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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.

Lisa March 01, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Great news! SDCC is a fine higher learning institution. This may be the launching pad of SDCC becoming a university status. Santee will only be blessed by it. good for families here with the kids becoming college age would want to attend a hometown college that is a 4 year college. Thank you mayor and city council.
Mariah March 01, 2012 at 10:35 PM
Not too excited about this, especially if a new theater, library, etc is now off the table because the space will be occupied. I would much rather see something from which everyone -- not just college-aged Christian students -- could benefit. I live close by the Riverview area and I am not looking forward to the traffic a school would bring, either.
John Lin March 02, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Yay! It will be great to have SDCC here! @Mariah: theaters generally bring traffic... I'm glad Twi-hards won't be camping out in my neighborhood.
Joe Spencer March 02, 2012 at 06:47 AM
Mariah....this college is going into the existing office buildings that are currently vacant. (mostly vacant anyhow). The land designated for the theater is directly to the left of that project and is not part of this...nor was it discussed as possible area for expansion. Traffic will not be much different than if the buildings were full with businesses. Though I dont get why you are concerned about the traffic when you obviously want a movie theater to be there. You talk about increased traffic every day..especially weekends.... As far as something that everyone could benefit from....not sure everyone would be benfitting from individual businesses filling up those buildings. Further...those students have community service as part of the program...so our community is going to benefit quite a bit from that alone. Not to mention the financial gain of all the students shopping and eating...and possibly living in Santee. I understand the reasons why the Mayor and City Council were not at first in favor of this....and understand and agree with their decision to change their minds. This is a GREAT thing for Santee!
Doug Curlee March 02, 2012 at 06:16 PM
normally, i might agree with that, joe..except that i've seen way too many buildings in santee, aznd all over the east county, turned over to religious organizations that pay no property taxes at all.. perhaps the best example is the one-time smiths supermarket on magnolia just south of mission gorge..we might have wanted another market therfe.. perhaps a ralphs.. instead, it was turned over to sonrise.. same thing in what used to be a market on carlton hills just north of mast.. yes, i'm a catholic, and we generally build our own churches..but you see what i mean.. tax revenue is very important to a city.. we need more of it, and this deal ain't gonna help much..at all.. doug
Suzanne March 05, 2012 at 10:42 PM
Love the idea, how wonderful, and it's right on the trolly line. Having bright young adults will boost sales in stores, resturants and gas stations here in Santee. Starbucks will be full of students studying, and buying coffee!! Apartments will all be occupied. Love, love, love!!! Office building...property tax income = boring!!
Hanna House March 05, 2012 at 11:26 PM
I think it's excellent...looking forward to it! Will probably increase the chances of a new library and theater, if you have more college age people around.
Maggie Acerra March 07, 2012 at 10:48 PM
Does anyone even wonder about the impact this will have on existing resources such as energy, water, emergency services, fire and police protection, the already congested traffic situation in te area, and the costs associated with adding a college to the already strained mix? Does anyone wonder why, after a year of stating the he did not want this college to come to Santee, our Mayor decides suddenly that HE DOES? Are we now dealing with a City Council that is operating in panic mode due to the loss of the only way they knew how to govern - with redevelopment funds? Does anyone wonder why there wasn't any discussion or notification to the Santee citizens regarding this "change of heart" on the part of our Mayor? That it was passed without any concern that the citizens they represent, might want to find out more about the lasting affects of this college, along with any taxpayer liabilities associated with it? Does anyone wonder WHY the discussions and decisions of our "elected repesentatives of the People" seem to happen behind closed doors and the concerns of the people that elected them to office are such a low priority? Something of this magnitude with it's costs and affects on our community needs to be discussed and the pro and cons debated. This should be a ballot issue for the citizens of Santee to decide on, and not behind the closed doors of City Hall, made by those that obviously no longer have any need to respect the citizens that elected them.
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