Sustainable University Now intends to sue UC Santa Barbara to obtain documents related to Munger Hall and campus enrollment, according to director Richard Flacks.

Sustainable University Now (S.U.N.) is a coalition of various Santa Barbara groups including the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, Santa Barbara County Action Network and the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara. The group’s goal is to facilitate sustainable campus development at UCSB. 

The group filed a Public Records Act (PRA) request on April 8, seeking documents related to Munger Hall and UCSB’s occupancy numbers, among others, according to Flacks. The Nexus filed a May 8 PRA request for documents related to Munger Hall, which have yet to be delivered.

The Law Office of Marc Chytilo, S.U.N.’s legal representation, outlined the organization’s grievances in an Aug. 24 letter addressed to UCSB Chief Campus Counsel Nancy Greenan Hamill and UCSB PRA Coordinator Monica Dussert and obtained by the Nexus.

“Nearly twenty (20) weeks after we submitted our PRA request, we still have not received either the documents responsive to our request, or a written response explaining the legal basis on which you are refusing to disclose the documents,” the letter said.

Following the adoption of the 2010 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP), UCSB reached its own agreement with S.U.N. in 2011 to more effectively mitigate the potential environmental impact of new campus development. They agreed to S.U.N.’s listed priorities to reduce traffic congestion and emission levels, improve accessibility to sustainable alternatives for transportation and maintain a buffer between housing developments and environmentally protected lands. 

The agreement also stipulated that the university provide documentation turnover related to housing-related projects at S.U.N.’s request, according to the letter.

“SUN’s PRA followed our unsuccessful multi-year effort to obtain many of the same documents, which UCSB is contractually bound to provide to SUN under the Final 2010 LRDP Cooperative Agreement between the University of California Santa Barbara and Sustainable University Now,” the letter said.

S.U.N. also accused UCSB of violating its agreement with the university by not adequately addressing the issue of student housing, but didn’t have the financial capacity to fight the university in court over the issue, according to Flacks. The document lawsuit — which will be filed in the coming weeks — is a cheaper lawsuit to undertake, he said.

UCSB media relations manager Kiki Reyes denied that the university had violated any aspects of its agreement with S.U.N.

“UC Santa Barbara has complied with all provisions of the SUN Agreement related to student housing,” Reyes said in a statement to the Nexus. “The University has responded to SUN over the past many years on these issues and has continued to provide SUN with various document requests.”

The County of Santa Barbara and City of Goleta have both filed suits against the university over alleged violations of the LRDP.

A version of this article appeared on p. 1 of the Nov. 3, 2022 print edition of the Daily Nexus.

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Mark Alfred
Mark Alfred (he/him) is the university news editor for the 2022-23 school year. Contact: markalfred@dailynexus.com or 858-413-7384 (text/Signal).