Santa Monica College Malibu Campus

The proposed Santa Monica College Malibu Campus features a roof with four peaks that will function as a ventilation system.

Back in February when The Malibu Times last reported on the planned construction of the new Santa Monica College Malibu Satellite Campus, school officials thought construction might begin in April 2017. Seven months later, there’s still no sign of construction. It turns out the last-minute bureaucracy of dealing with numerous government agencies has taken more time than anyone at SMC had imagined, pushing the start of construction to January 2018 at the earliest.

In commenting on the construction delay in an email to The Malibu Times, SMC Executive Vice-President Elaine Polachek said a lot of work has gone into approvals for the project. 

“This is a complicated project with three agencies in the mix—the County of Los Angeles, the City of Malibu, and Santa Monica College,” Polachek wrote. “It took quite a while to work through the ground lease, communication tower, sheriff’s station, and a number of other issues. Following the Sept. 6 Joint Powers Authority (JPA) meeting [in Malibu], we were able to push through and resolve the outstanding issues, which brings us to today.”  

The JPA group formed in 2004 and currently consists of two Santa Monica College trustees as well as Malibu Mayor Skylar Peak and City Council Member Laura Rosenthal. It allows the City of Malibu and Santa Monica College to acquire property and plan for and operate public facilities in Malibu. Updates on the construction of the new SMC campus were given at that meeting.

Polachek, the relatively new executive vice president for Santa Monica College, was just hired on Aug. 2 with responsibilities that include the Malibu construction project. She was previously the Assistant City Manager for the City of Santa Monica. The Santa Monica Daily Press reported Polachek has plenty on her plate, as she is now in charge of SMC’s human resources, facilities planning, business and administration, institutional research, information technology, grants offices and all areas whose services have collegewide impact.

The finalization of the lease agreement alone between LA County and SMC has been a time-consuming process. Polachek wrote that since the Sept. 6 meeting, SMC staff has had many plates spinning at once. 

“Staff from Santa Monica College has been working with LA County staff to review and revise the ground lease and exhibits,” Polachek said. She reported that as of early November, SMC staff’s review of all lease documents is completed and agreement with LA County has been reached.

However, there are still a number of steps involved in finalizing the lease. LA County’s final version of the lease and its associated exhibits was just signed by Dr. Kathryn Jeffery, SMC President, on Monday, Nov. 6. 

LA County staff is also preparing a board letter to go along with the lease, which will be placed on a County Board of Supervisors meeting agenda for approval—tentatively slated for Nov. 21.  Once the board approves the lease, the county board of supervisors’ chief executive officer will execute it.  

SMC has also been busy finalizing plans for the sheriff’s station, communications tower and Verizon antenna, all of which will be part of the SMC - Malibu Campus. 

“I am pleased to say that we have moved forward on all of these elements,” Polachek wrote.

She reported that agreement has been reached with Verizon regarding the communications tower layout, and that SMC staff is coordinating with the county to begin work on the final environmental testing within the next several weeks.  

While that is going on, the college is awaiting a review of contract documents.

Polachek also mentioned SMC staff tasked Vanir Construction Management with conducting a constructability review of the contract documents with their Sacramento office.  

“Comments from the review will be completed by Nov. 15, and any identified items will be addressed and integrated prior to final approval from the Department of the State Architect (DSA),” she noted.  

SMC staff also solicited for prequalification of contractors for this project—a process Polachek anticipates being complete by the end of this year.

The new satellite campus will be located on approximately three acres of a nine-acre parcel owned by LA County, located directly across the street from Legacy Park. The 16,603 square-foot sheriff’s station building currently on that site—decommissioned in the early ‘90s—will be demolished. In its place, a new five-classroom/lab campus building, a police substation, a community room that will double as an emergency operations center and interpretive center will be built. The former Los Angeles County Superior Court building and recently remodeled Public Library will not be affected.

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