Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Laura Capps and members of her staff met with UC Santa Barbara Chancellor Henry T. Yang, Dilling Yang and project administrators this morning for a tour of the university’s mock-up of its proposed Munger Hall dormitory.
The planned nine-story dormitory is set to feature 3,500 individual student bedrooms, most of which will lack real windows. The campus recently began offering tours of its mock-up of the dorm, which sits just outside Capps’ district and consists of full-scale bedrooms, hallways and other amenities expected to be included in the dormitory.
Capps and Yang discussed the need for increased student housing on campus and the challenges facing students unable to find housing, according to Capps’ district representative Jordan Killebrew.
“Our office is just really curious how can more undergraduate student housing be built to help alleviate what’s currently going on in Isla Vista,” Killebrew said in an interview with the Nexus, referring to the tight housing market and recent mass eviction.
The student housing conversation arrived less than two weeks after hundreds of people living at CBC & The Sweeps — largely students and families — were delivered eviction notices after Core Spaces bought the complex. Capps decried the evictions as outrageous and appalling and said she is working to find solutions.
“This travesty is happening to families who have lived in this complex for decades, diligently paying their rent each month so that they may provide a secure space for their children,” Capps said in a March 21 statement to the Nexus. “It is happening to students, who struggle each year to find housing due to UCSB’s failure to provide housing for its students.”
Capps raised the eviction issue with Yang and stressed that it can be overwhelming for affected students, according to Killebrew. Campus administrators told the supervisor that there are at present at least 200 vacancies in the residence halls that can be of service to affected students through at least the end of Spring Quarter 2023.
“It was clear they are monitoring the situation, they’re trying to figure out how many UCSB students are going to be affected from the mass evictions, and I think with Munger Hall … they’re just trying to find solutions that are affordable for students to be able to live in and enjoy the UCSB experience,” Killebrew said.
The controversial project prompted concerns among most UCSB students, the Academic Senate, architects across every UC, a slew of campus organizations including Associated Students, over 18,000 petitioners, two county supervisors, who privately said it “borders on experimentation,” the County Sheriff’s office, Fire Department, Planning & Development officials and Public Works.
Its widespread unpopularity and the concerns of the Academic Senate prompted the Chancellor to re-evaluate aspects of the project, announcing at a Jan. 18 UC Regents meeting that the campus would likely put forward updated plans for the dormitory over summer.
Project administrators discussed ongoing changes being made to the dorm’s design with Capps, citing alterations to the kitchen ventilation system that will allow for the use of microwaves.
“Supervisor Capps shares the concerns of many about the sheer density numbers and public safety conditions currently proposed with the design of Munger Hall,” Killebrew said. “We are tracking how the university is working with all parties to incorporate their feedback [and] make compromises.”
Not directly mentioned in the upcoming alterations, according to Killebrew, were any changes to the largely windowless bedrooms, the primary source of contention among critics of the dormitory.
“Ultimately it will be a decision of the UC Regents and the Coastal Commission,” he said. “Our position, our advocacy and our focus is centered in the reality that affordable and quality housing is imperative.”
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