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College Trustees Reject 'Partnership' Bond Measure

By Susan Reines
Staff Writer

August 4 -- Plans for the city and college to collaborate to build sports and
educational facilities district fell through Monday when the Santa Monica College (SMC) board of trustees failed by one vote to approve a proposed $175 million bond measure for the November ballot.

The measure required two-thirds support -- or five "yes" votes -- to be placed on the November ballot, but achieved only four affirmative votes.

Voting for the measure were Chair Margaret Quinones, and Trustees Herbert Roney, Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison, and Nancy Greenstein. Trustees Annette
Shamey and Graham Pope voted "no," and veteran trustee Carole Currey

College faculty members urged the trustees to approve the bond measure in order to obtain funds to fix tennis courts with earthquake damage and locker rooms that they say are moldy and decrepit.

Faculty members also decried a lack of field space which they say forces them to teach softball in a parking lot.

Opponents of the measure argued there was not enough time to finalize partnerships with the cities before the Friday ballot submission deadline, and that it was too soon to ask for another bond after voters granted the college a $160 million bond only two years ago.

SMC administrators had spent the summer lobbying the cities of Santa Monica and Malibu and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education to become partner to projects that would be named on the bond measure -- which could have induced voters in both cities to approve it.

Officials in both municipalities expressed interest in the bond proposal, tempted by the prospect of sharing the cost of land and benefiting from the college's ability to pass bonds with 55 percent voter approval, rather than the two-thirds vote that municipal bonds require.

The school district's board of education declined to join bond projects but expressed interest in future partnerships.

Despite their efforts, college administrators failed to convince their own board that the bond should go to the ballot.

"The partnerships that we're hoping for are in the sketch stage. They're still being sketched; they're in the dream level," said Shamey.

Shamey called the partnership bond "a wonderful idea" but said, "The timing is not right, and there will be other opportunities."

Pope expressed concern about asking voters to approve another bond measure just two years after the last one.

"What is it that we're saying when we now go back and say, 'We need more'?" Pope said.

Pope also said some of the proposed projects might be better suited for City, not college, bond funds.

"I'm very concerned that what we're in fact doing is assisting in an attempt to meet community expectations on the back of an educational bond," he said.

"I think we have overextended ourselves and I'm worried about the college,"
Currey said. "We have so many things that are not finished and we have the
community saying, 'How big are you going to get?'"

Currey's comments reflected concerns expressed by neighbors of the college in Sunset Park -- which surrounds the college on three sides -- about the prospect the funds would result in additional college facilities and more potential impacts on their area.

Supporters praised the idea of public agencies working together and argued the funds could be used to ameliorate neighbor concerns about the college.

Former Santa Monica Mayor Denny Zane -- who has worked with the college on
the controversial Madison Theater project -- called the bond "an opportunity to transform a set of relationships, a set of relationships that, for the entirety of my living in this community, have been poor at best."

Greenstein supported the measure as "a step toward a quality life for not only our students but our community."

Greenstein stated the cities would likely have participated in the bond-funded projects if the college was able to place the funding measure on the ballot and voters approved it, and argued that there wouldn't be a better opportunity to seek a similar measure in the near future.
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