Construction Underway on Santa Monica College Malibu Campus

Set to roll out in April, one LA Metro 534 bus from Santa Monica to Malibu will feature a wrap promoting the Malibu Farmers Market.

Everything is on track with the construction of a new Santa Monica College (SMC) satellite campus and sheriff substation in the Malibu Civic Center, according to the latest information available from officials working on the project.

Kathryn E. Jeffery, Ph.D., superintendent and president of SMC added that “we’re at a good place with the farmers market … there haven’t been any complaints about traffic.” The market is located adjacent to the site where construction is ongoing.

The first phase of construction took place from May 1 to August 13 of last year and involved building the infrastructure needed to connect to the Civic Center Wastewater Treatment Facility. Contractors installed about 850 feet of new six-inch sewer piping, as well as manholes, cleanouts and connections to the main sewer line. 

Phase II, which began on October 1 of last year, involved having SMC staff develop a plan to relocate the Farmer’s Market and Malibu Community Labor Exchange during construction, as well as develop parking plans for them. A new 10-foot by 40-foot temporary trailer and associated utilities was installed for the Labor Exchange. Once that was done, they were able to focus on demolishing the old sheriff’s building, which had been sitting empty and unused for the past 25 years.

City of Malibu officials met with SMC officials at City Hall last week to get an update on what’s happening with the $25 million construction, as well as what measures had been taken to ensure uninterrupted continuation of the Malibu Community Labor Exchange and weekly Malibu Farmer’s Market.

Charlie Yen, director of facilities planning for SMC, reviewed the scope and timeline of the construction project, including the basic facts—the piece of county property being built on is about three acres and the new building that will house both the SMC campus and sheriff’s substation will be 25,600 square feet. The lot is adjacent to the old LA County courthouse and public library.

The college building will include a 100-seat lecture hall with seating on an upward slope that could also be used for films or concerts, a science lab, art classroom, computer room, general classrooms, open floor spaces for dance/exercise and offices.

The sheriff’s substation will include a green roof and a multi-purpose room that doubles as an Emergency Operations Center.

Tearing down the former sheriff’s building took two months. The demolition left the building’s old basement open to the elements, and contractors ran into problems because of a shallow water table and the heavy amount of rain over the past few months. 

“We had a ‘lake’ the size of an Olympic pool at the bottom, and we just kept pumping it,” said Yen. “We finally had to put in a pipe underground to drain it, and didn’t have a dry bed to work with until March 1.”

The contractors will shortly begin installing 548 stone columns 35 feet deep throughout the site to help mitigate the shallow water table problem and strengthen the structural capacity of the soil.

“We’re ready to put the construction of the building itself out to bid on July 4,” Yen continued. The bid will be awarded August 6, with construction to begin in October. 

Don Girard, SMC senior director, government relations and institutional communications, said SMC has talked to Debra Bianco, head of the Malibu Farmer’s Market/Cornucopia, about doing marketing/promotion on their behalf, including plans for full-wrap public bus advertising on the Metro Route 534 buses (Santa Monica to Malibu), beginning in April.

Bianco was not available to comment on the story by the time The Malibu Times went to print.

Girard confirmed that although construction should be finished by December 2021, the school probably won’t officially open for classes until the fall 2022 semester. In the meantime, SMC will be working with the City of Malibu to collect suggestions and will most likely conduct a new community survey.

“We see this as a community center and want to identify how people will use it—get a better sense of the demand,” Girard said. “It will be critical for us to have a site administrator and point-of-contact for the community.”

The weekly Malibu Farmers Market, headed by Debra Bianco, continues to be open every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 23519 Civic Center Way.