School District Does Not Believe Doubling Point Dume Students Will Increase Traffic

At the start of the 2019-20 school year, the school district plans to combine two Malibu elementary schools. Juan Cabrillo Elementary School students—185 in all—will be added to Point Dume Marine Science School’s (PDMSS) 195 students, doubling the student population at Point Dume. That means adding more classrooms, restrooms and offices. The school district is hoping to complete the move without going through a full environmental impact report.

The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education held a public meeting last week at PDMSS to gather public comments on their proposed project and draft “Mitigated Negative Declaration,” which would increase the school’s capacity to 450 students, even though only an estimated 380 would be enrolled in 2019-20.

By submitting a declaration, the school district is telling the state it feels the project will have no significant impact on the environment, and shouldn’t need a full environmental impact report, or EIR.

Prior to last Tuesday’s public forum, KBU News publicized the meeting; however, the district did not notify parents or the media directly. According to the district’s spokesperson, letters regarding the meeting were sent to staff at Malibu schools and were Tweeted by SMMUSD and the City of Santa Monica. About 20 people attended.

At the meeting, despite predictions the student population would double, the district’s declaration claimed its project would have either “no impact” or “less than significant impact” in all aspects of traffic. Officials estimated 370 car trips in the morning peak drop-off hour and 370 car trips in the afternoon peak pick-up hour, based on the fact that very few students walk or take the bus. Traffic volumes at nearby intersections during school drop-off and pick-up times were measured manually on Thursday, May 21, 2018.

The district wrote that if traffic problems occur in the future, with cars for pickup or drop-off spilling out into the main streets and blocking traffic, they propose several mitigation measures, including busing students from Juan Cabrillo to Point Dume; working with the city to widen the school driveway on Fernhill Drive; relocating the 534 bus stop; staggering the bell schedules over 30 minutes; or creating a second drop-off and pick-up location at Grayfox. 

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After the meeting, a handful of comments on neighborhood social media indicated some distrust of SMMUSD and its consultants.

“Everyone should be concerned about the cleverly named ‘Malibu Schools Alignment Project,’” one resident wrote. “The Santa Monica-Malibu School District isn’t even separated yet, and the SM School Board bureaucrats are now the leads in designing and building our schools in Malibu! We don’t even have all the funding for the high school [renovations] or proposed middle school.”

She referred to this meeting as a “stealth” meeting that not many people knew about, objected—along with other online commentors—to cutting down trees and didn’t believe the district’s traffic impact analysis.

Another wrote, “It was a bit sad to see a poor turnout. If the community doesn’t come together, the changes will happen.” 

There was some support for the project, with one resident excited about the money that will come if Measure M passes and interested in seeing what’s now Juan Cabrillo turned into a middle school. 

The district’s proposed project for Point Dume would have it being developed in two phases:  Phase 1 would consist of installing 10 portable buildings—eight classrooms, one administration building and one restroom building on the Point Dume campus—for two years, until a permanent classroom building can be constructed. One portable classroom would be installed in the kindergarten area and the rest would be installed in the central part of the campus on existing hardcourt. 

“Eight trees located in the proposed Portable Village area would require removal,” according to the report.  

Phase 2, which will involve further meetings for public input, would involve the construction of two permanent buildings between summer 2020 and 2021: a 28-foot tall, two-story classroom building with eight classrooms would be located along Grayfox Street and a new, 2,500-square-foot administrative office. The remaining area, approximately 15,000 square feet, would be converted back to permeable surfaces. Construction activities would include the removal of up to three trees in Cameron Park.

The district will accept written comments during a public review period ending Oct. 18, 2018, at 5 p.m. Written comments must include name, address and contact information, be submitted to Carey Upton, Chief Operations Officer, and be received in the offices of the district; or sent by email to cupton@smmusd.org. For questions or information about the project, contact Upton by email or call 310.450.8338.  

There will also be a Board of Education public meeting to consider the MND and the proposed project on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 at Malibu City Hall at 5:30 p.m.  

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