Costa Mesa residents will likely see increased traffic on city streets and more noise during construction as Orange Coast College moves forward with its Vision 2020 plan for expansion, according to an environmental impact report.
The 486-page document released in June looks at how the college's 10-year expansion plan could affect the rest of the city in terms of aesthetics, traffic, pollution and noise.
The project would add traffic to the intersection of Harbor Boulevard and Adams Avenue, which is already one of the city's busier intersections, the report states.
The Coast Community College District, which OCC is part of, would need to contribute funds to improving the intersection by widening it or restriping southbound Harbor Boulevard to provide a second right-turn lane onto westbound Adams. In addition, the district would have to pay to widen or restripe eastbound Adams Avenue to provide a third left-turn lane onto northbound Harbor, the report states.
The city recently spent $3 million to improve traffic flow at Harbor and Adams, according to information on its website.
City officials are reviewing the environmental impact report, or EIR, and plan to give their input to the college within the next few weeks, said Public Services Director Ernesto Munoz.
The college's Vision 2020 plan includes six new structures: a business, math and computing center building; a parking structure, which will likely be housed across the street at the Fairgrounds; new physical education facilities; a solar panel carport area; a language arts and social sciences building; and a multidisciplinary building.
OCC also plans to expand the recycling center and remove several existing classrooms from the campus' interior.
Push to expand
The college has ramped up the development of new buildings over the past several years, in part because of Measure M, a $698-million bond that voters approved in 2012 to fund improvements at the district's three colleges, OCC officials said. Golden West College in Huntington Beach and Coastline Community College, which is based in Fountain Valley and has a campus in Newport Beach, are also part of the district.
OCC's campus is also facing a rapidly increasing student population, which necessitates more classroom space.
In 1956, just a few years after the campus was unveiled, the college served 1,500 students. By 2020, its enrollment will reach more than 28,000 students, according to the EIR.
"We're trying to create Orange Coast College for the next 50 years," said President Dennis Harkins.
At the same time, the college must balance the needs of residents who live behind Merrimac Way and across Adams, Harkins said.
Residents are unhappy
About 20 Costa Mesa residents, mostly from the College Park neighborhood behind Merrimac, attended a public forum Monday night where they called for increased transparency and information about the construction projects outlined in the EIR.
To comply with the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA, the college was required to distribute the report to neighbors within 500 feet of the college and give them 45 days to make their comments, which will be included in the final report presented to the district's board of trustees in September.
But many residents complained that they didn't receive the report at their homes and didn't have an adequate amount of time to review it and form questions.