With the release of its 2008 Draft Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), UCSB has announced its future plans up until the year 2025. If the state of the university matches what its planners have put into this document, the UCSB of 2025 will be nearly 50 percent bigger than it is now, in terms of square feet of building space, and will encompass a larger-than-ever population of students, faculty, and staff. Launched in conjunction with the plan’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR), the plan is being presented by UCSB officials to 40 community organizations and government agencies. Gene Lucas, UCSB’s executive vice chancellor, and Mark Fisher, chief of campus design and facilities, appeared before the Santa Barbara City Council on Tuesday, receiving a favorable response from councilmembers.
This new LRDP-expected by the UCSB administration to be ratified by the UC Regents and the California Coastal Commission by fall 2009-is slated to replace the LRDP adopted in 1990. It anticipates an expansion of the student population from the current 20,000 to 25,000 by 2025, factoring in an increase in the ratio of graduate students. While graduate students currently comprise 13 percent of the student population, that is projected to increase to 17 percent, thus necessitating an additional 200 new faculty members and 1,400 staff members, Lucas projects. Presently, UCSB employs approximately 850 faculty and more than 2,500 staff.
As can be expected, more people will require more indoor floor space, so the university plans to add an additional 1.4 million square feet of building space to its existing 3 million square feet. Although some Isla Vista residents and members of the environmental community have opposed new buildings going up in open space and impacting environmentally sensitive areas, Lucas claims UCSB plans to build only in already developed areas. Other concerns listed in the Draft EIR include the impact of new development on the local water supply, other biological impacts, the issue of affordable and available housing, and traffic and parking problems in Isla Vista and Goleta.
Extra housing proposed by the project-which is to follow the current campus guideline that new construction meet a minimum level of green building practices known as a LEED Silver Certification-would be built along Ocean Road, which skirts the border between campus and Isla Vista. Other new housing developments would replace existing units at the corner of Los Carneros and El Colegio roads and at the western end of El Colegio Road that are, as Lucas puts it, “past their lifespan.” He said that no additional parking would be provided for the on-campus housing because it is for undergraduate students.
So far, there has been no strong resistance from municipal groups. “There should be no surprises when we present formally,” said Lucas. After today’s well-received presentation before the Santa Barbara City Council, Lucas and Fisher have a few others left before the plan is considered by the UC Board of Regents and, finally, the California Coastal Commission. “I really think you’re headed in the right direction,” said Mayor Marty Blum. “This is good long-range planning.”
Longtime Isla Vista resident Ken Warfield thought otherwise. “They still haven’t thought about parking, and the Coastal Commission really wants parking to be addressed,” said Warfield, who is also a member of the Isla Vista Association, a group of residents and property owners. “[Fisher] wants to put residential condos on Ocean Road with no parking, and all those cars and traffic will be dumped on I.V.”
Scott Bull, chair of the Santa Barbara chapter of the Surfrider Foundation-an organization that has been vocal in wrangling over Isla Vista’s parking woes-put the responsibility on the county. “There’s zero enforcement for the existing regulations, so there are a lot of derelict cars just sitting out there,” he said. “The county needs to enforce their own rules-then they won’t have parking problems in I.V.”