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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Pepperdine Plan Approved by County Planning Commission

• School Officials Meet No Opposition during Brief Hearing at L.A. Regional Office

BY BILL KOENEKER

The Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission unanimously approved Pepperdine University’s expansion plans at last week’s hearing where there was no opposition to the 12-year building plans.
Pepperdine officials told the commissioners the $400-450 million project would create 2000 jobs with much of the money being pumped into the local economy.
Initially Malibu Country Estate homeowners complained about specific aspects of the proposal. They were later mollified by school officials addressing those concerns and offered no opposition at the hearing.
The planning panel approved 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 the regional planning department.
The six components of the expansion call for student housing rehabilitation, a new 5,470 seat athletics event center, upgrades to the soccer field, new “town square and welcome center,” enhanced recreation area and school of law parking structure of three levels.
Commissioners were told all environmental impacts associated with the project can be mitigated to less than a significant level except traffic.
However, school officials said the practical result of that would be no more than an additional 30 second delay experienced by motorists.
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 was approved by the Regional Planning Commission.
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.
President Andrew Benton said the project is “not about increasing enrollment, but keeping a promise to students and parents,” about the quality of campus life.
School officials said the extra beds would go towards meeting the goal of 75 percent of the students being able to live on campus. The dorms are 40 years old and are in need of upgrades. The new construction will allow also for upgrades for water and energy efficiency.
The events center will be relocated to the northern campus interior and provide parking for 830 adjacent parking spaces including 265 new spaces.
Commissioners were told the new athletic center would allow the university to stay competitive for sports recruiting
There will probably be five or six events scheduled during the rush hour at five or six p.m.
In addition no more than 26 nonathletic or nonstudent events would be allowed.
Some planning panelists wanted to know what kind of notification system Pepperdine would use to alert residents about those large events.
University officials also explained how they were changing over the exterior lighting of the campus to meet dark sky standards. It is the first of its kind lighting in California and was found in Tucson.
Pepperdine officials were also asked to respond to the Malibu City Council's request that they pay for an additional law enforcement officer because of the expansion.
School officials brushed aside that contention saying the campus is in the county and that the city would not be paying for additional sheriff's services.
A new campus center is planned and additional parking structures are included in the expansion.
“The County of Los Angeles Regional Planning staff and their consultants did a tremendous job in conducting a truly comprehensive environmental analysis.We value our mutually beneficial partnership with Malibu and look forward to the next steps including review by the California Coastal Commission and continuing to work with the community on this important project,” said Rhiannon Bailard, assistant vice president, governmental and regulatory affairs for Pepperdine, who is also the project manager.

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