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Mayor Welcomes San Diego Christian College to Santee

Santee's first four year college is set to move into town over the next couple years, bringing with it youth, arts, sports, jobs and plenty of economic activity.

"Welcome to Santee," Mayor Randy Voepel said at , after a long diatribe about the tribulations that has had in coming to town and a unanimous vote by council to allow the move.

A conditional use permit was granted to SDCC and Paul Ague, President of the college, spoke about plans for the move.

“This is an exciting day for SDCC, but is only the first step in the process," he said. “These things take years not months."

Mayor Randy Voepel had been in .

“I will not support taking a large amount of property off the tax rolls now,” he told Santee Patch last year.

But, as he put it: "I've had a change of heart, make that a change of money."

Now that the city only gets 18 percent of property tax revenues, versus the 80 percent they were getting before the state stripped the city of its redevelopment agency and funds, Mayor Voepel began to see the bright side of having a college in town- the economic stimulus.

"Iv'e been real tough on these guys," he said. "The santee vision has been to put an office park here and fill it with local jobs, and we wanted the property tax," he said before welcoming them to town.

"The buildings have been empty for five years and now we can fill them with bright happy students..." Voepel said. "...And they're Christians," he added.

In his own way, Mayor Voepel was echoing sentiments that President Ague expressed earlier in the night: At the very least, Santee will benefit from more than 400 students with community service requirements.

The school would begin moving its campus into the RiverView office park complex at Town Center, starting with adult classes, transitioning the whole campus in time. They will use five of the six empty buildings in the complex for classrooms, a bookstore, chapel and administration offices, and will be purchasing the buildings. 475 students and 28 faculty would be using the site by 2013, according to current plans.

SDCC released this comment about the council decision:

SDCC is in its fourth consecutive year of growth. As SDCC considered the options regarding current space limitations, it pursued property in Santee. The passing of the Conditional Use Permit by the City of Santee opens the door to plan the move to the city of Santee.

SDCC tentatively plans to occupy the space in the fall of 2013.  There are many details that still need to be resolved as moving a campus is a complicated endeavor.

The college documents 9,000 guests annually to their El Cajon campus- those will now be people coming to Santee, according to statements by SDCC President Ague at the meeting.

Augue said the college would like to use this move as a chance to expand, possibly to as many as 1,200 students in the future. Residential housing projects are being developed just west of the soon-to-be campus that were discussed as perfect housing sites for students. The trolley, restaurants and other businesses at Trolley Square would get a lot of economic stimulus from students.

Councilmember John Minto expressed his excitement about the college coming to town and Jack Dale joked about renaming it "San Diego Christian College of Santee."

Dale was especially excited about the cultural enhancements the college would bring to town, with a theater, music, arts and sports.

Founded as Christian Heritage College in 1970, San Diego Christian College currently offers 15 degree programs. The college, which is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, is currently located at 2100 Greenfield Drive in El Cajon.

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