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Why Is It So Hard for the Rich and Powerful To Do the Right Thing? LACCD and the Van de Kamp Campus Fiasco

EDITOR’S NOTE: At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) Board will make a decision about the future use of the New Education Building at LACCD’s Van de Kamps Satellite campus. LACCD repeatedly promised to turn the historic building into a college campus for the under-served Northeast LA community. But the mayor, the unions, a charter school with former Mayor Richard Riordan and billionaire Eli Broad on its board worked out a deal the betrayed that promise. Stand with the Van de Kamp Coalition in their long running fight to get what was promised by contacting Board President Miguel Santiago at or 213-891-2044 or going to the meeting at 770 Wilshire Blvd.


Your silence and apathy could equal permission to the LACCD Board to continue to collect about $100 per year in property taxes from you while offering no adult community college or community service class opportunities at the Northeast LA VDK site – a promise made by the Board to obtain your support of three LACCD Bond Measures now on your tax bill.

Even though the state budget cuts have severely curtailed community college opportunities at other LACCD colleges, LACCD is receiving enough rental income from other buildings at the VDK Campus to cover operating costs.  With this rental income, the state budget is no longer an excuse (or we think pretense) for the LACCD Board to continue to refuse to offer a meaningful and substantial academic and community services program at the Van de Kamps site.

The original plan for the VDK Campus was premised on LACCD offering a mixture of fee-based community service courses that pay for themselves and some level of traditional academic classes that give young adults a pathway out of poverty and lost opportunity.  Now is the time for you to raise your voice in support of opening half of Van de Kamps for the purpose for which it was built!  Raising your voice can persuade the LACCD to move in a direction to correct three years of needless discrimination against the young adults of Northeast when LACCD offered our community nothing at all while taking our property taxes.

Here are the facts. The VDK Campus has two buildings: the New Education Building and the Bakery Building.  The VDK Campus also includes the land beneath Pollo Loco, Denny’s Restaurant, and Auto Zone which was purchased with bond funds.  The City of Los Angeles is renting the Bakery Building for $150,000 per year.  The business tenants are paying land rent of about $335,000 per year to LACCD.  All of this money is deposited into the VDK Campus operating fund and amounts to about $485,000 each year.

In 2009, Board of Trustee members Mona Field and Sylvia Scott-Hayes and LA City College President Jamillah Moore came to Northeast community meetings and claimed that because of the state’s budget mess, they could not open the $91 million VDK Campus as it neared construction completion.  Instead, they later claimed LACCD was “forced” to lease the New Education Building to a K-12 charter high school and the Bakery Building to the City of Los Angeles in order to “cover” the $500,000 annual operating cost of the site. At the time, the LACCD was not receiving the rent from the commercial tenants (Denny’s etc.).

Now, three years later, the situation has changed dramatically.  Almost all of the annual cost of operating the VDK Campus is covered by the rent from the commercial tenants and the City of Los Angeles’ rent of the Bakery Building. Also, with the new solar panels now online at Van de Kamps, the first year’s $204,000 electric bill is expected to be cut dramatically making the total cost of operating the campus less expensive.

This presents an opportunity for the faculty of either Los Angeles City College or East LA College to program the New Education Building with a mix of fee-based community-oriented classes for business entrepreneurs, foreign language, music, and other things to meet the needs identified in the original VDK Campus feasibility studies.

The District no longer “needs” to rent the New Education Building out to cover operational costs because those costs are covered by the rent already flowing into LACCD’s general operating fund from the other tenants.

For three years, the LACCD, in temporarily renting the New Education Building to a charter high school, ignored Education Code restrictions against placing such young students in close proximity to ex-offenders (including sex offenders) and other adults using the City’s workforce services in the Bakery Building.

The most appropriate and responsible action of LACCD would be to move the 9-12 grade charter school students down San Fernando Road one quarter mile to the new high school in Taylor Yard where they will have athletic fields, and after-school clubs that simply are not available at the community-college-designed VDK Campus.  That high school was built with K-12 school bonds which is where this charter school belongs. This would be a win for the charter school students and a win for Northeast adults and taxpayers who intended the VDK Campus to serve adult education needs.

But LACCD staff is now suggesting three other options than opening the New Education building to Northeast adult education opportunities.  The three “other options,” recommended by local Board member Mona Field in Wednesday’s motion include:

Moving the LACCD’s construction program bureaucrats to the campus to save paying rent for their office space in downtown Los Angeles.

Putting the same charter high school overseen by Richard Riordan and Eli Broad right back into the New Education Building with an even longer term lease the would avoid implementing the community college purposes of the Van de Kamps campus for a decade or more.

Exploring other undisclosed long-term tenants.

Go to to see the meeting agenda.

None of the “other options” would enable LACCD to fulfill its promises to the Northeast voters – promises willfully broken by Mona Field and other Board members by recklessly putting Ninth Grade girls on the same campus as ex sex offenders taking workforce training in the next building on campus.  This is a disaster waiting to happen.

Taxpayers were outraged as the Los Angeles City Council gave billionaire Eli Broad $50 million of taxes for his art museum in downtown.  Are you going to sit silently and let the LACCD Board hand Broad and his fellow rich board members half of a $92 million dollar community college campus when there is now enough money to operate Van de Kamps campus and offer the community college classes it was intended to offer?

Are you going to give silent permission to Mona Field and LACCD Board members to do anything with the New Education Building other than offering the young men and women in Northeast Los Angeles the opportunity to take introductory community college classes that could be their way out of poverty and hopelessness?

How can you help?

Pick up the phone:   Call (213) 891-2044 and ask to leave a message for Board President Miguel Santiago or Board member Mona Field just what you think LACCD ought to do with the New Education Building now that a judge has ordered Eli Broad’s lease of the building for charter school to be terminated.

Write an Email: If you are more inclined to write an email to the LACCD Board, send it to the Board President, Miguel Santiago at

If you can do this before this Wednesday morning, your voice will be heard.

Go to the Meeting:   Come Wednesday afternoon to the LACCD’s Board meeting at 770 Wilshire Blvd. (Flower and Wilshire) at 3:30 p.m. and speak on this agenda item.

More information:

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2 Responses to Why Is It So Hard for the Rich and Powerful To Do the Right Thing? LACCD and the Van de Kamp Campus Fiasco

  1. Teddy says:

    Ron, I just emailed I hope we all do and send your message to their friends for their participation.

    We have to stand for something else besides power of the bueaucracy and unions,
    who are destroying the city of Los Angeles.

    We must draw the line – they have gone too far.

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