Despite lingering concerns over such regional issues as water supply and transportation, both the County of Santa Barbara and City of Goleta unanimously approved agreements with UCSB on Tuesday to support the campus’s expansion to 25,000 students by 2025. The agreements — which were hashed out by county, city, and university staffers during numerous meetings held over the past few months — consist of promises by UCSB to pay for impacts to traffic, law enforcement, firefighting and emergency services, housing, and Isla Vista programs in exchange for the jurisdictions’ official support before the UC Regents (who are expected to approve the Long Range Development Plan next week) and the California Coastal Commission (which will take up the plan sometime next year).
Among other mitigations, UCSB will pay $3.1 million for traffic impacts to the county and $8.9 million to the city, plus more money if the actual traffic increase exceeds the expected 2,170 new daily trips; kick in another $3.6 million for circulation improvements in I.V.; budget for additional firefighting and police resources; assure that new housing development stays on pace with incoming students; negotiate with the city and county if new land is purchased; meet annually with the city and county to discuss progress; provide five-year plans on enrollment, construction, and more; and implement the campus’s “Climate Action Plan.”
In the morning at the county, nearly one dozen members of the public spoke in opposition to the agreement, arguing that it was a “rush job,” that the expansion would make UCSB the third-largest city in the county, and that the state of water supplies — which, however, are not under the jurisdiction of the county — would “encourage” a “race to water” by developers. In the evening at the city, those sentiments were echoed, often by more than 20 public speakers, and residents of the Storke Ranch development spoke out against plans to expand Phelps Road from a “quiet cul de sac” into a major thoroughfare that won’t be safe for the neighborhood’s children. “Please don’t allow UCSB to destroy the community of Storke Ranch,” argued resident John Dickson.
But when it came time for a decision, however, the supervisors and council-members felt that their concerns had been adequately addressed. “It’s been a challenge to find the sweet spot,” said Supervisor Salud Carbajal, who admitted some might feel it hadn’t been reached. “I’m satisfied that we have.” After two-plus hours of discussion Tuesday night, Goleta Councilmember Roger Aceves concurred. “Here we are now with an agreement that is, by any stretch of the imagination, really a good deal for everybody.”