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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

EIR for Major Pepperdine Expansion Plan Is Available Now for Public Comments

• School Officials Downplay Size of Project

BY BILL KOENEKER


Last week, Los Angeles County released the Draft Environmental Impact Report for Pepperdine University’s plans for upgrading existing facilities and creating new amenities “to meet the educational housing, athletic, and recreational needs of today.”
The DEIR marks the start of the project’s public review and approval process.
Pepperdine officials are quick to point out the expansion and upgrades for the entire project are within the developed area of the campus.
The county has called for a 60 day comment period that runs from November until January 2011.
A hearing on the DEIR will be held at Pepperdine’s school of law Caruso Auditorium on Dec. 2 at 5 p.m.
The Final EIR hearings are scheduled for the spring of 2011, according to school officials.
The university will need to acquire a Conditional Use Permit and a parking permit from the county and a Long Range Development Plan amendment from the California Coastal Commission
“We anticipate receiving building permits and our earliest possible construction of any component in 2013,” the school states.
Plans call for 468 new student beds. The university contends the increase in student beds will be built within the same footprint of the existing Seaver College residence halls.
School officials say they will renovate sixteen existing residential halls and add four new common buildings.
“Because the project will not increase student enrollment, these student beds equate to a transition of 468 commuter students to 468 new student residents,” school officials insist.
However, the school also plans 796 net new parking spaces across the campus. School officials explain the parking facilities will be in the interior and northern reaches of the campus away from neighboring residential areas.
Campus officials also insist there will be no additional traffic impacts to the community.
The plans call for transitioning existing parking lots into parking structures. The existing school of law parking lot will be converted into a three level parking structure.
Pepperdine’s reasoning on no impacts to local traffic is that the commuter students will transition to resident students where the school is attempting to provide more amenities on campus.
A resident student is more likely to utilize the community than a commuter student, according to the report, but the local trips are of shorter duration and distance with less frequency.
Student trips into the community are less likely to occur during commuter rush hours, thus further reducing traffic in the area, according to school officials.
Another major component of the proposal calls for a new events center that will consist of a 5000-seat venue that would allow for NCAA regulation volleyball and basketball.
The events center will be relocated to the northern campus interior and provide parking for 830 adjacent parking spaces including 265 new spaces. The existing Firestone Fieldhouse will be converted into a recreation center.
The university is seeking permits from the county since it is located outside of City of Malibu boundaries.
Changes will also be made to the campus quad, turning it into more of a town square as described by designers

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