Peralta Releases List of Facilities Bond Projects

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday July 04, 2006

With construction winding up on the $65 million Berkeley City College new facility and with $519 million in voter-approved facilities bond money in its pocket, the Peralta Community College District moved quickly last week to plan for its next round of facilities maintenance and construction action. 

Students, faculty, and administrators are scheduled to move into the new Center Street campus of Berkeley City (formerly Vista) College in time for the fall semester. 

Meanwhile, the district is also expecting to complete this year construction of a $14.3 million Art Building on the Laney College campus to replace the old art annex which had to be vacated because the property was needed by Caltrans to help build a new I-880 on-ramp. 

The Laney Art Building was paid for largely by Caltrans, and the BCC facility was financed for the most part through Peralta’s $153 million construction bond Measure E passed by voters in 2000. 

A portion of the Measure E money remains unspent. 

At last week’s district meeting, trustees approved a new five-year construction plan that committed $137.8 million of the $519 Measure A Peralta facilities bond money approved by local voters in last month’s election. 

Peralta officials said they have listed another five years of Measure A projects, but projects scheduled for completion in 2013 and beyond were not released at last week’s trustees’ meeting. 

Measure A bond projects differ significantly from those that came under Measure E. Under the 2000 construction bond measure, specific construction projects were not listed in the bond language, and the district could use the money for any qualified school construction project. 

Over the past year, this led to some discontent among Peralta trustees who complained that they were sometimes asked by district administration officials to approve new bond projects without letting trustees know what remaining, unfinished projects their action might knock off the waiting list. 

By contrast, Measure A was passed under the authority of Proposition 39, which required that projects using the bond money be limited to those projects listed in the ballot language and approved by voters. 

In addition, Proposition 39 requires districts to set up a citizens oversight committee to monitor the spending of the bond money. 

At last week’s meeting, trustees approved by-laws for the Measure A bond committee, calling for a seven-member committee made up of one representative apiece of local business, senior citizens, and taxpayers organizations, one enrolled student, one individual active in an organization supporting the community college district, and two members selected at-large. 

All of the oversight members will be recommended by the chancellor and approved by the trustees. 

Unlike the Berkeley Unified School District Measure B committee, the Peralta Measure A committee will not recommend projects on which to spend the bond money, but will be limited to reviewing actions approved or taken by the district trustees or administration. 

The district did not release a timetable for soliciting members to the oversight committee or for the committee’s formation. 

Meanwhile, with Berkeley City College having eaten up the lion’s share of recent Peralta bond money, BCC had no projects listed under the five-year construction plan, while the remaining three district colleges—College of Alameda, Laney and Merritt—listed roughly $50 million apiece in projects. 

Laney College has scheduled renovation of its Student Services Building and Multi-Purpose Room for 2007 and 2008, and is set to complete a modernization of its theater and an $18.4 million modernization of its library in 2011. 

Merritt has scheduled renovations of three buildings in 2007 and 2008, renovation of a fourth building in 2011, and construction of a Child Development Center in 2012. 

The College of Alameda has scheduled renovation of its Student Services Building in 2007 and modernization of three buildings, including the campus library, for completion in 2011.