California Coastal Commission approves UC Santa Cruz's Coastal LRDP

At a hearing this afternoon in San Francisco, the California Coastal Commission approved UC Santa Cruz's Coastal Long Range Development Plan (CLRDP), a land-use blueprint for possible future development at the site of UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory.

Above: Developable areas in the CLRDP (outlined in white) comprise 28 percent of the site.

Related Resources:
. CLRDP Fact Sheet
. CLRDP planning site
. Institute of Marine Sciences
"We are very excited about the approval of the Institute of Marine Sciences' plan, which will allow the institute to fully realize its potential for research, education, and public outreach related to the coastline and adjacent waters," said UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal. "This plan reflects our commitment to a sustainable, innovative, and accessible research and education facility, and it will guide our preservation of this special environment."

Chancellor Blumenthal promoted the plan at the commission hearing.

The 100-acre site currently has research and education facilities on 16 acres, including Long Marine Lab, the Seymour Marine Discovery Center, and research laboratories of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). The CLRDP for the "Marine Science Campus" allows for the development of an additional 12 acres for new research and education facilities, setting aside 72 acres of the site for environmental restoration and preservation.

"This plan allows the marine science campus to reach its full potential as a center for research, education, and outreach, where faculty, students, and the public can interact and participate in a comprehensive marine science program," said Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UCSC.

The CLRDP is the result of an eight-year process in which the campus engaged with the Coastal Commission, the City of Santa Cruz and other governmental agencies, third-party experts, and community residents. It protects all Coastal Act wetlands as confirmed by peer reviewers from the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Coastal Commission biologists. The CLRDP includes clustered development zones to reduce impact, increases public education and public coastal access, and promotes collaborative research among leading local and national marine scientists and agencies.

For more than 40 years, UCSC has educated and trained champions of environmental protection and leaders in the field of marine sciences. The campus is at the forefront of efforts to study the California coast, home to one of the world's most diverse marine environments. The CLRDP enables UCSC's marine science center to continue its development as a model of integrated research and public education activities, facilitating the creation of informed policies and science-based solutions to address the complex environmental challenges facing California's coastline, oceans, and marine life.

"Sound coastal planning depends on sound science. UCSC has and will continue to make significant contributions to our understanding of the marine and coastal environment, with implications for how we manage those resources," said Griggs.

UCSC faculty, staff, students, and research partners are actively pursuing important areas of marine research, including coastal ecology, conservation biology, environmental toxicology, coastal processes, and climate change. Other research groups currently based at the marine science campus include the National Marine Fisheries Service Santa Cruz Laboratory, the Department of Fish and Game Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center, the Nature Conservancy's Marine Initiative, the nonprofit group Island Conservation, and the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group.

In a letter to the commission supporting the CLRDP, U.S. Representative Sam Farr wrote: "I believe the plan allows the Marine Lab to expand its critical research and education mission while it maintains the open space and natural beauty of the coastal site."

Julie Packard, executive director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, also expressed support for the CLRDP, writing: "I believe the additional facilities growth requested by UCSC is an essential and appropriate investment in the future of our coastal environment."

Many other influential leaders in coastal research, education, and policy in California expressed their support for the CLRDP, including Leon Panetta, co-chair of the Joint Oceans Institute; Fred Keeley, Santa Cruz County treasurer and former state assemblymember; Bill Douros, West Coast Marine Sanctuary regional manager; Churchill Grimes, National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory director; Dan Haifley, executive director of the O'Neill Sea Odyssey Program; Kenneth Coale, director of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories; Sam Johnson, chief scientist of the USGS Coastal and Marine Team; Marcia McNutt, president of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute; and George Somero, director of Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station.

Marine research and education facilities account for about 80 percent of the new building space in the plan (254,000 out of 322,000 square feet). The rest consists of support facilities such as a centralized warehouse for equipment storage and maintenance, and short-term accommodations for visiting researchers. The plan also includes outdoor research areas with new marine mammal pools, and provides for potential expansion of the lab's seawater system.

Griggs noted that the timeline for the developments approved in the CLRDP is uncertain, but will probably extend over many years. "It took us 30 years to get this far, so it's a long and gradual process. But this opens the door for us to reach that potential," he said.

Because the plan as approved by the Coastal Commission includes modifications suggested by the commission and its staff, the CLRDP must still be approved by the UC Regents, after which it can receive final certification from the Coastal Commission.