After nearly 12 years of planning and a month of public discussion, community members have until tomorrow to submit their comments regarding UCSB’s plan to develop near the Ellwood-Devereux Coast.
The Ellwood-Devereux Open Space and Habitat Management Plan seeks to construct public beach access parking and 215 faculty housing units, while helping rehabilitate natural coastal habitats. Included in the 215 units are family homes, town houses, duplexes and three-studio units.
The California Coastal Commission – the governing body that can approve or dismiss the plans – will make a final review of the project sometime this June.
Senior Planner Shari Hammond said the open public comment period began March 8 and serves as an opportunity to inform community members and local organizations.
“The comment period is not really to collect complaints,” she said. “The purpose is to involve the public and agencies.”
She said half of the comments she has received are from people concerned with the construction of a parking lot near the west campus bluffs entrance.
“They think it is destroying natural habitat,” Hammond said.
The other half of the comments came from people concerned that the three-story faculty housing buildings will block neighbors’ ocean views, as well as increase traffic by introducing a dense population of people to the area, she said. Each unit will have two parking spaces, one in a unit driveway and the other on the street.
The project triggered the formation several years ago of the Cannon Green-Phelps Neighborhood Coalition – an organization of local residents who are opposed to the project, Coalition spokesman Mike Jacoby said.
“We started to try to engage the university to see if there could be some reasonable compromise,” he said. “They are willing to talk, but not do much more.”
Jacoby said the coalition is worried about traffic increases and has pled its concerns to the university.
“They responded by saying our comments were invalid or inconsequential,” he said. “There’s basically no traffic impact, according to the university.”
Jacoby said the university has ignored the Coalition’s request to put promises into writing.
“We don’t feel like the university has been a very good neighbor,” he said.
Despite several complaints, Hammond said the university needs the faculty housing to retain and recruit faculty, many of which have to commute because they can’t afford to live in Santa Barbara.
“The university wants high-quality faculty,” Hammond said. “There has been turnover because people can’t afford to live here.”
While each housing unit will have two parking spaces, the university will encourage the use of public transportation, Hammond said.
The Ellwood-Devereux project began in 1994 when the university purchased the property. Although the project does include extensive building on the property to create faculty housing and coastal parking access for the public, Hammond said the main goal of the project is to restore and enhance the surrounding natural environment.
“The site is designed around the existing wetlands,” she said. “It’s mostly going to stay an open space. That is the purpose of the project.”
More information about the development plan is available at www.ellwood-devereux.org. All public comments on the plan must be submitted in writing no later than 5:00 p.m. Tuesday. Comments can be submitted to: Shari Hammond, Senior Planner, Office of Campus Planning and Design (1030), University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106-1030, Re: North and West Campus LRDP Amendment.