While finalizing its campus development plans in 2010, UC Santa Barbara agreed to add 5,000 new student beds by 2025.
Now the campus doesn’t expect to fulfill its housing obligations until 2029 at the earliest, further prolonging its struggles to house students amid enrollment increases.
The stipulation was part of the 2010 Long Range Development Plan between UCSB, Santa Barbara County and the city of Goleta.
Both governments are suing the campus for “failure to comply with its housing obligations” for students, faculty and staff.
UCSB expects student apartment projects to deliver 3,500 new beds across two phases opening in 2027 and 2029 — four years later than the university agreed to in 2010, according to campus documents.
It is the clearest timeline of new housing the campus has offered yet, and an admission it will fall years behind on its compact with local governments.
City and county officials confirmed that litigation against the university is ongoing, and declined to comment further.
The campus tentatively expects the first phase of housing to add a maximum of 3,000 beds in “apartment-style units” at the current Facilities Management site, whose operations are set to be relocated this year.
Isla Vista Community Services District Director Spencer Brandt lauded the planned developments as sorely needed relief for the neighboring college town.
“These projects will add desperately needed rental units to the market which is squeezing renters hard right now,” Brandt said in a statement to Noozhawk. “And the housing projects offer the opportunity to bring more essential and retail services closer to Isla Vista residents to make it easier to live here without a car.”
With the development, UCSB hopes to provide housing for all first- and second-year students, a shift from its pandemic-era suspension of all housing guarantees.
Phase one is the campus’ “first priority,” with the schematic design phase expected to begin in June 2024.
After phase one delivers most of the 3,500 beds needed, phase two is intended to supply the remainder via a combination of “selective demolition, building additions, and new construction” at the east campus area currently home to seven other student residences.
In 2016, billionaire Charles Munger announced plans to tear down those existing buildings and erect two massive dormitories at that site, the first iteration of the Munger Hall project.
The campus scrapped those plans to pursue the controversial Munger Hall dormitory at the Facilities Management site. UCSB announced new plans last month for more traditional apartments at that site.
“I think the community and nationwide reaction to some of the elements of the Munger project speaks for itself, and I’m just glad these two student housing projects are moving forward,” Brant said.
The new housing faces its own obstacles.
In recent documents, UCSB officials cautioned that the university expects to raise the $600-750 million needed for the project, but “there is no assurance that funds will be received for the project.”