What is the LMU Master Plan?
The LMU Master Plan is a set of ordinances and agreements approved by the city in 2011 that outline requirements and restrictions on how the university can grow over a 20-year timeline. It includes an enrollment cap, limits on square footage for different uses, height and noise restrictions, parking requirements, sustainability goals, and other regulations. Essentially, it's a blueprint for LMU's Westchester campus. You can view the Master Plan documents here.
Why make these changes?
LMU's student athletes are studying and training in small, outdated spaces. Teams that compete with the Lions have larger academic centers and upgraded training and recovery areas for their athletes. LMU's athletics facilities are widely regarded as substandard for a Division I school that competes in the West Coast Conference of the NCAA. Transferring approved space to athletic uses will allow for the renovation of existing buildings to give our teams and players the best possible academic and athletic experiences.
What impact will this have on Westchester?
LMU no longer plans to tear down Gersten Pavilion, meaning less impact to the community from that previously planned demolition project. Additionally, the amendment would allow LMU the flexibility to decide, at a later date, to preserve other existing buildings instead of tearing them down. The new competition venue will create a better fan experience for Westchester residents who come to Lions home games, and more fun for the 1,000-plus Westchester kids who participate in LMU summer camps each year.
I heard LMU is building a huge new basketball arena, is that true?
No, it is not huge and it is not new to the Master Plan. LMU plans to build a competition venue for our basketball and volleyball teams as part of our original Master Plan that was reviewed by community stakeholders and approved by the city in 2011. That plan allows us to build a venue that could seat up to 6,000 fans. By comparison, Pauley Pavilion at UCLA and Galen Center at USC both seat over 10,000.
While LMU does intend to build a new venue in the next few years, we do not currently have any blueprints, architects, or timelines for breaking ground.
Will the new basketball pavilion bring more traffic and noise to the neighborhood?
No, we do not anticipate more traffic or noise to the neighborhood because we are not increasing the number of teams or games. The new competition venue was already included in our environmental impact report from 2011. That report found the new venue would create "less than significant" traffic and noise impacts, and created requirements that LMU launch special procedures when hosting an event that is expected to bring a large number of people to campus. There are other restrictions that limit the impact of the new venue, such as requirements that its entrance face into campus and away from the neighborhood, and that amplified sound be limited to the interior of the building.
As for Gersten Pavilion, its renovation would make it unsuitable for public events—for instance, bleachers will be removed—and it would therefore bring no new traffic to LMU.
Will LMU allow the new basketball pavilion to be rented by outside groups for concerts or other large events?
We plan to use the eventual new competition venue the same way we use Gersten Pavilion today—for women's and men's basketball and women's volleyball games and practices, and for larger LMU events, like first-year student convocation or commencement liturgies.
Additionally, our other policies would make leasing the venue to an outside group difficult. A good comparison is LMU's filming policies. We get requests to film on campus, but we don't allow filming when classes are in session or after 10 p.m., and we don't clear out spaces that are already in use. Similarly, a new basketball venue might look like an attractive site for a concert, but existing restrictions and demands on its time would severely limit its availability.
Will the LMU Children's Center be affected by this proposal?
LMU is committed to keeping the Children's Center in operation. LMUCC is a point of pride for the university: it is among the only 8 percent of childcare centers nationwide to earn NAEYC accreditation; it creates an important nexus between LMU and the Westchester-Playa community; and it serves as a key field learning component for students in LMU's early childhood education program. Regarding the new sports pavilion, there are no construction plans or specific timelines to share, because LMU is still exploring options for this future facility. Because we are in the early stages of evaluating possible options for the new venue, we cannot say at this time how it would impact LMUCC's operations. The LMUCC community will be involved in these discussions in the future when the university is closer to a decision point.
Is LMU expanding?
No. The university is asking to reallocate square footage that has already been approved. The cap on new building space and total building space would be the same as what was already approved in 2011. There will be no change to our cap on student enrollment. Parking requirements, noise limits, and all other restrictions currently in place would remain in effect.
What about parking?
LMU will not lose any parking spaces as a result of this amendment. The university currently has more than the number of parking spaces required by the city. Any parking impact caused by construction of the new competition venue would be offset by temporary parking spaces during construction.
Is this related to LMU's new Playa Vista Campus? Was moving classes there an attempt to free up space in Westchester for other uses?
The reason for moving certain academic programs to the new LMU Playa Vista Campus is to develop partnerships and other synergies with the tech and entertainment community. The programs now located at LMU Playa Vista Campus, and the space leased there by LMU, are too small to create a meaningful impact on Westchester campus utilization.
Specifically, the School of Film and Television's graduate studies and the College of Business Administration's Executive MBA program are now based at LMU Playa Vista Campus. Together, these programs enroll about 200 students—a small fraction of our students. Similarly, the 50,000 square feet of space LMU is leasing in Playa Vista is equivalent to less than 1.5% of LMU's approved total buildout at our Westchester campus.
What community outreach is the university doing?
We have made presentations on the proposed amendment to several community groups, and will continue to engage community partners in the coming weeks and months. LMU plans to hold community forums on campus, where members of the public can engage our team so we can address your questions and comments. We will be notifying neighbors immediately surrounding campus by mail and in-person, including homes located in the Westchester area immediately surrounding our campus.
We also provide updates via email, our website and social media, but we are always willing to meet in person with any resident or other community stakeholder to share information, answer questions and listen to your feedback. Contact us at 310.338.2759 or email@example.com to schedule a time to talk.
What is the timeline for this process going forward?
LMU submitted its application for this amendment to the Department of City Planning on August 6, 2019. The proposal will be reviewed by the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa del Rey, and eventually requires approval by the Los Angeles City Council. The council's planning committee will likely review the proposal in early 2020.
How can I get involved, share my thoughts, and stay informed about this process?
We invite you to sign up for our community newsletter, where we'll provide updates on the review process, as well as information about upcoming opportunities to connect with us and share your concerns. If you have specific questions or requests, please contact Fred Puza, associate director of community relations, at 310.338.2759 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to speak with you!