First Phase of Malibu High Campus Plan Begins

A look at what the new Malibu High campus plan will entail

After a year of presentations and subsequent revisions to parents, community members and other stakeholders, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education is ready to move forward to the next step in developing the new Malibu High School campus plan: finding an architect.

The approval was given to staff at the last board meeting, held at Malibu City Hall, on Thursday, Nov. 7. Leading up to the meeting, staff, along with members of design firm LPA, held more than 50 stakeholder meetings and focus groups since September 2018. 

“Perhaps the greatest takeaway from this slide and, actually, all the iterations that I’ve shared with you so far, is that we listen,” Noemi Avila-Zamudio, the district’s deputy bond program manager, said during a presentation to board members. 

Project designer Ozzie Tapia called the project “a true community representation of not only the needs, but also the dreams and desires of everyone that’s been involved in this process for over a year.”

The design focuses on a handful of core elements, including:

*Circulation (getting vehicles in and out, off of Morning View Drive)

*Identity (creating a unique and separate identity for the middle school as well as the high school)

*Site topography (taking advantage of the views and space that MHS currently occupies)

*Safety (including fencing and other safety mechanisms, while still allowing for community gathering)

Tapia presented the current site map—”a jumbled sort of amalgamation of buildings that have been accumulated over multiple decades”—to the current proposed plan, which features a clearly defined campus for the middle school and high school, with shared spaces in between.

This plan would keep middle school buildings to the right and the high school buildings to the left. This, in part, was due to parking spaces; the smaller lot (the first that comes up when you turn onto Morning View from Pacific Coast Highway) would better serve the middle school. A larger lot, located near the high school buildings, would serve the abundant student drivers.

Shared use buildings include the theater, special education spaces and the Boys & Girls Club Wellness Center.

Malibu Facility District Advisory Committee Chair Carl Randall spoke before the board, adding that the committee voted unanimously for the plan.

Funding for this part of the campus plan—Phase I—will come from Measure M, a bond measure voted in by Malibu voters in the last election in November 2018. Preliminary budgeting put costs at approximately $157.5 million. (Measure M has a budget of $195 million.) The rest of that bond is slated to go toward various projects, some held over from the last bond measure voters approved.

Phase II construction will need a new bond measure, according to SMMUSD bond program manager Steve Massetti, but funding for its design has been allocated within Measure M.

School Board Member Laurie Lieberman asked about the possibility of a district office within the plan.

“Is there any built-in flexibility in the plan to allow for a district office to be built here, if and when unification occurs?” she asked.

Lieberman was referring to the ongoing talk of district separation, with an end goal of creating two separate school districts for the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu.

Massetti said it was possible, but that the plan would need to specifically include the office. Cary Upton, district chief operations officer, also clarified that a district office would need to be funded separately. (The office cannot be built with bond funds.)

Board Member Oscar de la Torre was concerned about kids and skate parks, and asked, “Was there any discussion from young people around skate parks? … In the weekends, what’s going to stop kids from taking advantage of the parking lots?” 

Craig Foster, Malibu’s only representation on school board, responded, “Oh yeah, there is a lot of conversation,” to laughs from board members and the audience.

Currently, the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu has a half-pipe for skateboarders at its location on campus. There were no plans to remove this element at the time of the presentation.

Based on an execution schedule shared to the board, the campus is scheduled to be completed just after 2031—if all goes according to plan.

With a unanimous board approval, SMMUSD staff will now look to hire an architect to design Phase I. At that time, the architect will come before the board for approval.

Editor’s note: The headline has been updated.