Public comment invited on Pepperdine upper campus development

In a first step to completing its Long-Range Develoment Plan, Pepperdine University recently issued its Draft Environmental Impact Report on its upper campus development.

A copy of the multivolume report is available for review at the Malibu Public Library. Public comment is invited through Aug. 18.

The proposed project on 50.4 acres in the northwestern portion of the 830-acre campus would be immediately adjacent to the already-developed, 230-acre core. The upper campus would include the graduate schools of Education and Psychology, Business and Management, and Public Policy, as well as a student Learning Center (library and computer facilities), Executive Center (for conferences and overnight lodging for about 30), student and faculty/staff housing, academic support and learning centers, and 1,338 parking spaces.

There would be an increase of 500 Full-Time Equivalent students, up from the current 3,000 but fewer than the 5,000 maximum authorized by the County of Los Angeles when it approved the university’s Long Range Development Plan in 1990.

Twelve government agencies, led by the County of Los Angeles Department of Regional Planning, will be involved in approving the development. Of the 17 environmental impacts listed, air quality and noise had the greatest number of significant adverse environmental impacts that could not be feasibly mitigated or avoided (“Class I”).

At a briefing session for local press in May, university officials stressed the university’s concern for the environment and the need for the new facilities. “This is not a destination development. We are committed to a lot of open space,” said Executive Vice President Andrew Benton, who, among other things, teaches legal and environmental business land use. “The project’s sheer size [about 6 percent of the total acreage] will be of concern.” Referring to the graduate schools’ bursting enrollment, Benton said, “We don’t want students to sit in huge halls, we want a 1-13 student-teacher ratio.”

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Phil Phillips, director of Regulatory Compliance, stressed the development in historical perspective (see insert). Noting that the Long Range Development Plan was submitted to the county in the early ’80s, Phillips said, “We have wanted a plan for the long term, to have a growing campus, for a long time.”

The Draft EIR released July 2 will be available for public comment through Aug. 18, according to university spokesman Jeff Bliss. After that, public comments will be made available 10 days before the final county hearing on the draft report. If the county certifies the final EIR in spite of unmitigated environmental impacts, it must state in the record, before the project is implemented, the overriding considerations for approving the project.

According to Benton, the approval process will go through 1999. “Our concern is to be responsible. We know what people will say. We’ve been through this before.”

Written comments on the DEIR should be addressed to Mr. Bill Cross, County of Los Angeles Department of Regional Planning, Impact Analysis Section, 320 West Temple Street, 13th Floor, Los Angeles, 90012

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