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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pep Expansion Letter Set for Review at Next Week’s Council Meeting

• Traffic Impact Remains an Issue

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Malibu City Council is expected to discuss the adequacy of the responses to the city’s comment letter on the Draft Environmental Impact Report and determine whether to take a position in support, opposition or remain neutral on Pepperdine University’s expansion plans at its meeting next week.
Last December, the council heard from university officials about its plans which were immediately followed by Malibu Country Estate residents who were critical of the proposed project and sought a stronger response from the city.
The city attorney had indicated at that meeting that the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning staff had agreed to accept a comment letter from the city after the public comment period deadline.
The Regional Planning Commission is scheduled to conduct a public hearing on Pepperdine University’s expansion plans on May 4. The planning panel is expected to consider a Conditional Use Permit, parking permit and Environmental Impact Report.
The CUP would authorize the construction, operation and maintenance of 394,137 square feet of new development and grading in excess of 100,000 cubic yards within approximately 365 acres of existing core campus area on the 830-acre site, according to regional planning department documents.
The six components of the expansion call for student housing rehabilitation, a new 5470 seat athletic events center, upgrades to the soccer field, a new “town square and welcome center,” enhanced recreation area and school of law tri-level parking structure.
The buildout, according to city planners, would be in two phases over about 12 years.
“The final EIR determined that all environmental impacts associated with the project can be mitigated to less than a significant level except traffic,” wrote the city’s senior planner Stephanie Danner in a report to the council.
“Even with mitigation measures, the environmental impacts of traffic and access during major events remain a significant and unavoidable impact. Therefore a statement of overriding consideration would need to be approved by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission.”
Pepperdine officials said they have made every effort to accommodate the MCE residents’ complaints and concerns including shifting most of the newly planned recreational facilities away from that neighborhood.
Plans call for 468 new student beds. The new events center is a planned 5000-seat venue that would allow 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.
A new campus center is planned and additional parking structures are included there.

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