A coalition of Santa Barbara County organizations has formed the formation of Sustainable University Now. SUN is the product of a series of meetings convened by the Santa Barbara County Action Network to discuss community challenges raised by UCSB’s Draft Long Range Development Plan.

SUN members are committed to encouraging wide community participation in reviewing and responding to the LRDP draft Environmental Impact Report, which is expected to be recirculated soon.

SUN members emphasize that they don’t seek to oppose the university’s future development, but rather to improve it.

“As a recent UCSB grad, I know firsthand what a great asset UCSB is to Santa Barbara County,” said Olivia Uribe, associate director of SB CAN. “Our coalition has been clear that we want to have a collaborative, positive relationship with UCSB.”

SUN’s statement of principles echoes this approach, stressing the importance of careful planning: “Decisions made by and about the university will have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences for residents of the campus, Isla Vista, the cities of Santa Barbara and Goleta and throughout Santa Barbara County.”

Richard Flacks, a UCSB research professor of sociology, is serving as interim chair of the SUN Coalition. “We want to make sure that this project is based on principles of sustainability, provides broad social benefits and that the project’s impacts on the area’s housing supply, water resources, traffic and commuting help improve rather than threaten our quality of life,” he said. 

SUN is requesting that local governmental bodies review and comment on the recirculated draft EIR.

Coalition members include the Citizens Planning Association Land Use Committee, the Coalition for Sustainable Transportation, the Community Environmental Council, the League of Women Voters of Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara Audubon Society, the Santa Barbara County Action Network and the Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter, Santa Barbara Group.

Its guiding principles are:

» The LRDP must be based on principles of sustainability, and UCSB should demonstrate leadership in such areas as transportation, protection of natural resources, water, affordable housing, traffic, parking, energy conservation, climate change concerns, recycling, etc. UCSB development should seek to promote and include modern sustainability planning principles.

» Any UCSB growth plans should be warranted by broad social benefits as well as institutional needs. UCSB’s development must be at a level that maintains and enhances the quality of life of its surrounding communities.

» Concerns and effects raised in the draft Environmental Impact Report should be addressed fully, openly and inclusively, providing specific mitigations, timetables and detailed planning as part of the final plan.

» The final LRDP will benefit from and should be the result of substantial community involvement and local public hearings and meetings on the proposed EIR. UCSB should seek participation from all South Coast jurisdictions and constituencies, including, but not limited to, the city of Goleta, the city and county of Santa Barbara, agencies such as the Isla Vista Redevelopment Agency, the Isla Vista Recreation and Park District, the Goleta Water District, the Goleta West Sanitary District, the Goleta Sanitary District, neighborhood associations and residents.

Olivia Uribe is associate director of the Santa Barbara County Action Network.