A throng of sports car enthusiasts cheered loudly at a recent Carson City Council meeting after the unanimous approval of construction of the Porsche Experience Driving Center at Carson’s (inactive) organic refuse landfill. Upon completion in late 2013, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. projects the facility to generate more than $45.5 million into the county general fund.
Porsche Motor Sports operates four such driving centers worldwide, and will move its Santa Ana headquarters to Carson to take advantage of the 53-acre parcel of land, which is in close proximity to three major freeways and the large South Bay auto market, one of the nation’s most successful regions for car sales.
“It is simply a natural fit,” said James Taylor of Porsche North America. “All automakers take Southern California into account in the design, manufacture, marketing and sale of their product. Porsche has recognized this for many decades; we are very excited to operate our facility in the automobile capital of the world.”
It will not be a race track.
Located at 19220 S. Main St., the facility will be a driving skills course, which will be open to any licensed driver 18 years and older with any car model who wants to know how to drive safely on all roads and in all conditions. “Unlike our proving grounds, which develops cars; and our test facilities, which develop race drivers, this facility will develop the modern motorist,” Taylor said. “Carson is an ideal location because drivers here travel in many different circumstances due to the varied topography and the extensive network of roads and highways in Southern California.”
Starting at $150 per person for a half-day session, students will traverse a paved racing circuit, an off-road testing area, a slow-friction skid pad, wet roads, icy roads and uphill/downhill roads in order to become more skilled drivers, particularly in bad weather and in emergency situations. There will be a 65,000-square-foot main complex for offices, driving simulators and dining facilities for employees and visitors. The landscaped grounds will include 411 parking spaces. The Porsche Human Performance Center will be a sport science laboratory to maximize personal fitness, wellness and athletic performance.
Porsche will conduct all on-site testing for expected nitric-oxide and carbon monoxide emissions, as well address noise abatement issues. The automaker will also promote road safety at local schools.
In other Carson news, the city will amend its municipal code to implement an “overweight vehicle corridor,” which will require special permits for trucks traveling from the harbor region through Carson and into Los Angeles. Because Carson is now home to United States Border Patrol inspection centers for “big rigs,” the sheriff’s department and the California Highway Patrol will implement enforcement standards for overweight vehicles traveling along the corridor and thereby assess fines.
Willie Hagan, Ph.D., the new president of Cal State Dominguez Hills, said the university is looking to partner with Carson secondary schools, businesses, service agencies and City Hall to “…build a cohesive, working relationship with our neighbors to better serve the students and community in general.”
Also, Keith Curry, Ph.D., interim chief executive officer of the Compton Community College District (CCCD), said the local school is well on its way to regaining its state accreditation, lost since 2007. The CCCD serves Carson and collaborates with El Camino Community College District in a “partnership agreement” under the auspices of Assembly Bill 318. Curry said Compton College will soon receive $50 million in state funding for campus refurbishment and new construction.
Curry said enrollment will reach 14,000 by year’s end, up dramatically from a 6,000-student low in 2006, emphasizing that the “faculty and staff are working hard to get re-accreditation.”
Carson Mayor Jim Dear echoed Curry’s positive assessment of the college district, which also serves Compton, Paramount, Lynwood and Willowbrook. “The college is looking more and more attractive each time I visit,” Dear said.