By JC Casarez
A growing number of students at East Los Angeles College’s South Gate campus has cause ELAC faculty to consider more options to accommodate more classes.
The current plan is to transition the campus from its current location on Firestone Boulevard to the property located across the street that occupies the area between Alameda Street and Santa Fe Avenue. The latest development has been the completion of the environmental impact testing, which is required to assure there are no hazards before any construction can begin.
For years, the South Gate Campus has been pushed to the limits of its capacity.
The next step in the process is for the environmental impact report, which includes the results of the testing. That report will be available in May and will be presented at the August meeting for the Los Angeles Community College District.
With the latest designs and environmental results complete, the decision must be made by the LACCD board of trustees. The initial designs of the architectural firm of Terry A. Hayes Associates Inc. first included a layout of 134,000 square feet which has since been reduced to about 100,000 square feet.
Other changes that have taken place since the initial plans is that the district has now been working with the City of South Gate to address the issues of lighting and street construction that would be required for safety. This could include future plans to widen Firestone Boulevard to facilitate traffic.
At the forefront of all this process is Al Rios, who is the Dean of the South Gate campus. “Well, they wanted close to $20 million worth of improvements for the streets, expanding, the lights because of the flow of traffic and we said we thought the amount was in excess of what we were prepared to give them,” Rios said.
According to Rios, ELAC was prepared to give the city of South Gate $6 million for expenses, but the city wanted more. He went on to say that this could be the result of the city which has worked with the Los Angeles Unified School District in the construction of recent schools in South Gate, getting used to asking for a certain figure.
“They’ve had to build a lot of schools around here and they (South Gate) didn’t get everything they wanted. The residents are now complaining about traffic and now they’re trying to take it out on us,” Rios said.
These type of actions are what prompted the district to get involved since they have the experience in dealing with city governments when needed. “The district has spearheaded this and they have more experience,” Rios said.
After speaking with some city council members, Rios feels confident that the city will give the district a reasonable figure to work with and fully support the college’s plans to move forward in the project for expansion. Results pending, this would create more open classes to all students who attend the South Gate campus. Under the current setting, the South Gate campus offers 17 classrooms and would increase to 32 classrooms with the future move.
The city of South Gate was given the master plan drawings on April 12 to review. The next step of the process is in the hands of the district if they agree to the plans and find no issues in the environmental impact report which will be under review at the August meeting. “If the board says okay go ahead and construct this, then we move along and get the bids out for a construction company,” Rios said.