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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pepperdine Outlines Its Proposal to Council as a Neighborly Courtesy

• School Originally Lobbied for the Campus to Not Be Included within City Boundaries

BY BILL KOENEKER


Two mothers of children slain on Pacific Coast Highway during traffic accidents came to a presentation at Malibu City Council chambers this week, when Pepperdine University officials were given the opportunity to speak on expansion plans.
Last week, Los Angeles County conducted a meeting of the Regional Planning Commission at the university to get input into the Draft Environmental Impact Report. On its home turf there were many supporters. However, in council chambers outspoken critics far outnumbered supporters.
The mothers, Ellen Shane and Terry Love, said that losing a child to a traffic mishap on PCH made them ever mindful of the dangers of the roadway and how that should be taken into consideration by Pepperdine officials.
“The students need to know the dangers of PCH. Please work with the city and A Safer PCH and consider it the number one priority,” said Shane.
“My son Tyler was killed on PCH. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else or what the Shanes have gone through. I don’t want to stop progress. I understand why they want to make it a better campus. My daughter went to Pepperdine. I’m here because of PCH. I just want the kids to be aware of what they are coming into,” Love said.
Pepperdine representatives were quick to point out the expansion and upgrades for the entire project are within the developed area of the campus.
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.
Campus officials insist there will be no additional traffic impacts to the community.
Most of the criticism from residents of the Malibu Country Estates was aimed at the plans for a new events center that will consist of a 5000-seat venue that would allow for NCAA regulation volleyball and basketball games.
The events center will be relocated to the northern campus interior and provide parking for 830 adjacent parking spaces including 265 new spaces.
Robert Briskin, an attorney representing the MCE Homeowners Association, said the 5000-seat sports arena will have tremendous impact creating bumper to bumper traffic. He explained John Tyler Drive is the homeowners only egress and ingress and share it with Pepperdine.
He said since the school is not in the city and elected to remain in the county, it makes getting permits easier.
Briskin called on the city to generate a comment letter. “The county says to me, ‘Where is Malibu on this?’ By doing nothing, is tacit approval,” he said
After the presentation, City Manager Jim Thorsen said there was a planner currently studying the DEIR and a comment letter would be forthcoming on the technical merits of the report.
City Attorney Christi Hogin added the school has granted the city an extension from the comment period deadline so that the city council can weigh in on the matter after shown the comment letter at its next meeting.
Other MCE residents complained of the construction noises, fumes and truck traffic they had to endure when the university built the graduate campus.
Another speaker contended the events center, which he said would offer other events besides sports, would be the size of the Greek Theater.
Pepperdine planners acknowledged that there could be traffic impacts if there was an event at full capacity held during rush hour. “We think we can mitigate that,” a consultant said.
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.

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