Walnut to consider legal action against Mt. SAC for parking structure

By Steve Scauzillo, Staff Writer

Walnut City Council will meet in closed session tonight to consider whether to sue Mount San Antonio College for going ahead with construction of a five-story, $45 million parking garage directly across the street from homes.

The consideration of “possible litigation — status report on proposed parking structure, Mt. SAC” by the council may have been precipitated by two actions taken by the school’s governing board on Feb. 11.

First, the board passed a resolution saying the college does not have to abide by City of Walnut zoning laws because the parking structure will be an educational facility owned and operated by the district.

And second, the college board approved an $8.4 million contract with Tilden-Coil Constructors, Inc. for work on the first phase of the new parking structure, including relocation of utility lines, demolition, grading and soil movement.

The college, located in Walnut, has put up numerous new buildings that didn’t require approval from the city. Colleges and university projects are approved by the state architect. Also, the college’s resolution notes it doesn’t have to meet Walnut zoning codes because they do not address the location of schools.

If the facility is not considered educational, it is possible a city would have a say, but the resolution states the parking structure will also be used “for student instruction in subjects such as astronomy, administration of justice and fire technology.”

The City Council voted in August to oppose building a parking structure at the location, finding it would cause air pollution, traffic and potential ingress and egress problems for emergency vehicles, as cars would be using Mountaineer Road to access the structure — the same street used by hundreds of residents of Timberline, a neighborhood in north Walnut.

Read more in Steve Scauzillo’s story PARKING.

Mt SAC studies options for new parking structure

Mount San Antonio College trustees learned it would cost $14.5 million to move the controversial 2,200 spot parking structure planned for the community college.

Another study to downsize the $45 million parking garage said it would cost almost $6 million to eliminate one of the parking levels in one section. That would only cut 200 stalls.

“The cost is not feasible to redo the parking structure,” concluded Mt. SAC President and CEO Bill Scroggins. “After the multi-millions spent on the design, it would not be a good shepherding of tax dollars.”

Mt. SAC’s Director of Facilities Gary Nellesen explained the costs involved to move the parking garage from Parking Lot A to Lot F. His staff calculated it would take three years and $14,470,000 to relocate the parking garage now planned off Mountaineer Road along Edinger Way. And the easier option of cutting one section would cost $5,820,000.

“The biggest cost would be inflation caused by the delay,” Nellesen said. “We use the same number we use for all our projects … about 4 percent per year. Because this redesign effort would take 18 months, we’re figuring about a year and a half of cost inflation on the rest of the structure.”

That would add $2.4 million to the cost of the smaller structure. Deleting one level and replacing it with surface parking would save $2 million.

“We’d have to pay for a redesign of the darn thing,” Nellesen said.

He said the college learned a lesson back in 2003, when bids for the new science building came in over budget.

“We did an extensive effort to reduce the cost of the project. By the time we got it approved and put it up for bid, we got less for more money,” Nellesen recalled.

He said using Lot F would add 40 months to the project in order to start all over again with the environmental impact report, new design and the state approval process. Inflation would add $5.6 million to the costs.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PARKING

Mt. SAC holds community volunteer fair today

The Mt. San Antonio College Student Life Office will hold a Community Volunteer Fair for local organizations that would like to recruit student volunteers on Thursday, Nov. 6, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Student Life Center patio area, building 9C. 

The fair provides an opportunity for students to engage in public service, obtain hands-on learning experiences, and make a difference in the community.

Some of the organizations that will participate in this year’s event include the AmeriCorps, Covina Public Library, Inland Empire United Way, House of Ruth, Inland Valley Hope Partners, Just Us 4 Youth, Parent’s Place Family Resource & Empowerment Center, Rowland Unified School District Family Resource Center, Think Together, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care, and more. 

Paola Mendoza sworn in as student trustee at Mt SAC in Walnut

Mt. San Antonio College student Paola Mendoza was sworn in as the new student trustee for the 2014-15 academic year during the Mt. SAC Board of Trustees’ July 23 meeting. 

As student trustee, Mendoza, 19, will present the student perspective on policy issues before Mt. SAC’s governing board.

She will have only an advisory vote, which does not count toward the passage or failure of a motion. The advisory vote helps the board know how the student trustee stands on issues and strengthens the student role in the college’s shared governance process.

Mendoza, a resident of Ontario, is a psychology major and carries a 3.6 GPA. She has served as a senator with the Mt. SAC Associated Students (student government) and holds memberships in the campus Psychology Club and IDEAS Club, which serves as an advocate for undocumented students.

After she graduates from Mt. SAC, she plans to transfer to UCLA as a psychology major.

City of Walnut drops red light traffic cameras

The only red light cameras in Walnut have hit a stop sign. The City Council voted unanimously to allow a contract with RedFlex Traffic Systems to expire on May 27.

The controversial cameras were installed in 2007 at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Amar Road, next to Mt. San Antonio College. Since then, the digital detectives have caught thousands of unwary motorists, with many complaining about the city’s photo enforcement program. In fact, the city issued more than 5,000 citations in 2013, according to RedFlex reports.

There was no discussion of the consent calendar item, but later Mayor Tony Cartagena said, “the statistical review of the RedFlex camera program did not reflect a reduction of traffic accidents, nor could the data support the cameras made the intersections safer.”

“A great number of residents and public officials here and in other cities no longer support them,” Cartagena added.

During the public comment earlier, RedFlex Program Director Robert Warner disagreed and asked for a one-year extension.

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story CAMERAS.

Walnut residents rue new parking structure at Mt SAC

Residents of Timberline came out Thursday night to protest Mount San Antonio College’s plans for a new $45 million parking structure across from their homes in Walnut.

The community college says the five-story garage will solve some of the parking problems at the bustling campus. Neighbors claim it will cause more traffic, crime and pollution.

Mt. SAC presented plans for a large parking garage with 2,200 parking spaces. The structure would be sited on the current 600-spot parking lot along Mountaineer Way at the north-west edge of the campus.

The proposal brought out the ire of homeowners across the street.

“We have been impacted by Mt. SAC’s quest to become the biggest community college in California. You keep adding, adding and adding students,” complained Linda Hiti.

Hiti said Mt. SAC students park in front of their homes on Granite Wells Drive, leaking oil and leaving their garbage.

“Walnut has been a good neighbor, but you keep growing to the detriment of the city,” Hiti concluded.

Mt. SAC President Bill Scroggins disagreed: “California is growing, growth is going to happen.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story PARKING.

Mt. SAC exhibits artwork of former professor in Walnut

The Mt. San Antonio College Art Gallery will present an exhibit featuring the artwork of former Mt. SAC art professor and art department chairperson Ron Ownbey, “From Mind Thru Hand: A 60-Year Retrospective,” which will run March 13 through April 17 at the campus Art Gallery. This exhibit is free and open to the public.

Sixty years in the making, “From Mind Thru Hand” showcases work that embodies a style described as “embracing the breadth of modern artistic practice.” This survey of Ownbey’s art provides an insight into the man who helped bring the Mt. SAC Art Department into the 21stCentury. Ownbey is credited for the introduction of digital media at the college.

A special opening reception will be held Thursday, March 13, 4 to 6 p.m., in the Art Gallery. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Thursdays,11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Tuesday nights, 5 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, call the Art Gallery at (909) 274-4328 or visit the gallery’s website at www.mtsac.edu/artgallery.