The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a $135 million bond measure, which is $35 million less than the one the board previously rejected. Makes deadline for ballot just under the wire.
By Susan Reines/Special to The Malibu Times
In a last-minute reversal just hours before the ballot submission deadline Friday, the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to place on the November ballot a scaled back version of the bond measure it had narrowly rejected a few days earlier.
On Aug. 2, only four of the seven trustees voted in favor of sending a $175 million bond to the ballot, one less than the number needed for approval. A few days later, the college administration came back with a modified proposal that reduced the total size of the bond to $135 million by cutting some of the partnership projects with the city of Santa Monica. However, the $25 million dedicated to Malibu projects remained unchanged.
The bond would cost homeowners $18.17 per $100,000 of assessed value of their home each year for the life of the bond, likely 10 to 12 years.
Although project sites are not specified in the bond, there has been speculation that the college and city would buy the Chili Cook-off site, the 20-acre property owned by the Malibu Bay Co. that stretches along Pacific Coast Highway, where an educational facility could be built.
City Attorney Christi Hogin has been meeting with Malibu Bay attorney Dick Volpert to discuss the possibility of the company selling the property. In a Tuesday telephone interview, Volpert referred to the talks as “constructive.” But he said there is no set timeframe on when a finalized deal, if any, would be formed.
Councilmember Ken Kearsley said even if Malibu Bay is unwilling to sell the Chili Cook-Off site, the bond money could be used to purchase other properties in the cities. He declined to specify which ones, saying, “All properties that are available in Malibu are a possibility.” Kearsley said his main concern is to get the bond measure passed, which would require approval from 55 percent of Santa Monica and Malibu voters, so the money could be used to build such things as ball fields, a community learning center and parks. He said the first step toward that goal was getting the Board of Trustees to reconsider the measure, which was accomplished through Malibu officials lobbying SMC staff and trustees during the days following the initial rejection.
At Friday’s meeting, Trustee Annette Shamey, who had initially voted against the bond, said she still had some problems with the measure. “I’m still bothered by the amount of the bond. I’m still bothered by the timing. I’m still concerned about the rush factor. I’m not going to lie and say I’m not concerned about that.”
But, Shamey said she had shared the public’s “distaste and disappointment” toward her original negative vote, and reversed her vote because she wanted “the best future possible” for the college.
Mayor Sharon Barovsky, Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern, and Kearsley attended the early morning vote to show support for the bond, even though they were prohibited by the Brown Act from speaking at the meeting.
Following the meeting, Barovsky said she “couldn’t be more delighted” with the trustees’ decision to proceed with the bond. She added, “I’m hoping this is going to be a perfect partnership to get us some educational facilities, some instructional facilities and some ballparks.”
Assistant Editor Jonathan Friedman contributed to this article