Sustainable University Now filed a lawsuit against UC Santa Barbara and the UC Regents to secure access to documents on the University’s progress toward its Long Range Development Plan and other housing information on Feb. 28, according to a media release sent to the Nexus. 

UCSB emeritus professor of sociology Richard “Dick” Flacks convened the lawsuit following the University’s failure to comply with a Public Records Act (PRA) request. The request was filed to the Santa Barbara County Superior Court. 

UCSB announced plans to construct new student housing, dubbed San Benito Housing, following the dissolution of the Munger Hall housing project. Courtesy of UCSB

The Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) is a contract between UCSB, Santa Barbara County and the city of Goleta, stipulating that the university must cap student enrollment at 25,000 until 2025, build more dormitories for the additional 5,000 students the UC mandated every campus to enroll and build 1,800 new units for faculty and staff.

UCSB announced plans to construct new student housing, dubbed San Benito Housing, following the dissolution of the Munger Hall housing project. 

Funded by Berkshire Hathaway Vice Chairman and UCSB donor Charles Munger prior to his passing on Nov. 28, 2023, Munger Hall is a scrapped nine-story dormitory plan that sparked nationwide controversy due to its windowless design. 

Sustainable University Now (S.U.N.) is a Santa Barbara unincorporated association of advocacy groups, including Citizens Planning Association of Santa Barbara County, League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara County Action Network. The Law Office of Marc Chytilo and the Mitchell M. Tsai Law Firm represent the group. 

The California PRA gives every person the right to access public records in the custody of the Secretary of State, and requests are required to be acknowledged within 10 days, according to the California Secretary of State website

“This action derives from UCSB’s failure to provide S.U.N. with information regarding UCSB’s failure to fully provide the student, faculty and staff housing promised in the 2010-2025 UCSB Long Range Development Plan (LRDP),” the Feb. 28 media release said. 

The lawsuit stems from a 2011 cooperative agreement between S.U.N. and UCSB that “settled disputes arising from the University’s proposed expansion,” according to the lawsuit. The agreement included various measures to ensure sustainable action in the planning and construction process. 

The measures can be summarized under reducing automobile trips to campus through alternative transportation means, improving job and housing balance through accessible walking and biking distances, adopting sufficient water supply and energy reduction strategies and buffering harm against Environmentally Sensitive Habitat Areas. 

Following the agreement, S.U.N. filed a PRA request on April 8, 2022 to seek documents related to UCSB’s housing progress pursuant to the 2010 Long Range Development Plan, Environmental Impact Report, mitigation agreements from the county and Goleta and the 2011 cooperative agreement.

S.U.N. reminded UCSB to respond to the request on June 30, 2022. The coalition then sent a demand email to the University on Aug. 24, 2022, denouncing its noncompliance with the request. UCSB has yet to respond to the Aug. 24 letter, according to the lawsuit. 

Following some response of documentation in Nov. 2, 2022, as reported by the Nexus in November 2022, S.U.N. intended to sue the University because the “production remained deficient, according to the lawsuit.”

“SUN is filing this action today [on Feb. 28] to get documents required to explain UCSB’s non-compliance with the LRDP commitments and the delays that have worsened the community’s housing crisis,” the media release read. 

Flacks spoke to the lawsuit as S.U.N.’s longtime endeavor and reiterated UCSB’s duty to disclose information on these agreements to the public. 

“UCSB is a public institution, and public institutions aren’t allowed to operate in secrecy for the most part,” he said in an interview with the Nexus. 

University spokesperson Kiki Reyes did not respond to requests for comment on the lawsuit. 

The Nexus will continue to report on this topic as more information becomes available. 

A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the March 7, 2024, print edition of the Daily Nexus.


Asumi Shuda
Asumi Shuda (they/them) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Shuda was the Deputy News Editor, Community Outreach News Editor for the 2022-23 school year and the 2021-22 school year and an Assistant News Editor during the 2020-21 school year. They can be reached at or