The plan to increase housing for students, faculty and staff was the subject of a presentation Thursday afternoon in the Santa Rosa Residence Hall Formal Lounge.
The Campus Housing Plan, developed by Urban Design Associates in February, includes modifications to existing dorms as well as the addition of new units. Urban Design made 12 such presentations of a semi-final version of the plan this week to get input from students, faculty and staff.
UCSB hired Urban Design to develop the housing plan, which will be implemented within the next 20 years. The goal of the plan is to develop a cohesive and affordable community to surround UCSB using land the university already owns.
The plan focuses on keeping housing prices low to encourage faculty and staff who currently commute to relocate closer to campus, Principle planner for Urban Design Associates Ray Gindroz said.
“The campus is somewhat off by itself – most people have to commute. As housing prices continue to escalate, people continue to move further away,” Gindroz said. “UCSB also lacks something the best universities have; its own community. The goal here is to see how the whole surrounding area can become its own community.”
The housing plan creates approximately 3,500 new units, 800 of which would replace existing units. A major aspect of the plan is the Ocean Road housing project, which would convert Ocean Rd. from four lanes into a two lane road bordered by housing and parking garages. Gindroz said this would create a dynamic, lively transition from the campus to Isla Vista.
The Ocean Road development includes apartments, townhouses and retail in four buildings. The architecture would combine the modern style of Manzanita Village with a more traditional Santa Barbara style. Parking would be located in parking structures or on the ground floor of the buildings.
While some people at the meeting expressed concern about the plan’s reliance on parking structures because of safety issues and fumes from cars, the majority of people at Thursday’s presentation said the Ocean Rd. development should be a top priority.
“I like the Ocean Road development. It’s really great how so many students, staff and faculty are giving their opinions and how [Urban Design] is making something from the need,” said Dana Hanson, an undeclared freshman and intern for Housing and Residential Services. “It’s crazy how much [this housing] is really needed.”
All of the current off-campus family housing, such as the Storke and West Campus Apartments, would also be modified to encompass the goals of the plan. These apartments would become affordable housing developments united by an architectural theme and would contain a variety of different sized units that would integrate students, faculty and staff into one community.
Gindroz said the housing plan will be organized around the area’s natural setting and views of the ocean, mountains and bluffs. The plan organizes housing around these views on a grid, with land set aside for parks.
“By putting streets, gardens and parks in, we would create a sense of community,” Gindroz said. “Bike paths would celebrate the area’s natural features and out your front door is the grand central park.”
Gindroz said cost is a major consideration in the plan.
“Creating affordable housing for students, faculty and staff is a top priority,” he said. “We have an advantage because we’re dealing with property that the university already owns.”
Urban Design met with the I.V. Project Area Committee and General Plan Advisory Committee on Wednesday. Some community members said they are concerned the Campus Housing Plan would not integrate the new buildings with the rest of I.V. to form a single community. The university, however, has no control over I.V. development.
“The key is finding a means of collaboration,” he said. “There is a history of suspicion [between I.V. and UCSB] and this needs to disappear if this plan is to move forward.”
Gindroz said he welcomes all ideas and concerns regarding the plan. People at the presentation placed colored dots on a map indicating areas of approval, disapproval and high priority. Urban Design will take these final comments into consideration in the final plan, which should be completed next month.
The plan needs to be approved by the Campus Planning Committee and then presented to the UC Board of Regents in the fall. Gindroz said a cost proposal will be ready with the final plan.
“The [Campus Housing Plan] is a road map for the campus to look at. They will balance all the needs of the campus and decide what to build,” said Housing and Residential Services Director Wilfred Brown. “We will do whatever we have to do to make it affordable. Ultimately, it has to be.”