Governor Gray Davis recently passed special legislation allowing a property exchange between California State University Channel Islands and private landowners.

Senate Bill 323, signed on Oct. 2, authorized CSUCI, which will open Fall 2002, to exchange a portion of the 262 acres of agricultural land it owns in Ventura for a portion of 75 acres of privately-owned land located in front of the main campus. After an appraisal of both lots, land negotiations will take place to determine the amount of land to be exchanged by each party. CSUCI plans to begin development on its 670-acre lot shortly after the exchange is finalized.

The state originally planned to build CSUCI on the 262 acres of agricultural land until the closing of the Camarillo State Hospital in 1997 offered a more central location to begin construction, according to Assemblymember Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).

Jackson said the bill, which she co-authored with California State Senator Jack O’Connell (D-San Luis Obispo), is expected to facilitate the deal between CSUCI and three private landowners.

“Senator Jack O’Connell indicated that he was going to introduce this bill, which he intended to expedite physical development of the land. I offered to co-sign the bill,” Jackson said. “The bill allows them to do the exchange, whereas the current law only allows the acquisition of new land if it is a gift or a donation.”

Jackson said the bill facilitates campus development, an improvement intended to attract students.

“The new land will primarily be used for a main access road and athletic field for the university, which are part of a campus master plan. We want to make the campus appealing,” she said.

George Dutra, associate vice president of facilities, development and operations, said amendments to the bill would allow acquisition of property beyond the 75 acres as originally planned.

“We would like to trade our property for as much land as we can get near the main campus,” he said. “The amount of land to be traded will be based on a fair market appraisal of the land.”

Gavin Payne, O’Connell’s chief of staff, said the new land would be used to meet the needs of the 15,000 students expected to attend CSUCI next year.

“Senator O’Connell has been a big supporter of CSUCI for years. This bill helps the university get up and running as a solid four-year university,” Payne said.

Dutra said the expansion would not have happened without the help of elected officials.

“We are very appreciative of the support given by the community and Jack O’Connell’s sponsoring of the bill,” he said.