By Will Norton-Mosher
Among the tomato plants and spare bike parts that dot the UC Santa Cruz trailer park lie surfboards cut in half, leaning against trailers and posts, which almost resemble tombstones.
Prayer flags and birdhouses hang from the eaves of the 42 trailers, hoisted onto jacks and blocks in two loose circles in the woods outside of the north perimeter parking lot. For many students, the trailer park represents what makes UCSC unique.
But according to Jim Burns, campus public information officer, the newly-approved Long Range Development Plan has designated the area of the trailer park for housing and college use. Although it may take several years before the any decisions are made as to whether or not the park will remain on the site, the prospect of losing the trailer park perturbs the people living there.
"It’s just been a really scary feeling that each year could be the last year," said Tyler Parks, one of the trailer park community coordinators, the equivalent of a dormitory Resident Advisor.
Leoni Rohlfs, another one of the trailer park coordinators, said that if the trailer park were closed, many students who could not afford to live elsewhere would be forced to leave Santa Cruz. Rohlfs also suggested that the loss of the trailer part would contribute to what many see as the university’s trend toward becoming just like other UC campuses.
"[UCSC] would become more mainstream," Rohlfs said. "It would become another big city, another Santa Barbara."
Both Parks and Rohlfs are concerned about the lack of affordable housing on campus.
Monthly rent in the trailer park goes for $380 a month for a unit without a sewer hookup, and $428 for a unit with sewer hookup, both much cheaper than a room in the college dormitories.
The trailer park has been threatened with closure before-usually a result of fallout from boisterous parties and people parking their cars inside the park, though it has ultimately remained. Expansion, however, now puts the future of the park in grave jeopardy.
The trailer park is one of the last of its kind. Other UC campuses have shut down their trailer parks, and after UC Irvine eliminated their park in 2004, UCSC was left as the only UC campus with a trailer park.
The park was founded roughly 22 years ago by students who, unable to pay rent, were camping out of the back of their cars. When the police came to break up the camp, the student decided that the area might make a good site for a trailer park.
Many of the people living in the trailer park said that the trailer park represents everything the university stands for and that demolishing it would take away part of what makes UCSC so special.
The trailer park, site of potlucks twice a week, boasts its own band, juggling crew, running team and community garden, explained Rohlfs.
The trailer park is also home to most of the campus’ renowned "tall bikes"-bikes that totter nearly six feet off the ground equipped with vertical chains. A student living there playfully called them "trailer park toys."
The approval of the LRDP doesn’t necessarily mean that the trailer park will be eliminated next year, an ambiguity within the plan that Tyler Parks described as a "move to avoid infuriating students."
Parks said that the university needed to re-shift its priorities away from expansion, and supported the upcoming city ballot initiatives I and J, which may curb or potentially halt campus expansion altogether.
Whether or not the university ultimately grows, Parks hopes that the trailer park will remain.
"There’s a place for the trailer park in the Long Range Development Plan."