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Local News

UCSB Revises Dorm Project to Address Neighbor Concerns

UC Santa Barbara gave the Goleta City Council an update Tuesday night on the planned San Joaquin student housing project at Storke and El Colegio roads, which backs up against the Storke Ranch neighborhood.

Marc Fisher, vice chancellor of administrative services, said the project is still early in the design process but should move forward with planning and environmental approvals this fall before going to the California Coastal Commission.

Council members didn’t take any action on the project Tuesday night.

The housing is part of the university’s Long Range Development Plan, which was brought to the city in 2010. UCSB expects 5,000 more students by 2025, and it made a commitment that the campus would contain 50 percent of student housing so all additional growth is kept out of the community, Fisher said.

Almost 40 percent of students live on campus now, and housing more of the population there would mitigate the impacts of growth, he said. As of now, 168 apartments are proposed for the San Joaquin complex.

There would be six students per three-bedroom apartment, but the university is pushing cars for the project over to the existing San Clemente lot, which is usually at least half-empty, Fisher said.

He said plans for the dormitory complex have changed to address community concerns, particularly from people who live in the Storke Ranch neighborhood.

There was originally going to be a combination of three-, four-, five- and six-story buildings and a tall parking garage, but the revised plan features smaller buildings with all the common areas and student activity areas on the interior of the complex to minimize noise to the surrounding neighborhoods.

Fault lines running through the area also changed the plans, since there are certain spots the university can’t build on.

Neighbors are very concerned about noise, traffic and construction impacts on the area from the project. The buildings are planned for 35 to 50 feet away from the property line, and the project would have low vegetation closest to the Storke Ranch backyards with higher trees along the buildings to soften the visual impact, Fisher said.

Residents have been very outspoken against the project, and two people spoke up at the council meeting with their concerns about construction time, noise and the long-term impact of having 500 more people living right in their backyards.

The Sierra Madre Apartments, with 151 apartments and faculty housing, also will have all the public functions arranged on the interior of the complex. There will be one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, “very much like Willow Springs,” Fisher said.

Construction will start between nesting season and the rainy season, so most likely between August and October.

Fisher said the university isn’t looking to acquire any more property in the near future but it is negotiating to get the Cabrillo Business Park’s Mammoth Moving and Storage space.

Councilman Jim Farr thanked Fisher and UCSB for being “sensitive to the needs of Goleta.”

Mayor Roger Aceves said he hopes the university will work closely with the Storke Ranch Association every step of the way.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli 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.

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