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Coastal Commission OKs Pepperdine's Campus Improvement Project

The 400,000 square-foot project is approved on the condition that the university draft a traffic management plan to prevent excessive congestion on Pacific Coast Highway during peak times.

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.

Hans Laetz December 13, 2012 at 07:48 PM
When this came before the city council, some of us asked that Pepperdine be requested (not required) to contribute to the PCH congestion and safety studies now under way, to speed them up. Every other smart city in California would say "if you want us to bless your project, pay for some improvements." Our city council did not do that. Instead, Coastal has asked Pepperdine is going to do a piecemeal congestion plan only for its contribution to PCH traffic, and only for special events. As I read this, the COUNTY will approve it, not the city. Malibu, once again, has shied away from its role on PCH. Caltrans, Pepperdine and the county will be studying the impact of the Pepperdine expansion on Malibu's main street. It appears the Malibu Chamber of Commerce made a bigger impact than did the City of Malibu. Again.
Susan Tellem December 14, 2012 at 03:15 AM
No surprise - we are sitting ducks for all developers now. There is no way to mitigate traffic and so this is all a waste of time. If there's a fire, which there has been a number of times on the Pepperdine campus, or close to it, try getting all those sports fans out of their sets into their cars and out on the highway - then what. Gridlock. Remember the burning car on PCH during the 2009 fire? I think it was a Mercedes? Picture 200 burning cars. Or 400. Or more. Coastal hates us so what do they care?
Ellen Francisco December 14, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I still wonder how Pepperdine University was able to keep from being a part of the City of Malibu? They are an island unto themselves only under County and Coastal Jurisdiction. They benefit from being here, but do they participate financially in any way (other than what the students and faculty spend at markets, restaurants, stores etc.)? Just curious how others feel about this?
Andy Lyon December 14, 2012 at 05:27 PM
The City of Pepperdine.
Terry December 14, 2012 at 06:44 PM
our sity counsel is so so disappointing. goodbye to malibu. now we can have lights at peperdine also. its the new combo of westwood and beverly hills. happy now laura.

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