The current housing debacle at UCSB is the result of administrative incompetence, greed, and a robotic commitment to increase enrollment. One entity determines the number of students arriving each year — UCSB. This crisis was foreseeable, and the administrators involved need to be removed; starting at the top. The UCSB fish is rotting from the head.
Chancellor Henry Yang’s housing crisis is solvable; he needs to book nearby hotels to accommodate his clientele. Attendance always drops after the fall, and with students tripling up in UCSB’s on- and off-campus housing, a COVID outbreak could lead to significant attrition. Asking staff and the community to open their homes for visitors during an outbreak is irresponsible. Use the federal dollars you culled while not opening during COVID and pay up.
UCSB must eliminate their on-campus parking fees for students. That will encourage commuters to rent off-campus housing without having to purchase a $600 annual parking pass. Students living in vehicles would be safe in campus parking structures. Yang could rent out the faculty club. He could purchase Pallet homes. Now that’s ironic. Isla Vista’s parks and community parking lot were full of homeless living in Pallets and tents during the pandemic, and UCSB refused to open its empty dorms a stone’s throw away. Now the shoe is on the ivory foot.
Yang will use this self-created “crisis” to push for more student housing — quick marching Charles Munger’s windowless “Dormzilla” onto campus. At 81, this could be Yang’s crowning achievement as UCSB’s “builder” chancellor. He already obliterated Storke Field by plastering “dumbbell” housing all over it — why not add a 4,000-room tower to cap things off? Good luck controlling a COVID outbreak on that cruise ship. Neither Munger or Yang will be around to watch if this abomination sets sail; that is unless the Coastal Commission sticks it to us again as they did with the FT Villages; effectively ending street parking in I.V.
Is the answer to this problem more student housing? No. The answer is admitting fewer students. UCSB’s effect on our community is not dissimilar to an opiate drug. They provide a quick fix of jobs and health insurance but pay no property taxes. They grow endlessly without augmenting or even sustaining community infrastructure and yet expect us to let them build more tax-free housing. Every time they purchase a structure it comes off the tax rolls costing our community millions in perpetuity.
UCSB thinks enough people are high on this drug to actually believe it when Sustainable University Now (SUN) “sues UCSB” to build more housing. Check your dose — SUN are UCSB brown-nosers trying to help Yang jam more housing down our throats. Add UCSB’s “Economic Forecast Project” to that odious list. We need a Long-Range Development Plan that calls for zero growth and fewer students. Demand UC President Michael Drake remove the head from this rotting fish. Replace Yang with a chancellor who values sustainability, respects our community, and puts quality ahead of quantity.