S, Malibu leaders thought they might be able to channel some of the community college bond money into acquiring the Chili Cook-Off site, the largely vacant plot along Pacific Coast Highway that the city hopes to acquire for $25 million this year.

But with plans to build a park and storm-runoff detention basin there, the college will go elsewhere in the immediate area, Stern said.