BY RAYMOND MENDOZA
Walnut – While a population increase at Mt. San Antonio College might be seen as a good idea for some, residents of the Timberline Community just north of the campus are voicing their wishes to limit enrollment- claiming that the population has become so large that it is causing high amounts of traffic, collisions, and crime in the City.
Resident complaints are stemming from the campus’ plan to build a three-level parking structure on the north side of campus, saying that congestion is so bad on Grand Avenue and Mountaineer Road that the structure would be better suited for a spot on W. Temple Avenue.
In recent months, various residents of the Timberline Community have flocked to Walnut City Council meetings to ask for the aide of the City in stopping Mt. SAC’s growth and to move the parking structure away from the Timberline Communities.
Timberline resident, Linda Hiti, called Mt. SAC a “parasite” because they are using the city’s resources and not paying their fair share. “In 2009, they cancelled a budgeted sheriff item, and now they [Mt. SAC] are congesting our streets and the Sheriff is sometimes responding up to four times in one day,” she said.
“They need to relocate the parking structure to the south side of Temple,” Hiti said. “They need to cap their enrollment at 60,000 and if they want to expand their enrollment they have to go to satellite locations or online classes.”
Hiti said the Walnut City Council is responsible for the safety and well-being of the City’s residents and that the traffic congestion from Mt. SAC will cause massive problems during an emergency.
During the July 23 City Council meeting, Timberline resident, Mansfield Collins, read aloud a document urging council members to stop Mt. SAC’s actions, stating that the college failed to perform an emergency evacuation plan for the residents of the Timberline Community and health survey for fumes caused by student transportation.
Mike Taylor, Public Information Officer for Mt. SAC, said that enrollment numbers aren’t being portrayed correctly since the 60,000 student total is for the complete academic year, and not indicative of how many students are on campus at one time or even during a semester. Furthermore, Taylor said overpopulation isn’t on the minds of administration since the school saw a 6.6 percent drop in enrollment from previous years. For the fall 2014 semester, Taylor said the enrollment stands at 26,656.
Taylor said he hopes the new parking structure will make an impact on the parking situation, since its current 8,000 parking spaces will be increased to more than 10,000. And he added that the college has always had the best interest of the community in mind since the institution always aims to bring affordable and excellent education to students. He also said putting a cap on enrollment would hurt individuals seeking a higher education.
“Mt. SAC’s mission – and the mission of all California community colleges – is to provide access to an affordable quality education for everyone,” Taylor said. “And while an enrollment cap would hurt student access to a quality education, the question of burgeoning enrollment may not be an issue after all, since fall enrollment is currently down.”
Stay tuned to Walnut’s City Council for more news about talks with Mt. SAC administration at http://ci.walnut.ca.us.