By Jessica Wang
The potential use of a portion of Spadra Farm to accommodate the Air Resources Board has caused students from the College of Agriculture to mobilize and many other Cal Poly Pomona student organizations to provide their support against the appropriation of land.
Spadra Farm, which consists of 150 acres of agricultural land on the Cal Poly Pomona campus, is one of the two locations being considered by the ARB ” the other being a location at the University of California, Riverside.
Last October it was announced that under conditions to acquire what was once the Lanterman Developmental Center, the university must accommodate three additional state agencies: the ARB, California Highway Patrol and California Conservation Corps.
If chosen, 17 acres of Spadra Farm would be utilized for ARB offices and laboratories ” which, in turn, has left many College of Agriculture students displeased at the possibility of losing agricultural land.
ASI Agricultural Senator Bryce von Helms offered insight on the issue and stated that it would not only be detrimental to agriculture students, but to the college as a whole.
“[Agriculture is] what we base our marketing off of,” said Helms. “It’s what makes us a very viable college for students in the Southern California area and even from around other states.”
Helms further explained that much of the opposition stems from the fact that the land is used for educational purposes. For agriculture students, the loss would ultimately equate to losing a classroom ” an outcome that lacks in much feasibility at an institution that promotes a “learn by doing” philosophy.
“It would be like taking a laboratory away from a science student,” said Helms.
The possible appropriation of Spadra Farm comes at the heels of last summer’s decision to implement 13 acres of pastureland for on-campus housing, which comes as a concurrent blow to many agricultural students.
While the pastureland for prospective housing is different from that of Spadra Farm, Helms explained that it is still a fairly sizeable portion of land that would be taken away from students.
ASI President Julian Herrera weighed in on the issue.
“I can understand where they’re coming from,” said Herrera. “With the pasturelands, the California Highway Patrol . . . and now more land is being taken away, at some point it’s like, where is the College of Agriculture going to end up?”
“We’re trying to slow down the process,” added Herrera. “We’re trying to let them know [that] maybe it’s not the best decision.”
According to its website, the ARB received $5.9 million in Gov. Jerry Brown’s approved budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year to strengthen and relocate its current facilities.
Additionally, the website states that the current facility does not accommodate the necessary space for “testing required to meet current air quality and climate change mandates,” with the existing property “for vehicle emissions testing too small to accommodate the construction of the requested replacement facility.”
In an attempt to combat possible acquisition of the land, the ASI Senate recently passed a resolution written by Helms. The overall goal is to represent agriculture students through methods they deem fit to best address the situation.
According to Helms, however, whether the ARB chooses Spadra Farm as its next location or not, the possibility of the land going to another party still looms at large.
In response to Helms’ resolution, momentous support has risen from other councils, which includes the College of Environmental Design, the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, the College of Science, the College of Engineering and various other councils.
“All these councils of students are separate from the College of Agriculture,” said Helms. “Yet they still understand the impact ” that loss of this land is a loss to our classroom.”
DeWayne Hurst, manager of land use planning and development for the Division of Administrative Affairs, shared insights on the issue and stated that possible land acquisition may be beneficial to students through opportunities of internships and enhancement of disciples.
“As a university, you have to focus on change and growth,” said Hurst. “And a lot of the times, you may be in such a condition that you can’t just keep everything and add more.”
“If we do not change, if we do not adapt, then we cease to grow,” added Hurst.
The ARB is expected to make its location decision some time February.
Zoran Liu-Moy / The Poly Post
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