At a Wednesday forum, students and administrators discussed the proposed San Clemente graduate student housing, which will contain 972 beds and could take away 7 percent of Storke Playing Field once built.
The Campus Planning Committee (CPC) has debated the project for over a year and approved the construction site along El Colegio Road on Oct. 30.
“We want housing that builds a meaningful sense of community, not just an array of apartment buildings that make up Isla Vista,” UCSB Director of Physical and Environmental Planning Tye Simpson said.
Placing the housing south of Storke Playing Field would reinforce feelings of community between Isla Vista and UCSB, Simpson said.
Some students are concerned about the loss of recreational field space as well as the housing plan’s possible danger to the nearby wetland environment.
Simpson said that Parking Lot 38, just west of Harder Stadium, will be turned into recreational fields to compensate for what would be lost to the housing project, and a new parking lot would be added west of Stadium Road.
The planned housing would be developed roughly 150 feet away from the wetlands.
“Really, I can’t get my jaw off the floor that this is actually going through,” graduate student Scott Bull said. “Storke Field is actually a refuge from the urban density that is so great in Isla Vista alone.”
Harry Wolfe of Wolfe Architecture, the firm handling project blueprints, said the housing project will include 972 beds, the same number of underground parking units, a community center, a multipurpose building and maintenance facilities. The units will most likely be two to three stories tall.
Local officials are also addressing an expected increase in traffic along El Colegio with a proposal to upgrade the road to two lanes in each direction, divided by a tree-lined center median. The parking kiosk would be moved farther into campus.
“We probably can’t make [El Colegio] perfect … it would never be completely free flowing, like a normal roadway,” Simpson said.
Although the cost of widening the roadway is not included in the graduate student housing plan, it might be divided between UCSB and the county, Housing Coordinator for Resource Planning Chuck Haines said.
Some members of the Graduate Student Association are concerned about the fiscal impact the housing plan would have on the graduate community.
“Every dollar spent on housing has a direct, negative impact on our academics,” GSA External Vice President Edward Collins said.
“This is not the cheapest housing plan to save a buck, but it is not the most expensive either,” Simpson said.
Undergraduates attending the Oct. 30 meeting voiced their concerns about the project.
“I feel like they did take some student concerns into consideration, but it would have been great if it had been advertised 15 months ago,” Associated Students Internal Vice President Shaina Walter said. “As an active member and leader of this campus I don’t feel that enough opportunities were given for student input.”
“The plan itself may be flawed, it may be unresponsive to this or that. But it isn’t as if it just went off without a lot of thought,” Simpson said.
The project did go through all the proper committees in which undergraduates have the opportunity to voice concern and make changes, A.S. President and CPC member Brian Hampton said.
“Unfortunately, over the last 14 months, the students on those committees failed to add many of the concerns that we have, and now we are left with a building on site that is definitely not in the best interest of the students,” he said.
The next CPC meeting is set for Nov. 27 at 2 p.m. in the UCen State Street Room. All students are welcome to attend.