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L.A. colleges resume $6-billion campus building plan

August 27, 2012 |  7:16 am

L.A. Mission College

Spending on most new construction projects in the Los Angeles Community College District's $6-billion campus building plan has resumed.

This virtually ends a moratorium that had been the centerpiece of efforts to reform poor planning, questionable spending and other flaws uncovered in the program.

The moratorium was initially imposed last October to examine whether campuses had sufficient funding to maintain and operate 3 million square feet of new facilities -- a 60% increase -- particularly in light of severe state funding cuts.

It followed an audit last August by state Controller John Chiang that found the district failed to provide adequate oversight in its spending and recommended that it adopt procedures to account for operating costs of new construction.

By December, more than 100 projects totaling $1.9 billion were halted. But an update released last week revealed that only about $285 million in projects remained suspended. Officials said a number of measures, including stronger spending controls, creation of a $160-million reserve fund to address unforeseen costs and an annual set-aside of general funds for deferred maintenance and repairs, had resulted in work resuming more quickly than anticipated.

The Times last year uncovered a litany of problems in the building program. A six-part series detailed mismanagement, cost overruns, delays and shoddy workmanship during an ambitious campaign to modernize the district's nine aging campuses using bond money approved by voters in 2001, 2003 and 2008. About half of the construction funds have been spent so far.

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Photo: At L.A. Mission College in Sylmar, construction of the Media Arts Building, left, is underway in January. At right is the completed Culinary Arts Institute. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

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