UCSB administration reached an agreement with representatives of Sustainable University Now this month to ensure the campus’ Long Range Development Plan minimizes potential environmental damage.
The organization — a collaboration including Santa Barbara County Action Network, Coalition of Sustainable Transportation, Citizens Planning Association and the Santa Barbara Audubon Society and several other groups — has worked alongside the university on the resolution for the past two years to help campus committees prioritize sustainability during the plan’s execution. The agreement’s terms include reducing future parking space construction to decrease university gas emissions and congestion, increasing bicycle paths and racks and building new housing developments closer to campus for staff and faculty.
Sociology professor Richard Flacks, a SBCAN representative, said SUN and campus administration reached the agreement after much debate about its terms.
“The groups involved had a number of criticisms when first planned, but the university agreed to a legal binding,” Flacks said.
The agreement’s main tenets include creating convenient transportation substitutes to avoid excess automobile pollution, Flacks said.
“With transportation, we pushed hard and succeeded to promote alternative transportation and reduce the incentive of parking on campus,” Flacks said. “This was enabled by the fact that we will make transportation and new housing that will be walking and biking distance from campus.”
Second-year environmental studies major Caroline Bargo said the plan’s proposals set a precedent for sustainable practices throughout the area.
“I think that it’s very important for our school to be a green example in the Santa Barbara and Goleta communities,” Bargo said. “We do a lot by exposing people to different ways to conserve.”
Flacks said students should also take the initiative of promoting additional environmentally friendly practices within the community.
“The university had every right to be proud of recent years of sustainability, but there needs to be shifts in some of the ways we live in order to deal with climate change and global warming,” Flacks said. “Campus pressure is what is needed most.”