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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 8:19 am | Fair 47º


UCSB’s Long-Range Plan Gains Approval from Goleta Council

Council covers issues of enrollment, housing, traffic and future cooperation among affected entities

After a lengthy hearing and deliberations Tuesday night, the Goleta City Council unanimously ratified its agreement for mitigating UCSB’s Long-Range Development Plan.

“This is big. This has gone a long way from where we used to be,” Councilman Roger Aceves said, referring to the months of discussion between the city and the university about the effects the university’s planned development would have on the city.

The agreement the council approved is one of four that the university has brought out recently as it negotiated with both the city and the county of Santa Barbara, both of which were not convinced that the LRDP accurately called out the effects of the addition of 5,000 new students and nearly 2,000 additional faculty and staff.

The deal in question Tuesday night covered the issues of enrollment, housing, traffic and future cooperation among the entities — all factors that affect the lives of the communities closest to UCSB.

According to the agreement, enrollment would be capped at 25,000 students, and the university would provide regular headcounts each June, along with projections for upcoming populations.

The university aims to provide housing for all of the new students on campus, undergraduate and graduate. Another feature of the agreement is that housing development would be paced with student growth, such that the number of new students cannot exceed the available housing by more than 1,000. Faculty and staff housing would be similarly phased and monitored.

UCSB also agreed to pay for its fair share of traffic improvements on and around campus, money that totals about $8.9 million, which both parties can shift to traffic improvement projects as needed. It will also endeavor to control the number of car trips in and out of campus.

While the agreement was received favorably by the council, members of the public, many of whom spoke at the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors meeting earlier in the day on the same issue, urged the council not to adopt the agreement, as it had been released only last week and the community hadn’t had time to go over it.

“The public has not had an opportunity to review this agreement,” said Anna Citrin, an attorney representing a coalition of organizations concerned about the effects of the university’s development plan.

Others raised questions about water availability and crowding, but Goleta Water District Board President Bill Rosen said his agency is monitoring the situation.

Among those who expressed concerns were residents of the Storke Ranch neighborhood, which shares a boundary with the university, who have been fighting to keep UCSB from punching through to Phelps Road, a main access way into and out of their planned community.

Despite the pleas, and citing all of the work and delays that have been created to put together the agreements among the county, the City of Goleta and the university and its Board of Regents, the council decided to push the agreement forward — in time for the Board of Regents meeting next week.

UCSB Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas said the effort to include the community in the process early is a change from the last LRDP 20 years ago, when the Regents approved the plan without consulting the neighbors first, leading to a lawsuit and negotiations. He also pointed out the urgency on the university’s part with which the agreement needed to go to the Regents, and that they may choose not to certify them, which could take the city out of the game.

Lucas indicated, however, that the final step is about a year away, which is certification by the California Coastal Commission.

Noozhawk staff writer Sonia Fernandez can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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