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Westside Digest

Malibu : Soka Expansion Opposed

July 18, 1991

The Malibu City Council on Tuesday agreed to draft a resolution opposing Soka University's expansion plans for its campus in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The council made the decision after representatives of the Sierra Club, the National Park Service and various homeowner associations urged them to take a stand. The council will vote on the resolution Friday.

Council members acknowledged that they have little control over Soka--the campus is in unincorporated territory along Mulholland Drive near Calabasas--but they said they were nonetheless willing to encourage the state to intervene and help block the project. The Japan-based university has announced plans to expand its student body from about 100 to 4,400 by the year 2015, requiring the construction of 34 additional buildings.

Several City Council members said the expansion would aggravate traffic congestion and create significant environmental problems for Malibu and the Santa Monica Mountains.

In voting to draft the resolution, the council rejected a plea by Soka Project Director Steve Davis that the city delay taking a formal position until all the facts are in about the expansion's impact.

Council members emphasized that they thought Soka should reopen negotiations with the Park Service and environmental groups to try to arrange a land swap that would enable Soka to build elsewhere. Davis said, however, that Soka has no plans to sell or swap the land, saying it was a "dump" when purchased, and the university has invested too much money in improvements.

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