The California Coastal Commission approved UCSB’s North and West Campus Housing plans at its meeting Friday, allowing 373 new units for faculty and student families to be built.

UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said construction on the projects will begin in 2007 once the university approves a third-party developer.

Lucas said affordable housing will enable UCSB to attract more professors, lecturers and students with families – many of whom cannot currently afford homes in the Santa Barbara area.

“It’s going to make a world of difference to faculty hiring,” he said.

The North Campus Housing project includes 172 units of affordable faculty housing at the corner of Phelps Road and Cannon Green Drive in Goleta, and 151 units for family student housing – called Sierra Madre Apartments – on Storke Road. In addition, it will provide 20 coastal access parking spaces off Phelps Road and over 100 acres of natural reserve and open space.

The West Campus Housing project, planned for the Ellwood-Devereux area, will create an additional 50 units of faculty housing on West Campus Point Lane, several points of public coastal access and multiple parking lots. It also features a permanent public restroom and a 40-acre expansion to Coal Oil Point Reserve.

In a UCSB press release, Chancellor Henry T. Yang said the final approval of the project came after the investment of much hard work and time on the part of the university and the Coastal Commission.

At least week’s Goleta City Council meeting, the council approved a letter of conditional support for the housing project, and sent it to the CCC. A few Goleta residents expressed anger with the decision, storming out of the meeting. Their concerns ranged from preservation of the wetland to hours of construction.

Donna Carpenter, vice chancellor of administrative services, said in the press release that UCSB has tried to work with neighbors, officials from the City of Goleta and County of Santa Barbara, and environmental advocates on the design and logistics of the project. She said the number of units for faculty in the North Campus project was decreased from the original 236 to 172 at the behest of Goleta residents and they were still unhappy with that.

Lucas said both sides of the argument were presented before the CCC during the time for public statements. According to Lucas, the neighbors of the proposed faculty housing project at Phelps Road and Cannon Green Drive attended the meeting to protest.