The California Coastal Commission unanimously approved Pepperdine University's 400,000-square-foot on-campus development project Thursday.
Commissioners gave the green light to the university's request to amend its Long Range Development Plan during its meeting at the Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco.
The project is seeking to overhaul student housing, relocate and create a new athletics and events center with 5,470 seats, 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.
"This project creates more green space and parking on campus. It moves campus events deeper into the campus and away from our neighbors. It improves outdoor campus lighting," Pepperdine President Andrew Benton said.
One of the conditions of approval is that the university develop a standardized lighting plan and a transportatioin management plan to ensure that events at the new athletic center do not jam Pacific Coast Highway.
Once completed, the transportation management program will be reviewed by the Coastal Commission and Los Angeles County's Advisory Transportation Committee.
A Pepperdine attorney told commissioners the university has no objections to the commission's conditions of approval.
During an hour-low public hearing, no speakers opposed the project. However, the City of Malibu sent a letter to the Coastal Commission, outlining concerns about the impacts to traffic from the events center. The university is located outside Malibu's city limits and is not within the jurisdiciton of the Malibu City Council.
Don Schmitz, speaking as president of the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, asked the commission to support the project.
"We think it’s a beautiful project and we urge your approval," Schmitz said.
Julie Rousseau, Pepperdine's head basketball coach, said the improved athletic facilities are needed to help with recruiting.
"We are losing some of those battles with recruiting," Rousseau said.
Michael Corrigan, who lives at the neighboring Malibu Country Estates, said that Pepperdine is part of the fabric of Malibu.
"Pepperdine does compete for students all around the world. We’re entering an era where student populations are about to decline," Corrigan said.
Greg Lee, a Pepperdine University alumni and TV reporter in the Palm Springs area, also supported the project, explaining that the school has an impact on the students that attend there.
"This university changes lives. It changed mine," Lee said.