Setbacks hamper completion of facilities at SMC

At a recent Board of Trustees meeting, Trustee Greg Brown addressed the status of the building facilities and why there has been a delay in the completion of structures on Santa Monica College campuses. It seems that with the recent amount of project submissions to the Los Angeles Division of the State Architect’s office, which handles building codes and changes, the process has slowed the completion of structures at SMC.

“The facility construction process had necessary steps to go through, having facilities approved and permitted,” said Brown.

He explained that the DSA has the jurisdiction of approval for community colleges. Essentially, the DSA needs to give its approval before the college can make any changes to the structures.

Brown said several projects would be sent to the DSA for review within the coming year.

“We have the Academy KCRW project to go into the DSA within the month; the Performing Arts Center East Wing Project, and Information Technology remodel that will both go into the DSA this fall," said Brown. "And then in the early spring the health, P.E., fitness, and dance program."

However, Brown did have some explanations for the setbacks in the plans and as for the large construction site at SMC’s main campus on Pico Boulevard Brown emphasized the difficulty of the project.

“For us, we have had a long, difficult process with the Student Services Building," said Brown. "We had more than once contacted the DSA about the process. We have probably had three state architects in the last three years at this point.”

There has been recent difficulty in the Los Angeles DSA office, which is going through a management transition with the director’s retirement.

The current DSA state architect, Chip Smith, has been working close with SMC to do as much as possible for the college.

Smith has reviewed the situation and transferred the project from the Los Angeles office to the San Diego office.

After sending the project to the San Diego office, the structural concept of the building was approved, and the team is now set to review the plan in detail.

“We feel we’ve made a major breakthrough here, and we’re on the way,” said Brown.

With the recent accomplishments, the building ventures are projected to be out of the DSA around Nov. 1. The next step would be to have it taken to the Chancellor’s office for approval, because it is a state-funded building.

The estimated opening date for the Student Services Building would be either summer or fall of 2014.

Another factor that has been causing delays is that there are only four state architect offices to which projects are submitted: Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego. Los Angeles has the greatest amount of project submissions.

According to Brown, the projects are not evenly distributed, but are based on geography.

Along with the Student Services Building plans, the San Diego office of the DSA has agreed to accept other upcoming project proposals from SMC.