This summer UC Santa Barbara began its third attempt to purchase the campus-affiliated Francisco Torres housing complex from its current owner, College Park Communities.
The attempt to buy FT is part of UCSB’s plan to house 35 percent of its students in university-controlled housing. It might also lift a stain from the school’s reputation.
Students have long considered Francisco Torres to be the rowdiest dorm affiliated with UCSB and have, for years, referred to it as “Fuck Towers.” It has also been a favorite attraction for visiting reporters filing stories depicting UCSB as a party school – an image the university’s administration has been fighting for years. For instance, the Los Angeles Times ran a story last spring that portrayed FT as a den of debauchery, drugs and pizza-encrusted walls. College Park Communities refused the Times reporter entry to FT.
Because the negations with College Park Communities are ongoing, UCSB will not disclose how much it has offered to pay for the towers on the outskirts of Isla Vista.
“We have been discussing the purchase of Francisco Torres with the current owners but have not reached agreement,” said Vice Chancellor of Administrative Affairs George Pernsteiner.
The planned purchase of Francisco Torres is part of UCSB’s 1990 Long-Range Development Plan (LRDP). Its goal is to house 35 percent of UCSB students in campus-owned or campus-controlled housing.
“UCSB’s housing objective in the Academic Planning Statement is to provide campus-owned or controlled housing for 35 percent of the students … If there is not enough land on campus to accomplish these objectives, UCSB will endeavor to acquire additional land for housing and/or to purchase existing housing close to campus,” the 1990 LRDP document stated.
If UCSB successfully purchases FT, the facility would fall under the jurisdiction of Housing and Residential Services.
“For a number of years, we’ve have been trying to increase our housing stock. We would treat it like any other new residence hall facility. We’d add that to our housing stock and incorporate that into our existing organization,” said Executive Director of Housing and Residential Services Wilfred Brown. “We feel that in terms of the amount of care we bring into the building, we feel like we are going to put a lot more money into the building than has been put in into the building in past years.”
UCSB’s jurisdiction over student conduct only extends to campus-affiliated residence halls if the residence hall requests it. If FT becomes part of UCSB’s Housing and Residential Services office, all students living there would be required to adhere to UCSB’s General Standards of Conduct.
Incoming UCSB freshmen and transfer students would be the primary targets for the new housing. Whether or not Santa Barbara City College students would be allowed to live in FT has not been decided.
“If we do acquire property, we would determine that at that time,” said Brown. “We would certainly want to maximize our use of that space for UCSB students, but if in fact there is overflow space, we would still be open to seeing whether clientele might be utilized to fill the vacant spaces.”
There is a possibility that UCSB staff may replace current FT staff.
“We think we’d bring a little more university presence to the residential life program. We feel that the quality of our staff would offer students a different kind of living environment than they’ve had with a private ownership,” said Brown.
Funds for the purchase of FT are not state-financed. General obligation bonds sold by UCSB and fees paid by students who currently live in residential halls will be used.
There are no current plans to purchase other campus affiliated residential halls such as Fontainebleu or Tropicana Gardens, Brown said.
College Park put FT up for sale in 1998 and again in 1999. UCSB attempted to purchase the property both times but was unsuccessful.
College Park Communities could not be reached for comment.