college board members at a meeting
Allan Hancock College board members, Jeffery Hall, Gregory Pensa Hilda Zacarias, Larry Lahr and Dan Hilker discuss putting a $75-million bond measure on the November ballot during the Friday special meeting. The board votes 4-1 to move forward.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

During a special meeting Friday morning, the Allan Hancock College Board of Trustees agreed to put a bond measure on the November ballot, asking voters to approve funding for a fine arts complex and other projects. 

The 4-1 vote came three days after the board did not reach the needed majority for the bond proposal to move forward, with a 3-1 vote on Tuesday.

The difference was the return of board member Larry Lahr, who had been ill Tuesday night. Board member Dan Hilker opposed the proposal during meetings Tuesday night and Friday morning,

“Now the real work begins,” Board President Hilda Zacarias said after Friday’s vote.

Hancock will ask voters to pass a $75-million bond measure, which would need 55-percent approval. Since Hancock will cancel $34 million in unspent funds from Measure I, which was approved in 2006, the 2018 bond would amount to $41 million in new money.

College leaders say the new bond is needed to complete the fine arts complex and other projects, including those related to athletics and technology programs.

Hilker said his opposition centered on a belief the bond was about the fine arts building, adding that no speakers mentioned that project during Friday’s meeting.

However, several speakers did talk about the fine arts building during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Hilker also called it “a fairytale” that Measure I projects were done well, noting problems with the Public Safety Training Center and saying the college was not a good steward.

trainer talks at podium

Allan Hancock College trainer Cheo Munoz urges the Board of Trustees to pass a bond measure, citing the flawed athletic facilities. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“The request for the money is for a lump sum to be thrown at all of these other projects that are not specific to getting the fine arts building,” he said. 

“I’d like to do the other things but this is a bridge too far,” he said. “We need to have oversight on this and we have to have a plan.”

Lahr agreed the fine arts building is the top priority, calling it a “no-brainer.”

“This will allow us to build the last piece of the puzzle,” he said, adding that any projects using bond funding will go to the board for approval. 

Agencies are required to appoint a citizens oversight committee to monitor bond measure spending, board member Gregory Pensa said.

He also noted the $24 million of promised state funds to help Hancock build the fine arts complex. 

college board members at a meeting

Allan Hancock College board members Jeffery Hall, Gregory Pensa and Hilda Zacarias vote Friday to put a bond measure on the November ballot.  (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

“If we don’t pass this bond, we’re not going to be able to build this building and we’re going to kiss off $24 million,” Pensa said.

The state also received a $10 million gift from the estate of Patty Boyd, an arts patron and former faculty member, for a recital hall.

“To me, to not move forward on this would not be serving our constituents,” Pensa added. 

Speakers Friday morning described decrepit conditions at the college’s athletic buildings, with one person comparing them to something out of a horror movie, while others talked abotu cold showers, broken shower heads and lots of rust.  

“This is not an issue of us not maintaining the buildings,” Superintendent/President Kevin Walthers said. “This is an issue of buildings that are 55 years old. They’ve lost their useful life.”

Head trainer Cheo Munoz told the board about an incident where an athlete had suffered a serious back injury and the gurney would not fit into the training area where she was.

The gurney had to remain in the hallway, he said.

“This young athlete was made to walk on her own power and sit on her own on this gurney from the training room with a broken back,” Munoz said, adding that the woman fortunately recovered from her injury.  

Another speaker, football player Colton Adam, noted the inadequate facilities make it difficult for coaching staff to recruit players.

“We might have a good program, but our facilities, they kind of turn athletes away that aren’t from here and don’t have to come here because it’s close to home,” he said. 

“A kid could go to another school down the road at Santa Barbara and go ‘Wow, this facility is amazing.’ They’ve got a full locker room. All their facilities are beautiful and up to date,” he added. 

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.