Measure S draws community support and controversy

Informational+Graphic

Chloe Buckingham

Informational Graphic

DAVID C. RIDINGS and WILSON HARTSOCK

Local Bond Measure S is stirring up the community on both sides of the issue as the Election Day rapidly approaches.

On Nov. 4, the vote for Measure S will be put on the ballot. The proposition is a $288 million bond dedicated to renovating City College’s many facilities and technologies to better create a learning environment for all students and programs.

Some of the currently targeted projects for Measure S include the Occupational Education Building, Library Modernization and addition, East Campus Classroom and Office Building, Campus Center, Student Services Building, Physical Education Complex replacement, Schott Campus Modernization and addition, and the Wake Campus replacement.

The money would come from taxes on local homeowners at an estimated $16.35 per $100,000 of the assessed property value.

The tax assessor for the community estimated the total value in the district and delivered the $16.35 estimate. Assessed evaluation continues to increase due to Santa Barbara being a desirable community to reside in.

Statewide bonds haven’t been in effect since before the recession in 2006, and Governor Jerry Brown stated that he would not support a statewide bond due to the recession, leaving it up to the counties to pass local bond measures. The Democratic Party has already endorsed Measure S.

79 percent of community colleges have since passed local bond measures with success in California.

“Other college communities have supported local bonds,” said Superintendent President Lori Gaskin. “So if they are willing to educate people from out of the area, our kids, why aren’t we willing to educate the 6,000 kids that come to us?”

Last year 70 percent of students that attended City College were from the tri-counties area and six percent were international. Twenty percent were from other California counties and 2,080 were dual-enrolled high school students.

The California Coastal Commission informed the City College that it must remove all 51 portables that were brought in for swing space for the Measure V projects. City College has successfully removed 32 of them with these same funds, and if Measure S passes, the remaining 19 will be removed and replaced with permanent classrooms.

“I sit in portables for classes that are falling apart,” said Student Trustee Nicholas Steil, 35. “Half of the projectors don’t work and I sweat or freeze in my classes, so what is going to happen? The Program Location and Land Use Master Plan presents a sound and strategic plan in concurrence with the facilities.”

The No on S campaign emphasized that it was not against the renovation and modernization of the City College but that their aim was simply based on reasonable limits and accountability.

“Four series of bonds are being issued in one,” said Glen Mowrer, chair of the No on S committee. “We feel it’s a sleight of hand.”

Due to Measure S being a series of bonds over time the assessed property tax of $16.35 has the potential to drastically increase or decrease depending on local economic circumstances, one reason the campaign doesn’t want the bond to pass.

The campaign’s belief is that the bond is simply too large and open-ended to be funded and would have preferred multiple, smaller bonds focusing on one project at a time.

In 2010 the Luria Conference and Press Center was constructed with $626,000 in private donations and $1,145,000 in Measure V funds, despite the press boxes not originally being a part of the Measure V project plan.

This particular instance paired with the unpredictable future needs of the facilities and City College’s capability to prioritize projects has left No on S with a slight distrust towards the school.

Mowrer expressed that the campaign wants City College to be held accountable and practice responsible management when it comes to funding of large-scale projects.

Measure S will be required to have a Citizen’s Oversight Committee to ensure that all the bond funds will be spent responsibly.

Targeted projects for Measure S also include addressing circulation, student housing, and parking.

Some of the more vocal issues from the No on S campaign are in regards to the potential program relocation of City College’s Center for Lifelong Learning for continuing adult education and the possibility of student housing.

Gaskin has expressed that there is no plan on cutting any adult education programs or staff.

“We are not saying we are going to kick out the Center for Lifelong Learning,” she said.

Swing space funds provided within Measure S would ensure appropriate facilities for the adult education and vocational programs during the modernization of the Schott and Wake campuses.

There is no current strategy that will be taken on student housing at this time by City College. Gaskin has stated that there is no plan on building student housing but is exploring other housing options.

Measure S will be on the Nov. 4 ballot with polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m.