Westmont Magazine A Planned Update
Santa Barbara County planning officials who are considering an updated campus master plan for Westmont have determined that it will not cause significant environmental impacts that can’t be mitigated.
The county held the first public hearing on the plan July 23 in Montecito. More than 80 people attended the hearing, where college and planning officials outlined the plan in detail. A number of neighbors expressed concerns about impacts such as potentially obstructed views and increased traffic on area roads. County planners explained that all the potentially significant impacts could be mitigated. In other words, the college can and will act to resolve the concerns.
The revised master plan has been in development for seven years and is integral to long-term plans to complete the campus. The proposed update was submitted to the county in April 2000.
The plan, which updates a 1976 document, seeks no additional enrollment, residential students or parking permits on campus. It does call for modifications that will incorporate contemporary planning and environmental requirements and provide facilities that better respond to the needs of faculty and students. Ranked among the finest liberal arts colleges in the nation, Westmont must make changes to stay competitive.
The 1976 plan included several new buildings not yet constructed but desperately needed. The college hopes to build two in the near future: a new science building to house the mathematics, physics, computer science and psychology departments and a new center for the visual arts.
Westmont has just completed a successful five-year capital campaign to fund the buildings, which raised more than $56 million.
Longer-term projects include renovation of the campus student center, a new bookstore, a chapel/auditorium, and construction of a fifth and final residence hall to ease severe crowding. Many students live in “triples,” although the rooms were designed to hold just two students.
The college spent three years meeting with faculty, staff, students and outside consultants to refine the long-range plan to fit current needs as well as the future vision for Westmont.
College officials held meetings in local neighborhoods, noting neighbors’ suggestions and concerns, then refined the proposed plan to meet the college’s needs, respect its neighbors, and respond to current environmental and planning standards.
Westmont believes the proposed update will make the campus more compatible with Montecito and will enable the college to continue being a good neighbor and an attractive part of the community.