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Housing Principles Sent to Chancellor for Final Approval

Consultants suggest a “mixed-use” approach along Ocean Road, on the western edge of the main campus, to provide new housing for staff and faculty on top of a layer of academic offices and retail outlets. This conceptualization looks toward Isla Vista from above Campus Parking Structure 3, in bottom right.

By Vic Cox

General principles promoting future faculty, staff, and student housing on a sustainable, environmentally friendly basis were unanimously sanctioned on Oct. 25 by the Campus Planning Committee. Chaired by Assistant Chancellor Todd Lee, the CPC, UCSB’s primary mechanism for coordinating development plans, sent the Campus Housing Study to Chancellor Henry T. Yang for final approval.
The housing study is one of several major planning documents that have been generated since 2003 to lay the basis of the next Long Range Development Plan. Multiple public sessions, guided by Pittsburgh-based consultants Urban Design Associates, solicited opinions and feedback from staff, faculty, and students about space use and buildings on the main campus and on nearby University of California-owned land.
Driving the housing effort is growing pressure to plan how to provide university housing for the staff and faculty members who will be needed over the next 15 years to teach and support an increased student population. This was recognized in the land use principles of the housing study, which was jointly brought to the CPC by Gene Lucas, executive vice chancellor; Donna Carpenter, acting vice chancellor, administrative services; and Marc Fisher, associate vice chancellor, campus design and facilities.
“The primary goal of this Campus Housing Study (CHS) is to use campus properties effectively to assist in resolving some of the University’s most pressing problems: the need for affordable work-force housing for faculty and staff, and for expansion of the stock of housing for students,” explained the document. It acknowledged that booming regional real estate prices have made it “extremely difficult for the University to recruit and retain high quality faculty and staff” so long as employees alone bear the housing burden.
Among relevant principles that would guide future housing policies were: Build affordable housing to recruit and retain faculty and staff; build diverse housing types (including for-sale single-family houses, condos, and townhouses, and for-rent apartments) for faculty, staff, and students; incorporate principles of sustainability so that new buildings will “meet or exceed LEED Silver Standards;” build neighborhoods, not projects; preserve and celebrate the environment; and minimize car dependency.
While policy has yet to be created to implement many of these bold goals, the CHS does advance some equally bold land use proposals. For example, four-and five-story buildings and parking structures would be designed along Ocean Road, on the Isla Vista’s eastern edge, “to maximize a valuable site,” said Marc Fisher. Staff and faculty would be encouraged to live there.
Increased density would also allow a mix of uses of the buildings. Renovating the older, two-story student residence halls in the southeast sector of the campus as denser, mixed-use structures is also contemplated.
“The term ‘mixed-use’ was used to cover projects that would include housing combined with academic, or academic support, and/or retail space,” said Fisher.
Over the 15-year scope of the housing study, some degree of renovation and expansion would increase population densities at Storke Family Housing and Santa Ynez Apartments on Storke Campus and at West Campus Family Housing. Some mixed-use additions on the Francisco Torres property are also under consideration.
Not mentioned in the CHS were the North Campus faculty and Sierra Madre student housing developments, which will eventually supply a total of 387 units, more than 60 percent of which are reserved for faculty. The two projects north and east of Ocean Meadows Golf Course await California Coastal Commission approval before construction can begin.
Currently under construction are 315 units of graduate student housing in the San Clemente complex along El Colegio Road. Details can be found in the Sept. 19, 2005, issue of 93106.