Campus planners approved a housing plan yesterday that includes proposals for apartments along Ocean Road and would help alleviate the current lack of housing for faculty and staff.
The plan, called the Housing Capacity Study, is one of many components of the UCSB Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) — a 15-year campus development plan that will be drafted Spring 2006, said Gene Lucas, executive vice chancellor and member of the LRDP Steering Committee. The study — designed by Urban Design Associates with input from students, faculty and staff — identifies eight areas of university-owned property as locations for new and restructured housing neighborhoods. The study describes these neighborhoods as small areas that include compact housing, streets and walkways, parking and open spaces.
The study incorporates the goals of the Campus Plan, which was approved in 2003 and is also part of the LRDP. The Campus Plan includes a focus on nature, open spaces and coherent groupings of buildings according to their function.
Willie Brown, executive director of Housing & Residential Services, said the Campus Planning Committee, which doubles as the LRDP Steering Committee, approved the study yesterday after months of discussion.
Construction on the Ocean Road housing project, which is part of the Housing Capacity Study, is slated to start as early as 2007. The project will have a total of 536 units divided into apartments, lofts and townhouses for students, faculty and staff.
Marc Fisher, associate vice chancellor of Facilities Management, said the structures built along Ocean Road will be multiple-story buildings, the bottom floors of which may be devoted to retail or academic offices, if necessary. The plan also calls for some of the roads between Isla Vista and campus to be opened to car and bike traffic in order to create better transportation connections between I.V. and campus.
Both plans propose the demolition of Pardall Tunnel in favor of an intersection on Ocean Road that would accommodate car and bike traffic. Lucas said the idea is to eliminate the current pressure on Pardall by enhancing the Metropolitan Transit District bus network through I.V. to campus and giving bikes multiple paths through which to enter and exit I.V.
Ocean Road housing will alleviate some of the need for faculty and staff housing, Brown said. UCSB currently offers limited for-sale residences on West Campus, but Brown said this is not enough to meet the current demands for housing.
Along with the Ocean Road project, Brown said a 236-unit faculty and staff housing project along Storke Road — called North Campus Family Housing — could help alleviate the current lack of faculty and staff housing. North Campus Family Housing is currently awaiting review at the California Coastal Commission (CCC).
Lucas said affordable housing for university employees will be especially important in the years to come because UCSB might need to replace about half of its current faculty and staff and provide new hires with housing.
A draft of the campus Academic Plan, which will also be part of the LRDP once it is finalized, also outlines the problem of faculty and staff housing. The plan says that a projected 454 faculty members, out of a total of 870, will retire in the next 15 years. Lucas said many faculty and staff do not move out of Santa Barbara after they retire, making less housing available for newcomers. He said the median housing price in the Santa Barbara area is approaching $1 million – a reality that does not attract many potential university employees to move into the area.
The Housing Capacity Study also has proposals for neighborhood renovations of Storke Family Housing, the Channel Islands residence halls, Francisco Torres, West Campus, the current site of Facilities Management and Santa Ynez Apartments, some of which would take effect over the next 12 years.
Lucas said student housing is also an issue, as the university will have to accommodate the influx of new students in the years to come. He said the LRDP will probably include a new student population cap of 1 to 1.5 percent more than the current 20,000, raising the number of students attending UCSB to an estimated 25,000.
“It can’t get much bigger [than 25,000],” Lucas said. “It will be hard to do even that.”
Tye Simpson, director of physical and environmental planning, said student, faculty, staff and community members’ ideas will be incorporated with planners’ goals in the LRDP. He said the plan will take these ideas and university academic goals into consideration before creating a guide for campus physical development – including housing, buildings, open space and infrastructure.
“The plan is a reflection of the desires of faculty, students, staff and community,” Simpson said. “It is intended to arise out of an extensive public participation process that gives groups the opportunity to see the plan as it develops and change the plan to better suit their needs.”
Simpson’s department is in charge of drafting the LRDP, which he said will be done by next spring. Lucas said it will take a year following completion of the draft to incorporate public input and another year for the UC Regents and the CCC to approve the plan.
The LRDP will be completed by 2008, Lucas said, and will map out campus development through approximately 2020. The previous LRDP, established in 1990, planned for campus development up until this year.