SBCC to go out for local bond to fund projects

Alexandra Wilcox

Although Super Tuesday has nearly come and gone, City college officials are still thinking about votes as the college prepares to put a local bond on the June 3 ballot.

The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Jan. 24 to go out for the $77.2 million maintenance and renovation building bond, which if passed, will fund 11 campus projects, including upgrading the Drama-Music Building, the Humanities building and the School of Culinary Arts/Campus Center building.

“This is not just money for some show pieces,” said Desmond O’Neill, president of the Board of Trustees. “This is the educational quality of the institution for the next 20-25-30 years.”

The bond would also restore Adult Education’s Schott and Wake centers and would qualify the district for up to $92 million in matching funds from the state.

Superintendent-President John Romo said that the college will be “better suited to provide the knowledge and training that students need” because of the bond.

The college had been seriously considering a bond for the last two years to help finance some unfunded plans, including the college’s pet project the School of Media Arts Building, which will take up about a quarter of the total sum from the bond and state.

In a poll by Oakland-based EMC Research , about 69 percent of the Santa Barbara community supported the bond idea. Ruth Bernstein, principal of EMC Research, called the results “phenomenal.”

“I haven’t seen a organization that has numbers so good,” Bernstein said in a Dec. 13 board meeting.

Beyond new buildings, college officials say that the bond is also needed to repair aging facilities at the district’s three campuses due to the state’s lessened contributions for such essentials.

“It’s not really about buildings,” Romo said. ” It’s about the fact we have serious infrastructure problems.”

Some of those problems include the campus’ non-compliance to ADA standards and unabated asbestos in facilities.

The state expects colleges to split a larger portion of the bill-about 40 to 50 percent-now that 67 of the 72 California community college districts have dug up funds with least one bond.

City College’s first bond will add about $8.50 per $100,000 of assessed home valuation in property taxes for homeowners between Gaviota and Carpinetera. For example, a home assessed at $400,000 will cost an extra $34 in property taxes per year.

Although the Santa Barbara Taxpayers Association has yet to take a stance on the bond, its treasurer Lanny Ebenstein said he will urge the association to support it as it would be an “excellent investment in public infrastructure.”

“Any dollar we vote for a City College bond will go as twice as far because the state will match the bond,” Ebenstein said.

The board’s resolution and text of the bond issue