A Quick Primer Before Tonight’s School Board Meeting on the Civic Auditorium Plan


The SMMUSD Plan for the Civic Auditorium Goes to the School Board Tonight. Here’s the Next Primer to Get Ready for the Meeting

At tonight’s meeting of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District School Board Meeting, staff will present a plan to rebuild and upgrade the unused Civic Auditorium after purchasing it from the city. You can download the district’s plan, technically called a ‘feasibility study,’ at their website, here.

The city was considering two buyers for the property, the school district and the Santa Monica Community Corporation who would have used the space for a large affordable housing complex.

The district’s plan is to use the Auditorium and the surrounding land to free up space on the Santa Monica High School campus and cut seven or eight years off the reconstruction plan. It sees the current Civic Auditorium as a  multipurpose venue, with a gymnasium, theater, auditorium, concert hall, exhibition space, and community center.

But there’s a high cost. The estimated renovation costs are $226,570,000, which does include “non-construction” costs, but does not include the cost for purchasing the land from the city.

While the city is in a bit of a long-term financial bind, it does not look at selling the property to balance its budget long-term. As the Civic Auditorium hasn’t been used for public events for a decade, the city is forced into a public sales process under the state’s Surplus Land Act and was looking for a buyer who would use the land to best further the public interest.

However, there is already opposition to a sale from preservationists and community groups that wish to see the Civic Auditorium restored as a venue for large public events such as concerts. The Auditorium used to host the Oscars and has featured speeches from both Robert and John F. Kennedy. The opposition has rallied under the umbrella group Save the Civic.

But tonight is just the second step in the process that could lead to a new Civic Auditorium years from now. If the School Board votes to move forward, the next step would be for the City Council to formally hear the plan and work with city staff to decide a sales price.

Links and other coverage:

Civic Auditorium Program Dominates School Board Meeting, Santa Monica Daily Press

Santa Monica-Malibu School District Unveils Plan to Revive Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica Mirror

School District Releases Plans for Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica Lookout

S.M.a.r.t article: Save the Civic – Keep it Alive, Santa Monica Mirror

Damien Newton
Damien Newton
Damien is the executive director of the Southern California Streets Initiative which publishes Santa Monica Next, Streetsblog Los Angeles, Streetsblog San Francisco, Streetsblog California and Longbeachize.

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