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Garden to be demolished

By Yasmine Mahmoud
On May 25, 2011

The Board of Trustees approved the newly drafted and controversial conversion of the Building 20 garden area to a parking lot.The SMCCD Board of Trustees meeting was held May 16 and was attended by more than 30 students, teachers, officials and community members.

Trustees voted for the change to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) report to be approved as well as approving demolition rather than remodeling.

Areas of the garden will be removed, such as Building 20, the Lath House and the greenhouses.

The areas are being torn down rather than remodeled, as stated in the 2006 'Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration for Facility Improvements at College of San Mateo.

The updated CEQA document stated that the change from remodeling the garden to reconstruction would cause no significant aesthetic changes, according to Terry Rivasplata, ICF International Technical Director and Senior Environmental Planner.

The garden area is set for replacement due to its lack of seismic safety.

"In my mind when I saw the looked pretty overgrown and unkempt," said Patricia Miljanich, member of the Board of Trustees.

Members of the community spoke out about the updated CEQA document presented at the Board of Trustees meeting, "It's dishonest to the students, it's dishonest to the public," said Ken King, a member of the Sierra Club, and former planning commissioner. The Sierra Club is a U.S. grassroots environmental organization, founded by John Muir in 1892.

"The process has been honored in the breach and actually was not pleasant to watch," said Mike Ferreira, Chair of the Coastal Issues Committee, Sierra Club.

"The addendum was more of a cover your a-- than a document," said Ferreira.

Members of the public discussed their views of the garden's demolition and replacement with a 120 to 130 space parking lot.

"This is a campus. This is not Silicon Valley," said Gita Dev, Vice Chair of the SMCCD's Bond Oversight Committee, who spoke as a member of the public."This is not a sustainable move," Dev said regarding the plans to replace the garden with a parking lot.

While the Save the Garden Club students explained that the garden was an important resource for the CSM community, the board still voted against it.

"It's nice to have a garden, but it's a college," said CSM President Michael Claire.

The garden areas were scheduled for complete destruction, but plans were adjusted in order to placate the Science Department.

"It's a small the end let's be thankful it's not more than it already is," said Barry Jointer, Student Trustee.

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