Although no one from the UCSB administration agreed to an in-person or telephone interview regarding the expansion plan due to busy summer schedules, Chancellor Henry Yang and Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas did entertain a number of questions via email. What follows is an edited version of their responses.
Chancellor Henry Yang
What’s an LRDP?
Our campus’s Long Range Development Plan is a land use document. It is not so much a master plan for growth as it is a blueprint for the future development of our campus. It attempts to describe the possible building projects over a planning period and how these projects relate to the use of existing land. What is not widely understood is that, like all UC campuses, we are required to develop an LRDP every 15 or 20 years. Since our campus is located in the coastal zone, our LRDP also serves as a coastal plan that must be renewed and approved by the Coastal Commission at the same time. An approved LRDP is necessary in order to make major improvements to our campus and to develop its physical assets and resources. This requirement exists whether or not the plan includes any possible or projected enrollment growth. Our last LRDP dates from the early 1990s. At that time the university signed a cooperative agreement with the County and local agencies, and we have since met or exceeded all of the obligations we committed to at that time. It is now time for a new, successor plan.
Is this the right LRDP for UCSB?
We regard the LRDP as a living document, one that, as conditions change, could be amended or modified. But any such changes would need the same kind of consultation and approval as the basic document is now benefiting from. Once approved, the LRDP will serve as our land use plan until about 2025.
What are some highlights?
One of the goals of our campus plan is to provide a variety of civic campus spaces, balanced with the more intimate spaces that are a UCSB tradition. We are also focusing on improving pedestrian walkways and bike paths, enhancing views of the mountains and ocean, and strengthening our connections with our surrounding community and natural conservation areas.
Newsweek magazine said of UCSB: “If there’s a more beautiful campus than this one at the edge of the Pacific, we haven’t seen it.” We are very fortunate to be able to draw inspiration, opportunity, and advantage from the beauty and resources of our extraordinary natural setting. Although there is a perception that the campus is built out, implementation of our campus plan will result in an additional 2.2 million assignable square feet while creating an orderly arrangement of buildings and expansive open spaces, framing views of the mountains, lagoon, and ocean. The Tower Mall and Storke Plaza, Pardall Mall, Campus Green and Quad, and Library Mall will serve as our four major public gathering places, and we expect that they will become key destinations on our campus for faculty, students, staff, alumni, and community members.
Why is it important for UCSB to have strong town-and-gown relationships?
Quite simply, we consider UC Santa Barbara to be a community-based institution. Our campus is an integral part of this community. We contribute to the quality of life enjoyed by the residents of this region in many ways: by providing a well-educated workforce, employing thousands of area residents on our faculty and staff, enriching the quality of life of our community through the volunteer contributions of our students, having a major and beneficial economic impact on the area, fostering partnerships with area schools, and adding to the region’s artistic and cultural resources through a wide variety of programs open to the public. So we regard the community as an important stakeholder in our campus’s well being. We also take very seriously our own role as a steward of this community and its resources. For example, through a conservation agreement finalized in June, we have set aside 68 acres of university property on coastal bluffs as permanent open space. This is part of a collaborative project based on the shared vision of UCSB, the City of Goleta, Santa Barbara County, the Land Trust for Santa Barbara County, and other local conservation organizations to preserve more than 650 acres of coastal land and natural habitat for the enjoyment and appreciation of our community.
We do not act unilaterally, without talking to — and, more importantly, listening to — our friends and neighbors in the community. Any institution as diverse and complex as our campus is bound to occasionally engender healthy debate, but we always work to iron out our differences and reach agreement and mutually beneficial solutions, just like the way we go through the shared governance process within our university. We are obviously an integral part of our community, and we want the community to both benefit from and take pride in our presence here.
How do we know the expected enrollment increase is accurate?
The enrollment increases suggested in the LRDP will represent an upper limit, and not a foregone conclusion, as enrollments are subject to many uncertainties, especially over the proposed horizon of this plan. For instance, since the academic plan was approved on campus, the budget climate has seriously deteriorated, and UC and UCSB are actually in a period of enrollment declines to get back to budgeted enrollment until the budget in California and UC improves. In fact, even if the LRDP were to be in place tomorrow, we would not be increasing our enrollment until at least four years from now.
What is expected in the UC Regents and California Coastal Commission approval process?
Our LRDP now needs to be certified by the UC Board of Regents and, ultimately, approved as our coastal plan by the California Coastal Commission. We always benefit when any of our campus projects go before the Regents. The people of California have entrusted the Regents as the governing board of our university, for the public good. The board has subcommittees, such as Grounds and Buildings, and Finance, where projects are studied in great depth, and all of the Regents have expertise in a variety of areas that they share, which is of great help and benefit to our projects. We are always grateful for their counsel and look forward to their review.
As for the California Coastal Commission, our campus has always worked closely with commission staff members and the commissioners to identify issues and find solutions to problems so that what comes before the members of the commission is a fully finished product. We anticipate changes and improvements as part of the commission’s review and approval process, and that is to be expected. From my experience working with the commission in the past, we not only benefit from the commission’s principles and the vision of its members, but also learn from their guidance and expertise.
Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas
Explain the LRDP process.
An LRDP for a university is best preceded by a strategic academic plan. We embarked on a planning process over 10 years ago. The process involved asking departments for 15-year plans to achieve their academic objectives, integration of those department plans by academic deans, integration of those plans into a campuswide plan by the chancellor and executive vice chancellor, and several years of review, comment, and revision by the academic senate and the academic administration. It also involved coordination with UC systemwide planning and enrollment projections. The resulting plan contained a number of important components that were key drivers in developing the subsequent LRDP:
• Many departments felt that they had not grown to their optimum size to reach their full academic potential. At the same time, the UC system was predicting enrollment growth demand of at least an additional 50,000 students over this time period. As a solution, UCSB picked a target of growth to 25,000 students by the year 2025, which at the time was about 1%, the same as the projected annual growth rate of Santa Barbara.
• As a leading research university, we wanted to increase the percent of graduate students from 13% to at least 17%. This was also consistent with the expectation that California will demand an increasingly educated work force.
• The growth in faculty and staff would be accompanied by the need to replace faculty and staff, largely due to retirement.
• A critical element in campus growth would be the need to provide housing for the increased number of students, and for both new and replacement faculty and staff on land that we currently own.
The development of the LRDP was preceded by three other important activities. The campus hired Urban Design Associates to help us develop a housing plan and a campus physical plan to be consistent with the strategic academic plan. We also began to develop a sustainability plan, recognizing the importance of continuing our leadership in the UC system in green building design and sustainable practices. The plan to provide housing for faculty, staff, and students on campus property also provided an opportunity to mitigate some of the anticipated impacts associated with growth: reduced pressure on the housing in the surrounding communities, smaller impact of traffic, and greater reliance on alternative transportation for faculty, staff, and students living on or next to the main campus.
Over three years ago, as the LRDP started to take shape, both Marc Fisher, our senior associate vice chancellor for administration, and I began a series of presentations to various community groups to describe elements of the LRDP being considered and to get feedback from the community as the plan developed. In addition, Chancellor Yang met with the mayors of the City of Goleta and Santa Barbara, city council members, the county Board of Supervisors, and community groups, such as the Neighborhood Defense League. Once the LRDP was developed, Marc and I continued to make presentations to the community to describe the plan and the accompanying draft Environmental Impact Report. These presentations continued through the EIR review process. The draft EIR actually made two rounds. Public comments on the first round were so extensive that five chapters of the draft EIR — Housing, Transportation, Air Quality, Water, and Waste Water — were rewritten and recirculated. In all, over 60 public presentations of the LRDP and accompanying EIR have been made. Of course, Chancellor Yang and I and our colleagues will also continue to consult with the mayors and city council members of both cities, the county Board of Supervisors, and community groups during the entire approving process of the Coastal Commission, and the subsequent period when the LRDP is carried out.
Combined Response from Yang and Lucas
Will the projects being mentioned also require more future review?
Yes, campus projects will go through a campus and a Regental review/approval process (depending on the project scale and value). All projects must follow the CEQA process and will typically require approval by the California Coastal Commission.
How closely will UCSB have to follow the layout of the LRDP into the future?
Deviation from the plan will require an LRDP amendment. This will include an additional CEQA process.
In terms of water conservation, are there renovation projects proposed as part of the LRDP? How much water can that save?
We continue to reduce potable water use on our campus. Over 90% of our campus is currently irrigated with reclaimed water, and we continue to research other ways to utilize this abundant resource. We are in discussion with the Goleta Water District regarding other possible uses including the use of reclaimed water flush water closets.
We are making great strides in replacing existing plumbing fixtures with those that use little or no water. For example, our Bren School building, which has received two LEED Platinum certifications, uses waterless urinals; it is estimated that each waterless urinal saves approximately 45,000 gallons of water per year. We also are studying the possible collection and uses of condensation water from campus cooling systems.
What faculty/staff bus program exists now?
The campus currently subsidizes faculty and staff ridership on local transit for those who join our Alternative Transportation Program. The subsidy is approximately $20 per month toward the purchase of an unrestricted monthly transit pass. Many faculty and staff currently take advantage of this benefit.
Some are criticizing the LRDP as being “20th century thinking” when it comes to the automobile. Could UCSB do more to encourage alternative transportation?
We believe that building housing adjacent to the campus is the most viable and sustainable approach to reduction of automobile usage. We will provide the largest proximate work-force housing program on the South Coast with the implementation of this plan. The plan encourages pedestrian and bike circulation over all other forms of transportation. There is no greener approach to commuting than this.
In March of this year, UCSB received a Bicycle Friendly Business Gold Award from the League of American Bicyclists.
Although alternative energy is mentioned as a desire, there aren’t many specifics in the plan. Why is that? What does the LRDP promise in terms of alternative energy?
Our campus takes great pride in our energy conservation programs. We are currently engaged in another $20 million in projects co-funded by the public utilities. We are regularly cited as using less energy per square foot than other comparable institutions in California.
All of this work is done in coordination with our Campus Sustainability Committee. This committee includes members of our faculty who are noted leaders in the fields of conservation and sustainability.
In addition to the above, we might add that our campus is also a leader in research and teaching in the area of energy efficiency and conservation. For example, our Institute for Energy Efficiency was recently selected to become home to one of the nation’s new Energy Frontier Research Centers. Our Center for Energy Efficient Materials was funded by a five-year, $19 million grant from the Department of Energy.
The UCSB Campus Sustainability group has a number of benchmarks for water conservation, alternative energy, alternative transportation, and the like that some say are not reflected in your LRDP. Does the LRDP reflect the goals of the sustainability group?
As noted earlier, the LRDP is a land use plan. The Campus Sustainability Plan was developed as a companion document and is consistent or bests the goals set by the Regents for the University of California in its policies on green buildings.
We take very seriously our commitment to sustainability, and we are proud that we have been a leader in this area. For example, at the 2010 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference this past June, our campus was honored with three “Best Practice” awards, for Student Sustainability Program, Water Efficiency and Site Water Quality, and Sustainable Food Service.
What additional support do you intend to give the Devereux Slough?
We are committed to the restoration of the South Parcel of the North Campus. We recently announced the final agreement on this with the Land Trust of Santa Barbara County. This work will to continue to improve the quality of the water entering the Slough. In addition, our North Campus Faculty and Sierra Madre Family Housing projects protect and enhance existing wetlands and use bioswales to assist in the cleaning of stormwater.
Explain the Transportation Alternatives Program.
The Transportation Alternative Program is a high priority of our campus. We have had a special board consisting of faculty, staff, and students to advise our campus on this important program and we have made significant and steady progress. The TAP website outlines the benefits that are available to faculty, staff, and students to support alternative commuting: http://tap.ucsb.edu/whatIsTap.aspx.
Our campus is facing tremendous budget challenges at present. However, encouraging alternative transportation is a high priority for our campus, and we are working hard on providing more resources to the Transportation Alternatives Program.
Are you meeting with Sustainable University Now?
We have had half a dozen meetings with SUN, with several more scheduled in the coming weeks. We appreciate the perspectives they have shared with us and their ideas for improving our campus. Our discussions with the various members of SUN have been positive and productive. Not only do we expect that we will be able to reach a collaborative agreement, but we are also hopeful that as a whole, SUN will publicly support our LRDP.
The Goleta Sanitary District is worried that UCSB will blow out its system at full build-out. What is your response to that?
Based on our discussions with the Goleta West Sanitary District, there is adequate pipeline/pump station capacity to serve buildout of the University in accordance with the LRDP. According to Ryan Lodge of the Regional Water Quality Control Board, there do not appear to be any restrictions or impediments to increasing the permitted capacity of the treatment plant in an amount sufficient to serve full buildout of the LRDP and projected cumulative growth. The University will negotiate with Goleta Sanitary District and/or Goleta West Sanitary District to purchase additional treatment plant capacity as needed. After all, the University is prohibited by law from exceeding the capacity of the treatment plant that is available to it.
The Goleta Water District believes you will exhaust the region’s water supply at full build-out. What is your response to that?
Water is an important regional issue, and one that our campus takes seriously. Over the last two decades we have made great strides in reducing water usage on our campus. For example, more than 90% of our campus is currently irrigated with reclaimed water, and we are also testing the use of reclaimed water in bathroom fixtures. We are using water-saving devices on shower heads, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers, and other appliances, and will be installing more such water-saving devices in the future. We will continue to employ the most water-efficient technologies as they become available.
We have worked closely and collaboratively with the Goleta Water District on the projections of future water supply and demand. The water supply analysis in our EIR is based on the data provided in the Goleta Water District’s 2008 Water Supply Assessment. Our projection of future water use on campus is based on extensive data we collected on our current water usage.
In fact, as a safeguard against any possible underestimation of our future water needs and possible overestimated supplies, our EIR guarantees the following: “If sufficient additional water supplies cannot be acquired from GWD, the State Water Project or other available supply for all of the development envisioned under the 2010 LRDP, the University shall halt further development under the LRDP in the affected campus water service area so that water demand remains within the available supply for that service area unless and until additional supplies can be acquired.”
MTD is concerned about UCSB’s bus needs at full build out. What is your response to that?
We take very seriously our obligation to help address the transportation needs of our students, faculty, and staff. We continue to work with MTD to address our joint concerns and to fulfill our shared vision. We have in place a program that provides nearly a million dollars each year to MTD for bus passes for every on campus student. We will use all of the tools available to us to work collaboratively with MTD and all community groups to provide the best possible service to our campus community. Our approach is multi-faceted and includes not only bus service but also carpools and vanpools, car-sharing programs like ZipCar, improved walkways, skateboard lanes, and bike paths, and campus-adjacent housing, and more.
How will the plan to house all new students and many more faculty/staff members play out?
We are currently working collaboratively with the City and County on a housing agreement that we expect will be viewed very positively by the community.
We operate within a seven- to ten-year planning window for campus enrollment. We have the capacity to absorb all new students in our existing housing, and we are committed to meeting the future housing needs of our students.
Of course, we must reiterate, even if the LRDP were to be in place tomorrow, we would not be increasing our enrollment until at least four years from now.
We have a proven track record of providing housing and other facilities for our students. For example, Manzanita Village, completed in 2002, houses around 800 students in a residential-type setting on campus – with a beautiful ocean view, I might add! As part of this housing project, our faculty, staff, and students also worked together to restore six surrounding acres of coastal grassland, vernal pools, vernal marsh, and coastal sage scrub, and create 1,300 linear feet of bioswales. This project received a Goleta Valley Beautiful Award in 2006. As another example, our San Clemente Graduate Student Housing, completed in 2008, provides 976 beds and an abundant 976 parking spaces for graduate students. This project received LEED Gold certification last year, making it the largest LEED-certified housing facility on any college or university campus in the country.
Why was there a push this past summer to rush to the July Regents meeting?
Our last LRDP dates back to 1990. Like all UC campuses, we are required to develop an LRDP every 15 or 20 years. As we noted previously, our planning process for this new LRDP began over a decade ago. We have proceeded slowly and cautiously, providing time for extensive review, revision, and collaboration. We feel that our LRDP has benefited from this thorough process.
We were actually planning to go to the Regents with our LRDP last year at this time, but we ended up postponing several times. Our intention to seek Regental approval of the LRDP at the July meeting was primarily due to the fact that we thought we could have the discussions of all the necessary agreements completed by then. We of course were aware that timing is not a factor, and that the LRDP will not take effect until reviewed and approved by the California Coastal Commission, which will involve a thorough process with numerous opportunities for public participation and refinements to the LRDP. After all, we would not increase our enrollment until at least four years from now, long after the anticipated completion date of the LRDP process.
We appreciated the request of various colleagues at the City and County to move our LRDP presentation date from the July Regents meeting to the September meeting. We were glad to do so, as an expression of our genuine commitment to provide additional time to conclude a cooperative agreement.
Should sustainabilty be a part of the LRDP or are critics asking for too much from a land-use document?
We are not pursuing sustainability because the LRDP requires it, but because it is a long-term vision and priority for our campus, and our entire campus community – faculty, staff, and students – is supportive of and involved in our sustainability efforts. We have long been a leader in this area. In fact, when our Environmental Studies Program was established in 1970, it was one of the first such educational programs in the country.
We welcome the opportunity to be a catalyst for positive change in our community and across the nation and the globe. Our campus has become a “living laboratory” for the research, teaching, and practice of environmental sustainability. We have given you some examples of this; allow me to share just a few others:
· Bren Hall, home to our Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, became the first LEED Platinum-certified laboratory building in the country in 2003. Recently it became the
first building in the country to receive double LEED Platinum certification, this time as an Existing Building.
· In 2005, our Girvetz Hall achieved a LEED Silver rating as an Existing Building, becoming the first LEED for Existing Buildings project in the UC system.
· UC Santa Barbara is one of three universities in the U.S. participating in the pilot phase of the LEED Portfolio Program. The campus plans to certify 25 existing buildings by the end of 2012.
In 2002, we created a campus practice stating that all new buildings commissioned after July 1, 2004, must meet a minimum of LEED Silver. Earlier this year, the Chancellor’s Sustainability
Committee established a new interim policy that all buildings commissioned after July 1, 2010, must meet a minimum of LEED Gold.
· Over the past decade, our campus has seen a 31% increase in building square footage, while energy consumption has increased only 12%.
· Our custodians received the Grand Award for green cleaning practices.
· In June, US News & World Report named UC Santa Barbara one of 10 “Eco-Friendly College Campuses.”
· Earlier this month, the Princeton Review listed our campus on its 2011 Green Rating Honor Roll.
· Our Institute for Energy Efficiency funded by the Department of Energy and private industries, now leads the world in research and development of energy saving LED lighting, of plastic solar cells,
of energy efficient computing, and of energy efficient buildings.
The membership of our Sustainability Committee, including faculty, students, and staff from across the campus, underscores the value we place on this campus endeavor. We even have a Nobel Laureate, Professor Walter Kohn, serving on the committee. Dr. Kohn is known and respected around the world for his vision of a more sustainable future for humankind. For example, he collaborated with fellow UCSB Nobel Laureate Alan Heeger on a highly regarded documentary about solar electricity. This film, “Power of the Sun,” was narrated by actor John Cleese.