Housing Plan Hits New Roadblock

Student Housing West developer searches for additional housing locations

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Building new student housing on the UC Santa Cruz campus continues to be a moving target. The original plan called for 3,000 beds built on 20 acres, stretching from the Kresge parking lot to the Porter Dining Hall. An environmental impact statement reduced the total area down to 12 acres, which lie directly on top of Family Student Housing, across Heller Drive from Rachel Carson College.

That presents the developer, Capstone Development, with a new problem — where to house about 100 families who live in Family Student Housing during construction, when the family housing apartments are demolished. While the new location for student families has yet to be decided, Capstone’s senior development manager Chad Izmirian said one potential site is near the intersection of Hagar Drive and Coolidge Drive, at the bottom of campus.

The current plan, Izmirian said, is to build seven energy efficient buildings where Family Student Housing now sits by 2022. That would create space for 2,675 undergraduate students in apartment settings, along with 125 family apartments and 200 studio apartments for graduate students. An environmental impact statement and traffic study would need to be done before the project could proceed.

The idea is not necessarily to bring new students on campus, but to free up some lounges and other common areas that have been converted to housing and to offer space to students currently living off campus, said UCSC director of capital planning Steve Houser.

The idea of bringing so many additional students onto campus, new or not, was met with questions from about a half dozen of the 25 people who attended the Student Housing West forum at the Oakes Learning Center on Wednesday night.

Second-year Sean Corfield worried an influx of students would make a bad situation worse.

“There are just so many students who rely on the dining halls for food and there’s such a limited capacity for the ones we have,” Corfield said. He also pointed out that buses are often overcrowded and questioned whether the university would add buses to deal with the additional students.

Thao Le, a fourth-year sociology and feminist studies major was concerned about rising housing costs. The current plan would be to match on-campus housing costs with 3 percent annual increases. But Le, who lives in Family Student Housing, said the current rate of $1,658 per month for a two-bedroom apartment could go up even more at the new location.

“That’s not going to be the same when we move to the new location, and so when we think about affordability, it’s like you’re not just going to build more housing and the price is going to go down,” Le said.

Most of the students who attended the forum thought the university was deliberately making it difficult for them to attend.

“The email about this forum was sent out last week, and currently it is midterms, so students are freaking out and they don’t have time to go to extra things,” said Candace Addleman, a fourth-year Porter resident.