By Daniel Correia
The pending lawsuit between the city of Santa Cruz and the university concerning campus growth has already cost the city about $100,000.
"This is a small community and we are already maxed out on resources," Mayor Cynthia Matthews said. "We don’t want a lawsuit, but the stakes are so high that we need to take action."
Representatives from the city and county have repeatedly reported that they wish to open up communication with UC Santa Cruz officials. After the adoption of the Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) by the UC Regents Sept. 31, the city had 30 days to challenge the decision. On the 30th day, a lawsuit was filed.
"It was the only way for us to have any leverage to say the [Environmental Impact Report] is inadequate. If we had waited they would have said, ‘You missed your window,’" Matthews said.
Following the approval of Measures I and J, which prohibited the city of Santa Cruz from providing services necessary for university growth, the university countered by filing a lawsuit of its own, citing that the measures failed to comply with the California Environmental Act and were put on the November ballot without proper notice for voters.
The UC also claims that seeking litigation was not the desired course of action.
"As the Chancellor’s statements consistently indicate, [Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal] certainly believes that negotiations between the city and university would be the most effective way to resolve these issues-and could eliminate the need for costly litigation that will deprive each side of resources," UCSC spokesman Jim Burns told City on a Hill Press via email.
Members of the Coalition to Limit University Expansion, a group that is filing a seperate lawsuit against the university in an effort to force the UC to re-write the EIR, say that the university has made little effort to reduce the effects of the proposed growth.
"Even in the LRDP, the universtiy admits it doesn’t know how it plans to mitigate its effects," said Howe Levin, a member of CLUE.
Acting Chancellor Blumenthal has already reduced the proposed population growth in the Long Range Development Plan by 25 percent. But city officials, who maintain that they are not categorically opposed to university growth, believe that the population reduction is not nearly enough.
"Ultimately, we want them to take adequate mitigations now. We don’t want things to just get worse," Matthews said. "Ideally, we want to sit down with them and hear their proposals. We have a mandatory settlement conference in the near future, but so far nothing has been settled."