A public hearing for the Ocean Road housing project – which aims to develop a narrow stretch of UCSB property for staff and faculty housing – will be held Thursday night.
According to a press release, the project site, which lies along the western perimeter of main campus, would potentially provide 543 units of off-campus housing for faculty, staff and graduate students. The plan would also allow for the erection of two new parking structures and the demolition and relocation of the Student Health building.
A public review hearing is scheduled at Embarcadero Hall for Thursday night from 7 to 9 p.m. to offer the public and various government agencies a chance to address any concerns they had with the study’s findings. The 30-day public review process began on Oct. 20 and ends on Nov. 19.
The western stretch of Ocean Road would also be reconfigured to connect pedestrian and bicycle access, as well as offer limited transit access to 12 Isla Vista streets. New building areas designated for academic, student support and commercial purposes are also mapped out in the project plan. The project is expected to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
The study, conducted in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act, was done by Rodriguez Consulting, Inc. and identified and addressed the potential environmental effects of the proposed project.
Marc Fisher, the associate vice chancellor for Campus Design & Facilities, said a potential issue that could surface in the public review process would be the plan to remove eucalyptus trees.
“People love those eucalyptus, but eucalyptus only live to be around 100 years old, and we’ve had several fall already,” Fisher said.
Another potential complaint could be the demolishment of the bike tunnel, Fisher said, but he noted that an adequate alternative would be provided. Overall, Fisher said he doubts any public comment will halt progress on the multi-layered project.
“It’s a prime piece of development property,” Fisher said. “There should be no reason for it not to go forward.”
Although Fisher said there was no cost estimate for the proposed Ocean Road overhaul thus far, financial forecasts centered on acquiring approval for the land use.
Wilfred Brown, executive director of Housing and Residential Services said that in addition to creating housing, the project was designed to connect the campus with I.V.
“Its hard to run a business nine months of the year,” Brown said. “Hopefully bringing [an] older, more stable community will benefit local businesses.”
According to the initial study conducted by Rodriguez Consulting, the housing project would be developed in four general phases and take approximately four years from start to finish.
“It is anticipated that the first project phase would be ready for occupancy in 2012, and the entire project would be built-out by 2016,” the study said.