The Pierce College Farm Center was set to be vacated this month by its operators, the McBroom family, but they remain on the property pending a possible visit by Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez amid talks of legal action by the administration.
The deadline to vacate was April 15, but wooden sets and other items are still on-site. Farm Center Director Robert McBroom said the family needs more time to relocate to another location.
“Allow us the appropriate transitional time,” McBroom said. “We internally have been diassembling all the non-visual areas.”
Los Angeles Community College District Trustee Nancy Pearlman said the McBroom family is required to leave as per a settlement agreement signed last year. She said that although the McBrooms are legally required to vacate, it is not an eviction.
“We discontinued the operations,” Pearlman said. “We did not officially evict them.”
Pearlman said the McBrooms had enough time to leave the campus and that the college now needs to determine the land’s future.
“They had 18 months to make the transition,” she said. “The plan is this college needs to sit down to decide what to do with this land.”
Pearlman said development on the land is not part of ongoing talks.
“There is no discussion of any sale or elimination of the land,” Pearlman said.
City Council Member Bob Blumenfield said he supports the agricultural applications of the Farm Center.
“I am very committed to keeping this area a farm,” Blumenfield said. “It reflects our history in the valley.”
Blumenfield said if development is proposed despite administrative and district statements to the contrary, he would use his bully pulpit to oppose use of the land for purposes unrelated to agriculture education.
“If all of a sudden there’s some radical change, then I’m going to be concerned about it. I’m going to do everything I can to try to figure it out and find a positive solution,” Blumenfield said. “The first step is communication and transparency and accountability. If somehow things go off the rails, then that’s when we all have to step in and try to figure out how to rectify the situation.”
Pierce College President Kathleen Burke said the administration will take legal action against the McBrooms if they do not vacate the premises, citing the signed settlement that set the April 15 deadline.
“They are in violation of the agreement,” Burke said. “I am putting it in the hands of our legal team.”
Robert McBroom said he would like to work through the issue with the campus and receive more time to relocate, but said the administration has been unwilling to talk about the matter. He said he wants the Farm Center land to remain zoned for agricultural and educational use, and added that it would be difficult for any new plans to be finalized while a legal battle seems imminent.
“I wanted to keep this an internal affair,” he said. “Nobody wants to enter into a quagmire.”