The city of Goleta announced its plan to sue UC Santa Barbara for violating the Long Range Development Plan — a contract developed in 2010 stating that the university must cap enrollment at 25,000 until 2025, build more dormitories for the additional 5,000 students the UC mandated that every campus enroll and build 1,800 new units for its faculty and staff.
The consequence of this alleged violation has been an unprecedented housing crisis, with many students having to resort to living in Goleta, the city of Santa Barbara and in university-subsidized hotel housing.
The city of Goleta alleges that the lack of sufficient housing has led to the following consequences for the city: hotel housing depriving the city of transient occupancy tax revenue which would otherwise come from visitors, an increased demand for housing in Goleta as students occupy more areas and, consequently, the city’s public resources becoming increasingly diverted toward students’ needs, KEYT reported.
The city of Goleta announced its plans during the Nov. 5 public city meeting.
“I am disappointed that it has come to this because the city of Goleta has always had a good relationship with UCSB. However, the failure of UCSB to meet its obligations under the 2010 Long Range Development Plan Settlement Agreement to provide housing has made us reach a breaking point,” city of Goleta Mayor Paula Perotte said at the meeting.
In addition, Perotte expressed a lack of faith in the success of the Munger Hall project.
“UCSB’s currently proposed student housing project, Munger Hall, a 4,500-unit dorm, has recently received harsh scrutiny in the national press. In light of this, we, at the city, are concerned that there may be no certainty as to whether the needed student housing will be built in a reasonable time frame,” Perotte said after Friday’s meeting.
Santa Barbara County has not sued the university but is currently in mediation with UCSB over its violation of the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) as well.
According to Gina Fischer, representative for 3rd District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, “UCSB is out of compliance [with] the terms of the Long Range Development Plan based on their self-reported enrollment numbers and has not built required housing to keep up with their pace of enrollment.”
UCSB spokesperson Andrea Estrada said the university is “disappointed” in Goleta’s decision.
“The University has not seen the lawsuit yet but is deeply disappointed that the City of Goleta felt it necessary to resort to divisive litigation that forces both parties to spend public funds in this manner. The courts are not always the best place to resolve disputes, but when parties are entrenched in their individual positions, it may best be left to the courts to determine the merits of the respective legal arguments,” Estrada said in a statement to the Nexus.
Estrada maintained that the university has not violated the Long Range Development Plan.
“The University has never exceeded the enrollment target set forth in the LRDP settlement agreement. With the Sierra Madre housing development in the 2015-16 academic year the University added 515 student beds, and added another 1,000 student beds in the 2016-17 academic year with the San Joaquin housing development,” Estrada said.