UCSC to hold public hearing on draft EIR for long-term development of Long Marine Laboratory, adjoining property

The University of California, Santa Cruz, will hold a public meeting on February 19 to receive comments on a draft Environmental Impact Report that has been prepared related to future development at Long Marine Laboratory and adjoining property. The meeting will take place at the laboratory, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Seymour Marine Discovery Center's La Feliz Room.

In addition to this hearing, UCSC officials have added two other elements to this meeting: a presentation of the CLRDP, from 5 to 6 p.m., and a CLRDP Open House, from 8 to 9 p.m.
The draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) examines the environmental effects of a Coastal Long Range Development Plan that UCSC has prepared for 98 acres known as the UCSC Marine Science Campus. The property includes the site of Long Marine Lab and 55 acres acquired by UCSC in 1999.

The Coastal Long Range Development Plan (CLRDP), guiding the property's physical development for the next 20 years, includes the construction of new buildings, roads, parking lots, public-access routes and overlooks, infrastructure systems, and short-term and overnight housing that will support the Marine Science Campus's programs. The CLRDP also describes the protection and enhancement of the site's natural resources.

In addition to examining the environmental effects of the CLRDP itself, the draft EIR considers the impacts of five near-term projects included within the long-range plan:

. phase two of the Center for Ocean Health project;

. the United States Geological Survey's Western Coastal and Marine Geology facility;

. the Sea Otter Research and Conservation Center;

. a Shared Campus Warehouse and Laydown Facility, which would provide space for workers to outfit and maintain research vessels, as well as storage space for boats;

. 42 apartment/townhouse units.

A UCSC planning committee, which includes representatives of the city of Santa Cruz and staff from the California Coastal Commission, has been working since fall 1999 to develop plans for the Marine Science Campus.

The university hired a consulting team--EHDD Architecture, a San Francisco firm that developed the original Long Marine Lab Master Plan over 20 years ago and also designed the Monterey Bay Aquarium; and BMS Design Group, also from San Francisco--to prepare the CLRDP for the site.

The following summarizes planning milestones for the project:

. December 1999--the committee adopted a set of planning principles for developing the site as a marine research and education center that were presented to the public at an open house.

. June 2000--At the second public meeting, the consultants and the planning committee presented the input they had received from the focus groups. In addition, consultants unveiled six different schematics, showing how the site might be developed as a marine research and education center.

. October 2000--At the third public meeting, three site concepts were presented and discussed.

. December 2000--The expansion of Long Marine Lab was discussed at a meeting of the Coastal Commission in San Francisco. Commissioners at that meeting asked UCSC staff and consultants to reexamine the boundaries of a seasonal pond and the drainage areas that make up the wetlands on the site.

. July 2001--The results of that wetlands review were discussed at a fourth workshop. A revised site plan was also presented, reflecting past discussions about incorporating research and educational facilities on the site, preserving open space on the site, and providing housing that would support the needs of the marine programs there.

. August 2002--A preliminary draft of the CLRDP was completed and discussed by UCSC staff and project consultants at a fifth public workshop.

The current CLRDP contains text and map changes that respond to comments made by reviewers of that earlier document. The CLRDP also incorporates the recently completed work that further delineates wetland and environmentally sensitive habitat areas for the Marine Science Campus.

The CLRDP and draft EIR are available for review at UCSC's McHenry and Science and Engineering Libraries and the main branch of the Santa Cruz Public Library. Paper copies may be purchased from Kinko's at 105 Laurel Street in Santa Cruz for the cost of duplication. CD copies are available free of charge from UCSC's Environmental Assessment Group (EAG) at 515 Swift Street in Santa Cruz. The CLRDP, the draft EIR, maps of the site, and additional information are also available online at: www2.ucsc.edu/ppc/planning/lml.html.

At the February 19 hearing, members of the public will be invited to give oral comments on the draft EIR. Written comments may also be submitted during the comment period, which ends on March 19. Written comments should be sent to UCSC's Environmental Assessment Group, 515 Swift Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060.

Questions may also be directed to the EAG at (831) 460-3570.