New College Plan for Old Base

On February 23 , the Trustees of the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) heard the revised plan for the Advanced Technology and Education Park (ATEP) campus on the site of the former Tustin Marine Base.

When the base was decommissioned, the base was carved up for commercial, residential, community, and educational use.  The former base is a little over 1600 acres – 1511 acres  lie within Tustin and 95 acres lie within Irvine.  SOCCCD was granted about 68 acres for development of educational facilities.  The 68 acres lie on the north portion of the former base, bounded by Redhill, Warner, and Armstrong.  The base was closed in July 1999.

The project to redevelop the base is referred to as the “Tustin Legacy” plan.  All plans must fit within the Tustin Legacy development plans and guidelines. and be approved by the city of Tustin.

SOCCCD is facing an April 22 deadline to present Tustin a workable plan for redevelopment of their portion of the base.   The board reviewed and commented on the plan yesterday.  This week, Tustin will be briefed. The plan comes back to the board for approval at the March meeting.

The plan includes more space for nursing, communication arts, biotech and general classroom space.  

We as the public, need to make sure this gets built.  SOCCCD is coming close to defaulting on their obligation to significantly develop their portion of Tustin Legacy.  The plan presented is sound and will greatly benefit students.  Additionally, this plan is more student centric than the previous plan, which was more focused on outside business coming into campus.  We need to build support and keep the pressure on SOCCCD to make this happen. 


Tom Fuentes (yes, that Tom Fuentes!)

Donald P. Wagner

Marcia Milchiker

Nancy Padberg

Bill Jay

John Williams (Orange County Public Administrator and Public Guardian)

David Lang

Plan Summary

The plan includes 2 buildings – one for educational programs and one dedicated to communication arts.  The plan will develop 29 acres of the site, leaving room for future expansion of the campus.

305,000 sq ft of  space will be constructed.  The 4 story buildings will face each other with a plaza for the students between the buildings.  The education building will include space for nursing simulation labs, biotech labs, and general classroom space.  Nursing labs are critical to sustaining the nursing program at Saddleback College.  Currently, there are many more students who want to study nursing at Saddleback than can be accomodated.  One problem in accomodating more students is clinical time in hospitals. The nursing simulation labs allow students to do part of their clincial time (currently 25% is allowed) in a simulation environment.  Having more clinical time available for students will allow more students to enroll.

Communication arts will have a dedicated building.  3 stages will be built – 1200 sq ft, 2500 sq ft, 4000 sq ft.  Dedicated editing bays, classrooms, and an auditorium will also be built. The objective is to expand the communication arts program to include animation and audio production.  The plan is to remain student focussed – the stages are for student films and productions.  There may be some use by outside commercial entities, but getting stage rentals is not the focus.

The historic chapel will be relocated and preserved.  Current plans have the chapel at the southwest corner of the campus.

Tentative schedule:

Aprill – May 2009 – Tustin reviews and hopefully approves

2010 – start grading and site planning

2011 – detailed building plans

2012- 2013 construction


Comparison to Previous Plan

In my opinion, the plan presented yesterday is more realistic and workable than the plan presented last spring by Camelot Entertainment.   The previous plan, which was championed by the chair of the communication arts department, would have included 460,374 sq ft of soundstage space – the equivalent space of the 9 largest soundstages already existing and in use in Los Angeles.  Getting large commercial productions into the stages was a focus of this plan, again driven by the head of the communication arts department.  This plan was not student and education centric, it was supposed to generate revenue for people.

An additional problem with the previous plan was the number of partners involved and financing.  The number of partners involved in the previous plan was large – CSUF, Chapman, Up with People (or was it America Sings?), and others had all been mentioned by Camelot as being signed on.  The financing was also difficult to understand and risky.  Camelot wanted SOCCCD to deed over to them enough legal interest in the property so they could secure financing in their name.   I was at the meeting, and what Camelot was saying never made sense to me – deed over the property to us, we will get the financing, but if something goes bad, SOCCCD still owns the property and won’t be tied up in bankruptcy or foreclosure proceedings.  

Tom Fuentes didn’t like the Camelot plan, and I, quite frankly, agreed with him.  It wasn’t good for the district, not student centric and unworkable.  In the end, Camelot fell out because “they couldn’t get financing.”