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A Few Questions for Gruber

July 19, 2005

Dear Editor:

In response to Frank Gruber's July 18th column about the SMC Bundy Campus, I have a few questions:

1. Does Mr. Gruber's backyard border a parking lot with 609 parking spaces?

2. If it did, wouldn't he like to have a sound wall, as the Mar Vista neighbors living next to the Bundy Campus did? BAE probably didn't have a lot of employees leaving work at 10 p.m., but "6:45p-9:50p" shows up quite a bit in SMC's Fall 2005 class schedule. Even if there are no evening classes scheduled this fall at the Bundy Campus, there is nothing to prevent that from happening in the future.

3. Regarding our "obsession with traffic," may I ask what the traffic count is on Mr. Gruber's street?

4. Do college students park in front of his house and block his driveway?

5. How many cars pass, and how long does he have to wait, before he can back out of his driveway during morning and evening rush hour?

6. What's the "A-F" rating on the intersection nearest his home?

7. How long would it take him to drive from the nearest intersection to his home, at say 5 p.m.? (I know, I know, he bicycles to work, but just as a hypothetical.)

8. Regarding the "trivial impact on traffic" of the new Bundy Campus, does he regard 6,100 additional daily car trips as "trivial"? That was the estimate on p.10 of the November 2004 Kaku "Site Access and Circulation Plan" for the 1,000-space parking structure SMC was considering building on the Bundy Campus. Currently, the college is proposing 668 parking spaces for the near future, plus the existing parking lot at the SMC Airport Arts Campus, further west on Airport Ave. Kaku Associates doesn't include the Arts Campus traffic numbers in its Bundy Campus reports. Does Mr. Gruber know how many daily car trips will be generated by the two airport campuses, or has he decided that they're "trivial" without knowing the actual numbers?

9. Regarding "leverage," what controls does Mr. Gruber see on future construction, enrollment, and traffic at the Bundy Campus, once the college gets access to Bundy/Centinela and/or Airport Ave.? The answer, as Sunset Park residents see it, is "none." Community colleges are not bound by city zoning regulations. SMC does not need approval from the Planning Commission, the Planning Department, or the City Council for any classroom building or parking structure it wishes to construct, and so it can increase density at will.

The college staff's latest plan for parking, presented to the Board of Trustees on July 6th, was to put 525 parking spaces underneath Corsair Field, with entrances/exits possibly on Pearl St. (across from John Adams Middle School) and 16th St. (one half block from the rear entrance of Will Rogers Elementary School), as well as on Pico at 17th.

10. Looking at the existing Main Campus, which more closely resembles a beehive than a college campus, why does Mr. Gruber question residents' concerns about future growth at the new Bundy Campus?

11. The L.A. Department of Transportation has restricted vehicular access to the Bundy Campus 609-space parking lot via the new $1 million campus driveway to 15 cars per day. Does Mr. Gruber think that building the new driveway without first consulting with LADOT was an intelligent use by SMC of our Measure U tax dollars?

12. Back to our "obsession with traffic," is Mr. Gruber aware that as a collector or feeder street, 23rd St. is supposed to have a maximum of 15,000 daily car trips, per city guidelines? According to the Kaku report, it now has 24,000 daily car trips. Friends of Sunset Park lobbied the City Council to include a Sunset Park traffic study in the 2005-06 budget. The Council did vote $75,000 to fund a study on Ocean Park Blvd., between 16th and 18th, but that will not address the north-south traffic problem.

13. Is Mr. Gruber aware of the intersection ratings around the Bundy Campus? On a scale of A to F, the intersection of 23rd St. and Airport Ave. is rated "F" in the morning and "D" in the afternoon, according to both Santa Monica and Los Angeles traffic methodologies (Table 5 of the Kaku November 2004 report). Walgrove and Rose Ave. (the signal directly south of 23rd and Airport) is rated "F" both AM and PM. This is not a trivial matter for people trying to get to and from their homes and jobs.

14. Why does Mr. Gruber recommend adding bus service on a 2-lane street lined with houses, such as 23rd St., rather than recommending improved bus service on major arterials such as Centinela and Lincoln? Residents living near 23rd and Airport are already bombarded with fumes from 80,000 planes per year taking off overhead, 24,000 cars per day, and SMC shuttle buses spewing forth clouds of diesel fumes as they accelerate up the steepest part of 23rd directly north of Airport Ave.

15. What city bus, quiet or otherwise, has a route in front of Mr. Gruber's house?

16. Regarding Sunset Park and Mar Vista neighbors "squaring off" against each other, for the past year SMC has dangled a "deed restriction" (closing the Stewart St. southwest entrance/exit to the new campus) in front of Mar Vista neighbors in return for their lobbying Santa Monica for Bundy Campus access to Airport Ave. Mar Vista residents got LADOT to limit the campus driveway onto Bundy/Centinela to 15 cars per day, and they dutifully advocated for Airport Ave. access at meetings of the SMC Board of Trustees, S.M. Airport Commission, and S.M. City Council.

On July 6th, after Mar Vista residents had carried water for the college for the past year, SMC Interim President Tom Donner turned around and refused to recommend such a deed restriction to the SMC Board of Trustees. Is this an example of what Mr. Gruber refers to as the college's "stiff upper lip?"

17. The Friends of Sunset Park board has attempted to meet with the mayor to discuss the Bundy Campus traffic issue, but have not been successful in setting up a meeting. This issue is part of a larger traffic situation which pits neighbor against neighbor, educational institutions against communities. We agree that it is unfortunate. Perhaps Mr. Gruber can help us convince the City Council that this problem is real, large, and worth spending some money on trying to solve.

Zina Josephs
Friends of Sunset Park
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