Board Calls Pierce Land-Use Study Trivial : Education: The college district paid a consulting firm $10,000 to research ways to develop 250 acres of campus farmland. Some defend the report's three suggestions as being only a first step.


Los Angeles Community College District trustees Thursday criticized as trivial a study that suggests alternatives for commercial, agricultural and recreational development on 250 acres of Pierce College farmland.

"I could do something like this in about eight hours," said district President David Lopez-Lee. "It was not well done. The three alternatives are very simple-minded, very trite and trivial."

"It was just so brief, so thin, so cursory as to be useless," Trustee Wallace Knox said of the report presented to trustees Wednesday. "It would be best to start over again."

The $10,000 study, prepared by Envicom Corp., a Calabasas-based consulting firm, suggests commercial, environmental or recreation uses for the land.

In the commercial option, an office research park, science pavilion, conference center, nine-hole golf course and science pavilion would be featured. Consultants envision an organic farm, an equestrian center, a village-oriented retail center and a conference center in the environmental alternative.

If a recreational emphasis is placed on the land, the report suggests that an 18-hole golf course and jogging and cross country trails be developed along with a conference center and a science pavilion.

Joseph G. Johns, Envicom president, and Pierce President Dan Means said the study was not intended to be an in-depth recommendation for development of the agricultural-zoned land.

"This is the logical first step" in a planning process that will take at least 18 months to complete, Johns said. "It is a complete phase one study."

"I think the report isn't that bad," Means said. "For $10,000, you're not going to get much. This is the first phase of an in-depth study yet to be completed."

He said the next step in the planning process will be to take the firm's suggestions to members of the college faculty, staff and students and to the community for input. "Then we'll form a land-use committee with college and community representatives and come up with a final report to present to trustees," Means said. "One of the things that still has to be decided is the size and magnitude of the agricultural component," he added. "It is our desire to maintain an agricultural program here, but transform it into a learning lab rather than a working farm."

Uses for the 250 acres have been widely debated by homeowners near the Woodland Hills school during the last several years, as urban sprawl closed in on the campus, causing reductions in the college's farm program.

Knox said he was disappointed that the consultant had sought no public input for the study.

"Folks treasure Pierce College. It is their place and we need to respect that," Knox said. "But even in this first step, the entire community should have been deeply involved." Trustee Lindsay Conner said that he, too, thought the public should have been consulted before the report was written and that he was disappointed in the shallowness of the study.

Johns said the public will not be left out of the final decision. "The community has been very patient in waiting for a plan and they should become active partners in the planning process," he said.

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