Joan House, former mayor and longtime council member, said there are too many unanswered questions regarding Measure S. City Council disappointed with her annoucment.
By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor
Former Mayor Joan House’s second visit to a City Council meeting since her retirement in April was less than a happy reunion. House spoke in opposition to Measure S, the $135 million Santa Monica College bond measure, infuriating Councilmember Ken Kearsley, an ardent supporter of the measure. The rest of the council has also publicly endorsed the measure.
House said her biggest concern about the bond measure is that the impacts and consequences of it are still not known. The measure is supposed to guarantee $25 million for capital projects in Malibu, which would include the purchasing of land and the construction of a 25,000-square-foot educational facility.
“Where is this master plan?” House asked.
House further stated that a 25,000-square-foot facility could mean as much as 1,200 students at any one time, assuming there were 30 students per classroom. She said this would mean a need for three to four acres for the parking lots. House said before she could support that, she would want to see a traffic analysis. Kearsley said her numbers were way off.
“The maximum amount at any time is going to be 350 students,” said Kearsley, who pointed out that Malibu would have as much say as the college in deciding what kind of a facility would be built through a joint powers agreement. The City Council has already approved the agreement and the College Board of Trustees was supposed to pass it Tuesday night after The Malibu Times went to press. The agreement states that the college and the city will each have two representatives on a committee that will decide what to do with the $25 million if the bond were approved.
But Malibu architect Ed Niles, who is also opposed to Measure S, said in a telephone interview that Kearsley’s numbers were wishful thinking. He said there was no guarantee the college facility could be limited to just 350 people.
“If Kearsley thinks he’s going to be able to limit a college facility to 350 people, he’s going to make a good governor or at least a Secretary of Education,” Niles said.
Niles said, with the amount of students allowed in a room and the amount of rooms that a 25,000-square-foot facility would allow, the 1,200-student figure could be too low. When the idea was proposed that the facility would only contain a small number of classrooms, he then questioned how much Malibu would benefit from a 25,000-square-foot facility if it were just a few classrooms, storage facilities, offices and open spaces areas.
In response to Niles’ comments, Mayor Sharon Barovsky said, “Mr. Niles is incorrect about the number of classrooms. In his calculations he has not considered hallways, bathrooms and the community room that the college has committed to be building.”
House said she also did not like Malibu being part of a bond measure in which it had to give most of the money to the city of Santa Monica for college facility capital projects there. She said she would prefer the city investigate putting a city bond measure on a future ballot.
“The college district would not be part of it,” House said. “There would be no conflicts of dealing with other outside agencies. The city would be able, with the citizen’s input, to make a plan that would represent our vision of Malibu.”
Councilmember Jeff Jennings said that that would be a great idea except that past park bond measures have already failed in Malibu. Last year, a scientific survey was taken to determine if the Malibu populace would support a bond measure to buy land, and it revealed that less than 50 percent of the people would support any kind of measure. Most bond measures require 66 and two-thirds percent approval, while Measure S requires 55 percent.
Following the council meeting, House said she could be persuaded to support Measure S, but the council members said nothing to persuade her that night because too many unanswered questions still remained.