By Allen Young
Santa Cruz resident Don Stevens stood on the steps of Santa Cruz City Hall with several other members of the Coalition for Limiting University Expansion (CLUE) early Monday morning.
"The Regents basically approved their own institution," he said. "There has been no analysis or oversight on the part of [UC Santa Cruz] to care for environmental concerns."
In response, representatives from the county, city, CLUE, and the Sierra Club, flied three separate lawsuits, on Oct. 23, against the Regents of the University of California and Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal.
The city and county communities of Santa Cruz are suing the Regents for their unanimous approval of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP). The petition argued that the LRDP, which was certified by the Regents Sept. 21, violates the California Environmental Quality Act.
"We’re trying to establish communication with the university," Santa Cruz Mayor Cynthia Matthews said. "So far the new chancellor seems promising."
The primary argument from the anti-growth groups was that UC Santa Cruz failed to produce an adequate EIR that accommodated for necessary increases in water, traffic, and housing.
The 2005-2020 LRDP calls for a doubling in academic and administrative building space and an increase the student, staff and faculty population to approximately 24,600 by the year 2020.
Upcoming election ballot Measure I would create a city ordinance prohibiting the city of Santa Cruz from providing necessary expansion services to UCSC until the university has fully implemented mitigation measures to offset negative environmental impacts. Measure J lets citizens decide if the city should give an expanded campus more water.
UCSC Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal informed CHP that the UC has countered back with its own lawsuit, requesting that the courts throw out the ballots.
"Should [the anti-growth measures] pass, it is quite possible that the university will file another lawsuit arguing that the city has a contractual obligation to supply water to the campus to a given amount," Blumenthal said. "That contract was made when the campus moved here."
Blumenthal said the university would be willing to mitigate the some effects of campus expansion if the city and campus can reach a compromise.
Don Stevens, along with eight other individuals representing CLUE, filed one of the three lawsuits Monday against the university. "I think we can all agree with the mission of educating more and more students," Stevens said. "What everyone is saying is that the university did not respond in a meaningful way to public questions."
Said Mayor Matthews, "This is a very serious issue and we want to ensure that the UC takes it seriously. I can’t say where it will go."