Monday, February 8 , 2016, 10:25 pm | Fair 57º

Storke Ranch Residents Uneasy With UCSB Dorm Planned for Next Door

University plans to add housing for 1,000 students near Santa Catalina dorm at corner of Storke and El Colegio roads

An aerial view of the planned San Joaquin residential site depicts how UC Santa Barbara intends to make it a new housing nucleus for the campus. The complex runs behind the multistory Santa Catalina Residence Hall in the center of the image. The Storke Ranch neighborhood is at the top right corner.
An aerial view of the planned San Joaquin residential site depicts how UC Santa Barbara intends to make it a new housing nucleus for the campus. The complex runs behind the multistory Santa Catalina Residence Hall in the center of the image. The Storke Ranch neighborhood is at the top right corner.  (UC Santa Barbara / Urban Design Associates rendering)

By Gina Potthoff, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @ginapotthoff |

A new dorm planned for the west end of the UC Santa Barbara campus is upsetting some nearby Goleta residents, a small number of whom would see the development go up just a few feet from their backyards.

The focus of the ongoing debate is the San Joaquin housing project, a dorm that would be built at the corner of Storke and El Colegio roads on the same site as the existing Santa Catalina Residence Halls, formerly called Francisco Torres. The dorm, tentatively planned to house 1,000 students, would occupy what is currently a large parking lot.

Opinions of some of those living in Storke Ranch, a residential neighborhood just north of and adjacent to the project site, range from not wanting to see the dorm at all to grudging acceptance, with the hope of limiting negative impacts as much as possible.

More than a dozen residents gathered last month in a meeting room of the Santa Catalina dorms for the latest of 65 total public meetings and hearings since UCSB introduced the project in 2006, a university representative said. The dorms are part of the campus Long-Range Development Plan process.

Density, traffic congestion, visual impacts and proximity to the project topped the list of concerns from those in attendance at the meeting.

A final version of the Long-Range Development Plan was developed in 2010 and then agreed upon by UCSB, the City of Goleta and Santa Barbara County. Because the university is a state institution, however, development plans do not need to be approved through the typical Board of Supervisors process.

Construction of the project, which will be funded using housing rental fees, is expected to begin in 2014, the UCSB representative said. Some planning documents show the dorm could open as early as the fall of 2016.

Although the project has been in the works a while, one Storke Ranch homeowner said it didn’t come to his attention until a year ago.

William Etling, a Santa Ynez resident who owns a Storke Ranch house, said he has urged UCSB to not build the dorm so close. The backyard of Etling’s property, where his daughter currently lives, is about 35 feet away from the proposed site.

“It’s wrong, but they can do it because they’re a state agency,” Etling said. “Nobody is going to stop them at this point.”

Besides additional housing that will rise to five stories in some places, the San Joaquin project currently includes new dining facilities, sand volleyball and basketball courts, and a maximum 600-space parking garage.

Etling, who graduated from UCSB and has owned the nearby house since 2001, said he is concerned about a planned second-story, recreational balcony area.

“On a bad day, that’s six guys throwing beer cans into my backyard,” he said. “It’s going to be very intrusive. I say, ‘Why don’t you put stuff on campus?’ That’s where housing belongs.”

UCSB says it’s hosting public meetings — so far, two have specifically been for airing neighbor concerns — so it can incorporate many of their suggestions into the revised plans, a university representative said.

“We regard UCSB as a community-based institution,” the representative said. “We want the community to both benefit from and take pride in our presence here. So, we regard the community as an important stakeholder in our campus’ well-being. We are currently in a detailed planning phase during which we are sharing specific plans with the community in order to solicit their input.”

Storke Ranch resident Kelly Hildner told Noozhawk she’s most concerned with the proximity and height of the project, as well as its community and environmental impacts.

She and other residents were hoping the university might move the dorm to what they’re now planning as the new parking lot.

Even though UCSB officials anticipate students will travel via bike and shuttle, Hildner isn’t convinced traffic will be a non-issue.

“We are just requesting that they do some things to accommodate our desires, given that we’d rather not have a bunch of buildings go up right next to people’s yards,” she said. “The university has been good about some changes.

“We’re surrounded by university on three sides,” she continued. “It really has an impact on us what they do. We hope they’ll listen to us. It’s too many people to add to a small community and really not have any negative effects.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

» on 03.04.13 @ 02:42 AM

Are you kidding me?  How arrogant of UCSB to even consider construct such a huge building so close to an existing residential area.  They should move it as far away from the residents, not right on top of them.

» on 03.04.13 @ 11:47 AM

Ah, the contentious Goleta Neighbor. The arrogance of UCSB was fostered by Goleta two generations ago when it gave UCSB the greatest gift the campus could ever get from a community, unlimited growth and no mitigation of impacts.

Goleta was so concerned that widening Storke, Los Caneros and Fairview, completing the Phelps road loop, widening El Colegio and extending Ward to Phelps would induce more growth, they allowed UCSB to expand, adding 10,000 more students and staff without these improvements. Now the campus intends on adding another 9000 with little traffic circulation improvement and neighbors are worried about the back yard views.

People of Stork Ranch, the campus was there first and their intentions for growing and expanding have always been public knowledge. If you bought a home there expecting something else that’s your problem. If you were smart you would ensure the campus add heavily to our local roadway infrastructure. The projects above should be done. In addition, El Colegio should be extended to Cathedral Oak and 101. Turnpike should be extended south and west and tied to South Patterson and Ward. All these roads should be 4 lanes divided with turn pockets and signals and that’s just to handle the last 40 years of unmitigated campus growth.

Don’t like it? Want to continue the same old way, you know, do nothing for fear of growth inducement? Or think quaint 2 lane roads choked with gridlock everyday is some how charming? Then suffer the consequences and please do it quietly. Otherwise we can force the campus, who is really a great asset to the community, to build the infrastructure idiots 4 decades ago allowed them to skate on get out of the chronic gridlock and actually enjoy our community and its wonderful neighbors.

» on 03.04.13 @ 12:22 PM

Now this is a hoot.  They buy their homes next door to the towers and the university and now they’re uncomfortable with that fact…

Ha!  Idiots should have realized they were buying a home next to a university and two of the largest buildings in the entire south coast… I feel no sympathy for them… not an inkling.

» on 03.04.13 @ 12:39 PM

Someguy, excellent point. The Stork towers are the tallest occupied structures between Venture and Monterrey on the coast at 10 and 11 stories. Complaining about a 5 story dorm seems a bit ridiculous. Though if I were the University I would definitely cluster the taller structures around the towers and step down in height toward the north.

» on 03.04.13 @ 12:42 PM

Where were the dissenters when they could have purchased the entire property at foreclosure years ago? Another case of no one bothers to look at the potential usage by their neighbors hoping they can achieve politically what they choose not to obtain economically. There comes a time of reckoning and conservatives are attempting to inform you now. Not when it is too late. There is not and never was a free lunch. I just received an e-mail entitled a free home which spells it out better than I can.

» on 03.04.13 @ 01:55 PM

Arrogance might be a bit of a stretch, AN50, but you are otherwise correct.  It’s called due diligence, folks.  Do you buy a house next to an airport, then complain when they want to expand it or build a new terminal?

The University is its own lead agency.  It does what it needs to fulfill its long range plan, including accommodating more students.  If you don’t want to be surprised by new faculty housing on precious, private-property “open space”, or expansion of dorm facilities on University-owned land, try reading the plan they’ve had in place for the last twenty years.

» on 03.04.13 @ 04:02 PM

1,000 additional students…..!

UCSB promised they would not exceed 10,000 students, then they promised they would not exceed 15,000 students.  Guess what people they will continue to do what they want.

If you believe the issue of more vehicles will not come up, try each unit generates almost 5 trips a day.

5 stories?  Yep, and the only real hope the homes have is the school will do what it can to set back from the property line.  It will intrude on privacy even more.

Does this issue brought up by Mr. Etling are real.  As a student out there I have seen it.

Little side note.  Gee does the State agency doing what they want regardless of community standards and zoning sound almost IDENTICAL to the issue of Chumash and federalization of Santa Ynez property?

» on 03.04.13 @ 05:02 PM

SBdude I agree arrogance was a stretch but that was GMike’s assertion really. I just commented on it. I think UCSB is a great asset to Goleta, but they have been allowed to get away with far too much growth without addressing the impact on the community. I don’t mind the growth, just want to see the mitigation done so we aren’t sitting in grid lock. And I don’t want what SB is doing, trying to engineer behavior through traffic coercion, which I believe is unethical and illegal.

» on 03.04.13 @ 11:47 PM

stop ucsb now

» on 03.05.13 @ 03:25 PM

Really? the irony is that the very nature of a state superseding local authority to ram its way down our throats is lost on the lefties who advocate for more powerful central control.

» on 03.06.13 @ 01:20 PM

The other side is that the majority of people who live in that awful community of ugly cookie cutter houses and condos, work for or with UCSB or with businesses that are supported by the university.

Like I said before. What a hoot. Youngat85 nailed it… they could have purchased the property themselves, but alas, its easier to complain than to plan or pay up.

» on 03.06.13 @ 06:38 PM

The return of the whining NIMBY neighbors. Surprise!

Every one of these families were apprised, when they first moved in, that the City
of Goleta, and UCSB, were updating their long-range community plans.

Every one of them was told that new development, or street improvements, might be coming to their neighborhood.

Not one changed their minds about moving to the so-convenient Storke Ranch

Now that a small bit of what they were briefed about is looming on the distant
horizon, these same people are freaking out?

Do they ever consider that other residents of IV and Goleta-west-of-Storke
might have felt the same way about ... them? That their traffic, and the loud
disruption of the construction of their homes, inconvenienced other people?

Doesn’t sound like it, to listen to them, huh?

The more housing UCSB can build for students-faculty-staff near the campus,
the less traffic, parking, water, sewer, freeway impacts in other parts of the south coast, and the more their people can access classes or jobs without
needing their cars at all.

» on 03.06.13 @ 08:19 PM

The bottom line is that the mighty University of California is eventually going to do whatever they want to do, and they really do not care if what they want to do impacts the neighbors or not. Their arrogance is real and palpable. Good luck, Storke Ranch residents.

» on 03.06.13 @ 08:44 PM

Yeti, yes they will, but they would actually prefer to be a good neighbor. It is the people of Goleta who have consistently rejected any means to mitigate the growth impacts of the campus in some twisted loopy logic that the mitigations themselves were what was bad and allowed the campus to expand without any mitigation at all. The joke is on us and we got what we wanted. The only difference with Dork ranch is they are closer.

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