By Jessica Wang
Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Agriculture students are breathing a collective sigh of relief: the California Air Resources Board has decided on UC Riverside as the new location for its facility.
Last quarter, agriculture students were faced with the possibility of the ARB acquiring portions of Spadra Farm to construct new laboratories. At the time, the ARB had been weighing the options of Pomona and Riverside.
The possibility stemmed from the announcement that under conditions to acquire the Lanterman Developmental Center, the university must accommodate three additional agencies: the ARB, California Highway Patrol and California Conservation Corps.
This subsequently sparked a series of Save Spadra protests with Associated Students, Inc. Agricultural Senator Bryce Von Helms at the forefront of the efforts.
While students will still have the opportunity to utilize the farm for educational purposes, Von Helms said that the future of the land still looms at large.
“We’re still concerned about the upcoming strategic plan that is underway as well as the master plan for the entire university,” said Von Helms. “And seeing how the university chooses to use Spadra Farm in the future.”
This is due to the recent recant of the five-year allotment of the land.
In January, Von Helms detailed President Soraya Coley’s announcement that while about half the land will be developed, the rest will be left for the College of Agriculture for only five years.
According to Von Helms, Ben Quillian, acting vice president and chief financial officer for the Division of Administrative Affairs, recanted the five-year allotment in a memorandum stating that it will no longer be in effect.
“We are very thankful for the fact that we are not given a five-year allocation of the land,” said Von Helms. “However, he did state that until the master plan and academic plan and strategic plan have been completed, that will nail out what will be developed or not developed.”
Consequently, the fate of Spadra Farm is still up in the air until the completion of the university’s strategic plan projected for the end of 2017.
Von Helms reflected on the overall efforts to save Spadra Farm.
“It’s been a great opportunity for the College of Agriculture to join together, [and] students were able to interact with administration along with the community,” said Von Helms. “Seeing all of those efforts come together [with an] outcome that’s fairly positive is satisfying.”
The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin recently published a piece in which it quoted Stanley Young, the ARB’s office of communications director, stating that CPP students urged the campus’ selection in a turnaround at a board meeting with a quote that read: “they not only dropped their resistance, they changed their stance.”
Von Helms was not aware of the quote.
ASI President Julian Herrera responded to the quote while citing the difficulties of being in the middle ground.
“It was more of the silence of us not saying anymore ” it wasn’t that we dropped our resistance, it was just that this decision would [regardless] be made,” said Herrera.
“I [had to] weigh two different options: to look at both the constituency of the agriculture students. [But from the] perspective of science and engineering fields, having ARB would’ve provided a lot of internship growth and opportunity,” added Herrera.
Still, there are no regrets on his part.
“I don’t regret writing the resolution [or] speaking out against the ARB,” said Herrera. “I think that if we make a section of our students happy, we’ve done our job.”
According to Herrera, there is currently no talk of other entities acquiring the land, but there is interest of private partnerships to bring in revenue and opportunity for students.
“What I’m hoping for students to understand is we’re in this huge issue with financials,” said Herrera, while citing issues such as Gov. Jerry Brown’s CSU budget for next year, which lacks $101 million in requested funding, in addition to the California Faculty Association strike and the proposed 5 percent increase in pay.
“Fortunately, the CSU isn’t like ‘let’s just increase tuition,'” said Herrera. “They’re looking at it from private partnerships like having the ARB [or] highway patrol leasing the land [to] hone in on that without interfering with academics.”
The current project: Lanterman. According to Herrera, the CSU Board of Trustees just received the 400-page preservation study document to determine its historical elements in terms of what can be demolished.
“The possibilities are endless,” said Herrera.
Courtesy of University of California Riverside
Air Resources Board
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