Santa Monica College—Malibu Satellite Campus and Sheriff’s substation complex enters final stretch

Santa Monica College building. Photo by Julie Ellerton

Now in the final stretch, construction is scheduled for completion in October; with classes beginning in January 2023

Since the official groundbreaking in September 2018, the construction project to build the Malibu Campus building of Santa Monica College (SMC) plus Sheriff’s substation has contended with a weeks-long Woolsey Fire evacuation and power outage, the pandemic, supply chain issues, and engineering problems created by the shallow water table. It’s probably 20 months behind the original schedule due to those unforeseen events.

At long last, though, the light is at the end of the tunnel—as anyone driving past the construction site on Civic Center Way can now see.

An official annual update on what’s happening with the local SMC campus was given on Dec. 8 at the Malibu Public Facilities Authority meeting.

Facilities Director Charlie Yen said the current activities on the construction site include installing underground utilities, retaining walls and footings around the building, and HVAC, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. 

Construction is scheduled for completion in October 2022, and classes at the new campus are supposed to begin in January 2023, at the start of the Spring Semester. 

Dr. Bradley Lane, VP of Academic Affairs at SMC since last July, confirmed the list of facilities being built for educational programs at the Malibu Campus: an art studio, a computer classroom, a multi-purpose physical activity space, a lecture hall, a flexible science lab, and two general education classrooms.

The two-story campus building will also include additional spaces like study areas, an interpretive center, a conference room, offices, and 179 parking spaces outside. 

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department substation will occupy a one-story wing of the building, which includes jail facilities, a helicopter pad outside, and a multi-purpose room to be shared by the Malibu community, the Sheriff’s Department, and SMC.

The project employs various sustainability features, including low water consumption fixtures, the use of reclaimed water for irrigation, and green building materials, and is anticipated to receive LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification. 

Lane’s initial thoughts on the course offerings or “Educational Programming” for the Malibu Campus include a mix of credit-based courses that would allow a student to complete an Associate’s degree, and the for-credit courses would be organized to allow transfer to UC and CSU campuses. 

Non-credit “community education” courses would also be offered, including personal interest classes for all ages, arts, crafts, languages, lecture series, lifelong learning for older adults, writing, computers, and fitness/wellness.

Santa Monica College hopes to begin surveying the residents and businesses in Malibu to collect input on what courses they should offer and community uses for the facility. They want to do this through a direct mail survey, public ZOOM meetings, advertising, social media outreach, regular reports to the City Council, and communication of survey results. 

Two other SMC officials were introduced—Maral Hyeler, director, instructional services and external programs; who administers the current educational program in Malibu; and Shari Davis, project manager, special projects, the faculty co-lead for SMC’s Public Policy program and representative to the Malibu Chamber of Commerce.

Dr. Kathryn Jeffery, superintendent and president of SMC since 2016, expressed her continuing enthusiasm for the Malibu Campus project, which is SMC’s first remote location. 

“SMC is incredibly excited about this opportunity, and to see it reach this stage, where we are now discussing [the specifics of] what will be in the building,” she said. 

“This is our first remote setting, and we’ll be learning and flexible about what goes into the community spaces and what courses are offered,” she continued. “Establishing a relationship with Malibu High School will be critical, as well as connecting with the Malibu community…I’m truly looking forward to our relationship in this center.”

The SMC satellite campus has been a long-time coming—it’s been 18 years since bond Measure S was approved by Santa Monica and Malibu voters in 2004, allotting $25 million for the facility. 

Since then, bond issue measure “V” was passed by voters in November 2016 for the Santa Monica Community College District, authorizing a debt increase of $345 million. Costs for the Malibu facility are now estimated to be close to $50 million, which includes not only construction but other costs like contributions to the city of Malibu for clean water improvements and prepayment of rent.

The Malibu campus is located on approximately three acres of a nine-acre parcel owned by LA County, directly across the street from Legacy Park. A decommissioned 16,603-square-foot sheriff’s station building on that site was demolished in order to make room for it.