Malibu waits on Measure S

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Malibu voters turned out in high numbers Tuesday to cast their choices locally and nationally. Arnold G. York

Santa Monica College District voters went to the polls Tuesday to give an up or down to Measure S, the $135 million Santa Monica College bond measure. As of midnight, it was still too early to call, but early numbers with 8 percent of the precincts reporting had the measure with 57 percent of the vote. Fifty-five percent is needed for passage.

A Measure S victory would mean $135 million in capital projects would be conducted in SMC District land located in Santa Monica, Malibu and on SMMUSD properties. College district residents in Santa Monica and Malibu would foot the bill, paying about $18 per $100,000 of assessed value of their homes, according to the district.

What projects would occur on Santa Monica and SMMUSD properties are not clear since the governing bodies of those entities do not have any pre-arranged deal, but in Malibu a deal does exist between the city and the district. The two entered into a joint-powers agreement prior to the election, which would allow the purchase of property in Malibu and the building of a 25,000-square-foot educational facility at the site. A wastewater/stormwater treatment facility could also be constructed there, and possibly ball fields and parks could also be built. No property has been named, but many people have expressed hope that it will be the Chili Cook-Off site, the coveted 20-acre property owned by the Malibu Bay Co. that stretches along Pacific Coast Highway between Webb Way and Cross Creek Road. Malibu Bay has offered to sell the property for $25 million if the city can come up with the money by Dec. 31, 2005.

Most of the Malibu community leaders supported Measure S, but it was opposed by former Mayor Joan House, architect Ed Niles and tax opponents Doug O’Brien and Tom Fakehany. House and Niles said the educational facility could lead to a large number of students coming to Malibu to attend classes, while there had been no traffic study done to determine the effects of that. House said, prior to the election, that many other questions were left unanswered by the joint powers agreement, and said an environmental impact report should have been done on an educational facility.

The Chili Cook-Off site has been assumed by many to be the property the city and college district hope to purchase with the bond money because it has been a desired site for municipal purchase for so many years. Many have also hoped to put a wastewater/stormwater treatment facility there to clean the polluted Malibu watershed. According to Malibu Bay’s offer to sell the property for $25 million, the city could build nothing on the site except a wastewater facility. But any of the existing three structures—Prudential Malibu Realty, Malibu Lumber and the Malibu Animal Hospital—could be rebuilt, allowing for the creation of the educational facility. This would not solve Malibu’s need for ball fields.

However, the Yamaguchi Family Trust has also offered to sell its 17 acres of Civic Center properties to the city for $20 million. In addition, the Crummer property, located next to Malibu Bluffs Park, has been put on the market for $26 million, although no letter has been sent to the city about an offer. Councilmember Ken Kearsley said in September that the bond money could be spread around to buy more than one property, while money from the state and private donations could be used to fit the rest of the bill. This could allow for an educational facility to be built on one property while sports fields would be constructed on the others.

See malibutimes.com for updated information.