District extends construction pause as campuses evaluate projects

The Los Angeles Community College District is working hand-in-hand with each of its nine campuses in order to make adjustments to its Building Program after a pause in construction was put into place by the district late last year.


The moratorium was originally implemented in order to determine whether, considering heavy state funding cuts, it could afford to maintain and operate the projects under its 14-year, $6 billion Building Program.


The postponement also addresses the issues of the effects of a $100 million shortfall and the possible change in the needs of the nine campuses in the decade since the Building Program’s bond measure was approved.


“The space planning was not necessarily the best it could be,” Coby King, media contact for the LACCD, said.


The building projects under the moratorium are in varying stages of planning, building and design, but none of them have begun construction.


There are currently 96 projects, budgeted at $1.7 billion, under the moratorium, according to the final expanded moratorium list released by the district last month.


Each of the nine LACCD campuses is having ongoing discussions and evaluations of their buildings in order to determine the necessity of each project.


These recommendations are then presented to the chancellor, and he takes them into account when making the final decisions on the moratorium.


“The comprehensive effort between the colleges and the district are still in play,” Project Deputy Director Ed Cadena said. “Nothing is finalized yet.”


Factors that determine whether a project has to be continued include legal consequences, safety issues, and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.


“Some projects have to move forward regardless of where they are,” King said. “The hope is that the district and college are going to build as many [projects] as possible. It’s in everybody’s best interest that we move forward.”


There is almost $3 billion yet to be spent on the LACCD Building Program, according to King.


State funding cuts are what ultimately led to the placement of the moratorium.


“As the district started to face cuts in state support, it became clear that they were trying to preserve education delivery,” King said. “The amount of money available for operations was trimmed more aggressively.”


When the Building Program was in the planning stages, the district expected the levels of state support to be the same, according to King.


“It’s hard to overemphasize how unprecedented and draconian the cuts to education have been,” King said.


Fifteen of Pierce College’s building projects are currently under the extended construction moratorium.


Among the construction projects halted temporarily are the renovation of the Performing Arts Building, construction of Horticulture Facilities, and the classroom modernization and technology upgrade of the classrooms south of the Pierce Mall.


The pause in construction has already begun affecting students like 24-year-old choir member Cortney Chan.


While waiting for renovations to the Performing Arts Building to finish, the choir has to hold performances at California State University Northridge.


“The only available date [for us for perform] is Mother’s Day,” she said. “Now we have to give up that day [for the performance]. It’s really annoying.”


The Performing Arts Building, which was supposed to be finished by the summer, is in its final stages of approval by the Division of the State Architect (DSA), according to Theatre Manager Michael Sande.


“It’s in limbo officially,” he said.


Links: http://www.build-laccd.org/


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