Westmont Magazine Hearings Begin on Master Plan
Westmont’s Campus Master Plan Update goes before public officials again this fall through a process the college hopes will lead to final review and approval.
A well-attended public hearing in July on the draft environmental impact report, while involving a number of comments and complaints by those opposed, turned out to be both cordial and encouraging. The draft EIR is a very positive document that identifies several aspects of the update to the 1976 approved master plan that will cause beneficial effects, something almost unheard of in the world of Santa Barbara County planning.
The update to the already approved Campus Master Plan is intended to provide a better learning environment for the college’s existing 1,200 residential students, while also bringing the plan up to modern environmental standards. The college first submitted the update in 2000. Hearings were held in 2002 on an initial county staff determination that the plan contained no significant environmental impacts that couldn’t be mitigated. However, given opposition at the time, the college decided to ask for a full environmental impact report at an additional cost of $250,000. To date, the college has spent $1.26 million on the update.
The draft environmental impact report concludes the update to the master plan is a better alternative for the environment than proceeding with the approved plan. The update improves parking and traffic circulation through campus, preserves 81 percent of the campus as landscaped and open space, and calls for no change in enrollment, parking permits or the number of campus activities.
Once the master plan update receives approval, the college hopes to break ground on two new buildings: the Adams Center for the Visual Arts and the David K. Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics. A recent capital campaign raised more than $57 million for the buildings, endowment and other programs.
– by Executive Vice President Cliff Lundberg