College bond campaign: same name, new battle

Bond supporters say the $135 million measure will be a bonus for communities. Opponents say there is no guarantee Santa Monica College will spend the money where it’s promised.

By Jonathan Friedman/Assistant Editor

Many of those who supported and opposed the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District parcel tax measure that voters approved in June 2003 are back to campaign for and against the Santa Monica College $135 million bond proposition, which voters will decide on in November. And the campaigners could reuse the signs from the previous election as the name of the bond proposition has the same letter designation as the 2003 parcel tax, S.

Proposition S is a $135 million bond that would pay for capital projects in the Santa Monica College District, including $25 million proposed to be spent in Malibu. That money could be used to build an educational facility and purchase land for parks and ball fields in Malibu.

The arguments that will appear on the ballot for and against Proposition S were released this week, with four of the five people signing the argument against the proposition having signed ballot arguments against the 2003 parcel tax. The signers were all Santa Monica residents, including Mathew Millen and Don Gray, who led the unsuccessful campaigns against the parcel tax measure. June J. Coleman of the Santa Monica Democratic Leadership Club, Polly Benson-Brown of the Los Angeles County Republican Central Committee and Michael Rosenfeld also signed the ballot argument against S.

Those who signed the argument in favor of Proposition S were Malibu Mayor Sharon Barovsky, Santa Monica City Councilman Robert Holbrook, state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, SMC Board of Trustees President Margaret Quiñones and Santa Monica Rent Control Board Chair Jeffrey A. Sklar. Denny Zane, a former Santa Monica mayor who now heads the powerful political group Santa Monicans for Renters’ Rights, is also listed on the ballot argument as the designated filer. Zane has also been hired as a consultant to lead the pro-S campaign. Zane previously led the campaign for Measure EE, an SMMUSD parcel tax measure that failed to reach the two-thirds approval required for passage in November 2002.

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City Attorney Christi Hogin has been meeting with Malibu Bay Co. attorney Dick Volpert about a possible municipal purchase of the Chili Cook-Off site, the prized 20-acre property owned by Malibu Bay that stretches along Pacific Coast Highway between Cross Creek Road and Webb Way. The bond money could go toward such a purchase.

The authors of the argument in favor of Proposition S wrote, “[Measure S will] restore instructional programs, including ball fields, in Malibu. The college will partner with the city of Malibu to solve community concerns.”

Although no formal partnership agreement has been signed between the city of Malibu and the college, city and college officials have had meetings to discuss this. Also, a majority of Malibu councilmembers has publicly stated they are in favor of the bond. However, the Santa Monica City Council and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education have declined to formally join the college in a partnership agreement on the bond, although both entities were open to revisiting the issue.

Those opposed to the bond wrote that they were troubled by the fact that despite a number of proposed capital projects to be completed with the bond money, it is not guaranteed that all of them would be done. They wrote, “Proposition S requires absolutely no partners. The measure allows SMC to tax and spend our money as they see fit.” The authors also attempted to attract the Malibu voters’ attention by writing, “Malibu residents will pay full cost, but 80 percent of the bond will be spent in Santa Monica. That’s not fair!”

The authors of the argument in favor of Proposition S also wrote about other possible projects that could come out of the bond in Santa Monica and Malibu, including renovations to deteriorating buildings, a new performing arts complex, athletics fields space, and fire safety and environmental upgrades to existing facilities.

The bond would cost home-owners about $18 per $100,000 of assessed value of their home each year for the life of the bond, likely 10 to 12 years.

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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