While the California Coastal Commission (CCC) decides whether to approve construction of UCSB’s latest multimillion-dollar housing complex, university representatives have said the cost of the project is rising by more than $10,000 per day.
Willy Brown, executive director of Housing & Residential Services, said that with continued delays to construction of the $116.7 million San Clemente Graduate Student Housing project, the university has to factor in the rising costs of transportation and materials needed for building. The university originally submitted plans for the complex, which will be located along El Colegio Road between Los Carneros Road and the campus west gate, in September 2005, said Shana Gray, a CCC coastal program analyst. Although the CCC has until December to make a final decision, Brown said the university hopes to gain approval at the commission’s July meeting so that it may begin construction in August.
“It’s a huge project,” Brown said. “We assume that for every day of lost work, it’s costing us more because the project will take that much longer to complete. Time is really money in this case.”
Gray said the California Coastal Act, which provides guidance for local governments in developing the coastal zone, gives the CCC a timeline for reviewing proposals. Because San Clemente is larger than most projects, the CCC requires more time to review it, she said.
“We do things as fast as we can in accordance with the order they’re supposed to be done,” Gray said.
Under the current plan, San Clemente will house 977 graduate students, who will be divided between 327 two-person and four-person apartments, Brown said. Housing & Residential services will fund the project primarily though student room and board payments. He said the university takes the cost of inflation into account when it sets increases for student rates.
“Students started paying for [San Clemente] six to seven years ago, and they’ll continue to pay for it until we’re done building,” Brown said. “There will be no huge rate increases because we built a [monetary] cushion in.”
Before granting a final recommendation on the project, Gray said the CCC will ask the university questions concerning such things as the availability of parking and the impact on the surrounding wetlands. Brown said the university is prepared to answer any of the commission’s questions.
“I don’t think they’re going to have any problems with the project itself,” Brown said. “They may have issues or questions… [But] we think we have good answers.”
San Clemente is the first UCSB housing project solely dedicated to single graduate students, Brown said. Currently, six or seven graduate students live in Manzanita Village, while 50 units of the Santa Ynez Apartments are reserved for graduate students. Many also live in the university-owned family student apartments. However, the space given to them in present housing complexes is not sufficient for the roughly 3,000 graduate students at UCSB, Brown said.
When the university began the planning process for San Clemente about three years ago, Brown said, it sought input from graduate students and the community. Karen Blair, Graduate Student Affairs vice president, said graduate students have worked diligently with the university to create a desirable community in which they could live.
“The fact that the campus has made a priority a project that will potentially house one-third of the grad student population is fantastic,” Blair said.