New land use proposal faces student, faculty opposition

By Gabrielle Peearanda

The proposed allocation of 17 acres of Cal Poly Pomona’s Spadra Farm to several state agencies is part of initial stages to develop Cal Poly Pomona Campus South.

However, as the university seeks to expand, other parts of it may be left in the dust. The College of Agriculture is, for the second time in a year, facing another loss of land.

On Oct. 30, Paul Storey, Cal Poly Pomona Foundation executive director, and Walter Marquez, associate vice president of Facilities Planning and Management, introduced the university’s plan to use Spadra Farm to accommodate the California Air Resource Board and other state agencies.

CPP proposed two sites, both on Spadra Farm. The 150-acre farm is located southeast of the main campus along Valley Boulevard and Pomona Boulevard.

Spadra Farm should not to be confused with the Lanterman Developmental Center and the 300 acres on which it sits. The LDC was dedicated to serving people with developmental disabilities until its closure in December 2014.

“In January 2015, Governor Brown incorporated the proposed transfer of LDC to CPP in the 2015-16 State Budget, subject to conditions that included the accommodation of locating three state agencies at the LDC or on the CPP campus,” said Storey in a Sept. 25 memorandum to CPPF’s Board of Directors. “On July 1, 2015 jurisdiction of the LDC was transferred to the California State University, and the property is now referred to as the CPP Campus South.”

The ARB, the California Highway Patrol and the Conservation Corps are all potential occupants of Campus South.

However, the Lanterman property is currently not an option for the ARB. It is not yet ready to be built on because its buildings are being evaluated for historical value, according to Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Sylvia Alva.

It is the university’s plan to relocate some of the agricultural programs to the LDC. According to Storey’s memo to CPPF, the LDC “would accommodate various academic programs in the long-term, and the College of Agriculture academic programs and faculty and staff housing in the short-term.”

Bryce Von Helms, fourth-year agribusiness student and Ag Council senator, acknowledges that the Lanterman property would not be appropriate for an ARB facility with its limited road access and topography.

The ARB has been looking for a new location for about 10 years, as its current facility is quickly becoming “obsolete,” said John Swanton, an air pollution specialist at the El Monte facility.

“We just don’t have the physical land in [the present location] to build a completely new facility while we keep our old facility running,” said Swanton.

Regarding the rallies held by agriculture students and supporters, Swanton said the ARB cares about what its potential neighbors think about this issue.

“Whatever we do, our goal is to be a good neighbor, a good partner and we definitely want to make sure that community’s concerns are being answered,” said Swanton.

According to Von Helms, the proposed sites would occupy CPP’s most profitable land and where all the crops for the Farm Store are produced.

“The College of Agriculture and its students do want the Air Resource Board on our campus,” said Von Helms. “It’s just a matter of location. The sites that were proposed are in the middle of our most fertile fields.”

The Save Spadra campaign will propose a section of land located on the southern end of Spadra Farm. Von Helms said that this land is not CPP’s best land for production, which would leave the College of Agriculture with its good soil and still provide the ARB with plenty of acreage and road access.

“Our main goal when approaching schools was not to get free land from anybody. We’re actually looking for a long-term partnership with an educational institution to further our mission,” said Swanton. “We were not asking for any particular site. We were asking for the schools to present to us what they thought was their vision of best solution for our needs.”

Both CPP and a consortium of Riverside entities have been general in their proposals, according to Swanton. So far, proposals have been conceptual and have provided information regarding acreage and road and resource access.

However, the ultimate location of the new ARB does not necessarily have to be on either of the two proposed locations, said Alva, who added that this process is an “ongoing dialogue.”

With the ARB on campus, CPP would be partnered with an agency that could provide career opportunities to students from a range of majors. However, Spadra Ranch is not only a classroom for agriculture students, it literally feeds numerous campus programs.

Alva wants agriculture students to meet with their dean to create alternatives to CPP’s proposal to the ARB. However, she encourages them to tackle this issue with a “collective” mindset.

“I think in universities, or organizations in general, people look at ‘what is mine’ as opposed to ‘what is ours,'” said Alva.

Spadra Farm

Zoran Liu-Moy / The Poly Post

Spadra Farm

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