The housing boom at UCSB is not stopping with the San Clemente Apartments springing up along El Colegio Road – two other projects in the works propose a total of 323 additional units to house faculty members and student families.
The plans for the North Campus Faculty Housing project and the Sierra Madre Apartments are awaiting review by the California Coastal Commission, a group that evaluates all potential development along the California coast and its possible effects on the coastal zone. The North Campus Housing structures will be located at the intersection of Phelps Road and Cannon Green Drive in Goleta, and the Sierra Madre units are planned for construction at the intersection of Whittier Drive and Storke Road.
Plans for the two housing projects were on the agenda at CCC’s October meeting, but discussion was postponed at the request of the commission staff, which required additional time, according to Tye Simpson, director of Campus Planning and Design. The plans require amending the university’s Long Range Development Plan, changes which also must be approved by the CCC.
Simpson said he hopes the projects will be on the CCC agenda in November.
“[The delay] certainly was not at the request of the university,” Simpson said. “I’m cautiously optimistic that [the CCC] will take it in November.”
Simpson said the construction plans are intended to provide affordable housing close to campus for UCSB faculty members and student families. The North Campus project proposes a total of 172 units for faculty members, and the Sierra Madre project, which would be built in the West Campus area, proposes 151 units with two or three bedrooms.
CCC Supervisor of Planning and Regulation Steve Hudson said UCSB recently submitted a notice of impending development for the two projects to the agency.
“In order to authorize the new development, the project has to be reviewed,” he said.
Simpson said the plans for the North and West Campus housing projects were conceived seven years ago, and they will require habitat restoration and “open space improvement” for the Ellwood-Devereux Coastal area.
According to the CCC website, the projects will also include the restoration of Phelps and Devereux Creeks and the construction of a bridge over both bodies of water. In addition, the university must make road improvements, and construct parking facilities, bike paths, trails, recreation areas and a Sierra Madre community building.
The Goleta City Council evaluated the projects during its June and July meetings. While the Council does not need to approve the projects because they will not be on Goleta city land, the organization offered suggestions to the university and plans to issue a statement supporting the housing projects.
Following discussions over the summer, the City Council received many letters and petitions from Goleta residents opposing the university’s proposed construction, asserting that the buildings would be high-density housing structures. The projects have not appeared on the Goleta City Council agenda since July.
According to the Coastal Commission website, it is the responsibility of the CCC to review all proposed coastal-area projects in order to evaluate their consistency with the California Coastal Act – which has specific policies to address issues such as public access along the shoreline, development design and habitat protection, among other things.
Hudson said a committee within the Coastal Commission will be finalizing its report about the North and West Campus projects in the next week, but the amendment to the LRDP must be approved first.
If the CCC approves the amendments, the university will then submit an application for a coastal permit – which can be approved, denied or approved conditionally with required amendments. Following this procedure, the university must submit a notice of impending development, which can also be approved or approved with required amendments.