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Group Sues to Halt Claremont McKenna Construction Project

September 22, 2008

By Will Bigham

CLAREMONT – A neighborhood group that opposes plans by Claremont McKenna College to construct a new campus center has filed a lawsuit against the college and the city and is seeking a court order halting the project.

The group, called Protect Our Neighborhoods, filed the complaint July 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The group contends that the city, in approving plans for the college’s Kravis Center, failed to properly address the project’s impact on air quality, noise and parking in surrounding neighborhoods.

“The residents are just trying to make sure the problems the project is going to create are adequately mitigated, so it doesn’t create problems outside the university,” said Ray Johnson, a Temecula attorney who represents the group.

Plans for the four-story Kravis Center include construction of classrooms, space for five of the college’s 10 research institutes, and offices for faculty, admissions and financial-aid staff members.

In a July statement, college President Pamela Gann said the Kravis Center, scheduled to be completed in 2010, would become “both the literal and symbolic heart of our institution.”

A spokeswoman for the college declined to comment on the lawsuit. An attorney for the city did not return calls seeking comment.

Members of the group opposed to the project consist largely of residents of the city’s Arbol Verde neighborhood, a residential area directly east of Pomona College and south of Claremont McKenna College.

Residents of the area, once a Mexican enclave known as the “barrio,” have long complained of encroachment by the colleges.

On July 22, the City Council rejected an appeal of the Kravis Center project by residents of the neighborhood. The group raised many of the same issues in its appeal that the lawsuit has raised.

The City Council rejected the appeal by a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Sam Pedroza dissenting from the majority view.

“My feeling was that the interface between the colleges and the neighborhoods has not been as smooth as it could be,” Pedroza said.

He said he did not know the particular issues raised in the lawsuit, but speculated that Arbol Verde residents may “have gotten to a point where they’re fed up.”

Johnson, the group’s attorney, said he has been negotiating with the college over a possible settlement of the lawsuit.

“I think the college is trying to do the right thing,” he said.

The next hearing for the case is scheduled for Oct. 27 in Norwalk Superior Court. A trial date will likely be set at the hearing, Johnson said.

In a nutshell

A neighborhood group called Protect Our Neighborhoods filed a complaint against Claremont McKenna College and the city on July 28 in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The group contends that the city, in approving plans for the college’s Kravis Center, failed to properly address the project’s impact on air quality, noise and parking in surrounding neighborhoods.

(c) 2008 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.




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