$25 Million Santa Monica College Malibu Campus Construction Will Begin in August, Run Two Years

An architectural model for the new Santa Monica College—Malibu Campus

Finally, after years of bureaucratic delays, the construction of the Malibu satellite campus of Santa Monica College (SMC) will begin shortly. Construction of the sanitary sewer connection for the new school is scheduled to start on May 21, tying it into the new Malibu Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility (CCWTF). The construction of the classroom building and sheriff’s substation is scheduled to start on Aug. 22, according to Elaine M. Polachek, interim executive vice-president of SMC.

The design plans for the sanitary sewer component of the construction were approved by LA County on March 29 and by the City of Malibu on April 2. The construction bid process began on April 2, and bid award recommendation will go to the SMC Board of Trustees on May 1. If all goes according to plan, Polachek said, construction of the sewer connection will commence on May 21 and be completed by Aug. 14.

Plans for the overall design of the Malibu Campus and sheriff’s substation were submitted to the Division of the State Architect (DSA) on Feb. 28. The state agency provides design and construction oversight for community colleges and various other state-owned facilities. Its approval is expected by May 21. The construction bid process will begin that same day, and a bid award recommendation will go to the SMC Board of Trustees on Aug. 7. Construction will commence on Aug. 22 of this year and be completed by Oct. 14, 2020.

Funding for the new SMC-Malibu Campus comes from bond Measure S, which was approved by Santa Monica and Malibu voters back in in 2004, and allots $25 million for the Malibu facility. The campus is expected to provide college-level classes for all ages, including art, computers and science.

The new satellite campus will be located on approximately three acres of a nine-acre parcel owned by LA County, located directly across the street from Legacy Park. The 16,603-square-foot sheriff’s station building currently on that site—decommissioned in the early ’90s—will be demolished. In its place, a new, five-classroom/lab campus building, a sheriff’s substation, a community room that will double as an emergency operations center and interpretive center will be built. The former Los Angeles County Superior Court building and recently remodeled Malibu Library will not be affected.

The demolition and construction of the new campus will affect the Malibu Community Labor Exchange, which currently operates out of a trailer on the site’s parking lot. The county and SMC have committed to relocating the labor exchange to another part of the nine-acre property.

The weekly Malibu Farmers Market, which is also set up on the parking lot of the site, was up in arms last year about the effect construction could have on business. Debra Bianco, who manages the market, tried to get guarantees from the county, city and SMC that her operation would not be impacted at all in terms of parking spaces or booth space, but all three entities simply gave reassurance that they would do the best they could to minimize any disruption. 

Although the project first got final approvals from the City of Malibu nearly two years ago, the bureaucracy of dealing with numerous government agencies took more time than anyone at SMC imagined, which delayed the start of construction.

Polachek described previous delays as the natural result of a complex project.

“This is a complicated project with three agencies in the mix—the County of Los Angeles, the City of Malibu and Santa Monica College,” Polachek said in an email, describing that it took quite a while just to work through the ground lease with LA County (the landowner), which was finally approved by the county Board of Supervisors last Nov. 21. 

SMC also spent a significant amount of time finalizing plans for the sheriff’s station, communications tower and Verizon antenna, which will all be part of the SMC-Malibu Campus. 

“I am pleased to say that we have moved forward on all of these elements,” Polachek wrote.

Numerous loose ends had to be tied up: Agreement was reached with Verizon regarding the communications tower layout, SMC staff coordinated with LA County on the final environmental testing, Vanir Construction Management conducted a constructability review of the contract documents prior to being submitted to the state and contractors were solicited to prequalify for the project.