District Asks Voters to Approve New Bond

Construction of the Johnson Center in 2020. Julian Reynoso / el Don

Rancho Santiago Community College District is asking taxpayers on Tuesday to fund nearly $500 million of improvements across all three of its campuses.

Measure L is a bond that would cost the typical homeowner about $6 per month with funds going towards a long list of infrastructure projects to repair or replace aging facilities at Santa Ana College, Santiago Canyon College and Centennial Education Center.

“To continue providing a quality education to local students, Santa Ana College’s facilities require basic repairs and upgrades,” President Linda Rose and RSCCD Chancellor Marvin Martinez wrote in a joint letter to taxpayers.

High on the priority list is CEC, which is housed in temporary buildings on the site of Centennial Park. After over a decade of receiving short-term leases from the City of Santa Ana, the district was granted an 85-year lease on the property in October 2019, paving the way for a replacement of the portable buildings, which have exceeded their lifespan and regularly flood.

Centennial Education Center Will Stay Open for Two More Years

For SAC, the measure would mean a new Applied Technology Center to house career education programs for manufacturing, robotics, welding, automotive technology and other skilled trade programs.

Also in the plans is a new Fine and Performing Arts Center to replace the current Art and Music buildings as well as Phillips Hall Theatre. There are also plans to update the existing pool and include direct access to the locker rooms.

Arianna Castillos, a fourth-year music student, is looking forward to a new fine arts complex.

“Upgraded music and art facilities,” she said when asked what is most needed at SAC.

Measure L also seeks funding for both a parking structure where lot 11 exists and a parking lot on the east corner of Bristol and Seventeenth streets, where construction supplies are now stored.

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The bond measure dovetails on Measure Q, which was approved by voters in 2012. Funds from Measure Q were used to retrofit Dunlap Hall, build the new Central Mall and Central Plant, and pay for construction of the nearly complete Health and Sciences Building.

RSCCD Assistant Vice Chancellor of Facility Planning Carri Matsumoto says the new Johnson Center will open next spring.

Demolition Begins for a New Johnson Student Center

Along with significant construction projects, the district also intends to use funds to repair leaky roofs, old plumbing, faulty electrical systems, and replace dry rotted beams, as well as remove asbestos and lead paint from older buildings.

At both SAC and SCC, Measure L funds are expected to be used to increase accessibility for students with disabilities.

Sidewalks along Bristol and 17th streets would be widened to accommodate wheelchair ramps and create direct safe pathways from the bus stop into campus.

The college also plans to add more outdoor common areas to encourage interdepartmental and general collaboration between students.

If approved, the bond would also include accountability measures such as a Citizens’ Oversight Committee and independent audits.

Matsumoto said there are no set dates for any of the proposed Measure L projects because the upgrades are only possible if the measure passes with more than 55% support.

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