Westmont Magazine Progress on the Master Plan
Westmont continues to work on the update of its long-term master plan, originally approved in 1976. Santa Barbara County will likely hold hearings on the proposed plan sometime in mid-2003.
The two academic buildings funded by the college’s successful capital campaign (Adams Center for the Visual Arts and Winter Hall for Science and Mathematics) meet critical needs for extra classroom and laboratory space. Gaining approval of the master plan update means the college can move forward with construction as soon as possible.
In July 2002, county staff held a hearing on their draft environmental analysis of the proposed master plan update. The staff found that the master plan update would not create any significant long-term environmental impacts that could not be reduced to an insignificant level. However, in response to comments and concerns raised by the community, Westmont asked the county to prepare an environmental impact report on the master plan update, and the county has agreed.
This process is expected to last four to five months, after which a hearing will be held again on the draft environmental document. College officials hope the Planning Commission will consider the project sometime before next fall.
Meanwhile, Westmont has made and continues to study adjustments to the master plan in response to community concerns and new information.
Neighbors have asked, “Does Westmont someday want to expand its enrollment or the scope of its educational program?”
The answer is “No.” The college will never expand beyond an average of 1,200 students on campus, the maximum number approved in 1976 along with the master plan laying out the facilities needed for that many students. The scope of the college’s academic program on campus will not change, nor will its on-campus enrollment ever increase.
The proposed update brings the 1976 plan up-to-date with modern planning and environmental standards as well as current college needs without increasing enrollment on campus, parking permits, or the size of the college program.
In response to community requests, the college held two site tours and informational sessions about the master plan on Nov. 16 and 23. College officials are pleased that the Montecito Association has agreed to sponsor a town hall meeting sometime after the first of the year.
Some neighbors have expressed concerns about the fairness of Westmont’s agreement with Cold Spring School. College officials have asked the Cold Spring School Board to join them in requesting a highly respected panel of education experts to review the agreement. The college believes that such an assessment is the only way to lay the concerns over the agreement to rest.
“We are confident that the process is working and that we will end up with an updated campus master plan that will serve the college well in coming decades,” says President Stan D. Gaede.
Anyone with questions about the proposed update, or the agreement with Cold Spring School, may contact President Gaede or visit the college’s Web site at www.westmont.edu/community/master_plan.