Pepperdine University officials are hopeful that a proposal for a nearly 400,000-square-foot on-campus development project will go before the California Coastal Commission as early as November when the governing body meets in Santa Monica.
Called the Campus Life Project, it was approved in concept several years ago by Los Angeles and California Coastal Commission. The proposal calls for more campus beds and a larger athletic/events center, among other features.
A large number of residents in Malibu Country Estates, which is located next to the university, are opposed, and say the project will have traffic, noise and other negative effects on the neighborhood.
According to Rhiannon Bailard, Pepperdine's Associate Vice President, the university has worked closely with the Malibu community through an open dialogue, which resulted in some changes to the design.
"This resulted in no opposition in attendance at the L.A. County hearing on May 3, 2011 and a unanimous decision by the Regional Planning Commission. We will continue to work with the community throughout this process," Bailard said.
The project is seeking to overhaul student housing, relocate and create one new 5,000-seat Athletics and Events Center, provide an upgraded NCAA soccer field, develop a town square and welcome center, an enhanced recreation center area and a parking structure at the School of Law.
The university is located outside Malibu's city limits and is not within the jurisdiciton of the Malibu City Council.
The university is seeking a Long Range Development Plan amendment to reflect minor adjustments, including consolidation, relocation, and specific configuration of approved facilities, Bailard said.
Bailard answered a few questions about the project:
Malibu Patch: When do you expect the plans for the Campus Life Project to go before the Coastal Commission?
Rhiannon Bailard: We have been working with Coastal staff for several months to complete our application. Our hope is that they will confirm a hearing date in the not too distant future.
Malibu Patch: How will this ease rush hour congestion along Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon Road and not add to it?
Rhiannon Bailard: We are adding student beds without increasing enrollment, which will transition existing commuter students into residential students. This will reduce traffic by 744 trips daily, which will have a beneficial impact at all of the intersections in the vicinity of campus, including PCH/Corral Canyon Road, PCH/John Tyler Drive, and PCH/Malibu Canyon Road.
Malibu Patch: The plans call for updated recreational fields. Are the field lights in the plan new or existing and what impact will they have on the night skies?
Rhiannon Bailard: The Campus Life Project includes an enhancement to an existing recreational field and upgrade of an existing soccer field. The project will replace existing lights at these fields. The replacement lighting proposed uses state-of-the-art technology, which meets even the most stringent Dark Skies ordinances and is so advanced that there is no known installation in Southern California.
These lights are shielded, directed, and focused to put light on the field rather than into the sky or onto the surrounding properties. The lighting analysis conducted for the EIR concluded that no significant lighting impacts will occur as a result of the Campus Life Project. We have also agreed to replace all of the outdoor "globe" lights around campus with sophisticated, shielded lights that will significantly reduce nighttime lighting impacts.