Friday, July 16, 2004


SRJC uses EIRs to design buildings

Santa Rosa Junior College vice president Curt Groninga told the Press Democrat that for at least 22 years, the JC has designed and planned buildings in tandem with the consultants who prepared the Environmental Impact Reports that evaluated their impacts. 
Carol Benfell reported 7/16 ("SRJC parking garage stirs opposition"),
"Groninga said the college worked hand in hand with the company doing the environmental studies, and used that information as it became available to guide the building design.  He said he didn't expect anything new to come out of the public hearing [set for Monday 7/19 at the Steele Lane Community Center].  'We have never in 22 years experienced an EIR changing the design of a structure,' Groninga said. 'The EIR guides the institution as we design and plan the project.' "
Santa Rosa School Board member Hugh Futrell--a developer himself--says that's not consistent with State law:
"' The core position of the California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA] is a complete environmental review before the decision point on the project,' Futrell said.  He is not suggesting the college is acting in bad faith, Futrell said, but it does give the appearance that SRJC is committed to the project no matter what is said at the public hearing."  He also questioned whether the structure would be consistent with the Santa Rosa General Plan.
The PD said the school board voted unanimously Wednesday to send a letter commenting on the EIR, and "questioning the legality of the design and the propriety of designing a building in detail before the public has been heard." 
The JC proposes to build a 5 1/2 level, 1,100 space high-rise parking structure on Mendocino Avenue at Pacific, where there is now a ground level parking lot: "The proposed SRJC parking garage would be the biggest and tallest building on campus, with 356,000 square feet of floor space and a clock tower that rises 97 feet from the ground."
The PD story didn't say why Futrell and the School Board have taken a critical interest in the JC's proposed garage.  We might expect Futrell and Groninga to be allies: both were involved in the 1998 Downtown/Railroad Square R/UDAT process, and Futrell and SRJC have current or planned developments in Railroad Square.
Futrell is building Railroad Square Terrace between Fourth and Fifth Streets, and plans to construct one or more retail/office buildings on Davis Street.  The JC plans to house its Culinary Arts program in the proposed Food & Wine Center in Railroad Square, using some of the money from bond Measure A voters approved March 2002.
The PD reported 2/28/02,
"When voters cast their ballots Tuesday for or against Santa Rosa Junior College's $251 million bond measure, they may be determining the future of Sonoma County's proposed Food and Wine Center.  Measure A promises a new library, additional classrooms and better parking facilities For SRJC, as well as a major expansion of the Petaluma campus.
But also tucked into the measure is $4 million to relocate the junior college's culinary arts program to the Food and Wine Center, targeted for construction in 2004 on a 6.5-acre site near Santa Rosa's Railroad Square.  That amount is one-fifth of the $20 million estimated cost of the center, which would also include a farmers market and boutiques.
While wine center proponents said a no vote on Measure A will not kill the project, they acknowledge that a yes vote could go a long way to building confidence in donors and speeding the project's completion."     

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