UC Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara County reached a settlement agreement on a 2022 lawsuit filed by Santa Barbara County that alleged the university violated the 2010 Long Range Development Plan, announced in a joint press release.

The settlement directs the university to pay $500 per student over the 25,000 student cap if it is exceeded / Nexus File Photo

The settlement releases all claims by the County under the 2010 agreement — replacing it with the 2024 agreement terms — and dismisses the 2022 lawsuit. 

The Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) mandates that the university cap 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 its faculty and staff. 

The settlement directs the university to pay $500 per student over the 25,000 student cap if it is exceeded — unless the cap is increased by California legislature — add 3,500 beds for student housing and build 1,874 university workforce housing units — including the new Ocean Walk housing development — over the next eight years.

“The University is proud of its more than $2 billion direct and indirect annual contributions to the local economy. Additional investments in capital projects that benefit our neighbors in Santa Barbara as well as our students, staff, and faculty is a better use of resources than legal costs,” UCSB Office of Budget & Planning Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer Chuck Haines said in the press release. “We have enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the County including our direct contributions of more than $2 million a year in support of the Isla Vista community.”

The university will also pay $3.7 million to the County to fund “direct community-facing projects.” It is also required to provide two penalty payments of $1 million each if it fails to start construction on the first student housing project — the San Benito Housing Complex — by March 31, 2026, and the second student housing project by March 31, 2028. 

The San Benito Housing Complex will provide 3,500 beds through two phases, the first of which is a new building on the corner of Mesa Road and Stadium Road — to be open in Fall 2027 — and the second being a residence hall on the southeast end of campus to be completed in 2029, according to the Current. The Ocean Walk faculty housing project will open in Spring 2025 and will provide 159 housing units with 2-5 bedrooms. 

The 2024 agreement will be terminated if the County and university adopt a new LRDP, with the student housing and payment obligations withstanding, according to the settlement.

“With the deadlines outlined in the Agreement, as well as commensurate penalties for not meeting outlined targets, I am confident the University will work to aggressively advance their housing plans, mitigate long standing impacts and be good neighbors. We look forward to continuing to partner with the University and ensure that needs of our shared constituency, the students, faculty and staff, and the surrounding community, are addressed proactively,” Santa Barbara County 2nd District Supervisor Laura Capps said in the press release. 


Sindhu Ananthavel
Sindhu Ananthavel (she/they) is the Lead News Editor for the 2023-24 school year. Previously, Ananthavel was the Deputy News Editor for the 2022-23 school year, the Community Outreach News Editor for the 2021-22 school year and an assistant news editor for the 2021-22 school year. She can be reached at news@dailynexus.com.