Monday, October 22 , 2018, 2:01 am | Fair 63º


UCSB Holds Workshop on Recirculated Environmental Documents for Long-Range Plan

Campus officials listen up with an aim to exchange information and engage the community

A relatively modest but vocal crowd showed up at UCSB’s Thursday evening workshop on the environmental documents related to its development plans.

Residents, development watchdogs and members of local agencies gathered at the Santa Catalina (formerly Francisco Torres) residence hall to comment on the recirculated portion of the university’s Environmental Impact Report for its Long-Range Development Plan.

“This is a workshop where we’re trying to get some dialogue on issues and see how that lines up to comments we’ve already had,” said UCSB Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas.

With a planning scope that spans the next 15 years, the long-range blueprint assumes a growth rate that is projected to increase the number of enrolled students by 5,000 in 2025 for a total student population of about 25,000. Accompanying the increased number of students will be a concurrent rise in faculty and staff. Taking into account family members of those who come out to teach, work or study, some project the total population increase to come out to about 10,000. The proposal’s environmental impact report covers what UCSB believes to be the impacts to the surrounding community.

While UCSB endeavors to keep development and housing within the campus, the surrounding community has nevertheless been concerned about the impact the increased population will have on local infrastructure and resources.

Five elements of the EIR that were previously deemed inadequate — transportation, air quality, housing, water supply and wastewater — were redistributed with further discussion and information, but workshop participants on the whole still seemed unsatisfied with the work.

Some participants, like the Santa Barbara County Action Network’s Mickey Flacks, were less than thrilled by the seeming vagueness of UCSB’s plans for housing the people it wants to attract.

“What the community wants is a commitment by the university to house its increase,” she said. One of the major concerns in relation to housing is that UCSB will attract people faster than it can provide housing, causing a spillover into the surrounding communities.

Over at the transportation station, residents of the Storke Ranch neighborhood adjacent to campus expressed concerns that UCSB is not doing enough for alternative transportation. They also aired issues they’ve had with potential plans to open the connection to Mesa Road on campus from Phelps Road, their two-lane main access road that they say could become dangerous if the cul de sac at the end were permanently opened to all traffic.

“When you bought those properties, did you not know that that road could potentially go through?” asked Marc Fisher, UCSB administrative services and campus architect.

While some have said the two-lane Phelps Road was intended to eventually open up to Mesa road on the other side of the gate, the Storke Ranch neighbors present said, aside from emergency access, there was no provision in their agreements with their homeowners’ association.

Some of their concerns may have been lessened however, with the news that the widening of El Colegio Road (scheduled for its second phase this summer) might take away the need to connect their access road to campus.

Meanwhile, Goleta Water District board members crowded the station that dealt with water issues, in an attempt to bridge an information gap between the district and its largest customer.

“Our objective is to protect the water supply,” said board member Bill Rosen. UCSB has, according to Rosen, interpreted some information differently from how the district would have done so.
Conversely, some of the misinterpretation may have been due to erroneous or missing information from the district’s end, as it struggles to update records and find a way to more accurately monitor campus water use.

The input from this informal workshop session will be rolled into an ongoing collection of public comments on the development plan, its original environmental document and the recirculated portions, Lucas said. All documents and comments will later be submitted to the UC Regents and the state Coastal Commission for review.

Two more meetings will be held:

» Goleta City Council — 6 p.m. Tuesday, Goleta City Hall, 130 Cremona Drive.

» MTD — 8:30 a.m. March 24, MTD, 505 Olive St.

» Board of Supervisors — 9 a.m. March 24, County Administration Building, 105 E. Anapamu St.

Public comment ends March 30. Click here for more information or to make comments.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at [email protected]

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